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Cablegate: Lebanon: Israelite Communal Council Board Obtains Gol's

VZCZCXRO9135
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHKUK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #0821 1541800
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021800Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2149
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS BEIRUT 000821

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL SOCI KIRF LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: ISRAELITE COMMUNAL COUNCIL BOARD OBTAINS GOL'S
RECOGNITION

1. (U) On May 15, the Israelite Communal Council obtained the
Ministry of Interior's (MOI) official recognition of its newly
elected board. The Board was elected on February 28 for a six-year
term, but the MOI had delayed giving the Council its validation.
Due to the difficulties in obtaining the MOI's validation every
three years, the Council elected its board for a six-year term
instead of its usual three-year term.

2. (SBU) On April 16, Isaac Arazi, newly elected chairman of the
Council, and Semari Behar, board secretary, informed us about the
MOI's delay in granting approval and requested Embassy assistance.
According to Arazi the MOI's approval is necessary for the Council
to manage and run its finances as well as the properties of the
Jewish community living in Lebanon. Embstaff then met with Minister
of Interior Hassan Sabaa to intervene on the Council's behalf and
encourage the MOI to complete the validation process, which it did
on May 15.

3. (U) The Israelite Communal Council was established in the 1920s.
The council manages the finances and properties owned by the Jewish
Lebanese community. Additionally, it manages several synagogues
located in Beirut, Bhamdoun, and Aley, and the Jewish cemetery in
Beirut. According to Arazi, there are approximately 100 Lebanese
Jews currently living in Lebanon. (Note: The voters' registration
list of 2005 shows that there are approximately 6,000 Jewish voters
in Lebanon. End note.)
The council also is preparing to renovate the synagogue located in
downtown Beirut with funding provided by the Jewish Lebanese and a
small amount from Solidere, a Beirut downtown real estate
development company.

COMMENT
-------

4. (SBU) This is not the first time that the Council has faced such
difficulties with the MOI. With every election, Post is approached
by the Council with a request for assistance in expediting the
validation process. Post twice helped the council on when previous
boards were elected in 2002 and 2005. End Comment.

SISON

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