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Cablegate: The Oic's Jerusalem Fund Agency Asks for Usg Help

VZCZCXRO4724
OO RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHGI RUEHJS RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW RUEHROV
DE RUEHRB #0593/01 1790831
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 270831Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8768
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 3539
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 1952
INFO RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0830

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 RABAT 000593

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR NEA/MAG, NEA/RA AND OIC SPECIAL REP CUMBER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIN EAID PTER ECON IS MO
SUBJECT: THE OIC'S JERUSALEM FUND AGENCY ASKS FOR USG HELP

1. (SBU) Summary and Action Request: Abdelkebir Alaoui
M,Daghri, Director General of the Morocco-based Agence Bayt
Al-Mal al Qods (the Jerusalem Fund Agency) appealed to
Ambassador Riley in a June 13 meeting for USG help in
attesting to the bona fides of his organization. The Agency,
subordinate to the Jerusalem Committee of the Islamic
Conference (OIC), was empowered by the OIC to preserve the
Islamic character of Jerusalem,s holy places and support the
local population. So far it has had modest, mostly
Moroccan-government support, and thus limited impact.
Fund-raising, particularly from major private donors has been
hampered by donors, fears about terrorism finance
restrictions. M,Daghri, a royal appointee and former
Minister of Religious Affairs, noted that he will travel to
the U.S. this summer. USG views on his request, including
the assessment of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv of agency
activities, would be appreciated. End Summary and Action
Request.

An Islamic Conference (OIC) Agency
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) Ambassador Riley paid a courtesy call on Mohammed
Alaoui M'Daghri, Director General of the Agence Bayt Al-Mal
al Qods (the Jerusalem Fund Agency or, hereafter, the Agency)
on June 13. The Agency was established by the Jerusalem
Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
(OIC), which is headed by King Mohammed VI, who named
M'Daghri to the job. M,Dagrhi characterized the agency,s
mission as a humanitarian not a political one. It supports,
he said, the people and institutions of the holy city, and
works on housing, health, education, and culture. Its
primary institutional contacts are the Islamic holy sites and
the Palestinian Authority. In effect, he explained, the PA
is the agency,s client, pointing to a photograph of him with
King Mohammed VI and PA President Abbas.

3. (SBU) M'Daghri described a sort of three-level control
system for the Jerusalem Fund Agency. At the top there is a
Board of Trustees made up of the Islamic Foreign Ministers,
with financial oversight by the OIC Finance Ministers. King
Mohammed VI appointed him and provides some overall
oversight. The agency's contact with Israeli officials goes
through the Palestinian Authority, but it allows the agency's
activities to proceed. The Jordanians also have a certain
role, including with respect to the holy places.

Agency Programs
---------------

4. (SBU) M'daghri said he had recently returned from
Jerusalem where the Agency was facilitating construction of
an additional floor for a school in the Abrahamite University
of Jerusalem. It had also paid for an elevator in Mkassid
Hospital. It has restored a home for the aged and given 80
computers to a school for orphans. It has also restored five
mosques and a ziyouaia (a Moroccan term for a shrine for a
saint) in what was known as the Maghrebi or Moroccan quarter.
Some 60 families now live in the shrine area and the Agency
is currently trying to restore these ruined areas to livable
housing for them. The Israeli police came to question this
project but left satisfied it was legitimate, he said.

5. (SBU) M'daghri said the Fund also currently feeds 100
families with 20 loaves of bread per day: It planned to
expand this shortly to 500 families and ultimately 1,000
families. It provides interest-free loans for rehabilitation
of housing. A staffer added that the fund also provides
scholarships to 36 students to study abroad in the U.S.,
France, Morocco and U.A.E. The Fund wants to expand this to
80 or 100 students as soon as money is available. It is
important that these young Palestinians have alternatives so
that they are not tempted to become extremists.

6. (SBU) M'daghri noted the Agency also works to promote
tolerance. It paid for a new roof on a Christian cultural
center and created a conference center for the Dialogue of
Civilizations, located inside "the Morocco House" in
Jerusalem. In its programs, it provides assistance without
discrimination; "If a Jew arrives, we take care of him,"
M'daghri said. M'daghri stressed repeatedly and
categorically, "We do not cooperate with anyone with a
disposition to violence." It vets its grantees with the PA
and local authorities.

RABAT 00000593 002 OF 003

7. (SBU) M'daghri said the Fund had many projects on the
drawing board, but it needed funding, which it hoped to
obtain from Arab states and private sources. Thus far, 60
percent of its funding comes from Morocco. Two-thirds of
that is from the state and one third from private donations,
which come through its well publicized "555" account. King
Mohammed VI recently sent a letter to Arab heads of state
urging them to contribute.

A Request for a USG vetting
---------------------------

8. (SBU) M'daghri said the fund needed some kind of clean
bill of health or "green light," from the USG to facilitate
its fund raising. Countries and private donors who otherwise
could support the Jerusalem Fund were reluctant due to
apprehension about U.S. anti-terror financing rules.
M'daghri said he understood and supported these terror
financing restrictions, and they did not affect the Fund
directly, but they have made doQs reluctant. The Fund has
made an effort to open deposit accounts in banQhrougQ
the Arab world. The banks have done their due diligence, he
said, but they tell the Agency that to operate they need some
sort of statement of no objection from the Federal Reserve
Bank in New York. "We are ready to offer total
transparency," he said, including any audit or other detailed
financial or other examination the USG wished to undertake.

9. (SBU) Ambassador Riley thanked M'daghri and noted that he
would convey this information and request to Washington. He
noted that restrictions on finance for terrorists were very
important and had been effective, including as a deterrent.
Rules and procedures are complex and there are a variety of
lists and databases, so this was an issue that would be up to
specialists.

10. (SBU) M'daghri also provided some documentation,
including a highly ambitious mid- to long-term plan. The
Agency has a very general roster of proposed projects through
December 2009 worth USD 25 million and for 2010-2014, USD 65
million, which would include projects for Muslims in the
Western World. These are big plans, considering the
organization's modest history. According to its website,
however, the Agency has spent only a very modest USD 1.8
million since 1996 in Jerusalem on housing, education, health
care and youth programs.

11. (SBU) Background: The Jerusalem Committee is a subgroup
of the Islamic Conference at the head of state level, chaired
by the Moroccan King, which is intended to coordinate
policies to preserve the city of Jerusalem's Arab and Islamic
character. The Bayt Mal Al-Quds Al-Charif ("the Agency") was
set up by King Hassan II in 1997 as a funding arm of the
Jerusalem Committee, intended to pool funds for development
projects that "preserve Jerusalem's Islamic and Arab
character and safeguard its civilization, religious, cultural
and architectural heritage." Subsequent to the visit, the
Agency distributed a press release about the Ambassador's
visit and placed an account and photo on its website:
www.baytmalalqods.org.

12. (SBU) M'daghri's office contacted us separately and
indicated that he plans to travel to the U.S. for 10 days on
July 26. He has been invited to participate in a Yale
University conference on religious tolerance and also plans
to be in New York.

Comment and Action Request
--------------------------

13. (SBU) The diplomatic contributions of the Jerusalem
Committee and the material contributions of the Agency have
been both more symbolic than substantive. They both,
however, support King Mohammed VI's standing as an Islamic
leader on the world stage and also promote Morocco's
relevance and ability to engage in the Arab-Israeli peace
process. The new headquarters of the Agency in Rabat may
well be worth more than the total of its projects, and its
budget may be more that the expenses it is incurring in the
field. Nonetheless, the Agency could be in a position to
work in the sensitive area of the Temple Mount, without
carrying the risk of other outside bodies, and it could help
build confidence. We understand that providing any kind of

RABAT 00000593 003 OF 003


USG endorsement or even a clean bill of health, as M'daghri
has requested, may be highly problematic.

14. (SBU) Washington's reaction to M'daghri's somewhat
unusual request would be most welcome. This certainly
presents an opportunity to at least review the agency,s
financing/operations. It could also be useful to learn what
perspectives the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority have
on the institution aQits request. End Comment and Action
Request.

Q*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
*****************************************

Riley

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