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Cablegate: Settlements Unscr: Arabs Now Unsure If They Have

VZCZCXRO3320
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUCNDT #0614/01 1920217
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 100217Z JUL 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4577
INFO RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 USUN NEW YORK 000614

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

PLEASE PASS TO THE PARTY FOR S, DEPT FOR P, IO AND NEA
FRONT OFFICES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER KWBG KPAL UNSC IS PA
SUBJECT: SETTLEMENTS UNSCR: ARABS NOW UNSURE IF THEY HAVE
NINE VOTES

REF: USUN 610 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) Libya convened a UNSC experts meeting on July 9 to
solicit comments on its draft resolution condemning Israeli
settlements. France spoke first, emphasizing that the
Council has a unique opportunity to adopt a comprehensive
resolution on the Middle East peace process, and that experts
should focus on how to reach such a consensual outcome. The
French expert then read off several amendments to the
preambular paragraphs of the Libyan draft as well as the
additional "elements" that would need to be included in a
comprehensive resolution, including a condemnation of all
attacks targeting civilians, including acts of terror, as
well as a call on the Palestinian Authority to fulfill its
commitments to fight terrorism. (Note: USUN e-mailed IO and
NEA the French elements on July 9. End Note.) The Libyan
expert interrupted France to argue that the meeting was meant
to focus on the settlements resolution, and that it was
useless to pursue a comprehensive resolution, because the
Council would never be able to come to agreement. He
complained that experts had the same discussion about a
comprehensive text vs. a settlements-focused text on July 2,
and that continuing that discussion would be a waste of time.

2. (SBU) Poloff then intervened based on guidance from Amb
Khalilzad. Noting that the Council had not adopted a
comprehensive resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
for five years, he said it now had the opportunity to do so
in a constructive way. It would be important to welcome the
positive developments of the past few months -- continuing
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Israeli-Syrian talks, the
Doha Agreement on Lebanon -- as well as address the
challenges that remain before us. Expansion of settlements
is one such challenge, but we must not be selective in
identifying these challenges, and should address Roadmap
obligations on all sides. Such a comprehensive effort could
support the peace process and urge the parties to make
further progress. The current Libyan text would not meet
that criteria and would not be adopted by the Council.
Recalling that most experts had spoken in favor of a
comprehensive resolution during the July 2 experts meeting,
Poloff said the U.S. was now willing to propose elements to
that end, and circulated copies of the draft elements
previously cleared by the Department. He said USUN was ready
to work constructively in any way towards this outcome. One
option would be to form a small drafting group to continue
talks on a comprehensive resolution. Such a group could
include Libya, European countries, members of the NAM, and
other interested states.

3. (SBU) Although five countries said explicitly that they
could support the Libyan draft as is or with minor amendments
(Russia, South Africa, Panama, Indonesia, and China), all
experts said they would be prepared to work towards a
comprehensive resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Although Panama said the UNSC should be able to adopt a
resolution on settlements, an issue that enjoyed
international consensus, it urged Libya to listen to those
members that wanted a broader text in the interest of
achieving consensus. Russia said it could support the Libyan
text with one minor amendment (to change the OP 3 call on
Israel to "dismantle settlements" to a call to "dismantle
outposts"), but said it would prefer a comprehensive
resolution. Russia also said it would join a drafting group
to produce such a comprehensive resolution. South Africa,
Indonesia, and China suggested working on a comprehensive
resolution while keeping the draft Libyan resolution in
reserve. Six experts (UK, France, Belgium, Italy, Croatia,
Burkina Faso) joined the U.S. in arguing for a comprehensive
resolution. Costa Rica and Vietnam did not speak. Libya
concluded the meeting by saying that it would consult again
with the Arab Group, and consider the idea of working with
select delegations on a broader text, but one that still
focuses on settlements. The Libyan expert warned, however,
that Libya would not be able to accept a resolution that
contains references to terrorism. After the experts meeting,
the Libyans cancelled the Ambassadorial-level consultations
they had called for July 10. They also assured USUN that
they would not/not call for a vote on their draft resolution
on July 10.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: The bottom line from the experts meeting
was that it is not clear that the Arabs have nine votes for
their text. They can count six votes for sure, and if
pressed, we assess that Costa Rica and Vietnam would probably
support the draft resolution. That leaves Burkina Faso in
play for the ninth vote. We believe the best way to ensure

USUN NEW Y 00000614 002 OF 002


Burkina Faso refuses to support the Arab text -- and to put
pressure on Costa Rica, Vietnam, and Panama as well -- is to
hold out hope for a viable alternative by convening the small
drafting group USUN proposed during the experts meeting. We
could invite the UK, France, Russia, Libya, Burkina Faso, and
possibly Indonesia to join the group. If Libya refuses, we
could ask Panama or South Africa to join in its place. This
would at least delay action until probably next week, by
holding out the possibility that the drafting group could
reach agreement.
Khalilzad

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