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Cablegate: Unsc: Middle East Consultations Focus More On Un

VZCZCXRO7384
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUCNDT #0851/01 2640049
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200049Z SEP 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4978
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 USUN NEW YORK 000851

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER KPAL KWBG UNSC IS PA LE
SUBJECT: UNSC: MIDDLE EAST CONSULTATIONS FOCUS MORE ON UN
BRIEFING THAN MEMBER STATES' REMARKS

REF: STATE 99211

Summary
--------

1. (SBU) In another low key set of consultations on the
Middle East on September 18, Special Coordinator for the
Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry's briefing was the
main focus. He lauded the "gradual but systematic process of
Palestinian self-empowerment" in the West Bank and later said
that Israel should do more to welcome this process. He, as
well as the majority of delegations, decried Israeli
settlement activity in the West Bank. In Gaza, he noted that
the continuing cease-fire was the only positive news to
report, given the continuing shortages and Hamas efforts to
divorce Gazan institutions from the PA itself. On Lebanon,
he summarized that the security situation remains precarious
but welcomed the start of the national dialogue process and
the signing of a reconciliation agreement in Tripoli.

2. (SBU) The Libyan representative spoke extensively about
Israeli settlement activity but did not refer to the Arab
League Ministerial decision to request a special session of
the Security Council on Israeli settlements. Most of the
other delegations also raised Israeli settlement activity and
voiced concern for its impact on negotiations. The South
African Perm Rep questioned whether everyday problems facing
Palestinians mattered to the Quartet. The U.S. and European
delegations called for Lebanon to implement the Lebanon
Independent Border Assessment Team (LIBAT) report's
recommendations and enforce the arms embargo. End Summary.

UNSCO Briefs Council
--------------------

3. (SBU) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace
Process Robert Serry briefed the Security Council during a
meeting on the Middle East, September 18. (Note: Mission
e-mailed the text of Serry's remarks to IO/UNP on August 19.
End note.) On the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, he
stressed that, while no agreement has been reached on the
core issues, there have been substantive discussions which
must be continued. He lauded the "gradual but systematic
process of Palestinian self-empowerment" in the West Bank
under the leadership of President Abbas and Prime Minister
Fayyad as the "largely unsung success story." He referred to
the real strides by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the
implementation of its security plan in the West Bank. As a
result, the casualty rate from Israeli-Palestinian clashes is
at one of the lowest levels in recent years. He described a
return to normalcy in Nablus and plans for a further
improvement of security conditions in Hebron. He reported
that the fiscal gap for the last quarter of 2008 remains at
about USD 400 million.

4. (SBU) While noting the dismantlement of one manned
checkpoint in the central West Bank enabling 40,000
Palestinian living in a separation barrier-created enclave to
access Ramallah without delay, Serry reported that over 600
obstacles to movement remain across the West Bank. He
referred to a woman in premature labor who gave birth to a
stillborn baby at a checkpoint, September 4, while trying to
access a Nablus hospital. He said settler violence had
increased over the last month and, while acknowledging
Israeli government condemnation of the violence, said
credible action to bring perpetrators to justice was lacking.
He said settlement construction continues, including a
further tender for 32 more units in the Gush Etzion bloc. He
repeated the Secretary-General's calls that all settlement
activity is "contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention and
Israel's commitments under the Road Map and the Annapolis
process." He said that "rectifying this unacceptable
situation should be the urgent priority of any new Israeli
government."

5. (SBU) Serry noted that Palestinian institutions in East
Jerusalem remain closed by Israeli order, contrary to the
Road Map. For the first time in recent memory, he referred
to the Maghrabi Gate in the Old City and said the
Secretary-General was closely monitoring developments there
and encourages all parties to cooperate in the process under
the auspices of UNESCO and to refrain from any unilateral
measures. In his comments after Member States' remarks, he
emphasized that the September 22 Ad Hoc Liaison Committee
(AHLC) meeting is the opportunity for the international
community to engage Israel and press it to do more to welcome
Palestinian empowerment in the West Bank. He concluded, "We
will not allow parties to walk away from their Annapolis
commitments."


USUN NEW Y 00000851 002 OF 003


6. (SBU) In Gaza, he said the cease-fire continues to hold
and only two rockets and one mortar were launched in the last
month. He said there were no IDF incursions or air strikes
On other fronts, he said there was little positive news to
report. Imports had decreased by 21 percent as compared to
the previous four weeks. UN priority projects remain stalled
because of a shortage of materials. Referring to the Hamas
decision to replace teachers with Hamas-affiliated staff, he
said Hamas' actions in Gaza are "increasingly divorcing
Palestinian institutions from the Palestinian Authority
itself, and interrupting basic service delivery." With
Palestinian inter-factional violence resulting in the death
of 14 people, he said the only way to begin addressing the
crisis is for Gaza to be peacefully reunited with the West
Bank within the framework of a legitimate PA in a manner
which allows the peace process to advance.

7. (SBU) On Lebanon, he noted the start of the national
dialogue process and the signing of the reconciliation
agreement in Tripoli. He said the security situation
remained "precarious" with the shooting of the LAF helicopter
and the death of one of the co-pilots and the assassination
of Saleh Aridi which the Secretary General and the Council
had both condemned. While the UNIFIL area of operations
remained generally quiet, he did note that Israeli air
violations continued on a daily basis. He said the LAF
undertook a temporary redeployment of one light infantry
brigade from the south to the north in response to security
concerns around Tripoli, while troops that had been
previously redeployed north were returned to the south.

Settlements - a common theme but
no Arab call for a special session
----------------------------------

8. (SBU) In consultations that followed Serry's public
presentation, the Libyan representative did not raise the
Arab League Ministerial decision to have Saudi Arabia request
a special session of the Security Council to discuss Israel's
settlement activities. (Note: The Burkinabe President of the
Security Council received a letter, after consultations, from
the Saudi Charge requesting such a meeting. Mission e-mailed
letter to IO/UNP, September 18. End note.) The Libyan
representative spent most of his remarks discussing specific
Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and quoting
reports from Israeli NGOs Peace Now and Beit Salem.

9. (SBU) Most other delegations also raised Israeli
settlement activity. Per reftel, Ambassador Khalilzad
reiterated our deep concern at continuing settlement activity
and called on Israel to freeze this activity and dismantle
outposts erected since March 2001, consistent with Road Map
obligations, given that such activity has a negative
atmosphere for negotiations with the potential to harm them
going forward. He noted recent internal Israeli government
deliberations on future compensation for settlers who leave
settlements voluntarily. The French Perm Rep said there
would be no peace without a total cessation of settlements.
The British DPR said that settlement activity is illegal and
should stop. The Belgian Perm Rep said that continuing
settlement activity is a major danger for Annapolis and
raised settler violence against Palestinians. The Costa
Rican Perm Rep said that addressing illegal settlements
should be the first priority of any new Israeli government.

South Africa questions Quartet's
interest in everyday issues
facing Palestinians
--------------------------------

10. (SBU) The South African Perm Rep dedicated more than
half of his intervention to four paragraphs of Serry's
statement which he described as "big issues for everyday
Palestinians" -- checkpoints and other obstacles to movement,
settler violence, and settlement activity. He (and the
Panamanian representative) also noted that while Israel had
released 198 prisoners, 11,000 remained in prison. He asked
rhetorically if everyday issues matter to the Quartet. He
again raised the question of the sewage system in Gaza and
asked why spare parts were so difficult to get into Gaza. At
the end of the session, Serry replied that Quartet
Representative Tony Blair continues to work to get the pipes
into Gaza. In response to the South African Perm Rep's
musings on the Quartet, Serry specifically said, "The Quartet
is the only game in town and that is why it is important the
UN is part of it." The Indonesian Perm Rep said he looked
forward to the meeting of the Security Council and Quartet
representative Tony Blair next month. (Note: While the
Council has invited Blair to speak in October, it has
received no confirmation of his availability. End note.)

USUN NEW Y 00000851 003 OF 003

Calls for Lebanon to implement
LIBAT report recommendations;
enforcement of arms embargo
------------------------------

11. (SBU) The US and the European delegations referred to
the August 25 report of the Lebanon Independent Border
Assessment Team (LIBAT). Ambassador Khalilzad said that the
report shows no progress over the past two years on
interdicting arms smuggling across the border and concluded
that the overall situation renders Lebanon's borders as
penetrable as was the case over a year ago during the first
assessment. He called for regional parties maintaining ties
with Hizballah and other groups in Lebanon to respect and
abide fully by the arms embargo on Lebanon. The Italian Perm
Rep said the issue of disarming all militias remains
fundamental in Lebanon and that the LIBAT report worriedly
underlines the limited progress made on securing the borders.
The British DPR called on the Lebanese government to swiftly
act to implement the LIBAT report's recommendations. The
Croatian Perm Rep underscored the insufficient rate of
implementation of the LIBAT report's recommendations. The
French Perm Rep commended the LIBAT report. The Russian
representative specifically called on all parties to follow
the embargo.

Russians appear to
downplay Moscow meeting
-----------------------

12. (SBU) The Russian representative referenced the
international meeting on the Middle East in Moscow and
appeared to downplay it, referring to it as a "meeting," not
a "conference," to "help corroborate the progress." He said
the Quartet, at its upcoming meeting, would determine the
"timelines" for the Moscow meeting.
Khalilzad

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