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Cablegate: Unsc Meets at Saudi/Arab League Request

VZCZCXRO4248
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUCNDT #0875/01 2731726
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291726Z SEP 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5014
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 USUN NEW YORK 000875

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER KPAL KWBG UNSC IS PA LE SY IR
SUBJECT: UNSC MEETS AT SAUDI/ARAB LEAGUE REQUEST

Summary
--------

1. (SBU) The UN Security Council met September 26 in
response to the request by Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Arab
League to discuss Israeli settlement activity. The Saudi FM
spoke first and accused Israel of intransigence and a lack of
good faith in dealing with the settlements issue. Arab
League Secretary General Amr Moussa also protested Israeli
settlements policy which he said contributed to making a
viable future Palestinian state a "mere mirage." The PA
President said Israeli settlements cut the West Bank into
cantons and changed the configuration of Jerusalem, but swore
he would never cease to negotiate. The Israeli Perm Rep said
that settlements were not the major issue as they had never
been an obstacle to peace for Israel and cited terrorism as
"this century's Black Plague."

2. (SBU) The Secretary stressed the strong USG commitment to
achieving a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians
and called on the international community to support the
parties to that end. She urged the international community
to speak out against terrorism and stated that the Council
should take up the matter of one member of the UN (Iran)
calling for the destruction of another member (Israel). The
European states on the Council largely stressed both parties'
obligations and briefly touched on settlements, as did Costa
Rica, China, Vietnam, Panama, and Burkina Faso. Conversely,
Libya, Indonesia, and South Africa focused their statements
exclusively on Israeli settlement activity. End summary.

3. (SBU) The Security Council met for a formal meeting
September 26 in response to the request by Saudi Arabia on
behalf of the Arab League to discuss Israeli settlement
activity. The Council first heard briefings from Saudi
Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, Arab League
Secretary-General Amr Moussa, and PLO Chairman/PA President
Mahmoud Abbas, and a response from Israeli Perm Rep Gabriela
Shalev. The Presidency then opened the floor to remarks from
Security Council members.

Saudi Arabia
------------

4. (SBU) Saudi FM Prince Saud al-Faisal opened the session
by accusing Israel of intransigence and an absence of good
faith in dealing with the settlements issue, accusing the
Israeli government of humiliating the Palestinian people and
changing the geographic and demographic facts on the ground.
Continued construction in East Jerusalem makes it "virtually
impossible" to envision the establishment of an independent
Palestinian state, he continued, and called upon Israel to
immediately cease all settlement activity. "The only true
path to Israel,s security is peace," said Saud, adding that
"the moment for serious action is upon us." He described the
peace process as being in "stagnation," and characterized
Palestinian anger and frustration as reaching serious levels.
He concluded by noting that he was not asking for any action
from the Council now, but said the meeting should remain
"open" until the issue has been resolved.

Arab League
-----------

5. (SBU) Arab League chair Amr Moussa began by recalling the
September 2006 Security Council meeting convened at the Arab
League's request to reinvigorate the peace process, with the
goal of reaching a comprehensive peace, and most of whose
goals have not been achieved. He said he had "hoped the
Syrians and Lebanese would have a voice in this meeting." He
accused Israel of lacking the political will to accept a
viable Palestinian state equal to Israel, saying Israel has
refused to put anything in writing and simply wants to hold
more meetings. He noted that the Annapolis requirements of
stopping settlement construction and removing illegal
outposts have not been met. If this situation continues,
Moussa said, it will have serious repercussions for peace,
since Israel continues to build settlements and change the
demographic facts on the ground. He was dismissive of
Israeli-Syrian indirect talks facilitated by Turkey, and held
out little hope, due to Israeli intransigence. This
situation has made the possibility of a viable Palestinian
state a "mere mirage," Moussa protested. The Arab League
continues to abide by the terms of its peace initiative, he
declared, and called on Israel to reconsider the Arab peace
offer and to cease its settlement policy. The situation also
requires an "honest broker," he added. (Note: Both Saud and
Moussa threatened to come back to the Council for a "product"
if no progress is made on settlements. End note.)

PLO/PA

USUN NEW Y 00000875 002 OF 004


------

6. (SBU) PA President Mahmoud Abbas focused his entire
remarks on settlements and their impact on the peace process,
though he swore that he would never cease to negotiate for
peace. Using PLO Negotiations Affairs Department maps (which
were circulated to SC members during the briefing), he called
into question the three settlement blocks of Ariel, Ma'ale
Adumim, and Efrat which divide the West Bank into four
different cantons and jeopardize the creation of a viable
Palestinian state. While phase one of the Roadmap calls for
a definitive end to Israel's settlement policy, he said, the
"policy persists to the banks of the Jordan river." He
questioned how he could continue to negotiate if these
settlement policies continue. He called on the Quartet to
closely track the implementation of the Roadmap. He opined
that even the Israeli government considers some of the
settlements illegal, though they continue. He cited French
President Sarkozy and Secretary Rice's interventions on the
issue which have not received a positive response. On
Jerusalem, he said that all previous agreements have
stipulated that there should be no change to the
configuration of the city, though the Israeli government does
not enforce these agreements with the Jerusalem mayor. He
lamented the active aggression by Israeli settlers against
the Palestinian population. Nevertheless, he said, "I am
ready to pursue negotiations. I will never cease to
negotiate. But, how can resolutions not be heeded?"

Israel
------

7. (SBU) Israeli Perm Rep Gabriela Shalev, in her first
appearance before the Council, said that if a stranger was
seated at the table he would falsely think that settlements
were the major concern on the ground, not terrorism or the
threats posed to peace and security by Hamas, Hizballah, or
Iran. She said that negotiations were continuing on the
ground, as they should be, and not through the Security
Council. She reiterated Israel's commitment to a two-state
solution and said "the question was not whether to achieve it
but how." She stressed that Israel was ready to make painful
concessions and that settlements would not be an obstacle to
peace. Shalev called on the Arab world to play a pivotal
role in supporting a moderate PA; condemn toxic statements,
like those made by the Iranian President; and recognize
Israel's right to exist. She said that Israel understands
its obligations to peace and security in the region. She
called for efforts to be made to confront all obstacles on
the ground and build confidence. She described terrorism as
"this century's Black Plague." Shalev reiterated President
Peres' offer in his speech to the General Assembly to hold a
peace talks in Jerusalem with all interested Arab states.
She stressed that progress towards peace would be made
through bilateral meetings, such as the Peres-Abbas meeting
earlier that morning, not by meetings in fora like the
Security Council.

U.S.
----

8. (SBU) The Secretary listened to the two parties and the
French FM before delivering her intervention. She stressed
her commitment and the President's to finding lasting peace
between Israel and the Palestinians. She described how a
year ago there was no serious peace process but today there
is one, despite the complications. She listed the bilateral
meetings that had taken place this week alone, including the
Peres-Abbas meeting earlier that morning, Foreign Minister
Livni's meeting with Abu Ala'a September 23, President Bush's
meeting with President Abbas September 25, and her own
meeting later that day with President Abbas. She noted the
Quartet meetings that afternoon and the Quartet's role as the
appropriate forum for such issues. She said that the
Annapolis process calls for not just negotiations but
progress on the ground and the fulfillment of Roadmap
obligations, and the U.S. continues to press both parties to
that end.

9. (SBU) She called on the international community to
support the parties in their bilateral negotiations; to
insist that the parties live up to their Roadmap obligations;
and to provide financial assistance to the PA so that it can
provide services to its people. She cited the historic
levels of U.S. assistance, including direct budgetary
support. The Secretary called on regional states to fulfill
their assistance pledges to the PA. Noting the Arab Peace
Initiative, she asked regional states to reach out to Israel
since a comprehensive solution requires that Israel be a
valued partner in the Middle East. She urged the
international community to speak out against terrorism and

USUN NEW Y 00000875 003 OF 004


said that the taking of innocent human life is never
acceptable. The Secretary ended by stating that the Council
should be discussing the Iranian president's statement before
the General Assembly earlier in the week. She said, "The
U.S. will be asking that the Council convene again to take up
the matter of one member of the UN calling for the
destruction of another member of the UN in a way that simply
should not be allowed."

European states stress
both parties' obligations
-------------------------

10. (SBU) The French FM quoted President Sarkozy's June 23
statement to the Knesset that there will be no peace without
a total halt to settlement activity but then recalled the
Iranian President's UNGA speech, describing it as "an
unacceptable message before the General Assembly." He
stressed the need to combat terrorism, welcomed the truce in
Gaza, and said there would be no security for Israel without
a democratic Palestinian state and no security for the world
without peace in the Middle East. The Belgian FM termed
settlements in East Jerusalem as illegal, so it was important
to have a discussion in the Security Council but that it
could not be restricted to one issue. He said the
negotiations launched at Annapolis must lead to a peace
agreement for an independent and viable Palestinian state to
guarantee coexistence and peace to both Palestinians and
Israelis. He noted the security progress in the West Bank,
called for Israel to lift movement and access restrictions,
and said the Gaza truce must not be an end in itself but lead
to a better situation for all Gazans.

11. (SBU) The Italian FM, in the strongest European
statement, said that both parties must be encouraged to
proceed since the clock is ticking against peace. He
considered Israel's security as non-negotiable; that the
Palestinian state needs solid institutions upon which it can
be built; and that Arab states must continue to provide
support. He said the Israeli settlement process does not
facilitate the peace process and Israeli political leaders
must come to a more satisfactory solution. He welcomed
President Abbas' commitment to the peace process and saluted
Egypt for its role negotiating the Gazan truce. Turning to
Lebanon, he voiced concern for the resurgence of violence.
He said he hoped there would one day be Syrian-Israeli and
Lebanese-Israeli peace and that Syria would one day be a
helpful international actor. He ended by noting the serious
threat posed by Iran.

12. (SBU) The British State Secretary noted the progress to
date with the two parties talking, the cease-fire holding,
reform ongoing in the PA, and security progress in the West
Bank. He urged the Quartet to issue a strong message later
that day, called for support for both sides, and noted that
all parties must support progress for peace. He, too, noted
the "grievous comments" by the Iranian president and said it
was no way to talk about another member state. The Croatian
FM in a short statement said there had been solid and
substantive progress during the year but more needed to be
done. He termed the present a "crucial time for the peace
process."

Libya, Indonesia, and South Africa
only focus on settlements
----------------------------------

13. (SBU) The Libyan Perm Rep gave a long intervention
focused exclusively on settlements and chastised the Council
for not being able to agree during the year on a Presidential
statement "no matter how grave the situation." He described
the morning session as the first time a group of states asked
only for the opportunity to be heard. The Indonesian FM also
focused his statement on the negative effects of settlements
and the unlawful acts of settlers. The South African FM
cited the Fourth Geneva Convention before reiterating the
Roadmap language on freezing settlements and dismantling
outposts. She described the situation on the ground as not
having improved significantly since Annapolis. She said
positive political progress must result in progress on the
ground.

Costa Rica, China, Vietnam, Panama,
and Burkina Faso focus more broadly
-----------------------------------

14. (SBU) The Costa Rican FM referenced resolution 181,
which calls for the creation of two states, and described it
as a tragedy that the Palestinian state was never created
back when the state of Israel was founded. The FM noted the
various delays in the founding of the Palestinian state, but

USUN NEW Y 00000875 004 OF 004


said the PA was taking on the features of a state and that
was why Costa Rica had recognized it as such in February. He
noted that neither of the parties has done everything it
should have and called for the participation of the Arab
states in the chamber to play an active role in facilitating
the peace process. The Chinese Deputy Pol Counselor
reiterated China's "ardent hope to see progress" and said it
was imperative that the talks produce results. Noting that
the talks are not conducted in a vacuum, he voiced concern
for the Gaza humanitarian situation and Israel's settlement
expansion. He called for neither side to wait for the other
side to take the first step in meeting its Roadmap
obligations and called for the Quartet to help accelerate the
negotiating process. He said the Security Council could and
should play an important role.

15. (SBU) The Vietnamese Perm Rep echoed the UN
Secretary-General's statements that settlement activities are
contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Roadmap. He
noted UN Special Coordinator for the Peace Process Serry's
comments before the Council September 18 that the peace
process was at a crossroads and called for the parties to
work together and take reciprocal steps. The Panamanian Perm
Rep recognized the importance of the meeting and described
the situation as more complex than one single issue, though
settlements do violate the rights of one party and called for
their halt. The Burkinabe FM who chaired the meeting said
encouraging signs are emerging and we need to transform will
into success. He called for greater effort from both sides,
terming it in the interest of everyone in the Middle East.
Khalilzad

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