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Cablegate: Guidance: Middle East Briefing, November 25

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TAGS: UNSC PREL LE IS SY
SUBJECT: GUIDANCE: MIDDLE EAST BRIEFING, NOVEMBER 25

1. (U) This is an action message. USUN is authorized to
draw from points in para 2 below during the Middle East
Briefing scheduled for November 25.

2. (U) Talking points.

-- I would like to thank Under Secretary-General Pascoe
for his briefing on the situation in the Middle East.
There are two major points that share equal importance for
the Council's consideration today.

-- First, we should take note of the positive and forward-
looking nature of the November 9 briefing by the
Palestinian and Israeli negotiators for the Quartet in
Sharm el Sheikh. The parties are to be commended for
their clear affirmation of their commitment to the process
launched at Annapolis and to ongoing, bilateral
negotiations that address all the core issues. The
framework for negotiating a final resolution of the
conflict is before us: determined, professional talks
between the parties; consistent yet constructive
international engagement; and a vigorous effort to improve
conditions on the ground. The distance to peace has
narrowed even if an agreement has not yet been reached.

-- Israel and the Palestinians have expressed common
aspirations. They have underscored their commitment to
reaching a comprehensive agreement on all issues, without
exception, as agreed at Annapolis. They have pledged to
continue their bilateral and, confidential negotiations
until this goal is achieved, even during times of
political transition. They have attested the negotiating
structure is effective and productive and they intend to
keep it in place.

-- Based on this, the parties requested the continued
support of the international community, including respect
for the mutually-agreed principles of their bilateral
dialogue and for the confidential nature of the
negotiations, and that third parties should not intervene
in the negotiations absent the joint request of both
parties. Taking into account the substantial nature of
the negotiations and the potential for further progress,
we remain committed to the irreversibility of the
negotiations.

-- We urge our international partners, particularly those
in the region, to demonstrate their commitment to peace by
providing political and economic assistance to the
legitimate Palestinian government, which has taken
significant steps to reform its security services and
increase accountability and transparency within its
governing institutions.

-- As a member of the Quartet, the UN also has an
important role to play. It must take an even-handed
approach, encouraging both parties to take the necessary
steps to make progress. The UN cannot be seen to favor
one side over the other.

-- Secondly, and of similar importance for Council
members, is our mutual concern for the welfare of the
innocent people of Gaza and in the towns and cities of
southern Israel. As the largest single-state contributor
of aid to the Palestinian people, the United States is
committed to seeing humanitarian aid get through.

-- The U.S. calls for an immediate halt in rocket attacks
against civilian communities in Israel, and attacks
against commercial crossings that are preventing the
import of crucial humanitarian supplies and basic
commodities, without which the people of Gaza will
continue to suffer.

-- We urge an end to violence and for the Government of
Israel to allow fuel, humanitarian shipments, and
humanitarian aid workers entry into Gaza as expeditiously
as possible.

-- Egyptian efforts to promote calm in Gaza and southern
Israel are laudable, and we continue to urge both sides to
adhere to their commitments in this regard. At the same
time, it is critical the international community upholds
the Quartet principles -- renunciation of violence,
recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous
agreements between the parties. Respect for PLO
commitments are also critical in this regard.

-- The Council should not lose sight of the root cause for
the current situation. While the vast majority of the
people of Gaza simply want to get on with their lives,
Hamas and other groups continue to instigate violence by
their surreptitious construction of tunnels from Gaza into
Israeli territory of the type used before to kidnap and
kill Israeli soldiers, their indiscriminate rocket attacks
on Israel, and their attacks on established humanitarian
aid crossing points. It should not come as a surprise
that this increase in disruptive terrorist violence comes
at a time when the peace negotiators have reaffirmed their
commitment in the face of adversity. This is a pattern
the Council has seen time and again as terrorists seek to
instigate a crisis to derail efforts for peace.

-- I wish to touch briefly on two other matters. First,
we have seen in recent days two extraordinary gestures by
Israeli and Palestinian leaders that should not go
un-remarked. During the recent General Assembly session
on a "Culture of Peace" Israeli President Peres made a
special point to reach out directly to Saudi King
Abdullah, signaling Israeli openness to elements of the
Arab Peace initiative of 2002. Then last week, the
Palestinian Authority took out advertisements in the
Israeli press calling directly on the Israeli people to
embrace that same Arab Peace Initiative. These steps are
consistent with an expansion of diplomatic efforts toward
comprehensive peace in the region. We applaud and
encourage creative, determined efforts of this nature,
which have succeeded in building peace in the past and can
do so again.

-- Finally, just a short word on Lebanon, which we
normally discuss in the context of these briefings but
will take up this afternoon in a full discussion of the
Secretary General's report on UN Security Council
resolution 1701. For now, let me say only that we
strongly support the report's clear expression of the
importance of Hizballah disarmament, as the Secretary
General also recently highlighted in his report on UNSCR
1559.

End talking points.
RICE

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