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Cablegate: Senior Idf, Pasf Commanders Meet to Discuss West Bank Security Situation

VZCZCXRO7165
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #2314/01 3651528
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 301528Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3617
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 002314

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE, IPA; NSC FOR ABRAMS/PASCUAL/RAMCHAND

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/30/2018
TAGS: KWBG IS PGOV PTER ASEC
SUBJECT: SENIOR IDF, PASF COMMANDERS MEET TO DISCUSS WEST BANK SECURITY SITUATION

Classified By: Consul General Jake Walles, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (S) PA security chiefs met with top IDF and COGAT officers late December 29 at Bet El (outside Ramallah) to discuss the West Bank security situation in light of Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip. PA security chiefs told ConGenOffs that the PA urged the IDF to avoid Palestinian demonstrations and to refrain from using live ammunition, which killed three Palestinian demonstrators in recent days. According to PA commanders, the two sides agreed to expedite coordination and exchange information on disturbances and agreed both sides have an interest in avoiding violent clashes. Separately, PM Salam Fayyad confirmed to the Consul General that Israeli MoD officials have expressed their understanding of the need to avoid confrontations in the West Bank. End summary.

2. (S) According to PA National Security Forces (NSF) commander MG Thiab Mustafa Ali (Abu al-Fatah), PA Joint Security Committees (JSC) commander BG Qays Makhzumi and other senior security contacts, PA commanders met with IDF West Bank Division Commander BG Noam Tibon, West Bank COGAT Director BG Yoav (Poly) Mordechai and IDF staff principals late December 29 at Bet El DCL (District Coordination Liaison) office outside Ramallah. In addition to MG Ali and Makhzumi, PA police chief MG Hazim Attallah, Preventive Security (PSO) director MG Ziad Hab al-Rih, acting General Intelligence (Mukhabarat) chief Muhammad Thib Mansur, and Military Intelligence (Istikhbarat) chief BG Majid al-Farraj attended the meeting. Security commanders told ConGenOffs that they discussed the overall security situation the West Bank in light of Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip, and better methods of dealing with protests.

PA Commanders Urge IDF to Avoid Use of Live Ammunition ----------------------------

3. (C) PA commanders complained about IDF use of live ammunition, responsible for three Palestinian fatalities in December 27-28 protests. MG Ali said IDF commanders told them live ammunition is the last resort when dealing with Palestinian demonstrators, and IDF rules of engagement only authorize it when the lives of IDF soldiers or Israeli citizens are at immediate risk. PA security chiefs said IDF BG Tibon reported that the Nil'in village shooting (in which two Palestinian were killed by IDF fire) was quickly investigated by the IDF, and that an IDF officer has already been referred to a disciplinary board for improper use of live ammunition during the incident. According to MG Ali, both BGs Tibon and Mordechai said they re-issued instructions to all forces operating in the West Bank to abide strictly by rules of engagement and refrain from using live rounds against unarmed demonstrators.

4. (C) MG Ali added that IDF commanders said that in the Silwad incidents the Palestinian was about to throw a firebomb, thus endangering soldiers' lives, and that according to IDF rules of engagement Palestinians with firebombs are a threat to life and can be engaged with live ammunition. He added that both IDF commanders agreed, however, that in most cases, even demonstrators with firebombs should not be engaged, and troops should find non-lethal means of controlling the situation.

Both Sides Agree to Increase Coordination -----------------------------------------

5. (S) According to PA security chiefs, the second part of the meeting was dedicated to a review the West Bank security situation. PA commanders said they told IDF officers that President Abbas and PM Fayyad both directed them to avoid situations that could develop into confrontations with the IDF. The security chiefs said Abbas and Fayyad passed a message to all Palestinian factions, at a PLO Executive Committee meeting on December 29, that only peaceful marches away from flashpoints would be permitted. PA commanders noted they have no control on over B/C areas such as Qalandiya and Nil'in, and would need IDF approval to move PA forces to those areas to prevent clashes between protesters and the IDF. PA commanders said both sides agreed that Hebron is a problem, and cooperation on a case-by-case basis is critical. PA commanders said their IDF counterparts agreed to expedite coordination and movement requests and exchange information on possible disturbances, as both sides have an interest in preventing West Bank violence. They said both sides also agreed not to leak substantive discussions about the meeting to the press, given the sensitivity of JERUSALEM 00002314 002 OF 002 PA-GOI security coordination in a time of Palestinian outrage over events in Gaza.

Fayyad Confirms MoD Contacts
----------------------------

6. (S) In a separate conversation with the Consul General, PM Fayyad said he had received messages from the Israeli MoD on December 29 indicating that the Israeli security leadership understands the need for the IDF to deploy in the West Bank in a way that will minimize confrontations with Palestinian civilians. Fayyad said he was encouraged by the messages, but would watch carefully to see how these instructions are implemented by IDF commanders on the ground. WALLES

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