Cablegate: Embassy Tel Aviv
DE RUEHTV #2713 3391327
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 041327Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9447
INFO RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0924
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T TEL AVIV 002713
NEA/IPA; TREASURY FOR GLASER, D. AND KIMMIT, R.
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/04/2018 TAGS: EFIN KNNP KTFN KPAL PTER PREL IS
Classified By: CDA Luis G. Moreno for reasons 1.4(b) and (d)
1.(S) Econoff called Udi Levi, Counterterrorism Finance Bureau Director at the National Security Council (NSC) and a senior intelligence officer on December 2 to press for release of NIS 250 million to the Gaza banking system, as requested by the Palestinian Monetary Authority. Levi said continued rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, stalemate in negotions on release of Hamas-held Israeli Defense Force soldier Gilad Shalit, and new information on Hamas access to the Palestinian Authority salary payments funded by the requested transfer all made it unlikely that the GOI would honor the request.
2.(S) Levi did say that the GOI is considering a policy to permit about NIS 40 million in new liquidity to enter the Gaza Strip banks on a monthly basis. The exact amount is still under discussion, said Levi, but the Israeli security services have agreed that monthly transfers of some amount of shekels to Gaza are necessary to avoid collapse of the banking system there.
3.(S) However, Levi noted GOI intelligence has indications that Gaza banks are being forced by Hamas to underreport their true reserve holdings, so it is difficult for the GOI to assess the current state of the banking system in Gaza. He said that the banks have had no choice but to follow Hamas instructions and conduct business as if they were operating on insufficient reserves. He posited that the present pre-Eid crisis might be an attempt by Hamas to further consolidate its power in Gaza though he was vague on how the crisis would forward the Hamas agenda. Regarding the PA,s payroll, Levi told econoff that it included Hamas members and many other questionable individuals that the GOI did not believe to be working as civil servants for the Fatah-controlled PA. He offered to share all GOI information on the topic in a meeting with relevant USG officials at their earliest convenience. We will take him up on that offer and report septel.
4.(S) Comment: USG interlocutors at all levels have been urging the GOI to provide the needed December salary payments and greater certainty to Gaza,s banking sector going forward. Most recently, Charge raised the NIS 250 million request with COGAT/MOD PolMil Director Amos Gilad evening of December 3. Gilad,s response was, "Theyre not getting a dime". However, we do not expect that to be the last word from the GOI on the subject.
5.(S) Comment continued: Going forward, the GOI may set the monthly transfer floor somewhat higher than the 40 million shekels mentioned by Levi, but it is unlikely to eliminate uncertainty completely by setting the floor at the roughly NIS 250 million average level requested by the PA over the past few months. Therefore, we expect this issue to remain an agenda item in the Joint Economic Committee for the foreseeable future, and anticipate continued pressure for USG intervention in the monthly transfer process. Of greater concern is Levis claim to have new evidence that the PAs current Gaza salaries list is tainted by Hamas sympathizers. We will work with the GOI to verify that claim and to make sure the PA has sufficient information to re-vet the list, if necessary.
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