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Cablegate: Italian Project On Track Ii Diplomacy Between

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ROME 000603

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL IT IS GZ UN
SUBJECT: ITALIAN PROJECT ON TRACK II DIPLOMACY BETWEEN
ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS

1. (U) SENSING THAT THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST HAS
REACHED "DESPERATE" MEASURES, THE ITALIAN MFA FUNDED AN
INITIATIVE CALLED "MEETING THE OTHER", A FORUM FOR ISRAELI
AND PALESTINIAN CIVIL SOCIETIES TO DIALOGUE. THE FIRST OF
SUCH MEETINGS TOOK PLACE FEB 4.

2. (U) AMBASSADOR ANTONIO BADINI, THE MFA'S DIRECTOR GENERAL
FOR THE MIDDLE EAST, OPENED THE MEETING BY STRESSING THAT
"MEETING THE OTHER" WAS NOT A VENUE FOR POLITICAL DEBATE, BUT
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 ROME 00603 090715Z
AN ATTEMPT TO PROMOTE CIVIL DIALOGUE IN DISCUSSING A POSSIBLE
COMMON FUTURE, AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO START A SOCIAL PROJECT
THAT WOULD IMPROVE THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE IN THE REGION.
THERE WAS CONSENSUS AMONG THE AUDIENCE THAT EDUCATION OUGHT
TO BE THE TOPIC DISCUSSED IN THE NEXT MEETING (JUNE 2002).

3. (U) MR. DAVID GROSSMAN, A WRITER, REPRESENTED THE ISRAELI
SIDE. HE SAID THAT THE MAJOR CURRENT TRAGEDY IS THE ABSENCE
OF A LEADER, ISRAELI OR PALESTINIAN, WHO IS TRULY WILLING TO
OFFER HIS PEOPLE THE ONLY POSSIBLE SOLUTION: PEACE. WHEN
ASKED IF THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT MAY PURSUE "UNILATERAL
SEPARATION", HE REPLIED THAT HE HOPED NOT. EVEN THOUGH THE
ISRAELI PUBLIC IS TERRIFIED OF TERRORISM, GROSSMAN STRESSED
THAT THE HEART OF ZIONISM IS TO "ACHIEVE SOME NORMALITY, TO
BE ACCEPTED". HE HOPED THAT THE ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN
LEADERSHIP WOULD OPT FOR THE "MATURE BEHAVIOR": DIALOGUE.

4. (U) PROFESSOR SARI NUSSEIBEH, DEAN OF AL QUDS UNIVERSITY,
REPRESENTED THE PALESTINIAN SIDE. HE STARTED BY UNDERLINING
THAT YASSER ARAFAT IS INDEED THE ONLY LEADER OF THE PA AND
THAT HE OUGHT TO BE TREATED AS SUCH. HE SAID THAT ONLY
PALESTINE CAN GIVE ISRAEL ITS "LEGITIMATE BIRTH CERTIFICATE",
AND THUS BOTH PEOPLE OUGHT TO THINK IN TERMS OF INCLUDING,
AND NOT EXCLUDING, EACH OTHER. HE FINISHED BY STATING THAT
IT SERVES LITTLE PURPOSE TO TALK ABOUT THE PAST SINCE BOTH
PEOPLES ARE VICTIMS OF THE PAST. WHAT MATTERS MOST, STRESSED
NUSSEIBEH, IS THE FUTURE AND THE ABILITY OF ISRAELIS AND
PALESTINIANS TO THINK IN TERMS OF "MUTUAL ACCEPTANCE".

5. (U) COMMENT: EMBASSY WILL CONTINUE TO FOLLOW AND REPORT ON
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 ROME 00603 090715Z
"MEETING THE OTHER". IT FITS WELL THE GOI THINKING: DEEP AND
GENUINE CONCERN ABOUT THE VIOLENCE; A WISH TO BE SUPPORTIVE
OF USG EFFORTS; AND A BELIEF THEY CAN BE GOOD FRIENDS OF BOTH
ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIANS. SUCH AN INITIATIVE FOR DIALOGUE
BETWEEN CIVIL SOCIETIES WILL NOT IN ITSELF SOLVE THE
ISRAELI/PALESTINIAN CONFLICT, BUT IT BROUGHT A COMFORTABLE
TONE TO AN UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATION. "THERE IS MUTUAL TRUST
IN THIS ROOM BETWEEN ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS" WAS PERHAPS A
SLIGHTLY TOO OPTIMISTIC STATEMENT BY MR. GROSSMAN, BUT THERE
WAS CERTAINLY MORE "MUTUAL TRUST" IN THE CIVIL DIALOGUE THAN
IN THE CURRENT POLITICAL "DIALOGUE" BETWEEN SHARON AND
ARAFAT. END COMMENT.
SEMBLER

UNCLASSIFIED

>
2002ROME00603 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

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