Cablegate: Jordan Exercised Over Red-Dead Inaction

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





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Jordanian Minister of Planning Awadallah
vented his extreme frustration to the Ambassador over
continuing squabbling and inaction on the Red-Dead
Feasibility Study Terms of Reference. Awadallah blamed both
the Israelis and Palestinians for the lack of movement on the
project and his inability to convince the WEF organizers to
host a Red-Dead panel session in Davos in which he hopes U/S
Larson will participate. Awadallah has asked for U.S.
intervention with Abu Alaa to bring the Palestinians along.
Barring resolution in time for Davos, Awadallah intends to
showcase it again at the WEF Dead Sea forum later this
spring. Continuing wrangling over Palestinian participation
and legal rights threatens to stall the project indefinitely,
as international donors and the World Bank push for a
trilateral solution. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) In a January 14 meeting on an unrelated topic with
Jordanian Minister of Planning Bassem Awadallah, the
Ambassador also heard a litany of complaints about the lack
of progress on the Red Sea-Dead Sea Terms of Reference (TOR)
for the feasibility study. Awadallah,s frustration was
primarily directed at the Palestinians, but his Israeli
partners did not escape criticism.

3. (SBU) According to Awadallah, following a number of rounds
of discussions and revisions of the draft TOR in December, in
which language offensive to the Israelis on political and
legal grounds was renegotiated, both the Israelis and
Jordanians agreed that it was possible to move forward. The
lead Jordanian technical negotiator, Zafer Alem, Secretary
General of the Jordan Valley Authority, proposed specific
language for a letter to be sent from Israeli Minister of
National Infrastructure Joseph Paritzky to Jordanian Minister
of Water and Irrigation, Hazim Al-Naser.

4. (SBU) What transpired next, and which frustrated senior
Jordanian officials, was a letter from Paritzky,s advisor,
Erez Yemini, to Alem, in which the Israelis characterized the
December meetings as reflective of the commitment to promote
and execute the feasibility study for the Red-Dead "by both
parties--Jordan and Israel." The Jordanians took exception
to the last phrase and argued that it raises, in writing yet
again, one of the biggest hurdles for movement on the
project--the stated exclusion of the Palestinians. (COMMENT:
Separately, to the Palestinians, the Jordanians have been
claiming to watch out for their interests by making them
"beneficiaries" of the project, but privately we continue to
hear that Jordan wants this to move ahead at all costs,
garnering support from the international donor community by
meeting its demands to remove any language that hints the
Palestinians are not an integral part of the larger project.
End Comment.)

5. (SBU) After the Jordanians complained to the Israelis
about the sole identification of the two parties and that the
letter was not from the minister himself, Paritzky sent an
amended letter, removing the disputed reference to only
Israel and Jordan. The letter clearly stated Israel's
acceptance of the TOR; but they added another paragraph with
a similar reference to Jordan and Israel being the only
parties to discuss the draft TOR with the World Bank,
effectively cutting the Palestinians out of the process and
undermining the apparent revisions to the TOR.

6. (SBU) On the Palestinian front, the Jordanians also have
not been as successful in gaining their unqualified support
for the Red-Dead TOR. According to Awadallah, he convinced
the Jordanian Prime Minister to call Palestinian PM Abu Alaa
five times to seek approval for the revised TOR--all to no
avail. Abu Alaa, in theory, supported the revisions, and was
to have instructed Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Kassis
to move forward. The Jordanians were told by Abu Alaa that
their acceptance letter would be in Amman in 24 hours. It
did not come. Kassis, who has been in Amman recently, claims
he doesn't have the authority to agree to such a TOR; only
Abu Alaa can authorize it. Attempts by Awadallah and
Al-Naser to reach Kassis have been met by silence.

7. (SBU) In a plea for U.S. support, Awadallah implored the
Ambassador to call CG Jerusalem to have him weigh in with Abu
Alaa, in addition to having the Ambassador contact A/S Burns
to push Palestinian acceptance. Although Awadallah is still
seeking to salvage a Red-Dead session for the upcoming Davos
WEF, the Ambassador told him frankly that we could do little
at this late stage. (Awadallah said he needed action that
night within six hours.)

8. (SBU) COMMENT: The apparent breakdown in communication
between the Israelis and Jordanians on this highly sensitive
point of Palestinian participation and rights threatens to
continue to stall the implementation of the feasibility
study. In fact, however, the Jordanian efforts with the
Palestinians are more serious. Palestinian reluctance to
jeopardize their negotiating position on future water rights
is making them a difficult potential partner. Similarly, the
Israelis are hesitant to acknowledge certain legal statements
about the Palestinians territorial or water rights. It all
adds up to an impasse. We expect Awadallah will have the
Red-Dead project high on his list of priorities for his visit
later this month to Washington.

© Scoop Media

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