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Cablegate: Tgle01: Unrep with Ominous Message From Hizballah

VZCZCXRO7006
OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHLB #2509 2131300
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 011300Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4851
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

S E C R E T BEIRUT 002509

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/SINGH/HARDING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/01/2026
TAGS: PREL MOPS PTER KISL LE SY IS
SUBJECT: TGLE01: UNREP WITH OMINOUS MESSAGE FROM HIZBALLAH

Classified By: Jeffrey Feltman, Ambassador, per 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (S/NF) Geir Pedersen, the UN Secretary General's
Personal Representative for Lebanon, contacted the Ambassador
on 8/1 to say that he had received an "alarming message" from
his "usual contact." (Note: Pedersen's usual contact is
Hizballah's Wafiq Safa. End note.) The message was
initially reassuring: The contact told Pedersen that, upon
the Israeli announcement of a 48-hour lull in aerial
activity, Hizballah likewise stopped firing rockets into
Israel. Hizballah is willing to extend its pause in rocket
attacks if Israel extends the 48-hour period.

2. (S/NF) But, the Hizballah contact said, it appears to
Hizballah Israel had lied. The aerial bombardment has not
stopped. Cutting Pedersen off when he tried to explain that
the Israelis never said it would stop completely, the contact
said that the Israelis imply de-escalation but instead
escalate. Hizballah, in turn, would escalate, too, unless
Israel stopped. Hizballah's rocket capabilities are intact,
and Hizballah will have a "strong answer" for the Israeli
actions.

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3. (S/NF) Pedersen interpreted his contact's comments as
suggesting that Hizballah would fire a longer range, more
powerful missile. Pedersen said that he passed the message
via UN channels to the Israelis, in hopes that the Israeli
ground assault is scaled back so as to avoid provoking the
Hizballah reaction that could "engulf the region," in
Pedersen's words. He hoped we could do the same.

4. (S/NF) COMMENT: For several days, Pedersen has been
convinced that all the pieces are in place for a major
escalation of hostilities that will take the region into the
unknown. He believes that Hizballah wants to show off its
long-range rockets and seeks an Israeli excuse to use one.
Pedersen is worried that Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki's
visit to Beirut today might have tilted Hizballah even
further in the direction of firing upon Tel Aviv. So
Pedersen is obsessed with trying to persuade the Israelis to
back down to avoid giving Hizballah a pretext for escalation.
Intellectually, Pedersen knows that the Israelis are
unlikely to want to back down, giving Hizballah both a
victory and the retention of its ability to keep much of
Israel within rocket range. But he sees major escalation as
the more immediate danger and the outcome he believes we all
should want most to avoid. End comment.
FELTMAN

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