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Cablegate: Lebanon: Marwan Hamadeh Discusses Draft Resolution

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O 111713Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5006
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0945
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0060

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 002599

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/SINGH/HARDING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/11/2016
TAGS: MOPS PREL PTER LE IS SY
SUBJECT: LEBANON: MARWAN HAMADEH DISCUSSES DRAFT RESOLUTION

Classified By: Jeffrey D. Feltman, Ambassador. Reason 1.4 (d).

SUMMARY
--------

1. (C) A/S Welch, Ambassador Feltman, Deputy Legal Adviser
Jonathan Schwartz and poloff (notetaker) met with Lebanese
Minister for Telecommunications Marwan Hamadeh and Minister
of Displaced Naame Tomeh, both close allies of Druze leader
Walid Joumblatt, at Hamadeh's downtown office on the
afternoon of August 11. Understanding that the latest draft
resolution would not explicitly mention Chapter VII, Hamadeh
urged that the language for the mandate of the UNIFIL-plus
should be as muscular as possible. While suggesting that
more concrete language on the Sheba'a issue would help sell
the resolution in the Lebanese Cabinet, Hamadeh understood
that this would not be acceptable to Israel. Asked about a
mechanism to monitor points of entry to block arms smuggling
to militant groups in Lebanon, Hamadeh said this would cause
disagreement within the Cabinet but that they would consider
the options. Hamadeh is also concerned about the rules of
engagement during the interim period between the cessation of
hostilities and the deployment of the LAF/UNIFIL-plus force
to the South. Hamadeh and Tomeh both suggested that
Hizballah should be fully disarmed or integrated into the LAF
as soon as possible. A strong voice within the Cabinet, and
not easily cowed, Hamadeh promised to push for GOL acceptance
of the resolution so that it can be voted on in New York.
End Summary.

"WALID WANTS A TOUGH RESOLUTION"
--------------------------------

2. (C) Using an expletive to dismiss the latest Russian
suggestion of a placeholder resolution calling for a
humanitarian truce, Hamedeh said that, "Walid wants a tough
resolution. He doesn't want to give Hizballah a victory."
He urged that the international community not hesitate to
pass a resolution, and that he and others would work on
convincing Speaker Berri and Hizballah to accept the draft,
whatever its shortfalls in the Lebanese context. While he
understands that the latest draft resolution has no explicit
mention of Chapter VII for the beefed-up UNIFIL force, he
supports adding language to give the force every capability
to be effective in the South. Regarding the LAF deployment,
Hamadeh said that Minister of Defense Elias Murr, a
fence-sitter of suspected allegiance, nevertheless now seems
genuinely "enthusiastic" about playing an "historic role" in
leading the Lebanese army back to the South.

3. (C) According to Hamadeh's understanding, once the
initial LAF/UNIFIL-plus contingents arrive in Tyre and begin
deploying in the South, the Israeli withdrawal will begin.
Hamadeh urged that the interim period between passage of the
resolution and deployment/withdrawal be reduced as much as
possible so as to avoid a breakdown in the cessation of
hostilities. He is worried that as long as the IDF remain in
the South, Hizballah may continue firing into Israel and
certainly will continue attacking Israeli troops on the
ground. The Israelis may also have an overly expansive view
of what counts as defensive action, provoking more Hizballah
action. An unstable situation on the ground may dissuade
UNIFIL-plus troops from deploying, thus scuttling the
resolutions's sequencing -- while satisfying what may be a
Hizballah plan to discourage potential troop contributing
nations from participating.

4. (C) Hamadeh wants there to be some sort of understanding
governing hostilities during the interim period to avoid a
major escalation. For instance, he suggested that civilian
casualties be averted by both sides, which might encourage
IDPs to begin returning to their homes. Hamadeh was
initially suspicous of using the "April Understandings" rules
of engagement following the 1996 Israel-Hizballah clashes,
since "this is what the Syrians and Iranians want, a
low-intensity front against Israel." A/S Welch noted that
the context is now different, for the April Understandings
assumed that some conflict was permissible. Now, the
resolution calls for a cessation of hostilities.

5. (C) Hamadeh made a half-hearted push for adding more
concrete language on Sheba'a Farms, saying that this would

BEIRUT 00002599 002 OF 002

help with getting Hizballah on board with the resolution, but
stressed, "don't think we are eager to give them a victory on
Sheba'a." Hamadeh dropped the Sheba'a issue once he
understood this is a deal-breaker for the Israelis and that
at least the territory is mentioned in the current draft. He
added that, "The people of Lebanon want a ceasefire and
withdrawal. They don't care about Sheba'a."

5. (C/NF) Regarding the GOL desire for a lifting of the
blockade of ports and airports, A/S Welch and Ambassador
Feltman stressed that the Israelis would have to be confident
there is effective monitoring in place at points of entry to
block arms resupply of militant groups. Hamadeh said that
neither Berri nor Hizballah support having UNIFIL assume this
responsibility. A/S Welch and Ambassador Feltman suggested
that perhaps other governments or private security firms
could help the GOL with the task of monitoring entry points.
Concerned that this would place PM Siniora in an awkward
position, since it "would give the feeling that we are being
placed under mandate," Hamadeh said that the GOL would look
into such options, but that it would have to be handled
delicately. "It's not something that we can write down."
Oddly, since it would be unlikely to win Cabinet approval,
Hamadeh and Tomeh suggested putting up an electrified
"intelligent fence" at points along the border with Syria.

DEALING WITH HIZBALLAH
----------------------

6. (C) Even if the deployment/withdrawal plan were to work,
Hamadeh worried, "what then happens north of the Litani?" An
armed Hizballah would still be capable of launching rockets
over the heads of the LAF and UNIFIL-plus into Israel.
Hamadeh and Tomeh said that they are ready to push for the
full disarmament of Hizballah, and that Lebanese public
opinion would help them in this. "As soon as the guns
quiten, voices will rise." After an initial ebullient phase
during which Hizballah will claim victory for "the
resistance", there would come a "painful time of accounting
of assets and liabilities." Hamadeh claimed that even some
Shi'a, returning to their homes in the South to find these
reduced to rubble, would point an angry finger at Hizballah.
Speaking of Hizballah, Tomeh urged that "we have to wear them
down."

COMMENT
-------

7. (C) A stalwart voice in the Cabinet, we expect that
Hamadeh will be able to push for rapid GOL acceptance of the
latest draft resolution. He indicated that, while it remains
a tough sell, the dropping of the explicit references to
Chapter VII would help in convincing other Cabinet members to
accept the Shebaa language. He seems less optimistic on the
issue of monitoring of points of entry, saying he does not
want PM Siniora discredited by those who would accuse him of
selling out Lebanese sovereignty.

8. (U) A/S Welch did not have the opportunity to clear this
cable.
FELTMAN

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