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Cablegate: Israel Fm Livni Says Israel Disapproves of Current

Carol X Weakley 08/08/2006 04:49:20 PM From DB/Inbox: Carol X Weakley


S E C R E T TEL AVIV 03079




DE RUEHTV #3079/01 2200836
O 080836Z AUG 06

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 TEL AVIV 003079



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2016

Classified By: Ambassador Richard H. Jones. Reasons: 1.4 (b, d).


1. (S) In their August 6 meeting, Israeli FM Tzipi Livni told
NEA Assistant Secretary David Welch that Israel could not
approve of the draft UN resolution in its current form.
Making impassioned, emotional appeals, she more than once put
forward the following reasons:

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-- In Israel's view, the resolution leads to negotiations
over Shebaa Farms, a territory disputed between Syria and
Lebanon. Livni asserted that the international community has
no right to make Israel a party to the dispute, and make
Shebaa Farms an irritant in the Israel-Lebanon bilateral
relationship. Livni also asserted that -- if the resolution
were approved -- Lebanon would press first for a resolution
of Shebaa Farms at the expense of all other matters for
resolution. In this case, Livni said, Lebanon would get what
it wants, fail to follow through on anything else, and
Hizballah aggression would be rewarded.

-- In Israel's view, the draft resolution will allow Lebanon
to place conditions on its assent to the political framework
envisioned in operative paragraph six (OP6). She suggested
that a weak Lebanese government will make its agreement
conditional on something that Israel would not be able to
accept, and thereby shift the international community's focus
onto Israel as the intransigent party.

-- In Israel's view, the two-resolution approach is flawed.
As the second resolution concerning the multinational force
(MNF) is, as Israel understands, almost complete, it and the
first resolution should be combined.

2. (S) SUMMARY, CONTINUED: FM Livni instead strongly pushed
for the draft UNSCR to call for full implementation of UNSCR
1559s and 1680 -- especially as they concern disarming
militias and delimiting Lebanon's border with Syria. She
stressed that Israel has no quarrel with Lebanon, and wants
to see the Siniora government succeed -- if necessary with
appropriate help from the international community. She
argued that the international community's undertakings need
to recognize and focus on the fact that the conflict started
when Hizballah attacked Israel from Lebanon's territory. The
conflict, she asserted, is between Hizballah and its backers,
and Israel -- not between Lebanon and Israel. FM Livni also
expressed disappointment at the news that France has been
tapped to organize and lead the multinational force (MNF)
envisioned to enter southern Lebanon after a cease-fire. She
repeatedly probed for information on what the Europeans --
and EU High Representative Solana -- were doing to comprise
an MNF, and wondered aloud if NATO is considering whether to
deploy the NATO Response Force (NRF) to the region.
Assistant Secretary Welch briefed FM Livni on his meetings in

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3. (S) With media representatives present, FM Livni opened
the meeting by cautioning everyone not to believe what the
newspapers write: "Israel is not satisfied with the draft UN
resolution as it stands." After the media reps departed the
room, Livni reiterated to the Assistant Secretary that Israel
-- like Lebanon -- does not approve of the current draft of
the resolution. Over the next hour and a half, FM Livni made
repeated, impassioned appeals to the Assistant Secretary not
to allow the draft UN resolution to address the long-standing
Shebaa Farms territorial dispute. First, she argued that
Shebaa Farms is a territorial dispute between Lebanon and
Syria. As such, Israel has no right to be involved in it,
and does not wish to have it placed on its bilateral agenda
with Lebanon. She argued that IF/IF Shebaa Farms were
returned to Lebanon in any kind of post-conflict resolution
-- and Israel were implicated in the return -- then Syria
might attack Israel, arguing that Israel had no right to hand
the territory over to Lebanon.

4. (S) FM Livni also returned to what she said were the GOI's
initial objections to addressing the Shebaa Farms issue in
the first place -- that return of any disputed territory as
part of a resolution to the current conflict would be
tantamount to rewarding aggression. Hizballah, she claimed,
would grow stronger, and terrorists in the region would be
emboldened, perceiving that their aggression had paid
dividends. Asking for five minutes to lay out the Israeli
position on Shebaa Farms, Livni continued: "In past
discussions between Israel and the U.S., it was clear that
Shebaa Farms would be the end of a process -- full
implementation of (UNSCR) 1559. Now, it is being put as
something to start with! I am so fed up with weak leaders
who want to get something good without implementing their
deals." She wondered aloud what would happen next -- perhaps
Hizballah would press for return of the West Bank? Pounding
the table, Livni said, "Surely the U.S. and other Western
governments are not naive enough to believe Hizballah's
statements that it exists because of Shebaa Farms. Iran is
the reason why Hizballah exists. Iran, Syria, the
Palestinians and Hamas are watching us. We will be sending
the wrong message. They will see that they get something by
killing Israelis. I do not care about Siniora's 'blah blah'
about how this is something for him. If Shebaa Farms are
returned to Lebanon, Hizballah will merely take up another
cause. It exists solely to advocate for and execute the
destruction of Israel. This is about our existence, not
Shebaa Farms. Shebaa Farms is a Syria-Israel conflict. I
ask you, do not lead us to a situation where the end of this
conflict becomes a victory for Hizballah."

5. (S) Pressed by the Assistant Secretary to address Israel's
specific concerns with the language, Livni repeatedly
returned to operative paragraph six (OP 6 -- which she
claimed places obligations on Israel to resolve issues that
previously were to be resolved by Lebanon) and operative
paragraph seven (OP 7) in the draft text, which she said
envisions the UN Secretary General securing assent from
Lebanon and Israel for a political framework. Livni
explained that Israel's fear is that the return of Shebaa
Farms is perceived by the government of Lebanon as part of
the political framework. Israel envisions a worst-case
scenario in which Lebanon conditions its assent to the
political framework on Israeli fulfillment of something that
it cannot fulfill -- or worse, the return of Shebaa Farms.
In this case, Israel would appear to be the intransigent
party. One could, she said, imagine a scenario in which
Shebaa Farms were returned, and then the weak Siniora
government decides not to take action on any of its
"obligations," including complete execution of UNSCR 1559.
Livni summarized -- Lebanon gets something for nothing.
Hizballah -- which started this war -- is rewarded for
aggression. Israel is hereafter saddled with obligations
based on a war that it did not start.

6. (S) Livni stressed that prior to the outbreak of the
fighting, there was a series of UNSCRs that concerned
Lebanon: 425 (Israel's withdrawal behind a UN-mandated
line), 1559 (disarmament of militias) and 1680 (calling on
Syria to delimit its borders with Lebanon). Accepting
Assistant Secretary Welch's clarification that expectations
laid out in 1559 were not "obligations" set on Lebanon's
government, Livni nonetheless argued that it needs to be made
clear that the conflict has evolved out of unfulfilled
resolutions calling for action by countries in the region
other than Israel. Israel, she asserted, has executed all
that it has been called upon to do in the resolutions. It
should not, she stressed, be burdened with any actions as the
result of a conflict that it did not initiate. "The way to
resolve this conflict," she said, "is to return to 1680. If
the government of Lebanon does not want it, then tough luck!
We need to refer to full implementation of 1680. We want you
to agree to the idea that Shebaa Farms will be dealt with
only after 1559 is fully implemented."

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7. (S) Livni also wondered aloud why the U.S. and France had
decided on a process involving two UNSC resolutions -- the
first calling for a cease-fire, and the second mandating the
insertion of a multinational force (MNF) into southern
Lebanon. If Israel understood correctly that 90 percent of
the second resolution had already been composed, Livni
wondered why the U.S. would not just combine the two
resolutions together. She complained that separating the two
left the process open-ended, starting with a cease-fire that
could ultimately prove indefinite -- a return to the status
quo ante. Livni stressed that Israel is "willing to give the
keys" to the MNF, and is not trying to buy more time for the
IDF: "We do not need more time to allow our forces to be
attacked by Hizballah. From the beginning, we have said we
are willing to leave Lebanon. We do not, however, want to
face another UNIFIL again."

8. (S) Assistant Secretary Welch clarified that the first
resolution calls for a cessation of hostilities -- something
considerably different than a cease-fire. He confessed that
he did not have any details to share on the MNF itself,
noting only his understanding that France has taken upon
itself the role of organizing whatever MNF eventually enters
southern Lebanon. As for the step-by-step nature of the
process, the Assistant Secretary explained that potential
troop contributors to the MNF needed to have Israel's and
Lebanon's commitment to the framework political agreement
before their governments could consider assigning forces to
the MNF. No country, he said, could be expected to place its
troops in southern Lebanon without the consent of the parties
to their presence. He added that raising an MNF takes time,
and noted that France postponed the first meeting of the
force generation conference that was scheduled to take place
in New York earlier in the week. Responding to the FM's
re-statement that Israel would prefer one resolution and the
opportunity to "insert more details" regarding the arms
embargo, the MNF's rules of engagement and the Syria-Lebanon
border, the Assistant Secretary stressed that re-opening the
matter posed greater danger than continuing with the current

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9. (S) The Assistant Secretary shared with Livni the results
of his August 4-5 meetings in Lebanon with PM Siniora, former
economy minister Marwan Hamadi, Druze leader Walid Jumblat;
the UNSYG's Personal Rep, Geir Pederson; Lebanese
Parliamentary Speaker Nabi Berri, and Maronite leader Natal
Malawi. Stressing that he had met with representatives from
all of Lebanon's confessions, the Assistant Secretary
characterized the meetings as very professional.
Specifically, he told FM Livni that:

-- Berri sees himself as able to represent Shia interests,
and is willing, but does not feel obligated, to do so. He is
providing considerable help to PM Siniora, who relies upon
him to keep the Shia in line with the GOL. Berri indicated
his willingness to be an intermediary to Hizballah.

-- Lebanon's Druze are plugged into all the issues and assert
that a Shia figure needs to take the lead to stop the
conflict. The Maronites as a group are more divided in their
views, but are more anti-Hizballah, anti-Syria and anti-Iran
than the other confessions.

-- Jumblat claimed that the IDF is not making much headway
against Hizballah and needs to keep up pressure on the group.
All of the Assistant Secretary's interlocutors understood
that it is helpful to have Hizballah "militarily pressured."

-- His Lebanese interlocutors had reached a common view on
reparations. They also asked for U.S. help on reconstructing

-- All of his interlocutors shared a common view on Shebaa
Farms, including the importance of the issue and the view
that its resolution would deprive Hizballah of its claim for
its resistance. All want to see Shebaa Farms returned as
part of a political change and victory over Hizballah. They
do not need all of the territory returned, and they do not
want delimitation, as this would give Syria a veto. They do
not insist that Lebanon control the returned territory, or
that all Lebanese displaced persons and refugees return.
They would agree to full demilitarization of the returned
portion. All agreed on the seven points contained in the
Lebanese cabinet's understanding. All expect a specific
proposal from Israel regarding withdrawal.

-- All of his interlocutors perceive that the international
community is pressuring Lebanon to make peace with Israel.
The Lebanese want an armistice agreement to provide them
cover so that they can carry out any undertakings with
Israel. Progress has been made on the principles of an
armistice. If the Lebanese can obtain the principles and
elements that they desire, they would quickly agree. They do
not like the draft resolution in its current form as it does
not address withdrawal. (NOTE: The Assistant Secretary
stressed that he might have more influence on the Lebanese if
he could return to them with withdrawal language acceptable
to Israel. END NOTE.)

-- Like the Israelis, the Lebanese are not happy with the
lead role France has appointed itself in organizing the MNF.

-- All said that they cannot ask for or approve a
multinational force under a Chapter 7 mandate, but can accept
one if it is imposed on Lebanon. They are planning for the
deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) immediately
upon withdrawal of the IDF -- even if the MNF is not yet in
place. Berri implied that Hizballah would agree, and
volunteered to personally lead a vanguard of 10,000-15,000
troops into the south. All shared the Israeli view that
there should be no space between Phases One and Two. The
Lebanese view, however, is that as long as the IDF remains in
Lebanon, it should expect the fight to continue. All of the
Assistant Secretary's interlocutors preferred that the IDF
withdraw right away, and noted that the growing plight of
displaced persons increases the scope for Iranian and Syrian
interference. PM Siniora has been in touch with potential
Islamic troop contributors -- including Malaysia and
Indonesia -- and wants the bulk of Muslim MNF troops to be

-- All accept that there should be no arms in the area of
operations except those held by the LAF and MNF. They accept
the responsibility to stop weapons re-supply, and are willing
to accept some UNIFIL role in monitoring this. (NOTE: FM
Livni responded that "This is most important for Israel right
now." END NOTE.)

-- All agreed that Iran and Syria want to continue the fight.

-- All of his interlocutors were very realistic on the
prisoner issue. They want to see it referred to in the draft
resolution, but will not make their agreement to the
resolution conditional on it. Responding to Livni, the
Assistant Secretary said that he had no more information on
the condition of the Israeli soldiers being held prisoner.
He recounted that PM Siniora had told him that right after
their abduction, he had been told that they were safe and
"out of the South." Siniora had also said very empathetic
things about how prisoners would be cared for under Islamic

10. (S) The Assistant Secretary said that the USG's goal is
to aim for a vote on the draft resolution on August 8, and
that Secretary Rice would relocate to New York the evening of
August 7 in support of that aim. FM Livni wondered aloud
whether Israel or Lebanon could alter the timetable. The
Assistant Secretary replied that UNSYG Annan would likely
press ahead, notwithstanding any Lebanese or Israeli

11. (C) The U.S. side was represented by Assistant Secretary
Welch, State Deputy Legal Adviser Jonathan Schwartz,
Ambassador Richard H. Jones, DCM Gene Cretz, and Pol-Mil
Officer Michael Keays (notetaker). The Israeli side was led
by Foreign Minister Livni and included her Chief of Staff,
Daniel Pinhasi, MFA Director General Aharon Abramovich and
MFA Adviser Tal Becker.

12. (U) This cable was cleared by NEA Assistant Secretary
David Welch.

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