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Cablegate: Lebanon: Codel Royce and Israeli Nsc Chief Discuss

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Carol X Weakley 08/11/2006 04:47:57 PM From DB/Inbox: Carol X Weakley

Cable
Text:


C O N F I D E N T I A L TEL AVIV 03145

SIPDIS
CXTelA:
ACTION: POL
INFO: RSO CONS IPSC PD IMO RES ECON DCM DAO AMB AID
ADM

DISSEMINATION: POL
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: DCM:GCRETZ
DRAFTED: CONS:RSMITH
CLEARED: POL:NOLSEN/SCROWLEY

VZCZCTVI940
OO RUEHC RUEHXK
DE RUEHTV #3145/01 2221400
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 101400Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5532
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 003145

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/10/2016
TAGS: PREL PTER LE IS
SUBJECT: LEBANON: CODEL ROYCE AND ISRAELI NSC CHIEF DISCUSS
INTERNATIONAL FORCE, HIZBALLAH, AND SYRIA

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Gene A. Cretz for reasons 1.4 (B
and D).

1. (C) Summary: Israeli National Security Council head Ilan
Mizrahi told Representative Ed Royce July 9 that he does not
believe any country will send troops to participate in an
international force to fight Hizballah. He said the Lebanese
army is "not a force you can count on," and indicated that
Israel is hoping for a NATO force. Mizrahi told Royce that
Israel aims to weaken Hizballah since it will not be possible
to destroy them completely. Mizrahi described the likelihood
of a civil war in Lebanon as a "very good possibility" and
said that unless Hizballah disarms completely there will be
another round of violence in the future. Mizrahi was joined
in the meeting by Eran Etzion, deputy head of the National
Security Council for Foreign Policy. Rep. Royce was
accompanied by the Deputy Chief of Mission, Mrs. Royce, and
staffers Thomas Sheehy, Edward Burrier, and Brian Diffell.
End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Skepticism about International Force or Ceasefire
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (C) Mizrahi told CODEL Royce he does not believe that the
international community will contribute troops to an
international force in Lebanon, saying that such a force
would be an eventual target for Al-Qaeda. He was similarly
pessimistic about the benefits of deploying the Lebanese
Armed Forces (LAF), which he said cannot be counted upon.
Mizrahi said Israel is hoping for a NATO force instead but
supports implementation of UNSCR 1559.

3. (C) Mizrahi told Royce that the cabinet after a boisterous
six hour discussion had just decided to expand military
operations in southern Lebanon, and he expressed uncertainty
that a ceasefire would be achieved soon. He said Israel will
stay in Lebanon until a ceasefire is implemented, adding that
an eventual ceasefire would leave Hizballah weakened but not
destroyed. He asserted that the core elements of Hizballah
are located between the Litani and Zahrani rivers, but the
launchers are spread all over. When asked about a prisoner
exchange, Mizrahi said he hopes that such an exchange will
proceed once a ceasefire is in place. He claimed that the
Lebanese desire for a ceasefire is increasing, and that GOL
ministers are pressuring Hizballah to implement one. He also
characterized the Syrians and Iranians as "wanting a
ceasefire desperately."

4. (C) Outlining possible post-ceasefire scenarios, Mizrahi
said Hizballah could emerge with increased public support.
In this case, Hizballah would retain the backing of Syria and
Iran and, though weak, would still be the strongest military
-- and therefore political -- force in Lebanon.
Alternatively, a ceasefire could leave Hizballah politically
weakened, with Sunnis, Druze, Christians, and moderate
Shiites blaming the organization for the destruction of the
south. Mizrahi indicated that, coupled with Lebanese
sectarian divisions, this situation would likely lead to
civil war.

------------------------------------------
Hizballah Badly Hurt But Spirit Not Broken
------------------------------------------

5. (C) Mizrahi described Israel's goal as weakening
Hizballah, acknowledging that it is impossible to destroy the
group completely given its deep roots in Lebanese society.
He described Hizballah as "badly damaged, but their spirit is
not broken," and claimed that Israeli attacks have
substantially degraded the group's long and medium range
rockets, as well as significantly damaged its troops and
infrastructure. In his opinion, Hizballah did not anticipate
such a severe Israeli reaction to its July attacks. He
cautioned, however, that Hizballah still has 10,000
short-range Katyusha rockets and a functioning command and
control system in place. At the end of the day, said
Mizrahi, Israel will have to develop better intelligence and
technology to fight Hizballah.

------------------------
Israel's Desired Outcome
------------------------

6. (C) Mizrahi told CODEL Royce that Israel wants a return of
the two kidnapped soldiers, the deployment of the LAF and an
international force in the south, and an agreement disarming
Hizballah. He said Israel would not withdraw from the
Sheba'a Farms/Har Dov area as part of a deal with Lebanon to
end the current hostilities, although the issue could be a
subject for negotiations during peace talks or for a
longer-term security arrangement.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Syria Uninterested in Military Conflict with Israel
--------------------------------------------- ------
7. (C) In response to a question from the DCM about prospects
for Syrian involvement in the conflict, Mizrahi said that
neither Israel nor Syria want Damascus to become militarily
engaged in the conflict. He suggested that the only chance
for the expansion of the conflict would be a miscalculation
on Syria's part. In Mizrahi's assessment, Syria is ready to
make peace with Israel in exchange for the return of the
Golan Heights, but disputes over water resources in the Sea
of Galilee are holding up the process. He said Syria
"desperately wants to have a dialogue with the Americans,"
and claimed that Syrian leaders believe that their support
for insurgents in Iraq and their continued involvement in
Lebanon give them a role to play in Middle East politics.

-------------------
Long Term Solutions
-------------------

8. (C) Etzion told the CODEL that a long-term solution must
address the presence of Hizballah and other militias in
Lebanon. As part of any solution, Iran and Syria would have
to "let go of Lebanon" and the Lebanese political system
would need to be rearranged to strengthen moderate elements.
Etzion argued that unless it is possible to create the
conditions whereby Hizballah completely disarms, future
conflicts are likely. Mizrahi concurred, predicting that
there will be "a second round" of fighting n Lebanon because
Syria and Iran will continue to arm Hizballah.

9. (U) CODEL Royce did not have the opportunity to clear this
cable.

********************************************* ********************
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/telaviv

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website.
********************************************* ********************
JONES

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