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Cablegate: Lebanon: Natan Sharansky Discusses Hizballah

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Carol X Weakley 08/11/2006 04:51:07 PM From DB/Inbox: Carol X Weakley

Cable
Text:


C O N F I D E N T I A L TEL AVIV 03155

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

DISSEMINATION: POL
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: DCM:CRETZ
DRAFTED: CONS:BHURST
CLEARED: POL:NOLSEN/SCROWLEY

VZCZCTVI127
PP RUEHC RUEHXK
DE RUEHTV #3155/01 2230711
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 110711Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5543
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 003155

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/10/2016
TAGS: PREL KDEM PTER LE IS
SUBJECT: LEBANON: NATAN SHARANSKY DISCUSSES HIZBALLAH,
HAMAS, AND DEMOCRACY WITH CODEL ROYCE

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

1. (C) Summary: Likud Knesset member Natan Sharansky met with
Representative Ed Royce on August 10 and discussed the
current conflicts with Hizballah and Hamas as well as the
longer term prospect for democracy in the Middle East.
Sharansky said that he is not surprised by Hizballah's strong
resistance because the Israeli army was not prepared for the
type of warfare it now faces. He speculated that it might
make more sense to strike at what he claimed is the source of
the problem, in this case, the three or four army bases in
Syria from which he said Hizballah is supplied. Sharansky
was critical of current diplomatic negotiations, saying that
Hizballah will emerge as a winner if even a fraction of the
organization survives. He maintained that the entire Knesset
believes that the proposed multinational or a UNIFIL-plus
force in Lebanon will be "a disaster." He said that if such
a force is not strong enough it will not only fail, but it
will also hinder Israel's ability to respond to future
provocations. Sharansky discussed the political situation in
the Palestinian territories and the importance of openly
embracing dissidents across the region to lend legitimacy for
the struggle against authoritarian regimes. Rep. Royce was
accompanied by Mrs. Royce, as well as staffers Thomas Sheehy,
Edward Burrier, and Brian Diffell. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------
Military and Diplomatic Struggles in Lebanon
--------------------------------------------

2. (C) Sharansky said the only benefit of the Lebanese
conflict is that it is happening now instead of in the
future. He claimed that the GOI should have better foreseen
Hizballah's strength, since the group has had six years to
train, acquire supplies from Iran and Syria, and build a
complex network of entrenchments and fortifications across
southern Lebanon. He expressed regret that the Israeli army
had not fully prepared for its current difficult task. He
noted that the army is trained to fight conventional enemies,
and suggested that it might have made more sense to bomb what
he claimed are the three or four army bases in Syria from
which he said Hizballah draws its supplies. He added,
however, that Israel is not ready to expand the conflict and
reap the opprobrium of international public opinion by taking
such steps. Sharansky maintained that Israel is already
losing the public relations battle; every bombed residential
building and civilian casualty increases pressure to end the
conflict. He blamed Hizballah for forcing the IDF to use
such tactics. While special operation raids like the recent
one in Tyre minimize civilian casualties, he added, it is not
feasible to cover the hundreds of enemy targets solely
through such means.

3. (C) Sharansky maintained that the entire Knesset believes
that the proposed multinational or a UNIFIL-plus force in
Lebanon will only make it more difficult for Israel to
respond to future provocations. He was skeptical that the
Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) could protect even itself from
Hizballah. He cautioned that Hizballah would become mixed in
with the army. He expressed concern that the most likely
contributors to a UN force are either too weak or lack the
political will to confront Hizballah. He insisted that the
only chance for peace is to have a strong Chapter VII force.
Barring such a robust force, Sharansky said, Israel would
uproot Hizballah before turning the area over to a
UNIFIL-plus contingent. He said he supports the Israeli
cabinet's move to expand ground operations up to the Litani
river, adding that considerable time is required for Israeli
forces to fulfill their objectives.

4. (C) Sharansky warned that Hizballah will emerge even
stronger if even a small part of the organization survives.
He said that Hizballah should not be allowed to participate
in the Lebanese government, adding that concessions to
terrorists will only encourage and strengthen extremists.

------------------------------------------
Democracy and Elections in the Middle East
------------------------------------------

5. (C) Sharansky was critical of holding elections in the
West Bank and Gaza without first developing democratic
institutions and increasing support for civil society. He
said it was a mistake to put all hopes and funding into the
hands of the Palestinian Authority, a corrupt authoritarian
regime. In his view, elections presented the Palestinian
population with a choice between a despised corrupt
government and Hamas. He regretted that a democratic
alternative had virtually no chance, since it had neither
Western financial support nor funding from terrorist sources.
Sharansky advocated a policy of funding outside of
government channels, fostering economic development and free
enterprise, and exerting political pressure to prevent the
Palestinian Authority from clamping down on civil society.

6. (C) In response to questions from the CODEL, Sharansky
said that economic development in the Palestinian areas is
key to establishing the conditions for peace. He added that
such steps must take place within the Palestinian
communities, because there will be few opportunities for
Palestinians to work within Israel.

7. (C) Sharansky urged the USG to openly embrace dissidents
throughout the Middle East and end its support for
authoritarian regimes. He suggested that the President
consider inviting dissidents to the White House. True
change, he insisted, relies upon the ability of dissidents to
openly express their opinions. Sharansky cautioned against
any negotiations with terror sponsors such as Iran and Syria,
insisting that such talks only buy these regimes additional
time. Likewise, he said, it is a "waste of time" to engage
in talks with terror groups such as Hizballah and Hamas.

8. (U) CODEL Royce did not clear this message.

********************************************* ********************
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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