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Cablegate: Palestinian Cec Discusses Current Situation

VZCZCXYZ0023
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHJMA #4760 3121622
ZNR UUUUU ZZH ZUI RUEWMCF9212 3121617
O 081622Z NOV 06
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0000
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 004760

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE; NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/WATERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KPAL KWBG
SUBJECT: PALESTINIAN CEC DISCUSSES CURRENT SITUATION


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: CONGEN REPS MET WITH HANA NASSER, THE
CHAIRMAN OF THE PALESTINIAN CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION
(CEC), AND ALSO Q-CHAIRED A MEETING OF THE CEC-ELECTION
REFORM SUPPORT GROUP (ERSG) ON NOVEMBER 7 IN RAMALLAH.
PRIVATELY, NASSER CRITICIZED FATAH'S LACK OF DISCIPLINE
DURING THE PLC ELECTIONS AND EXPRESSED PESSIMISM ABQT THE
LIKELIHOOD OF POSITIVE CHANGE IN THE NEAR FUTURE. AT THE
ERSG MEETING, HE BRIEFED INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
REPRESENTATIVES ON PREPARATIONS FOR A FIFTH ROUND OF LOCAL
ELECTIONS AND VOTER REGISTRATION EFFORTS. THE
NEWLY-INSTALLED CHIEF ELECTORAL OFFICER, HISHAM KUHAIL,
UPDATED THE GROUP ON CEC ACTIVITIES FOR THE PAST SIX MONTHS,
INCLUDING CEC RESTRUCTURING. NASSER STRESSED THAT THE CEC
NEEDS ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO CONTINUE PAST APRIL
2007 AND DESCRIBED HIS EFFORTS AS CEC CHAIR NOT TO CONSTRAIN
ABU MAZEN'S POLITICAL CHOICES. END SUMMARY.

----------------
CEC CHAIR NASSER
----------------

2. (SBU) CONGEN REPS MET PRIVATELY WITH NASSER AND KUHAIL
BEFORE THE CEC-ERSG MEETING. NASSER STRESSED THAT HAMAS'
VICTORY IN THE 2006 PLC ELECTIONS HAD STEMMED FROM FATAH'S
WEAKNESS AND HAMAS' SKILLED ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNING. HE NOTED
FATAH'S MISTAKE IN FLOODING EACH DISTRICT WITH FAR MORE
CANDIDATES THAN AVAILABLE SEATS. HE ALSO POINTED TO PA
PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS' (ABU MAZEN) INABILITY TO OBTAIN ANY
GOI CONCESSIONS IN EXCHANGE FOR HIS PARTICIPATION IN THE
PEACE PROCESS. NASSER DESCRIBED FATAHS ELECTORAL MISTAKES
AS "STUPID," AND SAID FATAH HAS NOT LEARNED ANY LESSONS FROM
THE PLC ELECTIONS AND ISRAEL CONTINUES TO UNDERMINE ABU
MAZEN.

3. (SBU) NASSER SPECULATED THAT EARLY ELECTIONS ARE UNLIKELY
AND WARNED THAT A CALL FOR THEM COULD PROMPT VIOLENCE.
NASSER OBSERVED THAT THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE ARE "QUIESCENT,"
AND THAT "GOVERNMENTS USUALLY TOPPLE BECAUSE PEOPLE TOPPLE
THEM." HOWEVER, NASSER ALSO ACKNOWLEDGED THE FLUIDITY OF THE
SITUATION AND REFERRED TO HIS OWN UNSUCCESSFUL EFFORTS TO
LEARN FROM PEOPLE CLOSE TO ABU MAZEN WHERE TALKS ON
GOVERNMENT FORMATION STAND.

------------
ERSG MEETING
------------

4. (SBU) CONGEN POLCHIEF AND EU POLOFF CO-CHAIRED THE
CEC-ERSG. (NOTE: THIS GROUP OF DONORS AND INTERESTED
INTERNATIONAL ACTORS HAD NOT BEEN CONVENED FOR SOME SIX
MONTHS. END NOTE.) NASSER URGED NEW DONOR FUNDS. HE NOTED
THAT THE PA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR FUNDING THE CEC, BUT UNTIL THE
CURRENT PA-FINANCIAL CRISIS IS RESOLVED, THE INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITY'S ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED. HE NOTED THAT THE
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAS ALREADY MADE A SIGNIFICANT
INVESTMENT IN THE CEC AND SAID HE WOULD NOT WANT TO SEE THE
INSTITUTION DETERIORATE. CHIEF ELECTORAL OFFICER KUHAIL SAID
THAT HE IS LOOKING CLOSELY AT RESTRUCTURING THE CEC,
INCLUDING CREATING AN INTERNAL AUDIT FUNCTION.

5. (SBU) NASSER SAID THE CEC IS PREPARED TO CONDUCT A FIFTH
ROUND OF LOCAL ELECTIONS IN SIXTY-FIVE MUNICIPALITIES ONCE IT
IS INSTRUCTED TO DO SO BY THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE. HE
SAID THAT ONCE ELECTIONS ARE ANNOUNCED, THE CEC WOULD NEED
NINETY DAYS TO PREPARE. NASSER ANTICIPATED SOME TECHNICAL
PROBLEMS WITH THE FIFTH ROUND OF LOCAL ELECTIONS, SINCE IT
WOULD INCLUDE SOME DISTRICTS WHERE ELECTIONS WERE PREVIOUSLY
HELD AND THE RESULTS HAD BEEN THROWN OUT BECAUSE OF FRAUD.
(COMMENT: NASSER MADE CLEAR THAT A FIFTH ROUND OF ELECTIONS
IS TECHNICALLY DO-ABLE. HE DID NOT ADDRESS THE LIKELIHOOD OR
POLITICAL FEASIBILITY. CONGEN BELIEVES THAT AT THIS POINT A
FIFTH ROUND IS UNLIKELY FOR THE NEAR FUTURE, GIVEN
ANTICIPATED POLITICAL AND SECURITY INSTABILITY. END COMMENT.)

6. (SBU) NASSER SAID THE CEC CURRENTLY HAS A VOTER
REGISTRATION DATABASE THAT IS ONE OF THE MOST RELIABLE
PALESTINIAN DATA SETS. HE NOTED THAT DURING THE 2006 PLC
ELECTIONS, THERE WERE MINIMAL CHALLENGES TO THE VOTER LIST OF
CLOSE TO ONE MILLION PEOPLE. HE SAID THE LIST WOULD BECOME
OBSOLETE, HOWEVER, IF THE CEC DID NOT UPDATE IT.

7. (SBU) NASSER EMPHASIZED HIS EFFORTS NOT TO CONSTRAIN ABU
MAZEN'S CHOICES. FOR EXAMPLE, DESPITE CEC DOWN-SIZING
FOLLOWING THE 2006 PLC ELECTIONS, HE HAS MAINTAINED
ADDITIONAL STAFF IN CASE THERE IS ANOTHER ELECTION. WITH
REGARD TO A POSSIBLE REFERENDUM, HE NOTED THAT ABU MAZEN HAS
THE LEGAL TOOLS TO CALL ONE, BUT THERE IS NO LAW LAYING OUT
HOW ITS RESULTS WOULD BE INTERPRETED OR USED.

WALLES

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