Cablegate: Israel and Arabs Exchange Barbs in Monthly Debate

DE RUCNDT #0660/01 2060150
O 240150Z JUL 08



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary. U/SYG Lynn Pascoe briefed the Security
Council during an open meeting on the Middle East on July 22.
Pascoe outlined encouraging developments in the region,
highlighting the formation of a national unity government in
Lebanon, indirect talks between Israel and Syria, and the
continuation of the ceasefire in Gaza. He also expressed
concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and Israeli
military operations in the West Bank and urged Israel to
freeze its settlement activity. The Palestinian delegation
condemned Israel's "vast colonial network" and criticized
ongoing settlement activity. Israeli PR Gillerman spoke
off-the-cuff, criticizing Libya for blocking any mention of
terrorism in the Security Council. He urged Arabs and
Muslims to support moderate leaders against extremists. Most
Council members reiterated their previous positions, welcomed
recent developments, and encouraged parties to abide by prior
commitments and obligations. Lebanon, Syria, Cuba, Qatar,
Malaysia, and Iran also made statements, several of which
were highly critical of Israel. Jordan, Japan, and Argentina
offered more balanced statements. End Summary.

U/SYG Pascoe Heartened by Positive
Developments but Expresses Concern

2. (SBU) The Security Council met on July 22 for an open
meeting on the Middle East and the Palestinian question.
Under-Secretary-General (U/SYG) for Political Affairs Lynn
Pascoe briefed the Council saying he was heartened by
progress in Lebanon and by the ceasefire in Gaza but also
concerned about the situation in the West Bank. (Note: A
transcript of the meeting was e-mailed to IO/UNP and NEA/IPA.
End Note.) Regarding the ceasefire in Gaza, Pascoe noted
that there have been only minor breaches since it went into
effect on June 19. While recognizing improvement in the
openness of the crossings over the past month, he said the
vast majority of local industrial establishments remain
closed, fuel requirements are not being met, and imports
still stand at only 30 percent of pre-June 2007 levels.
(Note: June 2007 was when Hamas seized power in Gaza. End

3. (SBU) Pascoe noted that the IDF has increased operations
in the West Bank and that the PA has taken steps to impose
law and order and disarm and arrest militants as called for
in Phase I of the Roadmap. He condemned continued settlement
construction, reiterating the SYG's position that settlements
contradict international law and calling on Israel to freeze
settlement construction in accordance with Roadmap
obligations. He reported that 56 percent of the West Bank
barrier has been completed, most of which deviates from the
Green Line. He welcomed ongoing indirect talks between Syria
and Israel as well as progress made on the normalization of
Syrian-Lebanese relations. He said the SYG's facilitator
will submit a report on the prisoner exchange between Israel
and Hizballah. Following up on his July 9 briefing on UNSCR
1701, he said the UNIFIL AOR was generally quiet but
expressed concern that the LAF has not returned units that
had been redeployed out of the south in May.

Palestinian and Israeli Theater

4. (SBU) In a formal, legalistic and calmly delivered
statement, Palestinian Charge Feda Abdelhady-Nasser condemned
Israel's "vast colonial network," which has fragmented the
West Bank and undermined its contiguity, integrity, and
unity. She called the "relentless" Israeli settlement
activity the main obstacle to peace, a violation of
international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. She said
Israel has defied international calls to cease settlement
activity and has instead maintained its expansionaist agenda.
She argued that unless the Security Council shouldered its
responsibility with regards to the question of Palestine, its
credibility would be undermined. Abdelhady-Nasser denounced
"the wall" as part of Israel's massive colonization campaign
and condemned Israeli military raids into the West Bank. She
described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as a
deliberately-imposed humanitarian crisis. She called for an
extension of the truce in Gaza to the West Bank and
reaffirmed the PA's hope that the existing truce will hold.

5. (SBU) Instead of reading the statement that his mission
prepared, Israeli PR Dan Gillerman gave an impromptu speech,
thanking Council members for their dedication and support.
(Note: This was Gillerman's final address to the Council
after serving in New York for six years. End Note.) He
invited Council members to visit Israel to "get a different
perspective" and painted a grim picture of life as an

USUN NEW Y 00000660 002 OF 002

Israeli. Implicitly criticizing Libya, he said there is a
Council member whose main aim is to block any mention or
condemnation of terror. He said that when selecting members
to join the Council, "the standards should be higher, the
consideration should be deeper." Gillerman noted that the
majority of both perpetrators and victims of terrorism are
Muslim. He urged Arabs and Muslims to support moderate
leaders against extremists. Israel's prepared statement that
was circulated in the Council labeled the agenda item before
them a "phantasm" and called debates about the
Israeli-Palestinian question an "illusion." It repeated
Israel's position that the conflict must be resolved
bilaterally. The statement called terrorism the greatest
obstacle to peace and progress and denounced Iran for
exporting and supporting terrorism in Lebanon and the
Palestinian Territories.

Council Members Weigh in with Platitudes

6. (SBU) Most Council members delivered predictable
statements with little new material. The vast majority
welcomed the formation of a Lebanese unity government and
expressed support for the continuing period of calm in Gaza.
Panama and South Africa said it was imperative that the
ceasefire be extended to the West Bank. Most member states
called on Israel to cease its settlement activity and on the
Palestinians to meet their Roadmap obligations. Most,
including all permanent members, also welcomed the indirect
talks between Syria and Lebanon and expressed support for the
normalization of Syrian-Lebanese relations. The majority of
member states expressed concern about the humanitarian
situation in Gaza. The UK, Russia, China, Burkina Faso,
Panama, Croatia, and Vietnam welcomed the prisoner exchange
between Hizballah and Israel. Libya said Israel's activities
showed that it was not serious about seeking a just, lasting,
and comprehensive solution to the conflict. Libya denounced
settlements, collective punishment, the "Apartheid wall," and
Israel's continued occupation of Sheba'a Farms and the Syrian
Golan. Libya said it was the right of Palestinians to resist
occupation and rejected attempts to link resistance with

Amb Khalilzad: We Are Moving in the Right Direction

7. (SBU) Amb Khalilzad outlined the progress that had been
achieved, identified the major challenges ahead, and focused
on how the international community could help the parties
reach peace. He welcomed the progress made by the Israelis
and Palestinians in their bilateral negotiations as well as
indirect talks between Israel and Syria. Amb Khalilzad also
welcomed the Doha agreement and the announcement that Syria
and Lebanon will exchange diplomatic missions. He condemned
all attacks targeting civilians and called for a restoration
of the lawful Palestinian Authority in Gaza. He expressed
deep concern at continuing Israeli settlement activity and
called on Israel to freeze settlement activity and dismantle
outposts erected since March 2001. Amb Khalilzad emphasized
the need for regional partners and others to increase their
efforts to support the PA. With regard to Lebanon, he said
the international community must continue to work towards the
full implementation of UNSCRs 1559 and 1701 and support the
efforts of the LAF and Internal Security Forces to restore
calm and support the GOL. He called on outside parties to
cease arming illegal militias in Lebanon.

Arabs Predictably Denounce Israel

8. (SBU) The Council also heard from Lebanon, Syria, Cuba
(on behalf of the NAM), Qatar (on behalf of the Arab Group),
Jordan, Argentina, Japan, Malaysia, Iran, and the Committee
on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian
People. With the exception of Japan, Jordan, and Argentina,
which gave more balanced statements, all focused almost
exclusively on Israeli actions, denouncing settlement
activity, the separation wall, Israeli occupation of Arab
lands, and Israeli failures to comply with existing Council
resolutions and other agreements. Syria's statement was
particularly rambling and vitriolic, accusing Israel of using
"an influential state" to protect it with the power of the
veto. Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Cuba referenced the
settlements resolution (reftel), though mostly in passing.
Libya said the initiative met with paralysis and "flimsy
pretexts" to impose a solution protecting the occupying power
and treating the victims unjustly.

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