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Cablegate: Unsc Ministerial-Level Meeting On the Middle East

DE RUEHC #2737/01 2691723
O 251718Z SEP 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) This is an action message. Please see paragraphs
three and four. USUN should seek to delay by several weeks,
if possible, a meeting of the Security Council at the
Ministerial level proposed by Saudi Arabia and the Arab Group
to discuss the issue of Israeli settlements. If a meeting is
unavoidable, USUN should seek to minimize its impact and to
deter any kind of product coming out of it. It should also
seek to expand the agenda of the meeting to include a balanced
consideration of all issues, along the lines of our
approach at monthly briefings on the situation in the
Middle East. Mission is authorized to draw from the
points in para 4 below in its presentation at a Council
session. Note: Info addressees in Arab League posts will
receive instructions septel on approaching host
governments on this matter.

2. (SBU) Background. On September 19, the presidency of
the Security Council distributed to the UN Missions of the
Quartet and Libya a letter from Saudi Foreign Minister
Saud al-Faisal on behalf of the Arab League requesting a
Ministerial-level meeting of the Security Council to
discuss the issue of Israeli settlement activity. The
letter, which the Presidency subsequently distributed to
all UNSC members on September 22, claimed that this
special meeting would "save the peace process and the
ongoing Palestinian-Israeli negotiations from failure."
It went on to assert that Israel's ongoing settlement
activities "pre-empt the current negotiations and render
them meaningless." In UNSC consultations on the afternoon
of September 22, despite USUN's best efforts to deflect
this request, the consensus of other members was that a
session should be held. However, several other missions -
notably Belgium, France and the UK, joined the U.S. in
noting that any UNSC meeting should include the full range
of issues, not merely the question of Israeli settlement
activity. No final decision on the timing or agenda for a
meeting were taken. The Presidency is now reportedly in
the process of conferring individually with UNSC missions
with a view to holding a meeting, either late this week or
early next.

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3. (SBU) Action request. USUN should seek to delay the
convening of a previously-unscheduled UNSC Ministerial
meeting proposed by Saudi Arabia and the Arab Group for as
long as practical, ideally by several weeks, working with the
Council Presidency and like-minded states to effect this
delay. Mission should seek to expand the agenda of the
meeting to include a balanced consideration of all issues,
along the lines of our approach at monthly briefings on the
situation in the Middle East. Items that should be included
in the discussion -- whether USUN is able to have them formally
included in the agenda or not -- are listed at paragraph
four. Core points for the U.S. presentation at the
meeting, if one is held, are at paragraph five.

4. (U) In addition to a discussion on Israeli settlement
activity requested by Saudi Arabia and the Arab League,
any Ministerial-level meeting on the situation in the
Middle East should also cover the following topics:

-- the need for both sides to fulfill all their
obligations under the Roadmap;

-- a permanent end to attacks targeting civilians, and the
dismantlement of terrorist infrastructure;

-- the need for the Palestinian Authority to fulfill its
commitment to fight terrorism and to accelerate steps to
rebuild and refocus its security apparatus;

-- progress in the transfer of security responsibilities
from Israel to the Palestinian Authority in support of the
PA's efforts to fight terrorism, and to facilitate the
delivery of security assistance to the Palestinian

-- the need for all regional states to cut off public and
private funding and all other forms of support for groups
supporting and engaging in violence and terrorism;

-- the importance of all states, international
organizations and specialized agencies to assist in the
development of the Palestinian Authority and its capacity
to fight terror;

-- the efforts of Egypt and the Arab League to help
restore calm in Gaza in a manner that would provide
security to all Palestinians and Israelis; ensure the
controlled and sustained opening of the Gaza crossings for
humanitarian reasons and commercial flows; support the
legitimate PA government's authority throughout its
territory; and work towards conditions that would permit
implementation of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and

5. (U) Begin points for a U.S. presentation at a possible
UNSC Ministerial-level meeting:

-- [Complimentary Opening]

-- We thank the Arab League and the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia for their interest in this issue. The Council last
met to discuss these matters on September 18. Since then,
there have been no major developments on the ground.

-- Secretary Rice's intense personal engagement on this
issue demonstrates our commitment to a peaceful, two-state
solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The
Secretary last traveled to Jerusalem and Ramallah on
August 26 for tri-lateral talks, as she has almost every
month since the conference in Annapolis last November.
Here in New York, she has met with... [Note: USUN to fill
in to reflect key meetings that have occurred.]

-- The United States remains strongly committed to
achieving a peace agreement. I would like to be
absolutely clear on this point: The ongoing
Israeli-Palestinian talks are serious and substantive, and
are addressing all issues, without exception. The talks
fully confidential at the request of both parties, the
State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, a request
that we believe must be respected.

-- The United States thus does not share the rather
dismissive view expressed in the September 16 Saudi letter
to the Council Presidency that the current negotiations
are "meaningless." As is well known, both parties are
continuing the negotiations with great intensity. This is
a reflection of the talks' seriousness, and also a great
credit to the Palestinian and Israeli officials who are
persevering in the cause of peace despite the great
challenges and criticisms they face.

-- [Note: One or more points on the September 26 Quartet
meeting should go here. The substance would depend on
whether or not the public Ministerial session is taking
place before or after September 26.]

-- Separately, Israel and Syria are continuing indirect
peace talks, for which we are appreciative of Turkey's
facilitation. While we welcome this effort, we remain
deeply concerned with Syria's open support for terrorist
groups, such as Hizballah; its role as a transit point for
foreign terrorists entering Iraq; and the shipment of
weapons across the Syrian border into Lebanon which serves
to rearm terrorists. The August 25 report of the Lebanon
Independent Border Assessment Team shows no progress at
all over the past two years on interdicting arms smuggling
across this border, concluding that Lebanon's borders are
as penetrable now as was the case over a year ago.

-- We strongly support the Lebanese Government and its
Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces. The
international community must stand with Lebanon's
government to insist on the authority of the state and the
illegitimacy of armed groups, including Hizballah, that
undermine the government's authority and the resolutions
of this Council. Two years after the conflict instigated
by Hizballah, this remains the most serious matter for the
Council to follow with regard to its duty to safeguard
international peace and security in the region. As
provided in resolution 1701, there must be no unauthorized
weapons in Lebanon.

-- We condemn efforts by any armed group to usurp the
lawful authority of legitimate government activities via
violence and terrorism. We strongly condemn Hamas'
actions to usurp the lawful authority of the Palestinian
Authority in Gaza, including the replacement of public
sector workers with Hamas sympathizers and the closing of
non-governmental organizations, thereby proscribing the
delivery of humanitarian assistance from the UN and
others, and the threat that terrorist rocket attacks could
resume from Gaza into Israel at any time. The Quartet's
principles remain determinative for Hamas' recognition and
involvement in the peace process: renunciation of violence
and terror; recognition of Israel; and acceptance of
previous agreements between the parties.

-- Sincere efforts to crack down on terrorism and to offer
genuine alternatives can and do have a significant
positive impact despite the existence of many other
problems. The progress the Palestinian Authority is
making in Jenin, for example - as Palestinian security
forces gradually assume greater responsibility to uphold
law and order, and as a normal day-to-day activity is
restored - stands in clear contrast to the situation in
Gaza and in Lebanon.

-- Support for and acceptance of terrorist groups - via
public and private funding from states in the region, and
the shipment of illicit weapons and materiel across
international borders in violation of UN resolutions - has
had, in comparison to any other element, the greatest
destabilizing effect on the parties, both Arab and
Israeli. It is the most corrosive factor on the prospects
for a comprehensive and lasting peace. As President Bush
expressed in his address to the General Assembly on
September 23, no cause can justify the innocent taking of
human life.

-- As we heard at Monday's Ad Hoc Liaison Committee
meeting, Palestinian capacity building is another
essential element to bringing the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict to an end. Nevertheless, the Palestinian
Authority remains in dire straits financially and urgently
needs additional international support. Total U.S.
assistance to the Palestinians in 2008 will surpass our
pledged level of $555 million, including $264 million in
project assistance, $150 million in direct budget support,
and $184.6 million for the UN Relief and Works Agency for
Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), to which the
United States is the largest bilateral donor.

-- Recently, the U.S. Congress approved an additional $150
million in direct budgetary assistance during fiscal year
2009, which starts October 1, and $50 million in project
assistance. We call on other countries, particularly in
the Arab world, to join us in increasing their support to
the Palestinian Authority, and for those countries
interested in peace who have not yet contributed or
fulfilled their pledges to do so.

-- We call on Israel to freeze its settlement activity and
dismantle outposts erected since March 2001, consistent
with its Roadmap obligations. We remain concerned that
the continuation of this activity can create a negative
effect on the environment for negotiations.

-- Finally, we call on the Arab states to reach out to
Israel, work towards the normalization of relations, and
demonstrate in both word and deed that Israel and its
people have a permanent place in the Middle East. As
President Bush has noted, these are vital steps towards
the comprehensive peace we all seek.

End points.

6. (U) Minimize considered.

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