Cablegate: Unsc: Middle East Consultations: South Africa And

DE RUCNDT #1127/01 3372159
O 022159Z DEC 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. STATE 124112

1. (SBU) Summary: The UN Security Council held its monthly
briefing and consultations on the Middle East on November 25.
Under Secretary-General Pascoe briefed on the "landmark"
Quartet meeting November 9 with the two parties. He stressed
that the biggest challenges to a lasting peace agreement are
developments on the ground, such as the rocket and mortar
fire from Palestinian militants which threaten Israel and the
crossings into Gaza. He emphasized the need for Israel to
facilitate movement of humanitarian supplies and UN personnel
into Gaza. He noted the progress in the West Bank which is
undercut by continuing Israeli incursions, obstacles to
movement, and home demolitions. Member states largely
reiterated their same monthly themes on the situation, with
Libya describing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a "crime
of war" but making no mention of the militants' rocket fire.
The French called for another Quartet meeting before the end
of the year. The South Africans called for a press statement
on the humanitarian situation in Gaza using language that
Council members had agreed to for the Council President's
November 24 statement at the Day of Solidarity with the
Palestinian People. The U.S. and Croatia voiced opposition
since that language had been agreed to use only at the
November 24 event and did not reflect the totality of the
situation. The South African proposal failed to gain
consensus. End summary.

U/SYG Pascoe's briefing

2. (SBU) In his November 25 briefing to the Security Council
during a meeting on the Middle East, Under Secretary-General
for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe reviewed the "landmark"
Quartet meeting in Sharm el-Shaykh on November 9 where the
Quartet principals had been briefed jointly by Israeli FM
Livni and PA President Abbas. He said the initiative of the
two parties to jointly brief the Quartet is an "important
precedent for more active involvement of the Quartet in the
future." While Pascoe noted that the negotiations are
&substantial and promising,8 he said that domestic Israeli
and Palestinian politics are complicating negotiation
efforts. He highlighted that Livni,s failure to form a
coalition government was due in part to differences over
Jerusalem. He noted the SYG's call on Hamas and all
Palestinian factions to "work urgently to reunify the Gaza
Strip and the West Bank within the framework of the
legitimate PA."

3. (SBU) Pascoe stressed throughout his briefing that
developments on the ground remain the biggest challenge to
building lasting peace. Pascoe referred to the 123 rockets
and 118 mortars fired by Palestinian militants into Gaza or
at the crossings between Israel and Gaza, repeated the SYG's
condemnation of rocket and other attacks by Palestinian
militants on Israeli civilian targets, and urged an end to
the rocket fire and a respect for the "calm." He detailed
the November 18 and 20 discussions between the SYG and Prime
Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni, respectively, to
express his concern over the deteriorating humanitarian
situation in Gaza. Pascoe said the SYG had repeated his
condemnation of the rocket fire but stressed that Israel must
uphold humanitarian principles. He noted the SYG's November
14 and 21 public statement urging Israel to facilitate the
freer movement of urgently needed humanitarian supplies and
of concerned UN personnel into Gaza, and emphasized that
"measures that increase the hardship and suffering of the
civilian population of the Gaza Strip as a whole are
unacceptable and should cease immediately."

4. (SBU) On the West Bank, Pascoe noted the reported arrests
of over 350 Hamas affiliates in the West Bank and stressed
that suspects detained on criminal or public security grounds
be treated with full respect for human rights and the rule of
law. Pascoe said that despite the PA,s security efforts in
the West Bank, the IDF had neither reduced the number of its
incursions, highlighting the approximately 400 search
campaigns during the month, nor reduced the 630 obstacles to
Palestinian movement. He noted that Israel resumed
demolitions of Palestinian houses and structures after a
six-month moratorium in Area C. He urged a cessation of
house demolitions and that no unilateral action be taken in
Jerusalem that would undermine confidence or alter the status
quo. On the positive side, he referred to the GOI's November
2 announcement to cease funding illegal outposts in the West
Bank. He addressed Israeli attempts to dismantle outposts
near Hebron and noted senior Israeli officials' condemnation
of settler violence.

USUN NEW Y 00001127 002 OF 003

5. (SBU) Pascoe did not touch on Lebanon, given the November
26 Council consultations on UNSCR 1701 (reported septel), but
did note Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace
Process Robert Serry's November 24 meeting with Syrian
officials in Damascus. He said that Serry discussed regional
developments and expressed support for the continuation of
indirect Israel-Syria talks. Pascoe highlighted recent
discussions of the Arab Peace Initiative and termed it a
"vital platform for reaching the goal of a comprehensive
regional peace." He commended King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
for his efforts that led to the convening of a UNGA
high-level meeting November 12-13 under the &Culture of
Peace8 agenda item (septel) and the many Middle Eastern
leaders who attended. He also noted the full page
advertisements placed by the PLO in Israeli newspapers to
promote the Arab Peace Initiative among the Israel public.
He stressed the importance of the Quartet continuing to push
the peace process forward in this time of transition and said
the SYG has urged President-elect Obama to engage early in
the Middle East.

Member states reiterate same monthly
themes during consultations

6. (SBU) During Security Council consultations that
followed, most member states reiterated their same monthly
themes on the situation (see ref B for the previous month's
readout). The Libyan DPR, speaking first, described the
suffering in Gaza as a "crime of war" and a "crime of
humanity" and made no mention of the Palestinian militants'
rocket fire on Israel. The French Political Counselor urged
a more active role for the Quartet and cited the importance
of the last Quartet meeting. He called for another Quartet
meeting before the end of the year, a call which the Belgian
representative reiterated. The South African DPR recognized
Israel's right to self-defense in response to the rocket
attacks but said that there should be no disproportionate use
of force or violation of the rights of innocent civilians.
The UK DPR specifically called for the reinforcement of the
period of calm in Gaza, for Hamas to move toward PA President
Abbas on the Quartet's conditions, and for Israel to re-open
the crossings to Gaza and permit the sustained delivery of
humanitarian assistance. Ambassador Wolff delivered the U.S.
remarks (drawn from ref A), highlighting the November 9
Quartet meeting and the briefing by the two parties on their
bilateral negotiations and stressing that the immediate cause
for the humanitarian situation in Gaza is Hamas' continued
instigation of violence towards Israel.

South Africa calls for press statement
on humanitarian situation in Gaza;

7. (SBU) South Africa, in response to an approach from the
Palestinian Ambassador prior to the briefing, proposed that
the Security Council President (Costa Rica) read out two
paragraphs to the press from his November 24 speech for the
Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, specifically
the paragraphs on the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the
need for a return to the "calm." (Note: The Security
Council President gives remarks each year at the Day of
Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Those remarks, while
not considered a Presidential statement, are still negotiated
within the Council and agreed to by consensus. End note.)
Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Vietnam, China, and Costa Rica
supported the South African proposal. In his national
capacity, the Costa Rican President asked how the Council
could provide a complete speech the day before on a subject
but not be able to offer a short press statement the
following day. Ambassador Wolff was the first to comment
against the proposal, noting that he could not support a
selective and partial reading of those remarks. He
specifically noted that the remarks were drafted solely for
the November 24 event and that the U.S. did not join
consensus as a formal Presidential statement or a press
statement. The Croatian PR also spoke specifically against
the South African proposal, stating that any press statement
must reflect the totality of the situation, including the
recent efforts on the peace process, not just the
humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Council fails to reach consensus
on Gaza press statement

8. (SBU) After all of the statements, the Libyan DPR
suggested adding a third paragraph to the draft statement
reiterating that the parties must avoid actions that could
undermine confidence and could prejudice the outcome of

USUN NEW Y 00001127 003 OF 003

negotiations. The Deputy PolCounselor reiterated Ambassador
Wolff's earlier comments that, given that the remarks were
agreed to for a particular purpose, the U.S. would have to
seek instructions before being able to join consensus on a
press statement. The Croatian DPR reiterated Croatia's
earlier concerns that the draft press statement lacked the
appropriate focus on the actual peace process. At the end of
consultations, the Costa Rican Presidency concluded that
there was no consensus on a formal press statement but noted
that the Presidency could exercise its prerogative to answer
press questions. After the meeting, PolCounselor spent
thirty minutes pressing the Costa Rican Charge not to refer
to the November 24 remarks when answering questions from the
press. After receiving instructions from his capital to
remain silent on the issue, he relented.

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