Cablegate: Ambassador Rice's September 16 Meeting With

DE RUCNDT #0842/01 2600045
O 170045Z SEP 09

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2019
Classified By: Ambassador Susan E. Rice for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (S) Summary: Ambassador Rice met with Israeli Deputy
Foreign Minister Ayalon on September 16, the day after the
release of the Goldstone report on violations of human rights
law and international humanitarian law during the Gaza
conflict. Ayalon termed the report "outrageous" and said it
gave Hamas a "free pass" on weapons smuggling into Gaza. He
pressed for U.S. leadership in response to the report.
Ambassador Rice responded that the USG is still studying the
report, remains concerned about the fact-finding mission’s
mandate and many of the recommendations in the report. She
urged Ayalon to help us help them with progress on the peace
process, saying that the report can be more easily managed if
there is progress. Ayalon also described Israeli Prime
Minister Netanyahu’s recent visit to Moscow concerning the
S-300 system and said the Israeli government had told the
Russians that the transfer of the system to Iran would be
destabilizing to the region and could precipitate action.
After the meeting, Ambassador Rice hosted the Security
Council’s monthly lunch with the Secretary-General at which
the Secretary-General informed Council Perm Reps that his
staff was reviewing the report and he planned to engage the
Council on further courses of action. Both the UK and
Russian Perm Reps questioned Goldstone’s decision to release
the report in New York. End Summary.
Goldstone Report
2. (C) Ambassador Rice met with Israeli Deputy Foreign
Minister Ayalon, at his request, on September 16, the day
after the release of Justice Goldstone and the fact-finding
mission’s report on violations of human rights law and
international humanitarian law during the Gaza conflict.
Ayalon, accompanied by Israeli Perm Rep Shalev, Deputy Perm
Rep Carmon, Ayalon Advisor David Segal, and his Chief of
Staff Klarina Shpitz, termed the report "outrageous" and said
that everyone is looking for U.S. leadership on a response to
it. He criticized the fact-finding commission as "hardly
representative of the international community" and said that
the report gives Hamas a "free pass" on continued weapons
smuggling into Gaza. He questioned why Goldstone had to
release the report on the first day of the 64th session of
the General Assembly in New York, given ongoing efforts on
the peace process. He noted that the Israeli mission in
Geneva only received an official copy of the report "seconds"
before Goldstone’s press conference in New York on September
15. Ayalon offered his personal opinion that Goldstone may
have sought the New York stage for his press conference
because he has ambitions for a seat on the International
Court of Justice. Ayalon said that he hoped that the
Palestinians would not seek to try to use the Goldstone
report in terms of the peace process since that would "derail
3. (C) Ambassador Rice responded that the USG is studying
the Goldstone report, that we remain concerned with the
fact-finding mission’s mandate and many of the
recommendations in the report, and that we will stay in close
touch with the GOI as we move forward in Geneva and elsewhere
in response to the report. She underscored that the USG’s
main focus is on the peace process and that we are working
towards progress next week to restart talks. She stressed
that among the best means to deflect and contain the
Goldstone report is demonstrable and early progress on the
peace process. She also raised that whatever the GOI can do
internally to emphasize its own judicial processes and
investigations would be helpful. In terms of next steps,
Ambassador Rice opined that she could not foresee a scenario
in which the Security Council referred the case to the ICC.
However, any member of the Council could well bring the issue
up for discussion, though it would likely not be done before
the Human Rights Council’s discussion on September 29. In
Geneva, she referred to the USG’s dual aims of countering
anti-Israel bias and focusing on genuine human rights
concerns. She said she hoped Israel will work with the U.S.
on both those aims. In terms of General Assembly action, she
noted there was a possibility of such action anytime.
4. (C) Ayalon responded that Israel would like to see a
trilateral meeting next week on the peace process, but he
voiced concern that the Arabs might "overplay their cards"
and demand more. Ambassador Rice noted that what happens in
New York is often not reflective of the reality out in the
region, though the Administration is trying to make it more
reflective of actual events on the ground. She asked Ayalon
directly to "help me help you." She underscored that the
Goldstone report will not go away but it can be more easily
USUN NEW Y 00000842 002 OF 002
managed if there is positive progress on the peace process.
Israeli-Russian discussion of
transfer of S-300 to Iran
5. (S) Ayalon noted general Israeli government
disappointment with the Russians, in response to which
Ambassador Rice raised Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent
visit to Moscow. Ayalon responded that it was to discuss
"the S-300" and Iran since the GOI is against the sale.
Ayalon said that the Prime Minister was pressing Russia not
to deliver the system and noted that the Russians had told
the GOI two years ago that it would not sell Iran the system.
Ayalon emphasized that while the Russians argue that sale of
the S-300 is in the interest of stability in region, the
transfer of the system itself would actually be destabilizing
to the region and could precipitate action. He said that the
Russians continue to try to reassure the GOI that Iran will
not go nuclear, while the GOI has firmly stressed its support
of the USG’s plan on Iran. Ayalon opined that the Russians
may think they have the Iranians on a short leash or that
they have corresponding energy interests with Iran vis a vis
the Europeans that lead the Iranians to follow the Russian
lead. Nevertheless, Ayalon recommended a "tougher U.S. face"
to the Russians at the meeting on September 23.
Secretary-General plans to engage
Security Council on Goldstone report
6. (C) Immediately after Ambassador Rice’s meeting with
Ayalon, Ambassador Rice, as Security Council President for
the month of September, hosted the Security Council for its
monthly lunch with the Secretary-General. At the lunch, the
Secretary-General said he has tasked his staff to provide a
detailed review of the report and that he will engage the
Security Council on further courses of action. The UK Perm
Rep asked the Secretary-General why Goldstone decided to
release his report here in New York. The Secretary-General
responded that he did not know but would inquire. The
Mexican Perm Rep said follow-up on the Goldstone report’s
recommendations is important but so is diplomatic action on
the peace process. The French Perm Rep urged Council members
to keep in mind both processes. The Russian Perm Rep said
that Goldstone should have released his report in Geneva. He
then challenged his Mexican and French colleagues for linking
the political developments with human rights issues since
France has argued in the past on Darfur that the two should
not be linked. Ambassador Rice stressed that the U.S.
government, at all levels, is working hard to achieve a
breakthrough and have the parties return to negotiations.
She stressed that we are at a delicate moment and we have to
keep in mind the broader objectives.
Israeli mission presses for
strong U.S. reaction to report
7. (C) Separately, Israeli Deputy Perm Rep Carmon called
Ambassador Wolff to press for a strong U.S. reaction against
the Goldstone report. He also expressed concern about
linkages between progress on the peace process and the
report. Ambassador Wolff responded that the connection was a
statement of fact and likely how the Arabs would be looking
at the report. It was not a policy position or something we
would say in public. Ambassador Wolff said Israel should be
drawing the same conclusion from its own assessment -- the
more progress there is on the peace process, the less of an
issue others will make of the Goldstone report.

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