Cablegate: Ambassador Rice,S October 21st Meeting With

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 002365
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2029
Classified By: Ambassador James Cunningham. Reasons: 1.4 (b), (d).
1. (C) Summary: U.S. Permanent Representative to the United
Nations Susan E. Rice met with Israeli Foreign Minister
Avigdor Lieberman on October 21. Ambassador Rice emphasized
that it is in both U.S. and Israeli national interests that
serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians must
begin ) and conclude ) to achieve a comprehensive
agreement. Lieberman made clear that, while he is in favor
of starting direct talks with the Palestinians, he does not
believe that a comprehensive peace is possible. Rice and
Lieberman discussed the Goldstone Report and Israel,s
response to it, as well as likely next steps in New York.
Lieberman stressed that Israel has a strong commitment to
human rights and condemned the hypocrisy of those Human
Rights Council members that criticize Israel. Iran,s nuclear
ambitions and the current state of play in Afghanistan and
Pakistan were also raised. End Summary.
2.(C) Ambassador Susan Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister
Avigdor Lieberman discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
the Goldstone report and Iran on October 21. The
conversation also touched on the current situation in
Afghanistan and Pakistan. FM Lieberman was accompanied by
Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon, Deputy Director General for North
America Barukh Bina, Director General Yossi Gal, Chief of
Policy Staff Yitzhak Bachman, Chief of Staff Sharon Shalom,
and Deputy Director General for UN and International
Organizations Evietar Manor. Ambassador Rice was accompanied
by Ambassador James Cunningham, NSC Middle East Senior
Director Dan Shapiro, USUN staffers Amy Schedlbauer, Warren
Bass and Mark Kornblau, and an Embassy notetaker.
Lieberman: &Comprehensive Solution Impossible8
--------------------------------------------- --
3.(C) Ambassador Rice opened the meeting by stressing that a
comprehensive agreement between Israel and the Palestinians
was in the U.S. national interest, as well as in the interest
of Israel and Palestinians. It was important to promptly
begin ) and to conclude ) negotiations to achieve a
comprehensive settlement.
4. (C) Lieberman said relations between Israelis and
Palestinians were generally misunderstood, and that he had
tried to explain this point to Senator Mitchell. Israel
worked closely with the Palestinian Authority, with General
Dayton, and with the Palestinian security forces. The
biggest problem for all responsible governments was
extremists. The biggest problem of PM Fayyad and President
Abbas (Abu Mazen) wasn,t Israel but Hamas. Hizbullah was
the biggest problem for the Lebanese government, just as
Mubarak,s biggest problem was the Muslim Brotherhood and the
Taliban was the biggest problem in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
5. (C) Lieberman assessed that Abu Mazen was trying to have
it both ways, a strategy that could never work. He was
trying to continue to work with Israel while trying to be
tougher and more radical than Hamas. Lieberman urged that
there should be no illusions, and that the parties must
acknowledge the limits of the possible. Israel had been
trying to negotiate with the Palestinians for 16 years, under
a broad range of leaders, but there was still a deadlock.
The issue was not logical, but emotional ) and in part about
symbols. Israel and the U.S. had a responsibility not to
foster illusions, he said. A comprehensive peace agreement
was impossible, as it was in such conflicts as Cyprus and
Nagorno Karabakh. The first steps should be stability and
prosperity, he argued. There was just too much distrust
between the two sides to address final status issues. Both
sides would be obligated not to support violence and
incitement. Lieberman cited Cyprus as an example that Israel
might emulate, claiming that no comprehensive solution was
possible, but security, stability and prosperity were.
6. (C) Lieberman complained that the Palestinians were too
focused on elections and asked that the U.S. also convey this
message to them. Israel was surprised to hear Abbas talking
about voters, constituencies and slogans, instead of talking
about peace. NSC Senior Director Shapiro noted that Abbas
was required by the Basic Law to make a declaration of an
election by October 25. Lieberman was undeterred, noting
that the last PA elections had been problematic and that not
all elections would have a positive outcome. Palestinian
incitement, and continuous attacks against Israel in
international fora, undermined the possibility of continued
dialogue with Israel. Shapiro-Rice stressed the short-term
importance of restarting talks.
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7. (C) Lieberman thanked Ambassador Rice for the U.S.
position on the Goldstone report in the Human Rights Council.
Ambassador Rice highlighted positive U.S. engagement with
the Israeli Missions in New York and Geneva to blunt the
effects of the Goldstone report in those fora. She noted
that we had the potential in the Security Council to build a
blocking coalition that agrees that the Security Council is
not the appropriate forum to consider the report. The USG
statement in Geneva had emphasized that a credible domestic
Israeli investigation would facilitate this effort.
8. (C) Lieberman said that if the Palestinians continue
steps in the ICC and elsewhere, it could end the peace
process. Lieberman said that Israel has a strong commitment
to human rights, but lamented that Cuba, Bangladesh, Pakistan
and Venezuela control majorities at the Human Rights Council
and could pass any resolution that they wanted to. The
hypocrisy of such countries blaming Israel for violence and
war crimes, and filing a law suit at the International
Criminal Court, was intolerable. All countries who have
friction with their minority groups should take note, because
after such human-rights abusers finished with Israel, they
would go after others. This drive to criticize Israel had
spilled over into technical fora that were supposed to
address issues like the environment, energy and education,
and all were being tainted by automatic majorities.
Israel,s justice system was very strong ) it could monitor
its own behavior better than anyone else.
9. (C) Israeli Director General Yossi Gal asked about next
steps on Goldstone in New York. Ambassador Rice explained
that the Arab Group in New York was consulting amongst
themselves and that there seem to be some fissures in the
Arab Group. The Arab Group is approaching the P5 to
&take their temperature.8 It was likely that something
would evolve first in the General Assembly that neither
Israel nor the U.S. would like. The numbers were not in
Israel,s favor, and this was a fact of life. The U.S. would
try to rally opposition to any problematic GA text. It was
hard to know at this time what outcome the Goldstone
report,s supporters might seek at the UNSC.
10. (C) Gal noted that the Palestinian Minister of Justice,
accompanied by international law experts, had met October 16
with the ICC prosecutor and that Palestinian representatives
continued to be active in New York and Geneva. Lieberman
emphasized that across the Israeli political spectrum,
including Kadima, there was consensus that if the
Palestinians continued to pursue action against Israel at the
International Criminal Court and the International Court of
Justice, it would end the peace process. The Palestinians
had urged Israel to topple Hamas during the December-January
Gaza operation, Lieberman noted, and then in January had
filed suit against Israel at the ICC. As of October 21, Gal
added, the Palestinians and Syrians were still pushing for
UNSC action, while the Egyptians preferred action at the
UNGA. Shapiro noted that we had told the Palestinians that
we did not support an ICC referral as it was not a
constructive path. Abu Mazen had agreed, but the Palestinian
political calculus had changed after the negative reaction to
the original Palestinian agreement to defer action at the
regular session of the Human Rights Council. Ambassador Rice
underlined again that it would be very helpful in New York if
Israeli domestic investigative processes were underway and
urged that those be grounded in Israel,s democratic
11. (C) FM Lieberman said that Israel wanted to believe that
the U.S. could achieve a positive outcome in countering the
Iranian nuclear threat, but that in the Israeli experience,
Iran only wanted to buy and waste time. Ambassador Rice
outlined the U.S. two-track approach. The U.S. expected to
have a clearer picture of Iranian intentions within weeks,
but in the meantime would continue to plan for the prospect
that more pressure might be needed. The Geneva meetings had
been a constructive beginning, but we would need to see what
emerged from the Vienna negotiations.
12. (C) FM Lieberman asked for Ambassador Rice,s views on
Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ambassador Rice noted that this
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was a delicate moment in Afghanistan, and that President
Karzai,s acceptance of a second electoral round was welcome.
There had been some high-stakes diplomatic brinkmanship to
make it happen. There were big logistical challenges in
preparing for the November 2 run-off elections.
13. (C) On Pakistan, Ambassador Rice highlighted the
potential for a humanitarian crisis in South Waziristan with
the approach of winter. The pace of attacks in Pakistan had
quickened, and the political fallout on the government of
Pakistan was still unclear.

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