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Cablegate: Day One of Rabat International Forum On

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DE RUEHRB #0879/01 3021343
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291343Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0785
INFO RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0457
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0238
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 3582
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 RABAT 000879

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAL IS MO
SUBJECT: DAY ONE OF RABAT INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON
JERUSALLEM HIGHLIGHTS FRUSTRATION WITH THE NETANYAHU
GOVERNMENT

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The October 28 and 29 Rabat
International Forum on Jerusalem brought together
senior Quartet and Muslim representatives. Moroccan
Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri opened the conference
with a message from King Mohammed VI, calling on the
international community to pressure Israel to end
oppression. Palestinian Authority President Abbas
excluded any meeting with Israeli Prime Minister
Netanyahu "for the moment." Characterizing the
morning as having been dominated by "fear," Fassi
Fihri subsequently chaired a spirited two-hour
meeting with Ministers, Ambassadors and other senior
representatives of the Palestinian Authority, Egypt,
Jordan, Russia, Senegal, Sweden, Turkey, the
European Union, and the United States. UN Envoy
Serry and the Palestinian top diplomat warned that
continuing evictions and demolitions were making
matters worse. Eloquent Jordanian Foreign Minister
Judeh emphasized that the Arab Peace Initiative
remained on the table. Participants generally
praised President Obama's efforts and universally
decried Israeli demolitions, building and "non-
negotiation." The Ambassador urged that the parties
give the U.S. time to conduct quiet negotiations.
END SUMMARY.

2. (U) On October 28, Moroccan Minister of Foreign
Affairs and Cooperation Taieb Fassi Fihri opened the
two-day International Forum on Jerusalem by reading
a message from King Mohammed VI, the Chairman of the
Organization of the Islamic Conference's (OIC's) Al
Qods or Jerusalem Committee. The king's message
called on the international community to pressure
Israel to stop oppressing Palestinians, return to
the negotiating table, comply with United Nations
Security Council resolutions, respect previous
agreements, and find a just, final and lasting
solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The
King also decried Israel's settlement and demolition
policies. He also reiterated Morocco's support for
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who also spoke.
Fassi Fihri urged Palestinians to work together.

3. (U) In his address and comments to the media,
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
excluded any meeting with Israeli Prime Minister
Netanyahu "for the moment." Abbas insisted on
negotiations based on the 1967 borders; a settlement
freeze; and, for a final settlement, agreement on
Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, borders, water,
security and detainees.

4. (U) Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa,
UNSYG Envoy Robert Serry, and Yasser Arafat
Foundation President Nasser Al-Qudwa also spoke at
the opening session of the conference jointly
organized by the Institute and the Bayt Mal Al Qods
Agency. Serry delivered remarks on behalf of UNSYG
Ban ki-Moon.

5. (SBU) In the afternoon, Minister Fassi Fihri
chaired a two-hour meeting with the Foreign
Ministers of Jordan and Senegal, the Palestinian
Authority's chief diplomat, Turkish Deputy Prime
Minister Bulent Arinc, and representatives of Egypt,
Russia, Sweden, the European Union, and the United
States, with most of the ambassadors of those
entities present. Fassi Fihri explained that what
had once been a concern of just the Arab League had
become the Organization of the Islamic Conference's
issue. He stressed that the conference was designed
to assess the situation in the Middle East. Fassi
Fihri emphasized that "fear" had been the common
denominator in the morning session. He stressed
that the issue facing the international community is
stopping the settlements in Jerusalem and the West
Bank. The Minister also underscored that East
Jerusalem must be the capital of an independent,
viable and sovereign Palestinian state. He noted
that many countries stood ready to recognize the
independence of such a state, but they were waiting
for a signal from the Quartet.

6. (SBU) UN Envoy Serry characterized the present

RABAT 00000879 002 OF 003


situation as "serious." He warned that continuing
evictions and demolitions were making matters worse.

7. (SBU) Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh
said that in spite of Israeli provocations, the Arab
Peace Initiative remained on the table. He noted
that Jordan's peace agreement with Israel was 15
years and two days old, but today there was too much
"process" and not enough "peace." Praising the
Quartet's New York and Trieste statement and
President Obama's UN General Assembly address, the
Minister said the speech offered clear terms of
reference.

8. (SBU) Russian First Vice Minister Alexander
Saltanov was the next to highlight the sensitivity
of issues related to Jerusalem. He said that the
Russian Orthodox Church's decision to reunify led
many Russians to visit East Jerusalem, and many
Russian Muslims also go there seeking access to
Muslim holy sites. Speaking personally, Saltonov
said that the real questions was how the
international community could help Prime Minister
Netanyahu to help himself and Senator Mitchell.
Saltanov also called on the Quartet to meet more
regularly and at all levels. The Jordanian
summarized the Russian intervention as asking, "How
does one bypass the impasse?"

9. (SBU) The passionate Palestinian chief
negotiator then produced a map of Jerusalem and
explained that Netanhayu is implementing a plan to
reduce the Arab population in East Jerusalem from
the current 32 percent to 12 percent by 2020.
Stressing Netanyahu's plan to build 610 houses in
East Jerusalem in 2009, 623 in 2010, and 643 in
2011, he said that the settlement freeze failed to
include East Jerusalem or public buildings. He
asserted that 37 percent of all Israeli building is
in East Jerusalem and that East Jerusalem's Jewish
population has increased by 26 percent. What is
left for a Palestinian state? Phase One of the Road
Map has been effectively cancelled, and incursions
continued. Labeling Netanyahu "honest, decisive and
to-the-point," he said negotiations could not resume
under these conditions. He added that Palestinians
are in East Jerusalem to stay, but their only avenue
might be to abandon the two-state solution in favor
of a one-state solution. He condemned the practice
of protecting Israel in the Security Council. He
called the conference a defining moment as the
situation was "very critical." He warned that the
path ahead was dark and that Marines could not
change that, nor could they keep people from
becoming suicide bombers or from supporting Usama
bin Laden. He closed by asking those present to be
truly pro-peace and to promote a fair agreement.

10. (SBU) The EU Special Envoy for the Middle East
said he had not come to Rabat to admit defeat.
Moral and political clarity were needed.
International law must be the guiding principle.
The Israeli settlements were illegal. Acknowledging
the [Palestinian] right to housing, he appealed for
tolerance and rationality.

11. (SBU) Declaring that Jerusalem was an extremely
sensitive and difficult issue, Swedish Deputy
Foreign Minister Robert Rydberg expressed
appreciation for Morocco's organization of this
timely gathering. He called for a genuine freeze on
settlements. He said the political and humanitarian
situations in Gaza remained unacceptable. He warned
of the risk that the final settlement negotiations
were being pre-empted.

12. (SBU) The Egyptian Vice Minister was brief. He
said Egypt supported U.S. efforts. He emphasized
that Egypt was concerned about Israeli pre-
conditions and about human rights.

13. (SBU) The Ambassador was the last scheduled
speaker. He acknowledged the sincere pain, despair
and anguish he had heard. He underscored that he

RABAT 00000879 003 OF 003


agreed with President Obama, and he assured his
listeners of the president's sincere commitment to
Middle East peace. The Ambassador noted that
Secretary Clinton and Special Envoy Mitchell brought
great experience to the peace process and completed
a team that was perhaps unmatched in history. He
emphasized the shortness of time which President
Obama's Administration has had to address an issue
that was decades old. Citing his own experience as
a negotiator, he appealed for patience as quiet
negotiations were conducted.

14. (SBU) The Jordanian and the Palestinian then
piped up again. The Jordanian praised the
president's sincerity and engagement. He argued
that Mitchell's mission was to create a conducive
environment for negotiations. However, when one
talked about no pre-conditions, that did not mean
that Israel had a license to keep building.
"Settlements are illegal and illegitimate. Both
sides must refrain from actions that prejudice final
status negotiations."

15. (SBU) The Palestinian opined that there was a
difference between a tough negotiator and a non-
negotiator. "Palestinians have no quarrel with
President Obama. The time has come to move from
"What is possible?" to "What is needed?" He
appealed to the international community to stand
shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinians, who were
now suffering indignities that Black South Africans
never suffered under apartheid. "Nothing is more
difficult than being Palestinian." One is not even
allowed to use certain roads if one is not Jewish.
"Fences make good neighbors." The international
community must now make the right choices.

16. (SBU) Minister Fassi Fihri closed the meeting
by saying that he was unhappy with the unbalanced
draft declaration. He urged all participants to
work on the draft and to study the issue of pre-
conditions in particular.

KAPLAN

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