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Cablegate: Geneva Initiative Annexes Seek to Restore Vision

VZCZCXRO9958
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHTV #2255/01 2871506
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141506Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3811
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 002255

SENSITIVE
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KWBG IS
SUBJECT: GENEVA INITIATIVE ANNEXES SEEK TO RESTORE VISION
OF PEACE

1. (SBU) Summary. Since releasing its annexes last month,
the Geneva Initiative (GI) is continuing to look for ways to
promote its model peace agreement, the Geneva Accord, and to
generally support peace efforts. Representatives of the
Geneva Initiative told PolOff on October 6 that while they
still maintain hope that the Geneva Accords can be accepted
by the GOI and PA with only minor modifications, the main
purpose of the Geneva Accord is to show that it is possible
to reach a compromise between Israeli and Palestinian
positions. They said the recently released annexes could
serve as a resource for negotiators and, hopefully, as
something concrete that could help restore a vision of peace
for Israelis who have lost hope in the peace process. They
noted that the Geneva Initiative has negative associations
for many Israelis because of its strong identifications with
the Israeli left, as well as many of the people who failed to
reach an agreement at Camp David. However, they assert that
almost every poll shows a majority of Israelis support the
general parameters of the peace agreement. They added that
while their side is made up of former officials, the Israelis
should note that the Palestinian team is made up of current
political officials, including PLO Executive Committee
Secretary General Yasser Abbed Rabo, albeit in their private
capacity. End summary.

Background
----------

2. (U) The Geneva Accord is a track II model peace agreement
signed in 2003 between former Israeli peace negotiators, most
notably Yossi Beilin, and PLO representatives acting in their
private capacity, led by PLO Executive Committee Secretary
General Yasser Abed Rabbo. The annexes, officially released
in a ceremony with President Shimon Peres on September 15,
2009, are a series of detailed technical agreements that were
referenced in the original Geneva Accord but not previously
completed. The annexes cover issues such as an international
monitoring group, a multinational peacekeeping force, water,
the environment, border arrangements, and arrangements for
the Old City of Jerusalem as a jointly held area with a
special regime for the holy sites. The annex on refugees has
yet to be completed.

Israelis Experts Write the Annexes, Palestinians Approve
--------------------------------------------- -----------

3. (U) There are 13 annexes that cover: the role of the
international community, refugees, security, arrangements for
Jerusalem, border crossings, Israeli corridors through the
West Bank, Palestinian corridors between the West Bank and
Gaza, water, the environment, and the economy. The final
annex restates the Arab Peace Initiative (API) and says the
Geneva Accord final status agreement fulfills Israel's
responsibilities under the API with regards to the
Palestinians, although it notes full API implementation
depends on agreements with the Lebanese and Syrians as well.
While the 2003 Geneva Accord laid out all the principles for
a final status agreement, the annexes go into considerable
detail. This includes the specific mandate and exact
equipment for international forces, the armaments allowed for
security services in the non-militarized Palestinian State,
the physical infrastructure for the Gaza link, and diagrams
showing the layout and location of border crossings in
Jerusalem. The full, 427-page annex document, as well as a
summary document, can be found at
www.geneva-accord.org/mainmenu/the-annexes.

4. (SBU) On October 6, PolOff discussed the annex project
with Michal Radoshitzky, Director of Foreign Relations for
Geneva Initiative (Israel) and Yuval Benziman, Coordinator
for the Annex Project for Geneva Initiative (Israel). They
explained that, in general, the annexes were drafted by
Israeli academics and experts, approved by the Geneva
Initiative (Israel) and then submitted to the Palestinian
side for modifications and approval. The GI sought out the
best experts possible, whether or not those experts supported
the Geneva Initiative, in order to come up with solutions
that they consider to be realistic and implementable. While
Israelis did most of the drafting, they noted that the water
and environment annexes were co-drafted with the
Palestinians, and that the relevant PA agencies informally
approved both those annexes before they were released.

PLO Officials Support GI "in their private capacity"
--------------------------------------------- -------

5. (SBU) Radoshitzky and Benziman pointed out the asymmetry
in the make-up of the Geneva Initiative, as the Israeli side
is made up of academics and former officials, while most of
the Palestinians are either current officials or closely tied

TEL AVIV 00002255 002 OF 003


to Fatah, while acting in their "private capacity."
Therefore, while the Israelis take most of the working-level
burden, the finally approved results are more likely
acceptable to the PA than to the GOI. In addition to the
water and environment annexes, which were cleared by the
relevant PA agencies, they said they were aware of the
official Palestinian negotiating team getting a copy of the
annexes in advance. While they are not sure if PA President
Mahmoud Abbas was aware of the content of the annexes, they
noted that GI Co-Architect Yasser Abed Rabbo is considered
close to Abbas. The GI had planned a ceremony to officially
present the annexes to Abbas following the Peres ceremony,
but they think that the event is now on hold given the
current political climate.

6. (SBU) On the other hand, Israeli officials, they
lamented, tend to stay away from the Geneva Initiative, as it
can be politically controversial in Israel. Radoshitzky
added that they have done several polls that showed broad
support among Israeli Jews for Geneva Initiative parameters,
but when the poll question specifically mentions the Geneva
Initiative, support plummets. President Peres officially
accepted a copy of the annexes on September 15 from Geneva
Initiative Co-Architect Yossi Beilin, but Peres has not
officially endorsed the effort, and cannot as President.
They pointed out, however, that the ceremony is a big
contrast to the release of the original Geneva Accord in 2003
when, they said, they were called traitors by some Israelis.
Now, the GI representatives pointed out, even the
spokesperson of the Israeli Foreign Ministry publicly called
the annexes a useful effort.

7. (SBU) In a separate conversation on October 8, Geneva
Initiative (Israel) Chairman Boaz Karni told PolOff that as
President, Peres cannot be involved in any track II peace
efforts, but said that Peres speaks often with Beilin, who
was a long-time Peres protege. Karni added that National
Security Advisor Uzi Arad also personally requested a copy of
the annexes, although he is certain that Arad does not
support the Geneva Initiative in general.

Next Steps
----------

8. (SBU) The GI plans to continue its public efforts to
support their accords, and peace in general. They are
currently translating the annexes, drafted in English, into
Hebrew and will send copies to every Israeli MK. On
September 1, the GI presented the annexes to the European
Union in Brussels, adding that the Swiss Foreign Minister has
been promoting the GI with her counterparts throughout Europe
and beyond. The GI also presented a copy of the annexes to
Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit, who publicly called it
"an important document that can form a good and useful base
of reference." Benzimen added that although published, the
annexes are a fluid document, and the GI will make revisions
as needed based on feedback.

9. (SBU) The GI is also planning a billboard and print
campaign in the near future to support peace efforts (Note:
the GI launched a similar high-profile campaign following the
Annapolis Conference. End Note). According to Radoshitzky,
the organization originally intended to launch the campaign
after the trilateral summit in New York to support renewed
negotiations, but have now decided to hold off and revamp the
campaign to fit the current circumstances.

10. (SBU) The GI is also continuing its other outreach
efforts, which include holding conferences of experts,
conducting West Bank barrier tours, and doing community
outreach. Radoshitzky said that originally the GI, which is
not a grass-roots organization, only wanted to focus on the
details of the agreement to provide a recipe for a final
status arrangement. However, the GI concluded that the
biggest obstacle to peace was not the details of an
agreement, for which there was generally broad support, but a
lack of faith in the process, which normally manifests itself
among Israelis as the idea that there is no Palestinian
partner capable of delivering peace. Their community
outreach program attempts to address this perception.

11. The two main efforts for the community outreach have
been a program for Russian-Israelis, and a program for
members of SHAS. They said that the SHAS outreach has gone
very well, particularly the efforts with SHAS women, who tend
to support peace as a principle and are open to learning
about the details and meeting Palestinians. Radoshitzky
pointed out that the granddaughter of SHAS spiritual leader
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has been active in the SHAS events with
GI, and that the Rabbi's daughter said she will attend the

TEL AVIV 00002255 003 OF 003


next event. The GI representatives said that the Russian
programs have been less successful, as the Russians tend to
be more right-wing, and hold what the GI representatives
claimed is a common Russian value that one never willingly
gives up conquered land. Overall, they said, the GI will
continue these and other efforts to help Israelis believe
that peace is realistic and achievable.
CUNNINGHAM

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