Cablegate: Guidance and Action Request: Israel's Settlement
DE RUEHC #2214/01 3312151
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O P 272145Z NOV 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 STATE 122214
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IS KPAL PREL KWBG
SUBJECT: GUIDANCE AND ACTION REQUEST: ISRAEL'S SETTLEMENT
1. (U) This is an action request. See paragraphs 3 and 4.
2. (U) On November 25, the Government of Israel (GOI)
announced a 10-month moratorium on new settlement
construction and new approvals in the West Bank. Following
the announcement by the GOI, Secretary Clinton released a
written statement and Special Envoy (S/E) for Middle East
Peace George Mitchell gave a public statement and press
briefing. Transcripts of both are available on the state
department website and are in both Hebrew and Arabic.
3. (SBU) Post should engage with the host government on the
moratorium and stress the U.S. commitment to the resumption
of negotiations that lead to the two-state solution and
report back host government's reaction front channel by
December 3, 2009.
4. (SBU) Talking points:
- We believe that a two-state solution to the conflict is
the best way to realize the shared goal of Israelis and
Palestinians to live in peace and security.
- The President, Secretary, and S/E Mitchell know that
achieving this goal will be difficult, but also have said
that they will not waiver in their persistent pursuit of a
comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
- For that reason, the President has dedicated himself
and his Administration to the resumption of
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and to the creation of an
atmosphere that maximizes the prospects for success.
- It is our hope to resume negotiations without
preconditions as soon as possible. The United States will
play an active role in those negotiations once they resume.
Israel's West Bank Moratorium:
- The moratorium is a unilateral decision by the
Government of Israel.
- To be clear: this is neither an agreement between the
U.S. and Israel on settlements, nor is it an agreement
between Israel and the Palestinians.
- For the first time ever, an Israeli government will
stop housing approvals and all new construction of housing
units and related infrastructure in West Bank settlements.
The moratorium includes construction on projects that have
full approvals and are not yet started.
- This is a positive development.
- The Israelis have said that the only exception will be
a small number of public buildings (28 total), such as
schools and synagogues, within existing settlements.
- Under the moratorium, those buildings already under
construction will be completed (roughly 700 buildings or 2500
units). But the number of buildings under construction will
decline, since as each new building is completed, there will
not be a new building started.
- So implementation of the moratorium could mean much
less settlement construction than would occur if there is no
- While this announcement falls short of a full freeze,
we believe the steps announced by the Prime Minister are
STATE 00122214 002 OF 004
significant and could have substantial impact on the ground.
- United States policy on settlements remains unaffected
and unchanged. As the President has said: "America does not
accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."
- To be clear, the steps we have suggested to all parties
- Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab states - to improve
the atmosphere for negotiations are not ends in themselves
and they certainly are not preconditions to negotiations.
- But they can make a valuable contribution toward
achieving our goal of successful negotiations that result in
a two-state solution.
- That's why we've urged the Palestinians to expand and
improve their security efforts and to take strong and
meaningful action on incitement. It's why we've urged the
Arab states to take steps toward normalization of relations
with Israel. And it's why we've urged Israel to stop
- (IF ASKED) According to data provided by the GOI, there
are an estimated 700 buildings currently under construction
(this translates to roughly 2500 housing units. This is less
than the average number of units under construction over the
past 10 years. In absolute numbers, the number of housing
units under construction is the lowest it has been since
- We recognize that the Palestinians and other Arab
governments are concerned because Israel's moratorium permits
the completion of buildings already started and limits the
effect of the moratorium to the West Bank.
- We share those concerns.
- As to Jerusalem, United States policy remains
unaffected and unchanged: As has been stated by every
previous administration which addressed this issue, the
status of Jerusalem, and all other permanent status issues,
must be resolved by the parties through negotiations.
- The United States also disagrees with some Israeli
actions in Jerusalem affecting Palestinians in areas such as
housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and
demolitions of Palestinian homes.
- The United States has not accepted and disagrees with
any unilateral action by either party which could have the
effect of pre-empting negotiations.
- It is our goal to re-launch negotiations between the
parties as soon as possible.
- We believe that further delay is not in the interests
of Palestinians, of Israelis, or of the U.S. There never has
been and there likely will never be a perfect time.
- We recognize of course that there are problems and
difficulties. But waiting will only make things worse. So
our goal is to enter negotiations as soon as possible.
- As the Secretary said: "We believe that through good
faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an
outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the
Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on
the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a
Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect
subsequent developments and meet Israeli security
- It is important to emphasize that in her remarks, the
Secretary said that both sides should be able to reconcile
their goals, and specifically referred to the "Palestinian
goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967
STATE 00122214 003 OF 004
lines, with agreed swaps."
- Her statement of U.S. policy on negotiations goes
further than the President's UNGA speech. It also goes
further in referencing the 1967 line as part of U.S. policy
than any pervious administration has officially done. This
- The U.S. will play an active role in those negotiations
and we envision them to be time limited.
Supporting the PA (for all action addressees except Abu
- We must show tangible support for Abu Mazen and the
Palestinian Authority now; their budget is facing a critical
- The PA,s need for immediate budgetary assistance is
acute. The PA will not be able to meet the education,
health, and security needs of its people ) let alone fund
its plan for Gaza recovery or its two-year plan to build the
institutions of statehood ) without your assistance.
- Sustaining the viability of the PA now is central to
keeping us on the path toward the two-state goal.
- We cannot allow controversies and uncertainties about
Abbas, leadership, or other political issues of the day to
move us from that objective. And President Abbas and the PA
need your support now to get through this period.
- The U.S. already transferred $200 million to the PA in
July, part of $350 million in budget support we provided the
PA during our last fiscal year. We are also looking for
additional ways to get them even more help now. Saudi Arabia
also transferred $200 million to the PA in August. Even with
this level of assistance, we understand that the PA faces up
to a $177 million end-of-year deficit. We need you to come
forward with assistance now to ensure that the PA remains a
strong partner for peace.
- If we are serious about peace, we cannot let the
institutions of responsible Palestinian government fail. The
PA, led by President Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad,
is the most transparent and effective government that
Palestinians have ever seen. Donor support is helping to
drive reforms that are translating into a better quality of
life for Palestinians now, and which will make donor support
less needed in the future.
- We are fully confident in the measures that the PA has
put in place to ensure financial accountability and
transparency. We would not have transferred one half billion
dollars over the past two years in U.S. assistance to the PA
as budget support if we had doubts.
- In Gaza, the PA effectively is a lifeline to more than
half a million people (PA employees and their families) )
keeping them out of absolute misery by making sure that
salaries and social welfare payments are paid on time. Hamas
and other extremist groups are the immediate beneficiaries if
the PA cannot meet the needs of its people.
For Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, only:
- We need your help in urging the Palestinians to resume
negotiations as soon as possible. These steps by Israel are
significant, even though they fall short of a full freeze.
- We understand that you are concerned about the
moratorium, especially the fact that it excludes Jerusalem.
- S/E Mitchell mentioned our own concerns about Jerusalem
- including about demolitions and evictions - in his remarks
after the Israeli announcement of the moratorium.
- Our policy has not changed and Jerusalem will be an
issue on the table for negotiations.
- We believe that the best way to resolve the issue of
STATE 00122214 004 OF 004
Jerusalem and to have more leverage on divisive actions is to
- Secretary Clinton,s statement of U.S. policy on
negotiations goes further than the President's UNGA speech.
It also goes further in referencing the 1967 line as part of
U.S. policy than any pervious administration has officially
- This is noteworthy and significant; it is what the
Palestinians said was needed in order to resume negotiations.
- Now we need your help to bring them to the table and to
support them in this process.
- Let me assure you that the U.S. will play an active
role in the negotiations and help move the Israelis, but your
support of the PA and the resumption of negotiations is
5. (SBU) Please contact Alon Sachar for questions about
Israel's settlement moratorium (office: 202-647-2267,
blackberry: 202-664-7214). Please email Alon Sachar
(SacharAX@state.sgov.gov) and Payton Knopf
(KnopfPL@state.sgov.gov) with post's reply cables.