Cablegate: Unsc: Monthly Middle East Meeting - Libya Keen For

DE RUCNDT #1073/01 3292357
O 252357Z NOV 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 120323

1. (SBU) Summary: The UN Secretariat's briefing to the
Security Council at its monthly meeting on the Middle East on
November 24 focused on the current impasse in re-launching
bilateral negotiations, given continuing Israeli settlement
activity. The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains
troubling with the approach of winter, he noted. He also
called attention to the lack of resolution 1860
implementation, rocket fire from Gaza which continued over
the last month, and Israeli air strikes and incursions in
response. The briefer called for a "clear strategy on the
way forward" and a united position from the international
community. In the Council consultations afterwards, the
Libyan Perm Rep questioned the political horizon and called
for a Council resolution ending Israeli settlement activity.
While only Uganda voiced support for Council action, the
majority of Council members emphasized the need for bilateral
negotiations. There also was near consensus from members on
the need for Israel to freeze settlement activity, including
natural growth. Ambassador Wolff emphasized the critical
importance of the two parties resuming negotiations in order
to negotiate a final status agreement themselves. He
stressed that a Council resolution could be a disincentive
for each of the parties to negotiate and strongly urged
against such a course. Several Council members also called
for the reopening of crossings into Gaza with an appropriate
monitoring regime and reminded about the humanitarian
situation in Gaza. Only France and the UK raised the
Goldstone report, calling for all parties to undertake
independent investigations and urging accountability.
Several Council members welcomed the new government in
Lebanon and called on it to implement Council resolutions.
The Libyan Perm Rep and the Palestinian Permanent Observer
both addressed the press stake-out after consultations,
leaving the impression that they would pursue a Council
resolution on the Middle East. Ambassador Wolff later urged
each privately to refrain from public statements if they hope
to work with us on a way forward. End summary.

Secretariat's Briefing

2. (SBU) Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs
Haile Menkerios briefed the Security Council at its monthly
meeting on the Middle East on November 24. He noted that,
despite all recent attempts to restart negotiations,
political efforts have reached a deep impasse and much of the
problem is due to a failure to implement Roadmap commitments,
citing continued Israeli settlement activity as an example.
He referred to the Jerusalem Planning Board's November 17
approval of an additional 900 housing units in Gilo and 17
house demolitions that were carried out in East Jerusalem
over the reporting period, causing the displacement of 99
Palestinians. He reported that Palestinian President Abbas
publicly announced on November 5 that he does not plan to
stand for re-election. Menkerios later said that Abbas'
decision reflects a personal assessment that the peace
process lacks content and credibility. He also reported that
while Abbas had called on October 23 for presidential and
legislative elections to be held in January 2010, they would
not be held, given Hamas declaration against holding
elections in Gaza and the Central Election Commission's
subsequent announcement on 12 November that elections would
no longer be possible. Menkerios highlighted the need for
intra-Palestinian unity and praised Egyptian efforts to date,
noting that Fatah has signed onto the current proposed
factional agreement, while Hamas has thus far refused.

3. (SBU) Despite these setbacks, Menkerios reported that the
Palestinian Authority (PA) has taken concrete steps to meet
its Roadmap obligations, pursue security interests, and
improve law and order. He cited the example of the PA
security forces' confiscation of 20 pipe bombs on October 15
which were later handed over to the Israel Defense Forces.
He noted the launch of the new "Wataniya" telecommunications
company and the opening of the Jalameh crossing to
Israeli-Arabs to travel into Jenin. Menkerios reported that
579 obstacles to movement still remain in the West Bank; a
slight improvement from the 592 barriers that existed in
September. He said there were 45 documented Israeli settler
attacks on Palestinians and their olive harvests during the
last month and 26 incidents of Palestinian violence toward
Israeli settlers. He said Israeli raids in the West Bank
resulted in 73 injured Palestinians and over 300 arrests, and
two reports of armed Israeli settlers trying to take control
of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem were recorded, as well
as renewed confrontations around the Haram al Sharif/Temple
Mount on October 25.

USUN NEW Y 00001073 002 OF 005

4. (SBU) On Gaza, Menkerios stated that key elements of
Resolution 1860 remain to be fulfilled. He mentioned
deteriorating public infrastructure, environmental
degradation, and the destruction of livelihoods as areas of
top concern. He reported that OCHA is finalizing a "winter
response plan" which will attempt to supply the bare minimum
for Palestinian humanitarian needs, including fuel and
electricity, building repair materials, water pumps and
sanitation devices. The Israeli government is facilitating
water and sanitation projects in Gaza, he said, so UNICEF is
installing two desalination units, but materials for three
other approved projects are still pending entry into Gaza.
He reminded the Council that the Israeli government has still
not approved the UN's May 2009 pilot project request to
complete USD 77 million in UNRWA and UNDP housing, school,
and health facilities projects, though the UN has "left no
stone unturned in seeking approval of this package in
extensive consultations with the Israeli authorities and is
confident of its capacity to ensure the integrity of
programming." According to Israeli officials, he said, arms
continue to be smuggled into Gaza and rockets capable of
reaching Tel Aviv have been test-fired from the Gaza Strip.
During the last month, he said, 12 rockets and mortars were
fired from Gaza into southern Israel and Israel conducted 19
incursions and 9 air strikes in response, leaving one
Palestinian child dead. He reiterated calls for the release
of Gilad Shalit, as well as for the 9,000 Palestinian
prisoners in Israeli jails. He noted that Hamas closed down
the International Federation of Journalists in Gaza on
November 9 and continues to restrict public assembly. Over
2,500 pilgrims left Gaza over the last month to perform the
pilgrimage but 750 students have not been able to leave for
study opportunities abroad.

5. (SBU) Menkerios noted the release by Israel of two Syrian
prisoners from the Golan. He reiterated the
Secretary-General's statement welcoming the formation of the
Lebanese national unity government with the signing of the
decree by President Sleiman and Prime Minister-designate
Hariri on November 9, five months after Parliamentary
elections took place. He said that UNIFIL's area of
operations in southern Lebanon has remained quiet since the
Secretariat's briefing to the Council on the UNSCR 1701
report (November 10) but that air violations continue on a
daily basis.

6. (SBU) In conclusion, Menkerios said that "without a
credible political horizon -- including commitments made,
monitored and kept, and a calling to account when obligations
are breached -- forces of violence, tension and extremism on
both sides will fill the vacuum." He said the
Secretary-General is active with Quartet partners in seeking
a "clear strategy on the way forward." Menkerios said that
the Secretary-General believes this "requires immediate
actions on the ground to strengthen the process, a
reaffirmation of Roadmap requirements and the need for their
implementation, and clear terms of reference for negotiations
on all core issues grounded in the resolutions of this
Council and agreements reached between the parties." He then
called for the international community to take a "clear and
united position."

Libya makes pitch for resolution

7. (SBU) Libyan Perm Rep Shalgham spoke first when the
Council moved into consultations after the briefing. He
questioned the political horizon when "negotiations are a
failure" and "settlements are continuing." He urged the
Council to "take a stand and make a decision" on its
resolutions and put an end to settlements. He referred to a
recent Egyptian television interview of President Abbas who
had articulated his disappointment and desire to not remain
in office. Shalgham said a Council resolution would be
helpful but that the negotiating process did not have to be
rushed. He urged the Council to convey a positive message to
all the parties in the region.

Other Council members emphasize
need for bilateral negotiations

8. (SBU) Japanese Perm Rep Takasu emphasized that there is
"no magic formula" and only genuine dialogue will solve this
conflict and the Council should encourage the parties to
tackle the difficult issues. He also urged support of PA
President Abbas and his efforts. The Mexican Pol Counselor
called for a renewal of talks and stressed the need for both

USUN NEW Y 00001073 003 OF 005

parties to fulfill their obligations under Security Council
resolutions and to respect international humanitarian law and
human rights. French Perm Rep Araud called for an early
resumption of negotiations for the conclusion of an agreement
on two states -- "Jewish and Palestinian with Jerusalem as
their capitals." He urged that "other issues should not
detract from our efforts" to get the parties to resume
negotiations. He said it was "not helpful to select another
path." He reminded the Council that France is prepared to
play its role and stands ready to host a summit of the
Mediterranean with all involved stakeholders. Russian Perm
Rep Churkin characterized the situation as "serious but not
hopeless" and said that the Quartet fully supports Special
Envoy Mitchell's efforts. He reminded the Council of
Russia's readiness to host a conference in Moscow at an
acceptable time but noted the need to advance on the other
tracks as well. The Chinese Deputy Perm Rep called the peace
process "once again at a crossroads" and called for a
resumption of negotiations on a two-state solution but noted
that the on-the-ground situation was not helpful. He
underscored that political negotiations are the only correct
path. The UK and Croatian Perm Reps offered support of U.S.
efforts but noted, respectively, that prospects looked bleak
and that there was deepening disillusionment. UK Perm Rep
Lyall Grant urged the international community to "focus on
practical steps to get the parties back to the table." He
reiterated Foreign Secretary Miliband's May 11 statement of
the goal of two states based on the 1967 borders, Jerusalem
as the capital, and a just settlement on refugees.

9. (SBU) Turkish Perm Rep Apakan reiterated what he termed
the "foundations for peace: 1967 borders, Jerusalem as the
capital, and a just settlement for refugees." He commented
that Palestinians can better sustain an indeterminate future
when there is a credible peace process. Without one in
place, he said, it is "hard for them to hold out hope," so
Council members are "duty-bound" to act. While Ugandan Perm
Rep Rugunda called for a resumption of negotiations, he did
agree with the Libyan Perm Rep that it was time for the
Council to speak out. Both Turkey and China called for
support of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. Costa
Rican Perm Rep Urbina said that a future Palestinian state
can only be based on international law, not on force. He
said that his President would be traveling soon to the region
with that message. He also reminded the Council of President
Abbas' previous interest in Costa Rice given its lack of an
army and hoped that Costa Rica could serve as a model for a
future Palestinian state.

Near consensus on need for
settlement freeze

10. (SBU) Mexico called on both parties to comply with their
Roadmap commitments. Austria, France, Japan, Mexico, and
Uganda called on Israel to freeze settlement activity,
including natural growth. French Perm Rep Araud decried the
recent Gilo approval as "deplorable;" the Vietnamese
representative called it "intolerable." Russian Perm Rep
Churkin called settlement expansion "unacceptable" and that
he expected the Gilo approval and other approvals to be
"revisited." The Burkinabe Deputy Perm Rep said that
Israel's continuation of its settlement policy is not a
"conducive dynamic." Turkish Perm Rep Apakan called Israeli
practices on housing "illegal" and "obstructing peace
efforts." He called for them to refrain from further
provocative actions. The Chinese Deputy Perm Rep called for
the parties to stop unilateral actions that prejudge final
status. UK Perm Rep Lyall Grant called continued Israeli
settlement activity illegal and only exacerbating the tension
and becoming a major obstacle. Costa Rican Perm Rep Urbina
said that continued Israeli settlement expansion weakens
those called upon to be Israel's interlocutors.

U.S. emphasizes that SC resolution could
be disincentive for parties to negotiate
and urges patience

11. (SBU) Ambassador Wolff emphasized the critical
importance of the two parties resuming negotiations in order
to negotiate a final status agreement themselves. He
recognized that the current situation is difficult, that some
have labeled it an impasse, but that we need to do better.
He underscored that the Council is in broad agreement about
the path and the goal -- negotiations leading to two states
-- and that it would be unhelpful if all of the Council's
efforts towards this were undermined by precipitate and
unsuccessful efforts for a particular product. He urged

USUN NEW Y 00001073 004 OF 005

patience, dispassion, and wisdom. He noted that there are
signs of hope on a freeze on settlements, though not to the
extent we would like, but nevertheless they are positive. He
reiterated the White House's statement on the Gilo expansion
approval and other housing demolitions in Jerusalem. He
concluded by reminding the Council that Jerusalem is a
permanent status issue that must be negotiated between the
parties. The Council should not provide a disincentive to
the parties to seek anything but a negotiated solution.

Council calls for opening
of crossings into Gaza

12. (SBU) The Japanese Perm Rep called for the smooth entry
of goods and people into and out of Gaza and noted the GOI's
lack of response to the UN's pilot program of projects. The
UK, Uganda, and Croatia called for an end to rocket attacks
on Israel, and Uganda called for a cessation of Israeli
airstrikes in response. Austria, Croatia, France, Mexico,
the UK and the U.S. stressed the need for the sustained
re-opening of the crossings with an appropriate monitoring
mechanism but Austria caveated there call by saying that a
monitoring system should not mean hardship to the dignity of
civilians. Mexico called for a lifting of the blockade since
it encourages illicit trafficking. China called for a
"scaling up of humanitarian efforts." France urged that the
Palestinian civilians in Gaza not be forgotten and called for
the release of Gilad Shalit, along with the UK. The
Burkinabe Deputy Perm Rep also called attention to the
humanitarian suffering in Gaza and in response to recent
Israeli airstrikes. Burkina Faso, China, and Turkey all
called for full implementation of UNSCR 1860 and urged all
parties to use restraint. The Chinese Deputy Perm Rep voiced
concern that the humanitarian situation could deteriorate
further. Only France and the UK mentioned the Goldstone
report; both called for all parties to undertake independent
investigations and reminded that international humanitarian
law should be applied and that the lack of accountability can
do more harm.


13. (SBU) The French Perm Rep highlighted the formation of
the Lebanese government and called on all parties to
implement resolution 1701 and to support UNIFIL. He also
noted that they were closely following the
Secretary-General's review of UNIFIL. The Burkinabe Deputy
Perm Rep urged the new Lebanese government to resolve
outstanding questions on militias and disarmament through the
Doha process, and he called for an end to overflights.
Ambassador Wolff also welcomed the formation of the new
Lebanese government and its participation next year on the
Security Council. He reiterated U.S. support for the Special
Tribunal for Lebanon and the need for the new government to
fully implement resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701. He asked
that DPKO to brief the Council on the findings of its
investigation of the Tayr Filsay explosion in its next 1701
quarterly report.

Libya and Palestinian reps drawn to press;
could make it difficult to quietly
work with them on Council product

14. (SBU) Libyan Perm Rep Shalgham went to the press
stakeout after consultations and said that there was
consensus in the Council "condemning settlements, especially
in Eastern Jerusalem" and consensus on the "death of
negotiations and peace." When pressed by reporters on
whether Libya would table a resolution on settlements, he
said, "We are concentrating on the settlements, and we hope
we can have (an) outcome before the holidays, before the
vacations." (Note: He did not clearly articulate to which
holidays he was referring. End note.) Later on, he did
recall that Libya has a draft resolution "in blue" on
settlements from July 2008. Palestinian Permanent Observer
Mansour then went out to the press stakeout and emphasized
his interpretation of the Council's consultations, though he
was not in the room, and highlighted Israel's disregard of
the "unanimous position of the international community
regarding stopping all settlement activities, including
natural growth." He called for a "collective effort to bring
Israel into compliance with the requirement of peace if we
want to find a way to move forward." After speaking for
several minutes, he then told the press, "So, a position, in
the form of an outcome in the Security Council, in the form

USUN NEW Y 00001073 005 OF 005

of a resolution of some of these options, or all of them
together, would be an available option to the international
community to bring Israel into compliance, if the
international community is serious about resolving this
impasse, this deadlock, and finding practical ways in order,
really, to open doors for the revival of the peace process."
In response to a reporter's question, he later backtracked
away from a settlement-specific resolution and suggested
other options could be considered or a resolution "that would
allow for the resumption of negotiations, which is stopping
all settlement activities...and the terms of reference of the
peace process."

15. (SBU) Ambassador Wolff later spoke privately and
separately with Shalgham and Mansour and chastised both for
putting their demands to the press while they simultaneously
sought to work with us on exploring possible options. He
emphasized that public statements raised unrealistic
expectations which could make it harder for us to reach
agreement on a way forward in the Council. Shalgham claimed
he told the press that he wanted the U.S. on board and would
not pursue the matter if we opposed it. (Note: This did not
come across in the webcast of his stakeout remarks. End
note.) Mansour said he had only gone to the stakeout in
response to Shalgham's comments in order to lower
expectations. Ambassador Wolff emphasized to him that his
statement did just the opposite. Both told Ambassador Wolff
that they would refrain from addressing the issue with the
press while they sought to work with the U.S. in private. In
a separate conversation, Arab League Observer Mahmassani
approached Wolff to say that Arab League SYG Amr Moussa told
him it would be better to get the U.S. on board with a
Presidential Statement (PRST) than to have a failed effort
for a resolution.

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