Cablegate: Uk Foreign Office On Israeli Settlement Moratorium
DE RUEHLO #2697/01 3371537
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 031537Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4157
INFO RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0614
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 0335
C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 002697
NEA/IPA FOR ALON SACHAR AND PAYTON KNOPF
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2019
TAGS: IS KPAL PREL KWBG
SUBJECT: UK FOREIGN OFFICE ON ISRAELI SETTLEMENT MORATORIUM
REF: A. REF A STATE 122214 B. REF B LONDON 2649 C. REF C LONDON 2638
Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL COUNSELOR GREG BERRY FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)
1. (C//NF) Summary: Poloff met with Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Levant team leader Nishi Dholakia on December 1 to discuss Israel's recently announced settlement moratorium and USG support for the return to negotiations as outlined ref A. The UK shares the USG's desire to return to negotiations as soon as possible, but has been very tempered in its support for the moratorium while calling for a full settlement freeze. The primary concern is that Israeli PM Netanyahu not use the moratorium as "cover" for further inaction on additional confidence building measures. Dholakia was receptive to points about the Palestinian Authority's need for budgetary support and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) will likely have an answer on additional budgetary support in the near future (ref B). Dholakia also shared his current focus on EU negotiations regarding the Conclusion to be released following next week's EU foreign minister's meeting in Brussels. End summary.
Conceptually Positive -----------------------
2. (C//NF) Poloff met with Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Levant team leader Nishi Dholakia on December 1 to discuss Israel's recently announced settlement moratorium and USG support for the return to negotiations as outlined ref A. Dholakia expressed appreciation for the continued close dialogue with the USG on MEPP issues and a shared desire to see negotiations resume as soon as possible. Resumption of negotiations before the end of the year "would bring some much needed hope and credibility back to the process," he opined. In his November 25 statement on the freeze UK Foreign Secretary Miliband expressed hope that the moratorium would "become a step towards resuming meaningful negotiations," and said Britain would do "all it can to support US efforts to relaunch negotiations," which the UK sees as the "only way to achieve a comprehensive, just, and secure peace." Dholakia further indicated that while the UK conceptually appreciated the fact that the moratorium might lead to less settlement construction, the fact that it fell "far short" of a full settlement freeze significantly tempered the UK response.
Don't Give Netanyahu "Cover" -----------------------------
3. (C//NF) The FCO's "biggest concern" with the moratorium is that it not be used by Israeli PM Netanyahu as a "cover." Echoing the concerns raised ref C about not wanting to do anything that would be perceived as too supportive of Netanyahu's recent behavior, Dholakia expressed concern that Netanyahu is "a little too comfortable" right now as evidenced by the fact that the moratorium did not "cost any political capital" with his support base. The FCO does not view the moratorium as something that was "difficult" for Netanyahu or particularly "needing international cover and support." It would be a "shame" if Netanyahu used the "space" created by the moratorium not to make "more meaningful steps towards negotiations."
Supporting the PA ------------------
4. (C//NF) Dholakia expressed further concern over Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abbas' "very weak" position and how this might play into Abbas' ability to return to the negotiating table. The UK shares USG concerns over the need to show tangible support for the PA at this time and Dholakia agreed that the need for budgetary assistance is great. As reported ref B, the UK's Department of International Development (DFID) is currently reviewing funding plans and hopes to have an answer regarding possible additional support as early as this week.
Negotiating EU Conclusions ----------------------------
5. (C//NF) Dohlakia informed Poloff that the UK is currently actively engaged in negotiating the text of the EU Conclusion on the Middle East to be finalized for the December 7 EU foreign minister's meeting. The breakdown of which countries were "more or less supportive" of either side was "the same as always" with the UK falling "somewhere in the middle." One issue currently under discussion, he added, was how to word any statement regarding Jerusalem as future capital of both states.
6. (C//NF) Dholakia added that perhaps there was some utility to the UK, and the EU in general, taking a harder stand with Israel in partnership with the USG's "more supportive" role. While the UK generally agrees with all the points that the USG makes on this issue, concern over Netanyahu's "real commitment" to the peace process and pressure to maintain a unified EU stand on the issue make it quite unlikely that they will come out as any more supportive of the moratorium than they already have. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX