Cablegate: Unsc: Council's December Meeting On the Middle

DE RUCNDT #1150/01 3571910
O 231910Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 127868

1. (SBU) Summary: UN Special Coordinator for the Peace
Process Serry briefed the Council during its monthly meeting
on the Middle East on December 17. He highlighted the lack
of progress in seeking the two parties' return to the
negotiating table. While noting that Israeli Prime Minister
Netanyahu's announcement of a ten-month moratorium was a
"step beyond" previous Israeli positions, he also noted its
shortcomings and the December 13 cabinet decision allocating
further funds to settlers. On Gaza, he reiterated his call
for a "different approach," citing the continued lack of
progress in trying to restart UN projects there,
import/export restrictions at the crossings, and the clear
attempts to import arms into Gaza. The Libyan Perm Rep
insisted on delivering his remarks in the Council Chamber,
given that it was his last Middle East meeting, and not in
consultations, as previously agreed. He highlighted what he
termed Council in-action on the Middle East and Israel's lack
of accountability for violations of human rights. During his
remarks, he produced a slideshow, including a set of pictures
that he inaccurately characterized as showing a restrained
Palestinian protester being killed by an IDF soldier.
Ambassador Rice criticized the Libyan "rhetorical display
designed to enflame." The majority of Council members in
consultations stressed the need for the parties to return to
consultations. A number of members recognized the Israeli
settlements moratorium but called for a full freeze. They
also commented on the continuing difficulties in Gaza and
pressed for implementation of resolution 1860. Several
members voiced support for the Palestinian Authority's
efforts and for Abu Mazen. Council members also welcomed the
Lebanese Parliament's vote of confidence in the new
government. End summary.

Special Coordinator's Briefing

2. (SBU) UN Special Coordinator for the Peace Process Robert
Serry briefed the Security Council during its monthly meeting
on the Middle East on December 17. Serry enumerated the many
obstacles that still hinder an effective peace agreement in
the region, including low confidence between both parties,
tensions in Jerusalem, settlement activity, and instability
in Gaza. He described the urgency of the situation in the
Middle East as a "race against time" for a decisive move
towards a political endgame. Serry called on Israel to
implement its Roadmap commitments, ease its stifling measures
against Palestinian civilians, and move towards a resumption
of negotiations. He called on the Palestinians to engage
constructively with Israel on negotiation efforts and to
continue their work on state-building projects. Serry noted
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's November 26 announcement
of a ten-month moratorium on West Bank settlement
construction which he termed "a step beyond previous Israeli
government positions". He stated that the moratorium does
not apply to the municipal boundaries of East Jerusalem. He
also said an additional 110,000 settlers in the West Bank
were granted budget allocations on December 13.

3. (SBU) Addressing the situation in the West Bank, Serry
characterized the Palestinian security forces' capabilities
as improving. Despite this, 575 obstacles to movement still
exist, he said, and Israeli forces conducted 64 incursions
during the reporting period. Of growing concern, Serry said,
are the increasing number of "price tag" attacks by Israeli
settlers against Palestinian civilians because of the new
moratorium. He noted in particular the "deplorable
desecration" of the mosque in Yasuf. Serry reported that,
while President Mahmoud Abbas has confirmed his decision not
to run in future Palestinian elections, the Palestinian
Liberation Organization's (PLO) Central Council authorized
the extension of Abbas' current term until elections can be
held. He said that the Central Council will meet again in

4. (SBU) On Gaza, Serry called for a "different approach,"
calling the blockade "unacceptable and counterproductive."
He stated that imports were at approximately a quarter of
their May 2007 level and that most of these imports are food
and hygiene items. He said that Israeli authorities have
still not authorized the UN to complete work on UNRWA and
UNDP projects for housing, schools, and health facilities.
Serry reiterated the call for the release of Gilad Shalit
along with the 9,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli
prisons. He reported that an S-5K rocket was fired from Gaza
on December 5 and Egyptian authorities seized a truck
carrying a ton of explosives destined for Gaza on November
23. Aside from these incidents, ten rockets and mortars were
fired from Gaza towards Israel, without any reported

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injuries. An Israeli airstrike on November 27 injured four
Palestinian militants, and one Palestinian man died on
December 12 after being shot by Israeli forces near the

5. (SBU) Turning to the region, Serry noted his December 9
visit to Damascus regarding prospects for a resumption of the
Israeli-Syrian track and noted that the situation in the
Golan remains stable. He warned of a current Knesset bill
that, if passed after its third reading, could make any
future territorial return more complex. On Lebanon, Serry
noted the confirmation of the new government, headed by Prime
Minister Hariri. He reminded the Council that Israeli air
violations over Lebanese territory continue nearly every day.

Libya Criticizes Council Inaction

6. (SBU) Abrogating the consensus agreed to in this month's
Program of Work that members would exchange views in
consultations rather than in public, the Libyan delegation
insisted on exercising its right to speak in the Chamber.
The Libyan delegation also decided to use visual aids. In
his statement, the Libyan Perm Rep explained that he sought
to use his delegation's last appearance in a Security Council
meeting on the Middle East to evaluate the work of the
Council. He noted that Libya had worked hard on the
situation over the past two years, at times giving up its own
national position, to make progress toward peace. Despite
this, he lamented, Israel had remained "above the law and
beyond accountability." He reviewed the events of Operation
Cast Lead, including the use of white phosphorus (which he
alleged was banned under international law), which had killed
1,500 civilians and destroyed United Nations facilities.
Although the Security Council adopted a resolution and the
Board of Inquiry had drafted a report on the matter, he
claimed, nothing had happened in response. Libyan Perm Rep
Shalgham also decried the many double standards used against
Palestinians, claiming, "If the Palestinians elect a militant
group, they are called terrorists. But if the Israelis elect
terrorists, they are called democratic."

7. (SBU) During the Libyan Perm Rep's remarks, a slideshow
played showing dead and injured Palestinians. Two-thirds of
the way through his remarks, he directed the Council's
attention to the projector screen, which displayed a photo of
a young man restrained and blindfolded, standing surrounded
by Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers. In the second
photo, the young man is lying on the ground. The Perm Rep
said that the pictures had been published three days prior,
and that one of the Israeli soldiers had killed the young man
while he was restrained. (Note: The photos match footage
distributed by B'Tselem of a Palestinian protester detained
by the IDF at Ni'ilin, in July 2008. He was shot in the foot
with a rubber bullet by an IDF soldier, apparently on orders,
but not killed. We understand that the case against two IDF
members is ongoing. End note.) Next, Shalgham showed
several maps of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Commenting
on the increasing size of the settlements, he asked the
Council where a Palestinian state would be created.

8. (SBU) Shalgham again spoke of double standards, this time
comparing the uproar created over the detainment of Gilad
Shalit to the little publicity given to the over 11,000
Palestinian men, women and children held in prison by Israel.
He asked rhetorically if Shalit was a Boy Scout and if he
had gone for a picnic to where he was captured, or if he had
gone there to kill. Libya criticized "some members" for
being hypocritical in making speeches on human rights, but
failing to vote in favor of General Assembly resolution 64/10
on the Goldstone Report. In conclusion, he said that Libya's
time on the Council had been a "bitter experience," and he
regretted that "the poor Palestinians, the Arab system and
the official Arab order" had taken a weak position on the

US Response to Libyan display

9. (SBU) After the Libyan statement, Ambassador Rice asked
for the floor. She reserved the right to make her longer
statement in consultations but said, "I just want to say
that, while we certainly respect any member's right to speak
in the Chamber and say what they think, we think the better
part of wisdom is to focus on the goal we all share, which is
achieving a genuine two-State solution. A rhetorical display
designed to enflame is not necessarily a constructive way to
advance that goal. The United States remains fully committed
to achieving a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian

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conflict, and we hope and expect that our colleagues on the
Security Council will continue to be supportive in that

Council consultations:
Parties need to return to the table

10. (SBU) The other 14 Council members spoke in
consultations after the briefing. Ambassador Rice spoke
first and drew from reftel. The UK Perm Rep, referred to the
Libyan Perm Rep's remarks, and said grandstanding in the
Chamber is not helpful. He said that Security Council
members need to be sure that "all we do is for the benefit of
progress and not just public rhetoric." The Chinese Deputy
Perm Rep noted the previous day's anniversary of the
Council's passage of resolution 1850 and hoped the
international community, Israel, and the Palestinians would
strengthen their efforts and move the peace process forward.
The French Perm Rep emphasized that everyone knows the
parameters of peace -- two states, but the two protagonists
are facing internal challenges. He called for the
international community to galvanize and press the two sides
to sit down together, voiced support for the U.S. initiative,
said he was sure that European Union and Arab states stand
ready to assist, noting President Sarkozy's continuing
readiness to host a summit for peace.

11. (SBU) The Russian Perm Rep said the Moscow conference
would be convened immediately after the resumption of
negotiations with the full coordination of both parties. The
Austrian and Croatian Perm Reps referred to the Council of
the EU's annual conclusions on the peace process, published
earlier in the month, and urged the parties to overcome the
standstill. The Vietnamese representative underscored that
this was their last meeting on the Middle East and reaffirmed
Vietnam's intent to help the international community obtain a
two-state solution. The Turkish Perm Rep reiterated Turkey's
readiness to resume its role in indirect talks between Israel
and Syria.

Settlements moratorium

12. (SBU) The French Perm Rep called the Israeli decision on
the settlements moratorium a "step in the right direction"
but noted that any settlement is illegal. The Chinese Deputy
Perm Rep and UK and Ugandan Perm Reps also called the
moratorium a step forward but urged a full freeze. The
Mexican Perm Rep referred to the Israeli "partial restriction
on settlements" which he said should not be ignored but that
it does not fully respect the Roadmap, especially with regard
to East Jerusalem. The Japanese Perm Rep said it is
essential for Israel to implement all of its obligations,
including a freeze of all settlements, including natural
growth. Both the Austrian and Croatian Perm Reps took note
of Israel's moratorium, called for an immediate end to
settlements, and commented that the freeze was undercut by
the Israeli cabinet's approval of a new National Priorities
Map. The Chinese Deputy Perm Rep called for a refrain from
any measures to change the status in East Jerusalem.

13. (SBU) The Turkish Perm Rep also took note of the
moratorium which he termed limited in scope and timeframe and
urged Israel to meet all of its obligations. He also
referred to forced evictions in East Jerusalem and the
substantial number of East Jerusalemites who have lost their
residency rights in 2009. He noted OCHA's recent report that
Palestinians have the right to build on only one percent of
Area C land. The Russian Perm Rep called for both sides to
abide by their commitments, especially in East Jerusalem, and
the need to fight against extremism and to refrain from any
steps that might impact the final settlement. The Vietnamese
representative called for both sides to refrain from
provocative acts. Turkey and Mexico expressed deep concern
at the arson attack at the mosque in Yasuf and called for
Israel to bring those responsible to justice and to prevent
other such attacks.

Support for the PA and Abu Mazen

14. (SBU) The French Perm Rep called for support, especially
financial support, of the Palestinian Authority and of
President Abbas, especially by those who are most vocal in
defense of the Palestinians. He noted France and the PA's
recent signature of the "Framework Document of Partnership"
on December 15 and the 200 million Euros in assistance, as
promised by France at the Paris Conference. The Mexican and
Ugandan Perm Reps highlighted the PLO's extension of

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President Abbas' term. The Vietnamese and Russian Perm Rep
called for Palestinian reconciliation, with the Russian
noting that Abu Mazen should be the national leader. Burkina
Faso called for Palestinians to think of the higher interests
of the Palestinian people and urged reconciliation. The
Mexican Perm Rep asked Serry what else could be done to
support Abu Mazen. Serry, responding at the end of
consultations, said that Israel could further enable the
Palestinian agenda of state-building. He commented that
Israeli actions in East Jerusalem are a potential tinderbox
and he hoped Prime Minister Netanyahu would take the issue
under his control. Serry said the Palestinians must move
towards the negotiating table. He referred to his recent
meetings in Washington and said that Special Envoy Mitchell
would be returning to the region after the New Year. Serry
underscored that the international community must create the
atmosphere for both parties to "come back to the table."


15. (SBU) A number of states commented on the negative
situation in Gaza -- the continuing blockade, rocket fire,
and arms smuggling -- and called for implementation of
resolution 1860. The Austrian Perm Rep underscored that
Israeli citizens should live free of fear from attacks. The
Chinese Deputy Perm Rep called on donors to honor their
assistance commitments. The French Perm Rep called for
Shalit's release, and, in direct response to the Libyan Perm
Rep's comments in the Chamber about Shalit, noted that Shalit
had been abducted from Israeli territory. The Mexican Perm
Rep called for a new approach on Gaza and asked Serry for his
thoughts. Serry responded at the end of consultations,
noting that he has been pressing for a new strategy on Gaza
since his first briefing to the Council. He underscored that
both he and the Secretary-General have not left a stone
unturned in trying to open up Gaza for reconstruction. He
described a UN housing project near Khan Younis that is
almost completed and would provide housing for 500 families
if Israel allows into Gaza the final materials. Serry
concluded that he hopes there will soon be closure on Shalit
since his release could be a linchpin for the resumption of
UN projects.

Violations of human rights

16. (SBU) The Austrian Perm Rep, specifically responded to
the Libyan Perm Rep's remarks in the Chamber, by reiterating
Austria's call for national investigations of all violations
of international humanitarian law and international human
rights law. He also voiced an expectation that the parties
would cooperate with the Secretary-General when he draws up
his report to the General Assembly on the implementation of
GA resolution 64/10. He noted that the Austrian mission had
been informed by the Israelis of "some of what they are
doing" to investigate but that they have not heard from the
other side. He also pointedly responded to "members who give
long speeches on human rights" that he regretted the lack of
consensus in the negotiations on the GA resolution which
resulted in the EU member states not being able to vote in
favor of it.


17. (SBU) The Burkinabe, Croatian, French, Japanese,
Russian, and Ugandan Perm Reps welcomed the Lebanese
Parliament's vote of confidence in the government. Croatia
call for the new government to address the disarmament of
militias. The French Perm Rep emphasized the need for the
full implementation of UNSCR 1701.

© Scoop Media

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