Cablegate: Arab League Concern Over Summit; Israeli-Palestinian Peace;

DE RUEHEG #0137/01 0281510
R 281510Z JAN 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000137


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/28

CLASSIFIED BY: Matthew Tueller, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy Cairo; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1.(C) Summary. Arab League Secretariat Chief of Staff Hisham Yousef was extremely downcast in a Jan 28 meeting, expressing concerns about preparations for the March Arab League summit in Tripoli. He expressed his personal view that the Administration was not adequately consulting the League on its plans for Middle East peace efforts, and complained that the British had not invited SYG Moussa to the Jan 27 conference on Yemen in London. While Yousef was clearly on edge and expressed frustration, we do not believe Moussa would take any step that would damage the Arab Peace Initiative. End summary.

2.(C) In a January 28 meeting with poloff, Arab League Secretariat Chief of Staff Hisham Yousef (protect) expressed concern about maintaining effective coordination with the Libyan hosts of the upcoming Arab League summit scheduled for March 27 in Tripoli. "I promised myself at the beginning (of the planning) that I would not say anything bad about the Libyans," Yousef said, shaking his head. He was circumspect about getting into details, but was clear that the level of coordination thus far was unsatisfactory. Recalling the last five summits, he said the hosts (e.g. the Qataris, Syrians, Sudanese and Tunisians) had all worked well with the Arab League Secretariat. By contrast, he repeatedly expressed general displeasure about cooperation with the Libyans, but would not be drawn out to give specifics.

3.(C) Yousef was unsure which country would take the AL presidency after the Libyans. Iraq had been scheduled to hold the presidency during the current year, but had deferred for one year and agreed that the Libyans would hold it instead. Yousef said whether or not the Iraqis took their turn following the Libyans (beginning in March 2011) would be a decision for the Iraqi prime minister (Iraqi elections are scheduled in March). The Iraqis might agree to hold the presidency but host the summit at an alternate location in the Arab world, Yousef said, if security concerns remained. He commented wryly that on balance he would have much preferred this year's March summit to be in Baghdad than Tripoli. FEELING LEFT OUT ON ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT --------------------------------------------- ---

4.(C) Yousef expressed his own concern about his perception that the Arab League was being "cut out" of the Administration's Middle East peace efforts. He said if the Administration "chose to work with the Egyptians and Jordanians only," he believed the AL Secretariat would be unable to endorse a potential move by PA President Abbas to return to some format of negotiations with the Israelis. In that event, Yousef suggested the League's only comment would be that "it had not been consulted." (Note: SEMEP Mitchell and his team have consulted with both Moussa and Yousef on several of their recent visits to Cairo. End note).

5.(C) Returning to the subject of the Tripoli summit, he expressed concern that Qaddafi would try to divert discussion away from Arab League support for the Administration's two state approach and instead promote his well-worn idea for "Isratine" (i.e. a single state for Israelis and Palestinians). Yousef said SYG Moussa was adamant that the Arab Peace Initiative be maintained as the consensus AL position, but worried that Qaddafi's expected polemics at the March 27 summit might resonate with the 12 Arab states who had participated in the February 2009 Doha unofficial summit, and at that time had expressed their collective view that the Arab Peace Initiative be vacated. ... AS WELL AS THE YEMEN CONFERENCE IN LONDON -----------------------------------------

6.(C) Yousef also expressed disappointment that SYG Moussa had not been invited to the Jan 27 conference on Yemen in London. He said he had asked the British ambassador to Egypt that SYG Moussa be invited, but never heard back. Yousef said he was concerned by CAIRO 00000137 002 OF 002 what he believed was the exclusion of Moussa from two key Arab issues (the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Yemen) by the U.S. and U.K. "These are signals, and although not necessarily a pattern, it indicates something to us," he said. COMMENT -------

7.(C) As the summit in Tripoli approaches carrying a degree of uncertainty for the Arab League Secretariat, Yousef was expressing genuine frustration with what he believes is a lack of communication with the AL over Middle East peace efforts (perhaps coming from the Egyptians as well as the U.S.) He believes Moussa would have greater credibility to sway AL member states to support the Arab Peace Initiative (API) if the AL was more involved. However, we believe Moussa is highly unlikely to take any step that would damage prospects for the API, or shift from his longstanding support of the two state solution. SCOBEY

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