|04TELAVIV1354||2004-03-04 13:16:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Tel Aviv|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 001354
1. (C) Summary and Comment: Likud's outspoken rightist
Central Committee member Uzi Cohen and some of his what could
only be described as political henchmen presented an
alternative peace plan to Poloff and Pol/FSN on March 3
wherein the Palestinians would have their own state -- in a
carved-out northern portion of Jordan. Cohen touted Likud's
Central Committee -- with himself as core leader -- as the
real powerhouse behind Likud policy, and advocated that the
USG bypass regular GOI channels and meet with Central
Committee members on peace process issues. Cohen claimed
that he received an unofficial "green light" from PM Sharon
to promote his plan, and that Jordan's King Abdullah knows
about the plan and had relayed inquiries about the plan's
details. Cohen and his colleagues asserted that there is
support for the plan by a majority in Likud's Central
Committee, in the Knesset and among moderate Israeli Arabs.
He pressed for a meeting with Ambassador Kurtzer to present
the plan, and brazenly promised that he would find a way to
arrange a meeting with President Bush. Comment: At worst,
many within Likud and the Israeli public view Cohen as an
obnoxious thug, who elbows his way into and disrupts Knesset
meetings, exploits political connections for family favors,
and panders to the right-wing elements of Likud. At best, he
is an unabashed self-promoter. Sharon may be putting up with
Cohen's shenanigans, but we have no indication that he agrees
with Cohen's approach. End Summary and Comment.
Redrawing the Middle East
2. (C) Uzi Cohen, Deputy Mayor of Ra'anna, a Tel Aviv
suburb, and a powerful right-wing Likud Central Committee
power broker, along with several colleagues, met with Poloff
and Pol/FSN March 3 in Cohen's small municipal office,
plastered with photographs of Cohen and prominent Israeli
political figures. The meeting was arranged in response to a
letter Cohen had written to Ambassador Kurtzer requesting a
meeting to "brief" the Ambassador on his "proposition for a
peaceful solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."
Joining Cohen were Mark Gal, the author of the "peace plan;"
Dr. Menahem Eldor, an attorney who interpreted for Mr. Cohen;
and Shlomo Madmon, a hanger-on. (Note: It was obvious during
the meeting that Eldor took liberties to expound generously
on what Cohen was saying. It appeared, however, as Cohen sat
back comfortably in his chair, that Cohen was confident that
Eldor would represent him accurately. End note.)
3. (C) Cohen's plan, entitled "Three States for Three
Nations," calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state
"in a region north of Jordan," although the presentation and
maps actually depicted a region in the northern part of
Jordan. According to Gal, the West Bank is too small an area
to accommodate all of the Palestinian refugees who would
converge on an independent Palestinian state, as well as the
expanding population of resident Palestinians. The area
proposed in the plan would accommodate a much larger
population. According to an amateurish map with hand-printed
labels illustrating Cohen's plan, a large part of northern
Jordan would be partitioned for the Palestinian state. A
handout on the plan stated that "final borders of said state
are to be negotiated by Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Saudi
Arabia." It was not clear whether territory from Iraq would
also be included. Palestinians remaining in the West Bank --
no mention of Gaza was made -- would have limited autonomy
under a "Municipal Palestinian Authority," but would be
"encouraged" to emigrate to the Palestinian state. The
handout states that, "the plan would be carried out under the
auspices of the United States...."
Cohen on his Plan: What's Not to Like?
4. (C) Cohen claimed that a Likud Central Committee majority
supports the plan. He claimed that most Central Committee
members are against the roadmap and that at least 1,000 of
the 3,000 members had supported his campaign against the
roadmap before the cabinet had approved it with the 14
reservations. Eldor asserted that Cohen could get 70 MKs to
support the plan. Cohen noted that he met with FM Silvan
Shalom four times to discuss the plan. (Note: Cohen's
brother serves as an assistant to Shalom. End Note.)
Shalom, Cohen claimed, told him that Jordan's King Abdullah
is aware of the plan and had "inquired about its details."
Cohen claimed he met with the head of Jordanian intelligence,
Mansour, about the plan. (Note: The head of intelligence in
Jordan is General Sa'ad Kheir. Cohen is most likely
referring to retired Jordanian General and peace activist
Mansour Abu Rashid. End note.) He said that he sent the
plan to Labor leader Shimon Peres and is awaiting a meeting
with him. He also asked Russian immigrant and MK Natan
Sharansky to help him set up a meeting with Russian President
Putin. When asked what PM Sharon thought about Cohen openly
and vigorously promoting his own peace plan, Cohen replied
that Sharon had given him an unofficial "green light" to
promote the plan.
5. (C) Cohen claimed that the mayor of the Israeli Arab
village of Taybeh and moderate Israeli Arabs support his plan
as well, but Cohen could not remember the mayor's name.
Cohen and his colleagues noted that it was difficult to
debate the plan since it provides for a Palestinian state --
an even larger one than the Palestinians would have now.
Eldor asserted that the idea "is sound." He suggested that
the United States be "a leader in promoting the plan."
Uzi: I've Got the Power
6. (C) Uzi Cohen and his colleagues repeatedly stressed the
importance of the Likud Central Committee in determining
Likud policy and in electing Likud representatives, including
the prime minister. Madmon noted that Sharon is not always
"in line" with the Likud rank and file and that the Central
Committee influences Likud and the public. Eldor added that
the Central Committee wields influence on Sharon, the Israeli
public and even the United States. Cohen advocated that U.S.
government officials bypass normal GOI channels and meet with
members of the Central Committee on peace process issues. He
underlined that "in Israel, politics is different..." and
that the United States should start a dialogue with the
Central Committee, even if only unofficially. Eldor
repeatedly turned to Poloff to stress Cohen's stature in the
Central Committee, his influence over members and his
"charisma." At one point, Eldor declared that Cohen could
call any minister any time and receive an appointment the
next day. Madmon suggested that Cohen lead a group of
Central Committee members to meet with President Bush.
Who's Afraid of Uzi Cohen?
7. (C) Aside from U.S. government meetings with the Central
Committee, Cohen stressed the importance of his meeting with
U.S. officials, beginning with Ambassador Kurtzer, to discuss
his plan. He noted that he was planning to meet with the
ambassadors from a number of countries. Eldor said that
Cohen would like to meet with President Bush. Cohen produced
a letter from the PM's office responding to his request for
assistance in arranging for a meeting with the President.
The PM's office politely explained that this was not
possible. Eldor asked for Embassy assistance in arranging
for Cohen to meet the President and, noting "the type of man"
Cohen is, declared that "by hook or by crook," and with or
without Embassy support, Cohen would see the President.
Poloff said these requests would be conveyed to the Embassy.
Cohen stressed that timing was crucial and complained that
setting up meetings through the proper channels goes slowly.
As if to highlight competition for President Bush, Cohen
pointed out that an American colleague had offered to arrange
a meeting for him with Senator John Kerry, but that Cohen had
declined. Cohen asked Poloff if he could issue a press
release that he had met with U.S. Embassy officials about the
plan. Poloff replied she would prefer the meeting not be
publicized as it was an informal discussion.
8. (C) Uzi Cohen is undoubtedly a strong Likud Central
Committee operator, and, as described by the major daily
"Ma'ariv," a Likud "power broker." He defies conventional
channels of political debate and has no compunction in
inserting himself into any and every forum of public
discussion. In February, Cohen's permanent pass to the
Knesset was revoked after he reportedly threatened Knesset
Speaker and Likud member Reuven Rivlin with "a political
death certificate." This threat followed Rivlin's decision
to ban Likud Central Committee members from Knesset committee
debates, complaining that they disrupted the meetings. Early
in 2004, Cohen had demanded that he accompany Sharon to meet
with President Bush. When the visit did not materialize, it
appears that Cohen decided to promote his own plan, both in
the media and in Likud. Many in Likud and the public at
large cringe from his tactics and persona. When Cohen
accused Rivlin of acting out of revenge in revoking his
Knesset pass, Rivlin remarked to Ma'ariv: "Who is he anyway,
that I should take revenge on him? Why should I pay him any
attention? He should never have been given a permanent pass
to begin with." PM Sharon, on the other hand, may benefit
indirectly from Cohen. When compared to the likes of Cohen
and others in Likud's Central Committee, Sharon appears
moderate, reasonable, and benevolent.
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website:
You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website.