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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04TELAVIV1488 2004-03-10 06:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

FM SHALOM REVIEWS BUSY TRAVEL ITINERARY; BELIEVES

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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 001488 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/09/2014
TAGS: PREL KPAL PTER IS EG XF EU GOI EXTERNAL GAZA DISENGAGEMENT ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS
SUBJECT: FM SHALOM REVIEWS BUSY TRAVEL ITINERARY; BELIEVES
U.S. WILL PROVIDE ASSURANCES

Classified By: Ambassador Daniel C. Kurtzer for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
.



1. (C) Summary: Foreign Minister Shalom told the Ambassador
on March 8 that in recent discussions in London and Dublin
the Europeans had conveyed a preference for GOI-PA
negotiations in the context of the roadmap, as opposed to
unilateral steps. UK PM Tony Blair reportedly expressed
admiration for President Bush's bold policy of sidelining
Arafat. Shalom said reports from a Labor Party delegation
that recently visited Egypt showed Egyptian President Mubarak
is concerned about Hizballah and al-Qaeda filling any void in
Gaza left by withdrawing Israeli troops. Shalom expects to
hear from Mubarak that the GOE is willing only to patrol the
border along Gaza from the Egyptian side, preferably with
more than the lightly-armed civilian police allowed under the
Egypt-Israel peace treaty. On U.S.-Israeli discussions about
disengagement, Shalom cited the PM as saying that among the
issues on which the GOI would seek U.S. assurances would be
the right of return and Jerusalem. End Summary.



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FM Shalom Visits London, Dublin


--------------------------





2. (C) Reviewing his busy travel schedule this month, Foreign
Minister Shalom, who was accompanied by Chief of Staff Ron
Prosor and Policy Advisor Jacob-Shaul Dayan, briefed
Ambassador Kurtzer on his visit to the UK and Ireland, and
previewed his visit to Egypt, which will be followed later in
the month with a visit to the United States. Referencing the
"five points" he heard during his recent visits to Dublin and
London, Shalom remarked that several elements of the European
position sounded quite similar to that of the U.S. For
example, he said, the Europeans emphasized that, while they
understood the impetus for taking unilateral action, their
strong preference was for bilateral GOI-PA negotiations. To
this end, the Europeans pressed that any GOI action conform
with the letter and spirit of the roadmap. In addition, the
Europeans argued against any "relocation" of settlements to
"strengthen" so-called "consensus" settlements that would be
annexed, de facto or otherwise. Commenting on the British
security plan, Shalom said that he explained to UK PM Blair
that it did not make sense to provide financial support to
the Palestinian security forces, even reconfigured under a
unified chain of command, as long as Arafat ultimately
directs them. Shalom noted with some surprise the admiration
that Blair had expressed for President Bush's bold
articulation, in his June 24, 2002 speech, of a policy
sidelining Arafat. Blair reportedly characterized the
assessment underlying this policy as "reflecting what
everybody thought but was afraid to say."



--------------------------


Next Stop: Egypt


--------------------------





3. (C) Previewing his upcoming trip to Egypt, Shalom said
that Labor Party leaders who had recently visited Egypt had
reported that Mubarak was not interested in assuming sole
responsibility for preventing smuggling along the
"Philadelphi" strip along the Israeli side of the border.
Mubarak reportedly told the Labor delegation that Egypt would
continue to act against smugglers, but only along the
Egyptian side of the border. Asked why Egypt had not done a
better job preventing smuggling thus far, GOE officials
reportedly told the delegation that their deficiencies were a
function of the constraints placed on Egyptian forces as part
of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. (Note: That treaty allows
only lightly armed police units to patrol the border. End
Note.) Mubarak reportedly expressed interest in amending
relevant provisions of the 1979 peace treaty between Israel
and Egypt to allow Egypt to beef up its forces patrolling the
border. Shalom also commented that Mubarak was reported by
the Labor delegation to be quite concerned about the
prospects of Hizballah and/or al-Qaeda assuming a foothold in
Gaza once Israeli forces withdraw. Shalom expressed concern
about Mubarak's interview published that day in "Le Figaro,"
in which Mubarak expressed strong misgivings about an
Egyptian role in securing Gaza.



--------------------------



--------------------------


GOI to Seek Two New Assurances in Context of Disengagement?


--------------------------



--------------------------





4. (C) Turning to U.S.-Israeli discussions about PM Sharon's
unilateral disengagement plan, Shalom indicated that Sharon
had told him that, among the eight or nine issues on which
the GOI would seek U.S. assurances -- probably in a form
similar to the "deposit" negotiated with Secretary
Christopher during the Syria track negotiations -- would be
two issues not specifically drawn from previous U.S.
assurances: the right of return and "specific assurances" on
Jerusalem. The latter, according to Shalom, would go beyond
previous assurances. Asked about U.S. views on Sharon's
plan, Ambassador Kurtzer cautioned his interlocutor not to
believe all of the rumors circulating about "the U.S.
position" on the subject. At this stage, he said, it is
premature to talk about a final U.S. position. Ultimately,
the President's view will be shaped by the entirety of the
package the GOI puts on the table.



--------------------------


PMs to Meet March 16


--------------------------





5. (C) Shalom confirmed reports that PMs Sharon and Abu Ala'a
have set March 16 as the date for their meeting. He was
skeptical about Palestinian motivations for holding such a
meeting at this time, expressing the view that Abu Ala'a
probably wants to prevent Sharon from taking the line in
Washington that "there is no partner" on the Palestinian
side.

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KURTZER