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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04TELAVIV1638 2004-03-17 08:29:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

SHARON TELLS CODEL LEVIN NO NEGOTIATIONS WITH PA

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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 001638 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/16/2014
TAGS: PREL KWBG PGOV PTER IS GAZA DISENGAGEMENT ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS
SUBJECT: SHARON TELLS CODEL LEVIN NO NEGOTIATIONS WITH PA
UNTIL AFTER GAZA WITHDRAWAL


Classified By: Ambassador Daniel C. Kurtzer for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)
.



1. (C) SUMMARY: While reaffirming his preference for the
roadmap, PM Sharon told Codel Levin on March 14 that he would
not "negotiate" with the PA prior to Gaza withdrawal, which
he termed a security, not political, solution. Asked what
sort of U.S. support he is seeking, the PM said only that he
wanted assurances that the GOI would be under no pressure as
long as the PA failed to perform on dismantling terrorist
infrastructure. Asked whether he would allow Arafat to
travel to Gaza after disengagement to help bolster the PA
security forces, Sharon said, "Arafat will stay where he is."
(In response to the same question, NSA Eiland said,
"Maybe.") Sharon pointed to the political obstacles he faces
in implementing disengagement, both from the Gaza settlers
and from within Likud, where "I've lost the majority in the
party I formed." Reinforcing Sharon's point about lack of
unity within Likud, FM Shalom told the Codel that he was
personally reserving judgment on Gaza withdrawal until
details are clearer. Shalom said Sharon would not bring the
plan to the Cabinet until "the U.S. contribution is clear."
He said the GOI was not necessarily seeking U.S. financial
support, but that "statements" would not be sufficient.
Sharon, Shalom, Eiland and DMI Chief Farkash all assessed
that Hamas will not seek to take over Gaza following Israeli
withdrawal, although Farkash warned that motivation for
terrorist attacks in the West Bank will increase following
Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. END SUMMARY.



2. (C) In a March 14 meeting interrupted by news of the
double suicide bombing in Ashdod, Codel Levin asked PM Sharon
about his plan for disengagement from Gaza. The Codel
discussed the same topic earlier in the day in separate
meetings with FM Shalom, National Security Adviser Eiland and
IDF Intelligence Chief MG Farkash. (Codel members were
Senators Carl Levin, Jay Rockefeller, Jeff Bingaman, Jack
Reed and Frank Lautenberg. The Ambassador and emboffs joined
all the meetings.)



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



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


Sharon: Negotiations With PA Only After Gaza Withdrawal


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



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





3. (C) Sharon told the Codel that the roadmap remains his
preferred route for dealing with the Palestinians.
Unilateral disengagment, he asserted, does not preclude a
roadmap approach because it is a security, not political,
"solution." Political negotiations with the PA, however,
would only be possible after Israel withdraws from Gaza, not
before.



4. (C) Members of the Codel, who had heard FM Shalom say
earlier in the day that Sharon would take his withdrawal plan
to the Cabinet only after U.S. support for the plan was
clear, asked Sharon about the sort of commitments he was
seeking from the U.S. Sharon said only that he was looking
for assurances that no further pressure would be placed on
the GOI as long as the PA is not fulfilling its roadmap
obligation to dismantle terrorist infrastructure.



5. (C) Sharon noted the political difficulties he faces in
carrying out the disengagment plan. The GOI, he said, has
never moved settlements without gaining peace at the same
time. Some families have lived for three generations in
Gaza, where they have modern farms, as well as painful
memories of terrorist attacks. These settlers are reminding
the PM that statements he made as a candidate about "painful
compromises" all spoke about making the compromises in
exchange for a genuine, durable peace.



6. (C) The PM pointed as well to his lack of support for the
plan within his own Likud party. Recounting his role in
establishing the party during the three months in 1973
between his retirement from the IDF and his return to uniform
for the Yom Kippur war, he commented with a smile, "I've lost
the majority in the party I formed." Support for the plan on
the Left does not offset this loss because the Left is so
weak.



7. (C) Responding to questions about Gaza after Israel
withdraws, Sharon said he did not expect Hamas to take over.
He expressed concern, though, about the Tanzim, which, he
said, is responsible for most of the recent terrorism and
which, he said, receives its orders and support from Iran and
Hizballah. Asked whether he thought Hamas wanted Israel to
leave Gaza, Sharon said he did, but assessed that Hamas is
worried that Israel will hit it harder after Israeli
withdrawal because the GOI will no longer have to take into
account the security of Gaza settlers.



8. (C) Senator Levin asked Sharon whether he would allow
Arafat to travel to Gaza after disengagement. Sharon
responded firmly that "Arafat will stay where he is," to
which Dov Weissglas, the PM's COS, added, "for his own
safety."


9. (C) Weissglas commented that he did not foresee Gaza
withdrawal having any impact on threats to Israeli security
from Gaza. The Gaza fence "works," he said, and the IDF will
remain deployed "around" Gaza. The withdrawal will have no
impact on terrorist motivation because motivation is "already
at the highest level." Elements in Gaza will continue to
play the role of the "brains" in terrorist attacks, the
"commands" for which emanate in Syria and the execution of
which is carried out by residents of the West Bank.



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


Shalom: Reserving Judgment on Disengagement


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





10. (C) Like Sharon, FM Shalom opened his discussion of
Palestinian issues with the Codel by affirming his support
for the roadmap. Asked for his personal view of Sharon's
Gaza disengagement initiative, Shalom said he would reserve
judgment until its details are clearer. He noted that Sharon
has said that the GOI would go ahead with Gaza disengagement
only with U.S. support. He also asserted that Sharon would
not bring the plan to the full Cabinet until "the U.S.
contribution is clear." Pressed by the Codel on the kind of
"contribution" sought, Shalom said he did not necessarily
mean financial support (although he did not exclude it). He
added, however, that U.S. "statements" would probably not be
enough.



12. (C) Sen. Rockefeller commented that Congressional
interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is waning, given
the imperatives of dealing with al-Qaeda and Iraq. He
offered his own view of the "inherent intractability" of the
Israeli-Palestinian problem, noting that some people believe
that no solution is possible as long as Arafat and Sharon are
calling the shots. Shalom rejected the implicit comparison
between Arafat and Sharon, asserting that Arafat, unlike
Sharon, is a terrorist. Unilateral disengagement, he
continued, represents a totally new approach that is designed
to circumvent the problem of Israel's lack of a Palestinian
partner.



13. (C) Sen. Reed noted that Israeli security needs following
Gaza withdrawal would seem to require a strong PA, an outcome
about which the GOI "seems to be of two minds." Shalom said
he agreed with Reed on the need for a strong PA, but thought
the PA was not ready or willing to take charge of Gaza
security. Egypt, he said, would first have to provide about
six months of training to the Gaza security forces. Shalom
suggested that the IDF should remain in the Philadelphia
Strip along the Gaza-Egypt border after disengagement, in
order to avoid both having to reopen the peace treaty with
Egypt and facilitating smuggling into Gaza.



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



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


Eiland: PA Security Forces Lacking Only Political Will


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



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





14. (C) Eiland differed with Shalom on the capabilities of
the PA security forces. While they could certainly benefit
from training, he commented, they are already strong enough
to exercise security control in Gaza. All that is needed is
political will, mainly from Arafat. Asked whether the GOI
would allow Arafat to travel to Gaza after Israeli
disengagement, Eiland said, "Maybe." He noted as well that
all GOI assessments concur that Hamas is not interested in
taking over Gaza in the short term. The political goal of
Hamas is to be strong enough to derail any initiatives that
do not suit its purposes.



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



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


Farkash: Gaza Withdrawal Means More West Bank Terror


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



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





15. (C) Hamas leaders in Gaza and Syria are "negotiating,"
Gen. Farkash told the Codel, about how Hamas should react to
the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. In order to retain its
legitimacy on the Gaza street after Israel withdraws, Hamas,
he predicted, will look to increase its attacks in the West
Bank. Hamas will believe that terrorism can force Israel out
of the West Bank, just as terrorism will be seen to have
succeeded in Gaza. Terrorist efforts will therefore focus on
the West Bank. Summarizing the IDF assessment, Farkash said
Gaza disengagement will lead to greater terrorist motivation
in the West Bank.



16. (U) The Codel did not have an opportunity to review this
cable before departing Israel.


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