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04TELAVIV1952 2004-03-31 15:46:00 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

ISRAELI OFFICIALS BRIEF DJEREJIAN ON IMPROVED

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 TEL AVIV 001952 

SIPDIS

NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2014
TAGS: PREL PTER KPAL IS SY XF GAZA DISENGAGEMENT ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS GOI EXTERNAL
SUBJECT: ISRAELI OFFICIALS BRIEF DJEREJIAN ON IMPROVED
REGIONAL SECURITY SITUATION; UNILATERAL DISENGAGEMENT PLANS

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



1. (C) Summary. In a series of meetings with GOI officials
between March 26-30, former NEA A/S and Ambassador to Israel
Ed Djerejian, here as an official guest of the Foreign
Ministry in his current capacity as Director of the Baker
Institute, heard that the regional strategic situation faced
by Israel had improved, largely as a result of the Iraq war,
but that threats remained. Drawing on his experience as
former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and on the U.S.-Syria
dialogue hosted by the Baker Institute, Djerejian advocated
"muscular diplomacy" with the Syrians. Israeli officials
were uniformly dismissive of any prospect for
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, as long as Arafat is on the
scene. PM COS Dov Weissglas briefed Djerejian on the main
contours of the PM's disengagement plan. Other
interlocutors, while accepting the premise that unilateral
disengagement represented a means of decreasing tension until
such time as bilateral negotiations with a credible
negotiating partner could be resumed, raised a number of
concerns about the plan's implications. For example,
Immigration and Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni raised
questions about the "ambiguous legal status" of the
territories from which Israel will withdraw. Others explored
the issue of what "price" should be paid to compensate Israel
for its territorial concession. Djerejian's interlocutors
widely assumed that, in the absence of a credible Palestinian
partner, the United States should be prepared to compensate
Israel. Ambassador Djerejian emphasized the need to help
empower the Palestinian security forces to assume security
responsibility and to avoid the empowerment of Hamas. NSC
Director Giora Eiland briefed on his alternative vision for
achieving a viable, two-state solution through a land swap
with Egypt. End Summary.



2. (C) The Israeli Foreign Ministry hosted a March 26-30
visit to Israel by Ambassador Ed Djerejian, the founding
director of the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice
University, who was formerly U.S. Ambassador to Israel, U.S.
Ambassador to Syria and NEA A/S. During the four-day visit,
Ambassador and poloff accompanied Amb. Djerejian to his
numerous meetings with high-level Israeli government
officials and opinion leaders, who included PM COS Dov
Weissglas, National Security Council Director Giora Eiland,
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, IDF COS MG "Boogie" Ya'alon,
Military Intelligence Chief MG Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash, MOD DG
Amos Yaron, MOD Political-Military Affairs Chief Amos Gilad,
and Immigration and Absorption Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni.
In addition, Djerejian met with former Mossad Chief (and
former National Security Council Director) Ephraim Halevy.
He also participated in a workshop on unilateral
disengagement at the Economic Cooperation Foundation hosted
by Executive Director Yair Hirschfeld. Ambassador Kurtzer
hosted a well-attended dinner in honor of Ambassador
Djerejian that included a cabinet minister, a Member of the
Knesset, Israeli government officials, representatives of
non-governmental organizations, foreign diplomats, and
Israeli academics and journalists.



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

-
Post-Iraq Situation Assessment:
Israel's Security Improved, But Threats Remain


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

-



3. (S/NF) Ambassador Djerejian's first GOI meeting was with
DMI Chief MG Ze'evi-Farkash, who, drawing on Israel's
just-concluded National Intelligence Estimate, briefed that
the regional threats faced by Israel have been reduced as a
result of the war in Iraq, although significant risks remain.
Citing "hard evidence," Farkash was adamant that the Iraqis
had been trying to achieve the capability to attack targets
in Israel. He said that Saddam's Iraq possessed 25-30 bombs,
some of which were chem./bio-capable; a "few" launchers; and
30-40 long-range missiles. Farkash opined that it was
"possible" that Saddam had transferred such weaponry to Syria
and it was clear that formerly Iraqi-based "front companies"
for WMD had relocated to Syria. He conceded, however, that
there is no concrete proof of weapons transfers. Again
citing "sensitive" information, Farkash said that Saddam
himself had been involved with Syrian President Bashar
al-Asad in the shipment to Syria of two truckloads of unknown
contents, but Farkash took Djerejian's point that the trucks
might well have been full of hard currency, the protection of
which was a key concern of Saddam's in the run-up to the war.



4. (C) Running though a "before" and "after" checklist of
regional powers prior to and after the Iraq war, Farkash
offered the following assessments. (Commentary from other
GOI interlocutors identified by name.)

-- Arafat/Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The PA Chairman has
made no strategic change as a result of the Iraq war. He
continues to reject a two-state solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. IDF COS Ya'alon accused Arafat
of sowing "deliberate anarchy," assessing that the only
effective response would be to completely isolate Arafat.
Foreign Minister Shalom went even further, reiterating his
long-held view that Arafat should be expelled. MOD DG Amos
Yaron asserted that even after 1,000 Intifada-related
casualties the Israeli population would not succumb to
terror. "If they want to fight," he said, "We'll fight!"
Making an obscene gesture, he continued, "And if they demand
a 'right of return,' no way!"

-- Iraq: The United States effectively eliminated the
"eastern front" threat. The tension between the "Bremer
vector" and the "terror vector" continues to play out,
however, leaving the situation in Iraq "very fragile." Not
unlike Arafat, the terrorists' goal is to survive until the
U.S. national elections.

-- Libya: Qaddafi has undergone a "huge shift,"
characterized by "deep, real change." (Note: Farkash took
Djerejian's point that multilateral sanctions had played a
decisive role in this context. End Note.)

-- Iran: The regime is under pressure, but it has not taken
a strategic decision to change. MOD DG Yaron made clear that
Iran remains an "existential threat" to Israel. He also said
Israel would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapons
capacity.

-- Syria/Lebanon/Hizballah: Not only has the SARG's posture
not changed for the better as a result of the Iraq war, the
situation has worsened, with Bashar facilitating the delivery
of weapons to Hizballah and inviting Iranian mullahs to
cultivate the Shi'a population. Ya'alon asserted that Syria
now plays a "key" role in the external support structure for
Palestinian terror. While some support is generated in Iran
and funneled through Damascus and Lebanon, Syria plays host
to the external leadership of Palestinian terror organizations

-- Al-Qaeda: In the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan,
al-Qaeda turned increasingly to countries like Sudan,
Somalia, Mauritania, and Algeria as hosts. This represents a
tactical, as opposed to a strategic, change, however. There
has been no diminution of al-Qaeda's jihadist efforts as a
result of the war in Iraq. Citing interdisciplinary
"scientific" studies commissioned by the DMI, Farkash
emphasized that it is important not to look at Al-Qaeda as a
military organization. Rather, it is an "amoeba-like"
network of cells. As such, it is most vulnerable at the
intersection points between various cells.

-- Turning to the rest of the Arab world, FM Shalom said that
he could feel a palpable change in Arab countries, such as
Qatar and Bahrain, where there is a greater openness to
Israel. Even Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, he said, is so
inclined.



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


Unilateral Disengagement Scenarios:
Answers and Questions


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





5. (C) PM COS Dov Weissglas told Ambassador Djerejian that PM
Sharon intended to "fully withdraw" from the Gaza Strip and
to evacuate from "a couple" settlements in the northern West
Bank. (Note: At a private dinner hosted by Dahlia
Rabin-Pelesoff, Weissglas specified the number of West Bank
settlements would be six. End Note.) He qualified that the
decision on whether to leave the Philadephi Strip in Gaza
would be a military decision, dependent on the outcome of
negotiations with Egypt. Asked about the Egyptian role in
securing Gaza, Weissglas said that the Egyptians did not want
to be seen as "replacing" the Israeli occupation. He said
that Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Sulayman had given his
assurances to a trusted interlocutor in Washington that Egypt
would not allow chaos to emerge in Gaza. Weissglas said he
hopes Jordan will play a similar role in the West Bank. NSC
Director Giora Eiland evaded Ambassador Kurtzer's question
about whether the GOI has a fall-back position on the
"assurances" it is seeking from the United States as a quid
pro quo for withdrawal, stating that "it is not a question of
fall-backs."



6. (C) Immigration and Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni made
clear that no one in the GOI views unilateral disengagement
as a way to end the conflict with the Palestinians. Rather,
in the absence of a credible partner, disengagement is simply
a means of easing tension. The problem is that Palestinian
terrorists will be tempted to view any Israeli withdrawal as
evidence that terror pays. Therefore, it must be clear that
the Palestinians will achieve less as a result of unilateral
disengagement than they would had they pursued good faith
bilateral negotiations, whether in the context of the roadmap
or some other vehicle. Thus, she advocated remaining in the
northern three settlements in the Gaza Strip, rather than
evacuating it entirely. This would also avoid a "dangerous
precedent" of withdrawing to the 1967 borders, she reasoned.
Asked whether these northern three settlements would become
the "Shabaa Farms" of the Palestinians, Livni shrugged that
even if those settlements were evacuated, "the whole West
Bank could be the Palestinian Shabaa."



7. (C) Moreover, she said, there is a growing understanding
that time is working against those who favor a two-state
solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The question,
then, becomes how to convince those who seek to use terror
that time is working against them? To some extent, she
said, the construction of the separation barrier, which
represents "the beginning of the two-state solution," is
doing just that. In this context, she noted that the
principles that guided decision-making on the routing of the
fence -- inclusion on the "Israeli side" of the barrier
Jewish holy places and strategically important places, while
requiring the minimum displacement of Israeli citizens from
the "other side" of the barrier -- would be the same as those
that guide GOI policy on the final borders.



8. (C) As a long-time advocate of an explicit negation of the
Palestinian "claim of return," Livni argued that it is
precisely because of Palestinian refusal to give up this
claim that Israel needs the United States to make some kind
of assurance on the matter. Explaining her rationale, she
said that the final status issues as defined by Oslo include
refugees and statehood (which were linked); borders and
settlements (which were linked) and Jerusalem, which is a
"unique" issue. Emphasizing the sanctity of the "historical
deal," Livni said that the establishment of a Palestinian
state as a "homeland for the Palestinian people" obviates any
claimed right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel.
To continue to insist on that right is tantamount to
challenging Israel's right to exist as a secure, Jewish,
democratic state. She took umbrage that the Palestinians had
"switched the pairs" by attempting to link the refugees issue
with Jerusalem, a mistake to which she said the architects of
the Geneva document had also fallen prey.



9. (C) Livni also expressed reservations about the "ambiguous
legal status" of the territories from which Israel withdraws.
On the one hand, she said, Israel must still control the
international passages and the airspace over Gaza. Israel
would also insist on the ability to veto the presence of any
"foreign forces" in Gaza. "So in these senses," she said,
"the occupation will continue," and the evacuated territories
would not constitute a sovereign state. On the other hand,
Israel does not want to have responsibility for the economic
and humanitarian situation of the Palestinians. In a
separate meeting, former NSC and Mossad Director Ephraim
Halevy opined that Israel should make clear that it is
"vacating territory, not authority," since Israel is not
currently the governing authority in the Gaza Strip. He
argued that the Palestinian Authority, at least
theoretically, has "full authority" in the Gaza Strip, even
if the PA has not been exercising this authority coercively.



10. (C) Ya'alon contended that, "Unilateral withdrawal from
the Gaza Strip will not improve Israel's security," since the
Palestinians would not have to "pay a price." Ambassador
Kurtzer urged that the GOI not underestimate the
transformative power of the PM's unilateral withdrawal plan.
Noting that the PM had changed the strategic environment, he
questioned the underlying assumption that the unilateral
approach ruled out the possibility of seeking a quid pro quo
from the Palestinians. For lack of a Palestinian partner
with whom to negotiate, the GOI had understandably turned to
the USG to pay a price. An alternative approach, he said,
would be to empower a partner on the other side through the
one thing that no other Palestinian leader had been able to
extract from the Israelis -- territorial withdrawal. The GOI
could potentially extract a price from a so-empowered
Palestinian leader. Ya'alon rejected this reasoning,
asserting that it is unrealistic to expect the empowerment of
anyone as long as Arafat is on the scene. NSC Director
Eiland was skeptical, but he did not completely rule out this
scenario. Eiland's predecessor in that position, Ephraim
Halevy, mused out loud that if the GOI had "invested
yesterday in Abu Mazen what we're prepared to invest today
unilaterally, we'd be looking at a different story. Why we
didn't do it, I can't say."



11. (C) Ambassador Djerejian urged his GOI interlocutors to
work actively to empower the PA security forces to take
control of the areas from which Israel withdraws and to
eliminate Hamas. The empowerment of Finance Minister Salam
Fayyad could serve as a model, he argued. Yaron responded to
this point by noting that "it is no secret" that the GOI has
been keeping in touch with former PA Interior Minister
Mohammed Dahlan to this end. In his meeting with Ya'alon,
Djerejian asked whether the Israelis had considered
imprisoned Fatah/Tanzim leader Barghouti as a potentially
viable Palestinian leader. Ya'alon simply shook his head.
Halevy asserted that, "There will come a time when it becomes
necessary to try to recruit Hamas as part of the solution."
Assessing that Fatah is weak, he opined that Fatah leaders
will ultimately need to co-opt at least some elements of
Hamas into the body politic -- in order to isolate the real
extremists. Moreover, he said, Hamas leaders are "practical
people." They have assiduously avoided a confrontation in
which they would stand to lose their assets in a fight
against the PA, and they can be expected to continue to do
so.



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


Israeli-Palestinian End-Game:
Eiland Proposes Sinai Land Swap


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





12. (C) Repeating a personal view that he had previously
expressed to other USG visitors, NSC Director Eiland laid out
for Ambassador Djerejian a different end-game solution than
that which is commonly envisioned as the two-state solution.
Eiland's view, he said, was prefaced on the assumption that
demographic and other considerations make the prospect for a
two-state solution between the Jordan and the Mediterranean
unviable. Currently, he said, there are 11 million people in
Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip, and that number will
increase to 36 million in 50 years. The area between Beer
Sheva and the northern tip of Israel (including the West Bank
and Gaza) has the highest population density in the world.
Gaza alone, he said, is already "a huge concentration camp"
with 1.3 million Palestinians. Moreover, the land is
surrounded on three sides by deserts. Palestinians need more
land and Israel can ill-afford to cede it. The solution, he
argued, lies in the Sinai desert.



13. (C) Specifically, Eiland proposed that Egypt be persuaded
to contribute a 600 square kilometer parcel of land that
would be annexed to a future Palestinian state as
compensation for the 11 percent of the West Bank that Israel
would seek to annex in a final status agreement. This Sinai
block, 20 kms of which would be along the Mediterranean
coast, would be adjacent to the Gaza Strip. A land corridor
would be constructed connecting Egypt and this block to
Jordan. (Note: Presumably under Egyptian sovereignty. End
Note.) In addition, Israel would provide Egypt a 200 square
km block of land from further south in the Negev. Eiland
laid out the following advantages to his proposed solution:

-- For the Palestinians: The additional land would make Gaza
viable. It would be big enough to support a new port and
airport, and to allow for the construction of a new city, all
of which would help make Gaza economically viable. It would
provide sufficient space to support the return of Palestinian
refugees. In addition, the 20 km along the sea would
increase fishing rights and would allow for the exploration
of natural gas reserves. Eiland argued that the benefits
offered by this parcel of land are far more favorable to the
Palestinians than would be parcels Israel could offer from
the land-locked Negev.

-- For Egypt: Israel would compensate Egypt with a parcel of
land on a 1:3 ratio, which is the ratio of the size of Israel
to the Sinai. Egypt would enjoy the land corridor to Jordan,
thereby controlling the shortest distance between Jordan and
Saudi Arabia to Europe.

-- For Jordan: The greater the capacity of the Gaza Strip to
absorb Palestinian refugees, the fewer the number of refugees
who would "return" to settle in the West Bank, thereby
resulting in less pressure on Jordan. Jordan would also
benefit economically from the land bridge.



14. (C) Eiland, having previously debated the merits of this
proposal with Ambassador Kurtzer, conceded the point that
Egyptian President Mubarak "would never agree" to it, and he
also took the point that in negotiating the Israel-Egypt
peace treaty Israel had foregone the entire Sinai and
accepted the Palestinian issue as an "Israeli" problem. He
nonetheless refused to be dissuaded from exploring the idea,
noting that he had reason to believe that Prime Minister
Sharon would support such a proposal, if it were tabled by a
third party.



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


Syria: Muscular Diplomacy Needed


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





15. (C) Ambassador Djerejian briefed his GOI interlocutors on
the three face-to-face meetings he has held with Bashar
al-Asad since Bashar assumed office. He noted that Bashar
had initially been quite dynamic and determined to move
forward on economic and social reforms. Bashar had been
enthusiastic about the idea of developing a Track II
U.S.-Syria dialogue, three rounds of which had now been
hosted at the Baker Institute. Bashar himself had suggested
that the agenda include terrorism, U.S.-Syria bilateral
relations, regional issues, and Israel-Syria negotiations.
By the time of the second round of the dialogue, however,
Bashar was exhibiting much less interest in the economic and
social reform issues, perhaps as a result of the growing
corrupting influences of money and power.



16. (C) Asked whether he believed Bashar was sincere in his
professed interest in revisiting Israel-Syria negotiations,
Djerejian answered affirmatively. He noted two caveats,
however: First, Bashar made clear that just as Arafat broke
ranks with the rest of the Arab world in pursuing
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Oslo, Syria would be
prepared to break ranks with the Palestinians in pursuing the
Syria track. Bashar argued that it would be impossible to do
so, however, without some improvement in the
Israeli-Palestinian situation. In addition, Bashar had
emphasized to Djerejian that Israel-Syria negotiations should
not start from scratch but rather should be conducted on the
basis of the "legacy" of previous negotiations.



17. (C) Without addressing the veracity of Bashar's claims,
Djerejian conveyed in his meetings here the gist of his
conversations in Damascus, in which the Syrian President had
maintained that Palestinian rejectionist groups housed in
Damascus were conducting only "political" activities.
Djerejian's interlocutors uniformly rejected the Syrian
leader's claims. As Ya'alon put it, the Syrian leader quite
simply was lying, and the GOI had ample evidence to prove it.



18. (C) As for how to influence the Syrian regime, Ambassador
Djerejian advocated an approach of constructive engagement
coupled with "muscular diplomacy," rather than a strategy
focused on isolating and pressuring Bashar. Most of
Djerejian's interlocutors favored a more aggressive approach.
Ya'alon, however, agreed in principle with a measured carrot
and stick approach -- "as long as it's a big stick and a
conditional carrot."



19. (C) Eiland argued that Israel should not pursue a peace
treaty with Syria, because it would necessitate Israel's
withdrawal from the Golan Heights. In this context, he
asserted that it had also been a mistake to make peace with
Egypt, among other reasons because Israel had set a precedent
by withdrawing from the entire Sinai, thereby raising
expectations that Israel would also ultimately withdraw
completely from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as from
the Golan. Eiland argued passionately that any potential
benefit to Israel's security that would be gained in the
context of a peace accord with Syria would be outweighed by
the cost associated with withdrawing from the Golan Heights.
"Israel needs the space, the water -- even the views" on the
Golan.

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