2005-06-02 13:59:00
Embassy Amman
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 AMMAN 004370 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/02/2015

Classified By: CDA David Hale for Reasons 1.4 (b),(d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 AMMAN 004370



E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/02/2015

Classified By: CDA David Hale for Reasons 1.4 (b),(d)

1. (U) The Deputy Secretary met with Palestinian
Authority (PA) Prime Minister Ahmed Quraya' May 20 at 5
p.m. at the Dead Sea Movenpick Hotel, on the margins of
the World Economic Forum, in Jordan.

2. (U) Participants:

The Deputy Secretary
Ambassador Wilson
Deputy Spokesman Ereli
NEA DAS Carpenter
NSC Director Pandith
NEA Senior Advisor Gamal Helal
Notetaker Schedlbauer

Palestinian Authority
Prime Minister Quraya'
Civil Affairs Minister Dahlan
PLO Ambassador to Jordan Atallah Khairi
Special Assistant Salah Elayan


3. (C) Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Quraya'
told the Deputy Secretary May 20 that all hopes are on
the visit of PA President Abbas to Washington and that
Abbas would be seeking strong USG support. Quraya' said
that he was pleased with US Security Coordinator General
Ward's efforts but stressed that there needed to be
greater pressure on the GOI to facilitate security
reform, including the Badr Brigade's deployment and the
provision of light arms to security forces in Gaza.

4. (C) Quraya' acknowledged the Gazan courts' review of
several municipal election results and said the
government would accept the courts' rulings. He
emphasized that he and President Abbas were committed to
the July 17 date for legislative elections but there were
difficulties in reaching agreement with the PLC on the
electoral law framework.

5. (C) PA Civil Affairs Minister/Disengagement
Coordinator Dahlan stressed that the PA had not yet
received from the GOI the requested inventories of
settlement assets. Dahlan said that his Israeli
interlocutors continued to refuse to discuss four issues
that the PA had deemed essential to a meaningful
coordination process: (1) customs and security

coordination in the Philadelphi corridor; (2) the
reopening of the Gaza airport; (3) safe passage; and (4)
ending the back-to-back system. Dahlan cautioned that if
Abbas' trip did not produce concrete results, Hamas would
win the legislative elections, but added that 90 percent
of Hamas' success or failure in upcoming elections would
depend on what Sharon does or does not do. The Deputy
Secretary stressed that Abbas' success was vitally

important to the United States and that President Bush
was committed to not stopping at Gaza disengagement and
had been straightforward about his vision of a democratic
Palestinian state. End summary.

Upcoming PA Presidential visit to Washington

5. (C) The Deputy Secretary opened the meeting with
Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya'
(Abu Ala'a),noting that the USG was looking forward to
Palestinian President Abbas' visit to Washington May 26.
Quraya' stressed President Abbas sought the USG's real
support. Quraya' stressed that the Palestinian
government was doing as much as it could on security and
economic and administrative matters. He said that Civil
Affairs Minister Muhammad Dahlan was leading the PA's
preparations for Israel's disengagement from the Gaza
Strip and the northern West Bank and had met most
recently May 19 with Israeli Minister without Portfolio
Haim Ramon and NSC Advisor Giora Eiland. Quraya' noted
that he had met with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon
Peres and would meet with him again the next day.
Quraya' stressed that the PA will facilitate a safe
withdrawal but continued to question what would follow.
He said that Palestinians remained suspicious of Israel's
actions in the West Bank while it was moving forward with
disengagement in Gaza. He said he had asked Peres where
the withdrawal fit within the Roadmap and Peres had
responded that it was before the first phase. Quraya'
said he believed that was not right and that the PA is
"not looking for coordination but wants cooperation."

6. (C) Quraya' continued, stressing that economically
the PA is in a difficult situation with the population
now facing real social problems after four years of
intifada. He noted that Hamas competed with the PA
through its charities and its success was evident in
recent local elections. Quraya' asked for support to
cover the PA's budget deficit. He noted that no donors
had yet committed to help the PA cover the USD 240
million social safety net program included in the PA's
2005 budget. Quraya' cited the need for serious
investment in the West Bank and Gaza and called for GOI
cooperation to allow businesspeople to move freely.

7. (C) The Deputy Secretary stressed that President
Abbas' success was important to the United States.
President Bush was committed to the proposition Gaza
first doesn't mean Gaza last and had been very
straightforward about his vision of a democratic
Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel. While
the Deputy Secretary said he understood the Palestinians'
anxiety, he stressed that withdrawal is just the first
step in the process and that President Abbas would hear
this from President Bush. Nevertheless, he acknowledged
that the priority was on a successful withdrawal for the
Palestinians, for the GOI, and for the international
community, which was why the President and Secretary had
asked General Ward to coordinate on security reform and
why the Quartet had asked Mr. Wolfensohn to do the same
on the economic side. The Deputy Secretary stressed that
if settlement assets are destroyed after the GOI pulls
out, then that would be seen as a setback. He said that
the handover should not be done in such a way that
violent groups can claim the Israelis were chased out.
Disengagement needs to be a win-win situation for both
sides. Prime Minister Sharon was running his own
political risks, and he too, like Abbas, needed to be seen
as succeeding, .

8. (C) Noting that $50m of the FY05 Supplemental funding
for the PA had been earmarked for Israel border
trade/transit issues, the Deputy Secretary said that the
US, PA and GOI needed to work together to make this
beneficial and improve the movement of goods and people.
The Deputy Secretary stressed to Quraya' that President
Abbas now has the legitimacy of being elected and needs
to work on issues, like corruption, in order to counter
Hamas' political attractiveness. With respect to the
social safety net programs, he underscored the difficulty
of launching new programs when so much of the budget is
dedicated to the wage bill. The Deputy Secretary
stressed that there would have to be a transition of some
civil servants to the private sector and other reforms.
He underlined that the USG wanted to work with the
Palestinian leadership, wanted it to do well in the
upcoming legislative elections, and that a successful
disengagement would help build momentum.

PA pleased with Ward mission
but needs more USG pressure on GOI

9. (C) The Deputy Secretary asked Quraya' about his
perspective on General Ward's mission. Quraya' stressed
that he and others are cooperating well with General Ward
but that the PA and the General needed more from the USG.
Quraya' referenced his earlier meeting with Jordan's King
Abdullah during which they had agreed on sending 2,000
Badr Brigade forces (Jordanian-trained and sponsored
Palestinian forces in the Palestinian Liberation Army) to
the West Bank but noted that the GOI was not ready to
approve the Badr Brigade's deployment across the river.
Quraya' asked specifically for more USG help on security.
He noted that Nasir Yusif had no light arms to give his
forces in Gaza since the GOI was blocking such

Quraya' on elections

10. (C) Quraya', at the Deputy Secretary's request,
provided an overview of the elections, noting that the
presidential election had gone well. He said that
municipal elections, to date, had not met his
expectations, especially in Gaza, and he referenced the
court action overruling some of the electoral outcomes.
He said that it was the first time the government had
complained about the opposition. He said that Hamas
believed the most serious violations had occurred in
Rafah. Quraya' stressed that he had pressed everyone to
act honestly as the cases were being reviewed; that the
process would continue; and that the government would
accept the courts' rulings. On legislative elections,
Quraya' said that he and President Abbas were committed
to the July 17 date but that there were problems with the
electoral law since the leadership wanted a 100 percent
proportional system while the PLC members were concerned
about their own reelections and, therefore, favored a
mixed proportional/constituency-based system. Quraya'
noted that if the debate over the electoral law took
longer, the date of the elections could be postponed.
The Deputy Secretary remarked that it was better to stay
on-time or else there could be problems with the public.
Quraya' quipped that even if the elections were
postponed, Hamas would exploit the delay.

11. (C) In response to the Deputy Secretary's question
about the Palestinian leadership's popular support,
Quraya' said the cabinet was working on reaching out to
the people by holding cabinet meetings around the West
Bank and Gaza Strip so that the cabinet members could
speak directly to citizens. He explained that he had
held the May 18 cabinet session in Hebron. Famous
historically for its shoe manufacturing, he said, 50 to
60 percent of the factories have closed because they
cannot export their goods because of the closure regime
and cannot compete within the Palestinian market because
of cheaper goods from China. Quraya' stressed that
Israeli support is crucial to any economic revival since
an economic revival would only be possible after the
lifting of the closure regime.

12. (C) Turning to political issues, Quraya' said that
the Palestinian leadership had found it difficult to
demonstrate to the public that progress was coming. He
said that the Sharm al-Shaykh understandings must be
respected, but the GOI did not respect them. He stressed
that the Palestinian leadership cannot renegotiate Oslo
for the withdrawal from the cities. Quraya' said he
believed the GOI preferred to renegotiate everything. He
noted that there had been little progress on prisoners
and no progress on fugitives. He commented that the GOI
continued to construct and expand settlements, an action
that was killing the hopes of Palestinians. He raised
the separation barrier and its construction in Al-Ram
down the middle of the road, though this road had existed
since Ottoman times. He asked why the GOI was dividing a
road if the "wall" was for security reasons. He
continued that the GOI was actually dividing the road to
"mark borders."

13. (C) The Deputy Secretary replied that he believed
there were more opportunities now than there had been in
some time, but on some issues the parties were going to
have to crawl before they could walk or run. He said
that Prime Minister Sharon was committed and would keep
moving forward. The Deputy Secretary said he was pleased
that President Abbas would soon meet with President Bush,
and said their meeting would be a good opportunity to
compare perspectives and focus on making disengagement a

Dahlan on disengagement

14. (C) PA Civil Affairs Minister and overall
disengagement coordinator Muhammad Dahlan commented on
the PA's efforts to coordinate on disengagement. Dahlan
said he had heard the word "disengagement" spoken at
least seven times during the meeting and how it needed to
be a success. He said he recognized that if the Israeli
withdrawal happened successfully, there could be many
opportunities, from security, to the economy, to
incorporating settlement assets into the PA's overall
development plan. In addition, he stressed that the PA
planned to transparently manage the agricultural assets
and that Quraya' had already issued a ruling about
privatizing those assets. Dahlan stressed that the PA
had done its homework to prepare the ground and knew what
still remained to be done.

Four essentials for meaningful coordination

15. (C) Dahlan said that the PA did want to focus on
coordinating with the GOI but found itself only on the
receiving end and that the GOI had not yet provided the
PA with the necessary asset inventories, though the GOI
had already shared this exact information with Israeli
and Palestinian businessmen and NGOs. Dahlan went on to
say that up until his last session with GOI interlocutors
May 19, the GOI had not been willing to discuss four
issues which the PA had deemed essential to a meaningful
coordination process:

a) the Philadelpi corridor (between Gaza and Egypt) --
Dahlan said he had asked to discuss (1) the customs
system that must continue in order to keep the customs
envelope between the PA and Israel intact; and (2) the
security system which would have to be put in place with

b) the reopening of the Gaza airport -- Dahlan said his
Israeli interlocutors referred to it as a political
decision that only Prime Minister Sharon could make.

c) "safe passage" -- Dahlan noted that the GOI had
refused to discuss it since it was a phrase Sharon hated.

d) back-to-back -- Dahlan said that the GOI was insisting
on maintaining the back-to-back system into and out of
Gaza. He noted that even if the greenhouses were
successfully transferred, the back-to-back system could
well stymie the successful export of these agricultural
products. He said there should be a (greenhouse) door to
(airplane) door system, not a back-to-back system.

Without progress on these issues, Dahlan said
coordination would be an empty process. Dahlan wryly
noted that GOI interlocutors were prepared to discuss a
seaport since it could take up to five years to
construct. (Comment: This is the essence of the PA
position. Unless the Palestinian leadership can show its
domestic public that it has obtained quantifiable
improvements to the status quo from the coordination
process, it finds it politically difficult to coordinate
with the GOI on disengagement issues. End comment.)

Palestinians need to see benefit
from Abbas' election or Hamas will win

16. (C) Dahlan went on to say that Palestinians
mistakenly assumed that after President Abbas' election
and his ending of the intifada, in practice, the GOI
would move the peace process forward. Dahlan said that
there should be a bonus for stopping the intifada, for
example, family reunifications or allowing expatriate
Palestinians to visit the West Bank or Gaza Strip or
releasing more prisoners. Up to now, Dahlan stressed,
there had been "almost no practical benefit from Abu
Mazen's election." Due to this, Dahlan cautioned that
Palestinians might attach some false hope to President
Abbas' trip to Washington. If the trip does not yield
anything but more rhetoric, Dahlan predicted that Hamas
would win the legislative elections. Dahlan attributed
90 percent of Hamas' success or failure in upcoming
elections to what Sharon does or does not do.

17. (C) The Deputy Secretary encouraged Quraya' and
Dahlan to have President Abbas stress in Washington that
a successful disengagement with full coordination would
afford the opportunity to show economic hope to
Palestinians. He promised to relay both Quraya's and
Dahlan's points to the Secretary and the President.

18. (U) The Deputy Secretary has cleared this cable.