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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05TELAVIV290 2005-01-18 08:13:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

FOREIGN MINISTER SHALOM EXPRESSES SKEPTICISM ABOUT

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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 000290 

SIPDIS

CODEL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/10/2014
TAGS: PREL KWBG IS ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS GOI EXTERNAL
SUBJECT: FOREIGN MINISTER SHALOM EXPRESSES SKEPTICISM ABOUT
ABU MAZEN TO CODELS KERRY AND KYL

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



1. (C) Summary: In separate January 10 meetings with Codels
Kerry and Kyl, both joined by the Ambassador, Foreign
Minister Shalom articulated Israel's cautious readiness to
work with Palestinian President-elect Abu Mazen. Shalom
emphasized that Israel will measure Abu Mazen by his
performance in dismantling terrorist organizations, but he
was skeptical about Abu Mazen's willingness to do so, citing
some of Abu Mazen's recent campaign statements as a possible
indication that he has become less moderate. In his meeting
with Codel Kerry, Shalom expressed reservations as well about
Syria's willingness to make peace, and underlined the
symbolic importance of democratic elections in Iraq. During
his meeting with Codel Kyl, Shalom stressed Israel's grave
concerns about Iran's nuclear program, and called for
immediate referral of it to the Security Council. Shalom
lauded Israel's strategic relationship with Turkey. End
Summary.



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


Abu Mazen: The Morning After


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





2. (C) Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met separately with
Codels Kerry and Kyl, both joined by the Ambassador, on the
morning after Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) won the Palestinian
presidential election. He expressed cautious optimism about
the President-elect, emphasizing that Israel is ready to work
directly with the Palestinians towards achieving peace. He
stressed, however, that Abu Mazen must take steps to
dismantle terrorist organizations and end incitement against
Israel. The crucial test for Abu Mazen, he said, will come
with the first terrorist attack that occurs on Abu Mazen's
watch. The nature of the Israeli response, Shalom said,
"will be one thing" if Abu Mazen appears to be actively
trying to dismantle terrorist groups, and "quite another" if
he is not. Asked whether Abu Mazen has the resources
necessary to dismantle terrorist infrastructure and fight
incitement, Shalom responded that Abu Mazen, with 60,000
people in the PA security services, and Dahlan in Gaza, has
more than sufficient resources to defeat the terrorists. The
question is only whether he is determined to do so.
Incitement, Shalom continued, could be fought immediately.
To illustrate the latter point, Shalom mentioned a sermon
that was broadcast live on Palestinian television January 7
and filled with "unspeakable" statements about Jews. Ending
such incitement, he claimed, would be as easy as flipping a
switch



3. (C) Asked about a future meeting between Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon and Abu Mazen, Shalom predicted that such a
meeting would take place within weeks and stressed the
importance of good preparation for it. He claimed that
Israel has done all it could to date to ensure Abu Mazen's
success with the Palestinians by facilitating Arafat's
medical travel and burial, easing Palestinian travel
restrictions prior to and during elections, and allowing free
access to polling places. Abu Mazen, he said, won the
presidency through a healthy voter turnout of approximately
70% of registered voters. Israel will not tolerate any
excuses from him claiming that the PA is too weak or
otherwise unable to take necessary steps against terrorism.
The time for decisive Palestinian action is now.



4. (C) Senator Kerry expressed concern that the absence of
clear Israeli expectations for Palestinian security
performance could set up Abu Mazen to fail. He asked whether
Israel would seek to develop benchmarks or a timetable to
measure Palestinian progress. Shalom circuitously responded
that his trepidation regarding Abu Mazen has more to do with
his recent "unacceptable" statements to the press, which,
instead of isolating extremists and embracing moderates,
could have the opposite effect. Recalling how Arafat's
zealous speech at the White House signing of the Oslo Accords
reflected his genuine extremism, Shalom said he could not
dismiss Abu Mazen's commentary as simply campaign rhetoric.
Abu Mazen's recent reference to Israel as the "Zionist
enemy," his promises to continue the Palestinian struggle
"with all means we have," and to "never abandon the right of
return," make Shalom more skeptical now about chances for
peace with the Palestinians than he was immediately following
Arafat's death. Still, he does not want Israel to lose the
glimmer of hope that Arafat's death has presented.



5. (C) Shalom summarized his feelings towards Abu Mazen by
emphasizing that now that Abu Mazen has the support of the
Palestinian people and the greater Arab world, he will be
expected to live up to implementing Palestinian commitments
under the roadmap. Shalom acknowledged that Israel will
likewise have to live up to its commitments, including
dismantling illegal outposts. Shalom said that, as a result
of Abu Mazen's recent "extreme" statements, he is more
skeptical about Abu Mazen's potential to succeed, but he
emphasized that Israel remains prepared to offer the
Palestinians gestures of cooperation, such as issuing more
work authorizations.



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


Syria and the Region


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





6. (C) In response to Shalom's question about Kerry's
January 8 trip to Syria, the Senator stated that he believes
there is potential for Syria's participation in a regional
peace process. There are, he said, specific ways in which
the U.S. could test Syrian intentions by cooperating in the
realms of intelligence gathering and monitoring of the
Syria-Iraq border. These measures could build confidence for
future discussions between Syria and Israel on a return of
the Golan Heights, which Kerry qualified as Syria's top
priority. Shalom demurred, stating that Lebanon was more
important to the Syrians than the Golan because of the
resources located there and revenue from drug trade through
the Bekaa Valley. Syria's apparent peace overtures, Shalom
continued, are a response to Washington's threats to impose
sanctions. While he acknowledged that moderate statements by
Arab leaders should not be taken for granted, Shalom said he
also believes that Syria can more easily talk about peace
than take action against Islamic Jihad and Hamas, who still
direct Palestinian terrorism from Damascus.



7. (C) Kerry posited that Assad would become more active
against terrorist groups if given the assurance that he would
get something in return. For example, Assad is already
prepared to shut down the border with Iraq and is willing to
conduct joint intelligence operations. Shalom responded that
Assad could start to demonstrate his willingness to work with
Israel by giving back the body of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, whom
Syria executed in 1965. Kerry agreed that the SARG should
return the body, but noted a general sense of waiting that he
sees in the region. Arab leaders, he said, are growing
uneasy with their inability to get a feel for how Israel and
the Palestinians will return to the roadmap, while Iraq
remains delicate and unstable. This waiting, he said,
creates an opportunity for Israel to take steps toward peace
now.



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


Iraq


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





8. (C) Shalom was optimistic about the future of Iraq and
said that once democratic elections occur, citizens of other
Arab countries will be encouraged to demand the right to vote
from their governments. Israel looks forward to having
another democratic nation in the region, and would be in
favor of relations with the new Iraqi leadership. As for the
violence throughout the country, Shalom said that Iraq is a
big country and the violence portrayed by the media does not
necessarily affect the lives of all Iraqis and all
reconstruction efforts.



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


Iran


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





9. (C) In his meeting with Codel Kyl, Shalom turned to the
issue of Iran's nuclear program, describing it as a
"nightmare" for Israel. Iran, he said, will do everything in
its power to develop a nuclear bomb. Right now, he said,
Iran is trying to "buy time" in order to pursue its true
interests, which are hostile to Israel. He said that now
that the U.S. presidential election is over, the time has
come to bring the issue before the Security Council. Asked
what would be the next step after moving the issue to the
Security Council, Shalom said that Iran should face sanctions
and if it still fails to comply, "we should stop them."
Recognizing Europe's economic interests, he acknowledged that
it is "not so easy to put pressure on Iran." He commended
France for being "the toughest" on Iran, and also commended
the UK stance. The Germans, he said, are not as tough on
Iran as they should be.



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


Turkey


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





10. (C) Shalom lauded Israel's relationship with Turkey,
which he referred to as "the only Muslim democracy." Turkey,
he said, is an example that the tenets of Islam and democracy
are not contradictory. Israel enjoys good strategic
relations with Turkey, which Shalom hopes will help bridge
the gap between Israel and the rest of the Arab world.



11. (U) Codel Kerry consisted of Senator John Kerry, senior
foreign policy advisor Nancy Stetson, press secretary David
Wade, and military escort Col. Michael Barbero. Codel Kyl
consisted of Senators Jon Kyl, Lisa Murkowski and Mel
Martinez, Rep. Adam Smith, Brandon Wales, senior foreign
policy advisor to Sen. Kyl, and military escorts LTC Sam
Mundy and Maj. Pete McAleer.



12. (U) Codel Kerry cleared this message.

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