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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05TELAVIV5903 2005-09-29 12:58:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

NEA DAS DIBBLE'S 9/21 MEETING WITH MFA MIDDLE EAST

Tags:   PREL IS MO SENV TS LE BU MU RS ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS GOI EXTERNAL 
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 005903 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2015
TAGS: PREL IS MO SENV TS LE BU MU RS ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS GOI EXTERNAL
SUBJECT: NEA DAS DIBBLE'S 9/21 MEETING WITH MFA MIDDLE EAST
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOCUSES ON ISRAELI-ARAB RELATIONS

REF: MOSCOW 11184

Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR NORMAN OLSEN, FOR REASONS 1.4(B AND
D).

-------
SUMMARY
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1. (C) Israeli MFA Deputy Director General for
Middle East Affairs Jacob Keidar told Deputy Assistant
Secretary Elizabeth Dibble September 21 that the GOI hopes,

SIPDIS
in the aftermath of disengagement from the Gaza Strip, to
improve its relations with Arab states in the Gulf and
North Africa. He asked for USG assistance in this
endeavor. DAS Dibble and Keidar agreed that it is
impossible at this point to have talks with Lebanon on
water issues because the new Lebanese water minister is a
member of Hizballah. Keidar said Israel seeks to expand
its existing trade relations with Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar,
and to re-establish trade and diplomatic ties with Morocco,
Tunisia, and Mauritania, all of which have recently made
conciliatory gestures. None of these Arab states, however,
has expressed a clear commitment to improving relations.
Keidar and DAS Dibble agreed that restarting informal
multilateral talks on a technical level might create
positive momentum. END SUMMARY.



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New Water Minister in Lebanon, from Hizballah


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2. (C) DAS Dibble and accompanying officers met with
Keidar, Oded Ben-Haim, director of the Palestinian Affairs
Department, and Amir Weissbrod, from the MFA,s Middle East
and Peace Process Division, to discuss the Hasbani/Wazzani
issue between Lebanon and Israel and recommencing
multilateral talks between Israel and Arab states. DAS
Dibble said that the USG cannot speak with the new minister
of water in Lebanon, as he is a member of Hizballah.
Israeli MFA Deputy Director General (Middle East) Jacob
Keidar said he welcomes water studies and aid, but
expressed understanding, and added, "We cannot do much with
this minister, either."



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



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


Relations with Arab States in the Gulf and North Africa


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



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





3. (C) Keidar said the GOI seeks to normalize relations
with its Arab neighbors, specifically to expand trade and
political dialogue, and asked for USG assistance to do so.
"It is the right time to move in this direction, after
disengagement," he said. At present, Keidar said, only
Bahrain and Oman trade directly with Israel. The FTA
process with Bahrain, Keidar explained, is moving along.
Amir Weissbrod said that both Oman and Bahrain have
publicly announced the end of their primary boycotts of
trade with Israel. An Israeli trade mission operates in
Qatar, Keidar said, but it is isolated and does not have
diplomatic status.



4. (C) The GOI has not been invited to return to Tunis,
Keidar said, although the foreign ministers of Israel and
Tunisia met at the UN, and will meet again at the World
Summit on the Information Society in November. He also
said that the Mauritanian foreign minister met with Israeli
FM Silvan Shalom at the UN. Weissbrod noted that Morocco,
among all of the North African states, has communicated the
greatest willingness to resume formal ties, and may send a
government minister to Israel in November, to attend events
marking the tenth anniversary of the Rabin assassination.
Keidar said, however, that none of the Arab leaders have
communicated anything concrete about improving ties with
Israel in response to Israeli overtures.



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


"Re-invent the Multilaterals"


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





5. (C) Keidar said that in order to improve Israel's
relations with Arab states, the GOI would like to
"re-invent the multilaterals" with a more informal and
flexible approach. Technical meetings, he said, could
focus on issues such as science and technology, disaster
management, disease prevention, and small businesses. DAS
Dibble responded that this practical approach, which offers
hope of measurable benefits, might provide a means to
"jumpstart" the multilateral process, especially if it
encourages contact at the working level. Arab leaders, she
explained, could then claim to have gained something
tangible from technical meetings. Keidar agreed, stressing
the GOI's intention to view the process this time through
"Arab eyes."



6. (C) Keidar then said that the Israelis still have
questions about the Russian-proposed "experts" conference
(reftel) tentatively scheduled for November in Moscow. The
GOI, Keidar explained, is concerned that the purpose of the
conference remains vague. DAS Dibble agreed, and stressed
that the USG and the Quartet are focused on the Wolfensohn
and Ward missions.


7. (U) This cable has been cleared by NEA DAS Elizabeth
Dibble.

JONES

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JONES