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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05TELAVIV6680 2005-11-29 09:23:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

MFA OFFICIALS ON REGIONAL ISSUES

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 006680 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON KWBG IS ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS GOI EXTERNAL GOI INTERNAL PEACE PROCESS
SUBJECT: MFA OFFICIALS ON REGIONAL ISSUES


Classified By: CHARGE D' AFFAIRES GENE A. CRETZ, REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D
).



1. (C) Summary: MFA officials told NEA DAS Danin that there
are two important questions regarding Middle East peace
efforts -- how engaged the U.S. can be in the process when it
is tied up in Iraq and elsewhere, and how to keep Israelis
engaged when they will be diverted by the upcoming election.
The MFA officials said that only the international community
can successfully advance regional efforts to support
Israeli-Palestinian peace because the two most important
regional players, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, cannot. They
asserted that Egypt opposes Israel becoming a regional
player, and that Saudi Arabia, while not opposed, is too
passive. Muslim countries normalizing relations with Israel
can promote peace by giving increased financial and political
support to Mahmud Abbas,s policies of negotiation and
countering extremism, they said. End summary.



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


Questions about Short-term Engagement


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





2. (C) NEA DAS Robert Danin on November 14 and 16 discussed
Israeli-Palestinian and regional issues with various MFA
officials in Jerusalem. North America Division Deputy
Director General Ambassador Yoram Ben Zeev said he believes
that there are two important questions regarding Middle East
peace efforts -- how engaged the U.S. can be in the process
when it is involved in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and
how to keep Israelis engaged when they will be diverted by
the upcoming election. Ben Zeev said that it is important
for the region to know that the U.S. is, and will continue to
be, serious about pursuing Middle East peace. He said that
no politician will want to take bold initiatives when he is
concerned about winning elections. The run-up to the
election has to be considered "downtime" as far as diplomatic
efforts are concerned. Another issue is what the future
relationship between the U.S. and Hamas would be if that
organization wins the Palestinian elections or receives a big
majority. Ben Zeev said that some Israelis believe
Washington is sending a mixed message regarding groups such
as Hamas, labeling them as terrorists, but, at the same time,
willing to accept their participation in the political
process. Ben Zeev pointed out that the Hamas charter still
calls for the destruction of Israel, which makes it difficult
for the GOI to accept Hamas participation in the Palestinian
Authority.



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


Fragile Peace Efforts


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





3. (C) Ben Zeev cautioned that progress accomplished to date
could in a second slip away and lapse into vicious violence.
He said that it will only take another suicide bomber and an
Israeli attack in response to harden minds and hearts on both
sides. Ben Zeev suggested that the most important thing the
U.S. could do to promote a regional environment for peace is
win the war in Iraq. Moreover, he said, Washington, Israel,
and the international community should immediately follow
positive actions and statements by the Arabs and Palestinians
with "sweet carrots." Ben Zeev said that in order to
encourage forward movement, sticks should be painful and
carrots should be very sweet. He said that Israel had wasted
opportunities in the past when it did not treat neighbors
with generosity and tact.



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


Key Regional Players


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





4. (C) Officials from the MFA Center for Political Research
Harry Kney Tal, Benny Dagan, and Yair Even shared thoughts on
how to best regionalize the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Kney
Tal said that there are two major regional players in the
region -- Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Egyptians oppose
Israel becoming a regional player and therefore are lukewarm
about resurrecting the multilateral process. Kney Tal
described the Saudis as passive. He said that the only way
to restart the multilateral process would be if the
international community intervenes. He noted that Mahmud
Abbas is not opposed to renewing the multilateral track, but
does nothing to help advance it. Dagan said that the Saudis
would only do something if given the green light by Egypt and
Mahmud Abbas. He added that Mahmud Abbas should be more
proactive on getting support from the Saudis, including
greater financial aid. Yair Even suggested that working
through the OSCE may be one option for kickstarting the
multilateral process.



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


Looking Down the Road


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





5. (C) Kney Tal said the peace process reflects not just
Israel,s desire for normal relations, but its desire for
legitimization in the eyes of the Muslim world. Gradual
normalization can provide opportunities for some form of
bilateral relations with Muslim states, he said. He claimed
that a number of Gulf countries are discussing some form of
relationship with Israel, although the Saudis are not
encouraging them. The more that Muslim countries, including
non-Arab Muslim countries, go beyond simply publicizing
contacts with Israel, the broader the support will be for
Middle East peace, he said. Dagan added that Muslim
countries, gradual normalization with Israel helps to give
Mahmud Abbas increased support for his policy of negotiation.
It would also help Abbas to deal with Hamas and extremist
elements. He said that Muslim countries trying to reach out
to the Israeli public would also help promote peace.



6. (C) Kney Tal said he told Likud party members years ago
that the occupation should be ended. Holding on to the
occupied territories would not solve the important problems
such as the demographic time bomb or WMD that face Israel.
The occupied territories have lost their strategic value and
have instead become a problem, he said.



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


U.S. Role


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





7. (C) Kney Tal and Dagan asserted that the U.S. should work
with Egypt and Saudi Arabia to get them more engaged in
supporting Israeli-Palestinian peace. Noting that Egypt,
which shares a border with Gaza, has a stake in avoiding
setbacks, Dagan said that Cairo should play a more
instrumental role than it has in the past. Kney Tal said
that the new Saudi ambassador in Washington and the former
Saudi ambassador to Washington, who is now Riyadh,s new
National Security Advisor, are both excellent interlocutors
for the U.S. to engage on these peace efforts.



8. (C) DAS Danin cleared this cable.

CRETZ

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CRETZ