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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06TELAVIV1158 2006-03-23 07:48:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

GOI CONCERNS OVER DE SOTO LETTER ON JERICHO

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230748Z Mar 06
					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 001158 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/IPA
LONDON FOR TSOU

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/22/2016
TAGS: PREL PTER KPAL KWBG IS ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS GOI EXTERNAL
SUBJECT: GOI CONCERNS OVER DE SOTO LETTER ON JERICHO
PRISONERS AND REVENUE TRANSFERS


Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Norman Olsen: reasons:
1.
4 (B/D)



1. (C) Roni Leshno Yaar, the Israeli MFA's deputy director
general (A/S-equivalent) for international organizations,
contacted deputy polcouns on March 21 to inform of us of an
exchange of letters with UN Special Envoy Alvaro de Soto on
the aftermath of the GOI raid of March 14 on the Jericho
prison. Yaar complained about what he called de Soto's
one-sided position urging the GOI to return the Palestinians
seized in the raid and to resume revenue transfers to the
Palestinian Authority. Yaar said that de Soto linked these
Israeli actions to the Quartet's condition that a new PA
government accept its own previous agreements. He expressed
concern that de Soto's position may represent an initial UN
move to break away from the agreed Quartet position of
January 30. Yaar (please protect) provided post with copies
of the exchange of letters on March 22 (see below).



2. (SBU) Begin text of letter dated March 19, 2006, from UN
Special Coordinator de Soto to Israeli FM Tzipi Livni:

United Nations Office of the Special Coordinator for the
Middle East Peace Process
Jerusalem, 19 March 2006

Excellency

I refer to the removal by Israeli forces, on 14 March 2006,
of Palestinian prisoners from the prison in Jericho.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has raised with
me his concern on this matter. He has asserted, in
particular, that there is no legal basis for Israel to hold
or try the six Palestinian prisoners held at the Jericho
prison pursuant to the 2002 Ramallah agreement or a further
22 whose names were among those provided by the Palestinian
Authority to Israel pursuant to the 8 February 2005 Sharm el
Sheikh understandings. He therefore demands that these
prisoners be immediately returned to Palestinian custody.

Your Excellency will no doubt understand the importance, at a
time when we are all expecting a new Palestinian government
to be committed, inter alia, to acceptance of previous
agreements and obligations, of Israel being in compliance
with its own obligations under previous agreements. It is
difficult to demand of the Palestinian government that it
adhere to existing Palestinian undertakings if there is any
question regarding Israel's adherence to obligations on
matters such as the one raised in this letter. (I would
observe that this applies also to the transfer of VAT and
customs duties collected by Israel on behalf of the
Palestinians, which I raised in the most recent meeting of
the Task Force on Project Implementation.)

I would therefore greatly appreciate clarification, at Your
Excellency's earliest convenience, regarding the legal basis
for Israel to hold or try the above mentioned prisoners.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurance of my highest
consideration.

Signed Alvaro de Soto
Special Coordinator
End text of letter.



3. (SBU) Begin text of reply letter dated March 21, 2006,
from MFA IO DDG Aharon "Roni" Leshno Yaar to Special
Coordinator de Soto:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Jerusalem
21 March 2006

Dear Mr. De Soto,

I refer to your letter of March 19, 2006 to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs.

According to the version of events presented in your letter,
Israel, with no justification or cause, "removed Palestinian
prisoners from the prison in Jericho" and now continues to
detain them although "there is no legal basis for Israel to
hold or try (them)."

In fact, it will be recalled that these six terrorists,
unequivocally responsible for numerous terrorist attacks
against Israeli civilians, including the assassination of
Israel's Minister of Tourism, Rehavam Zeevi, as well as the
attempted smuggling of illegal weaponry aboard the Karine A
ship, were detained in Jericho as the result of a specific
international agreement, reached in April 2002 through
mediation by the U.S. and U.K.

Under the terms of this agreement, the terrorists were to be
detained in Jericho subject to clear and specific conditions
to be verified by monitors from the U.S. and U.K.

The Palestinian side never implemented these agreed
arrangements. Indeed, in a letter dated March 8, 2006
addressed to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the American and
British Consuls protested, inter alia, that:

"The Palestinian Authority has never fully complied with
basic provisions of the agreement that establishes the US and
UK Jericho Monitoring Mission ... the Palestinian Authority
has consistently failed to comply with core provisions of the
Jericho monitoring arrangement ... Repeated demarches by our
government to the highest levels of the Palestinian Authority
have not resulted in improved compliance with the Jericho
monitoring arrangements."

As a result of ongoing Palestinian violations, and the
failure of the Palestinian side to ensure their security, the
international monitors decided to evacuate the Jericho
facility. As the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office
made clear in a written Ministerial Statement on March 14,
2006:

"The Palestinian Authority has consistently failed to meet
its obligations under the Ramallah Agreement. Ultimately the
safety of our personnel has to take precedence."

Repeated public admissions were made by Hamas representatives
that they intended to free the detainees, and Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas himself made it clear that he saw no problem
with this.

Now that these individuals are in Israeli custody, Israel
will act in accordance with relevant legal procedures and
with appropriate judicial oversight. We have no intention of
neglecting the legal rights of these detainees, just as we
have no intention of allowing those involved in murder and
terrorism to roam free.

It is troubling to find in your letter a one-sided insistence
on Israel's compliance with previous agreements, with
absolutely no reference to the responsibilities of the
Palestinian side - either to comply with the provisions of
these agreements or to satisfy the three clear criteria for
legitimacy established by the Quartet. To be absolutely
clear, Israel is under no obligation to allow terrorists to
roam freely, or to transfer funds without any guarantee that
these will not be funneled to terrorists organizations.
There are, however explicit Palestinian obligations to arrest
and disarm terrorists and dismantle the terrorist
infrastructure.

It is perhaps not surprising that Mr. Abbas would avoid
referring to Palestinian obligations in his conversations
with you. However, we would have expected that, as Special
Representative of the Secretary General, you would have acted
in accordance with the position of the Quartet of January
30th, and insisted on compliance with Palestinian
undertakings, rather than simply acting as a mouthpiece for
unjustified Palestinian allegations to the Israeli side.

Yours sincerely,

Signed Aharon Leshno Yaar
Deputy Director General
Head of U.N. & International Organizations Division

End text of Israeli letter.

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