2006-01-27 16:20:00
Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  


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 04 TEL AVIV 000389 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/27/2016

REF: TEL AVIV 000296

Classified By: Ambassador Richard H. Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TEL AVIV 000389


E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/27/2016

REF: TEL AVIV 000296

Classified By: Ambassador Richard H. Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: Major General Yosef Mishlev told the
Ambassador January 24 that preparations for the Palestinian
elections were going well, and that the GOI and the
Palestinian Authority (PA) had established joint coordination
rooms in the West Bank and Gaza for election day to handle
security. He said that although East Jerusalem was not his
responsibility, he knew that special teams had been
established with Israeli police and PA security services. He
mentioned that 50,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem
would vote in the West Bank for fear of the GOI denying them
access to city services in the future, and for fear of the
GOI "spying" on them to see if they vote for Hamas. On the
Karni crossing, Mishlev explained that the Palestinians had
dug a trench eight meters deep, as of January 24, and found a
soft spot which could be the tunnel they have been searching
for. If it is, the crossing would be re-opened shortly, but
otherwise, the PA would dig to 10-12 meters, possibly taking
up to a week. Mishlev claimed that he had spoken with PA
Prisoner Affairs Minister Sufian Abu Zaida about using Kerem
Shalom as an alternative, but said that Abu Zaida rejected
the proposal because "he is speaking with Dahlan's voice."
He also discussed issues of PA non-compliance with security
at Rafah, mentioning items such as a 2-3 minute delay in the
video feed, and a lack of personal details on travelers
coming into and out of the Gaza Strip. He provided copies of
GOI letters written to EU/BAM Lt. Gen. Pistolese on this
matter. He mentioned that he had worked out the details for
a pilot passenger convoy with the PA in December, but was
waiting on the political echelon to make a decision on a
start date. Mishlev assured the Ambassador that Alternate
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is serious about moving on illegal
outposts, and reported that the IDF is prepared to evacuate
the Hebron market and Amona outpost after the Palestinian

elections. Mishlev also said that Defense Minister Shaul
Mofaz had appointed him to look into the recent olive-tree
cutting incidents. Post will fax to NEA/IPA a presentation
Mishlev gave on Palestinian economic performance in 2005.
End summary.

Palestinian Elections

2. (C) Major General Yosef Mishlev told the Ambassador
January 24 that preparations for the Palestinian elections
were going well, and that the voting materials were in place.
He said that elections for the Palestinian security services
had taken place the previous day, January 23, and that 58,000
security personnel, approximately 81 percent of the services,
had voted through special arrangements. He reported that he
met with Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister for Prisoner
Affairs Sufian Abu Zaida on the night of the 22nd, and they
coordinated the delivery of voting equipment through Sufa
crossing for the Gaza Strip. He also mentioned that the GOI
and the PA had established on January 21 a joint coordination
room in Bet El, near Ramallah, in the West Bank and two rooms
in the Gaza Strip, and that the IDF had the authority to make
the decisions necessary for elections to go smoothly. He
explained that IDF soldiers had been ordered to be on
"special behavior," that there would be less IDF presence
than normal in major population centers, and that the number
of checkpoints would be reduced. The Ambassador asked
whether there was a quick reaction force established for any
security problems that may arise, and Mishlev responded that
there was one set up for the West Bank but there was no need
for one in the Gaza Strip. The Ambassador noted that one
possibility was for election day to go well, but for violence
to arise during the vote count if Fatah saw that it was not
doing as well as it expected. Mishlev acknowledged that this
could be a big problem, especially in areas like Nablus,
Jenin, Khan Yunis, and Rafah because they are typically
violent. He said, however, that he knew USSC General Dayton
had advised PA Internal Security Minister Nasir Yusif to act
against violence, and hoped that he would do so.

3. (C) In response to the DCM's question on voting in East
Jerusalem, Mishlev responded that Jerusalem was not under his
responsibility, but that he had made some recommendations to
the Vice Prime Minister, on which he did not elaborate. He
said he knew, however, that special teams had been
established with Israeli police and PA security services. He
continued that 1,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem
had voted for the PA presidential election in 2005, and that
for this election, approximately 2,000 had recently picked up
their voting cards allowing them to cast ballots in East
Jerusalem. Mishlev said that another 50,000 Palestinian
residents of East Jerusalem would vote in the West Bank for
fear of the GOI denying them access to city services in the
future if they are known to have voted in Palestinian
elections. He said some may also be concerned that the GOI
is "spying" on them to see whether they vote for Hamas. The
Ambassador asked whether these fears were unfounded, and
Mishlev assured him that they were, and that the GOI had no
intention of either spying on Palestinians or denying them
access to Jerusalem in the future.

Karni Crossing

4. (C) Mishlev reported to the Ambassador that Karni has
been closed since January 15 in coordination with the PA
after Israel obtained intelligence of a planned terror attack
on the terminal through a tunnel. He said that the PA has
been digging to find this tunnel, and, as of January 24, has
reached a depth of eight meters with the help of two Israeli
backhoes. He explained that at approximately 0400 hours
January 24, the PA found a soft spot with sand of a different
color that could be the tunnel they were looking for, in
addition to a sewage pipe, discovered earlier, that had been
blocked to prevent flooding. He mentioned that if this newly
identified spot was the tunnel, the crossing could be
re-opened on January 25; if it was not the tunnel, however,
the PA would continue digging to 10-12 meters, and this could
take up to a week. If no tunnel has been found by then, he
indicated, the GOI would likely re-open Karni anyway. He
claimed that he had suggested to the IDF that the crossing be
re-opened now, but the IDF said it was too risky because
there are 20 civilians working there. He explained that if
an attack from such a tunnel kills Israelis at Karni now --
after disengagement -- the GOI would take a very long time
before opening it again. The Ambassador asked whether
sensors could be installed underground to detect any digging,
and Mishlev responded that any sensors would have to be
installed on the Palestinian side, which would be

5. (C) PolCouns asked whether the Palestinians had been
cooperative in their efforts to find the tunnel. Mishlev
replied that the PA is divided: the National Security Forces
under Ahmad Hillas have cooperated, but not the Preventive
Security Organization under Muhammad Dahlan and Rashid Abu
Shabak. He continued that overall, however, the GOI is
satisfied with the PA's efforts, and said that he hopes they
find the tunnel so that the PA "doesn't think we made it up."
He said that opening the crossing was important for the
Palestinians' quality of life, and that he wants the PA to be
assured that the GOI is committed to keeping the crossings
open, as Rafah and Erez have been despite three Qassam
attacks that morning and other security threats. According
to Mishlev, Israel was acting in good faith by allowing 3,000
laborers, 1,000 merchants, and 1,000 patients seeking medical
treatment to cross into Israel regardless of any threats.
(Note: Mishlev also commented that 10,000 laborers and
12,000 merchants entered Israel from the West Bank, and that
16,000 Palestinians are allowed to work in the industrial
zones of the settlements. End note.) Mishlev briefly cited
the Erez Industrial Zone, which is to come under management
by a Turkish firm, and said that the GOI is currently
discussing security arrangements with Turkey. He claimed
"things are going well," and that the zone should be open in
a year, after old factories have been demolished and replaced
with new buildings.

6. (C) Mishlev noted that the Sufa crossing was being used
to bring in humanitarian goods, and that the GOI was aware of
the problem of trying to get agricultural goods out of Gaza.
He said he had suggested to Abu Zaida that Kerem Shalom be
used as an alternative to Karni because a scanner could be
transferred there within 24 hours, and the crossing has the
capacity to scan 35 trucks per day. He claimed, however,
that Abu Zaida rejected this proposal because "he is speaking
with Dahlan's voice." The Ambassador asked why Kerem Shalom
could not be opened now for imports from Egypt since it is
going to be open in the future. Mishlev agreed, but said
there is "nothing on the ground."


7. (C) Mishlev discussed several issues of non-compliance
with security at the Rafah crossing. His first point was
that the PA (specifically Dahlan) has refused to recognize
the validity of the security protocol, which he characterized
as essential. He also said that there is a 2-3 minute delay
in the data feed, and that the PA is not transmitting video
24 hours a day, but only when the crossing is open. Acting
Defense Attache asked why the GOI needs a constant stream of
video, even when the crossing is not open, and Mishlev
claimed that "they are opening the gates at night," so
unprocessed travelers are getting into Gaza. Mishlev
continued that the GOI is not receiving the full details of
travelers coming into Gaza, such as nationalities and
passport numbers, and is not receiving any notification of
travelers leaving Gaza for Egypt. PolCouns asked whether the
IDF is able to synchronize the data it receives on computers
with the travelers it sees on the video screen. Mishlev
responded that it cannot do this because the GOI's room in
the liaison center "doesn't get the details" and therefore
"can't process because the data isn't coming across." He
provided the Ambassador a package of GOI letters to EU/BAM
Lt. Gen. Pistolese with six examples of alleged

8. (C) Mishlev also mentioned that particular difficulties
have arisen with Palestinians who arrived in Gaza in 1995
with visiting permits under the Interim Agreement. He
explained that 60,000 Palestinians stayed illegally after
their permits expired, and this has proven problematic
because the GOI has no record of them if or when they try to
cross into Israel as laborers. He said half stayed in Gaza
and half stayed in the West Bank, but the GOI does not have
current registration for them and thus cannot process them if
they try to exit Gaza. (Comment: Since these Palestinian
illegals do not possess ID numbers, they may be the source of
Israeli claims that "foreigners" are being allowed into Gaza
through Rafah. End comment.)


9. (C) Mishlev told the Ambassador that he has met with
former PA Planning Minister Ghassan al-Khatib, and that they
have "bridged all the gaps" with respect to convoys. (Note:
He said the last time they met was in December. End note.)
Mishlev said that they have agreed to a pilot program of a
convoy with five buses, and that al-Khatib said he would meet
with PA President Mahmud Abbas to see if the plan is
acceptable. According to Mishlev, Tarqumiya and Erez are
ready for the convoys to begin. From the GOI's perspective,
the MOD/IDF is simply waiting for a decision from the
political echelon for a date on which to start the convoys.
PolCouns asked what would be required for the government to
decide on a start date, and Mishlev responded "nothing
special" besides security considerations. He claimed that
the GOI would review the convoys issue after the Palestinian
elections. The DCM asked about allowing West Bankers to
visit Gaza, and about the possibility of establishing a
special category for students. Mishlev replied that for now,
the first phase is a pilot program only, and the convoys
could be expanded later. He also said that the issue of
students is currently in the High Court, but assured the DCM
that he has "enlarged the categories" to allow more people
than had originally been planned to travel. The Ambassador
emphasized to Mishlev that starting the convoys as soon as
possible is important because Palestinians would see convoys
as a benefit that could be taken away in the event of a
terrorist attack, which might reduce popular support for
terrorism. Morever, implementing convoys would prove to them
that the GOI is operating in good faith.

Hebron and Amona, Olive Tree Incidents

10. (C) The Ambassador asked Mishlev about the IDF's plan to
evacuate settlers from the Hebron market and to demolish nine
permanent houses in Amona outpost, given Alternate Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert's recent announcement (reftel). Mishlev
assured the Ambassador that the evacuations would take place
very soon because Olmert wants immediate action on these
outposts. He said, "We are going to act in the market,
Amona, and others," but mentioned that the IDF operations
have been postponed until after the Palestinian elections.
Mishlev commented that Olmert has been very clear on his
expectations with respect to outposts, and that last month he
"began a policy of enforcing the law" in the West Bank. As
part of his policy, Olmert wants to prevent any Israeli
building on private Palestinian land, and wants to demolish
any construction in the very beginning phases, such as when
concrete is laid down for foundations, according to Mishlev.
He mentioned the recent demolitions of a foundation in Neve
Daniel in the Gush Etzion bloc, and in Revava in the Ariel
bloc as examples of Olmert's policy in action. The
Ambassador asked whether there is any date set for the
evacuations, and Mishlev responded that it would be after the
elections because the GOI did not want to interrupt the
process. He reiterated that "something will happen," and
replied affirmatively when the Ambassador asked whether this
included the 20 post-March 2001 outposts that Olmert
mentioned in his speech. The Ambassador asked about reports
that Head of Central Command Major General Yair Naveh is
negotiating with the Hebron settlers to leave peacefully now
in exchange for being allowed to return "legally" in a few
months. Mishlev confirmed that this was the case, and that
the GOI is currently looking into canceling the Palestinian
shop-owners' protected status because the land "is Jewish."
(Comment: The result of this would be for the shop-owners to
lose their buildings. Press reports suggest that the GOI
would then rent the buildings back to the settlers. Mishlev
was vague on who actually owned the land, but claimed it was
privately held. End comment.)

11. (C) Mishlev briefly mentioned the incidents of
olive-tree cutting in the West Bank. He said Minister of
Defense Shaul Mofaz had appointed him to check into this
issue, and that he had recently visited the farmers. Mishlev
claimed that in a committee meeting on January 23, he made
recommendations to compensate the farmers, to demolish the
outposts near the affected areas, and to increase the IDF,
police, and Shin Bet presence in order to take weapons from
settlers and to arrest settlers who perpetrate these acts.
He noted that in one of the fields where olive trees were
cut, the GOI had found an identity card belonging to a
settler from Elon Moreh; the settler first denied the card
was his, and later said it had been stolen from him and
dropped in the field, according to Mishlev.

Land Confiscations in al-Tuwani

12. (C) The Ambassador asked about recent orders to
confiscate approximately 54 dunams of land near the
Palestinian village of al-Tuwani for the construction of a
secondary fence along Rt. 317 from Karmel settlement to Susya
settlement, south of Hebron. (Note: ConGen poloffs and
Embassy econoff visited the area January 20 and will report
on the trip septel). The Ambassador noted that the villagers
would have to travel an additional 10 kilometers to the town
of Yattah for services, and that the fence would place them
in a seam zone between that fence and the separation barrier
running along the Green Line in the southern West Bank.
Mishlev asked that further details be sent to his deputy, Lt.
Col. Daniel Beaudoin; econoff will follow up with Beaudoin.

13. (C) Mishlev concluded the meeting with a presentation on
the trends of the Palestinian economy in 2005. Post will fax
a copy of the slides to NEA/IPA.

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