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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07PARIS710 2007-02-26 13:43:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
Cable title:  

CHIRAC ADVISOR PROVIDES READOUT ON PA PRESIDENT

Tags:   FR IR IS KPAL LE PGOV PREL SY 
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FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5141
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 000710 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2/26/2017
TAGS: FR IR IS KPAL LE PGOV PREL SY
SUBJECT: CHIRAC ADVISOR PROVIDES READOUT ON PA PRESIDENT
ABBAS VISIT


Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt, reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: In his February 24 meeting with President
Chirac, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas
urged the French to support a resumption of international
economic assistance to the PA, but also suggested a continued
refusal to engage in political contact with the new
government would help to put pressure on Hamas to accept the
Quartet Principles. Dominique Boche, Chirac's Middle East
advisor, said he was struck by the fact that Abbas refrained
from any criticism of U.S. policy. To the contrary, the PA
President lauded the Secretary's management of the first
trilateral meeting between Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert.
Boche also discussed Syria's latest tactics to block the UN
tribunal on Lebanon and dismissed Iran's release of a French
citizen as a transparent attempt to split the EU3. End
summary.

Abbas Asks Chirac for Support


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





2. (C) According to Dominique Boche, President Chirac's
Middle East advisor, PA President Mahmoud Abbas delivered a
surprisingly "ambiguous" message to President Chirac during
their meeting in Paris on February 24. "On the one hand,
Abbas appealed for Chirac to assist in lifting the embargo on
economic assistance to the PA. On the other hand, he argued
that a continued refusal to engage in political contact with
the new government would keep the pressure on Hamas to accept
the Quartet Principles," said Boche. Moreover, Abbas was
vague about the modalities of international economic
assistance to the PA, leaving Boche with the impression that
the PA leader would not be averse to a scenario in which
international economic assistance were channeled in such a
way (e.g., through the PA President's Office, or through the
auspices of an independent Finance Minister) as to remain
outside of Hamas's control. "He said we should restart aid,
but he didn't say exactly to whom," Boche summarized.
(Comment: Abbas's message may have surprised the French,
inasmuch as MFA officials seem to have envisioned a gradual
restoration of political contacts with the unity government,
followed by an eventual restoration of economic support. End
comment.)



3. (C) Boche said he was struck by the fact that Abbas
refrained from any criticism of U.S. policy -- something
Boche said was "a first" in his experience of dealing with
Palestinian politicians. To the contrary, Abbas praised
President Bush's determination to move the peace process
forward, and lauded the Secretary's management of the
February 19 meeting between Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert.
Abbas said that Olmert was quite negative at the outset of
the meeting and that his conduct toward the Secretary pushed
the limits of propriety, but he credited the Secretary with
bringing the Israeli PM around to a more constructive
position by the end of their discussion.



4. (C) Outlining next steps, Abbas told Chirac that he would
focus on obtaining Gilad Shalit's release, preventing Qassam
rocket attacks on Israel, and ending arms smuggling into
Gaza. Boche said Abu Mazen "seemed confident" that Hamas
would agree to release Shalit in conjunction with the
creation of the National Unity Government. (According to
Boche, Chirac revisited this theme during a February 25 phone
call with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in which Mubarak
hoped that Fatah/Hamas would soon agree on the timing of
Shalit's release, which Mubarak linked to Israel's release of
a number of Hamas prisoners who might be tapped for cabinet
positions in the national unity government. Boche said
Marwan Bargouthi's name was not mentioned in either
conversation.)



5. (C) Summing up Abu Mazen's visit, Boche said he came away
with the impression that Abbas does not trust Hamas -- "why
else would he say that his priorities are rebuilding the
security services and Fatah?" -- but noted that Abbas
apparently made far tougher comments about Hamas to Olmert
and during a recent visit to the UK. "We've heard echoes of
what he told Olmert and the British, and he was much tougher
on Hamas . . . presumably because he thinks the UK is closer
to the US approach whereas he thinks we are softer on Hamas,"
Boche sniffed.



6. (C) As for France's policy, Boche reiterated the somewhat
ambiguous line the Elysee promulgated following the
Chirac-Abbas meeting: France will try to persuade its EU
partners (at a March 8-9 European Council meeting) that the
Mecca agreement represents a step in the right direction and

PARIS 00000710 002 OF 002


that Europe should support a unity government founded on that
basis. However, Boche declined to specify what form such
support might take, saying it was by no means certain that
the Palestinians would succeed in forming a unity government.


Lebanon/Syria/Iran


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





7. (C) Turning to the Levant, Boche said Syria has changed
tactics, and is now using former Lebanese PM Salim Hoss as an
intermediary to promote the idea of "amending" the GOL-UN
agreement on the establishment of the international tribunal.
Syria's strategy, however, remains the same: blocking the
international tribunal at any cost. "Meanwhile, each day
moves us closer to the opening of the new (Lebanese)
parliamentary session," said Boche, who added that if the
Lebanese Parliament fails to act on the tribunal documents
then "we may need to discuss" the possibility of a Chapter
VII solution. As for Iran, Boche interpreted the February 25
release of Stephane Lherbier (imprisoned in November 2005 for
allegedly violating Iranian national waters) as a transparent
attempt to split the EU-3 in advance of deliberations over a
second UNSC sanctions resolution regarding the Iranian
nuclear program. Boche noted that the Iranians failed to
release Lherbier's German client, whose release they hope to
trade for that of an Iranian serving a prison sentence in
Germany for terrorism. Boche added that Lherbier's release
has not earned the Iranians much gratitude at the Elysee,
where the prevailing view is that he was a political hostage
who never should have been sent to prison in the first place.


Please visit Paris' Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm

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