|08TELAVIV170||2008-01-18 16:46:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Tel Aviv|
VZCZCXRO6313 OO RUEHROV DE RUEHTV #0170/01 0181646 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 181646Z JAN 08 FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5080 INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6389
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 000170
1. (C) SUMMARY: On January 14, Ambassador Jones and
EconCouns met with Robert Serry, the new UN Special
Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO). Mr.
Serry is also the UN's representative to the Palestinians and
the UN Quartet envoy. During the meeting, the Ambassador
updated Mr. Serry on how the missions of the three generals--
General Jones, General Fraser, and General Dayton-- are
supporting negotiations, and gave a readout on the recent
visit of President Bush. Serry said that he would like to
see the UN take a more serious role in supporting U.S.
efforts and is focusing on improving UN/Israeli relations as
a first step. Mr. Serry also emphasized that Gaza is a top
priority for the UN Secretary-General (SYG) both as a threat
to peace and because of the deteriorating humanitarian
situation. He said the UN supports Palestinian PM Fayyad's
plan to reopen the Karni crossing and has identified both
financial and logistical support to move the plan forward.
POTUS Pushes Peace, UN Wants to Help
2. (C) Ambassador Jones told Serry that during his visit,
President Bush was able to successfully "nudge" the
negotiations forward, while demonstrating his seriousness and
direct involvement. The Ambassador also underlined that the
trip was a success before it began because it helped spark
the opening of talks on core issues.
3. (C) The Ambassador explained that Israeli actions like
ongoing settlement activity are a problem, but pointed out
that the process is designed to withstand this pressure by
holding the talks in parallel to work on Roadmap
implementation. It's also possible that progress on the
negotiations could facilitate Roadmap implementation. For
example, once the final border is decided, it will be
absolutely clear where Israel can build and where it must
evacuate. It is more difficult to determine how the final
report of the Winograd Commission, due January 30, will
affect the negotiations. Serry agreed and said it would be
difficult if PM Olmert were replaced, especially since he had
been hearing from many Palestinian officials that they are
starting to trust Olmert.
4. (C) The Ambassador then described the different missions
of General Jim Jones, General William Fraser, and General
Keith Dayton. Jones, he explained, will be involved in
strategic planning for security issues. Dayton, on the other
hand, will continue his focus on immediate needs of the
Palestinians for security training and equipment. General
Fraser's monitoring mission will be looking at what the sides
are actually doing to honor their respective commitments.
5. (C) Serry added that the UN could do more to help support
U.S. efforts, especially considering its extensive presence
in the West Bank and Gaza. He admitted that one obstacle to
the UN being a more serious player is the relationship
between Israel and the UN, which he hoped to address.
Following his initial visit to Gaza in a few days, Serry said
he would also visit Sderot to show sympathy for the Israeli
situation. Serry had already told FM Livni that the UN would
be more open and transparent in its dealings with the GOI
and, when possible, make sure they are not surprised. The
Ambassador encouraged Serry to work on improving the
relationship, applauding the trip to Sderot and adding that
the Israelis always respond well when you acknowledge their
security concerns. EconCouns added that OCHA previously had
a good dialogue with the IDF on verifying checkpoints, and he
recommended Serry look at restarting those discussions.
Gaza Deteriorating; Hamas Becoming More Dangerous
6. (C) Serry said that when he was sent on this mission, the
UN SYG emphasized that Gaza is one of his top priorities.
Gaza needs crisis management, and UN people on the ground
indicate that the risk of it becoming a humanitarian crisis
remains high. If something happened to prevent UN from
operating there, Serry underscored, it would turn into a
serious disaster very quickly.
7. (C) In the meantime, Serry said, Hamas has the ability to
spoil the peace process, and there doesn't seem to be a real
game plan to deal with them. UN sources in Gaza report that
Hamas is both consolidating power and splintering internally,
creating a very dangerous situation. The Egyptian Embassy
told Serry that they are prioritizing negotiating a ceasefire
between Hamas and Israel. The Ambassador agreed that Hamas
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remains dangerous, adding that we believe Gaza will be easier
to bring back into the fold once there is an agreement
between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). However,
there will be no implementation on an agreement until rocket
attacks cease and Gaza is back under PA security control.
Opening Karni Crossing May Help
8. (C) The UN is encouraging the reopening of Karni crossing
under PA control to both help the people of Gaza and to
assist the PA in reasserting itself. The UN supports
Fayyad's plan to run the Gaza side of the crossing, and has
identified both funding, from the Dutch, and training by
UNOPS to make it happen. This would put the onus of the
siege on Hamas, Serry said, and challenge their authority.
The Ambassador added that a large source of Hamas income
comes from taxing everyday items like cigarettes that are
being smuggled in, which could be reduced through the use of
legitimate trade channels. The Ambassador told Serry that we
have encouraged the MOD and GOI to consider Fayyad's proposal
and find ways to address their concerns. For example, PA
customs officials could commute to Karni from the West Bank,
which would ease Israeli concerns about Hamas intimidation.
10. (C) Robert H. Serry is a career diplomat from the
Netherlands, most recently serving as Ambassador to Ireland.
He has headed the Middle East Affairs Division of the Dutch
Foreign Ministry (A/S NEA equivalent) and was previously the
Deputy Assistant Secretary-General for Crisis Management and
Operations at NATO. His mission officially began on January
1, and he arrived on January 8. He was appointed by the SYG
on November 29, 2007, replacing Michael Williams, who
departed last August.
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