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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09BRUSSELS84
2009-01-22 17:20:00
CONFIDENTIAL
USEU Brussels
Cable title:  

EU FOREIGN MINISTERS PRESS LIVNI ON OPENING GAZA,

Tags:   PREL  EAID  PHUM  EU 
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DE RUEHBS #0084/01 0221720
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 221720Z JAN 09
FM USEU BRUSSELS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRUSSELS 000084 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2019
TAGS: PREL EAID PHUM EU
SUBJECT: EU FOREIGN MINISTERS PRESS LIVNI ON OPENING GAZA,
SEEK WAYS TO HELP ON SUSTAINING CEASE FIRE

Classified By: USEU Charge d'Affaires, a.i., Christopher Murray for rea
sons 1.5 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRUSSELS 000084

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2019
TAGS: PREL EAID PHUM EU
SUBJECT: EU FOREIGN MINISTERS PRESS LIVNI ON OPENING GAZA,
SEEK WAYS TO HELP ON SUSTAINING CEASE FIRE

Classified By: USEU Charge d'Affaires, a.i., Christopher Murray for rea
sons 1.5 (b) and (d)


1. (C) Summary: Tomas Smetanka, Middle East Advisor at the
Czech Permanent Representation in Brussels, told us that,
during their January 21 dinner meeting with Israeli Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni, EU Foreign Ministers pressed for an
immediate humanitarian opening of Gaza, for a permanent
opening for people and goods so as not to further legitimize
Hamas, and asked what the EU could do to help make the
cease-fire permanent. According to Smetanka, Livni promised
to ensure immediate access for EU humanitarian missions, but
expressed caution on a general opening, saying that if it
were done without Palestinian Authority (PA) involvement it
would legitimize Hamas. She asked for help in controlling
arms flows to Hamas as the most important element in
maintaining the cease-fire. Smetanka said the EU Foreign
Ministers would try to follow the same agenda for their
meeting January 25 with counterparts from Turkey, Egypt,
Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. End Summary.


2. (C) Smetanka opened by expressing some relief that the
Czechs had a "nice surprise" because the ministers had an
"almost united message" during the meeting with Livni,
despite some expressions beforehand (especially in public
statements by the French) that some might argue it was time
to talk to Hamas. The dinner with Livni was preceded by a
short coordination meeting that meant the EU was "mostly"
united in the discussion.


3. (C) The EU pressed Livni for an immediate opening for
humanitarian relief as the top priority. The Czech Foreign
Minister told her the EU wanted to see aid "unobstructed and
in sufficient quantity" allowed in. Smetanka said Livni was
"rather cooperative," but had a narrower vision of what
constituted humanitarian assistance than did the foreign
ministers. EU ministers pressed Israel to allow in fuel and
cement, and not just basic food and medical supplies, as part
of immediate humanitarian assistance. According to Smetanka,
Livni said she was surprised to hear that an EU presidency

assessment mission was turned away that day despite having
received permission to enter Gaza. The problem was resolved
during the dinner, with the Czechs receiving a message that
the Israelis had given a green light for a January 22 visit.
Livni told the ministers to call her if there were additional
problems.


4. (C) EU ministers also pressed for Israel to provide for a
permanent opening of Gaza for people and goods, in accordance
with the 2005 agreement. Livni responded that Israel
believes that if Gaza is reopened without involvement of the
PA in the border crossings, the opening would legitimize
Hamas. The EU ministers told Livni they are ready to
reactivate the EU's Rafah border crossing mission, but the
need for PA participation remains a stumbling block. Livni
reiterated that Israel does not want to do anything that
legitimizes Hamas.


5. (C) Regarding the broader situation, the EU ministers
asked what Israel wanted the EU to do to help ensure that the
cease-fire became permanent. Livni focused on the problem of
arms flows to Hamas, saying there was a need to control the
flow all along the line from Iran to Gaza. She noted that
some states have already made offers, referring to UK Prime
Minister Gordon Brown's offer of help, and the recently
signed Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. She said
cooperation was needed on intelligence regarding shipments
and said Israel wanted to find ways to intervene on the seas
to stop shipments. The German Foreign Minister noted he had
talks in Egypt last weekend regarding Germany's offer of
technical equipment to help monitor the tunnels. Several
ministers talked about assistance to Egyptian Bedouins to
help them find other means of earning a living than through
smuggling. Livni was critical of any suggestion of a UN
Security Council resolution on the matter, arguing that a
UNSC resolution on arms flows to Lebanon had not had any
impact.


6. (C) Smetanka said that several ministers mentioned to
Israel that they supported the process of upgrading EU
relations with Israel (through an enhanced Association
Agreement, work on which is on hold for now because of the
Gaza conflict) and wanted to help, not harm, Israel. The
ministers emphasized that none of their governments wanted to
help Hamas, that they wanted to find ways to strengthen the
PA, and that they felt opening Gaza was important in that
effort.


7. (C) The meeting with Livni will be followed on Sunday,

BRUSSELS 00000084 002 OF 002


January 25, by a meeting between the 27 EU foreign ministers
and their four counterparts from Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and
the PA. Smetanka said the agenda and format will be similar,
with EU ministers coordinating prior to a dinner. The focus
will be on how to make the cease-fire permanent and how to
improve the situation in Gaza. There will be discussion of
how to help Egypt control the tunnels (especially given
Egypt's sensitivities over its sovereignty) and how to reopen
the EU's Rafah mission.


8. (C) Smetanka also said that there had been a bit of
discussion about the idea of a donors conference. He noted
that the Czechs had announced their willingness to host a
conference in Prague, but that the idea was "not warmly
welcomed" by many in the EU. (Note: Charge and other
Mission officers heard complaints from some EU
representatives in Brussels about requests for the EU to
rebuild what Israel had destroyed. End Note.) He noted
there was also some sensitivity from Egypt about the
conference and asked the latest U.S. thinking on the matter.


9. (C) Comment: While Smetanka noted the unity of the
Foreign Ministers' message at the meeting with Livni, there
is still quite a bit of debate among member states, at the
parliament, and among EU officials over Gaza and relations
with Israel. In their arrival statements to the press,
individual foreign ministers stressed the importance of
immediate relief and permanent opening of the borders. The
Finnish Foreign Minister declared that, while it was not yet
time to talk to Hamas, "there is no global solution without
Hamas." At the Parliament, the EU Commissioner for
Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, denounced
what he called violations of humanitarian law on both sides,
with heavy criticism of Israel. The issue of opening Gaza is
not a new one for the Europeans and they will almost surely
continue to press the issue as key to undermining Hamas. End
Comment.

MURRAY
.