HAMADEH SEES RESOLUTION OF SHEBAA FARMS AS MEANS TO NEUTRALIZE HIZBALLAH IDEOLOGICALLY

id: 73369
date: 8/1/2006 15:37
refid: 06BEIRUT2511
origin: Embassy Beirut
classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
destination:
header:
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PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4853
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 002511

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/SINGH/HARDING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/01/2026
TAGS: IR, IS, LE, PGOV, PREL, PTER, SY
SUBJECT: TFLE01: HAMADEH SEES RESOLUTION OF SHEBAA FARMS AS
MEANS TO NEUTRALIZE HIZBALLAH IDEOLOGICALLY

Classified By: Classified by: Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman. Reason: S
ection 1.4 (b) and (d).

SUMMARY
-------

1. (C/NF) On August 1, Minister of Telecommunications Marwan
Hamadeh told the Ambassador and Emboff that there is no need
to get Syrian support for a potential settlement of the
Shebaa Farms issue. Hamadeh expressed confidence that any
agreement for an Israeli withdrawal from Shebaa, whether or
not Syria signs off on it or it is actually implemented on
the ground, could remove a major plank from Hizballah's
propaganda platform. Referring to the 7-point plan presented
by PM Siniora in Rome, Hamadeh offered that this document,
supported by the entire Lebanese Cabinet, could be used as
the basis for an official GOL request for a UN resolution.
On the state of the Lebanese Cabinet, Hamadeh said that there
were no signs of an impending collapse of the government,
noting that some Ministers were hedging their bets for a
post-war, pro-Hizballah orientation. Hamadeh expressed
concern that the under-equipped Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)
would be unable to fulfill their role in a post-conflict
peace plan without significant assistance. He argued that
LAF deployment to the south could begin immediately upon a
cease-fire, for Hizballah would not dare to object or block
it. Hamadeh also suggested moving now on a UNSCR regarding
the Hariri tribunal, in order to put Hizballah off balance.
End Summary.

2. (C/NF) On the afternoon of August 1, the Ambassador and
emboff met with Minister of Telecommunications Marwan Hamadeh
at his office in downtown Beirut. Also sitting in on the
meeting was Minister of Displaced Persons Nehmeh Tohmeh.
Hamadeh offered insights into the internal strategizing
occurring in the Lebanese Cabinet regarding a potential UN
resolution that would be passed at the same time as a
cease-fire agreement. Hamadeh stressed the need for quick
action on a UN Resolution, based on the GOL's 7-point paper,
presented by PM Siniora in Rome last week. Hamadeh
strategized that PM Siniora could forward the 7-point plan,
which already has unanimous support from the Lebanese
Cabinet, to the UN in its current form without the need to
bring the issue in front of the Cabinet.

3. (C/NF) Noting a summit of Lebanese Christian, Sunni,
Shi'a, and Druze religious leaders earlier in the day which
fully and unconditionally endorsed Siniora's 7-point paper,
Hamadeh speculated that such wide support for the document
could give Siniora adequate political coverage if it was to
be forwarded to the UN Security Council. Any return of the
document to the Cabinet for further discussion would not be
productive, Hamadeh said, "if we go back, we will be lost in
the details." In particular, Hamadeh noted that the Shi'a
ministers, while agreeing to support the 7-point document as
a whole, were interested in re-opening discussion on the
details of point number 5, concerning the deployment of the
UN peacekeeping force.

LEAVE SHEBAA, NEUTRALIZE HIZBALLAH
----------------------------------

4. (C/NF) The agreement for the withdrawal of Israel from
Shebaa Farms, said Hamadeh, would, regardless of the outcome,
go far in removing Hizballah's favorite propaganda tool.
Hamadeh offered that Lebanon is, "still hostage to Syria and
Hizballah" as long as the issue of Shebaa can be kept alive
among the Lebanese. Speculating on the contents of a future
UN Security Council resolution, Hamadeh wondered out loud if
it was even necessary for the GOL to get Syria's explicit,
written, and internationally-recognized blessing to negotiate
an Israeli withdrawal from Shebaa. Hamadeh dismissed
concerns that lacking an official, written Syrian declaration
that Shebaa Farms are in fact Lebanese would allow Syria to
reclaim the territory later on and potentially scuttle the
cease-fire along with it. Whether or not Syria agrees to a
potential UNSC resolution, said Hamadeh, is irrelevant. For
Hamadeh, the resolution would need to be drafted in a way
that removes any "alibi" for Syria and Hizballah to keep
Shebaa Farms as a pretext for continued military action.

5. (C/NF) Hamadeh sees two possible scenarios resulting from
a UNSC resolution, which would include an Israeli withdrawal
from Shebaa. First, if Syria agrees and does not challenge
Lebanese control over the Shebaa territory, Lebanese

BEIRUT 00002511 002 OF 003

sovereignty would be restored, international forces could
deploy to the region until such time as the Lebanese Army
could mobilize to replace them, and Hizballah would have no
territorial pretext for maintaining its "resistance." In the
second scenario, if Syria rejects the resolution and claims
the territory as Syrian, Israel would stay in Shebaa, the
international force would not deploy, and Hizballah would
still lose its pretext for continued resistance to Israeli
occupation of "Lebanese" territory. For Hamadeh, both
potential outcomes would serve to corner Syria and Hizballah
politically. Hamadeh added that if Hizballah were to reject
this potential resolution, the party would lose face and feel
greater pressure from public opinion, particularly amongst
the Shi'a.

ARM THE LEBANESE ARMY NOW
-------------------------

6. (C/NF) Hamadeh indicated that there would be no difficulty
in implementing a UN sponsored cease-fire. Once the LAF is
sent to the South, Hamadeh explained, Hizballah will not
confront it. Hamadeh did express reservations about the
capability of the LAF, due to their limited ammunition
supplies and reliance on old and marginally-serviceable
equipment. Hamadeh offered that support for the LAF is an
equally important part of the eventual post-conflict
stabilization of Lebanon as the make-up of the international
peacekeeping force. If the LAF is to be called on to deploy,
said Hamadeh, the LAF has immediate material needs that need
to be met. Hamadeh suggested that supplies and equipment
could be rapidly transferred to the LAF from NATO reserve
units. Hamadeh stressed that, "the time for high diplomatic
maneuvering is now. The time to strengthen the army is now."

LEBANESE CABINET STILL WORKING TOGETHER
---------------------------------------

7. (C/NF) Hamadeh denied rumors that the Cabinet was nearing
collapse, noting that most of the ministers were "playing
(the situation) correctly." Hamadeh said that, "the Cabinet
is solid," and noted that there is a general view that there
is a need for the government to remain in place for the sake
of the cease-fire negotiations and the implementation of any
UNSC resolutions related to the cease-fire. On the
surprising decision to send Greek Orthodox and pro-March 14th
Minister of Culture Tarek Mitri to represent Lebanon at the
UN, instead of the Shi'a, Hizballah-sympathizing FM Fawzi
Salloukh, Hamadeh flatly offered that Berri had agreed to the
arrangement, noting a need for a more polished presentation
in New York. Hamadeh described a significant change in
Minister of Defense Elias El-Murr's demeanor, characterizing
him as playing both sides. Hamadeh said that El-Murr
believes the Hizballah will "win" in the current conflict and
is trying to save himself politically for the post-conflict
sorting-out of the political scene here. Hamadeh recounted
that Siniora was furious at El-Murr at a recent cabinet
meeting for his comments to the media to the effect that,
"the 7 points (of Siniora's paper) do not exist".

7. (C/NF) Other ostensibly "pro-Syrian" members of the
cabinet have been surprisingly quiet, Hamadeh said. Minister
of Justice Charles Rizk, an erstwhile ally of President Emile
Lahoud, has been, "playing it better than Elias (El-Murr),"
offered Hamadeh. Rizk has even been pushing forward the
Cabinet's work on the establishment of an international
tribunal to try suspects in the crimes under the purview of
Serge Brammertz's UNIIIC. According to Hamadeh, Rizk has
made great progress, appointing "two good judges." Hamadeh
stressed that they should take advantage of Rizk's openness
to work on this issue. For Hamadeh, now is the time to pass
a resolution to establish the tribunal, as this would serve
to "keep Syria quiet" on the current Lebanese-Israeli
conflict as well as further contain the Syrians in the long
run. Hamadeh was confident that the passage of such a
resolution would not be difficult at the current juncture.

IRANIAN FM MOTTAKI IN BEIRUT
----------------------------

8. (C) Hamadeh quoted French Ambassador Bernard Emie
characterizing the visit of the Iranian FM Mottaki to Beirut
as "useful, but not helping a resolution." For Hamadeh, Iran
sees the current events in Lebanon as part of the wider
crisis surrounding Iran's nuclear ambitions. Hamadeh said
that Iran is clearly angry with UNSCR 1696 adopted this week.
Iran is "closed" on the Lebanon issue, with all matters

BEIRUT 00002511 003 OF 003

except for a cease-fire said to need political consensus for
implementation. Hamadeh described the Iranian opposition to
the 7-point paper presented by PM Siniora in Rome. Hamadeh
characterized Mottaki as taking particular issue with the
GOL's stance on the resolution of the Shebaa Farms issue and
the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in the
South, adding that the Iranians "are not happy with (Lebanese
Speaker of Parliament Nabih) Berri."
FELTMAN

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