ISRAELI MOD PRESSED TO TAKE QUICK STEPS TO HELP LEBANESE; SAYS IT WILL WAIT UNTIL MNF IS DEPLOYED

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id: 75038
date: 8/16/2006 10:51
refid: 06TELAVIV3245
origin: Embassy Tel Aviv
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination:
header:
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Carol X Weakley 08/16/2006 04:09:48 PM From DB/Inbox: Carol X Weakley

Cable
Text:

C O N F I D E N T I A L TEL AVIV 03245

SIPDIS
CXTelA:
ACTION: POL
INFO: DCM IPSC DAO PD IMO AMB AID ADM RSO CONS RES
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DISSEMINATION: POL
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: CDA:GACRETZ
DRAFTED: POL:MCKEAYS
CLEARED: POL:NOLSEN, DAO:PJDERMER

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5676
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 0803
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 003245

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA (MAHER), PM
PENTAGON FOR OSD ISRAEL DESK OFFICER (ANDERSON)
NSC FOR LOGERFO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/15/2016
TAGS: PREL, MOPS, PHUM, PTER, KPAL, KWBG, MASS, LE, SY, IL
SUBJECT: ISRAELI MOD PRESSED TO TAKE QUICK STEPS TO HELP
LEBANESE; SAYS IT WILL WAIT UNTIL MNF IS DEPLOYED

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Gene A. Cretz. Reasons: 1.4 (b, d).

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) Responding to the Charge's urgings that Israel act
quickly to end the sea blockade of Lebanon, re-open Beirut
International Airport, and allow mobile bridges to be erected
in southern Lebanon to facilitate shipments of outside
assistance to needy Lebanese, Israeli MOD POL-MIL Bureau Head
Amos Gilad said on August 15 that Israel understands the need
to "win the hearts and minds" of the Lebanese during the
immediate post-hostilities period, but prefers to take such
steps after the multinational force is deployed. Gilad
claimed that Iran is pumping money into Hizballah coffers so
that Iran and Hizballah can make maximum gains on what he
termed the Lebanese people's desperation. He said Saudi
Arabia and the Gulf states want to counter this with their
own funds, and hope to win the right to rebuild Lebanon.
Gilad cautioned that he fears that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf
states may mobilize too slowly. Gilad said that Gaza remains
a source of frustration for Israel, and lamented that PA
Chairman Abu Mazen appears alone in his efforts to
"reconstruct" the PA. On Syria, Gilad said that President
Assad views himself as strong, and noted that Israel is
carefully watching the Syria military, concerned that Syria
might threaten Israel over the Golan Heights. END SUMMARY.

------------------------------------------
ISRAEL PREFERS FOR THE MNF TO DEPLOY FIRST
------------------------------------------

2. (C) In an August 15 meeting at the Israeli MOD, the Charge
urged Israeli MOD POL-MIL Bureau Head MGEN (Res.) Amos Gilad
to take quick steps to address the needs of the Lebanese
people in the wake of the cessation of hostilities, so as to
demonstrate the international community and the GOL's
concern, show that Israel is not against them, and forestall
Hizballah addressing their needs and winning over their
support. Specifically, the Charge proposed that Israel:

-- permit the clearance of unexploded ordnance and allow
minimal repairs necessary at Beirut International Airport
(BIA) to allow flights into the airport;

-- allow humanitarian cargo and passenger shuttle service to
fly into BIA from Amman and Cairo as soon as possible;

-- allow the temporary importation of bridging equipment into
southern Lebanon to facilitate Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)
deployment and the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces
(IDF); and

-- expedite the delivery of assistance via sea, especially by
lifting the blockade of shipments from reputable humanitarian
assistance organizations. The Charge suggested that it would
be better to reverse the current formula from "blanket
refusal with exceptions," to "blanket permission with the
right to refuse."

3. (C) The Charge urged that the GOI act on these
suggestions, as well as the longer list provided a few days
earlier, to ensure that Hizballah's efforts were quickly
countered. Gilad indicated that he had discussed some of
these proposals a few days earlier with the Ambassador, but
said that Israel's preference is to wait until the
multinational force (MNF) is deployed in southern Lebanon
before taking the proposed actions. Gilad stressed that he
understood U.S. thinking on the issue, but said that he is
looking at it from a strategic point of view: "The main
issue is who will reconstruct Lebanon. Lebanon has charity
funds that are dominated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps and Hizballah. Iran is determined to help. We have
information now that Iran is flooding Hizballah with cash
because we destroyed Hizballah's banks. The one who wins the
right to reconstruct Lebanon will win its future. Nasrallah
understands this."

4. (C) Regarding the sea blockade, Gilad said that the Prime
Minister's Office had determined that it is legal to continue
the blockade as long as the MNF remains outside of southern
Lebanon. He also claimed, without offering any further
explanation, that the volume of assistance that could be
brought in by ship would not merit lifting the blockade
quickly. On a positive note, he said that IDF reps had met
with LAF liaison officers in a meeting organized by UNIFIL in
Naquoura, Lebanon, and had been told that the LAF and MNF's
deployment could occur rapidly: "We will wait until the MNF
is deployed in a few days."

--------------------------------------------- ----------
GILAD SAYS SAUDI ARABIA, GULF STATES DETERMINED TO HELP
--------------------------------------------- ----------

5. (C) Gilad claimed that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States
are determined to counter the in-flow of Iranian funds to
reconstruct Lebanon by sending their own reconstruction funds
to the Government of Lebanon (GOL). He expressed concern,
however, that the funds might be sent through Swiss banks --
in which case, he claimed, they might be diverted -- and that
they might also arrive late: "The problem with the Gulf
States is that there is a gap between understanding and
implementation." He observed that Hizballah is giving
financial assistance directly to the Shiite population from
the affected areas. Any funds coming from the GOL will be
coming from Sunnis, he noted. "This will also complicate
getting assistance to needy Shiite victims. In this case,
Iran has the advantage."

6. (C) The Charge pressed again, urging Israel not to "cede
the field." Gilad responded that Israel should be able to
re-open BIA within 20 hours. He said that Saudi Arabia is
ready to begin reconstruction, and that the IDF is
facilitating visits by Saudi representatives to Beirut.
Gilad nevertheless cautioned that the Saudis are Sunnis, and
the Shiites will not likely welcome their offers of
assistance.

--------------------------------------------- ----
GILAD PREDICTS HIZBALLAH WILL HELP IDF WITHDRAWAL
--------------------------------------------- ----

7. (C) Responding to the Charge's question about IDF
withdrawal, Gilad said he predicts that Hizballah will reach
a compromise with the GOL to facilitate IDF withdrawal from
Lebanon. The compromise, he said, will be done in such a way
as to permit "no visible showing of arms" by Hizballah in
southern Lebanon. This, he claimed, was a modus operandi
that former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat used successfully in
the past. Hizballah, Gilad asserted, has no intention of
disarming. Gilad said that Hizballah is not interested in a
confrontation with the GOL: "It will seek a compromise with
the GOL so as to stay a part of it. It wants legitimacy."
Gilad said that Israel agrees with the U.S. that "most of the
GOL" should be strengthened.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
ISRAEL'S EXPECTATIONS OF THE UN SYG'S CEASEFIRE REPORT
--------------------------------------------- ---------

8. (C) Responding to the Charge's question about what Israel
expects from the UN Secretary General's (UN SYG) upcoming
report on the ceasefire, Gilad said that Israel would want to
hear the UN SYG say that kidnapped Israeli soldiers should be
released in accordance with UNSCR 1701. He acknowledged that
the issue is not covered in any of the UNSCR's operative
paragraphs, but asserted that it must be carried out --
through the GOL.

9. (C) Gilad said Israel expects that the UN SYG will also
address the Shebaa Farms issue. He suggested that Israel
would not welcome this, and would come up with a "creative
response." Regarding potential violations of the ceasefire,
Gilad said that Israel would want a trilateral mechanism to
monitor and report such violations: "They are important
matters."

-------------------------------------
GAZA SOURCE OF CONTINUING FRUSTRATION
-------------------------------------

10. (C) Turning to Gaza, Gilad labeled it a source of
continuing, real frustration for Israel. He noted that
Defense Minister Peretz had ordered the opening of the
crossing between Egypt and Gaza at Rafah against the wishes
of the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and the IDF, which fear
that any opening will allow terrorists to be smuggled across
the border. Gilad claimed that some terrorists did attempt
to enter Gaza, were "politely detained" by the Palestinian
Authority, and then released. He also claimed that a
"prominent terrorist" succeeded in leaving Gaza, and said
these kinds of exits were necessary so that the Palestinian
Authority can consolidate power. Gilad said that the PA is
suffering significant internal problems: "Dahlan is against
Abu Mazen, and Abu Mazen is still abroad." He said that
Israel would welcome the "reconstruction of the PA" by Abu
Mazen and the Presidential Guard, if it were feasible: "A
unity government, on the other hand, is problematic. The
problem is that Abu Mazen is alone. The younger generation
needs leadership. Even though Hamas is incapable of ruling
and chaos prevails, Hamas is still popular."

-----------------------------------
ISRAEL KEEPING A CLOSE EYE ON SYRIA
-----------------------------------

11. (C) Gilad noted that the number of Kassam rocket launches
from Gaza into green-line Israel has decreased, but
attributed this to vigilance and operational successes on the
part of the Israeli security services. He said that it is
important that kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is
released, but lamented that the decision would probably have
to be made in Damascus. Gilad said that Syrian President
Assad is looking smug and feeling content, and predicted that
Syria will threaten Israel about the Golan Heights soon. He
said that the alert level of the Syrian army was
unprecedented since the Yom Kippur War, but added that
Israeli "takes it coolly."

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