OLMERT TELLS CODEL SPECTER IT WILL BE "AMERICA'S FAILURE" IF UNIFIL IS NOT SUCCESSFUL

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id: 75619
date: 8/21/2006 16:31
refid: 06TELAVIV3317
origin: Embassy Tel Aviv
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination:
header:
null
Carol X Weakley 08/22/2006 03:30:31 PM From DB/Inbox: Carol X Weakley

Cable
Text:

C O N F I D E N T I A L TEL AVIV 03317

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

DISSEMINATION: POL
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: AMB:RJONES
DRAFTED: EXEC:SISKAL
CLEARED: DCM:GCRETZ, POL: MKEAYS

VZCZCTVI801
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DE RUEHTV #3317/01 2331631
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
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FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5776
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0755

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 003317

SIPDIS

CODEL

STATE FOR DEFENSE FOR OSD ISRAEL DESK OFFICER (ANDERSON),
NSC FOR LOGERFO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2016
TAGS: PREL, PTER, MOPS, LE, SY, IS, KPAL, KWBG
SUBJECT: OLMERT TELLS CODEL SPECTER IT WILL BE "AMERICA'S
FAILURE" IF UNIFIL IS NOT SUCCESSFUL.

Classified By: Ambassador Richard H. Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

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

1. (C) Israeli Prime Minister Olmert stressed to U.S Senator
Arlen Specter August 20 that the robust international force
called for in UNSCR 1701 is an American concept and that the
United States would bear responsibility should it fail to
materialize and fighting resume between Israel and Hizballah.
Olmert also said the "evil axis" of
Iran/Syria/Hizballah/Hamas presents a more serious and
immediate threat than even Israel had realized, and called on
the international community to take on Iran. Olmert was not
enthusiastic about the possibility of talks with Syria. END
SUMMARY.

-----------------------------------------
Iran Eager to Assist a Weakened Hizballah
-----------------------------------------

2. (C) In a meeting with CODEL Specter and the Ambassador, PM
Olmert updated Specter on the results of Israel's conflict
with Hizballah, telling him that the IDF had won every
engagement on the ground and seriously weakened Hizballah.
Moreover, it had pushed Hizballah back away from the border,
but Hizballah's "amazing" network of underground
fortifications had slowed its efforts considerably. While
Hizballah,s losses numbered between 600-800 fighters, Olmert
said IDF losses were much fewer and primarily as a result of
missile attacks. Although he had acknowledged that the
potential threat from Iranian rockets remains a major
problem, Olmert claimed that Israel had enjoyed excellent
success versus Hizballah,s medium and long -range rocket
launchers. The IDF had developed a rapid response system
which could verify a launch within four seconds and direct
return fire against the launches in well under a minute. The
system proved so effective that Hizballah never used the same
launcher twice. Regarding the widely-reported August 20
commando raid, Olmert said the GOI had information on
possible arms smuggling and takes such threats seriously,
adding that he had warned Secretary Rice in talks leading up
to UNSCR that the GOI would attack perceived instances of
smuggling.

3. (C) Olmert expressed concern regarding Iran, explaining
that it had trained Hizballah well and provided it
"first-class8 equipment from Russia and China. Specter told
Olmert that during a recent trip to Beijing, Specter had
received no answer from the Chinese when he asked them if
they would stop selling arms to Iran. Olmert replied that
the GOI maintains good relations with China, but that the GOI
has no illusions regarding Chinese political persuasions.

4. (C) Asked by Specter if it was frustrating for the
Israelis not to be able to attack Iran, Olmert replied that
Iran was an international problem and called on the
international community to take the lead in dealing with it.
Time is limited and the next two years would be crucial, he
said, adding that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, Israel,s
existence would be on the line. Lamenting Iran,s large
physical size and population compared to Israel, Olmert said
the GOI &is in no mood to play games with a guy like
Ahmadinejad8 who, he claimed, already has delivery vehicles
that could potentially reach Paris or London. Specter agreed
and referenced his own recent efforts to heighten awareness
of the Iranian threat, both in a speech on the floor of the
U.S. Senate and through a letter to USUN Permanent
Representative Ambassador John Bolton. He also said he would
see the Secretary regarding Iran when he returned.

--------------------
&1701 is Your Doing8
--------------------

5. (C) Regarding the cessation of hostilities and its chances
for success, Olmert said that despite Nasrallah's bravado,
Hizballah had not fired on Israel since August 14, &yet.8
Olmert saw the current lull in activity as proof that Israel
had weakened the terrorist group. Olmert, nevertheless,
questioned how long the calm could last, adding that the GOI
is waiting for the arrival of a &robust and effective8
international force as &promised8 by Secretary Rice and set
forth in UNSCR 1701. &I rely on her and President Bush,8
Olmert said. &We have no better friends.8 He added that
UNSCR 1701 must be fully implemented, and that the United
States would bear the responsibility for the collapse of the
ceasefire since UNSCR 1701 is &your doing.8 Olmert
elaborated that the international force was the main reason
why he agreed to the ceasefire, telling Israelis, &Why send
our people to die when an international force can do the
job?8 (Note: Olmert later repeated the point that the
&robust and effective8 international force is an American
concept and key to the success of UNSCR 1701, adding that
Israelis are already asking him where the force is. He added
that absent this international force, Israel will have to be
&more aggressive and impatient8 on dealing with Iran. End
note.)

------------------------------------
Hamas CONTROLLED BY MESHAAL IN SYRIA
------------------------------------
6. (C) Regarding the Palestinians, Olmert said the weakness
of Mahmud Abbas, Fatah party continues to be the major
problem, and added that Israel has no choice but to continue
its war against Hamas. He told Specter that the GOI would
continue to target Hamas leaders, specifically focusing on
those with links to terrorist activities. Khaled Meshaal
calls the shots from Damascus, Olmert said, adding that there
is no real chance for deals in such a situation. When asked
about prospects for a deal regarding a prisoner exchange for
captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Olmert said there had
been no progress with Hamas, and that the GOI will not deal
with their demands. In reference to Lebanon, Olmert added
that an exchange of POWs might be possible via the Government
of Lebanon or the United Nations, but added direct talks
between the GOI and Hizballah would be impossible.

7. (C) In response to Specter,s question regarding the
utility of former NSA Brent Scowcroft,s proposal that Israel
return to its 1967 borders, Olmert replied that the proposal
is "outdated" and that Hamas and Hizballah are not interested
in peace. He noted that 45 percent of Katyusha rocket
victims were Muslim Israeli Arabs. The PM added that
Hizballah leader Hasan Nasrallah had called on Arabs in Haifa
to leave &just like in 1948, when they (Arab leaders)
created the refugee problem.8 Hamas wants to push Israel
back to the 1967 borders and then resume fighting, Olmert
said.

-------------------------------------
Syria: No prospects for negotiations
-------------------------------------

8. (C) Turning to Syria, Specter noted that the GOI had been
close to agreement with Syria once before and asked about the
prospect of revived talks. Olmert discounted this prospect,
recalling that talks occurred when Hafez Assad was in power,
noting that he was smarter and more balanced than his
&immature8 son Bashar Assad.

9. (C) Senator Specter did not have an opportunity to clear
this cable before departing post.

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