DE RUEHJM #2130/01 3292023
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 252023Z NOV 09
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6776
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 JERUSALEM 002130
NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE AND IPA; NSC FOR SHAPIRO/KUMAR; JOINT
STAFF FOR LTGEN SELVA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/25/2019
SUBJECT: PALESTINIAN OFFICIALS, ISRAELI SETTLERS CRITICIZE
GOI WEST BANK CONSTRUCTION MORATORIUM
Classified By: Consul General Daniel Rubinstein
for reasons 1.4 (b,d).
1. (C) Summary: In the build-up to Israeli Prime Minister
Netanyahu's early-evening November 25 address announcing a
ten-month moratorium on new West Bank settlement
construction, senior Palestinian Authority (PA) and
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) officials issued a
flurry of public statements labeling the upcoming GOI
proposal as an insufficient basis for a return to
negotiations. Following PM Netanyahu's televised remarks,
most reiterated their disappointment with the initiative,
focusing on the exclusion of East Jerusalem from the
construction freeze. Many said this move appeared to
pre-judge the outcome of final status negotiations. Some
anti-settlement NGO contacts voiced cautious optimism about
the outcome of the GOI decision, while others were caustic.
West Bank settler leaders were harshly critical of the
freeze, which they attributed to U.S. pressure. End Summary.
PLO, PA CONTACTS PREDICT DISAPPOINTMENT IN RUN-UP
2. (U) In response to a trickle of preliminary press
reports, PA and PLO interlocutors issued statements during
the afternoon of November 25 in anticipation of the GOI's
evening announcement of a ten-month moratorium on new
settlement construction in the West Bank. PA Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad, speaking from Ramallah, told wire services that
any settlement freeze must be accompanied by a halt to new
Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. "What has changed to
make something that was not acceptable a week or ten days ago
acceptable now?" he asked. "The exclusion of Jerusalem is a
very serious problem for us." Fayyad also told reporters,
"We are not looking for peace talks to resume for the sake of
it. We want to see talks strong enough and capable enough to
deliver the goods."
3. (U) From Latin America, where President Abbas is
traveling, PA Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told
the international press that "any resumption of negotiations
must be based on total cessation of settlement activities in
the West Bank and East Jerusalem," and that "any arrangement
that does not include Jerusalem is unacceptable." PLO chief
negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed the proposed moratorium would
allow the construction of 3,000 new settlement units in the
next ten months, and called it a "dangerous political step."
Erekat argued that the GOI must instead "implement its
obligations under the Roadmap and stop the building of
settlements, including building in East Jerusalem, and
including natural growth," adding that the GOI "must commit
itself to resuming peace talks from the point at which talks
stopped in December 2008."
4. (C) PLO Executive Committee (EC) Chair Yasir Abd Rabbo
called a special EC meeting at his Ramallah office to discuss
the impending GOI announcement. PLO EC members Saleh Rafat
and Hana Amireh told Post that most attendees concluded that
the offer did not constitute a reason to restart
negotiations. They noted that Abd Rabbo told PLO EC members
that the PLO needed to appreciate the sensitivity of
relations between the USG and GOI, and "leave room" for the
USG to negotiate. Regardless, they said, the PLO EC resolved
to issue a statement that the Israeli announcement was
insufficient, that the USG should require the GOI to halt
settlement in all areas occupied in 1967, including East
Jerusalem, and that the PLO refused to resume negotiations.
Abd Rabbo has scheduled a press conference for 11:30 a.m.
local time on November 26.
SETTLER LEADERS CRITICIZE MOVE IN ADVANCE, AFTERWARDS
5. (U) Senior settler leaders were equally vocal in their
opposition to the anticipated announcement ahead of Prime
Minister Netanyahu's televised press conference. Dani Dayan,
chair of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of West
Bank settlement municipal councils, told Israeli reporters,
"This represents a total collapse of the policy of the
Netanyahu government. It was elected on a platform of
renewing the development of the Jewish communities of Judea
and Samaria. As soon as it took office, it started to put
difficulties and constraints on our communities. Now it has
JERUSALEM 00002130 002 OF 003
reached the stage of drying them out."
6. (C) Netanyahu's speech appeared to do little to calm the
anger of Post's contacts in the West Bank settler community.
Pinchas Wallerstein, General Director of the Yesha General
Council, told Post following the broadcast, "Netanyahu did
not tell the Yesha Council, and they will stand against it.
We're convening in the morning to figure out what the next
steps of action are." Hebron community leader David Wilder
told Post, "We've had no concessions from the Arabs. They're
still shooting rockets from Gaza. The tremendous pressure on
us from Obama's administration is misplaced, and Netanyahu's
caving in is embarrassing and disgusting. Negotiations with
the Arabs can only be catastrophic. I don't think there is
anything to negotiate about. All the land is Israel."
SETTLEMENT OBSERVERS DIVIDED
7. (C) Post contacts in the anti-settlement NGO and
academic communities were divided in their view of the GOI
and USG statements. Dror Etkes of Israeli legal assistance
NGO Yesh Din told Post shortly after the broadcast of
Netanyahu's statements that, "This is a joke, a mockery. Not
(stopping construction in) Jerusalem, and not (stopping)
natural growth, not (stopping) whatever was already started
-- where is the restraint? For the Palestinians, it's not
going to be enough; for the settlers, not enough." He
continued, "the Israelis want the Palestinians to stop
playing, and eventually, they did. I think the Palestinians
shouldn't go back to negotiations. What do (negotiations)
have to offer?"
8. (C) Israeli journalist, historian, and peace activist
Gershom Gorenberg expressed skepticism about the
announcement's impact on the ground. "On the one hand,"
Gorenberg said, "it shows that Bibi is worried about
relations with the U.S., and is responding to pressure. On
the other, it's more spin than reality. As long as it
doesn't apply to Jerusalem and projects already under
construction, it will have minimal effect on settlement
growth. Meanwhile, it will infuriate those to Bibi's right.
It takes me back to the Wye Agreement."
9. (C) Hagit Ofran of anti-settlement NGO Peace Now said,
"We think it is 'unprecedented' -- a very positive
development, and we hope that it will be conducive to the
renewal of talks. However, this declaration will be measured
by deeds. Not including Jerusalem is a big problem, and
brings a question mark. (The GOI) saying that after ten
months we will resume building is a problem -- they should
say we will consider not rebuilding, after ten months. The
Palestinians and Israelis still have many reasons not to
believe, but we should focus on the positives. And we are
positive. We say that this is historical, but we still have
JERUSALEM PALESTINIAN LEADER BEMOANS EXCLUSION OF THE CITY
10. (C) Former PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Hatem
Abdel Qader told Post later on November 25 that there could
be no peace process without a cessation of Israeli building
in East Jerusalem. He argued, "Abu Mazen cannot be seen as
having condoned a 'settlement freeze' that partially freezes
settlement in the West Bank and allows and condones
settlement building in East Jerusalem. That would be
political suicide for him, in the true sense of the
expression." Focusing on Netanyahu's labeling of the West
Bank as "Judea and Samaria" and his reference to Jerusalem as
the "eternal capital of Israel," Abdel Qader said, "this is a
true declaration of war and the end of the peace process for
a long time to come."
WEST BANK FATAH LEADERS EQUALLY FOCUSED ON EAST JERUSALEM
11. (C) Senior and mid-level Fatah officials raised with
Post the centrality of East Jerusalem to any moratorium.
Fatah "Young Guard" leader Qaddura Faris told Post, "the
danger in this is, no Palestinian official can accept
settlement building in East Jerusalem. This means in
practice that we accept the pre-empting of final status
negotiations over the status of East Jerusalem before they
even start." Faris continued, "If the U.S. were to recognize
the conclusion that East Jerusalem would eventually serve as
the capital of Palestine, then this partial deal could be
JERUSALEM 00002130 003 OF 003
entertained. But as this is not attainable, it is impossible
for the Palestinians to accept this (proposal). This is an
official Israeli announcement ending the bilateral process of
12. (C) Palestinian Legislative Council (from Fatah) member
Husam Khader asserted to Post that, "the Israeli announcement
is one problem. But the U.S. position is the real disaster.
The U.S. has practically accepted the Israeli position that
East Jerusalem is not negotiable. This means the U.S. has
given up its long-standing policy on Jerusalem." Khader said
he expected Abu Mazen to "refuse such a deal," arguing that
"this shows there is no point to pursuing negotiations as a
path to end the conflict at the current stage," and that the
GOI proposal "does not give Abu Mazen the minimum he needs to
stand in front of the Palestinian people."
13. (C) Palestine National Council (PNC) member Fathi
al-Ardat echoed Abdel Qader's complaint that Netanyahu had
referred to the West Bank as "Judea and Samaria," and
predicted that the GOI would resume construction immediately
following the end of the moratorium in ten months' time. He
was also critical of what he termed the unsatisfactory USG
response, alleging that there was insufficient attention paid
by the U.S. to the core issues. Al-Ardat concluded that the
Israeli government had managed to impose its will on the U.S.
and the international community. It wants to determine the
end game on Jerusalem before the negotiations even start."
PLO LEADERSHIP CITES QUARTET, INTERNATIONAL LAW
14. (C) Late in the evening on November 25, PLO EC member
Saleh Rafat told Post that "this Israeli announcement puts
the Palestinians who believe in negotiations into deep
crisis." He argued, "we have no choice but to conduct a
world-wide campaign to show that the Israeli and U.S.
positions on this issue don't reflect the Quartet
(principles) and the international community's position. The
Palestinian leadership is in a position that it must clarify
by rejecting the Israeli deal and the U.S. acceptance of it."
Rafat remarked, "now that I have heard the ideological
statements made by Netanyahu, I can say that no Arab country
and no Palestinian official can accept these provocative
15. (U) Following the completion of Netanyahu's and Senator
Mitchell's remarks, PLO chief negotiator Erekat issued a
final statement for the day, saying "there is nothing new in
Netanyahu's speech. His speech is very clear -- he has
indicated he will continue settlement-building in Jerusalem
and in the West Bank, and that settlement-building in
Jerusalem will be more than it ever was
before...settlement-building is illegitimate and illegal in
all of its forms, it violates international law, and it
cannot be allowed to continue." He concluded, "Netanyahu's
speech did not present a formula to resume final status talks
-- and it did not respond to the minimal obligations of
Israel under the Roadmap."
16. (C) Comment: The onset of the Muslim holiday of Eid
al-Adha may serve to take some steam out of the negative
reactions from Palestinians. The holiday will distract
attention from the announcement, and media focus will
decrease as Palestinian newspapers will only be published on
the first day of the Eid (Thursday).
This website hosts an archive of all 251,287 US Embassy diplomatic cables that were released by WikiLeaks between November 28, 2010 and September 2, 2011.
While the cables are generally available at http://wikileaks.org/cablegate.html
, we find it hard to search or even navigate the site to read the cables.
We have made all 251,287 cables available here at Dazzlepod with the hope to make it easier for readers to browse, search, share and discuss about the released cables.
The cables are periodically selected and posted to our Twitter page
and Facebook page
for readers to review them.
For comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com