DE RUEHJM #2203 3411335
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 071335Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6883
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC C O N F I D E N T I A L JERUSALEM 002203
NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE AND IPA; NSC FOR SHAPIRO/KUMAR; JOINT
STAFF FOR LTGEN SELVA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/07/2019
SUBJECT: PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY MINISTER OF INTERIOR
CONCERNED ABOUT SETTLER VIOLENCE, PRISONER RELEASES
REF: JERUSALEM 2130
Classified By: Consul General Daniel Rubinstein
for reasons 1.4 (b,d).
1. (C) Summary: Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister of the
Interior Said Abu Ali expressed concern about what he called
a "troubled and tense" political climate. He predicted, "a
resurgence of settler attacks on Palestinians" in the West
Bank, and noted that the PA had little control over these
altercations, which generally occurred in IDF-controlled Area
C. Abu Ali also expressed concern about a possible GOI
release of Palestinian prisoners, which, he argued, would
enhance the credibility of Hamas and damage that of the PA.
2. (C) In a December 2 meeting in Ramallah, Abu Ali
dismissed the moratorium on new West Bank settlement
construction announced by the GOI on November 25 (Reftel) as
"publicity," saying that the Israeli government was
"marketing" the moratorium through deployment of inspectors
to monitor building units. He noted that the PA was
increasingly concerned about settler-Palestinian violence,
arguing, "settler actions have escalated over the past year."
"We've witnessed an increase in incidents following the
freeze that Netanyahu announced," Abu Ali continued, and
these are said to be in reaction to the announcement. This
constitutes a violation of public order in the West Bank."
3. (SBU) Note: According to local press and NGO sources,
the most significant settler-Palestinian violence since the
moratorium announcement took place south of Nablus on
November 28-30, when settlers from the Yitzhar outpost
repeatedly entered the Palestinian village of Burin,
assaulted residents, and caused property damage, including
attempted arson. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) intervened to
halt the clashes. Yitzhar, an outpost occupied by "hilltop
youth" and considered illegal by the GOI, is a frequent site
of settler-Palestinian violence, most recently during the
Palestinian olive harvest. End Note.
4. (C) Abu Ali said that the PA's ability to prevent and
contain settler-Palestinian violence was limited, noting that
most incidents occurred in Israeli-controlled Area C
territory, particularly public roads and intersections
adjacent to Israeli settlements. In these areas, he noted,
the PA has no civil or security control. "The IDF could take
on some of this," he said, "but it claims no legal mandate to
deal with settlers. Still, it is nevertheless the
responsibility of the (Israeli) army to protect civilians in
occupied territory. So the security issue is one for the
Israeli government and the IDF."
5. (C) Abu Ali added that several days previously, the IDF
had contacted PA security officials and asked for reports on
settler actions against Palestinians, as part of an IDF
monitoring scheme. "This is a valuable step," Abu Ali said,
"that they will coordinate with us to limit the threat."
Still, he said, he remained worried. "The political
atmosphere is troubled and tense," he explained. He also
noted that he planned to meet soon with PA security service
chiefs to discuss risks posed by any large-scale GOI release
of prisoners to Hamas in return for the release of kidnapped
IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
6. (C) Abu Ali argued that such a release would "boost
Hamas in the West Bank -- this has already begun to happen in
a noticeable way. It strengthens those who oppose President
Abbas and the PA." He criticized "the message this sends to
extremists." which is that you get prisoners released in
return for hostages. The implication is: extremism gets
results, and negotiation doesn't." He anticipated little
GOI-PA coordination on the security implications of the
release, saying, "if the exchange happens, we'll be the last
to know the timing and the substance."
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