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July War Cables— Total Lebanese Sovereignty in South, Key to “Israel’s” Stability

July War Cables— Total Lebanese Sovereignty in South, Key to “Israel’s” Stability
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PM SINIORA UPBEAT ON CEASE-FIRE POSSIBILITIES


id: 73014
date: 7/29/2006 6:58
refid: 06BEIRUT2489
origin: Embassy Beirut
classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
destination:
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FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4814
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY


----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 002489
SIPDIS
NOFORN
SIPDIS
NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/SINGH/HARDING
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/28/2016
TAGS: IS, LE, MOPS, PGOV, PREL, PTER, SY
SUBJECT: TFLE01: PM SINIORA UPBEAT ON CEASE-FIRE
POSSIBILITIES

BEIRUT 00002489 001.3 OF 002
Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman. Reason: Section 1.4 (b).

SUMMARY
-------
1. (C/NF) In a July 28 meeting with the Ambassador, PM
Fouad Siniora was in buoyant spirits following what he saw as
a major political victory in last night's (July 27) meeting
of the Council of Ministers. Siniora said after several
hours of tense argument, he finally told the Council that
either they support his 7-point approach to cease-fire
negotiations, or he would stop negotiations. By a unanimous
vote, the Ministers -- including those allied with Hizballah
-- voted to fully support Siniora. Concerning potential
roadblocks with the Israelis, Siniora said he realized his
approach regarding the "UN International Force" (which as
written appears to be merely a strengthened UNIFIL) was a
long way from GOI's position, but he insisted that he had
"gone to the brink." Siniora maintained that sufficient
leeway existed in his 7-point language for the UN Security
Council to create a capable stabilization force with an
effective mandate, but he could not explicitly spell it out
prior to a cease-fire understanding. He also understood the
GOI would have difficulty with the stipulation that the
international force would be restricted to south Lebanon --
and therefore unable to prevent the resupply of weaponry from
Syria. But again, the Prime Minister maintained that at this
stage of discussions, it was as far as he could go without
splitting his government. End summary.

2. (SBU) The meeting on July 28 with the Ambassador and
poloff took place against a backdrop of other political
developments in Lebanon. Speaker Nabih Berri, who on July 27
ruled out any international force, backtracked and stressed
in an interview on Al Jezeera that PM Siniora, as head of
government, represented all Lebanese and he fully supported
the approach the Prime Minister was taking in his
discussions. Meanwhile, Hizballah MP Hassan Fadlallah
reportedly told LBC television that Hizballah did not object
to the government's authority throughout Lebanon.

A KEY POLITICAL VICTORY
-----------------------
3. (C/NF) PM Siniora recounted that Thursday evening's
Cabinet meeting was long, difficult, but ultimately
rewarding, both in immediate terms and possibly, for longer
timeframe objectives. Siniora said winning unanimous
authorization to negotiate on the basis of his Rome statement
required him to go to the edge -- and implied that it had
been a close call. But with the successful Cabinet vote in
his pocket, he can now enter into serious discussions on the
final form of the cease-fire. More than that, Siniora stated
that the cease-fire was now within reach, and would be
durable and comprehensive.

4. (C/NF) The Prime Minster went through the 7 points he
presented in Rome. He admitted the first paragraph, which
proposed an "undertaking" to release prisoners on both sides
through the offices of the ICRC, was not a breakthrough and
most likely unacceptable in any form to Israel, but he felt
that Hizballah was becoming more pliant on the matter. He
believed the second point, the return of the IDF behind the
Blue Line, was almost a given and should not prove difficult
for the GOI to accept. Similarly, he did not believe the
landmine maps were a problem.

5. (C/NF) Siniora said he understood the complications of
the third point, dealing with the transfer of Shebaa Farms to
UN jurisdiction until border delineation and Lebanese
sovereignty were settled, particularly due to the fact that
the UN still regarded Shebaa as Syrian territory. Siniora
also recognized that the GOI did not want to concede the one
issue that Hizballah had since 2000 used as one of its main
reasons to exist. But Siniora said that by initially
transferring Shebaa to UN jurisdiction, it was putting
distance between the lightning rod issue and Hizballah.
Siniora underscored that assembling a successful package
requires something on Shebaa Farms.

6. (C/NF) The criticality of the fourth point - the
government's authority over all of Lebanon as exercised
through its own "legitimate armed forces" -- was emphasized.
Siniora said he hoped GOI would recognize that this was the
key to its own security, in that it would force Hizballah
BEIRUT 00002489 002.3 OF 002
from its sanctuary and base. And he pointed out that its
implementation on the basis of Ta'if made it far more likely
to succeed. Responding to the Ambassador's expressions of
skepticism about the GOL's abilities, he acknowledged the LAF
was presently not capable of extending its control over the
south by itself, but with the deployment of the UN
international force (fifth point) at the time of the
cease-fire, the constitutional responsibility of the LAF
could be accomplished in phases. Siniora noted that his
language was preferable to any formula by which only a
"buffer zone" was created in southern Lebanon, as his
language was applicable across the whole country.

7. (C/NF) Siniora realized the phrasing of his statement
regarding the UN international force would be unacceptable to
GOI in two ways: its limited operating area, and the
connotation that the Government of Lebanon was simply
proposing a UNIFIL on steroids. To counter this argument,
the Prime Minister noted that his statement included the
words "...supplemented and enhanced in numbers, equipment,
mandate, and scope of operation." Siniora maintained that
such wording would allow the UN Security Council to basically
completely overhaul the peacekeeping force and authorize it
to be fully capable of carrying out its objectives of
security, stabilization, and reconstruction. "You have to
understand," Siniora said, "I'm going as far as I possibly
can."

8. (C/NF) Siniora informed the Ambassador that at this
point "he could offer no more." He stated that Hizballah,
through its intermediaries (Nabih Berri and the government's
Shia Ministers) kept asking what his language meant, but he
expressed confidence that once the Security Council created
the force, Hizballah would have make the crucial choice:
accept its deployment or reveal itself for what it is.

9. (C/NF) According to Siniora, the sixth point dealing
with mutual acceptance of the Armistice Agreement of 1949
should pose no serious problem to GOI, but said he did
realize its lack of clarity on a full resolution of
bi-lateral relations was less than optimum. But here the
Prime Minister emphasized that the cease-fire must not be
seen as leading to a full peace treaty between Lebanon and
Israel. "We simply are not there yet," he remarked, but he
did state his belief that the cease-fire could open many
regional opportunities. As he has before, he urged that the
Armistice Agreement be used as the "destination point."

10. (C/NF) Concerning his final point on international
assistance to help rebuild Lebanon, he said its inclusion was
very important in that reconstruction would help restore
stability and reduce confessional tensions.

COMMENT
-------
11. (C/NF) Prime Minister Siniora was noticeably more
positive that at any time since hostilities began on July 12.
The Prime Minister acted like he sees the end in sight and
believes his Rome statement -- and the success at finally
achieving consensus in his motley Council of Ministers --
provides the basis for a just and durable solution. He is
anticipating his next meeting with SecState and is hopeful
that GOI sees what he believes is the key to its own
security. End comment.

FELTMAN
=======================CABLE ENDS============================

Source: Al Akhbar Newspaper

 


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