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TFLE01: LARSEN TO PROPOSE HANDOVER OF ISRAELI SOLDIERS TO GOL; JUMBLATT AND HAMADEH CONCUR



id: 71556
date: 7/17/2006 11:49
refid: 06BEIRUT2403
origin: Embassy Beirut
classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
destination: 06BEIRUT2403
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4660
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 002403

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/WERNER/SINGH/HARDING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/17/2016
TAGS: IS, LE, MOPS, PGOV, PREL, PTER, SY
SUBJECT: TFLE01: LARSEN TO PROPOSE HANDOVER OF ISRAELI
SOLDIERS TO GOL; JUMBLATT AND HAMADEH CONCUR

Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman. Reason: Section 1.4 (d).

SUMMARY
--------

1. (C/NF) On July 16, the Ambassador and econoff had a late
night meeting with UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen and UNSYG
Personal Representative to Lebanon Geir Pederson. Larsen
showed a draft proposal to the Ambassador, which Larsen said
that he was drawing from orally but not providing to GOL
officials. It started with calling for Hizballah to transfer
custody of the two Israeli soldiers it is holding to the GOL
under the auspices of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and then
transfer them to Israel. This would be followed by a
multi-step plan that would result in a cease-fire, a buffer
zone in southern Lebanon policed by the Lebanese military,
and a UNSC resolution calling for the full implementation of
UNSC 1559. Larsen did not expect Hizballah to accept the
proposal but its rejection would paint it in a corner.
Larsen and Pederson met with Siniora and Speaker Berri that
day, and they seemed open to the idea. Mid-way through the
meeting, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, Telecoms Minister
Marwan Hamadeh, and Information Minister Ghazi Aridi arrived
unannounced. Jumblatt liked Larsen's idea. While expressing
deep concern about some of the Israeli targetting, Jumblatt
and Hamadeh expressed their hope that Israel would continue
its military operations until Hizballah's military
infrastructure was seriously damaged even if it meant a
ground invasion into southern Lebanon. Jumblatt said that
publicly he must call for a cease-fire, but he saw the
fighting as an opportunity to defeat Hizballah. After
Jumblatt and company departed, Larsen said he agreed that an
Israeli invasion might be positive. Pederson added that
Hizballah called him several times on July 16, and seemed
desperate for mediation. End summary.

LARSEN SHARES DRAFT
PLAN WITH AMBASSADOR
--------------------

2. (C/NF) On July 16, the Ambassador and econoff met UN
envoy Terje Roed-Larsen and UNSYG Personal Representative to
Lebanon Geir Pederson at Larsen's suite at the Phoenicia
Hotel. Pederson excused himself early to return to the other
part of the UN delegation (Ambassadors Nambiar and Ambassador
De Sota) so as to not arouse suspicion about Larsen-U.S.
collusion. Meanwhile, Larsen showed the Ambassador a draft
plan to de-escalate the fighting in Lebanon step by step. He
made it clear that he would not leave a copy of the draft
with the Lebanese but would draw from its ideas in his
discussions. While Larsen did not allow us to keep a copy,
we took notes. Its main elements follow:

Element One: Ask the Prime Minister and Speaker to support a
statement by the UN on July 17 to call for Hizballah to hand
over the two Israeli soldiers it is holding to the custody of
the GOL under the auspices of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
The Red Cross will be allowed to visit the soldiers. Next,
an understanding between Israel and Lebanon with the
following conditions: a) transfer of the two Israeli soldiers
to Israel, and Israel releases the two Lebanese citizens
still in its prisons, followed by a non-mandatory "lull" in
the fighting, b) creation of a buffer zone to extend 20 km
north of the Blue Line, c) the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)
deploy into the buffer zone, and d) Siniora sends a letter to
the SYG and UNSC stating that the GOL, in spite of its
reservations, will respect the Blue Line in its entirety
until agreements are made.

Element Two: The UNSC passes a resolution with the following
attributes: a) condemns Hizballah's violation of the Blue
Line, b) calls for an immediate and safe return of the two
Israeli soldiers, c) deplores the lack of progress in
implementing UNSC 1559, d) condemns the targeting of civilian
infrastructure, e) deplores loss of civilian life and reminds
Israel of its responsibility to protect civilians, f)
deplores the disproportionate use of force by Israel, g)
calls for immediate cessation of military operations and the
full implementation of UNSC 1559, and h) reminds neighboring
states of their obligation not to interfere in Lebanon's
affairs.

Mechanisms: The models under consideration include three
options: a) a council of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, U.S.,
France, Britain, Russia, and the EU, or b) option A with the

BEIRUT 00002403 002 OF 003

addition of pro-Syria states like Iran and Qatar, or c) a
council of neutral countries like Switzerland, New Zealand,
and Norway. Ideally, Israel and Lebanon could sit on the
council, but this is unlikely to happen.

Comprehensive Deal: Israel ceases all military operations
and withdraws all its forces from Lebanese territory. The
GOL deploys the LAF to southern Lebanon and ensures that no
"armed elements" attack Israel. The LAF deployment to the
south must have enough forces to "maintain respect along the
Blue Line." UNIFIL would verify compliance.

Follow-up: The GOL, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Arab League
organize a Taif II conference. The Arab League announces
that it sanctions a Taif II. Israel returns to the
conditions of the 1949 armistice agreement with Lebanon.

3, (C/NF) Larsen explained that he and Pederson had met
with Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri and Prime Minister
Fouad Siniora on July 16 and received a positive response
from Siniora and a non-negative response from Berri for the
basic concepts. He interpreted Berri's lack of negativity as
quiet interest restrained by the need to keep his
constituency happy. Larsen said that he knew that Berri was
planning to meet with Hizballah Secretary General Hassan
Nasrallah on the night of July 16. Berri was focused on
"grabbing the opportunity" now or else the situation will
spiral out of control, according Larsen. Larsen said that he
had an excellent brainstorming session with Siniora regarding
his draft proposal. Larsen said that his mediation will
focus only on Siniora and Berri in order to avoid confusing
the matter by including the "naive-ists" Michel Aoun and Saad
Hariri. Larsen planned to meet with Berri and Siniora on
July 17.

4. (C/NF) Larsen continued that he was working to derail
Javier Solona's efforts. "Solona is an embarrassment."
Larsen explained that Berri had told him that Solona had
brought a German Ambassador with him with the intention of
hostage negotiations like those that freed Elhian Tannebaum
and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers in 2004 in exchange
for hundreds of Arab prisoners. Siniora was equally
skeptical. The Ambassador called Adviser to the Prime
Minister Mohammad Chattah, who confirmed that Siniora had
told Solona that his initiative was dead in the water.

SETTING A TRAP FOR HIZBALLAH;
JUMBLATT AND HAMADEH AGREE
----------------------------

5. (C/NF) Larsen agreed that Hizballah would most likely
reject his plan. This would be not be a problem because then
the Arab countries, possibly including Qatar, would be
pressured to come on board. Hizballah would look like the
party that is denying an opportunity for a cease-fire.

6. (C/NF) Mid-way through the meeting three visitors
arrived at Larsen's room unannounced. Druze leader Walid
Jumblatt, Minister of Telecommunications Marwan Hamadeh, and
Minister of Information Ghazi Aridi entered the room in good
humor and indulged in generous orders to room service with
the others present. The three Lebanese politicians reacted
positively to Larsen's proposal to call for a transfer of the
Israeli soldiers to the GOL. They said it would be best for
Larsen to hold his press conference at 1500 hrs. local on
July 17 before the cabinet is scheduled to meet at 1700 hrs.
local. This would give momentum to the proposal and an
opportunity for the cabinet to endorse it. Hamadeh assessed
that Hizballah would be a loser either way. If Hizballah
rejected the Larsen proposal, then it would be blamed for the
continued destruction of Lebanon. If Hizballah accepted,
then March 14 could say what did Hizballah bring all this
destruction to Lebanon for, if to just return the Israeli
soldiers.

INVADE MY COUNTRY
-----------------

7. (C/NF) Over a glass of red wine, a large bottle of vodka
(the quality of which sparked a long exchange between
Jumblatt and the startled room service waiter), and three
bottles of Corona beer, Jumblatt gave a briefing on the
thinking of the March 14 coalition which had met that
evening. Jumblatt noted the heavy destruction of Lebanese
infrastructure but bemoaned the irony that Hizballah's

BEIRUT 00002403 003 OF 003

military infrastructure had not been seriously touched.
Jumblatt explained that although March 14 must call for a
cease-fire in public, it is hoping that Israel continues its
military operations until it destroys Hizballah's military
capabilities. "If there is a cease-fire now, Hizballah
wins," said Jumblatt. "We don't want it to stop," Hamadeh
chimed in. Hizballah has been stockpiling arms for years and
its arsenal is well-hidden and protected somewhere in the
Biqa Valley. Jumblatt marveled at the cleverness of the
Iranians in supplying Hizballah with the anti-ship missile
that hit an Israeli gunboat.

8. (C/NF) Responding to Jumblatt's complain that Israel is
hitting targets that hurt the GOL while leaving Hizballah
strategically strong, the Ambassador asked Jumblatt what
Israel should do to cause serious damage to Hizballah.
Jumblatt replied that Israel is still in the mindset of
fighting classic battles with Arab armies. "You can't win
this kind of war with zero dead," he said. Jumblatt finally
said what he meant; Israel will have to invade southern
Lebanon. Israel must be careful to avoid massacres, but it
should clear Hizballah out of southern Lebanon. Then the LAF
can replace the IDF once a cease-fire is reached. A defeat
of Hizballah by Israel would be a defeat of Syrian and
Iranian influence in Lebanon, Hamadeh added. For emphasis,
Jumblatt said that the only two outcomes are total defeat or
total success for Hizballah.

9. (C/NF) Hamadeh said that an Israeli invasion would give
Siniora more ammunition to deal with Hizballah's arms.
Jumblatt thought the crisis could end in an armistice
agreement like after the 1973 war. A buffer zone in the
south could then be created. However, Jumblatt added, Israel
should not bomb Syria because it would simply bring Syria
back into the Arab fold without damaging the regime in
Damascus. Weaken Syria by weakening Hizballah, he counseled;
don't make Syria a hero of the Arab world. Jumblatt made it
clear he approved with Israel's scrupulous avoidance of
direct military action against Syria.

INVASION ON THE TABLE
---------------------

10. (C/NF) After finishing their room service, Jumblatt and
company departed. Pederson, now back at the meeting said he
thought Israel might launch a ground incursion into southern
Lebanon. Larsen agreed, noting that much could be achieved
if Israel invades southern Lebanon. "No one wants the status
quo ante," said Larsen. Pederson sensed Hizballah was
getting nervous. "They called me several times today; they
seem desperate," Pederson said.

COMMENT
-------

11. (C/NF) Jumblatt's comments echoed those of other March
14 contacts. Like the Israelis, they see the status quo ante
as not an appealing destination. Thus, they also privately
share their belief that a cease-fire now would leave
Hizballah's capabilities largely intact, with Nasrallah
stronger and March 14 even weaker. But they fret that
Israel's stated aims of weakening Hizballah, while
theoretically attractive, is not in fact happening. Marwan
Hamadeh commented bitterly that al-Manar television is still
broadcasting, while infrastructure under "March 14" control,
like the fixed telephone network, has been seriously damaged.
FELTMAN

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