TFLE01: AMINE GEMAYEL SAYS CEASE-FIRE SHOULD SECURE BORDER FIRST, PRISONERS AND SHEBAA FARMS COME LATER



id: 72252
date: 7/23/2006 9:37
refid: 06BEIRUT2443
origin: Embassy Beirut
classification: SECRET//NOFORN
destination:
header:
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OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
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FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4742
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCCENT MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 002443

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
NOFORN

NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/SINGH/HARDING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/21/2016
TAGS: IS, LE, MOPS, PGOV, PREL, PTER, SY
SUBJECT: TFLE01: AMINE GEMAYEL SAYS CEASE-FIRE SHOULD
SECURE BORDER FIRST, PRISONERS AND SHEBAA FARMS COME LATER

Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d
)

SUMMARY
-------

1. (S/NF) In a 7/21 meeting, Amine Gemayel, former President
of the Republic of Lebanon, told the Ambassador that
diplomatic efforts to solve the current conflict should focus
on securing a long term solution to the cyclical security
crises along the Lebanese-Israeli border, with any
discussions of prisoner exchanges and Shebaa Farms relegated
to secondary status. Gemayel believes that Hizballah knows
the current border status quo is untenable, and may soon be
amenable to a cease-fire. Gemayel thinks that Lebanon's
Sunni, Christian, Druze communities have all lost any
confidence in Hizballah as a responsible partner, and that
Lebanon's Shiite community is beginning to lose trust as in
Hizballah well. But Gemayel reserved his greatest
condemnation for Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader Michel
Aoun, whom he described as "irresponsible" and "insane,"
predicting Aoun would suffer personal disgrace and political
irrelevancy for his partnership of Hizballah. End summary.

THE VIEW FROM BIKFAYA
---------------------

2. (S/NF) On July 21, former President Amine Gemayel
received the Ambassador and emboff at his mountain home in
Bikfaya. Sitting on the president's terrace overlooking the
Maronite stronghold of Harissa, Gemayel told the Ambassador
that neither the Israelis nor Hizballah gave any indication
of being ready for a cease-fire. He said Hassan Nasrallah
seems particularly entrenched, and is fully aware that the
outcome of this campaign will determine the fate the
Hizballah-Iranian axis in the Levant and across the region.
Gemayel told the Ambassador that it would be a "disaster" for
Lebanon if Hizballah wins; Hizballah activists would take
complete control of Lebanon, and their Syrian and Iranian
allies would be emboldened across the Middle East. Any
reform initiatives, ranging from Beirut I to the prospects
for a UNIIIC tribunal to investigate the Hariri
assassination, "would be finished."

3. (S/NF) Gemayel said that Hassan Nasrallah had clearly
deceived all of Lebanon during the National Dialogue,
however, and that as a result, the Lebanese people are
starting to turn against him. Listing the different
communities his fingers, he said, "the Christians, the
Sunnis, the Druze, even the Shia" have had enough. When
faced with the devastation wrought by Israeli strikes,
Gemayel said that Lebanon's Shia are beginning to question
Hizballah's leadership and patronage as well, despite
Nasrallah's promise of "clean" money (a swipe at Hariri
wealth) to rebuild the south last week. Gemayel suggested
that as once a cease-fire is achieved, an independent Shia
political voice will quickly emerge, with many of the old
Hizballah stalwarts disillusioned by Hizballah's inability to
protect them from Israel's ferocious assault.

PROSPECTS FOR A CEASE-FIRE:
LONG TERM SECURITY IN THE SOUTH
-------------------------------

4. (S/NF) But as a caveat, Gemayel noted that Hizballah will
only lose support if it suffers substantial military losses
in its confrontation with Israel, and if the cease-fire
itself is arranged in a way that denies them a political
victory as well. As he discussed the likely points of a
cease-fire agreement, Gemayel mentioned a Hizballah-Israel
prisoner exchange and a final solution to Shebaa Farms. The
Ambassador noted that Israel not agree to a cease-fire if the
a priori conditions include rewarding Hizballah with a
prisoner exchange and an Israeli withdrawal from Shebaa
Farms.

5. (S/NF) Gemayel agreed, and responded that a new security
regime in south Lebanon with an expanded UNIFIL should be the
top priority, with a prisoner exchange and Shebaa Farms
offered to Hizballah as a reward for agreeing to a cease-fire
and pull back from the border. Gemayel suggested that the
international community and the U.N. should offer to

BEIRUT 00002443 002 OF 002

facilitate a resolution to the Farms' status, much as they
did with the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border after the 1991 Gulf War.
This way, he explained, not only could the rest of Lebanon
corner Hizballah by making their weapons an obstacle to
resolving the Shebaa Farms dispute, but by turning the issue
over to the U.N., they could minimize Syria's ability to
delay resolution as well.

6. (S/NF) Ultimately, however, Gemayel returned to the
importance of using this crisis to negotiate a durable
solution to the recurrent problems on Lebanon's southern
border. "We went through this 1949, 1967, 1969 with the
Cairo Agreement, 1982 and now today. No previous initiatives
have helped. Not (UNSCR) 425, or any of the other
resolutions." Gemayel said that full scale deployment of a
strong and capable LAF along the border was the only real
solution, and that the Lebanese people would need to show
exceptional unity and focus in order to achieve this. He
added that part of this unity would require that the Lebanese
and the international community allow Hizballah and Lebanon's
Shia community to "save face" through the cease-fire process
and reconstruction phase. "They will be a political
organization, and we should allow that," Gemayel said of
Hizballah. "But their military organization must come to an
end."

GEMAYEL'S REAL ENEMY?
---------------------

7. (C/NF) For all the concern he expressed regarding
Hizballah's military campaigns, however, President Gemayel
seemed to reserve his real ire for Michel Aoun, leader of the
Free Patriotic Movement. At several points during the one
hour meeting, Gemayel variously referred to Aoun as
"reckless," "sick," and "insane," adjectives he never leveled
against Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah.
Gemayel -- who was the head of state who appointed Aoun both
army commander and caretaker prime minister -- described Aoun
as a "shallow opportunist," and said Aoun was sticking by his
agreement with Hizballah only because he had wagered that
Hizballah and Syria would come out on top of the current
crisis.

8. (C/NF) Gemayel said Aoun had cooperated with Mossad
through the duration of Lebanon's civil war, and said he
allied himself with Syria and Hizballah now because he
believed they offered him the best chance at winning his long
coveted seat in Baabda Palace. However, Gemayel said that
Aoun's consistent support for Hizballah is quickly losing him
the confidence of his parliamentary members and his Christian
constituency. Unless he publicly and strongly distanced
himself from Hizballah soon, Gemayel said that Aoun would be
far down the path to political ruin. As the meeting drew to
a close, Gemayel found time to throw one final dagger at Aoun
before showing the Ambassador a framed picture of himself
with President Reagan in 1982, "I have heard he's being
blackmailed by the Syrians. I don't know if it's something
he signed or something he did, but I think they are using
him. It's what the Syrians do."
FELTMAN

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