US embassy cable - 85TELAVIV8792

ISRAEL'S POLICY ON SOUTHERN LEBANON

Identifier: 85TELAVIV8792
Wikileaks: View 85TELAVIV8792 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tel Aviv
Created: 1985-06-12 16:53:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL LE IS
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 121653Z JUN 85
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0184
INFO AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
AMEMBASSY AMMAN
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA
AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM
AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY ROME
AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE
AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TEL AVIV 08792 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, LE, IS 
SUBJECT:  ISRAEL'S POLICY ON SOUTHERN LEBANON 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  MFA DIRECTOR GENERAL KIMCHE BRIEFED AMBAS- 
SADORS FROM UN SECURITY COUNCIL AND UNIFIL CONTRIBUTOR 
COUNTRIES JUNE 12 ON SOUTHERN LEBANON.  KIMCHE REITERATED 
ISRAELI POLICY IN SOUTHERN LEBANON LEADING UP TO THE 
WITHDRAWAL, THEN EMPHASIZED THAT ISRAEL WAS NOW OUT OF 
LEBANON AND, THEREFORE, NO LONGER IN CONTROL.  AS A RE- 
SULT, ALTHOUGH ISRAEL WAS TRYING TO BE HELPFUL, ISRAEL 
FELT THAT UNIFIL MUST WORK OUT THE PROBLEM OF THE FINNISH 
HOSTAGES WITH THE SLA DIRECTLY.  IF ISRAEL SOUGHT TO 
CONTROL EVENTS AND FORCE LAHAD TO RELEASE THE FINNISH 
SOLDIERS, ISRAEL WOULD, IN EFFECT, BE BACK IN LEBANON. 
THERE WOULD BE NO MORE SLA AND LAHAD WOULD BE FINISHED. 
SEVERAL AMBASSADORS SAID THEIR GOVERNMENTS CONSIDER 
ISRAEL TO REMAIN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFETY OF THE UNIFIL 
SOLDIERS, AND MADE STRONG STATEMENTS OF PRINCIPLE AGAINST 
THE HOLDING OF HOSTAGES.  END SUMMARY. 
 
- 
3.  MFA DIRECTOR GENERAL DAVID KIMCHE INVITED THE AMBAS- 
SADORS AND CHARGES FROM THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBER 
STATES AND THE CONTRIBUTORS TO UNIFIL TO A BRIEFING JUNE 
12 ON ISRAEL'S POLICY IN SOUTH LEBANON.  THE BRIEFING 
INVITATION WAS STIMULATED BY THE PRESENT CRISIS BETWEEN 
UNIFIL AND THE SOUTH LEBANESE ARMY.  KIMCHE SOUGHT TO 
PLACE THE ISRAELI REACTION TO THE CURRENT CRISIS IN THE 
BROAD CONTEXT OF ISRAELI POLICY. 
- 
 
4.  ISRAELI POLICY ON SOUTHERN LEBANON 
-   ---------------------------------- 
KIMCHE OPENED BY NOTING THAT THERE IS A CABINET DECISION 
ON SOUTHERN LEBANON THAT CONTINUES TO BE THE BASIS OF 
ISRAELI ACTIONS, UNTIL THERE IS A CABINET DECISION TO 
CHANGE IT.  THE DECISION INCLUDES THE  FOLLOW- 
ING ELEMENTS:  A) THE IDF IS REDEPLOYED ALONG THE INTER- 
NATIONAL FRONTIER, AND NO IDF UNITS WILL REMAIN IN 
LEBANON ON A REGULAR OR PERMANENT BASIS.  B) THE IDF RE- 
TAINS FREEDOM OF ACTION AGAINST TERRORISTS BEFORE, DURING 
OR AFTER THEIR ACTIVITIES AGAINST ISRAEL.  C)  A SECURITY 
ZONE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED, WITH ISRAELI LIAISON WITH LOCAL 
FORCES WHICH ARE DEDICATED AGAINST TERRORISM.  D)  IF THE 
LOCAL FORCES ARE ATTACKED THE IDF MAY RESPOND TO PROTECT 
THEM. 
- 
 
5.  ISRAEL'S RELATIONS WITH THE SLA 
-   ------------------------------- 
KIMCHE SAID THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL HAS HELPED AND 
CONTINUES TO HELP THE SOUTH LEBANON  (SLA), 
BUT NO LONGER CONTROLS THE SECURITY ZONE.  HE SAID THE 
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SLA IS ONE OF LIAISON AND ADVICE, 
BUT IT DOES NOT PERMIT ISRAEL TO GIVE ORDERS, AND THE SLA 
IS NOT A DE FACTO ISRAELI FORCE.  THE SLA IS LEBANESE, 
COMMANDED BY A LEBANESE GENERAL, AND IT BEHAVES AS THE 
LEBANESE BEHAVE, NOT AS ISRAELIS WOULD.  THIS MEANS THAT 
THE SLA OFTEN ACTS IN A MANNER WHICH IS  DISTASTEFUL TO 
ISRAEL. 
- 
 
6.  THE "UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT" WITH UNIFIL 
-   -------------------------------------- 
KIMCHE SAID THE GOVERNMENT OF  ISRAEL DEPLORES "THE 
UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT", AND WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT SETTLED. 
HE SAID ISRAEL HAS GIVEN THE FOLLOWING ADVICE TO THE SLA: 
A) NOT TO HARM ANY OF THE HOSTAGES; HE SAID THE SLA HAS 
COMMITTED ITSELF TO DO NO HARM TO THE FINNISH SOLDIERS, 
AND THIS IS BEING OBSERVED.  B) ISRAEL HAS ADVISED LAHAD 
TO RELEASE THE HOSTAGES IN THE FRAMEWORK OF TALKS WITH 
UNIFIL.  HE SAID THAT THE ISSUE MUST BE RESOLVED BY UNIFIL 
AND THE SLA DIRECTLY.  ON NO ACCOUNT, HE EMPHASIZED, SHOUL 
ISRAEL BE A DIRECT PARTY.  ISRAEL IS OUT OF LEBANON; IF 
IT WERE TO DEAL DIRECTLY THAT WOULD INDICATE THAT ISRAEL 
IS STILL IN.  KIMCHE VOLUNTEERED THAT IT IS TRUE THAT 
ISRAEL STILL HAS LIAISON OFFICERS IN SOUTHERN LEBANON, BUT 
HE ASSERTED THAT THE NUMBERS ARE FEWER THAN THOSE WHICH 
WERE ACCEPTED IN THE MAY 17 AGREEMENT WHICH HAD BEEN 
WELCOMED BY MANY STATES INCLUDING EGYPT. 
- 
 
7.  THE UNIFIL-SLA MEETING 
-   ---------------------- 
KIMCHE SAID THAT THE MEETING BETWEEN GENERALS LAHAD AND 
PONS IS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.  HE SAID THEY DIS- 
CUSSED THE RELEASE OF THE CAPTIVES; THE GOVERNMENT OF 
ISRAEL THOUGHT THEY SHOULD HAVE MET FROM THE VERY BEGIN- 
NING, BUT THIS MEETING AT LEAST WAS HELD IN A GOOD 
ATMOSPHERE.  THE GIST OF THE MEETING WAS:  LAHAD ASKED 
UNIFIL FOR THE ELEVEN SLA TROOPS TO BE BROUGHT TO A 
NEUTRAL PLACE WHERE IT COULD BE DETERMINED WHETHER THEY 
HAD IN FACT DEFECTED OR HAD BEEN CAPTURED AND TURNED OVER 
TO AMAL.  HE SAID THAT IF THE ELEVEN STATE THAT THEY HAD 
DEFECTED, THE FINNS WILL BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY BY LAHAD. 
IT HAD ALSO BEEN AGREED DURING THE MEETING TO APPOINT 
LIAISON OFFICERS BETWEEN GENERALS PONS AND LAHAD, AND 
UNIFIL HAD SECURED THE RIGHT TO VISIT THE FINNISH 
SOLDIERS EVERY THREE OR FOUR DAYS.  KIMCHE SAID, OF COURSE 
HE HOPED THE PROBLEM WOULD BE SOLVED BEFORE THAT TIME 
LIMIT.  KIMCHE CONCLUDED THAT HE BELIEVED THAT IT WAS NOW 
UP TO UNIFIL TO BRING THE ELEVEN TO A NEUTRAL SPOT, 
PERHAPS NAQURA. 
- 
8.  GENERAL REMARKS 
-   --------------- 
KIMCHE OFFERED THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONAL REMARKS:  SINCE 
THERE IS NO CENTRAL GOVERNMENT IN LEBANON, ISRAEL UNDER- 
STANDS THE NEED FOR UNIFIL TO HAVE RELATIONS WITH THE AMAL 
MILITIAS.  IN FACT HE SAID THIS IS A POSITIVE THING.  IN 
THE PAST UNIFIL HAD SAID THAT IT COULD DEAL ONLY WITH THE 
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT OF LEBANON.  BUT SINCE THAT PROVED 
IMPRACTICAL, AND UNIFIL IS NOW DEALING WITH AMAL, IT 
SHOULD ALSO DEAL WITH THE SLA.  HE SAID THIS NOW SEEMS TO 
BE IN PROGRESS.  ISRAEL, HE SAID, WOULD LIKE A STRONG CEN- 
TRAL GOVERNMENT IN LEBANON, AND WOULD LIKE TO HAVE 
LIAISON WITH THE LEBANESE ARMY.  BUT THIS IS NOT FEASIBLE, 
AND THERE IS LITTLE HOPE FOR IMPROVEMENT IN THE FORESEEABL 
FUTURE.  KIMCHE THEN DESCRIBED THE INTERFACTIONAL FIGHTING 
WITHIN LEBANON,  NOTING THAT IT APPEARS THAT ALL FACTIONS 
ARE NOW FIGHTING WITH ALL OTHERS, FOLLOWING A RECENT 
REPORT OF A SHIA-DRUZE CONFLICT THIS MORNING. 
- 
9.  JAZZIN 
-   ------ 
KIMCHE SAID THAT JAZZIN COULD BE THE NEW FLASHPOINT.  HE 
SAID THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL HAD NEVER TOLD OR 
ADVISED THE SLA TO GO TO JAZZIN, AND FURTHER 
ADVISED THE SLA THAT IF IT DECIDED TO GO TO JAZZIN, 
ISRAEL WOULD NOT HELP THE SLA BECAUSE JAZZIN IS OUTSIDE 
THE SECURITY ZONE.  THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL HAD PROPOSED 
TO UNIFIL THAT IT DEPLOY TO JAZZIN, SINCE IT HAD FORCES 
CLOSE BY.  HE SAID THE GOI WOULD WELCOME A UNIFIL DEPLOY- 
MENT TO JAZZIN AND WOULD ADVISE THE SLA TO WITHDRAW IN 
THAT CASE.  THE UN SECRETARY HAD THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD 
IDEA AND TRIED IT OUT WITH PRESIDENT GEMAYEL.  GEMAYEL 
ALSO, ACCORDING TO KIMCHE, THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA 
BUT DECLINED TO REQUEST A UNIFIL PRESENCE IN JAZZIN 
BECAUSE HE KNEW HE COULDN'T GAIN THE SUPPORT OF EITHER 
SYRIA OR HIS OWN PRIME MINISTER.  HE SAID THIS ALSO 
DEMONSTRATES THE WEAKNESS OF THE GOVERNMENT OF LEBANON. 
- 
10.  THE FINNS VERSUS THE SLA 
----------------------------- 
KIMCHE SAID HE DID NOT KNOW THE FACTS.  HE SAID THE 
INVESTIGATION WAS UNDERWAY, BUT IT APPEARED THAT THE UN 
STILL BELIEVES THAT THE ELEVEN SLA TROOPS DEFECTED. 
THE GOI, HE SAID, IS SKEPTICAL; IT BELIEVES THEY WERE 
ABDUCTED FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS WHICH KIMCHE ADMITTED 
WERE CIRCUMSTANTIAL:  A) ALL OF THE ELEVEN LEFT THEIR 
FAMILIES BEHIND.  KNOWING THAT THE SLA IS NOT A GENTLE 
FORCE, THEY WOULD CLEARLY HAVE BEEN AFRAID FOR THEIR 
FAMILIES IF THEY HAD VOLUNTARILY DEFECTED.  B) SHORTLY 
AFTER THE SLA ELEVEN WERE MOVED TO TYRE, AMAL LEADER 
NABIH BERRI SAID THAT HE WOULD EXCHANGE THE ELEVEN 
PRISONERS FOR THE SHIA PRISONERS HELD IN ISRAEL.  KIMCHE 
SAID IT WOULD BE RARE INDEED TO OFFER TO EXCHANGE 
DEFECTORS FOR OTHER PRISONERS.  C) HE THEN SHOWED A TV 
FILM MADE BY A SYRIAN CREW JUST AFTER THE ELEVEN REACHED 
TYRE.  THE CAPTIVES WERE SHOWN BEING HELD UNDER ARMED 
GUARD, SULLEN, APPARENTLY FEARFUL, AND RESPONDING TO 
ORDERS BY THEIR GUARDS.  KIMCHE SAID THIS APPEARED NOT TO 
BE THE DEMEANOR OF PERSONS WHO HAD VOLUNTARILY DEFECTED. 
- 
11.  KIMCHE CONCLUDED THIS SESSION BY NOTING THAT ISRAEL 
MAY NEVER KNOW THE TRUTH, BUT THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAE 
WANTS THE FINNS RELEASED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  HE SAID 
THAT ALL THAT ISRAEL WANTS IS PEACE ON THE NORTHERN 
FRONTIER. 
 
12.  AMBASSADORS' COMMENTS 
-------------------------- 
THE BRITISH AMBASSADOR NOTED THAT THERE WAS A PRESS REPORT 
THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL WOULD CONTEMPLATE A MOVE OF 
UNIFIL TO THE BORDER UNDER AN ARRANGEMENT AGREED TO WITH 
THE SLA.  KIMCHE SAID THE UN HAD PRESENTED SOME IDEAS TO 
THE GOI ON THE POSSIBILITY OF A UNIFIL DEPLOYMENT TO THE 
BORDER WITH THE DE FACTO COOPERATION OF THE SLA.  NO 
DECISION HAD BEEN REACHED, AND THE SUBJECT WAS NOT 
THOROUGHLY DISCUSSED IN THE RABIN/URQUHART MEETING 
YESTERDAY.  HE NOTED, HOWEVER, THAT IN THE MEANTIME, UNTIL 
SUCH AN ARRANGEMENT IS WORKED OUT, ISRAELI POLICY, AS 
DETERMINED BY THE CABINET, REMAINS.  HE ADDED HOWEVER, 
THAT ISRAEL IS PREPARED TO CONSIDER ANY IDEAS FOR 
STRENGTHENING THE STABILITY OF THE BORDER AREA. 
- 
13.  THE ITALIAN AMBASSADOR NOTED THAT THE EC-10 HAD MET 
AND HAD MADE A GENERAL STATEMENT ON LEBANON.  HE SAID THE 
FOREIGN MINISTERS OF THE TEN CONSIDERED THE INCIDENT VERY 
SERIOUS.  THEIR OPINION WAS THAT EVERY MEASURE SHOULD BE 
TAKEN TO FREE ALL HOSTAGES.  AMBASSADOR TALIANI ADDED A 
PERSONAL NOTE SAYING THAT IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR HIM TO 
ACCEPT ISRAELI DISCLAIMERS OF RESPONSIBILITY IN VIEW OF 
THE FACT THAT ISRAEL HAD ARMED AND EQUIPPED AND CONTINUED 
TO PAY THE SLA.  KIMCHE REPLIED THAT GIVING ASSISTANCE 
DOES NOT MEAN CONTROL.  FOR EXAMPLE, HE SAID, THE 3,000 
SOVIET ADVISERS IN SYRIA DO NOT MEAN THAT THE SOVIET 
UNION CONTROLS SYRIA.  HE SAID IF ISRAEL ACCEPTED THE 
ITALIAN AMBASSADOR'S PREMISE, THE IDF WOULD BE DOOMED TO 
STAY IN LEBANON IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN CONTROL. 
- 
14.  THE SWEDISH AMBASSADOR STATED THE STRONG DESIRE OF 
HIS GOVERNMENT TO HAVE THE FINNISH TROOPS RELEASED AS SOON 
AS POSSIBLE.  HE ADDED THAT HE FELT THAT THE GOVERNMENT 
OF ISRAEL HAS A STRONG RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE RELEASE. 
 
15.  THE BRITISH AMBASSADOR INTERVENED AGAIN TO NOTE THAT 
IT WAS A VERY DANGEROUS PRECEDENT TO ACCEPT THE TAKING OF 
HOSTAGES.  HE SAID HIS MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT WAS VERY 
EXERCISED OVER THE HOSTAGE ISSUE.  HE SAID ANY ACTION THAT 
ENCOURAGES THE TAKING OF HOSTAGES IS BAD BOTH IN THIS CASE 
AND IN THE GENERAL SENSE.  KIMCHE SAID HE AGREED THAT ANY 
TAKING OF HOSTAGES IS BAD.  HE CONCEDED THAT PERHAPS 
ISRAEL COULD SEND IN ITS TROOPS TO FORCE THEIR RELEASE. 
BUT IF THE IDF DID GO IN, IT WOULD MEAN THE END OF THE 
SLA, AND THE GOI WOULD HAVE TO BE BACK IN LEBANON TO STAY. 
HE SAID ISRAEL HAS GIVEN STRONG ADVICE TO LAHAD THAT IT 
WAS WRONG TO HOLD HOSTAGES.  BUT HE ADDED THAT THE ELEVEN 
SLA TROOPS MAY ALSO BE AS MUCH HOSTAGE AS THE FINNS.  HE 
SAID THEREFORE THE ONLY LINE OF ATTACK IS TO FOLLOW UP ON 
THE LAHAD  PROPOSAL.  HE THEN URGED THE CONTRIBUTORS 
TO UNIFUL TO PRESS THE UN TO HAVE THE AMAL BRING THE 
ELEVEN TROOPS TO THE NEUTRAL ZONE SO IT COULD DETERMINE 
IF THEY WERE VOLUNTARILY DEFECTORS OR IN FACT CAPTIVES. 
 
16.  THE AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR SAID THAT HIS GOVERNMENT 
WELCOMES THE ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM LEBANON, BUT ADDED 
THAT THE CONTINUING PRESENCE OF LIAISON OFFICERS LEAVES 
THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL CONSIDERABLE RESPONSIBILITY FOR 
THE CIRCUMSTANCES AT PRESENT.  HE SAID THE HOSTAGES SHOULD 
BE RELEASED WITHOUT CONDITIONS IMMEDIATELY. 
- 
17.  COMMENT - THIS WAS THE THIRD OF A SERIES OF MEETINGS 
THAT KIMCHE HAS HAD WITH THIS GROUP ON LEBANON.  KIMCHE 
STATED THE CASE WITH CLARITY AND PRECISION, BUT HIS 
AUDIENCE WAS NOT CONVINCED.  CONCERNING THE HOSTAGES, HE 
REPEATED SEVERAL TIMES THAT ISRAEL COULD BE EITHER IN 
LEBANON OR OUT, AND IF OUT, ISRAEL COULD NOT FORCE LAHAD 
TO DO WHAT HE DIDN'T WANT TO DO.  BEHIND THIS DENIAL OF 
CONTROL OF LAHAD IS KIMCHE'S CONVICTION THAT TO TRY TO 
FORCE LAHAD WOULD MEAN THE END OF LAHAD AND LAHAD'S FORCES 
CLEARLY THIS IS A CARD WHICH ISRAEL HAS NOT BEEN WILLING 
TO PLAY.  IT IS ALSO CLEAR, AS KIMCHE IMPLIED SEVERAL 
TIMES, THAT ISRAELI POLICY ON SOUTHERN LEBANON IS SUBJECT 
TO CHANGE AS THE TACTICAL SITUATION SHIFTS.  BUT ISRAEL IS 
STILL COMMITTED TO SUPPORTING LAHAD IN GENERAL AND IN HIS 
CONFRONTATION WITH UNIFIL, AND IS UNWILLING TO FACE THE 
CONSEQUENCES OF THE DISINTEGRATION OF THE SLA.  IF THE SLA 
SHOULD CRUMBLE, THE PERES GOVERNMENT'S LEBANON  WITH- 
DRAWAL DECISION, UP TO NOW A VERY POPULAR ONE, COULD 
SPRING AGAIN INTO THE CENTER OF POLITICAL  CONTRO- 
VERSY HERE.  CERTAINLY SHARON AND HIS ALLIES WOULD MAKE 
THE MOST OF IT TO WEAKEN THE PERES GOVERNMENT AND FURTHER 
INHIBIT ITS ABILITY TO MOVE FORWARD ON EITHER THE EGYPTIAN 
FRONT OR THE PEACE PROCESS ISSUES NOW UNDER DISCUSSION. 
 
18.  BEIRUT MINIMIZE CONSIDERED. 
 
FLATEN 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04