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Viewing cable 05BRASILIA718, BRAZIL: OLMERT VISIT A SUCCESS, BUT SUMMIT STILL DOMINATES ISRAELI CONCERNS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05BRASILIA718 2005-03-16 11:11 2011-02-06 00:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Brasilia
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 000718 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2015 
TAGS: PREL PTER KSUM ETRD XF XM IS BR

SUBJECT: BRAZIL: OLMERT VISIT A SUCCESS, BUT SUMMIT STILL DOMINATES ISRAELI CONCERNS 

REF: A. BRASILIA 564 B. BRASILIA 574 C. BRASILIA 658 Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN DANILOVICH, Reasons 1.4 (b & d) 

1. (C) Summary and Introduction: Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Olmert reportedly enjoyed a successful visit to Brazil last week, however, he was apparently unable to convince the GOB to take a tougher approach -- from the Israeli perspective -- with Arab interlocutors in preparation for the Arab-South America Summit in Brasilia in May. In a meeting between President Lula and Olmert, the Brazilians studiously avoided any discussion of the Summit. After polling South American colleagues and officials in the Ministry of External Relations (MRE), an Israeli diplomat told Poloff he sensed Brazilian nervousness that, while most if not all South American presidents will be in Brasilia, Arab heads of state may stay away. He surmised that this is a not-so-subtle pressure tactic by Arab states to sway Brazil, the lead South American negotiator, on Summit declaration language. While the South Americans claim they are standing firm vis-a-vis the Arabs on the themes of terrorism and Middle East peace, the diplomat noted that Israel takes little comfort from the direction the declaration seems to be heading. End Summary 

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OLMERT "BREAKS BARRIERS" WITH LULA --------------------------------------------- ----------- 

2. (C) In follow-up discussions with Poloff March 14 (see ref A), Embassy of Israel Minister Counselor Eitan Surkis said that Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Olmert had "succeeded in breaking barriers" in a one hour March 7 meeting with President Lula and in meetings with other key GOB ministers, including Minister for Agriculture Roberto Rodrigues; Minister for Mines and Energy Dilma Rousseff; Minister for Development, Industry, and Trade Luis Furlan; and Secretary for Economic and Social Development Jaques Wagner. In an indirect reference to the upcoming Arab-South American Summit, Olmert gave Lula his overview of Middle East politics and described Israel's unending "sacrifices" on the road to peace. Surkis sensed that President Lula was impressed by Olmert's description of Israel's expansion of ties with Jordan and a recent press photo showing Prime Minister Sharon hugging Egyptian President Mubarak. Although given the opportunity to discuss the upcoming Summit with Olmert, the Brazilian President did not take the bait, Surkis said. 

3. (C) The Deputy Prime Minister invited Lula to visit Israel, and the Brazilian President responded that he would like to do so "during his first mandate," i.e. before the 2006 presidential electoral campaign season. Lula noted, however, that it might be easier if perhaps either Israeli President Katzir or Prime Minister Sharon visited Brazil. (Note: Because the Prime Minister was specifically invited, Surkis considered this a major concession by the Brazilians. End Note) Surkis pointed out that the Ministry of External Relations (MRE) had been almost a non-player in the preparations for Olmert's visit; the GOI had coordinated the visit directly with the GOB Presidency. (Foreign Minister Amorim himself was traveling in Africa when Olmert was in Brazil.) In any case, Lula reiterated that the Foreign Minister intended to visit Israel in June/July 2005. 

4. (C) The expansion of commercial ties was a key theme for Olmert's visit to Brazil, Surkis said. Regarding Mercosul, President Lula told Olmert that Brazil "would not put up any obstacles" for Israel to have an agreement with the trading group. The Israelis, Surkis commented, had heard this message before. Olmert reminded Lula that Israel had first sought a trade pact with Mercosul in 1997. Yet Egypt, which had first broached the idea of a Mercosul agreement in 2004, had already been rewarded with an agreement. Surkis added that the two sides also discussed the possibility of creating a binational commission. 

COULD THE SUMMIT BECOME A BUST? ------------------------------- 

5. (C) Surkis and Poloff then compared notes on the lead-up to the Arab-South America Summit. In addition to meeting with key MRE officials, Surkis had already met with diplomats from most of Brasilia's South American embassies. Based on his conversations, Surkis believes almost all South American presidents would attend the Summit. However, as of last week, he understood that no Arab head of state had yet confirmed his attendance. This was probably a not-too-subtle ploy by the Arabs to play hardball on the declaration language, Surkis opined. While there is little doubt that participating Arab countries would be represented by foreign ministers, if Arab heads of state were not in attendance, Surkis felt the event could turn into an embarrassment for President Lula. Surkis sensed that regardless of the declaration talks, the King of Morocco is an almost certain Summit attendee. In addition, he believed Abu Mazen from the Palestinian Authority would like to come, if there is no immediate crisis in the territories. The big question mark, he believed, is Mubarak. The Israeli Embassy in Cairo had reported "contradictory indications" in the press as to the Egyptian President's attendance at the Summit. Egypt has been the lead for the Arab League in negotiations over the Summit declaration. 

6. (C) Based on his consultations with South American diplomats, Surkis believes South American concurrence has been achieved on "95%" of the Summit declaration. During the recent South America group meeting in Rio, three political themes were discussed: (1) land-locked countries, (2) terrorism, and (3) the Arab-Israeli peace process. Regarding terrorism, Colombia reportedly insisted, successfully, that declaration language refer to terrorism "in all its forms and manifestations." This tact, Surkis felt, could perhaps negate any Arab attempt to differentiate between state and non-state terrorism or "legitimate" types of activities that, of course, were clearly terrorism. While the South Americans agreed they would not allow the declaration to contain "tough" language against Israel, Surkis said it would be small comfort to Israel if the final Summit declaration, in addition to referring to acceptable UNSC Resolutions such as 242 and 338, referred also to other UN resolutions that Israel finds onerous. It was also Surkis' understanding that the South Americans may agree to language calling on Israel to withdraw to the frontiers of June 4, 1967. "What does this Summit have to do with this (issue)?" Surkis asked. 

7. (C) Surkis again emphasized that the South Americans, including the Brazilians, are evidently unaware of all the sensitivities surrounding the Mideast peace process. "They are believers in UN resolutions," he added, "and do not want to invent anything new." Given the various stages of negotiation of the declaration, the last chance to make changes to it would be in Brasilia just before the opening of the Summit itself. 

8. (C) COMMENT: The Israeli Embassy has pulled out all the stops to gauge the Summit preparatory process, and their perspective about Brazilian diplomacy leading to the Summit coincides closely with our own. As with us, MRE is being very cautious in what they tell the Israelis. We sense that, from the Brazilian perspective, if after tedious negotiations with the Arabs the Summit declaration refers only to classic (i.e., approved) UN resolutions, withdrawal to 1967 borders, etc., and does not blatantly blame Israel, this would be evidence of successful Brazilian diplomacy. The other South Americans, themselves amateurs to the vagaries and nuances of the peace process, will likely follow Brazil's lead. 

Danilovich