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Viewing cable 06JERUSALEM4511, PALESTINIANS SEEK PROGRESS ON RAFAH/KEREM SHALOM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06JERUSALEM4511 2006-10-16 12:12 2010-12-18 12:12 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Consulate Jerusalem
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHJM #4511/01 2891228
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161228Z OCT 06
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5404
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
UNCLAS JERUSALEM 004511

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE; NEA/IPA FOR
WILLIAMS/SHAMPAINE/STEINGER; NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/WATERS;
TREASURY FOR SZUBIN/LOEFFLER/NUGENT/HIRSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PREL PGOV ETRD KWBG IS
SUBJECT: PALESTINIANS SEEK PROGRESS ON RAFAH/KEREM SHALOM
AMA IMPLEMENTATION

REF: JERUSALEM 4472

1. (SBU) Summary: ConGenoffs, accompanied by USSC, USAID and
Embassy Tel Aviv representatives, met October 12 with
Palestinian negotiators from the previous PA government who
were involved in the negotiation of the Agreement on Access
and Movement (AMA). The informal meeting, the second in a
series of preliminary brainstorming discussions intended to
reinvigorate AMA implementation efforts, focused exclusively
on the Rafah and Kerem Shalom border crossings with Egypt.
The Palestinian team pressed for Rafah to be open for Gazan
exports into Egypt; GOI signature of the Customs Protocol;
clearance of commercial cargo imports at Kerem Shalom by PA
and Israeli customs inspectors; expansion of the categories
of travelers able to use the Rafah passenger crossing; and
regular access of the EU-BAM monitors to the Rafah crossing
and of all parties to the Joint Liaison Office. End summary.

Rafah needs to open for exports
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) The Palestinians, led by representatives of the
PLO's Negotiations Support Unit (NSU) and including former PA
Planning Minister Ghassan al-Khatib, raised the need for the
export of goods from Gaza through the Rafah crossing. Except
for a March 14 shipment of three truckloads of Palestinian
goods for a trade show in Cairo, commercial cargo has not
been exported through the Rafah crossing. The Palestinians
noted Egyptian President Mubarak's positive comments to PA
President Abbas on the subject and stressed that the flow of
commercial cargo exports would be a significant boost to the
Gazan economy. They urged the USG to press Cairo to send the
necessary instructions to the Egyptian crossing at Rafah for
the start of commercial exports, even if only for transit
shipments through Egypt to third country destinations, using
the March 14 arrangement.

Lack of signature on Customs Protocol;
no clearance of commercial cargo imports
----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) The Palestinian team reminded USG representatives
that the Kerem Shalom crossing, per the AMA, should be a
temporary crossing for imports into Gaza from Egypt. Per the
AMA, after 12 months of PA customs officials clearing
incoming cargo at Kerem Shalom under the supervision of
Israeli customs agents, a third party would review the PA's
customs capacity and make a joint decision regarding future
arrangements. The Palestinian team noted the GOI's refusal
to sign the Customs Protocol or to acknowledge via letter to
the USG its applicability at the Rafah and Kerem Shalom
crossings. As a result, there have been no commercial
imports to Gaza via Kerem Shalom since the AMA was concluded.
A Palestinian contractor working for the European
Commission-funded ASYCUDA customs database implementation
project said the Palestinian side had submitted a proposal on
how to work at the Kerem Shalom crossing under the
supervision of Israeli customs agents but had not received a
response to date from the GOI. Though some humanitarian
cargo has been cleared at Kerem Shalom by Israeli customs,
Palestinian customs agents are not present and have not
received any data on the humanitarian cargo clearances,
according to the contractor.

Rafah -- successful passenger crossing
but want broader use
--------------------------------------

4. (SBU) The Palestinian team noted that the EU-BAM has
favorably commented on the Palestinian operation of the Rafah
passenger border crossing, the only area in which the
Palestinians have been given the opportunity to demonstrate
their capability. The Palestinian team raised two proposals
to expand operations at Rafah: (1) open the crossing to all
travelers, possibly with a 48-hour notification period for
non-Palestinian identity card holders, or (2) expand the
categories of travelers able to use Rafah to include
journalists and third country nationals of Palestinian
heritage, who do not hold a Palestinian identity card.
(Note: Per the AMA, only Palestinian identity card holders
and the four categories of travelers requiring 48-hour
pre-notification (diplomats, foreign representatives of
recognized international organizations, investors, and
humanitarian cases) can cross at Rafah. End note.) The NSU

advisors also highlighted the need for the GOI to provide the
PA with complete information concerning Palestinian ID
holders outside of the country, as called for in the AMA.
They noted that they have examples of Palestinian ID holders
who are not on the original list that the GOI shared with the
PA. (Note: Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in
the Territories (COGAT) Major General Mishlev gave PA Civil
Affairs Minister Dahlan a digital copy of the Palestinian
population registry on November 24, 2005. The Palestinian
side continues to note that the registry was not complete and
they are aware of specific names that are not included on the
registry but should be. End note.)

Access of EU-BAM monitors to Rafah and
access by all to Joint Liaison Office
--------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The Palestinian team raised again the issue of
access to the Rafah crossing by the EU-BAM monitors, noting
that EU-BAM monitors can only access Rafah through the Kerem
Shalom crossing that the GOI controls. Even if the EU-BAM
monitors accessed Rafah through the Egyptian side, the
Palestinian team noted that Israeli control of the Kerem
Shalom crossing could prevent operations at the Joint Liaison
Office (JLO) at Kerem Shalom. EconChief raised the
possibility of a back-up JLO, should there be a problem with
the main office at Kerem Shalom. The Palestinian team noted
that there had been no discussion to date of a back-up site
for the JLO.
WALLES