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Viewing cable 09CAIRO254, EGYPTIAN MFA ON DONORS CONF, CEASEFIRE AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO254 2009-02-11 14:02 2011-02-16 21:09 SECRET Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO8579
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #0254/01 0421414
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 111414Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1614
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1354
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 0049
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0261
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000254 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/11/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KPAL IS EG
SUBJECT: EGYPTIAN MFA ON DONORS CONF, CEASEFIRE AND 
RECONCILIATION TALKS 
 
Classified By: Minister-Counselor William R. Stewart 
Reasons: 1.4 (B) and (D)
1.(C) Summary. MFA Director for Palestinian Affairs Yasser Osman reviewed preparations for the March 2 Gaza reconstruction conference, as well as Egyptian efforts on an Israel-Gaza ceasefire and Palestinian reconciliation, during a February 11 meeting. Osman was reasonably optimistic on ceasefire prospects, but acknowledged that Palestinian reconciliation is a continuing challenge for the Egyptians. End summary.

2.(SBU) Osman said that the March 2 donors conference will be largely political in nature, and that a follow-on Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting (AHLC) in Europe would serve to iron out details of implementation and pledging. Ministers and leaders of 80 countries and organizations have been invited. Egypt and Norway will co-chair the event. Osman said he understood that Egyptian Ambassador Shukri had conveyed to Washington an invitation that the USG also co-chair.

3.(SBU) In addition to the co-chairs, Osman said that there will be five "co-sponsors": Saudi Arabia, the European Commission, Italy, France and Egypt. UNSYG Ban Ki Moon, French President Sarkozy, Italian FM Frattini, Canadian FM Cannon and British Foreign Secretary Milliband (or alternately Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander) were among confirmed attendees. Osman said that the Norwegians have suggested to the Egyptians that the follow-on AHLC meeting be held in Brussels, shortly before the April 3-4 NATO summit.

4.(C) Osman said the Egyptians understand that Gaza reconstruction cannot be a "haphazard process," and that the GOE agrees with the Europeans that existing donor assistance mechanisms, including the World Bank trust fund, should be utilized. He noted that the United Nations had suggested creating a new delivery mechanism for assistance, something both the Egyptians and Europeans had rejected. In addition, Osman said that Qatar was pressing for expansion of UNRWA's mandate to include reconstruction projects, along the linesQ of UNRWA's current role in the reconstruction of Nahr al Bared refugee camp in Lebanon, but that UNRWA leadership, Egypt and Norway were all opposed. Osman thought this issue might be raised at the upcoming UNRWA meeting in Jordan on February 17 (the Qataris are expected to attend). CEASEFIRE TALKS ---------------

5.(S) Osman was reasonably optimistic that Egypt would secure a Hamas-Israel ceasefire in the next week. He attributed his optimism to the increasing involvement of Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar in Hamas' deliberations. Osman said that the Egyptians had good relations with Zahar, and that he was charismatic and relatively independent of Syrian and Iranian influence. (Note: Osman was previously posted for four years in Gaza, and based his opinion on current dynamics as well as his previous relationship with Zahar. End note). PALESTINIAN RECONCILIATION --------------------------

6.(S) Palestinian reconciliation continues to be a challenge, according to Osman. He worried that, even if Egypt were able to facilitate some sort of reconciliation agreement, the result would be a "Hizballah-like situation," i.e. that Hamas would maintain popular support, military strength, and control of some portion of Gaza. Osman said that the Egyptians are trying to use the opening of border crossings as leverage over Hamas, noting that opening Rafah crossing under Hamas control remains a major objective for Hamas leadership, as it would provide them with a public deliverable following the highly destructive IDF military operation. Osman also said that Hamas leaders from Gaza had met with Fatah representatives (led by Azzam al Ahmad) in Cairo on February 10. He said that there was little substantive movement, but the meeting itself was progress.

7.(C) Osman said that the Egyptians were also using donor assistance for Gaza reconstruction as a carrot for Hamas. He said that Hamas leaders have told the Egyptians that they have "accepted" that there will be an international mechanism for distribution of assistance, and want to be involved in some way. Osman said that the Egyptians have made clear to Hamas that donors will not contribute absent Palestinian reconciliation, and that Hamas would be politically liable CAIRO 00000254 002 OF 002 for any delay. He acknowledged that Qatar, Iran and others may try to "short-circuit" the donor process by providing direct assistance to Hamas, but said that major reconstruction projects will require access to Gaza for entry of equipment and on-the-ground expertise -- a reality that returns the ongoing Egypt-Hamas conversation back to border crossings and the need for Hamas concessions. SCOBEY