Viewing cable 06ROME3320
Title: OLMERT REJECTS ITALIAN PUSH ON SHEBAA FARMS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06ROME33202006-12-18 13:47:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Rome
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P 181347Z DEC 06
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ROME 003320 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL XF IR LE IT
SUBJECT: OLMERT REJECTS ITALIAN PUSH ON SHEBAA FARMS 
 
ROME 00003320  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: Charge' d'Affaires Anna M. Borg, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
. 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
¶1.  (C/NF) Israeli PM Olmert visited Italy December 13 and 
talks focused on Lebanon, the Middle East peace process, and 
Iran.  He deflected calls by both the Italian PM and FM for a 
gesture on Shebaa Farms to buttress embattled Lebanese PM 
Siniora.  Olmert noted this would be seen as a nod to Syria, 
not support for Siniora.  In any case such a move would be 
premature since delineation of the border was now before the 
UN; Israel will support what the UN decides.  He told the 
Italians the real test for UNIFIL was preventing arms from 
getting to the south.  Concerned that the Italians may be 
misinterpreting the US midterm election results, Olmert 
stressed there was no daylight between him and President Bush 
regarding next steps on the peace process.  He was ready to 
make many concessions in talks with the Palestinians, but 
Gilad Shalit had to be released first, and credit for any 
prisoner releases must accrue to Abu Mazen, not Hamas. 
Olmert rejected a suggestion by the FM of Israeli contacts 
with Hamas.  On Iran, he told Italian leaders that he 
understood their trade concerns in the context of possible UN 
sanctions on the nuclear issue, but such concerns should not 
come at Israel's expense.   End Summary. 
 
 
Lebanon: No Dice on Shebaa Farms Move 
------------------------------------- 
 
¶2.  (SBU) Israeli Ambassador Gideon Meir, accompanied by DCM 
Elazar Cohen, December 15 briefed Ambassador, DCM, Pol M/C 
and poloff on Israeli PM Olmert's December 13 visit to Rome. 
After meeting with the Pope, Olmert met PM Romano Prodi 
one-on-one.  He then had lunch with Prodi and Deputy PM and 
FM Massimo D'Alema, accompanied by Israeli Ambassador Meir. 
In addition to a second meeting with D'Alema, Olmert met with 
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, Deputy PM and Minister 
of Culture Francesco Rutelli, former FM/Deputy PM and 
opposition National Alliance party-leader Gianfranco Fini, 
and members of the Jewish Community.  He spoke on the phone 
with former PM Silvio Berlusconi, who was in Milan. 
 
¶3.  (C) Meir said the talks focused on Lebanon, the 
Palestinian issue, and Iran.  The Italians were concerned 
about the stability of Lebanese PM Siniora's government and 
the safety of Italian UNIFIL troops.  Both PM Prodi and FM 
D'Alema raised the idea of an Israeli withdrawal from Shebaa 
Farms as a gesture of support to Lebanese PM Siniora.  Olmert 
rejected this, noting such a move would be interpreted as an 
overture to Syria, not support for Siniora.  When the UN 
makes a decision on the border between Syria and Lebanon in 
the context of UNSCR 1701, Israeli will comply, but not 
beforehand. 
 
¶4.  (C) Olmert told the Italians Israel knows UNIFIL won't 
fight or disarm Hizballah, nor can it monitor the Syrian 
border.  The real test will be whether it can prevent arms 
from being smuggled into southern Lebanon.  Meir said it was 
important for the Italians to hear the same message from the 
U.S.  The Ambassador said they have. 
 
 
Overflights Not Raised 
---------------------- 
 
¶5.  (S/NF) Meir noted the issue of overflights was not raised 
in Olmert's meetings. However, Meir had had meetings prior to 
the visit on the subject and had told the Italians that 
Israel had reduced its missions, although it continued some 
intelligence-gathering flights.  The ambassador said he told 
the Italians that Israel might be prepared to stop 
overflights altogether, if the U.S. supplied the required 
intel. 
 
¶6.  (S/NF) Meir also discussed intel-sharing with the 
Italians prior to the Olmert visit, suggesting to Italian 
CHOD Giampaolo Di Paola that he travel to Israel to 
coordinate with his counterpart.  Di Paula reportedly had 
agreed in principle, but voiced concern over the need to do 
so in a "most discreet" fashion.  Meir said he understood Di 
Paola's concerns, given the need to avoid the impression that 
a UN troop contributing country was taking sides, and had 
suggested to Tel Aviv that the Israeli chief of staff come to 
 
ROME 00003320  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
Rome instead. 
 
 
Prodi: One Foreign Policy, and I Decide 
--------------------------------------- 
 
¶7.  (C) Meir said he had warned the Israeli prime minister 
that some in the government apppeared to be misreading the 
results of the US midterm elections, so Olmert made it very 
clear to Prodi and D'Alema that there was no daylight between 
him and President Bush on next steps in the peace process. 
Olmert reportedly told Prodi and D'Alema that he was in close 
contact with Abu Mazen and was willing to make many 
concessions, even the release of prisoners with blood on 
their hands.  But Corporal Gilad Shalit would have to be 
released first.  And it was essential to ensure that the 
credit for such a gesture accrue to Abu Mazen, not Hamas. 
 
¶8.  (C) Olmert reportedly rejected suggestions by FM D'Alema 
that Israel, in Meir's words, "bring Hamas into the party". 
The ambassador noted, with some disdain, that D'Alema had 
argued that Hamas was part of Palestinian society and could 
not be ignored.  There were some moderate voices in Hamas, 
willing to accept coexistence with Israel.  Olmert responded 
that sidebar talks with Hamas would serve only to undermine 
Abu Mazen and that there could be no short cuts in resolving 
the Israeli/Palestinian issue.  A two-headed government would 
be totally unacceptable.  But if Abu Mazen wants new 
elections or a change in the constitution, Olmert said, 
Israel will do everything in its power to support him. 
 
¶9.  (C) In contrast to D'Alema's run at Olmert on contacts 
with Hamas, Prodi went out of his way to underline continued 
support for the three Quartet conditions for contact with a 
Palestinian government.  And the PM was emphatic.  "There is 
no change, and I'm determined on this," he said, thumping his 
fist on the table.  He added that Italy had only one foreign 
policy and "I decide".  Prodi also stated privately and 
publicly (for the first time) his support for Israel 
retaining its Jewish character, a comment that has drawn some 
criticism here on grounds that it could undermine Palestinian 
assertion in future negotiations of the right of return for 
refugees. 
 
 
Iran: Don't Trade Away Israeli Interests 
---------------------------------------- 
 
¶10.  (C) On Iran, Olmert told Prodi and D'Alema that he 
understood Italy's trade concerns, in the context of possible 
UN sanctions on the nuclear issue, but this position should 
be maintained at Israel's expense.  Meir also commented to us 
that he had been surprised at the degree of access enjoyed by 
the Iranian ambassador in Italy.  He said his message to his 
Italian contacts would be that this is not in keeping with 
Iran's actions; there should be some sign that it's not 
business as usual with Iran.  The unwritten subtext of the 
widespread entree of the Iranian envoy sends precisely the 
opposite message. 
 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶11.  (C) The Israelis appear to be satisfied with the visit, 
despite the Shebaa Farms disagreement and D'Alema's Hamas 
probe.  They seem to think PM Prodi is saying the right 
things, and were clearly pleased with the statement about 
Israel retaining its Jewish character.  But they remain quite 
skeptical about D'Alema's mindset.  On an Italy-watcher 
level, the most revealing aspect of the readout was story of 
Prodi thumping the table, declaring Italy had only one 
foreign policy, and that he was the decider.  It would appear 
that the Israelis are not the only ones concerned about 
D'Alema. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
BORG