Viewing cable 06VATICAN145
Title: LEBANON: VATICAN FAVORS MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06VATICAN1452006-07-21 17:08:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
VZCZCXRO7958
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHROV #0145/01 2021708
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211708Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0414
INFO RUCNISL/ISLAMIC CONFERENCE COLLECTIVE
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0037
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0034
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA PRIORITY 0004
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 0005
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0442
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 000145 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/WE LARREA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  7/21/2016 
TAGS: MOPS LE IS VT PHUM KIRF
SUBJECT: LEBANON: VATICAN FAVORS MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE 
 
REF: VATICAN 134; VATICAN 142; VATICAN 143 
 
VATICAN 00000145  001.4 OF 002 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Peter Martin, CDA, Vatican, State. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
 
 
 
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Summary 
 
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¶1.  (C)  Holy See Middle East Director Coppola told the Charge 
July 21 the Vatican supported the idea of a robust 
multi-national force in Lebanon.  He said there were no current 
plans to make a specific public endorsement of such a plan, but 
that the pope would imply support for some type of international 
force when he spoke about the crisis July 23 (ref c).  Benedict 
plans to repeat aspects of the Holy See's July 20 statement on 
Sunday, emphasizing the humanitarian concerns of the conflict, 
and calling for a cease-fire.  On the pope's endorsement of the 
G-8 statement, Coppola said that while the pontiff supported the 
contents of the statement, the document itself only addressed 
part of the problem.  Coppola found the statement "very 
unbalanced."  Coppola indicated that the Holy See was not 
currently considering a more active mediation role in the 
conflict, despite entreaties by Lebanese officials that the 
Vatican do "all it could" to defuse the situation.  The Lebanese 
Embassy to the Holy See is in close contact with the Vatican, 
and emphasized the destruction of Lebanese infrastructure and 
loss of civilian lives in conversations with us.    While 
various voices around the Vatican may see eye-to-eye with some 
of our points (ref c), the most important voices at the Vatican 
MFA are firm.   Continuing civilian casualties and humanitarian 
issues have strengthened their resolve that an immediate 
cease-fire is the top priority.  End Summary. 
 
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Multi-National Force 
 
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¶2.  (C)  Holy See MFA Director for the Middle East Franco 
Coppola told us July 21 the Vatican supported the idea of a 
multi-national force to stabilize Lebanon and "help the Lebanese 
government take control of its territory."  He said a robust 
force with a much greater mandate and with greater numbers than 
UNIFIL (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon) might well be accepted 
by the Muslim world and help counteract the way in which many 
Muslims were rallying around Hezbollah.  A multi-national force 
would also have the express purpose of helping to protect 
Israel, something the Israelis, he said, should appreciate. 
When asked if the Holy See planned to say anything publicly on 
the subject, Coppola said that the pope would not be too 
specific at this point, but when he spoke at the planned day of 
prayer for the conflict Sunday (July 23), he would call for 
steps from the international community to stabilize the 
situation.  This, according to Coppola, would have a clear 
implication of support for such a multi-national force. 
 
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Holy See Statements 
 
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¶3.  (C)  Speaking a stone's throw away from the office of 
Cardinal Secretary of State Sodano, Coppola stuck to the party 
line that Sodano's July 14 statement and the subsequent comments 
by the pope were not incompatible (reftels).  While he would 
never contradict the pope, Coppola made it clear that the 
pontiff's statement in support of the G-8 declaration did not 
tell the whole story of the Vatican's position.  He emphasized 
that it was a quick comment to reporters and that while the 
pontiff supported what was in the statement, the document only 
addressed part of the problem.  The G-8 statement was valuable 
in that it contained some important concrete steps, but, 
according to Coppola, it was a very unbalanced document that 
didn't address "the suffering of the Lebanese people."  It seems 
unlikely that the pope will repeat his support for the G-8 
statement.  Coppola said that, in addition to implying support 
for a multi-national force, Benedict would repeat aspects of the 
Holy See's July 20 statement on Sunday, emphasizing the 
humanitarian concerns of the conflict, and calling for a 
cease-fire.  Charge pointed out that a cease-fire would be of 
 
VATICAN 00000145  002.4 OF 002 
 
 
limited worth without a military and political defeat of 
Hezbollah, but Coppola was not swayed. 
 
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Holy See Mediation 
 
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¶4.  (C)  Coppola, citing a close relationship between the 
Vatican and Lebanon, told us that PM Siniora and Saad Hariri had 
pressed the Holy See to do everything it could to halt the 
violence.  When asked what other measures that might include 
beyond official statements, Coppola indicated that a more active 
mediation role was not currently on the table.  "We don't want 
to go over there and get in front of the TV cameras," he said. 
"There are people who have much better technical expertise than 
we do who could fill that role," he added.  Still, Coppola did 
not preclude some more active role for the Holy See, 
particularly after a cease-fire.  In a separate conversation 
with Charge, Lebanese DCM Hala Keyrouz volunteered that Lebanon 
would welcome such a contribution by the Vatican. 
 
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Lebanese in "Close Contact" 
 
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¶5.  (C)  Keyrouz and the Lebanese Ambassador to the Holy See 
remain in "close contact" with the Vatican MFA.  DCM Keyrouz 
told the Charge July 21 that her government was pleased with 
Wednesday's "more concrete" papal statement.  Keyrouz, a 
Maronite Catholic married to an Italian, impressed upon us the 
need for medicine and humanitarian supplies in Lebanon.  "We 
need everything," she said.  She bemoaned the destruction of 
Lebanese infrastructure she said the Lebanese had worked so had 
to rebuild after the civil war.  Keyrouz claimed that Israel had 
bombed Christian areas where there had never been any Hezbollah 
activity.  Another Lebanese contact working for a 
Vatican-related media outlet told us the Lebanese Christian 
community in Rome was to meet July 21 to discuss the situation 
and what they could do to influence Holy See and Italian 
officials. 
 
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Coppola Unconvinced 
 
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¶6.  (C)  Summing up the Holy See's current thinking, Coppola 
reinforced the Vatican's concerns about Lebanon's civilian 
population, already expressed in official statements and to Post 
July 14.  He reiterated the Vatican view that Israel had the 
right to defend itself, but that the killing of civilians and 
destruction of the country's infrastructure was going too far. 
Charge noted the opportunity this presented for Lebanon to rid 
itself of Hezbollah, a cancer in that country and the region. 
Coppola admitted that that was a worthy goal, but was less 
convinced than some other recent interlocutors here (ref b). 
"In order to destroy this cancer, it looks as if Israel is 
killing the patient," he quipped.  Charge responded with 
relevant points, but Coppola was unconvinced that Israeli 
tactics were going to be effective in eradicating a guerilla 
force.  "They're just creating more enemies and more hatred," he 
said. 
 
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Comment 
 
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¶7.  (C)  Continuing civilian casualties have continued to 
influence Vatican thinking on the conflict.  Coppola's private 
harder-line stance is likely to be filtered heavily before 
emerging from the pope's mouth, but it is worth noting that as 
the working-level expert, he seems to be on the same page with 
Sodano and FM-equivalent Lajolo.  This conversation did not 
suggest that the Holy See was ready to insert itself into the 
conflict beyond making veiled endorsements of a multi-national 
force, and comments such as those of July 20. 
MARTIN