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Viewing cable 06PARIS7118, ISRAELI DIPLOMAT THINKS WORST IS OVER ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06PARIS7118 2006-10-30 15:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
null
Lucia A Keegan  11/08/2006 02:45:54 PM  From  DB/Inbox:  Lucia A Keegan

Cable 
Text:                                                                      
                                                                           
      
C O N F I D E N T I A L        PARIS 07118

SIPDIS
cxparis:
    ACTION: POL
    INFO:   DAO AMB AGR PAO DCM FCS SCI ORA UNESCO ODC ECON
            STRASBOU

DISSEMINATION: POLOUT
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: POL/MC:JROSENBLATT
DRAFTED: POL:RWALLER
CLEARED: POL/D:BTURNER

VZCZCFRI120
OO RUEHC RUEHXK RUEHZL RUCNDT
DE RUEHFR #7118/01 3031552
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301552Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2690
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0950
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 007118 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/30/2016 
TAGS: FR IS LE PGOV PREL SY
SUBJECT: ISRAELI DIPLOMAT THINKS WORST IS OVER ON 
OVERFLIGHT SPAT WITH FRANCE 
 
Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt, reasons 
1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (S) Summary: The Israeli PolCouns told us 10/26 that "the 
worst is over" in terms of the public spat between France and 
Israel regarding overflights of Lebanon.  The Israeli MFA has 
advised the Israeli Air Force to "cool it," and the French 
have assured the GoI that UNIFIL's commander will soon be 
reassigned.  Aphek assessed that the French would secretly 
welcome periodic overflights of Lebanon, and she noted that 
her embassy enjoys excellent access to new French MFA 
Political Director Gerard Araud.  She interpreted Chirac's 
appointment of Jean-Pierre Jouyet (a close advisor to leading 
Socialist Party presidential candidate Segolene Royal) to 
coordinate the Paris-3 conference on Lebanon as evidence of 
Chirac's determination to ensure his Lebanon/Syria policy 
survives his presidency.  End summary. 
 
Overflight Crisis Over? 
----------------------- 
 
2. (S) Israeli Embassy Political Counselor Ella Aphek told us 
October 26 that she believes "the worst is over" in terms of 
recent tensions among Israel, UNIFIL and France with respect 
to Israeli overflights of Lebanon.  Aphek described the 
Israeli Air Force (IAF) overflights of Beirut on October 23 
as a deliberately muscular response to comments made by 
French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie (MAM) during an 
October 20 press conference at the UN.  Alliot-Marie 
reportedly said that Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace 
were dangerous "because they may be perceived as hostile by 
forces of the coalition that could be brought to retaliate in 
cases of self defense."  Although French President Jacques 
Chirac voiced a simultaneous call for an end to the Israeli 
overflights, the Israelis found MAM's comments more irksome 
because "Alliot-Marie implied a threat, and Chirac did not," 
explained Aphek.  She dismissed the comments of UNIFIL's 
commander, (French) Major General Alain Pellegrini, regarding 
a possible expansion of UNIFIL's rules of engagement to 
prevent overflights, by saying that France had privately 
assured Israel that Pellegrini would soon be reassigned. 
 
3. (S) Aphek said that in response to the October 23 
overflights, the Elysee "clearly leaked" the story (reported 
by Le Figaro and Le Monde the following day) that France was 
considering scaling back its commitment to UNIFIL.  However, 
she did not seem greatly troubled by that report, and noted 
that Chirac had previously warned Israeli Ambassador Shek 
that France would reassess its deployment of peacekeepers 
after three or four months.  Moreover, Aphek confided that 
the Israeli MFA had advised the IAF to "cool it" on 
overflights for the time being.  In addition, she noted a 
positive meeting between Israeli Ambassador Shek and Jean 
Felix-Pagagnon, the MFA's Director for the Middle East and 
North Africa, on October 25 during which Felix-Pagagnon 
stressed that the Quai was consulting closely with French 
intelligence services on ways to share more intelligence with 
Israel to obviate the need for overflights.  Aphek noted that 
in turn, Israel was considering French suggestions (e.g., no 
low-altitude overflights of Beirut, use of drones rather than 
F-16s, and greater reliance on satellite imagery).  The 
irony, said Aphek, was that the French did not really wish to 
see a complete end to the overflights because they shared 
Israel's interest in detecting any arms shipments to 
Hizballah.  The message the GoI had taken away from its 
discussions with French officials was that an overflight 
"from time to time" would not be such a bad thing.  (Comment: 
We take this analysis with half a grain of salt.  End 
comment.) 
 
4. (C) On a related note, Aphek observed that Israel had an 
excellent working relationship with the Quai's new Political 
Director (and former Ambassador to Israel) Gerard Araud.  She 
noted that Araud had proven exceptionally effective during 
his tenure in Israel, and that his positive approach had 
already carried over to his new assignment.  "We had good 
relations with Ambassador de Laboulaye (Araud's predecessor), 
but it was never anything like this," said Aphek, who noted 
that Araud and Israeli Ambassador Shek have swapped cell 
phone numbers and are in almost daily contact. "We have a hot 
line," she said with contentment. 
 
Peace Process 
------------- 
 
5. (C) Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, 
Aphek stressed that the return of kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit 
was the key to progress.  She predicted that PM Olmert would 
meet with PA President Abbas once Shalit was released, in 
part to reassure his electorate, and Israel's neighbors, that 
his government would remain a partner for peace 
notwithstanding the inclusion of MK Avigdor Lieberman in the 
cabinet.  She assessed that Hamas leader Khalid Mishal 
remained a key impediment to Shalit's release, as did the 
Asad regime -- which she characterized as "counting the days" 
until the end of President Chirac's mandate in the hope that 
France would then revise its Syria policy.  However, she said 
that Chirac's appointment of former Paris Club president 
Jean-Pierre Jouyet -- a close advisor of leading Socialist 
Party presidential contender Segolene Royal -- as coordinator 
of the upcoming Paris-3 conference on Lebanon was a sign 
Chirac was bent on ensuring his Lebanon/Syria policy would 
survive his presidency.  (Note: During a visit to Lebanon 
late last week, Socialist Party chief Francois Hollande 
assured local journalists that a Socialist president would 
maintain Chirac's commitment to Lebanon but would rely less 
on personal relationships, noting that the Socialist party 
has stronger historical ties to the Jumblatts than to the 
Hariris. End note.)  With respect to the Quartet, Aphek 
assessed that French officials continue to pay lip service to 
the Roadmap but are, in fact, eager to escape the Roadmap's 
sequencing constraints. 
 
Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm 
HOFMANN