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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (04/14): Olmert: Checkpoints Are

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FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1190
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC
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RUEAHQA/CSAF WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
RHMFIUU/CMC WASHINGTON DC
RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 7059
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4050
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 3906
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 5404
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 3814
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2379

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 JERUSALEM 000641

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PASS BBG
STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD
WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
NSC FOR ABRAMS
CMC WASHINGTON DC FOR POLAD

JERUSALEM ALSO FOR ICD
LONDON FOR HKANONA AND POL - TSOU
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KMDR KPAL KWBG KPAO IS
SUBJECT: JERUSALEM MEDIA REACTION (04/14): OLMERT: CHECKPOINTS ARE
LIKE PRESTO PRESSURE COOKERS

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Main Stories:
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The April 13 meeting between Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli
Prime Minister Olmert is front page news in all dailies. The papers
report that the leaders discussed the blockade of Gaza, a possible
comprehensive truce and final status issues. WAFA news agency
reports that chief PLO negotiator Sa'eb Erakat confirmed that Abbas
asked Olmert during the meeting to allow the implementation of
Egyptian measures to restore calm to the Gaza Strip. Erekat added
that Abbas is exerting every effort to prevent "the impending
disaster in the Gaza Strip," the papers report. In another official
Palestinian statement from April 11, Palestinian Authority spokesman
Abu Rudaynah predicted that "the region will experience a very hot
summer," if Israel continues to postpone a [peace] agreement based
on Annapolis."

Front page reports about electricity and oil shortages in Gaza
continue from the weekend in all dailies. Al Quds and Al-Ayyam lead
with an AFP photo of an ill, wheel-chair bound elderly woman
strapped atop a donkey cart rolling towards a Gaza hospital. April
13 coverage in all papers blamed the Israeli blockade of Gaza and
"escalating" military operations for the Strip's troubles and noted
statements by UNRWA Commissioner General Abu Zaid who met with
Palestinian President Abbas. Al Hayat Al-Jadida headlined on April
13 that, "UNRWA states: The people of Gaza face a tremendous
shortage of basic necessities." Al Quds' headline from the same day
read, "Palestinian factions warn of explosion in Gaza" and all
papers took note of popular protests by Gazans calling for unity and
a, "lifting of the Gaza siege." Other front-page Gaza reporting
highlights the killing of two Palestinians and injuring of two
others on April 13 in a "mysterious" explosion in Jabalia refugee
camp in northern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian President Abbas's intention to chair the next meeting of
Palestinian ministers on April 14 is welcomed with positive coverage
in all dailies. The front pages report that the unusual move to
chair the meeting shows the great confidence that Abbas feels for
Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad. The dailies also report that
Abbas will begin a foreign tour to Jordan, Moscow and Washington on
April 14.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida's front page announces the April 14 signing
ceremony between the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
and the Palestine Investment Fund in Ramallah. The report notes
that the ceremony is expected to launch a loan program worth $500
million for home mortgages to support affordable housing for
Palestinians. Al Quds and Al Ayyam carry similar coverage on their
inside economic pages.

In news on security cooperation, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida juxtaposes a
lead photo of Israeli soldiers during an April 13 incursion into
Hebron with a photo of Palestinian President Abbas and American
Middle East security envoy US General Jones at their April 13
meeting in Ramallah. The larger Hebron photo shows a Palestinian
boy standing spread-eagle, facing a stone wall with one Israeli
soldier patting him down and a second training his automatic weapon
on the boy. The second front page photo shows Abbas and Jones
seated in a presidential office and introduces factual reporting
about the meeting in which Abbas briefed the American general on,
"the latest developments in the Palestinian Territories, including
Palestinian Authority efforts to move the peace process forward."

Related security reporting highlights the April 13 graduation

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ceremony of Palestinian Security Forces in Amman on Al Quds' front
page. Giving a positive spin to the event, the paper runs a photo
of disciplined security forces marching in formation and notes that
US General Dayton and Palestinian security forces advisor Haj Ismael
were in attendance. Al-Quds also reports that National Security
Advisor Steven Hadley and [mistakenly] US General Fraser will soon
arrive in the region to prepare for the May visit of President Bush.


Clashes between Palestinian security forces and "citizens" in Balata
refugee camp in the West Bank town of Nablus on April 13 garner
front page coverage in all dailies. The papers run photos of a
flaming vehicle belonging to Nablus Governor, Jamal Mheisin who was
attacked while visiting the camp to attend a celebration honoring
orphans. The stories report that camp residents exchanged fire with
the Governor's guards before setting the vehicle afire. In a
subsequent press conference, the Governor stated that, "there will
be no immediate response [to the attack], and the guilty parties
will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law." Front pages on
April 12 reported an incursion by Israeli military forces into
Nablus.

A positive tone greets news about an agreement between the
Palestinian public employees union and the Palestinian Government
regarding recent strikes. The front page of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and
inside pages of Al Quds and Al Ayyam report that the Government and
union officials have agreed to a mechanism for resolving labor
disputes, "in a manner which causes the least possible harm to
anyone." April 13 front page coverage in all dailies, noted that
union officials thanked Palestinian President Abbas for his efforts
to resolve the labor dispute.

The front pages of Al-Quds and Al-Ayyam report that "Israeli Shin
Bet Security Services admitted on April 13 that the Israeli army is
arresting relatives of Palestinian political prisoners and
interrogating them in order to extract confessions from the
detainees." The dailies cite a report in the Israeli daily Haaretz.


The visit by Israeli Foreign Minister Livni to Qatar in conjunction
with the Democracy Forum and her meetings with Qatari officials is
front page news in all dailies. Al-Quds carries a photo showing a
relaxed Qatari Prime Minister "joking with Livni."

---------------
Weekend stories
---------------
Sunday, April 13

The dailies reported on clashes between Fatah and Hamas students at
Hebron University in the West Bank on April 12. According to
reports, the university administration has ended the disturbances
that began over the distribution of "provocative" flyers by both
groups in which they traded insults.

Saturday, April 12

Black and red banner headlines dominated front pages' reporting on
the killing of nine Gazans on April 11. Photos of dead bodies and
injured persons and of women and children running for cover from the
"Israeli attacks" led the coverage in the dailies. Related coverage
in all papers reported that an Israeli soldier was injured during
the "Israeli attacks". Front pages also highlighted that
Palestinian President Abbas called upon Hamas to "respect the

JERUSALEM 00000641 003 OF 004


relationship with Egypt, and refrain from involvement in regional
[Iran] agendas". Abbas also called upon Israel to stop its
"collective punishment and end the siege on Gaza." Meanwhile, the
dailies recorded ominous statements by Hamas leader Al-Masri that,
"if Gaza explodes, borders will not contain our people," adding
that, "the siege must be lifted before it is too late."

The front page of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that Israeli Premier
Olmert explained in a closed meeting with Israeli military leaders
that, "checkpoints are like presto pressure cookers that could
explode at anytime and cause terrifying fires." Olmert added
"imagine [Palestinians' humiliation at being asked] to strip naked
at checkpoints because there may be a terrorist among them."
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida also reported on the findings of an April 11 UN
report that, "the checkpoints which Israel has removed are not
significant." All dailies noted that the number of removed
checkpoints is, "even fewer than what Rice promised."

Former US president Carter will go ahead with his regional visit and
meetings, according to Al Ayyam's front page. The same report
stated that Secretary Rice called the meetings "useless." Meanwhile
the front pages of Al-Quds and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that US
presidential hopeful Barak Obama commented that Israel should make
changes on the ground that secure the establishment of a viable
Palestinian state.

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BLOCK QUOTES:
------------
1. Independent Al-Quds opens its editorial page with, "Boycotting
Carter and opening doors for Livni!" (04/14): "On her way to Qatar
to address the Democracy Forum held in Doha, Israeli Foreign
Minister Livni called upon Arab countries to normalize relations
with Israel in order to encourage Palestinians to embrace peace.
Her comments came at the same time as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert and [former premier and Likud leader] Netanyahu decided to
boycott former American president Carter, refusing to meet with him
during his visit to Israel... because Carter criticizes Israeli
policies and... the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian
Territories and because he intends to meet with the head of Hamas
Khalid Masha'al. So we find ourselves faced with the well-known
scene where Arab capitals that have no peace treaty with Israel,
open their doors to the Israeli Foreign Minister... while Israel
boycotts the former American president who made the most significant
progress [towards peace] by getting the first peace agreement [with
Egypt]s signed, [an agreement] that Israel never dreamed
possible..."

2. Independent Al-Ayyam carries an op-ed by veteran columnist Ali
Jaradat entitled, "towards a political upheaval that has
implications for the region" (04/14): "it is clear without a doubt
that the Middle East generally, and the Arabic region specifically
is heading for a political upheaval with major implications.
American and the Israeli policy play a role in this, especially in
determining the general direction of the upheaval. Many observers
and analysts agree that this part of the world is sitting on top of
a volcano that is about to explode. This is for many reasons... 1)
the on-going Arab-Israeli conflict whose core is the Palestinian
cause... 2) rising national Iranian ambitions, including the
ambition to be a nuclear power and play a major role in the
region... at the expense of American-Israeli control of the
region... 3) the failed Israeli military venture in Lebanon in 2006
that has prompted internal Israeli crises... Israeli leaders see the
solution [to the crises] in more wars and attacks."

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