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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (04/16): No Impact Expected From

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 160822Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1208
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
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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 7065
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4056
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 3912
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 5410
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 3820
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2385

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 000654

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 (04/16): NO IMPACT EXPECTED FROM
CARTER'S REGIONAL VISIT

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Main Stories:
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The front pages highlight the visit of former US president Carter to
Ramallah on April 15. Photos of Carter and his wife laying a wreath
at the tomb of late Palestinian president Yasir Arafat appear on all
front pages. Al-Quds reports that Carter is the first "high-level
American official" to honor Arafat's grave. According to the
dailies, Carter says that he will seek to convince Khalid Masha'al,
Hamas leader in Damascus, to allow for a peaceful solution with
Israel. Carter also intends to discuss Hamas's "disagreement" with
Fatah, the papers note.

Palestinian President Abbas commented on the need for a truce with
Israel, "to enable the people of Gaza to lead a normal life. Gaza's
people should not be held hostage to Palestinian rocket attacks and
Israeli [military] operations." Abbas added that his upcoming talks
in Washington will address final status issues, "from a Palestinian
perspective." The comments appear as part of front page coverage in
all dailies of the April 15 meeting between Abbas and the King of
Jordan in Amman.

Gaza reports on all front pages highlight Egyptian efforts to reopen
the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Al-Quds' lead
story reports that a new Egyptian plan will be discussed with the US
to reopen the crossing and the plan will, "include the participation
of Hamas." Al-Quds continues that the US has offered to provide
technical assistance on border control. Al-Ayyam leads with a
report on information from Egyptian sources that, "Hamas is planning
to invade the borders and target Egyptian soldiers in a bid to break
the siege." Hamas spokesperson Abu Zahri confirms that, "an
explosion [in Gaza] is coming and we will make a decision at the
appropriate time." Al Ayyam's story cites the German wire DPA.
Other reporting notes Israeli, "preparations for any Palestinian
invasion of Egyptian borders" and the killing of two Gazans in an
April 15 Israeli air strike.

The fuel crisis in Gaza continues to attract headlines. All dailies
run short, highlighted reports that a group of Gaza gas station
owners have announced that they will refuse reduced fuel shipments
from Israel in protest of the reduction. An inside photo in Al Quds
shows a little boy walking in the middle of a once-busy street,
deserted by cars and now traveled by two donkeys.

"Blair: There are important issues beneath the surface that we hope
to reveal within the coming weeks." The headline introduces a front
page exclusive interview with the Quartet envoy in Al-Quds. Blair
clarifies that the "important issues" concern checkpoints and the
daily life of Palestinians. He also expresses optimism about
reaching an agreement by the end of the year. Blair describes the
situation in the West Bank and Gaza as difficult and adds without
further detail, that he expects improvement in the West Bank. Blair
reminds readers about the US-led Overseas Private Investment
Corporation initiative to provide home loans for 30,000 new
Palestinian houses. Blair deflects a question on whether or not
Hamas should be "ignored" in talks by explaining that he and
partners are working to end the blockade on Gaza made more difficult
by Hamas rocket attacks. Finally Blair suggests that a truce
between Israel and Palestinians will aid in the establishment of a
Palestinian state.

Comments by jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi appear on Al Quds'
front page. Speaking from his Israeli cell, Barghouti comments
that, "the key to peace is ending the occupation of 1967 and

JERUSALEM 00000654 002 OF 002


establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital." He
further warns against, "delaying the sixth Fatah party conference
for any reason." In other prisoner news, the dailies note that
Israeli authorities have released Hamas Palestinian Legislative
Council (PLC) member Hamid Bit'awi. Bit'awi, who is from Nablus,
was arrested as part of an Israeli sweep last year that arrested 50
Hamas PLC members. The papers note that Bit'awi is the first of the
50 members to be released from Israeli custody.

------------
BLOCK QUOTES:
------------
1. Independent Al-Quds opens its editorial page with, "Abbas's tour
and international efforts" (04/16): "the tour which President Abbas
started [April 15] after meeting with Israeli Premier Olmert to
discuss vital issues, will include Jordan, Moscow and Washington.
The most important issues to discuss will be a truce [with Israel]
in the West Bank and Gaza, a lifting of the siege imposed on Gaza,
and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations about final status issues. All
of these issues are important and demand serious action by the
Israelis in terms of easing restrictions imposed on the movement of
people and goods by hundreds of Israeli checkpoints spread across
the West Bank. [actions must also] open Gaza crossings which have
turned Gaza into a big jail where 1 1/2 million Palestinian citizens
live... The visit by President Abbas to Russia before his visit to
the United States, will clarify details about the peace process...
The outcome of Abbas' tour might be positive if Palestinian demands
are taken seriously and evaluated fairly and if the world is made to
feel the unjustified misery of daily Palestinian life."

2. Independent Al-Ayyam carries an op-ed by veteran columnist Hani
Habib entitled, "Carter... if he talks!" (04/16): "'It might be the
most fair and important American testimony ever about the
Palestinian issue', the inside cover of Carter's Book "Palestine:
Peace Not Apartheid" notes. He was attacked then by the American
and Israeli administrations... [one year later] Carter is again
facing a new [attack] campaign by the Israeli and American
administrations because he is determined to meet with the head of
Hamas's political office in Damascus, Khalid Masha'al... Carter does
not consider himself to be a mediator or negotiator, but rather a
simple messenger boy delivering messages between parties who have
never talked before... He congratulated Hamas for its victory in
fair elections... Carter knows, as do many Israeli leaders, that
any successful settlement with the Palestinians must have the
approval of Hamas. And this requires talking to Hamas first... the
situation is perhaps more complicated than the one in Nepal, but
Carter sees no difference, except in [the lack of international
political will regarding the Israeli-Palestinian crisis]. The only
thing that he will gain [from his regional visit] is the love of the
people who hate the administrations of Bush and Olmert."

Walles

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