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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (04/21): Israeli Initiatives In

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DE RUEHJM #0685/01 1121105
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 211105Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1251
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEADWD/DA WASHINGTON DC//DAS-ZD/DACS-ZK//
RUEAHQA/CSAF WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
RHMFIUU/CMC WASHINGTON DC
RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 7071
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4062
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 3918
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 5416
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 3826
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2391

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SIPDIS

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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 (04/21): ISRAELI INITIATIVES IN
GAZA AND THE WEST BANK


-------------
Main Stories:
-------------

The lead story in Al-Quds quotes Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, one of Hamas'
Gaza-based leaders, saying "we have agreed on all the Egyptian
suggestions regarding a truce and a lifting of the siege," adding
"[the delegation] will not go back to Gaza before overcoming all
obstacles." Related reports continue to track the visit of former
President Carter, who is said to have reached a deal with Hamas that
includes a truce in Gaza in exchange for an end to the Israeli siege
and the opening of the border crossings. Meanwhile, on-going
violence in Gaza is featured in all dailies, including the death of
three Palestinians following an Israeli airstrike on April 20.
Photos of weeping children watching funerals in Gaza appear on the
front pages of Al-Quds and Al-Ayyam. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida carries a
report on a symbolic funeral in Ramallah on April 20 for the Reuters
cameraman killed in Gaza on April 16 by Israeli fire.

Al Hayat Al Jadida reports that Prime Minister Salam Fayyad chaired
a meeting with his security chiefs on April 20 in Ramallah to
discuss the security situation in various Palestinian cities.
Neither Al Quds nor Al-Ayyam reported on this event. In related
news, Ma'an quotes Palestinian police sources on several new
appointments within the Palestinian police services at the request
of the new commander of Palestinian police Hazim Atallah. Tariq
Al-Wahidi was appointed general director of the security department
in the Palestinian police service, while Yousif Shahada moved to
general director of the Salfeet district police, and Iyad Shtayya
was appointed as general director of Palestinian judicial police.

In continuing coverage of President Abbas' foreign travel, the
dailies carry comments Abbas made in Tunis that "we are working
towards reaching a framework with Israel before the end of Bush's
term." Related coverage on the front page of Al-Quds quotes Abbas
that "talks with Bush and Rice during my visit to the United States
will focus on how negotiations are going in light of meetings with
Olmert."

The three dailies carry a press release sent by ConGen Public
Affairs Section on an Earth Day Clean-Up sponsored by the U.S.
Consulate in cooperation with a school and youth association in East
Jerusalem on April 20. Photos sent by PAS Jerusalem accompany the
stories in Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.

According to Ma'an News Agency, Minister of Information and Foreign
Affairs Riyad Al-Malki announced the Ministry of Information is in
the process of amending Palestinian media laws.

Al-Quds reports that "the Israeli authorities approved the building
of 400 new housing units in Qalandia."

---------------
Weekend Summary
---------------

Sunday, April 20

All dailies led with reports on the attack on Kerem Shalom by Hamas
militants, reporting that 13 Israeli soldiers were injured and seven
Palestinians were killed, including the three Hamas bombers who
drove the three explosives-laden vehicles into the crossing used to
transport goods into Gaza. None of the reports in the Palestinian
dailies referred to the attack as a suicide operation, while the

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lead headlines in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and Al-Ayyam focused on the
Palestinians killed in Israeli aerial shelling that followed the
attack. The banner headline in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida declared, "12
Martyrs in Several Massacres in Gaza Strip."

Interactions and reported outcomes of former President Carter's
second round of talks with Hamas leaders in Damascus continued to
receive highlighted coverage in the dailies. Al-Quds reported that
Hamas will study suggestions presented by Carter, who will return to
Jerusalem Monday to announce the results of his efforts on the
issues of truce, prisoner exchanges, and opening of the Gaza
crossings.

Saturday, April 19

President Abbas' meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow
received highlighted coverage in the local press. Leading with the
story, Al-Quds and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida quoted Abbas saying talks with
Israel are facing difficulties. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida's lead headline
cited remarks by Abbas that he will not agree to a memorandum of
understanding with the Israelis as a substitute to a final and
implementable agreement. Other reports cited comments by Abbas
during a TV interview that the Palestinians would not give up the
right of return.

Israel's plan to build 100 housing units in two West Bank
settlements was the lead story in Al-Ayyam. Front-page reports in
all dailies highlighted the Palestinian Authority's condemnation of
the Israeli plan, quoting Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat as
saying that the PA has asked the American administration to activate
the trilateral mechanism headed by LTG Fraser as the way to stop all
settlement expansions.

The meeting between former President Carter and Hamas chief Khalid
Mish'al in Damascus received front-paged coverage. Al-Quds reported
that the lengthy meeting included discussion on the issues of
reaching a cease-fire with Israel, prisoners' exchange and lifting
the siege on Gaza. The same article quoted Hamas senior leader
Mohammad Nazzal that Carter's aides have already started talks with
Hamas officials on the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and
halting rocket attacks against Israel. In related news, the dailies
reported that Israeli Deputy PM Eli Yishai expressed to Carter his
willingness to meet with Hamas leaders, including Mish'al, to
expedite the completion of the exchange of prisoners deal.

The dailies reported that Israel has agreed to allow the Palestinian
Authority to re-open 20 police stations in Area B of the West Bank
that were closed by Israeli in 2000. Al-Quds reported the Israeli
government move comes as part of the Israeli easing of restrictions
on Palestinians, as promised to Secretary Rice by Israeli Defense
Minister Barak during their meeting in March.

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BLOCK QUOTES:
------------

1. Independent Al-Quds, in its daily editorial entitled, "The
truce... the ball is in the Israeli court," opined : "It is very
clear from the statement of Hamas leader Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar that
Hamas is more likely going to positively interact with the Egyptian
suggestions for reaching a truce with Israel... it is clear that
Egyptian efforts side by side with the communications and
consultations done Former US president Carter with the Palestinian
Authority and Hamas leadership will speed up this process. Talks

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with all involved parties focused on the main elements that will
help reach a comprehensive truce. It includes agreeing to a mutual
cease-fire (though Israel is trying to keep this limited to only the
Gaza Strip), an end to the siege on Gaza, as well as a prisoner's
exchange and the opening of the Gaza crossings. It is obvious that
reaching a detailed agreement on these elements is not impossible if
Israel shows a real desire for a truce, and if it realizes that
reaching a truce needs all parties to offer core 'compromises,'
especially after Hamas showed high flexibility in Egypt during
meetings with Carter, despite on-going Israeli actions and the
accumulation of new victims [in Gaza] every day."

2. Independent Al-Ayyam carries an op-ed by regular columnist Ali
Jaradat, entitled, "Olmert and the 'Isolation plan'" that reads:
"...Olmert reminded the Israelis, in a TV interview to celebrate the
Passover holiday, that he has not rejected the option of imposing a
unilateral Israeli vision on the ground. He announced that he will
work until the end of this year to achieve an understanding with the
Palestinians, but added that if this appears impossible, [Israel]
would implement a unilateral solution ... going back to complete
what Sharon started in Gaza, going back to implementing a one-sided
'Isolation Plan' in the West Bank. This plan, which Olmert delayed
after failing in the aggression of May 2006 [Lebanon War], ... has
political Israeli agreement to what the Israeli bulldozers are doing
on the ground. It also receives absolute American support. Without
internal Palestinian agreement, the Palestinian policy - both its
diplomatic path of negotiations and its aggressive approach of
resistance - will remain ineffective."

DUFFY

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