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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (04/28): "What If Bush Leaves

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1307
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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2404

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JERUSALEM 000721

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 (04/28): "WHAT IF BUSH LEAVES
TAKING THE PROMISE, VISION AND MAP WITH HIM?"


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

The three dailies open with coverage of the meeting between
Palestinian President Abbas and Egyptian President Mubarak in Sharm
Al-Sheikh on April 27. Al-Ayyam quotes Abbas saying, "we asked Bush
to work on a halt to settlement activities," and runs a Reuters
in-depth piece entitled, "Abbas is pessimistic about the possibility
for peace." Al-Quds highlights Abbas' statement that, "any
agreement we reach with the Israelis will be based on the borders of
1967." Related coverage in the dailies also highlights the travel of
Palestinian political party representatives to Cairo on April 28 to
discuss a possible truce with Israel. However, Al Quds reports that
Nabil Amr, Palestinian ambassador to Egypt, stated that, "Fatah will
not send delegations to Cairo" and added that President Abbas has
asked him to follow up on Egyptian truce efforts." The papers
report that Abbas showed support during his Egypt visit for Egyptian
efforts regarding a truce with Israel in Gaza. Meanwhile, "Hamas
accuses Israel of delaying any possible truce by imposing impossible
conditions," according to Al-Quds. The front page of Al-Quds rounds
out reporting on a truce and factions with a quote by jailed Fatah
leader Marwan Al-Barghouthi announcing that, "we are conducting
talks inside the jails to reinstate unity and return to the
prisoner's document as the primary reference for resolving [unity]."


Positive coverage appears on the front pages of the dailies
regarding the visit of Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad to Jenin on
April 27. The dailies report that Fayyad expressed optimism about
the security situation in Jenin. Fayyad said in a press conference
in Jenin that Israel has approved the establishment of an industrial
zone near the border with Israel which will create thousands of
jobs. Al-Quds quotes Fayyad insisting that, "We are determined to
protect our national project and to establish an independent state."
Photos of Fayyad smiling and talking to school girls in Jenin
appear on the front pages of Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.

Citing the pro-Hamas Palestine Now website, Al-Quds reports that the
"Hamas government" is expanding its ranks. The report notes that an
expanded government awaits a show of confidence from former Hamas
Prime Minister Haniyah so that it can begin performing its duties.

Progress on Turkish mediation efforts between Israel and Syria
attracts front page coverage in the dailies. Al-Quds reports that
the Israeli ambassador to Turkey said that negotiations will begin
on different levels between Israel and Syria. Related reports in
the dailies also highlight that Israeli Defense Minister Barak
accused Israeli Premier Olmert of giving away the Golan Heights.

The front page of Al-Ayyam reports that the U.S. Congress "issued a
decision" that indicates "American support for Israel as the
homeland of the Jewish people." According to Ma'an News Agency,
Hamas criticized the decision as "dangerous."

WAFA news agency reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy
declared his intent to use the French Presidency of the European
Union as a vehicle to work towards improvement of the lives of the
Palestinian people. The declaration was made during an interview
with a Tunisian daily newspaper on April 26. President Sarkozy
explained that peace will require recognition of the Palestinians'
right to an independent, developed and viable state living in peace
and security alongside Israel.


JERUSALEM 00000721 002 OF 003


---------------
Weekend Stories:
---------------
Sunday: 24/4/2008

The front pages highlighted comments made by Palestinian President
Abbas on April 26, about reaching an agreement with Israel. Abbas
stated that, "a very difficult crisis will unfold if Bush's term in
office ends without an [peace] agreement." Abbas added, "we will
have to study [what should be] the next step." Al-Quds reported
that Abbas stated that, "we will not sign any agreement with Israel
that will not satisfy our people and meet their legitimate needs."
According to Al Hayat Al Jadida's lead story, Secretary Rice will
visit Ramallah on May 3 and another summit will be held with
President Bush next month in Sharm Al-Sheikh.

"What has been said in meetings and negotiations contradicts the
reality on the ground," PLO Executive committee member Yasser Abed
Rabbo commented on Al Ayyam's front page. Related coverage on Al
Quds' front page quoted Palestinian President Abbas's senior advisor
Nabil Sha'ath stating that, "American policy is based on making the
situation explode." He added that Secretary Rice is adopting the
policy of, "creative chaos in the region." Sha'ath continued that he
believed that, "Tony Blair has had no effective role up until now.
He is a very busy man who has not achieved anything, in my opinion."
Sha'ath comments were made during an interview at his Cairo office
with the German news agency DPA.

The front page of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida carried an AFP story entitled,
"McCain says Obama is Hamas' candidate." According to the article,
McCain commented that, "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to
be the next president of the United States."

Saturday: 26/4/2008

The dailies were pessimistic in their coverage of Palestinian
President Abbas' recent visit to Washington. Al-Quds led with,
"Abbas looked angry and expressed pessimism regarding reaching any
agreement." Al-Quds headlined an Abbas quote in bolded print: "We
have not achieved any progress yet, and settlements are the greatest
obstacle to the path of peace." The front pages of the three
dailies also highlighted comments by Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu
Rudayna who told AFP that, "President Abbas will not accept any
peace agreement with Israel that fails to meet the demands of the
Palestinian people." Abu Rudayna "warned" that the current chance
for peace could slip away.
Citing an AFP story, the front pages of the three dailies reported
that the United States denied reports that it gave "the green light
to Israel to expand settlements." The U.S. clarification was made
in response to comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
that appeared in a Washington Post article that President Bush gave
a letter to Olmert's predecessor Ariel Sharon that "allowed" Israel
to expand West Bank settlements.

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

1. Al-Ayyam carries an op-ed by veteran columnist Jawad Al-Bashiti
entitled, "What if Bush leaves and takes with him the promise and
vision and the map?" (4/28): "...President Bush did not show
President Abbas anything during their latest meeting at the White
House that gives Abbas optimism about the possibilities for peace.
Time is short, and getting shorter, therefore, President Bush warned

JERUSALEM 00000721 003 OF 003


that he will be leaving the White House, taking with him the
'promise and the vision, the map" as Clinton did before with his
'ideas and thoughts'. Something similar to the meeting between
former Palestinian President Arafat and Clinton and Barak in Camp
David happened at the meeting between Abbas and Bush. What if Bush
does leave the White House and leaves Palestinians and Israelis
trapped in the 'net of the Annapolis negotiations'... if all
Palestinian compromises are not enough to give Palestinians a
solution in the coming months? [Then it will be] necessary to
follow Abbas [counsel] that Palestinians should study what their
next step should be."

2. Veteran columnist Talal Okal opines in Al Ayyam under that title,
"mixing papers in preparation for big changes" (4/28): "While
President Abbas was travelling to Washington to follow on the visit
of the King of Jordan to the U.S.... [a] message ... was passed by
the Turkish Prime Minister that Israel is ready to return the Golan
Heights to Syria in exchange for peace... we can conclude that...
the Israeli message to Syria had been coordinated with American
policy... And we can see that the American State department is
racing against time to prepare ... to revive hope in [the] regional
peace process..."

WALLES

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