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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (5/12): Lebanon - Iranian Efforts

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OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #0789/01 1330943
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 120943Z MAY 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1465
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 7109
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4096
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 3949
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 5447
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 3865
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2426

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JERUSALEM 000789

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 (5/12): LEBANON - IRANIAN EFFORTS
TO EXPAND INFLUENCE

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

The May 11 visit by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to the
West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin is good news on all front
pages. Fayyad, shown surrounded by smiling residents, confirms that
he is happy with the results of recent security missions to the
cities in which Palestinian Authority security forces were sent to
enforce law and order. Fayyad also reveals that the Palestinian
Authority has arranged for additional training of Palestinian
security forces, some of which will take place in Jordan. On a
different topic, Fayyad stresses the importance of the upcoming
economic investors conference in Bethlehem stating that, "the
success of this conference is of great importance to the Palestinian
Authority especially since [there is] ...international
participation," according to coverage. In other economic news,
Al-Ayyam reports that Fayyad confirmed Palestinian government
approval of funding for 200 development projects, "in support of
people in areas affected by the wall."

The front pages of the three dailies carry extensive coverage on the
shortage of electricity in Gaza. The dailies highlight that more
than 800,000 people in the Gaza Strip will experience a second night
without electricity. The Gaza Strip's sole power plant shut down
due to a lack of fuel on May 11 and no bread was available when
bakeries were forced to stop operation, according to reports.
Related stories in all dailies warned of, "humanitarian, health and
environmental crises due to electricity cuts," however the dailies
differ in their reporting on whether or not Israel will resume oil
supplies on May 12.

Al-Ayyam's front page reports that Israeli Premier Olmert, "promises
that he will remain in office to continue leading efforts towards
peace." The paper also records that American businessman Morris
Talansky has confirmed that he has contributed to Olmert's election
campaigns.

Al-Quds' front page reports on the questioning of Palestinian
presidential advisors on Jerusalem affairs by the Israeli police on
May 11. The story explains that Adnan Al-Husseini and Hatim
Abdul-Qadir were held for three hours before being released.
Related front page coverage in all papers, highlights a statement by
jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi calling for, "early
legislative elections and the formation of a national government."
Barghouthi added that, "the right of return cannot be compromised."

Citing wire stories, the dailies continue to carry factual coverage
on the Lebanon crisis. Al-Ayyam reports that the death toll from
the latest militant clashes had reached 42.

----------------
Sunday, May 11
----------------

Developments in Gaza receive extensive coverage in the papers with
several front-page stories reporting on the temporary opening for
three days of the Rafah Gaza/Egypt border crossing to allow 550
patients to travel to Egypt for treatment. Other stories highlight
the shutting down of the Gaza power plant for lack of fuel, leaving
over 35 percent of the Gaza Strip without electricity, according to
officials at the plant. In other news, the dailies report that
Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman will visit Israel tomorrow
to follow up on efforts for an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement

JERUSALEM 00000789 002 OF 003


between Israel and Hamas.

"Western Official: The Bush administration will sustain peace
efforts despite [Israeli Premier] Olmert's investigation," is a
highlighted headline in both Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.
Citing a Reuters' story, the reports quote an "unnamed official"
that this matter is an Israeli internal affair and that the U.S.
will continue to assist the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a
peace agreement by the end of the year. Other front-page reports
note that Olmert's party is facing a critical and decisive time
because of his corruption charges. Al-Quds reporting on May 10 leads
with a quote from chief Palestinian negotiator Quray that, "the
peace process is not dependent on Olmert" and President Abbas
considers this is an internal Israeli issue."

The dailies cite a WAFA report that the PLO has signed an agreement
with the Sudanese government for the latter to absorb 2,000
Palestinian refugees currently stranded on the Iraqi-Syrian border.
The agreement, which was coordinated with UNRWA, will open the way
for immediate transport of the refugees to the Sudan, according to
the report.

----------------
Saturday, May 10
----------------

Black headlines announce the killing of five Palestinians in Gaza on
May 9 in an Israeli rocket attack, according to the three dailies.
The coverage also mentions the death of an Israeli in a Gaza mortar
attack on southern Israel. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida rounds out reporting
with news that Israeli settlers killed a young Palestinian near
Ramallah on May 9.

The PLO convened an emergency meeting to discuss developments in
Lebanon, forming a special committee to follow and report on events.
Palestinian President Abbas repeated his call on Lebanese parties
to dialogue. He further called upon Palestinians in Lebanon to be a
unifying force and not become party to the conflict. Al-Quds
highlights Washington discussions on possible responses to Hizbollah
and its allies while also noting Hamas statements that Israel is the
only beneficiary of the "internal turbulence" in Lebanon.

Peaceful demonstrations by Palestinians against the wall captures a
front page headline in Al-Quds which reports on demonstrations held
in Bethlehem and surrounding villages. Coverage accompanies a photo
of Palestinian children holding the Palestinian flag and blocking
the advance of Israeli soldiers. Dozens of people were reported
injured by the Israelis, including two children. In related
reporting, Al-Ayyam runs a photo of children in Ramallah carrying
symbolic keys in a peaceful demonstration to commemorate al Nakba
(the catastrophe).

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

1. Al-Quds independent carries an op-ed by veteran columnist Faisal
Abu-Khadra entitled, "Sixty years after the catastrophe...
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are at a stand-still" (5/12):
"Almost fifteen years have passed since the Palestinian-Israeli
agreement [Oslo] and Israel is still the only winner, while the
Palestinians cause faces deterioration. If we review the points of
the Israeli-Palestinian agreement, we see that the declaration of
principles has beautiful wording, but without any commitment from

JERUSALEM 00000789 003 OF 003


the Israeli side. [at that time] The Israeli Government and the
Palestinian team are in agreement that the time is right to end
centuries of confrontation and conflict and to recognize each
others' legitimate rights; to work on living peacefully together in
dignity. ... It is unfortunate that Israel is increasing its demands
and conditions on us when we have done more than what Israel asked
for. Without a doubt, the Palestinian negotiator is responsible for
half of what has happened to the cause in terms of compromise, while
the other half is due to Israeli arrogance. Sixty years have passed
since the catastrophe... but all injustice has an end. And the end
is coming soon for the dreams of the Palestinian people."

2. Independent Al-Ayyam carries an op-ed by veteran columnist Samih
Shbaib entitled, "Beirut events" (5/12): "what happened in Beirut a
few days ago is not an accident and not a snap reaction to the
decisions of the government. ... it is part of Iranian efforts to
expand influence at the expense of Arab and Egyptian authority.
What happened [was a] surprise for all Lebanese, who never expected
for a moment that Hizbollah would take control of Beirut by militant
means. This will turn things upside-down and completely change the
rules of the game... "

WALLES

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