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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (5/15): "Settlements: The New

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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 (5/15): "SETTLEMENTS: THE NEW
PALESTINIAN CATASTROPHE"


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Main Stories:
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The visit of President Bush to Israel and his May 14 remarks get
front page billing. The dailies focus on Bush's statement that,
"Israel is the closest ally to the United States in the Middle
East." The dailies also highlight his comments that he will
continue working towards a peace agreement. Turning attention to
the Israeli Premier, the dailies report that Olmert stated that," it
is possible to reach a partial declaration of principles this year."
Meanwhile, Ma'an News Agency reports that Secretary Rice "ruled
out" the possibility of reaching a peace agreement by the end of the
year. An inside page of Al-Quds carries an AP report that judges
President Bush's optimism on reaching an agreement in 2008 unfounded
and says that the task will have to be left to his successor.

Al-Ayyam leads with, "on the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, the
Palestinian people are still here and will not forget." Extensive
photos and reports on Nakba commemoration in the Palestinian
Territories appear in all dailies. Major protest marches are
planned for the Ramallah and Jerusalem areas that will include the
release of thousands of black balloons, the dailies report. Ma'an
News Agency reports that senior Hamas leader Mahmud Zahhar demanded
international recognition of the right of return for Palestinian
refugees, and stressed the importance of, "not recognizing Israel"
in light of Palestinian dispossession. Zahhar harshly criticized the
visit of President Bush to Israel to celebrate its 60th anniversary
of statehood. Looking to the future, the dailies highlight
demographic findings released by the Palestinian bureau of
statistics that estimate that the number of Palestinians and Jewish
Israelis living in Israel and the Palestinian Territories will be
equal by 2016. The Bureau estimates the current population of
Palestinians in the Territories at 105 million.

Al-Quds leads and all papers highlight "threats" made by Israeli
Premier Olmert of an possible, impending "wide-scale military
operation" in Gaza in response to a May 14 rocket attack on a
shopping center in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Related reporting
notes the killing of one Israeli woman and wounding of 15 others in
the attack. Reporting identifies the perpetrators as," Palestinian
fighters." Papers suggest that the attack came in retaliation for
the killing of six Palestinians in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza on
May 1. The dailies also report that Israel has filed a complaint
with the UN Security Council regarding the rocket attack. Finally,
Al Quds contends that President Bush has shown his support for
Israel by fighting Hamas and Hezbollah.

Negative coverage dominates front pages in reporting about the
Israeli authorities' decision to build a new settlement in "occupied
Jerusalem." Al-Ayyam reports that, Israeli Premier "Olmert's
government welcomed Bush with the announcement of a new settlement
project." Al-Quds also notes that Olmert approved the building of
600 new housing units in Bitar Eilit settlement in the West Bank.
Citing Israeli daily Maarive, Al-Quds reports that Israeli Knesset
member of the Shas party Eli Yishay insisted that President Bush
allowed Israel to implement the two West Bank settlement projects in
Bitar Eilet and Keriat Sefer. Related, negative front page stories
announce Israeli intentions to build a Jewish neighborhood and
synagogue in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The dailies
report that Palestinian President spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudayna
stated on May 14 that, "these Israeli decisions run counter to the
ongoing peace process." He added that, "we are used to these
"needling Israeli decisions that come whenever there is an American

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official visiting."

Al-Quds reports that the leader of the West Bank city Janin area
Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces, General Sulayman Amran,
stated that, the success of the "Hope and Smile" security campaign
in Janin will be the start to Palestinians Authority control of
Jenin Governate. He added that the success of the security
campaign, that is led by a recent infusion of additional PA security
forces, will refute Israeli allegations of chaos and disorder and
will accelerate the process of the PA assuming responsibility for
security issues [from the Israelis]. The dailies also report that
Palestinian security forces have arrested ten Palestinians who are
accused of shooting at security forces in the West Bank town of
Yatta, south of Hebron.

The dailies report that Quartet Envoy Tony Blair met with
Palestinian businessmen in the West Bank city of Jericho on May 14.
The group discussed, "Israeli obstacles facing improvements to the
business environment in the Palestinians Territories." d

Al-Quds carries an exclusive interview with Israeli Interior
Minister Meir Sheetrit who announced that Israeli ID cards will be
changed for all Israeli citizens and Jerusalem residents. He added
that he supports the idea of conducting a poll to give [Palestinian]
residents of Jerusalem the option to remain under Israeli authority
or moving to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. When
asked about family reunification, he stated that Israel cannot give
citizenship to "just anyone" who marries an Israeli. He added that
getting American citizenship is, "10 times harder that getting an
Israeli one." Currently, Israel does not allow West Bank residents
to relocate to Jerusalem or Israel to "reunite" with an Israeli
spouse, except in rare circumstances.

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BLOCK QUOTES:
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1. Independent Al-Quds runs an editorial by columnist Sulaiman
Al-Wari entitled, "Settlements are the new Palestinian catastrophe"
(5/15): "On the sixtieth anniversary of the catastrophe, Israel
remains the only occupying country [power] in this modern time. It
has not assumed its responsibilities towards the Palestinians who
were kicked off their land. Israel is confiscating land, building
the wall, and doubling the number of settlements, all of which is
against international and human rights law. This catastrophe
resulted in the occupation of the historic, national land of the
Palestinians and exiled them from their homeland, thereby
establishing the Israeli state... We also should not ignore the fact
that settlements aim to take over all Palestinian land and end the
dream of an independent Palestinian state...

2. Independent Al-Quds features an op-ed by former Palestinian
Authority Minister of Health, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi entitled,
"Sixty years later, Israel is moving backwards" (5/15): "... sixty
years later, Israeli institutions still cannot, regardless of all
their efforts, discredit the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle
for basic human rights. These rights have been recognized by
international law; the rights of equality and of freedom to live
like the rest of the world... so when Palestinians fight, they fight
against discrimination and ethnic cleansing. They also struggle to
regain the right of their scattered sons and daughters to come back
and live in their country in dignity, like the rest of the world.
They also struggle to achieve the right to self-determination so as
to regain stolen rights..."

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