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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (5/16): Ignoring the Nakba

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FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1547
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC
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RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 7119
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4106
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 3959
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 5457
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 3875
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2437

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 000840

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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 (5/16): IGNORING THE NAKBA


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Main Stories:
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Negative coverage surrounds front page reporting on President Bush's
May 15 speech before the Israeli Knesset. The dailies accuse Bush
of, "ignoring the catastrophe of the Palestinians and the peace
process." Al-Quds reports that Bush, "ignored the right of
Palestinians to establish an independent state," adding that Bush
said, "greater Israel is a promise from God to the Jews." Citing
the German wire DPA, the dailies report that PLO executive committee
member Tayseer Khaled commented that, "the speech by Bush exceeded
the extremes of [Israeli Premier] Olmert and [Israeli Likud
opposition leader] Netanyahu." Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reports that
"Israeli officials consider Bush more Zionist than many Israeli
ministers." Al-Ayyam reports under a red banner, "Bush pledged to
support the 'chosen people' and suggested that the prophecy of
regional peace will only be fulfilled sixty years from now!" The
dailies also highlight coverage on the visit of Bush to Saudi
Arabia. The papers report that the Saudis will urge Bush to find a
solution to the "Palestinian cause" in order to limit Iranian
influence in the region.


Extensive coverage with photos of Nakba commemoration events
throughout the West Bank and Gaza dominate front pages.
Palestinians in Jerusalem and Israel also marked the 60th
anniversary, the dailies report. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida's lead story
quotes Palestinian President Abbas stating that, "it is time for
this blight on humanity to end, called the Nakba, should end."
Al-Quds leads with "Abbas: The security of Israel is connected to
our independence, continuing this catastrophe will not bring
security to anyone." Al-Ayyam quotes Abbas saying, "60 years of
struggle have not weakened us." All front pages quote Palestinian
Premier Fayyad's comments that, "this collective pain can be healed
through a just peace." Al-Ayyam reports that Fayyad added that,
"Israel is celebrating and we are in pain because of the continuing
occupation and settlement activity and the brutality of the
settlers." In Gaza, the dailies reported that Hamas used force to
prevent Nakba commemoration events in the area of Jabalya. The
Israeli Foreign Minister was quoted in the dailies saying,
"Palestinians cannot celebrate independence unless they drop the
word catastrophe."

The dailies report that Israeli authorities are planning to close
the Ibrahim mosque in Hebron in order to "evaluate the security
situation there." The front page of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida quotes
Hebron Waqf Director Zaid Al-Jabari asserting that, "We consider
this decision a violation of the mosque, and the right to religious
freedom."

The dailies report that the situation on the ground in Gaza will
likely see an escalation in military activity as Israeli authorities
consider a wide-scale military operation in Gaza.

The dailies highlight coverage of the attempt by 100 Israeli
settlers to take over land in the West Bank town of Beit Sahour.

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

1. Independent Al-Quds runs its daily editorial entitled, "Bias
even towards the significance of the catastrophe" (5/16): "...
while Israeli and international media are full of news about the

JERUSALEM 00000840 002 OF 002


Israeli celebration of its 60th independence anniversary, the
Palestinian catastrophe has been totally ignored internationally.
The American position would have seemed more balanced if President
Bush had shown symbolic feelings [sympathy]for the Palestinians who
are commemorating their catastrophe... ordinary Arabs, Muslims and
Palestinians know there is a strategic and strong bond between the
United States and Israel. But the significance of the catastrophe
and its consequences are humanitarian in nature. Western
civilizations are proud of ... revolutions like the French
revolution and the
American Revolution... We can understand the American and western
bias towards Israel, but we cannot at all understand the phenomenon
of anti-Nakba feelings that [ignore that] our people have been
suffering from its continuing consequences since the last sixty
years."

2. Independent Al-Ayyam runs an editorial by veteran columnist
Muhammed Yaghi entitled, "America does not hold the papers for a
solution" (5/16): "Do not believe that the United States holds the
papers for solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict ... on the eve
of the American elections we see that all American candidates are
racing to claim a close relationship with Israel. John McCain said
that Hamas is a nightmare and that Hamas supports Obama. McCain
visited [the southern Israeli city of] Sderot and refused to visit
[Palestinian President] Abbas in Ramallah. And when he was asked if
Palestinians will consider his actions to be biased towards Israel,
he replied by saying, "let them think whatever they want." Obama
defended himself by accusing McCain of, "losing his mind" and how
could McCain say that when my [Obama] policy is similar to his
regarding Hamas? Obama added that he, "would like to see Israel
standing side by side with America for the next 600 years." Hillary
Clinton said that she will wipe Iran off of the map if it uses
nuclear power against Israel." Can we, after all of the above,
believe the Americans hold the papers for a solution?

WALLES

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