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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (5/20): Criticism of Bush Knesset

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RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 3964
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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

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TAGS: PREL KMDR KPAL KWBG KPAO IS
SUBJECT: JERUSALEM MEDIA REACTION (5/20): CRITICISM OF BUSH KNESSET
SPEECH CONTINUES

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Main Stories:
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Reports about a truce between Hamas and Israel lead coverage in all
dailies. Papers report that the Israelis imposed the release of
captured soldier Shalit as a condition to lifting, "the siege". The
dailies highlighted the visit of Israeli Defense Minister Barak to
Egypt and his talks with the Egyptians regarding the truce. Related
reports highlight Barak's participation in the World Economic Forum.
A photo of Barak, Quartet Representative Blair and Palestinian
Prime Minister Fayyad leads coverage in Al-Quds.

Quotes from Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad from his speech at the
World Economic Forum receive front page coverage in all dailies.
Reports highlight that Fayyad denied reports that Palestinian
President Abbas plans to resign if a final agreement is not reached
in negotiations with Israel within six months. Fayyad also spoke
about the upcoming Bethlehem Palestine Investment Conference and
stressed that it will be a great opportunity for Palestinians to
show that the atmosphere in the Palestinian Territories is conducive
to investment. Al-Ayyam quotes Fayyad identifying an end to
settlement activity as, "our greatest demand", adding that any
success in reaching a truce with Israel much include the reopening
of Gaza border crossings.

The dailies continue for a fourth day to carry coverage of
Palestinian disappointment over President Bush's speech before the
Knesset. Al Hayat Al Jadida runs a front page black banner
headline, ""National and Islamic parties warn of a new Israeli
holocaust in the Gaza Strip and denounce Bush's remarks." The
majority of editorials criticize Bush's Knesset speech for condoning
Israeli violence on Palestinians. Some note that Bush's remarks
have pushed moderate Arabs and Palestinians to become more extreme.


PLO member Yasser Abd-Rabbo insists that, Palestinian "President
Abbas will be honest and open with his people and will tell them
about the realities of the current situation," according to the
dailies reporting on negotiations between Israel and the
Palestinians. Abd Rabbo describes American peace efforts as,
"unable to achieve miracles." He highlights that the gap between
the negotiating parties remains, "deep and wide on core issues." A
recent opinion poll lends public support to the peace efforts,
showing that a majority (56%) of Palestinians believe that
negotiations with Israel should continue. The poll was conducted by
Al-Najah University in the West Bank town of Nablus. Related news
in the dailies reports that Israeli Defense Minister Barak expects
early Israeli elections by 2009.

Front page coverage brings an angry tone to Gaza reporting on the,
"kidnapping of the mayor of Khan Yunis, by the Executive Forces
affiliated with Hamas." Separate coverage on all front pages
highlights Israeli experts' belief that weapons have been smuggled
into Gaza by sea and not through tunnels.

News appears again in all dailies about Israeli plans to build a
bridge in Bab Al-Magarb in the Old City of Jerusalem. The dailies
report that Israel has political and security interests in
continuing diggings near the Haram Al Sharif (temple mount) in
Jerusalem. Muslim leaders have condemned the diggings for
potentially damaging the Al Aqsa mosque and the Haram Al Sharif.

The killing of a Palestinian 16 year old boy by the Israeli Defense

JERUSALEM 00000857 002 OF 002


Forces near the Hiwarah checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus
is front page news in all dailies. They report that the boy was
killed when Israeli soldiers found his behavior to be suspicious.

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BLOCK QUOTES:
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1. Independent Al-Ayyam runs an editorial entitled, "Bush made the
life of moderate Arabs difficult... even impossible" (5/20): "May
God help the moderate Arabs who were frustrated by Bush's speech
before the Israeli Knesset that ignored the suffering of
Palestinians and the peace process, as well as his promises to
establish a Palestinian state. He was more Zionist that Zionists
themselves. He even exceeded [being more Zionist than] the head of
the Israeli Government Ehud Olmert, as many Knesset members said.
He almost raised the American-Israeli relationship to a holy
status... the most moderate Palestinian does not accept the current
Israeli offer which includes ending the refugee [right of return],
keeping Jerusalem under Israeli control and maintaining settlement
activities. As well as controlling the Jordan valley, while having
a Palestinian state within the borders of the wall in what might be
termed a state... American policies during Bush's term have made the
life of moderate Arabs difficult, if not impossible...."

2. Al-Ayyam carries an op-ed by veteran columnist Muhaned Abd-Al
Hameed entitled "The response to Bush's speech is to halt
negotiations" (20/5): "...Bush slammed all of those who bet on his
Annapolis initiative. He threw Palestinians into a new crisis over
whether or not negotiations should continue after Bush revealed all
his cards... Can we continue negotiations with the Israeli
Government which is in crisis and about to collapse? Or should we
bet again on the losing horse of Bush and his policy with is similar
to the Mifdal party's which is more Zionist than Olmert's
Government? The idea of Annapolis has already collapsed... "

WALLES

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