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Cablegate: Lebanon: Special Media Reaction: Secretary Rice's

O 201507Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
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STATE FOR NEA/ELA - IRWIN, NEA/PPD, R, INR/R/MR
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TAGS: PREF PREL KMDR OPRC KPAO KISL KPAL LE
SUBJECT: Lebanon: Special Media Reaction: Secretary Rice's
Visit to Lebanon, June 20, 2008

Atmospherics:
-------------

Despite the press' preoccupation with the complexities blocking
formation of the government, the media continued to give top billing
to the Shebaa Farms issue. The press underscored that it is not
only the subject of American interest but international and Arab
interest as well. The press observed that the French President will
discuss Shebaa Farms during his upcoming visit to Israel on Sunday,
and noted that President Mubarak intends to discuss it as well with
Israeli Prime Minister Olmert when they meet next week in Sharm
El-Sheikh. Several newspapers also front-paged the meeting that
took place between Secretary Rice and U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon, claiming that she gave him "the green light" to begin
working on this issue.

In this same context, most media outlets emphasized Hizballah's
reaction to this "sudden" interest in the Shebaa Farms. The press
noted in particular a statement by one Hizballah MP who said that
"getting the Shebaa Farms back from the Zionist occupation will not
change the existing formula...which is Lebanon's need for the
Resistance. ... Those who think that placing the Shebaa Farms under
an international umbrella could put the Resistance uder
pressure...are delusional."

Block Quotes:
-------------

"Hizballah and the Opposition: The Resistance Weapons Will Not Be
Subjected to Compromise Even Following the Liberation of the Shebaa
Farms" Moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar

"Arab-International Activity to Liberate the Farms" Pro-opposition
Al-Akhbar

"Cabinet Assembly Shows No Sign of Early Completion,"
English-language, Beirut-based The Daily Star


Block Quotes:
------------

"No Israeli Seriousness and American Naivety," an editorial by
Sarkis Naoum in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (6/20):

"...It is good that President Suleiman said in his inauguration
speech that he intends to exert every effort possible to liberate
the Shebaa Farms. ...It is also good that he told the delegations
who came to congratulate him, that he has additional documents that
prove the Lebanese ownership of the Shebaa Farms. ...As is known,
Suleiman raised the issue of the Shebaa Farms before Secretary
Rice's surprising visit. ...For this reason he was able to talk
with her about this issue with clarity and frankness. ...In this
regard, News reports noted that Secretary Rice and her team do not
have confidence in the U.N. and do not want to place the Shebaa
Farms under UN patronage, but are adamant about finding a way to
liberate these Farms. ...It is believed that such an attitude is
not helpful and has no value because Secretary Rice and her
Administration are leaving their posts soon. ...Olmert is also
leaving...and Israel and the U.S. are going to be engrossed with
elections. In such atmospheres, there will be
no Israeli concessions and no U.S. decisions..."

"Qoureitem: Should We Refuse Israeli Withdrawal from the Shebaa
Farms to Avoid being Labeled as Conspiring against the Resistance?"
an editorial by Imad Marmal in Arab nationalist As-Safir (6/20):

"...Sources who commented about this new enthusiasm related to
liberation of the Shebaa Farms said that Mr. Eliot Abrams, in
coordination with the strategic planning office at the State
Department, brought the issue of the Shebaa Farms to the
surface...because this issue might be the only one the Bush
Administration would be able to solve before it leaves. ...Circles
close to MP Hariri, however, noted that a lot that was said about
Secretary Rice's visit was pure imagination. ...They noted that
Secretary Rice only said that her Administration is serious in
trying to end the Israeli occupation of the Shebaa Fams. Rice told
Hariri, 'you have been asking for three years for the Shebaa
Farms...but this time, we are the ones who are asking about this
issue and President Bush also discussed it with the Lebanese
Ambassador to Washington.' Hariri responded by noting that the
issue of the Lebanese prisoners should be dealt with as well.
...Hariri circles wondered over statements that claim that efforts
to get Israel to withdraw from the Shebaa farms reflect bad intentions
towards Hizballah... These sources asked, if Israel decides to
withdraw...do we ask her to stay in Shebaa to avoid being labeled as
conspiring against the Resistance? ..."

Sison

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