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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (6/20): The Truce - What's Next?

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 001047

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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD
WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
NSC FOR ABRAMS
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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 (6/20): THE TRUCE - WHAT'S NEXT?
U.N TROOPS IN GAZA; A WEST BANK TRUCE?

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Main Stories:
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Dailies lead with news on the first day of a truce between Hamas and
Israel. Al-Ayyam reports, "the truce survived its first day.
Israeli tanks stand idle on the Gaza borders." The paper runs
photos of Israeli soldiers and members of the Hamas Executive Forces
relaxing on their respective sides of the Gaza line. All dailies
express caution in their predictions of how long the truce will
last. The dailies highlight that if the truce lasts long enough,
the deployment of U.N. forces in Gaza may be possible. The papers
quote Israeli Premier Olmert stating that the truce is the last
chance for Hamas to avoid an Israeli military attack on the Gaza
Strip. All dailies report that one Palestinian fighter was killed
and two injured in an Israeli air strike that took place just before
the start of the ceasefire.

Coverage also highlights official Palestinian reaction to the
Hamas/Israel truce. Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad considers the
truce to be a, "very important step towards improving the
humanitarian situation in Gaza," according to the dailies. Fayyad
also criticizes, "ongoing settlement activities in the West Bank,"
and calls for the truce to be expanded to the West Bank. Related
reports in all papers highlight that Palestinian President Abbas
welcomed the truce.

All dailies express outrage over the burning by Israeli settlers of
Palestinian olive trees and wheat fields near the West Bank city of
Nablus on June 19. Front page photos in all papers show the burning
landscape. Jamal Al Muhaysin, Governor of Nablus, comments that
settlers are, "like a cancer in the West Bank," and alerted press
that Israeli Defense Forces denied access to civil defense firemen,
causing the fire to spread.

All dailies report that Hamas and Israel will begin indirect
negotiations on June 24 regarding a prisoners' exchange agreement
that Israeli Defense Minister Barak says will require Israel to
make, "difficult decisions." In related coverage, the dailies
highlight outrage expressed by the father of captured Israeli
soldier Shalit. The father accuses Israeli Premier Olmert and
Israeli officials of having, 'forsaken' his son who has been held
captive in Gaza since June 2006.

Ongoing meetings between Fatah and Hamas officials aimed at
reconciliation attract front page coverage in the dailies. The
dailies reprt that a Palestinian presidential delegation met ith
national activists including governors, mayos, community and
religious leaders in an attemptto boost reconciliation efforts.
However, the daiies also highlight disappointment by Hamas leader
Haniyyah over the delegation's failure to meet wih him and other
members of his Hamas "government" as previously planned. Haniyyah
described the failure as, "irresponsible behavior" by the Fatah
leaders and indicates that reconciliation is not their true
objective.

Palestinian President Abbas' June 19 meeting with Yemeni President
Salih is front page news. Abbas briefed Salih on current
developments in the Palestinian Territory and the truce agreement in
the Gaza Strip, papers note. Abbas also briefed Salih on the
results of his recent visit to the United States and his meeting
with Israeli Premier Olmert and progress on the peace process,
papers continue.
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JERUSALEM 00001047 002 OF 002


BLOCK QUOTES:
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1. Al-Quds prints its daily editorial entitled, "What comes next,
after the first day of the truce! (6/20): "Finally, a truce was
agreed upon and it has cautiously entered its first day. Everyone
is watching, with many differing expectations. Hamas officials, one
after the other, confirm their commitment to the truce and all its
details. They also describe it as a victory for the Palestinian
people. On the Israeli side, they assure, with great caution, their
commitment to the truce while they continue preparations for a
comprehensive military operation [into Gaza should the truce
fail]... in any case, the truce is a positive and needed step, and
it is one thing that the Palestinian Authority has always called
for. It was the first supporter of it and called upon all parties
to commit to it. The positive position of the Palestinian Authority
regarding the truce is [clear]. But there are many questions...
[that remain] after the first day of the truce. The big question is
how long the truce will last, for one month or two? Or will it be
on-going and develop into something bigger than merely a truce
between Hamas and Israel? The second big question is what influence
the truce will have on the national Palestinian dialogue that
President Abbas has called for. Is it going to make Hamas more
extreme in terms of its demands, or will it become a meeting point
for all Palestinian parties? The coming days will provide some of
the answers. Everyone is watching and hoping that all of this will
result in real and positive outcomes."

2. Independent Al-Ayyam carries an op-ed by columnist Muhammad
Yaghi entitled, "The implications of the cease-fire in Gaza" (6/20):
"Hamas is trying to maintain its grip on Gaza through the
accomplishment of the truce. It is a truce that Hamas sees as a way
to lift the siege, while Israel sees it as a way to somewhat ease
restrictions on fuel and goods, and on [people's] movement through
some of the crossings... This agreement seems to have further
implications. Let us assume that it... was also agreed upon by all
other Palestinian parties [in Gaza]; then Hamas should honor its
commitment to the truce, if the Israelis [do]... and prevent small
and bigger groups... from breaking it. In this way,...it may even
provide a positive opening for the development of a new and real
relationship between Fatah and Hamas that can end internal
Palestinian division and unite the two parts of the nation."

WALLES

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