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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (7/31): Doubts That Future Israeli

VZCZCXRO0334
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #1385/01 2131120
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 311120Z JUL 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2330
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEADWD/DA WASHINGTON DC//DAS-ZD/DACS-ZK//
RUEAHQA/CSAF WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
RHMFIUU/CMC WASHINGTON DC
RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 7236
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4221
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4074
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 5572
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 3990
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2555

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JERUSALEM 001385

SIPDIS

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 (7/31): Doubts that future Israeli
PM will be able to deliver on peace

-------------
Main Stories:
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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's announcement that he has
"committed mistakes" dominates the front pages of the three dailies,
with above-the-fold stories and eye-catching headlines. Al-Quds
writes, "Olmert has reached the end of the political road; He has
admitted that he has made mistakes and has announced that he will
resign soon." Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida quote Olmert as
saying, "I will resign after the Kadima party has elected a new
leader [in the September elections]." Olmert's announcement was
made during a TV speech broadcast on July 30. All dailies report on
widespread speculation regarding Olmert's possible successor and
cite a poll conducted in Israel and broadcast on Israeli TV on July
30 that Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud party is
considered the likeliest candidate. In related coverage, all
dailies provide brief biographies of Olmert's possible successors,
including Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Benjamin Netanyahu,
Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon, Minister of Transportation Shaul
Mofaz, and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. In related coverage, the
official spokesperson of the Palestinian Presidency, Nabil Abu
Rudayna, confirmed on July 30 in a phone interview with Al-Ayyam
that Olmert's decision to resign is an internal Israeli matter and
that Palestinians are focused on continuing the peace process.
Al-Ayyam reports that a U.S. State Department spokesperson announced
on July 30 that the U.S. stands ready to deal with any new Israeli
government.

Coverage in all the dailies highlights the visit of Palestinian
Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to Tunisia on July 30 to
attend the opening of the "Challenge" Conference of the
Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD). The dailies report that that
the Tunisian President, Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali, praised the
Palestinian people's struggle to obtain their rights during his
speech at the conference on July 30 and carry quotes from Abbas'
speech to Conference delegates. Al Quds quotes Abbas that, "Egypt
will invite the Palestinian factions to start a national dialogue
which will end [Palestinian] in-fighting," while Al-Ayyam and
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida quote him as saying that "we will continue our
steadfastness, and will continue to resist, build, and negotiate,
and peace will not be achieved if it is based on the logic of
power." In related coverage, all dailies highlight Abbas' remarks
in an interview with the London-based Al-Hayat Al-Londoniyya
newspaper published on July 30, in which he claims that the
Democratic candidate for the U.S. Presidency, Barack Obama, told him
that the Israelis are "crazy" if they do not accept the Arab
initiative for peace.

All the dailies carry stories about continuing Israeli actions in
the West Bank and Jerusalem on July 30. All the papers report that
eight Palestinians were injured and one killed in clashes during the
funeral in Ni'lin village, near Ramallah, of a 17-year old victim
killed by Israeli soldiers. All the dailies report as well that
Israeli soldiers invaded Qabatya, near Jenin, and besieged the house
of a Hamas leader, threatening to assassinate him. In Jerusalem, the
dailies report that Israeli settlers were frustrated in their
attempt to take over a house in Dahyet As-Salam near 'Anata city on
July 30. In related coverage in Al-Quds, the Sheikh Jarrah
Neighborhood Committee is reported to have submitted copies of fake
[Ottoman-era] documents, used by Israeli settlers to prove their
alleged ownership of Palestinian lands [both in Sheikh Jarrah and
elsewhere], to the Turkish Consul General in Jerusalem.

JERUSALEM 00001385 002 OF 003

Dailies report on developments in the Palestinian-Israeli
negotiations in Washington. Al- Ayyam carries a prominent report of
its phone interview with Palestinian Chief Negotiator Dr. Sa'eb
Erekat, in which he announced that Condoleezza Rice informed both
negotiating teams in Washington that she will visit the region on
August 20 to hold talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Erekat
added that they have agreed to try to achieve a peace agreement
which will include all final status issues.


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

1. Independent Al-Quds runs its main editorial entitled, "The end of
Olmert's era" (7/31): "Finally, the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert announced...that he is not going to run in the primary
elections of the Kadima party [scheduled for September] ... What is
important for the Palestinian people is that the peace process goes
on and works effectively and away from the current orientations that
undermine the rights of the Palestinians and use control,
occupation, and domination to deal with the Palestinians regarding
settlement activities..., peace negotiations... and house
demolitions ... According to all the information and the opinions of
observers, the last two years of Olmert's reign, especially since
the end of the second Lebanese war, has witnessed political
developments in the peace process. There are two different
explanations for these political developments, which include the
Annapolis Conference, the Israeli promise to achieve a final peace
agreement with the Palestinians by the end of this year, and the
resumption of talks with Syria ... The first explanation is that
Olmert has taken these large steps to lengthen the life of his
government and to gain the support of Israeli public opinion.
However, he was not serious [about the peace process], especially
since the destiny of his government was in the hands of extreme
parties that support settlement activities and even refuse to
discuss the Jerusalem issue when negotiating with Palestinians. The
second explanation is that Olmert could not deliver on these
promises, which exceeded his capacity. The settlement expansion in
the West Bank and Jerusalem, the ongoing establishment of the
separation barrier, the Palestinian house demolitions in East
Jerusalem, and the inability to fulfill the first item of the
Roadmap, that of removing the settlements, prove that the capacity
of the Israeli Premier to fulfill his promises is very limited ...
The Palestinians, who do not care who will rule Israel, want the
future Prime Minister to have the capacity, authority, and support
of the Israeli street so that he can fulfill peace obligations,
mainly, the complete military and settlement withdrawal from the
occupied lands of 1967 in a peace framework in which the Palestinian
national, governmental, and humanitarian rights are respected.
However, there are lots of doubts about whether the incoming Israeli
leadership...will be capable of achieving this target or working
honestly towards achieving it."

2. Independent Al-Ayyam prints its daily editorial entitled, "We
can't but Egypt can..." (7/31): "The crisis of the Palestinian
situation and internal relations regarding the accusations
surrounding the Gaza beach explosion [which took place on Friday 25
in the Gaza Strip and caused the death of 6 people, including one
child] is considered dangerous. Hamas holds Fatah responsible for
the explosion while the latter denies all involvement and considers
[Hamas' reaction to] the incident as another Hamas revolution
[against Fatah]... Egypt is responsible for everything that is going

JERUSALEM 00001385 003 OF 003


on [i.e. the increasing tensions and infighting]. Egypt is late in
inviting the [Palestinian] factions to talks. Egypt is also late in
stopping the collapse of Palestinian internal relations. The effects
of the collapse will include Egypt as well because of its borders
with the Gaza Strip. So, Egypt is the country that will be most
negatively affected ... Egypt should make a move before the factions
start arriving in Cairo ... Egypt's capacity to stop the current
crisis will be an indicator of its success or failure in running and
sponsoring the Palestinian dialogue."


WALLES

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