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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (8/18): All Talk and No Action On

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 JERUSALEM 001519

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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 (8/18): All talk and no action on
launching a Palestinian national dialogue

-------------
Main Stories:
-------------
All dailies highlight an Israeli Ma'ariv report on a document sent
by Israel to the United States that outlines Israeli security
requirements for any agreement on a Palestinian state. The demands
include: first, complete disarmament of a Palestinian state; second,
prohibition of military alliances between a Palestinian state and
other countries; third, creation of an Israeli early warning system
on mountains in the West Bank; fourth, Israeli military presence
along the Jordan River and at crossing points; fifth, continuous
Israeli air control; sixth, the right to move through the main
traffic points in the West Bank at any time.

The decision of the Israeli government on August 17 to release 200
Palestinian prisoners headlines the front pages of the three
dailies. The papers report the decision was taken during the weekly
session of the Israeli Ministerial Council and is intended to show
good will toward Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud
Abbas. According to Al-Quds, the Palestinian Premier, Dr. Salam
Fayyad, stated this decision is not sufficient and that all
Palestinian prisoners should be released. Official Spokesperson of
the Palestinian Presidency, Dr. Nabil Abu Rudayna, confirmed in an
interview with Agence France Presse that this is an Israeli step in
the right direction but that he considers it insufficient. Al-Ayyam
quotes the Palestinian Chief Negotiator, Dr. Sa'eb Erekat saying,
"We principally welcome the release of any Palestinian prisoner."

The three dailies report on developments in Egyptian mediation
between the Palestinian factions. Al-Quds reports that the Hamas
leader, Izzat Al-Risheq, said in a statement to the press that Hamas
did reply to the Egyptian letter sent to all Palestinian factions,
and denied that Egypt had asked Hamas for guarantees to make the
dialogue a success. He also confirmed that the disagreement
regarding security systems is not the only source of conflict
between the Palestinian factions. In related coverage in Al-Ayyam,
reliable sources said Palestinian factions denied news reports that
Egypt had given up on sponsoring the Palestinian national dialogue.
Member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
(DFLP), Saleh Naser, said in an interview with Al-Ayyam that the
leftist parties and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) will meet with
members of Fatah in the Gaza Strip on August 20 to discuss issues
previously discussed with Hamas leaders on the Palestinian national
dialogue. Al-Ayyam also reports that the Palestinian Ambassador to
Egypt, in an interview with Voice of Palestine Radio, confirmed
Egypt wants to achieve Palestinian unity and praised the Egyptians
efforts.

All dailies, citing international and Palestinian sources, report
that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit the region
on August 25 to hold talks with the Israelis and the Palestinians to
discuss developments in negotiations and Road Map implementation.

---------------
Weekend stories
---------------

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The highly-anticipated meeting between Fayyad and Barak receives
modest coverage in the Palestinian press, with Al-Quds and Al-Ayyam
noting that the meeting constituted part of the "usual" but
"sporadic" contact between both sides. Though Al-Quds front-pages a
picture of both men shaking hands, none of the dailies leads with

JERUSALEM 00001519 002 OF 004


the story. Instead, both Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida run their
main stories highlighting Fayyad's tour in the Hebron Governorate
yesterday, quoting him as reiterating the Palestinian leadership's
"commitment toward the Palestinian national constants" and the need
for Israel to abide by its Roadmap obligations. As for the
Fayyad-Barak meeting itself, the dailies cite a statement issued by
the Fayyad office spotlighting Fayyad's demands that Israel must
deal "seriously" with the prisoner issue, cease its raids into the
West Bank, and commit to a comprehensive freeze of settlement
activities.

Hamas's agreement with four Palestinian factions yesterday to
"expedite the national dialogue" by approving the formation of a
joint committee to put forth a unified vision to resume a promising
inter-Palestinian dialogue is captured in all of the dailies'
front-pages. Leading with the story, Al-Quds reports that the
participants in the meeting, which included the PFLP, the DFLP, PIJ,
and the Palestinian People's Party, as well as Hamas, issued a joint
statement outlining the "consensus decisions" reached by the
factions. These decisions include ending internal division, forming
a national consensus government, rebuilding the security forces,
reviving the PLC, and reforming the PLO. The same article quotes
Fatah senior leader in Gaza, Zakaria Al-Agha, that Egypt will issue
invitations to the Palestinian factions to meet in Cairo "very
soon."

A reported improvement in relations between Jordan and Hamas is the
theme of several articles, including a front-page story in Al-Quds
stating that Amman intends to invite Hamas's Mishal for a visit to
the Kingdom as a step to "open a new page" in relations between
Jordan and Hamas.

Highlighting a report by its Washington correspondent, Al-Quds cites
remarks by A/S Welch during his briefing in Washington on Iran two
days ago that the goals set by the U.S. concerning the reaching of
an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians have not changed.
Welch is also reported as saying that there is a "political
reference" in place for all issues, which is being worked on with PM
Olmert despite his decision to step down next month. The same
article reports that the Palestinian Chief Negotiator, Dr. Sa'eb
Erekat met with Codels Jim Marshall and Chris Shays yesterday and
qualified as "baseless" the recent Israeli press leaks on solutions
reportedly proposed for the issues of borders, refugees and
Jerusalem.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Fayyad-Barak meeting scheduled to take place today in Tel Aviv
receives highlighted coverage in all dailies. The meeting will
discuss political developments and the release of Palestinian
prisoners, according to the reports. Running its lead story under
the headline, "Intensifying Palestinian-Israeli Meetings on the Eve
of Rice's Arrival," Al-Ayyam sees these bilateral meetings,
including the one between Fayyad and Barak and another upcoming
round of talks between the negotiating teams from both sides, headed
by Qureia and Livni, as "preparations" for Secretary Rice's upcoming
visit. The report notes that in addition to holding her usual
separate meetings with Olmert and Abbas, the Secretary is expected
to convene trilateral meetings, one with Fayyad and Barak, and
another with Qureia and Livni. Al-Quds quotes Erekat that the
Palestinian Authority reject's Israel's "test balloons" aimed at
"shifting the blame" for any failure of future negotiations on the
Palestinians. The article adds that the PA has communicated its

JERUSALEM 00001519 003 OF 004


position concerning these Israeli practices to foreign diplomats,
including American Consul General Jake Walles.

Israel's decision to postpone the evacuation of the largest
unauthorized Jewish settlement near Ramallah receives front-page
coverage in the dailies. Leading with the story, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
cites an AFP article that the Israeli Ministry of Defense has
informed the High Court that the Migron settlers living on private
Palestinian land will continue to stay there until a nearby
settlement is built for them. In a separate front-page article,
Al-Quds cites a UN report accusing Jewish settlers of escalating
their attacks on Palestinian residents.

The weekly anti-wall protests by Palestinians and international
peace activists in several Palestinian localities in the West Bank,
including Al-Khader, Al-Ma'sara, Be'lin and Ne'lin, and the Israeli
soldiers' "violent" crackdown against these demonstrators, receive
above-the-fold reports juxtaposed with pictures of protestors
arguing with soldiers. Several injuries and detentions, including
the arrest of an Israeli photographer, are reported.

The Palestinian press continues to devote front-page attention to
coverage of developments in the conflict in Georgia. Drawing
attention to U.S. concern over the conflict, Al-Quds runs the story
under a headline quoting President Bush warning Moscow against
"bullying" its neighbors. A sub-headline of the same story quotes
Secretary Rice demanding an immediate Russian pullout from Georgia.

The dailies front-page reports that two American soldiers have died
in Iraq in the past two days. Other stories report that two NATO
soldiers and four Afghani police were killed in Afghanistan last
night during military operations.

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

1. Independent Al-Quds prints its daily editorial entitled,
"National Dialogue...Again" (8/18): "We are getting tired of calling
for [Palestinian] national unity and we request that it be achieved
as quickly as possible to end the division ... Everybody is talking
about the national dialogue, its importance, and the necessity of
achieving it, but nothing is taking place on the ground. On the
contrary, we see an escalation in the division and the conflicts,
mainly through mutual negative media campaigns and the
politically-motivated mutual arrest campaign, targeting Hamas and
Fatah supporters as well as leaders and cadres of Fatah in the Gaza
Strip ... The DFLP and the PFLP met with Hamas and they agreed on
the necessity of accelerating the comprehensive national dialogue in
order to end the division and to regain unity ... So, what is the
problem, why hasn't the dialogue started, why haven't we achieved
national unity, and why don't we unite against the big challenges we
are facing? And why haven't the Egyptian initiative and the other
Arab initiatives succeeded in achieving an agreement despite the
sincerity of the Egyptian will and its efforts to start dialogue?...
[Palestinian national] dialogue should start immediately and
national unity must be achieved but it seems that no one is
listening because...these people [Palestinian factions] are only
good at hiding their true intentions by making eloquent speeches and
statements. However, people will not give up on reiterating the
call for dialogue and for the removal of the division and national
gridlock."

2. Independent Al-Ayyam runs a daily editorial by Dr. Khaled

JERUSALEM 00001519 004 OF 004


Al-Hroub from Bir Zeit entitled, "Hamas and the Extension of
President Abbas' Reign" (8/18): "...on the Palestinian [political]
level and on the ground, things are getting worse. On the internal
level, the internal division between the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip is increasing. And with each passing week that this division
continues, its resolution is delayed by a month. Practically and on
ground, the chances to reunite the homeland are difficult ... One of
the upcoming crises which Palestinians are facing is the end of
Abbas' reign on January 9, 2009. According to the Palestinian law,
the Hamas Speaker of the PLC, Ahmad Bahar from Gaza, becomes
President of the Palestinian
Authority during the 60-day period allotted for presidential
elections. Up till now, Hamas has insisted that it will refuse to
recognize Abbas' presidential authority one day after his reign is
over. What does this refusal mean, and what are the scenarios
awaiting the Palestinians in the first month of the coming year? The
first scenario, which is very optimistic, is that a miracle will
happen and the national dialogue will succeed, resulting in the
formation of a transitional or national unity government empowered
to supervise the presidential elections in the West Bank and the
Gaza Strip, and this way we will avoid the constitutional gap
crisis. The second scenario is that things will remain as they are.
Hamas will refuse to recognize Abbas as president, whereas the West
Bank will make a legal decision to extend his presidential reign
until the coming legislative elections. In this case, Hamas will
reject this decision and will insist on the appointment of Ahmad
Bahar as president. And since Bahar resides in Gaza and will remain
there, and Hamas is under an international boycott, this means that
the Palestinian division will develop to an 'advanced' stage which
is: in addition to the presence of two separate governments, the
Palestinians will have (while they are under occupation) two
presidents. Of course Hamas will not be able to hold presidential
elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip within 60 days,
meaning that they will decide to extend the rule of the PLC Speaker.
Then there will be no other option except to hold presidential
elections in the Gaza Strip only. Regardless of the direction of
the second scenario, it remains ambiguous and deepens the current
division..."


WALLES

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