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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (8/27): Guarded Optimism Following

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2625
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RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4127
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 5621
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 001596

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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 (8/27): Guarded Optimism following
Rice's Meetings with Palestinians and Israelis

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Main Stories:
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News about the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza
Rice, to Ramallah on August 26 and her meeting with the Palestinian
Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas, capture the front page
headlines of the three dailies. The dailies report that during
their joint press conference in Ramallah, Rice and Abbas stated that
the Israeli settlement activities in the Palestinian lands form an
obstacle to the peace process and contradict agreements, the Road
Map, and the targets of negotiations in the anticipated peace
process. The official spokesperson of the Palestinian Presidency,
Nabil Abu Rudayna, said on August 26 in an interview with AFP that
for the first time, Rice suggested new ideas in the context of the
peace process and that the coming weeks will be crucial. Following
the Rice-Abbas meeting, the Palestinian Chief Negotiator announced
that Abbas will meet with the Israeli Premier, Ehud Olmert, on
August 31 and will meet with President Bush in September.

All dailies highlight news about developments in the Palestinian
national dialogue in Cairo. They report that the Islamic Jihad
leader, Muhammad Al-Hindi, said on August 26 that Egypt's mission to
unite the Palestinians is difficult but not impossible. Another
leader in the Islamic Jihad, Nafez Azzam, said that his party
discussed a number of solutions, including the formation of a
national unity government, with the Egyptian Chief of Intelligence,
Omar Suleiman. Citing DBA, Al-Quds and Al-Ayyam write that
according to Muhammad Al-Hindi, the Cairo dialogues between the
Palestinian factions will continue during the month of Ramadan.

Citing different news agencies, the three dailies write that a
reliable Palestinian security source declared on August 26 that the
Palestinians and Israelis agreed to close the files on dozens of
Palestinians who are wanted by Israel, with Israel agreeing not to
pursue or attack these individuals.

All dailies cover a meeting between the Egyptian President, Hosni
Mubarak, and the Israeli Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, on August
26. They write that the Egyptian president urged Israel to
cooperate in order to improve the humanitarian conditions in the
Gaza Strip and to demonstrate flexibility in order to achieve a
prisoner exchange deal [with Hamas] before the beginning of
Ramadan.

The dailies highlight the results of a report produced by the
Israeli NGO "Peace Now," stating that Israeli settlement activities
in the West Bank doubled during the first half of 2008.

Al-Ayyam reports that negotiations between Palestinian factions are
being held in the Gaza Strip in order to form a national committee
to release the political prisoners arrested in the wake of the Gaza
beach explosion. Reliable sources told Al-Ayyam that by giving
consent for the committee to be formed, President Abbas allowed
negotiations between the Palestinian factions to accelerate.

Citing a Reuters story, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reports that according to
an Israeli official, Israel closed its crossing points with the Gaza
Strip on August 26 following the firing of two rockets from the Gaza
Strip into Israel on August 25.


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BLOCK QUOTES:
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JERUSALEM 00001596 002 OF 002


1. Independent Al-Quds runs an editorial entitled, "The Settlement
Activity Should Be Condemned with Clear Cut Sentences" (8/27):
"[T]he U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, talked, after her
meeting with [the Palestinian Authority (PA)] President Mahmoud
Abbas in Ramallah, about the expansion of [Israeli] settlement
activities, which have doubled several times during this year ...
Her words in this regard were diplomatic because she said that she
informed her Israeli counterparts that she does not believe that the
[Israeli] settlement activity 'helps in the peace process' and that
everybody, according to her, 'needs to take steps that reinforce
trust between the two sides and everything that threatens this trust
should be avoided'... The difference between what the American
mediator in the peace process can declare regarding the settlement
activity and what should be said is very big: the Israeli settlement
activities in the West Bank are not discreet; in fact, the plans are
published in the Israeli media. In addition, the American
administration tracks Israeli settlement activities in several ways.
General Fraser's group in the Palestinian Territories sends reports
on this issue to the U.S. State Department. There are also
satellites which observe the Israeli actions in the Palestinian
Territories and around the world..."
2. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida runs an editorial by its Chief Editor, Hafez
Al-Barghouthi, entitled, "Comprehensive Peace" (8/27): "[F]or the
first time, there is some optimism in the statement issued by the
Israeli Prime Minister and the U.S. Secretary of State regarding the
reaching of an agreement before the end of the year [2008].
Moreover, the meeting of the U.S. Secretary of State with the
[Israeli and Palestinian] negotiators together and separately
confirms what she said during the press conference--that the two
sides do not negotiate in front of the media. All this indicates
the seriousness of the negotiations... [The Palestinian] president
seeks a comprehensive and not partial peace...The Palestinians'
determination in their stance and the support of the Palestinian
dialogue in Cairo...may result in support for the Palestinian stance
towards comprehensive peace. Without this, Israel will claim that
there is no Palestinian partner, while in fact there is no Israeli
partner capable of making a peace decision."


WALLES

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