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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (9/16): Discussing the Legitimacy

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FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2792
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
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INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
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RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4302
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4155
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 5649
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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2636

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 001721

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 (9/16): DISCUSSING THE LEGITIMACY
OF ABBAS AFTER JANUARY 9

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Main Stories:
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The PLO denouncing of remarks by Hamas leader Khalid Mish'al
concerning the end of Palestinian Authority President Abbas's
legitimacy in January 2009, leads coverage in the three dailies.
Citing a statement issued by the PLO's Executive Committee following
its September 15 meeting presided over by Abbas, the reports
highlight a sharp Committee response insisting that Hamas' stance
has no legal basis. The reports also spotlight the Committee's
pessimistic view on peace negotiations, stating that there has been
no real progress and that chances of forging an agreement before the
end of the year are slim or none at all.

"Every day that passes without an agreement with the Palestinians is
one more day that we will regret," according to Israeli Premier
Olmert, quoted on all front pages. Highlighting his September 15
remarks before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee,
the reports also quote Olmert expressing Israel's willingness to
help solve the Palestinian refugee issue.

The Palestinian Authority's (PA) announcement to allocate $23
million for projects benefiting Bedouin communities in the Jordan
Valley is front-page news in Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.
Quoting PA Minister of Information Riad Al-Malki after the PA's
weekly cabinet meeting, the papers again report that the PA will
fund the full salaries of government employees this month, in
addition to paying half of all employee benefits.

Citing an AFP report, Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida quote chief
Palestinian negotiator Sa'eb Erekat confirming that Palestinian
Authority President Abbas will meet with President Bush in
Washington on September 25, not the 26th.
In another front-page article, Erekat is reported saying that the
September 16 meeting between Abbas and Israeli Premier Olmert will
deal with four themes: Assessing the progress of ongoing
negotiations; reiterating Palestinian opposition to any partial
settlement or the postponement of any final-status issues; dealing
with the implementation of the first phase of the Roadmap, including
settlement activities; discussing the issues of Palestinian
deportees, Palestinian prisoners and the "siege" imposed on Gaza.

Al-Ayyam front-pages a story citing an Israeli radio report that an
aide to Israeli Premier Olmert recently met with Hamas members from
the West Bank. Hamas member Nasser Iddin Al-Sha'ir denied meeting
with Israeli officials and stressed that negotiations fall under the
responsibility of the PLO and PA Presidency, according to
reporting.

A public opinion poll conducted by Ramallah-based Alpha
International shows that 68% of those surveyed prefer to get their
news from Al-Quds daily and Al-Jazeera.

Turmoil in the global financial market and crisis in local real
estate markets, including the collapse of the U.S.-based investment
bank Lehman Brothers, receive front-page coverage in Al-Hayat
Al-Jadida.

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BLOCK QUOTES:
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1. Under the title, "Required... Exit From Useless Debate", Al-Quds
independent opines in its main editorial (09/16): "The debate over

JERUSALEM 00001721 002 OF 002


President Mahmud Abbas' remaining time in office is heating up over
the issue of whether it will end on January 9 or at the end of the
[Palestinian Authority's] Legislative Council cycle in 2010... this
is not the issue at all... The division... is deepening despite all
mediation efforts to date and those that will continue until Eid
Al-Fitr. Those [Hamas] who declare that they will not acknowledge
the legitimacy of the President after January 9 must answer a basic
question: Do they acknowledge today the legitimacy of the President
and the Presidency? Are they prepared to respond and positively
deal with the President and the Presidency?! The answers are simple
and clear: Those who support national division are the same ones
creating the destructive national crisis and the political vacuum.
The only solution to any internal crisis is through the restoration
of national unity... not through the stoking of disputes here and
there that can only serve narrow factional and party goals."

2. Regular columnist in independent Al-Ayyam Rajab Abu Sarriya
opines under the title, "Gaza Faces One of Two Scenarios" (09/16):
"What Khalid Mish'al declared in Damascus [non legitimate President
unless new elections held in January] clearly reveals, leaving no
room for doubt, the unchanged Hamas position that does not seek nor
desire... dialogue, at least in the next four months until
presidential elections and before the truce with Israel ends...
Mish'al himself announced a couple of weeks back that the only
funder of his movement is Iran, thus completing the picture, as if
saying to the Arab world who seek an end to Palestinian division...
that we [Hamas] have no use for you [Arabs], you give us nothing.
Gaza is now faced with one of two scenarios, either dialogue will
actually begin, and end the division before the year is over ...
Or, Egyptian attempts and Arab follow-up efforts will continue until
both parties- Arabs and Egyptians- are forced to carry out their
threats to publicly label Hamas a hindrance to dialogue... This
would leave the door wide-open for President Mahmud Abbas to carry
out his threats to declare Gaza a rebel region, disobedient to the
legitimate central power... this will lead to a tight closure and
complete isolation of the Gaza Strip."

WALLES

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