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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (11/17): Urgent Calls For

VZCZCXRO2646
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #2048/01 3221105
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171105Z NOV 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3253
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 7404
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4384
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4237
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 5731
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 4153
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2719

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JERUSALEM 002048

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 (11/17): URGENT CALLS FOR
"NATIONAL PALESTINIAN UNITY"

-------------
Main Stories:
-------------
The three papers lead with news of the killing of four Palestinians
in a November 16 Israeli air strike on Gaza, with Al Ayyam adding
that two homemade rockets were fired on Israel, injuring six
Israelis. Front page reporting continues that Israeli Premier
Olmert has ordered the Israeli military to draw up plans for an
attack on Hamas in Gaza, with Al Hayat Al Jadida adding that the
Israeli Defense Ministry has called for a resumption of targeted
assassinations of Gaza Hamas leaders. In related reporting, all
front pages carry statements by Palestinian Authority President
Abbas calling on Israel to maintain the Gaza truce while headlines
also highlight statements by Hamas denying media reports that the
group has agreed to a halt of rocket attacks on Israel.

In photo coverage, Al Hayat Al Jadida leads with a photo of women
mourning the death of a Palestinian killed in a November 16 Israeli
air-strike on Gaza, while Al Ayyam's front page shows an Israeli
tank near the Gaza border. Al Quds and Al Ayyam front page photos
related to Gaza-Egypt smuggling tunnels, showing Palestinians
handling gallons of smuggled fuel. The coverage is accompanied by
stories about the suffering of Gaza civilians, noting the emergence
of black markets, lengthy power outages and U.N. warnings that,
"humanitarian assistance warehouses" are empty. Meanwhile, Israel
announced that Gaza crossing points will remain closed on November
17, according to front pages.

Al Quds, citing a report by London's Sunday Times, front pages a
photo of president-elect Obama next to news that he plans to pursue
an ambitious peace plan in the Middle East by backing the Saudi
peace initiative. According to one of Obama's senior advisors, the
president-elect commented privately during a July visit to the
Middle East, that it would be "crazy" for Israel to refuse a deal
that could, "give them peace with the Muslim world."

Israel's Jerusalem municipality officials have issued an ultimatum
to the Al Kurd family of the East Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah
neighborhood to remove their protest tent, according to Al Quds' and
Al Ayyam's front pages and Al Hayat Al Jadida's inside story. The
Palestinian Al Kurd family erected a tent on their property after
being evicted by Israeli police from their Jerusalem home, which was
turned over to "Israeli settlers." Al Kurd family member Um Kamil,
told press that she would remain on her land with her handicapped
husband since they have "nowhere else to go," papers report.

Al Quds' front page reports that Egypt may opt for the launch of
secret talks between Fatah and Hamas, in light of other policy
failures. Citing DPA, the paper quotes "Palestinian official Ali
Badwan noting that Egypt has failed to accomplish a prisoners
exchange deal between Israel and Hamas and the launch of internal
Palestinian talks in Cairo. In related news, Al Ayyam's front page
reports that Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa met with Hamas
Chief Khaled Misha'al at the Syrian Foreign Ministry in Damascus on
November 16 to discuss Palestinian talks. The paper also reports
that Fatah leader Nabil Sha'ath ruled out the possibility of
Palestinian talks before the meeting of Arab foreign ministers on
November 26.

In response to official Israeli denials, Israeli daily Haaretz
confirmed on November 17, that it is in possession of a detailed
document proving that Israeli Defense Minister Barak has approved
the building of 400 new settlement units in the West Bank, according
to Al Quds' front page. Al Quds' inside page runs related news from

JERUSALEM 00002048 002 OF 003


a report released by the Palestinian Applied Research Institute
"Arij." The report contends that Israel has, "escalated violations
against Palestinians," since the Annapolis conference by building
41,559 new settlement units and 12 new settlement outposts,
demolishing 90 Palestinian houses, and uprooting 8,000 trees.

A Palestinian woman lost her baby when she was prevented from
reaching a Palestinian hospital by Israeli soldiers at the Huwarra
checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus, according to Al Quds'
inside story. Reporting notes that the soldiers laughed as they
watched the woman giving birth and highlights UN statistics that 52
Palestinian women have given birth at checkpoints; 29 infants have
died during these births.

Al Ayyam's front page publishes a photo of President Bush waving to
an audience at the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy
in Washington. The paper, citing DPA, said it was a farewell
meeting for Bush who left the meeting with a "bye" that no one in
the hall mistook for a, "see you."

---------------
Weekend stories
---------------
Sunday, November 16

All front pages reported that the Israeli military is examining the
option of conducting a broad-scale military operation in the Gaza
Strip. The dailies highlighted a statement by Israeli Defense
Minister Barak commenting that, "the attack on Gaza would expose
Israel to security risks. We will pay a high price for the release
of [captured Israeli soldier] Shalit. Barak continued that a
large-scale operation would not be launched now and that
"provocation is not useful. I am a defense minister, not a minister
of war." The papers also noted that an Israeli Ministry of Defense
source explained that Israel has no intention of re-occupying the
Gaza Strip and that any operation would be designed to deliver a
strong blow to Hamas and end rocket attacks against Israeli towns
and cities. In related reporting, the front pages quoted Israeli
Foreign Minister Livni confirming that, "Israel will respond
strongly to missile attacks against its citizens."

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad called for "quick
intervention" by president-elect Obama to save the peace process,
according to Al Ayyam's front page. Citing statements originally
published in the French daily, Le Figaro, the report quoted Fayyad
asserting that there will be no solution without "strong"
international intervention, spearheaded by the U.S., who would
monitor compliance by Israel and the Palestinians to their
obligations. In contrast, the dailies front paged comments by
Israeli Foreign Minister Livni commenting that Israel does not need
the help of a third party to bridge gaps between the two parties
[final status solutions], however, Israel does need help with
multi-lateral negotiations.

Palestinian Authority President Abbas will not give up an inch of
Palestinian land, according to the front pages of Al Ayyam and Al
Hayat Al Jadida. Abbas also asserted that Israel must withdraw to
the 1967 borders, "if it desires peace and security. Abbas' remarks
also focused on the suffering of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and
called upon the international community to intervene in lifting "the
siege" that constitutes, "a war crime, against the women, children,
youth, and elderly living there." Abbas made the remarks on the
occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the PLO's, "declaration of
independence."

JERUSALEM 00002048 003 OF 003

Saturday, November 15

Tensions are rising between Israel and Palestinian factions in the
Gaza Strip following the intensification of missile attacks against
Israeli towns, all front pages noted. The two sides exchanged blame
for igniting the situation that since November 4, has killed 12
Hamas activists and unleashed a barrage of 70 missiles on southern
Israeli towns, including Grad missiles used for the first time by
Palestinian factions. Meanwhile all front pages headlined E.U.
calls on Israel to reopen Gaza crossing points.

Al Ayyam and Al Hayat Al Jadida headlined remarks by Palestinian
Authority (PA) Premier Fayyad that the PA is committed to a
two-state solution but will refuse to make more concessions. In
related reporting, the same papers front paged news that Israeli
Premier Olmert told E.U. ambassadors that he intends to continue
indirect talks with Syria at the beginning of next year before
Israeli elections. He added that Israel and the Palestinians are
closer now to a peace agreement than ever before and that what is
needed is a show of leadership by the Palestinians.

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

1) Al Quds daily editorial is titled, "An escalation targeting
everything national" (11/17): "[Israeli threats against Gaza] are
collectively rejected and condemned by national Palestinian
consensus... perhaps, the dangerous Israeli escalation can serve as
impetus for the Palestinians, especially Fatah and Hamas, as well
as, the Palestinian Authority] Presidency and Prime Minister
Fayyad's Government and the fired government in Gaza, to rise above
the wounds and reestablish national Palestinian unity. Israel has
proven to all that it is targeting the whole of the Palestinian
cause... thus, we say that it is time to take from Israel's hand,
the [internal Palestinian] rift card and embark on a serious effort
to unite Palestinians..."

2) Regular columnist Talal Okal opines in Al Ayyam under the title,
"The Israeli escalation: Why and whither?" (11/17): "so, the truce
[between Israel and Hamas] is about to collapse because of Israel.
Israeli aggression may turn into a massive military operation...
Once again, and certainly not for the last time, events highlight
that ending internal Palestinian division is key to addressing the
Palestinian crisis..."

Walles

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