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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (12/15): Expectations and Fears

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JERUSALEM 002238

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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

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LONDON FOR HKANONA AND POL - TSOU
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

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TAGS: PREL KMDR KPAL KWBG KPAO IS
SUBJECT: JERUSALEM MEDIA REACTION (12/15): EXPECTATIONS AND FEARS
OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL "PEACE PROCESS" MEETING

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Main Stories:
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Al Quds and Al Ayyam run front page photos of Hamas leader Haniyah
addressing crowds at a Hamas' rally in Gaza on December 14,
celebrating the group's 21st anniversary. Citing news agencies, the
papers quote Haniyyah rejecting the extension of Palestinian
Authority President Abbas' term beyond January 9, 2009. Haniyah
states that his top priority is to break the Gaza "siege" through
implementing a "boat intifada" of international solidarity boats and
other "creative means." He also states, according to Al Ayyam's
front page, that President Bush has failed to topple Hamas rule in
Gaza. A second Hamas leader Al Zahhar is quoted on Al Hayat Al
Jadida's front page asserting that Palestinian internal division
will continue for a long time, and that Hamas is the sole legitimate
actor in the Palestinian Territories. Meanwhile, the papers front
pages cite AFP in reporting that Abbas will soon call for
presidential and legislative elections, according to Abbas' advisor
Nabil Abu Rudaynah.

The Hamas truce with Israel will not be renewed, according to Hamas
leader Khalid Misha'al who is quoted on Al Quds' front page. Citing
news agencies, the reporting notes that Misha'al speaking from
Damascus on December 14 stated that continued Israeli violations and
the closure of Gaza crossing points preclude an extension. The
paper cites AFP in also reporting that Israeli Premier Olmert stated
that Israel will renew the truce if Hamas stops rocket attacks on
Israel. In other Gaza news, Al Hayat Al Jadida's front page
highlights that the Gaza Strip's only power plant ran out of fuel on
December 14, plunging much of Gaza into darkness. Hamas members
noted that they expect a 50% reduction in the supply of electricity
to the Strip and possible power grid breakdowns, if Israel does not
reopen crossings to allow for the entry of fuel.
Citing news agencies, Al Hayat Al Jadida leads with statements by
Egypt's Foreign Minister Abu Al Ghayt telling journalists in Cairo
on December 14 that Iran is seeking to expand its influence into the
region by exploiting the Palestinian issue and manipulating a few
Palestinians who have become, "like a toy in their [Iranians']
hands." Al Ayyam's front page also runs Abu Al Ghayt's statements.

All the papers run extensive front page photo and written coverage
of the "attack" by a journalist on President Bush at a press
conference in Baghdad during his farewell visit to Iraq on December
14. The papers note that President Bush listed U.S. achievements in
Iraq despite the "many years of bloodshed" in Iraq. Al Ayyam's
front page adds, citing DPA and Israeli daily Haaretz, that
president-elect Obama is expected to appoint Dennis Ross as his
special envoy to the Middle East.
Al Hayat Al Jadida's and Al Ayyam's front pages report that
Secretary Rice called Palestinian Authority President Abbas on
December 14 to discuss the U.N. Security Council's vote on a
resolution concerning the Middle East peace process. Quoting Sa'eb
Erekat, chief PLO negotiator, Al Hayat Al Jadida reveals that Abbas
told Rice that the Palestinians have comments on the draft
resolution. Al Ayyam's front page adds that Abbas reiterated his
call for a halt to Israeli settlement activities. The papers also
report that the Quartet will meet in New York on December 14 to
discuss the Security Council's engagement in the Middle East peace
process, and that Secretary Rice will participate in that meeting.
An Al Quds' front page headline accuses Israel of attempting to
cover up its human rights violations against Palestinians: Al Quds
and Al Hayat Al Jadida run above the fold coverage of Israel's
detention of U.N Human Rights Council special investigator for
Israeli actions in the Palestinian Territories Richard Falk, who

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arrived at Tel Aviv airport on December 14 with a delegation from
the Council. The group was to report on the human rights situation
in Israel, according to coverage.

Al Quds' and Al Ayyam's inside pages report that Israeli Defense
Forces (IDF) "stormed" Jenin city and surrounding villages,
especially Zboba village, on December 14. The IDF set up
checkpoints and arrested a number of youth, taking them to a nearby
IDF base. The papers add that the IDF also stormed the villages of
Yamun, Arraba, Fahma, Kufr Ray and Al Rama. The papers continue
that the IDF "alleged" that they were looking for wanted
Palestinians.

Al Hayat Al Jadida's inside page reports that Palestinian Authority
(PA) Prime Minister advisor Hatim Abdul Qadir paid a "solidarity"
visit to Bedouin areas near Ma'ale Adumim settlement in the E1 area
near Jerusalem on December 14. Qadir is quoted saying that Israeli
evacuation orders that were issued to the Bedouins over the Eid Al
Adha holiday, will be appealed by an Israeli lawyer in the Israeli
courts. The story continues weekend reporting on the alleged
"Eastern Gate" plan for the E1 area. According to the dailies, the
5-year plan seeks to link the E1 block to the Jerusalem area Ma'ale
Adumim settlement by adding 10,000 settlement units that will
connect to the Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill and include
five hotels and a "huge" commercial mall.

In more settlement news, Al Quds' front page quotes Ahmad Ruwaydy,
head of the Jerusalem Department at the Palestinian Authority (PA)
PQident's office stating that the PA will raise "to an
international level" its opposition to Israeli settlement practices
in Jerusalem, especially the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Ruwaydy
also revealed that there is a Palestinian committee preparing
documents to file in settlement related Israeli court cases, adding
that he remains unconvinced of the Israeli judiciary's
impartiality.

----------------
WEEKEND STORIES
----------------------------
Sunday, December 14
The dailies noted that Palestinian leadership initiated a series of
contacts on December 13 with several Arab capitals to coordinate
positions on the anticipated U.N. Security Council resolution
regarding the peace process. In statements to Al Ayyam newspaper,
Dr. Sa'eb Erekat also revealed that, "intensive consultations and
contacts are being conducted currently between U.N. Security Council
members and the Arab Committee... the Palestinian and Israeli
parties."
Al Quds' and Al Ayyam's front pages reported that Hamas confirmed on
December 13 that it had not received any official invitation from
Cairo to discuss the fate of the truce with Israel. Hamas stressed
that the decision to extend the truce will be based on national
consensus. Meanwhile, well-informed Israeli sources stated that a
senior Israeli Defense Ministry official will travel to Cairo on
December 14 to conduct talks with Egyptian intelligence service
officials about the truce and the release of kidnapped Israeli
soldier Shalit.

Saturday, December 13
"Chief Palestinian negotiator Quray reveals secrets about Israeli
proposals," according to an Al Ayyam front page headline. In a
comprehensive interview about political developments, Ahmad Quray
explained that the Palestinian people and their national cause are
facing a critical, difficult, and dangerous turning point that

JERUSALEM 00002238 003 OF 003


requires official positions be clear and unified. He added that
internal division has continued for far too long and requires a more
concerted effort to end before it becomes more entrenched. Quray
also revealed that the gap between Israel and the Palestinians is
still wide on the issues of Jerusalem and refugees, noting that the
team had refused an Israeli proposal to annex 6.8% of Palestinian
land where Israeli settlements are located and an Israeli "promise"
to return 5,000 refugees to Israel.

Al Quds' and Al Ayyam's front pages reported that scores of
"anti-wall protesters" were wounded in Ni'lin, Bil'in, and Al
Ma'sara during the weekly protest. The papers noted that
Palestinians were joined by foreign and Israeli peace activists to
commemorate the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration of
human rights.

------------
BLOCK QUOTES:
---------------------
1) Al Quds' editorial is titled, "The required international role"
(12/15): [Regarding the upcoming Security Council meeting] what we
expect of today's Security Council, considering its
responsibilities, is that it not be satisfied by issuing a
non-binding statement, resolution or document to support the peace
process... what the Council must do is adopt a clear mechanism that
binds Israel to abide by international standards and end its
illegitimate occupation of Arab and Palestinian Territories."

2) Samih Shabib opines in Al Ayyam under the title, "Waiting for the
outcome of the Security Council meeting" (12/15): "Informed sources
fear that the statement by the Security Council will set a new
international precedent, that... bypasses legitimate international
agreements... especially [U.N.] resolutions 242 and 338, and thus
adopts a new basis for a continued Israeli-Palestinian peace process
that has shown no tangible results so far... international
efforts... would focus on sponsoring negotiations and averting their
collapse... fearing the return of a spirit of resistance to the West
Bank and Gaza - a natural, automatic reaction to negotiations that
have lasted for so long without bearing any fruit."

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