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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (12/22): Obstacles to Peace

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FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
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INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
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RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4285
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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

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TAGS: PREL KMDR KPAL KWBG KPAO IS
SUBJECT: JERUSALEM MEDIA REACTION (12/22): OBSTACLES TO PEACE
NEGOTIATIONS

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Main Stories:
-------------

All papers lead with growing tension in Gaza where the truce with
Israel ended and, the papers speculate, an Israeli offensive is
becoming more inevitable. Al Ayyam and Al Hayat Al Jadeeda report
that four Palestinians were injured December 21 in Israeli strikes
on Gaza, from where a projectile was fired into Israel. To garner
international support for a possible Gaza offensive, Palestinian
papers report that Israeli embassies have launched an international
public relations campaign, with a focus on Security Council member
states. Al Ayyam recounts statements from senior Israeli officials
calling for an Israeli offensive in Gaza, while Prime Minister
Olmert called for self restraint, and anonymous Israeli security
officials said that an offensive is definite and that they are just
waiting for the "appropriate" time. Al Hayat Al Jadeeda notes that
the situation in Gaza and Hamas rule of Gaza have become campaigning
fodder for Israel's Likud party, with Netanyahu pledging to end
Hamas rule. The Labor party's Ehud Barak downplayed such promises,
the papers note.

On the humanitarian front, Al Ayyam reports that Egypt asked Hamas
to establish 24 hours of calm in order to allow humanitarian
assistance to enter into Gaza. The paper notes that Jordan's
Islamic movement and Egypt's Red Crescent Society both have
shipments prepared to send to Gaza. Al Quds reports bakeries in Gaza
will gradually stop functioning within the next two days due to
diminishing supplies of flour. While, Al Hayat Al Jadeeda publishes
a photo of medics assisting an infant injured in Israeli strikes. Al
Ayyam quotes Musheer Al Masri of Hamas denying any Arab overtures to
Hamas to work to extend the truce or to resume the internal
Palestinian dialogue.
Al Quds quotes remarks made by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister
Fayyad questioning Israel's commitment to peace and vowing to
continue lobbying for economic pressure to be put on Israel to stop
settlement expansion. Fayyad said he was "discouraged" by a recent
EU decision to upgrade its relations with Israel without demanding a
freeze on settlement expansion.
All Palestinian papers report on "summit" meetings between PA
President Abbas and Russian President Medvedev during which the two
discussed the Middle East peace process and the Russian role in the
Quartet and the Security Council.
Al Quds and Al Hayat Al Jadeeda give prominent coverage to a hunger
strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Ofer prison that entered
its second day. The hunger strike comes following extensive clashes
with prison guards over the weekend. The papers note growing
Palestinian public support for the prisoners, adding that prisoners
in Israel's Negev prison staged a token one meal hunger strike in
solidarity with Ofer prisoners.
Al Quds mentions the likely selection of retired Admiral Dennis
Blair as President-elect Obama's Director of National Intelligence.
It notes that the Wall Street Journal commented that in selecting a
former military officer for this post, Obama could create tensions
between his civilian and military staff.
Al Hayat Al Jadeeda and Al Quds report that "Israeli Jews"
vandalized a mosque in the Israeli city of Jaffa, writing
intimidating and insulting slogans against the Prophet Mohammad. Al
Hayat Al Jadeeda carries a photo of the defaced mosque on its front
page.
Al Quds reports on concerns expressed by lawyers and human rights
activists on a "systematic Israeli campaign" to displace Palestinian
Bedouins from areas around Jerusalem in order to expand Israeli
settlements. The activists consider the land being targeted as the

JERUSALEM 00002278 002 OF 003


only space available for future expansion by Palestinian
Jerusalemites and have demanded pressure be brought to bear on
Israel to stop these actions.
----------------
WEEKEND STORIES
----------------
Sunday, December 21
-------------------
Al Quds, Al Ayyam and Al Hayat Al Jadeeda report that violent
clashes erupted Saturday morning at the Ofer detention center
between Israeli guards and Palestinian prisoners, resulting in a
number of injuries and the burning of tents where prisoners are
currently being held. The clashes started when prisoners protested
an earlier search of prisoner property which damaged the living
quarters of the prisoners. In response to the protest Israeli
soldiers fired rounds of rubber coated bullets and tear gas
canisters at the prisoners, igniting some of the tents. President
Abbas condemned the attacks against the prisoners at Ofer.


---------------------
Saturday, December 20
---------------------
Al Quds reports that Sheikh Salhab, head of the Islamic Awqaf
Council and acting Chief Justice, said in a special interview with
Al Quds that Israeli violations against the sanctity of Al Aqsa
Mosque are increasing. These violations present themselves in the
form of continuous attempts by settlers and fundamentalists to enter
the mosque and hold prayers on its grounds under the protection of
Israeli police. Salhab stressed that these violations are happening
on an almost daily basis. Salhab added that over the past few
months, the mosque witnessed several violent attacks.
Al Ayyam and Al Hayat Al Jadeeda report that 34 protestors,
including an Israeli peace activist, as well as local and foreign
journalists, were injured Friday during anti-wall protests in the
villages of Bil'in, Ni'lin, Al Ma'sara, and Jayyous. Two residents
of Bil'in were taken to a Ramallah hospital while the Israeli peace
activist was taken to a hospital in Israel for treatment. Among the
injured were a cameraman and two European journalists. Protestors in
Bil'in and Ni'lin threw shoes at soldiers, who fired tear gas and
stun grenades.
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BLOCK QUOTES:
-------------

1. The main editorial in Al Quds, "Prisoners once again," opines:
"It is time for the Palestinian side to reject the Israeli position
that deals with prisoners of freedom as criminal prisoners...it is
time for European mediators, who always demand the release of
[abducted Israeli soldier Gilad] Shalit, including France, to look
at the facts of what is going on and to stop this hypocrisy and this
double standard when dealing with human rights and the issue of
prisoners... The issue of prisoners is an open wound that cannot be
ignored, and there is no seriousness to peace negotiations or
contacts with the Israeli side as long as Israel continues [its]
practices."
2. Jawad Al Basheeti editorializes in Al Ayyam under the title
"Truce...results, expectations and lessons!" that: "The US well
knows which are the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in
1967. [T]he Palestinians (along with the Arabs) should know that
there can be no serious negotiations ... without transferring
authority over these territories from the Israeli occupying power to
an interim international administration headed by the UN... such an
administration, supported by a strong international military force,

JERUSALEM 00002278 003 OF 003


can, and should, continue until the two sides sign a peace
agreement. Otherwise, the Palestinians will only succeed in
undermining both of the current options: the negotiated solution and
the solution through resistance."
MARCHESE

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