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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (12/23): Brief Truce in Gaza

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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 (12/23): BRIEF TRUCE IN GAZA

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Main Stories:
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All papers lead with news of an Egyptian-brokered agreement renewing
the truce between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza for a
period of 24 hours. However, reports of Palestinian projectiles
launched at the Israeli Kissufim Military base in the southern Gaza
Strip, as well as Israeli airstrikes on Palestinian targets east of
Gaza City, cast early doubts on whether the truce would hold. Al
Hayat Al Jadeeda adds that Israeli FM Livni will visit Egypt on
Thursday to discuss extending the truce in Gaza.
All papers note that Hamas' Gaza leader Haniyeh urged Turkey to
intervene in order to prevent an Israeli offensive. This followed
reports speculating that Israel plans to carry out a gradual
offensive and to assassinate militant leaders, in response to which
the different factions in Gaza threatened to carry out retaliatory
suicide operations inside Israel. Al Quds runs a statement by the
French Foreign Minister Kouchner expressing concerns over the
escalation in Gaza.


All papers discuss the mounting food crisis in Gaza after bakeries
ran out of flour. Al Ayyam carries a front page photo of
Palestinians waiting in a long queue to buy bread. The papers also
report on statements by the PA Minister of Information Riyad Malki
emphasizing the need for calm in Gaza and criticizing Israel for
stopping the transfer of allowances to support the poor in Gaza and
for preventing the entry of Egyptian humanitarian assistance for a
third consecutive day.

All papers report on PA President Abbas' visit to Russia where he
received support from Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and President
Medvedev "as the legitimate president of the Palestinian people."
Lavrov criticized Hamas' "provocations" and its boycott of the
Palestinian internal dialogue.

Al Quds and Al Ayyam, citing an AFP report, report on statements by
Secretary of State Rice acknowledging that while the Bush
administration's popularity is "not very great" in the Arab world,
with time the U.S. support for freedom in the Middle East will be
"respected" by the people of the region. Rice added that all people
in the region should live free of oppression. She also acknowledged,
according to the papers, that it may not be clear to those in the
region how the US can defend Israel's right to exist and at the same
time defend the Palestinians' right to statehood and independence.

Al Quds quotes a recent World Bank report that concludes trade in
the West Bank cannot improve under the current Israeli restrictions
and checkpoint regime. The report focused on the Allenby border
crossing between the West Bank and Jordan where Palestinian exports
must pass through several Israeli obstacles. It demands the lifting
of existing Israeli limitations on the travel of Palestinian
citizens and goods. The report also considers Gaza to be on the
verge of economic collapse due to the Israeli siege.

All papers report that the hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in
Ofer prison continues. The reports state that prison guards stormed
one of the prison blocs with dogs and forced some of the prisoners
into another cell bloc. The papers report that the guards insulted
and threatened the prisoners.

Al Ayyam runs a front page report on statements by the Israeli
B'Tselem human rights organization demanding that that the Israeli
Ofra settlement, which it claims is built on private Palestinian

JERUSALEM 00002284 002 OF 002


property, be dismantled and the land returned to its rightful
Palestinian owners. The organization claims that it based its
findings on official Israeli land registration documents issued by
the Israeli Civil Administration.

Al Quds and Al Hayat Al Jadeeda report on a visit by the British
Minister of State for the Middle East Bill Rammell and the British
Consul General Richard Makepeace to Hebron Monday. At the end of the
tour, Rammell demanded the removal of illegal Israeli settlements
and added that he personally witnessed the abuses of the Israeli
settlers against the Palestinian citizens in Hebron.

All the papers carry front page news of the scheduled visit of Pope
Benedict XVI to Bethlehem on May 12th as part of his visit to the
region starting on May 8th 2009.

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

1. Mohamad Al Mubarak opines in Al Quds under the title "Will
Rumsfeld escape or disappear?": "It is regrettable that the courts
have so far not considered the war crimes committed by Rumsfeld,
which led to the killing and displacement of millions of innocents
and violated international laws and norms. The American judiciary
has opted to look into cases of Rumsfeld's involvement in torture
orders in the prisons of the US Department of Defense, and to
consider whether this was in violation of U.S. law...One of the most
important lessons learned from this historical event, is that as
Arabs and Muslims, we should not deal with other states, including
the United States, without regard to international law. Further,
Arab countries shouldn't get involved with the United States in all
that it asks them to do, as that might have unpredictable
ramifications...For instance, amongst the "courtesies" committed by
Arab nations for the United States is their support for the Israeli
siege of Gaza, which is in violation of all international laws and
norms, and which may ultimately have legal implications."

2. Hani Al Masri editorializes in Al Ayyam under the title "The
fate of the truce: Total collapse or controlled escalation?": "It is
no coincidence that the Road Map is implemented solely by the
Palestinian side in light of its own internal division. If this
division continues, it will be no surprise if Israel is able to
enforce a similar Israeli road map in Gaza. The internal division
has thereby weakened all the Palestinians, and made them vulnerable
to Israeli blackmail, and placed them in competition with one
another to see which side - Gaza or the West Bank - is the first to
reach an incomplete security solution."

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