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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (12/30): Calls for National Unity

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DE RUEHJM #2301/01 3650910
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 300910Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3602
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
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RUEAHQA/CSAF WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
RHMFIUU/CMC WASHINGTON DC
RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 7467
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4452
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4300
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 5794
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 4216
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2786

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 002301

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 (12/30): Calls for national unity
as the Israeli offensive in Gaza continues

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Main Stories:
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The three papers dedicate their front and many inside pages to
photos and reports of the ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza. The
lead stories are written in red and white fonts against a black
background. Al Ayyam's lead headline is "And the massacre
continues..." with an above-the-fold photo of a bombed building. Al
Quds leads with "The death toll increases to 350, including dozens
of women and children" and an above-the-fold photo of a destroyed
building on the campus of the Islamic University of Gaza. Al Hayat
Al Jadeeda's lead headline is "The massacre in Gaza: 360 martyrs and
1500 injured" and presents an above-the-fold photo of a woman
sitting outside her demolished building in Rafah. Al Hayat Al
Jadeeda's front page also carries a photo of five Palestinian girls
killed in an Israeli airstrike, wrapped in white shrouds for
burial.

Al Hayat Al Jadeeda and Al Ayyam claim that the Israeli military is
gearing up for a land offensive within the next few hours. Al Quds
reports that 40 Palestinian children have been killed and 180 others
injured in the last three days, and citing AFP, quotes a UN source
that at least 57 civilians have been killed in the Israeli strikes.
Citing the same AFP story, the paper quotes an Israeli source
revealing preparations for a land offensive and saying that "the
worst is yet to come" in Gaza. The three papers cite an AFP report
that Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing to allow injured Gazans
to enter Egypt for medical treatment and to facilitate the flow of
humanitarian assistance into Gaza. Al Ayyam, citing an AFP report,
carries a statement by the International Committee for the Red Cross
expressing concern over the chaos in Gaza hospitals because of the
large number of casualties. Al Quds reports that the UN and UNRWA
have addressed a letter to the Israeli Defense minister, demanding
an international investigation into the killing of 55 Palestinian
women and children in the past two days in Gaza. Al Ayyam reports
on its front page that two Israelis were killed and 34 injured in
Palestinian rocket attacks on Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Al Hayat Al Jadeeda's front page, and the inside pages of the other
dailies, quote Israeli sources revealing that the Israeli air force
is using American smart bombs recently supplied to Israel. The paper
comments that although the bombs are designed to penetrate bunkers
without causing civilian causalities, the number of civilian victims
attests to their failure. Al Hayat Al Jadeeda also reports that the
PLO has decided to halt peace negotiations with Israel and has
called for an emergency Arab summit to discuss the attacks on Gaza.
Al Quds reports that the Arab foreign ministers will meet on
Wednesday, December 31, to discuss the situation in Gaza with the
goal of finding a way out of the violence and "reconstructing what
Israel destroyed." Al Quds, citing an AFP report, carries comments
by Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Al Gheit revealing a
Turkish-Egyptian diplomatic effort to put an end to the Israeli
strikes. Al Quds also cites a Reuters report on its front page with
a quote from UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon criticizing world
leaders for not taking action to stop the violence in Gaza. Al
Quds' front page further cites a Reuters report with quotes by a
Hamas representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, denying earlier
statements by the Senegalese Foreign Ministry claiming that Hamas
Political Chief Khaled Mishaal was ready to sign a ceasefire
agreement. All the dailies front page statements by the Palestinian
Cabinet and various political factions, demanding international
intervention to stop the Israeli offensive. The papers also report
that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movements rejected a call by
President Abbas to hold a meeting of all the Palestinian factions to

JERUSALEM 00002301 002 OF 002


discuss the situation in Gaza. Al Quds' front page reports on
dozens of Palestinians injured during protest rallies that have
taken place throughout the West Bank, Jerusalem, and many Israeli
cities. Al Quds and Al Ayyam report on their front pages that the
White House considers the Israeli offensive an "act of self
defense," with Al Quds adding a quote from White House Spokesman
Gordon Johndroe expressing concern over the humanitarian situation
in Gaza. In its report on the US response, Al Ayyam claims that
Washington unconditionally supports Israel.

Al Quds carries a story on an inside page cited from the Israeli
daily The Jerusalem Post, quoting Amos Gilad, a Political Officer at
the Israeli Defense Ministry, revealing that the Gaza offensive has
nothing to do with the fate of the kidnapped Israeli soldier in
Gaza. The paper also cites an AFP report quoting the Deputy Israeli
Prime Minister Haim Ramon saying that the goal of the offensive is
to topple Hamas rule in Gaza.

An Al Quds inside page reports on the killing of a Palestinian
security officer by friendly fire during a raid in Jaba' village
near Jenin in the West Bank yesterday, after the police force was
attacked by stones thrown from the rooftops of houses in the
Palestinian village.

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

1) Abdul Azeem Hammad opines in Al Quds under the title "A way out
for Hamas" (12/30): "Certainly, today or tomorrow might not be
suitable for Hamas to sign an initiative to return to national
dialogue in order to re-establish [Palestinian] unity.... It is not
expected or required [for a Hamas initiative] to occur under the
Israeli bombardment, but the way out is for the movement's leaders
to provide enough guarantees for Egypt to achieve that goal
[Palestinian unity].... Such guarantees can constitute a prelude to
Egyptian diplomacy in a regional and international campaign to aim
to stop the aggression, as a first stage in a multi-stage
comprehensive process for reorganizing the Palestinian house, and
launch serious peace negotiations that coincide with the
inauguration of a new US administration and the formation of a new
government in Israel."

2) Rajab Abu Sareyyeh writes in Al Ayyam under the title "Gaza
awaits response by declaring unity"(12/30): "There are many
requirements for resistance and steadfastness and they need to be
launched immediately: there is a need to release the prisoners [in
Hamas prisons]--not only to save them from being victims of the
Israeli bombardment, but also to achieve internal unity--and to form
a military/political leadership body to manage the Palestinian
military forces in Gaza, and next to have a national consensus for a
general administration for negotiations and resistance, which will
take into consideration the reconstruction of Gaza and the launching
of resistance in the West Bank. All this can be a gateway and the
result of one choice, and that is internal unity, without which Gaza
will drawn into a sea of blood, and in realizing [former Israeli
Prime Minister] Rabin's wish for Gaza to be drowned in the sea, the
West Bank will remain a stage for the settlers and occupation."

WALLES

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