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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (9/26): President Bush's Legacy

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SUBJECT: JERUSALEM MEDIA REACTION (9/26): PRESIDENT BUSH'S LEGACY

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Main Stories:
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President Bush's September 25 meeting with Palestinian Authority
President Abbas at the White House leads coverage in Al-Quds and
Al-Ayyam, with all three papers running prominent front-page
pictures showing the two leaders shaking hands. The reports quote
Bush and Abbas reiterating their commitment to continue peace
negotiations until the goal of a two-state solution is realized.
Al-Quds highlights remarks by President Bush stating that the U.S.
will continue to assist Palestinians improve security and economic
conditions. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida spotlights comments by Abbas stating
that negotiations are difficult but that the Palestinians will
"press on", until the conflict is resolved. Al-Ayyam notes that
this is the first time that Bush has acknowledged that the
Palestinian state may not be established during his term, adding
that the President "expressed sadness" over that eventuality. In
related news, Al-Quds reports that PA President Abbas will meet with
Secretary Rice and Israeli President Peres before heading back home
on September 28.

President Bush's September 25 meeting with Lebanese President
Sulayman in Washington also receives front-page coverage in Al-Ayyam
and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, quoting Sulayman telling Bush that the
"future of Palestinian refugees is in their homeland, not Lebanon."

The September 26 UN Security Council session at which a discussion
on Israeli settlements is expected, receives highlighted coverage in
all dailies. Leading with the story, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reports
that Arab efforts to convene the session have been "held up" by the
U.S. for weeks.

Al-Quds quotes Al-Tayyib Abdul Rahim, Secretary General of the
Palestinian Authority Presidency, stating that the Palestinian
leadership is committed to establishing a Palestinian state along
the 1967 borders. Abdul Rahim is also reported as praising the U.S.
for working tirelessly towards that goal, while Israel has failed to
fulfill its commitments, especially those related to the
implementation of the Roadmap.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and Al-Quds report that Israel has agreed to
release 450 Palestinian prisoners as part of an exchange deal to
free Israeli soldier Shalit who is being held in Gaza. The report
states that Hamas has rejected the Israeli offer.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida highlights a front-page report quoting President
Bush "conceding that the U.S. is in the midst of a dangerous
financial crisis." In related coverage, Al-Ayyam reports that the
U.S. Congress has agreed on the principles for a US Government
financial bailout and that presidential candidates McCain and Obama
are participating in discussions on the issue at the White House.

Wafa official news agency and all three dailies run on inside pages,
the Consulate press release about the recent visit of a U.S. band,
The Fuuls, who performed concerts and conducted workshops throughout
the West Bank and Gaza as part of the Consulate's Ramadan
programming.

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BLOCK QUOTES:
------------
1. In its main editorial, Al-Quds independent opines under the
title "Ideas Alone are not Enough" (09/26): "History will judge the
presidency of George W. Bush... It was a period full of overseas
wars and emergency laws to monitor terrorist suspects and a

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recession that threatens to deepen further ... In any case, the
legacy of Bush is not something that Americans will fondly and
admiringly remember. For the Palestinian people, this legacy has
one spot of light amid the darkness... of the peace process... He
articulated his special vision that has materialized into the
Roadmap's plan to establish a Palestinian state beside Israel.
Despite the passing of five full years, the occupation and reality
of settlements has become worse instead of better for
Palestinians... In this context, reports are coming from Washington
about ideas formulated by the Bush administration to 'bridge the gap
between the Palestinian and Israeli sides,' with a special emphasis
on security arrangements that Israel is demanding be in... any final
agreement. These reports, by implying that security arrangements
are the obstacle to the agreement, are meant to divert attention
away from the real obstacles which have turned Palestinian life into
a living hell. [These obstacles are] random, extensive settlement
[expansion] which has swallowed up substantial Palestinian areas and
deprived the people of their natural right to freedom and
sovereignty... The [US-proposed] ideas are not the right means to
achieve a comprehensive peace... [we need instead increased]
American pressure on Israel to completely withdraw from the lands
occupied in 1967..."


2. Yahya Rabah argues in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida under the
headline "The dialogue between Hope and Desperation" (09/26): "The
prevailing problem these days is that all these efforts exerted by
our Egyptian brothers for the sake of [internal Palestinian]
dialogue, the ongoing arrangements and all those Egyptian and Arab
calls to work hard towards this dialogue are met with very different
and even contradictory reactions from the Palestinians; just as
desperation contradicts hope. This is evident in the hopeful,
positive and optimistic statements of Dr. Sha'ath, head of the Fatah
delegation to the Cairo dialogue, as opposed to some of Haniyyah's
statements that do not reflect the same optimism, but rather speak
of a road ahead that is filled with pitfalls... These black
statements about the dialogue and about January 9 [disputed end date
for Abbas' presidency] cast black shadows over the Palestinians'
expectations and their feelings... Are we going to succeed in
managing our dispute or will we fall victim to a total death?"

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