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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (08/17): Internal Fatah Elections

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5765
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INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
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RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4793
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4641
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JERUSALEM 001443

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STATE PASS BBG
STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD
WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
NSC
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 (08/17): Internal Fatah elections
are complete, now the work must start

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

The local press runs prominent coverage of the first meeting of the
newly elected Fatah Central Committee and Revolutionary Council in
Ramallah on August 16. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud
Abbas reiterated that the Palestinian Authority and Fatah are
committed to pursuing a national unity dialogue with Hamas and will
work hard towards establishing an independent Palestinian state on
the 1967 borders. Abbas noted that an extraordinary session of the
Palestinian National Council will be held in Ramallah on August
26-27 to elect 6 new members to fill the current vacancies of the
Central Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
Abbas also stressed that the PA is ready to immediately pursue
negotiations with Israel if the latter completely halts settlement
activity.

News on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's visit to Washington on
August 18 receives front page coverage in the three dailies. The
reports quote Egyptian Presidency Spokesperson Sulaiman Awwad saying
that Mubarak will communicate the Arab vision for achieving peace in
the Middle East with President Obama so that he can take it into
consideration prior to announcing the anticipated US peace plan next
month.

Al-Quds runs front page news citing a CNN interview with the Israeli
Ambassador to the US Michael Oren during which he noted that any
land exchange deal with the Palestinian Authority "within the final
status settlement" will likely include exchanging Arab areas located
inside Israel.

-------------
Weekend Stories:
-------------

Sunday, August 16:

All dailies front page stories on the clashes in Rafah during which
28 were killed and more than 130 were injured. The PA announced that
it was following the events in the Gaza Strip with great concern.
Reports note that the PA stressed that these clashes were a natural
result of the Hamas takeover in Gaza that divided the homeland and
led to the absence of a legitimate authority. The PA also stated
that Hamas has adopted policies that create an atmosphere conducive
to the emergence of fundamentalist groups that do not represent true
Islam and the real values and ideals of the Palestinian people.

All dailies front page news that President Abbas closed the
proceedings of the sixth Fatah party conference in Bethlehem
following the announcement of the 81 winners of the election for the
movement's Revolutionary Council on August 15.

All dailies also front page news on the PLO Executive Committee's
meeting August 15 chaired by President Abbas. The Executive
Committee made a statement following its meeting denouncing the
killings and destruction in Gaza by Hamas that are increasing the
suffering of the people and dividing the unity of the homeland. The
Committee also stressed that the only option for the success of the
national dialogue is to hold legislative and presidential elections,
as well as elections for the Palestinian National Council, at the
beginning of next year. Furthermore, the Executive Committee stated
that it is seriously considering calling for a UN Security Council

JERUSALEM 00001443 002 OF 003


session to address the "on-going Israeli violations" in Jerusalem
and throughout the Palestinian Territories.

Saturday, August 15:

All dailies front page news on fierce armed clashes that broke out
August 14 in Rafah governerate between Hamas security forces in Gaza
and armed militants from the "Jund Ansar Allah" (Army of the
Partisans of God), a Salafist group. According to different sources,
the clashes broke out following the Friday sermon by the Imam of Ibn
Taimiyyah mosque Sheikh Abdul Latif Mousa, during which he attacked
Hamas and declared the establishment of an Islamic principality in
Gaza. Hamas Spokesperson Taher Nounou held Abdul Latif Mousa and his
followers responsible for what happened as a result of his
irresponsible declaration during the Friday sermon. Nounou added
that "we will not allow the state of lawlessness to return under any
circumstances." Nounou demanded all followers of this group to hand
over their weapons and surrender to the police. Ismail Haniyyeh,
head of Hamas in Gaza, denied reports that his government is taking
an extremist Islamist approach to govern Gaza and added "the Hamas
movement in Palestine is a centrist and moderate movement with clear
and defined objectives." Haniyyeh also stressed the need for
reconciliation and agreement prior to Palestinian general elections,
but added "our movement does not trust the Fatah leadership to
conduct fair elections in the West Bank."

All dailies run front page coverage on PA Prime Minister Salam
Fayyad stating in an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz that
the character of the State of Israel is an Israeli affair and not
for Palestinians to define. Fayyad's statements came in the context
of responding to demands by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu for the PA to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as a
pre-condition for resuming negotiations. Fayyad added "the way
Israel wants to define itself is an Israeli matter; it can describe
and define itself in the manner that it pleases." Fayyad also said
"the Oslo agreements did not include this condition and I do not see
any space for adding new conditions or pre-conditions for
negotiations now." Additionally, Fayyad stressed that he is seeking
to prove to the world that the Palestinian people are capable of
building their own state.

All dailies also run front page coverage on Israeli sources stating
that secret negotiations took place recently between senior US and
Israeli officials to reach an agreement for freezing settlement
activities. The sources said that the main disagreements were the
length of the freeze and the conditions under which Israel can
resume construction. Reports note that the US wants an Israeli
commitment to freeze settlement activities for two years, with the
understanding that this would be the period during which
negotiations over final status issues will be conducted. Netanyahu
reportedly refused this idea and said Israel will only agree to
freeze settlement activities for three months and if the Arab side
fails to fulfil their commitments to normalize relations with
Israel, Israel would be absolved of its commitments and will resume
settlement activities.-------------
BLOCK QUOTES:
-------------

1) Al-Quds independent daily runs an editorial under the title,
"Towards a new phase of national unity" (08/17): "All Palestinian
factions including Hamas and Fatah must realize how valuable it is
at this stage to end the division and to prioritize the interests of
their people. They should understand that it is extremely important

JERUSALEM 00001443 003 OF 003


that we appear united to the international community, with a unified
position and unified power. Only then will we stand a chance to
achieve our goals to have our state."

2) Atef Abu Seif opines in Al-Ayyam independent daily under the
headline "Fatah mission has started" (08/17): "Fatah has
successfully concluded its sixth conference, but the real work has
s
only started ... it has to work on many difficult issues. It has to
regain people's trust and confidence. It needs to not only make
statements but do real work. If it fails to do so right away, it
will be lost forever."

WALLES

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