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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (08/24): Settlement Activity

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OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #1494/01 2361051
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241051Z AUG 09
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5833
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEADWD/DA WASHINGTON DC//DAS-ZD/DACS-ZK//
RUEAHQA/CSAF WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
RHMFIUU/CMC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 7829
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4801
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4649
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 6142
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 4568
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3147

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JERUSALEM 001494

SIPDIS

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 (08/24): Settlement activity
continues to dominate coverage

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

All front pages report on the Israeli "Peace Now" movement stating
that settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is
still underway despite Israeli claims of a freeze in new tenders.
The reports note that approximately 600 housing units and outposts
have been constructed in the West Bank since the beginning of the
year. The reports also add that the Israeli government intends to
construct a new 104-unit settlement in the Ras Al-Amoud neighborhood
in East Jerusalem.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida front pages news on Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu noting on August 23 that he hopes to see progress
in pursuing negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis by
the end of September 2009. Netanyahu's remarks came prior to
departing for a meeting with US Special Envoy George Mitchell in
London.

Al-Ayyam reports on Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
criticizing President Obama's vision for achieving peace in the
Middle East. Lieberman said that the establishment of a Palestinian
state in two years is an "unrealistic goal" and added that he
doesn't expect to see any peace settlement before 2025, according to
coverage.

All front pages report on Palestinian condemnation of the Israeli
decision to allow Jewish groups to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
during Ramadan under the full protection of the Israeli police. The
Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage issued a statement in which
it noted that this entry is unprecedented during Ramadan.

Al-Quds front pages news citing London media reports that
representatives from Hamas, Fatah and Israel attended a three-day
workshop in Switzerland to discuss the best mechanisms for
supporting the peace process. Hamas officials denied the group's
participation in the workshop and noted that the invitations were
extended to individuals and not to factions.

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

Sunday, August 23

Al Ayyam front pages news that the postponement of the Palestinian
national dialogue for several days from its currently-scheduled date
of August 25 is becoming more likely. Palestinian sources added that
the next round of national dialogue will be postponed until after
the Palestinian National Council (PNC) session, scheduled for August
26 and 27 in Ramallah. Meanwhile, Al Quds and Al Hayat Al Jadida
newspapers reported that Egypt will continue its shuttle diplomacy
rounds between Ramallah and Damascus to iron out the differences
among the Palestinian factions in preparation for inviting them all
to Cairo following the month of Ramadan to sign the reconciliation
agreement and announce the end of the state of Palestinian division.


Al Quds runs a story on an Israeli government plan to build a new
settlement in East Jerusalem in the Ras Al Amoud neighbourhood
opposite the Maale Zeitim settlement. The new plan will be submitted
soon to the local committee for planning and construction within the

JERUSALEM 00001494 002 OF 003


municipality of Jerusalem, according to coverage. The Ir-Amim
Society received a copy of the plan and said that 104 settlement
units will be built in addition to the construction of a synagogue,
kindergarten, and a sports club to serve the settlers. The plan,
according to Ir-Amim, will be implemented on the former site of the
Israeli Police Headquarters. Before 1967, the buildings were the
headquarters for the Jordanian police.

All dailies front page news that PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
denied the existence of any political prisoners held by the PA.
Fayyad said that those detained have violated the law and are being
treated according to the law. Meanwhile, Maan news agency reported
that President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered the release of 200 Hamas
prisoners from PA prisons immediately to mark the start of the holy
month of Ramadan. Maan quoted Palestinian sources describing this
decision as part of the President's efforts to create a positive
atmosphere to start the next round of national dialogue talks.

Al Ayyam runs a front page story on Ambassador Mohammad Sbeih,
Assistant Secretary General of the Arab League for the affairs of
Palestine and occupied Arab territories, stating that the
Palestinian question will be on top of the agenda of the ministerial
meeting of the Arab League scheduled for September 9-10. Sbeih said
in a statement to the press yesterday that the issue of Jerusalem
will be one of the urgent matters that will be discussed during the
meeting and speculated that the Arab League will go back to the UN
soon to discuss Israeli violations in Jerusalem and the accelerated
rate of attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the
city.

Saturday, August 22
Al Hayat Al Jadida and Al Quds front page stories on President
Barack Obama's message to Muslims during which he congratulated them
for the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan and promised to take
tangible measures to renew the relations between the US and the
Muslim world and to give constant support to the two-state solution.


All three dailies carry front page news from a Palestinian source
that the Egyptian security delegation which held consultations with
Palestinian factions in Ramallah and Damascus proposed holding
presidential and legislative elections prior to reaching a
reconciliation agreement. Palestinian sources said that Hamas
quickly rejected the proposal while the majority of the PLO
factions, particularly Fatah, agreed to it.

Al Hayat Al Jadida carries a front page story on Israel and the
Palestinians trading blame over the failure to resume peace talks. A
senior Israeli official said that Palestinians refused repeated
calls from Prime Minister Netanyahu to resume peace talks adding
that "the government of Israel has been calling upon Palestinians
for weeks to come back to the negotiating table. The Palestinian
side is preventing this resumption by placing unprecedented
pre-conditions." Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denied
these accusations and added that Palestinians are not placing new
conditions, but that Israel is undermining and disregarding their
own pledges to stop settlement activity in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem.
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BLOCK QUOTES:
-------------

1) Adli Sadeq opines in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida official daily under the

JERUSALEM 00001494 003 OF 003


title, "No return to deceptive negotiations" (08/24): "It looks like
Netanyahu and his government will be solving their problems with
Obama's administration concerning settlement construction. Once this
happens, we will be asked to go back to negotiations. In order for
us not to go back to negotiations that lack a clear agenda and clear
timeframe, we need to form a strong and unified Arab position that
supports our position."

2) Mouhammad Awad opines in Al-Quds independent daily under the
title "Is there truly a new beginning?" (08/24): "President Obama
realized from the beginning that dialogue has to replace all other
means to address conflicts, but this dialogue needs active partners
with whom the US builds its relations based on mutual interests. He
made this clear during his speech in Cairo, but the question remains
- how long will Obama use the dialogue policy in addressing regional
conflicts?"


WALLES

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