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Cablegate: Jerusalem Special Media Reaction (11/6): President Mahmoud

VZCZCXRO1464
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #2018/01 3101423
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 061423Z NOV 09
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6601
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 7936
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4903
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4753
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 6241
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 4672
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3264

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JERUSALEM 002018

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 SPECIAL MEDIA REACTION (11/6): President Mahmoud
Abbas announces he will not run for re-election

--------
Summary:
--------

On October 23, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas
issued a presidential decree to hold Palestinian presidential and
legislative elections in the West Bank and Gaza on January 24, 2010.
On November 5, Abbas held a meeting with the Central Committee of
the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and informed the
committee members that he will not run for President in these
elections. After the meeting, Abbas gave a speech announcing this
news. He explained that his decision was in reaction to the US
reversing its position on the cessation of settlement activity and
negotiations. He also stated that he will not accept any
concessions on Palestinian national principles. He criticized the
Hamas take-over of Gaza in 2007, describing it as the most dangerous
event that happened over the past five years.

-------------
Main Stories:
-------------
The local Palestinian press prominently covered Abbas' announcement.
The leading headlines in the three dailies focused on his
announcement and its implications. The local press noted that the
Fatah Central Committee members and the PLO Executive Committee
members reiterated their support for President Abbas and hoped that
he would change his mind. However, the committee members pointed
out that they understood his position and frustration with the
current situation.

Independent daily Al Quds and the official daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
lead with headlines quoting Abbas as saying "We were surprised to
see the US favoring the Israeli position regarding settlements."
Independent daily Al-Ayyam runs a headline that reads "Abbas
criticizes the US favoring Israel." Fatah External Affairs
Commissioner Nabil Shaath is quoted in Al-Ayyam as saying that the
US retreat has created a "serious political crisis."

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida also reports on Shaath saying that the US
position forces the Palestinians to choose one of two options,
either resort to violence or pursue a one-state solution. Shaath is
quoted as saying that solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will
allow the United States to improve it relationship with the Arab and
Muslim worlds.

Local press highlighted Israeli leaders' disappointment with Abbas'
decision. Independent Maan News Network reports that Israeli
President Shimon Peres called Abbas and urged him to stay. Maan and
Al-Ayyam report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hopes
that the decision won't harm the peace process.

Hamas newspaper Al-Resalah reports that Hamas believes that Abbas's
announcement proves the failure of negotiations and that trying to
work with Israel has reached a dead end, which proves the accuracy
of Hamas's vision, according to coverage.

Maher Al-Taher, member of the Political Bureau for the Palestinian
Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is quoted in Hamas press as
saying that President Abbas took this decision after he realized
that "Israel doesn't want peace but rather wants to destroy the
Palestinian cause," and accused the US of being supportive and
biased towards Israel.


JERUSALEM 00002018 002 OF 003


Maan News Network quotes Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri as saying
Abbas' speech was "a symbol of failure after America and Israel used
him as a tool." He also said "We advise Abbas to ... face the
Palestinian people and tell them frankly that the path of
negotiations has failed. Halt negotiations with the occupier and
take practical steps toward [national Palestinian] reconciliation."

Pan Arab media and local outlets covered the speech live and invited
local and Arab political figures to comment on the speech.
Al-Jazeera interviewed Abdel Bari Atwan, the Chief editor for
London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, who criticized Secretary
Clinton's remarks regarding the announcement. Atwan noted that
Clinton is not concerned that Abbas will not run for re-election,
which he considered very humiliating. Atwan considered the decision
by Abbas to be very courageous and commended him for it.
----------------
Editorial Notes:
----------------

Al-Quds independent daily runs an editorial under the title "Abu
Mazen's Message..." (11/6): "President Abbas is extremely
disappointed in the change in President Obama's position and the US
adoption of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's position regarding
the situation... The only thing that may make Abu Mazen change his
mind is to achieve real progress in the peace process and to see the
US impose greater pressure on Israel regarding settlements and
Jerusalem."

------------------------
Opinion Leader Reaction:
------------------------

Well-respected Palestinian veteran journalist, media analyst and
blogger Wafa Amr told us that the Palestinian public, for the most
part, understands Abbas' frustration and support his decision not to
run for re-election. She said that even though Abbas has threatened
to resign more than once in the past, the current circumstances and
general Palestinian "disappointment" with the American stance on
settlements have given credibility to his announcement. Amr added
that Abbas reached the firm conclusion that the Obama administration
will not deliver on its promises and Abbas' announcement will either
distance him from an inevitable failure, or force the Americans to
exert pressure on Israel. She said Abbas' frustration was evident,
as he has never criticized the American position in such a direct
way before. "He's clearly had enough," she concluded.

Dr. Nabeel Kassis, President of Birzeit University, told us he had
expected Abbas' decision calling it "a good move" and that we'll
have to wait to see what the next few days brings. Kassis did
express surprise at the American reaction towards the move of Abu
Mazen - namely, that there was no push for Abbas to reconsider.


--------------------
Cyberspace Reaction:
--------------------

Most Palestinian bloggers support President Abbas' decision. Some
ask the President to go one step further and break down the PA and
revert to pre- Oslo status. Many bloggers who regularly criticize
Abbas are now praising him. Maher Al-Sadeeq blogs under the
headline "Thank You Mr. Abbas," saying that this is the first time
he sees such a courageous position from Abbas and he hopes it will

JERUSALEM 00002018 003 OF 003


continue.

Abu Sa'da entitled his most recent blog "More on America and the
'New Beginning Policy.'" Abu Sa'da describes Secretary Clinton as
the White House's "Blondie," saying, "Just minutes after President
Mahmoud Abbas finished his speech... The White House's Blondie,
Hillary Clinton, announced her indifference to the President's
(Abbas') decision." He calls for the US to declare its policy a
failure and follow the lead of President Abbas.

COMMENT: The media is reflecting the general mood of satisfaction
with Abu Mazen's move. After a long period of impotence in the face
of perceived U.S.- Israeli collusion on settlement activity,
Goldstone manipulations, home evictions in Jerusalem, and Temple
Mount incitement, this was the least Abu Mazen could do - even if
the ramifications remain unclear.

RUBINSTEIN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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