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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (12/03): Settlement Moratorium

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FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6832
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RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4792
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 6280
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SUBJECT: JERUSALEM MEDIA REACTION (12/03): Settlement Moratorium
Continues to Elicit Strong Reactions Among Israeli Settlers and
Palestinians

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Main Stories:
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The dailies continue to lead with coverage on reaction to GOI's
settlement moratorium. In its lead story, independent daily
Al-Ayyam bannered "Netanyahu Approved Construction of 84 Buildings
in Settlements." (Note: the 84 buildings would amount to about 450
housing units.) According to article, Netanyahu's decision was a
good faith gesture to settlers who reject the settlement freeze.
Palestinian Authority (PA) official daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida quotes
Netanyahu telling the settlers that the US is driving him "crazy"
regarding freezing settlement construction in Jerusalem. He pledged
to try to reach consensus with the settlers. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and
Al-Ayyam run lead photos of settlers laying the cornerstone for a
new building in the Efrat settlement near Bethlehem. One of the
photos is of a banner prepared by settlers that reads "Bibi: Arabs
IN, Jews OUT." Al-Hayat Al-Jadida also front pages President Abbas'
statements yesterday that full cessation of settlement activity and
a clear framework for the peace process are the only means to ensure
a resumption of negotiations.

Independent daily Al-Quds and independent news outlet Maan front
page news that the Israeli Interior Ministry stripped 4,577
Palestinians of their right to live in East Jerusalem in 2008, an
all time record in 42 years of occupation. Al-Quds reports that
this action is aimed at protecting Jewish demographic presence in
Jerusalem.

Citing Hebrew daily Ha'aretz, Palestinian dailies report that the
European Consuls in Jerusalem and Ramallah prepared a classified
report criticizing Israeli policies in East Jerusalem and Israeli
attempts to change the demographic balance in the city and sever it
from the West Bank. Al-Quds reports that Ahmad Qurei, a member of
the PLO Executive Committee, welcomed the European draft resolution
recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state
stressing Jerusalem is the key to peace.

In coverage about the Israeli-Hamas prisoner exchange, Al-Quds
reports that the German mediator and Hamas continue discussions
regarding the identity and number of prisoners to be released and
their disposition following release. Ma'an runs a story published
in the Kuwaiti daily "Al-Jarida Al-Kuwaitiya," which, citing trusted
resources, reports that Shalit was secretly transferred to Egypt
with Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar before Al-Adha Eid holiday. (Note:
We contacted Ma'an to verify the accuracy of the story and were told
that it posted the Kuwaiti story as published and could not
corroborate the story's claims.) In a related story, Al-Hayat
Al-Jadida reports that Jewish religious groups are preparing a
petition that calls for closing the Al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing
Muslims from visiting it until Shalit is released.

Citing PA official news outlet Wafa, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reports that
the Fatah Revolutionary Council will hold a consultation session on
December 5 to discuss the implications of the latest internal PA
developments (Abbas' decision not to run, for example) prior to the
Central Council meeting scheduled for December 15.

Dailies report that PA Prime Minister Fayyad told PA security
officers yesterday in Ramallah that maintaining security in the West

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Bank is a national obligation and that the [Israeli] occupation,
which he characterized as the biggest challenge to the success of
the national project plan, must be ended.

Ma'an posts a video clip from Al Jazeera that shows an Israeli
settler repeatedly running over a wounded Palestinian at a gas
station in the Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron last week.
According to reports, the Palestinian was shot by an Israeli soldier
several times following an alleged knife attack at the station. The
video shows a silver Mercedes running down the injured Palestinian
and then reversing and running over him again as Israeli soldiers
and others look on. Ma'an reports that the Israeli police detained
the driver, whose wife is alleged to have been one of the stabbing
victims, and later released him to home arrest. According to the
Jerusalem Post, the settler may face attempted murder charges. The
Palestinian survived and was sent to Hadassa hospital in Ein Karem
with critical injuries. (Link to Ma'an story/video:
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx? ID=243887)


---------------------------------------------
Coverage of the President Afghanistan Message
---------------------------------------------

All dailies ran coverage of President Obama's decision to send new
troops to Afghanistan and the timeline for withdrawal in their
International news sections. Coverage included quotes from
President Obama's speech and the White House factsheet, which the
Consulate provided to them, and quotes from Secretary Clinton,
National Security Advisor Jim Jones (from his interview with Der
Spiegel) and U.S. Congressmen as well as reaction from other
governments as reported by AFP. There was no local Palestinian
reaction to the news.

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

1) Abdel Majid Swelem writing in Al-Ayyam under the title
"Promising European Positions" believes that the European efforts to
recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state
reflect the positive impact of Palestinian tolerance and the
increased Palestinian motivation to achieve an independent state.

2) Tala Okal opines in an article in Al-Ayyam under the title "EU:
Towards a Different International Climate," that the EU gesture
rewards the Palestinians for their patience, their credible
political discourse and their real commitment to peace.


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