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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (12/07): Will a Prisoner-Exchange

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FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6878
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INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 7979
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4946
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4796
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STATE PASS BBG
STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD
WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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CMC WASHINGTON DC FOR POLAD

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LONDON FOR HKANONA AND POL - TSOU
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

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TAGS: PREL KMDR KPAL KWBG KPAO IS

SUBJECT: JERUSALEM MEDIA REACTION (12/07): Will a Prisoner-Exchange
Deal Move Negotiations Forward?

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Main Stories:
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Independent News Outlet Ma'an, and the dailies, report that Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that the settlement
suspension is limited to a ten-month timeframe only - not beyond.
The Prime Minister added that "in the Cabinet's decision, we made it
clear that upon the conclusion of the period of suspension,
construction will resume."

The Palestinian dailies continue to report on protests by West Bank
settlers against the GOI's settlement moratorium. Coverage notes
that settlers set fire to Palestinian vehicles and buildings and
uprooted more than 50 trees in the northern West Bank village of
Einabous near Nablus on Sunday. Lead photos in the dailies today
depict the burned and damaged property in the village of Einabous.

Palestinian media reports on the European Foreign Ministers meeting
today in Brussels to discuss the Swedish initiative aimed at
recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian
state. Netanyahu contacted a number of European leaders urging them
not to vote for the proposal. In related news, Independent daily
Al-Ayyam reports that France proposed an amendment to the initiative
calling for the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital for both the
states of Israel and Palestine.

News on the Gilad Shalit prisoner-exchange deal receives front page
coverage in the dailies. According to coverage, the German mediator
for an exchange deal is in Israel today to submit Hamas' response to
the GOI. The dailies quote a well-informed Hamas source as stating
that the next 48 hours will either lead to the conclusion of the
deal, or postponement of it. In related news, senior Hamas leader
Mahmoud Zahhar denies reports in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida that a French
medical delegation visited Shalit in Gaza. Egyptian Foreign Minister
Abu Gheit accused Israel of obstructing a final deal.

Palestinian Authority (PA) official daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and
Ma'an report on President Mahmoud Abbas' visit to Lebanon today
seeking the Arab states' support for a UNSC resolution delineating
the borders of aPalestinian state. Abbas reiterated his opposition
to resettling Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. "The Palestinians are
guests in Lebanon until our question is resolved... (w)e will not
accept any homeland other than Palestine," Abbas said in an
interview with the Lebanese daily Al-Liwa.

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Weekend stories:
----------------
Sunday, December 6

Al Ayyam, Al Hayat Al Jadida front page story. Daniel Ben Simon, a
Labor Party Member of the Knesset, said that Prime Minister
Netanyahu has informed him that the prisoner-exchange deal will take
place within two weeks, and will include Marwan Al Barghouthi,
member of the Central Committee of Fatah movement. However,
Netanyahu's office, which maintains complete silence regarding the
developments in negotiations regarding the deal, rushed to deny Ben
Simon's statements or that Netanyahu made such comments. Ben Simon
had given statements to the Israeli media saying that Marwan Al
Barghouthi was on the list of those to be released and that the

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discussions are taking place only about the possibility of expelling
him for a specific period of time or releasing him and transferring
him to Ramallah.

Al-Quds front page reports that Israeli sources are saying that the
American administration is exerting pressures on Abu Mazen to stay
in his position. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported a senior
Israeli security source in Tel Aviv as saying that President Abbas
will give in to the pressures without excluding the possibility of
the President's resignation. However, according to Palestinian
political analyst Hani Al Masri in an article in Al Sharq Al Awsat,
it is improbable that the PLO will adopt a more difficult option
such as dismantling the PNA and launching resistance. According to
sources, the U.S. administration is studying several initiatives,
including the drafting of a letter in the name of President Obama
that reiterates the United States' support of the fact that the
final status solution depends on the June 4 1967 borders and its
position not to recognize Israel's sovereignty over East Jerusalem.
Aides to President Abbas say the President has other options and
surprises if no change took place in terms of the American pressures
on Israel to resume negotiations according to the Palestinian
conditions.

The three major Palestinian dailies (Al Quds, Al Ayyam, Al Hayat Al
Jadida) all report on a meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas,
Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Naser Joudeh and Dr. Riyad Al
Malki, Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs, at his headquarters
in Ramallah. The parties stated in a joint press conference that
"the meeting addressed all issues of concern to the two countries in
addition to other issues in the region, particularly at these
important times in the life of the Arab nation." Al Malki also
referred to EU's upcoming meeting in Brussels on Monday, to discuss
the Swedish document that aims at recognizing East Jerusalem as the
capital of the Palestinian state.

Saturday, December 5

Al Quds, Al Ayyam, and Al Hayat Al Jadida all report on statements
made by a Hamas official in a newspaper interview that the
conditions imposed by Israel over the release of Palestinian
prisoners are preventing the conclusion of an agreement to release
Gilad Shalit. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that the un-named Hamas
official stated that negotiations between Hamas and Israel through
the German mediation and through Egypt, are facing obstacles
pertaining to the number and inclusion of certain prisoners. GOI
officials are reported to have decided that the anticipated
prisoner-exchange deal between Hamas and Israel will not lead to any
change in Israel's policy in terms of the siege imposed on Gaza
Strip, nor in terms of the restrictions on freedom of movement and
movement of goods between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Al Quds front page reports that the local planning and construction
committee in Jerusalem approved the deposit of a plan to establish
the "Strauss House" in 'Al Buraq' Plaza. The plan, as reported by
the weekly Israeli newspaper Yerushalym, stipulates the building of
a police station, an educational center, offices for the 'Al Buraq
heritage' Fund, and a building for public services. Four appeals
were filed against the plan. Police sources stated also that
approval of a specific plan in such a highly sensitive area requires
the preparation of a comprehensive plan to examine all the
organizational and public dimensions and results that the plan could
have on the surrounding area and on the site itself. Jerusalem's
deputy mayor is quoted as saying that "(the) area is very sensitive

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and no specific plan such as the Strauss House should be approved."
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BLOCK QUOTES:
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1) Issa Qaraq', Minister of Prisoner Affairs for the Palestinian
Authority, writes in Al-Quds newspaper, "Shalit Deal... Lessons for
Those Who Chose War" that he believes that the capture of Shalit
should make Israel realize that any announcement of a future war
will involve repercussions, and that the suffering will not be
exclusive to Palestinians only.

2) Veteran analyst Samih Shbeib, writes in Al-Ayyam newspaper, "Will
There Be A Resumption Of Negotiations?" that he believes that there
are not many options left for the Palestinians to end their current
crisis, in light of Israel's continued measures in Jerusalem,
settlement expansion, and the purportedly biased position of the
U.S. (in favor of Israel). According to Shbeib, there must be a
national consensus and a new political program that can rescue the
Palestinians and enable them from facing the current challenges.

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