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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (02/16): Palestinian Press Report

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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
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SUBJECT: JERUSALEM MEDIA REACTION (02/16): Palestinian press report
on US officials' visits to the region this week

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Main Stories:
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Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and Al-Ayyam run front page stories on US
officials' visit to the region this week. The two dailies quote
Secretary Clinton in their headlines saying that she hopes that
serious peace negotiations will resume. Headlines also highlight
Vice President Biden's visit to the region in March.

The dailies highlight Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud
Abbas chairing the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday. The cabinet
approved a law that bans settlement goods in the PA-controlled
cities. Reports quote Abbas saying that the PA is waiting for the US
response on PA suggestions to resume negotiations. Al-Ayyam
highlights the Ministers' vote to alter the penal code on "family
honor killings", upgrading the crime to murder.

The dailies highlight reports from the group Peace Now that claim
construction in the West Bank settlements continues despite the
temporary freeze. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reports that construction
continues in 25 percent of all settlements, while Al-Ayyam reports
that it continues in 34 settlements. Al-Quds highlights an "intense
rivalry between wings in the Jerusalem Municipality and the extreme
right to demolish the largest possible number of houses in
Jerusalem."

The three dailies highlight news that the Dubai police accused 11
Europeans of being involved in the assassination of Hamas leader
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last month in Dubai. Reports note that Fatah and
Hamas are exchanging blame for the murder.

Sunday, February 14

The dailies front page stories on Ahmad Rwaidy, head of Jerusalem
Unit within the Office of the Palestinian President, stressing the
seriousness of pending legal cases against demolishing multi-story
residential buildings in Jerusalem that the municipality is
increasingly targeting. Rwaidy added "we are aware of the current
Israeli campaign against the Palestinian presence in the city. We
are consistently and relentlessly addressing this issue with the
owners of houses and buildings, providing them with legal and
engineering support and consultation." Hatem Abdel Qader, the Fatah
official responsible for Jerusalem, told Al-Quds that the Israeli
Minister of Interior continues to obstruct six structural plans for
Jerusalem which the various Municipality committees have already
approved. "The continued obstruction of these plans puts hundreds of
residential units in various neighborhoods in Jerusalem under risk
of demolition" added Abdel Qader.

Al-Quds and Al-Ayyam run front page stories on a number of merchants
and shop owners at the entrance of the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem
saying that they received notices from the Municipality markets'
inspectors last Wednesday ordering them to evict the shops by today.
The Municipality decision came following reports about their
intention to seal off the Damascus Gate for two years starting next
April under the pretext of renovating the infrastructure inside the
Old City. Reports note that this could lead to the closing of more
than 400 shops, thus exerting indirect pressures on the residents
and merchants to leave the Old City.

The three dailies also front page stories on Egypt informing the
Palestinian factions in Gaza that all of their comments on the

JERUSALEM 00000281 002 OF 002


reconciliation plan will be taken into consideration at the time of
implementation. Reports note that the factions are searching for
creative solutions to overcome the question of signing the plan
without undermining the positions of the political factions,
particularly those of Hamas and Fatah. Egyptian Foreign Minister
Aboul Gheit stressed that Egypt did not change the reconciliation
plan and that the current document reflects accurately what was
agreed upon. Gheit added, "Egypt offered Hamas a lot and convinced
the other factions to accept several of Hamas' demands, particularly
in terms of the election system."

Saturday, February 13

The three dailies run front page stories on a series of visits by
senior US officials this week to help restart the peace process and
mobilize support for US policies towards Iran. Reports note that
Secretary Clinton will meet Sunday in Doha with Prince Hamad bin
Khalifa Al-Thani and Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign
Affairs Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani. Clinton will also meet on
Monday in Riyadh with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and
Minister of Foreign Affairs Saud Al-Faisal. Reports quote State
Department Spokesman Phillip Crowley saying that Iran will be the
most prominent topic in Clinton's discussions in Doha and Riyadh, in
addition to efforts for ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The dailies also run front page stories on the death of a
Palestinian man near Hebron who was shot by Israeli soldiers who
claim that he attempted to stab them. Palestinians who were close to
the site questioned the Israeli claims about the man's attempt to
stab the soldiers. In related news, several Palestinians and foreign
peace and solidarity movement activists were injured during the
weekly anti-wall protests in several villages in the West Bank. In
Jerusalem, dozens of Palestinians, solidarity activists, and Israeli
left-wing activists participated in the weekly anti-settlement and
anti-house eviction policies in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in
the presence of large numbers of Israeli police who sealed off the
entrance to the neighbourhood.

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BLOCK QUOTES:
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1) Hadeeth Al-Quds' Column in Al-Quds daily says under the title
"America and the Islamic World...and Contradictory Positions":
"[Secretary] Clinton does not talk about sanctions and threats or
even warnings for Israel, but she tries to resume negotiations even
if it's indirect despite everything happening, including demolition
orders and closures of homes and stores inside and outside the Old
City...This is certainly in total contradiction to the promises made
by President Obama when he came to office."

2) Adli Sadeq opines in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida under the title "Hillary
and the Pyramid of Myths" saying: "Hillary Clinton wasn't shy about
expressing what she thinks is a fair position towards the
Palestinians, saying that she supports sending humanitarian
assistance to Gaza. Everyone who listened to her knows that such
sentiments are natural in any situation, even if she said it about a
prison because sending humanitarian goods to a prison is natural.
Those who make it sound like a privilege or use it as a position to
justify an injustice are revealing a hidden bias.


RUBINSTEIN

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