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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (09/24): Palestinian Press Focus

Published: Thu 24 Sep 2009 08:42 AM
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SUBJECT: JERUSALEM MEDIA REACTION (09/24): Palestinian press focus
on President Obama's UNGA speech
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Main Stories:
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President Obama's first speech at the UN General Assembly in New
York on September 23 receives prominent coverage in the local press.
The dailies highlight Obama's statements in which he called the
continued settlement activities n the West Bank "illegal." Obama
noted that the time has come to pursue unconditional final status
negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, including the
issues of refugees, security, borders and Jerusalem. Additionally,
Obama called on the Arab states to stop incitement against Israel in
order to pave the way for successful peace talks. Obama reiterated
his support for the two-state solution and noted that "progress" was
made during the trilateral meeting held September 22.
Al-Quds runs separate front page coverage commenting on the outcome
of the trilateral meeting and Obama's speech. Coverage noted that
this was a victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as
Obama reversed his demand for a freeze in settlement activity to
help push the negotiations forward. Reports concluded that Obama's
tone changed after the trilateral meeting and became more flexible
regarding the continuation of settlement activity. Al-Hayat
Al-Jadida quotes Netanyahu saying that he welcomes Obama's speech
and his call for the resumption of negotiations without
preconditions, and his unshakeable support to the people of Israel.
Senator Mitchell's statement after the trilateral meeting in New
York is highlighted in the dailies. Citing AFP, Al-Quds' front page
quotes Mitchell saying that the US is aware of the existing gaps
between the Palestinian and Israeli positions and noted that both
parties are eager to restart the peace talks as soon as possible.
The dailies highlight the Palestinian Authority (PA) reactions and
comments on the trilateral meeting and Obama's speech. Al-Hayat
Al-Jadida notes that the PA is satisfied with President Obama's
speech before the UN General Assembly. Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat
is quoted saying that "we appreciate Obama's remarks concerning the
illegality of settlement activity and his call to end the occupation
that started in 1967."
The Secretary General of the Palestinian Liberation Organization
Executive Committee Yaser Abed Rabbo also welcomed President Obama's
speech and noted to Al-Quds that the speech weakened Israeli claims
that the trilateral meeting was a victory for Israel. On the
contrary, Abed Rabbo noted that Obama was the first President who
spoke so explicitly about ending the occupation and resuming
negotiations.
Citing DPA and Israeli official sources, Al-Quds front pages news
that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed his
satisfaction with the outcomes of the trilateral meeting, as it
proved that the Israeli government can resume negotiations without
preconditions and compromises, according to coverage.
In separate coverage, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida notes that PA President
Mahmoud Abbas briefed the Arab Foreign Ministers on the outcome of
his talks with Obama and Netanyahu. He reiterated that the Israelis
have to meet all of their road map obligations, primarily the
cessation of settlement activity, including natural growth. Al-Ayyam
reports on the PA President's Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rundeinah
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noting that the meetings with the Israelis do not necessarily mean
the resumption of negotiations. He is quoted in Al-Ayyam saying "Our
position prior to the meeting is the same after the meeting" and
reiterated that without the cessation of settlement activity, there
will be no negotiations. Abu Rudeinah urged the US to exert more
pressure on Israel to meet its road map obligations.
In citing the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, the dailies report that
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently endorsed the
establishment of 37 settlement units in Karni Shamron settlement in
the northern West Bank.
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BLOCK QUOTES:
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1) Fathi Al-Biss opines in an editorial in Al-Ayyam independent
daily under the title "A disappointment" (09/24): "President Abbas'
decision to meet Netanyahu was disappointing and implies that the
Palestinian will be willing to make even more compromises ... the
disappointment may vanish if President Abbas and the PLO explain the
reasons behind this meeting and to assure us there are hidden
details that would benefit the Palestinians."
2) Yahia Rabah opines in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida official daily under the
title "Israel comes first" (09/24):"Why is the Israeli government so
stubborn and confident about the settlement issue? Everyone knows
that the US can pressure Israel ... however, the Israelis also know
that the US is aware of Israel's strength in the Middle East, which
is the first priority."
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