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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 280954Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9668
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEADWD/DA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 1734
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 8488
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 1644
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 2513
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 1722
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 9514
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 2456
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 9376
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 9851
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 6470
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 3863
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 8739
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 2962
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4877
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 6084
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000636

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
NSC FOR NEA STAFF

SECDEF WASHDC FOR USDP/ASD-PA/ASD-ISA
HQ USAF FOR XOXX
DA WASHDC FOR SASA
JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR PA
CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL FOR POLAD/USIA ADVISOR
COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE FOR PAO/POLAD
COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019

JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Taiwan

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Key stories in the media:
-------------------------

Israel Radio reported that tonight Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik will
meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and later with House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The radio reported that Itzik invited Karnit
Goldwasser, the wife of one of the soldiers kidnapped into Lebanon,
to join her.

Ha'aretz reported (lead story in Ha'aretz (English Ed.)), that on
Tuesday in Moscow the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled
Mashal, reiterated that his organization was not willing to
recognize Israel, saying that Israel must end the occupation and the
suffering of the Palestinian people and "only then will the
Palestinians make their position [on recognition] clear." Other
Hamas spokesmen told Ha'aretz on Tuesday that the Mecca Agreement,
in which Fatah and Hamas agreed to form a government of national
unity, has not altered in any way the Islamist organization's stance
on Israel. Ha'aretz quoted the Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip,
Ismail Radwan, as saying that the organization will never negotiate
with Israel. The newspaper quoted a different spokesman of the
organization in the Gaza Strip, Fauzi Barhum, as saying that "Hamas
has decided to show a political horizon, but our position is clear.
All the land of Palestine [from the sea to the river] belongs to the
Palestinians and Israel is the enemy. However, our political
horizon offers a hudna for 15-20 years, in return for the
establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, the return
of the refugees and the release of the prisoners." Ha'aretz quoted
Russian FM Sergey Lavrov as saying during the joint press conference
with Mashal that his country would work toward lifting the
international embargo on the PA and that it will support the new
unity government. "Russia supports the understandings reached
between Hamas and Fatah over the sharing of power, because they are
an expression of reason, wisdom and responsibility toward the
Palestinian people," Lavrov was quoted as saying. The Russian FM
added that his country was working to ensure that "all the members
of the international community will support this process, including


efforts to lift the embargo." Lavrov was quoted as saying that
Mashal had promised an end to the Qassam rocket attacks against
Israel. Calling on Hamas to use its strength to end the violence
against Israel, Lavrov said that "we have received confirmation that
such steps will be adopted," referring to an end to the rocket
attacks. The Jerusalem Post and Yediot also reported on the
Lavrov-Mashal meeting. Maariv cited the concern of the Israeli
leadership over the drafting by the EU of a plan to resume
international cooperation with the PA government, even if it does
not abide by the Quartet's conditions.

Ha'aretz quoted Defense Minister Amir Peretz as saying on Tuesday,
during a visit to the IDF Gaza Division, that Israel is concerned
about the continued strengthening and arming of Hamas and that it is
following developments closely. Peretz was quoted as saying that
Hamas is taking advantage of the cease-fire agreement between Israel
and the Palestinians to continue stockpiling arms. "We are
definitely doing everything in order to preserve the cease-fire,"
Peretz was quoted as saying, adding that Israel has "no reason to
turn [Hamas's] strengthening into a real threat to Israel." Peretz
refused to rule out a military operation in the Gaza Strip. "Every
solution that protects the citizens of Israel is possible," he was
quoted as saying. "We prefer a diplomatic solution, but where that
doesn't work out, we will also conduct military operations."

Leading electronic media reported that this morning three
Palestinians were killed and an elite undercover Border Policeman
lightly wounded in a Jenin refugee camp. According to the Border
Police, all three were Islamic Jihad members, including Ashraf
Sa'adi, a senior member of the group, and two of his aides, Mohammed
Abu Nasser and Daoud Jibli. However, Ha'aretz's web site quoted
Palestinian sources as saying that one of those killed was a taxi
driver.

Yediot reported that Hizbullah is about to get "Fateh 110" rockets
from Iran, which have a range of 250 kilometers, are more precise,
easier to launch, and more difficult to trace than Hizbullah's
current rockets. The newspaper said that if they are deployed in
Lebanon, they could strike Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Beersheva. The
Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli sources as saying on Tuesday that
Israel is considering taking action to stop the smuggling of weapons
from Syria to Hizbullah, although plans for the time being entail a
continuation of diplomatic efforts to change UNIFIL's mandate so
that the UN force will deploy along the Syrian-Lebanese border.

Maariv reported that, in recent days, Syrian commentators and
military experts have voiced the concern that Israel could initiate
a military strike in the Golan. This was broadly publicized in the
Syrian media, in response to the publication of the annual
intelligence assessment of Israel's security agencies.

Ha'aretz reported that government bodies have been promoting a
preliminary plan over the past few weeks to build a neighborhood of
11,000 units for the ultra-Orthodox near the East Jerusalem airport.
The plan also calls for the construction of a tunnel under a
Palestinian neighborhood to connect the new quarter to one of the
settlements in the Beit El area east of Ramallah. Ha'aretz quoted
MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), a former settler leader, as saying on
Tuesday that the Housing Ministry is the body that developed a plan
to erect the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. Ha'aretz said that the
ministry denied any knowledge of the project.

In its lead story, Ha'aretz (Hebrew Ed.) reported that on Tuesday
the US administration confirmed that it has agreed to participate in
a regional meeting with countries bordering with Iraq -- including
Iran and Syria. This move is supposed to neutralize one of the most
complex political obstacles for the United States' public relations.
Ha'aretz quoted Secretary Rice as saying on Tuesday at a
congressional hearing that Iraq is the inviting party and that there
will be no direct US-Iranian talks. Ha'aretz wrote that, according
to the plan, the talks, in which David Satterfield, Senior Advisor
to the Secretary of State and Coordinator for Iraq, will represent
the US, are due to start this month. Ha'aretz said that a
ministerial-level committee, in which Rice will take part, is
planned for April. The newspaper wrote that the UK, Russia, and
international organizations, are among the bodies that will take
part in the talks. Ha'aretz quoted international sources as saying
that the participation of those bodies would pave the way for a more
fruitful dialogue on further issues in contention between the US and
Syria. Ha'aretz quoted observers in Washington as saying that the
US has been under heavy pressure by the Iraqi government and its
Western allies to walk the extra mile towards Iran. Yediot also
mentioned the turn in US policy.

Ha'aretz reported that a proposed constitution written by the
Israeli Arab advocacy center, Adalah, states that Arab Knesset
members will be able to bring about the disqualification of bills
that impinge on the rights of Arabs, and classifies the State of
Israel as a "bilingual and multicultural" country rather than a
Jewish state. The proposal, entitled "The Democratic Constitution,"
also calls for majority and minority groups to split control of the
government in such a way that will strengthen the Arab minority on
issues relating to the character of the state. Adalah's version of
the constitution essentially abolishes the Jewish elements of
Israel, but allows the Jewish majority to maintain its character
through educational and cultural institutions. The proposal
invalidates the Law of Return, which grants automatic citizenship to
people with at least one Jewish grandparent, and states that
citizenship will be granted to those who come to Israel for
humanitarian reasons, regardless of their religion. The document
states that the "internal refugees" -- Arab residents and their
descendants expelled in 1948 and whose number is estimated at about
a quarter of today's Israeli Arab citizens -- will return to the
area where they used to live and receive compensation. The
introduction to the proposed constitution demands that Israel
recognize its responsibility for the "historical injustices that it
caused the Palestinian nation in its entirety," withdraw from the
territories and recognize the Palestinian people's right to
self-determination. The proposal sets the state's borders along the
1967 cease-fire lines. The proposed constitution grants citizenship
to all descendants of Israeli citizens, whether they were born here
or abroad, as well as to all spouses of Israeli citizens thereby
undermining Israeli efforts to limit marriages between Israeli Arabs
and Palestinians living in the territories.

All media prominently reported on the issue of the authenticity of
university degrees that MK Esterina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu)
claims to hold, and other irregularities she might have been
involved in. The chairman of her party, Strategic Affairs Minister
Avigdor Lieberman, might have to decide that she will not be a
minister, despite that fact that he endowed the tourism portfolio
with her. The Jerusalem Post reported that most Knesset members now
oppose Tartman's appointment. Yediot reported that PM Ehud Olmert
expects Tartman's appointment to be rescinded.

Leading media reported that five Bedouin from northern Israel have
been arrested on suspicion of gang-raping four young Israeli women,
including a 13 year-old girl. "It is because of what your soldiers
are doing to us in Gaza," they told one of the victims.

The Jerusalem Post published a Bloomberg wire report citing Elbit
Systems Ltd., Israel's biggest non-government defense company, as
saying that the US Marine Corps placed a follow-on order valued at
USD 51 million for its laser target systems. The order, placed with
Elbit's US subsidiary, follows an initial sale from July 2006. The
company said that the system provides a "bull's-eye" to target enemy
troops with munitions especially designed for laser guidance.
The Jerusalem Post cited the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor
as saying on Tuesday that Israel is expected to boost agricultural
exports to Turkey by approximately USD 17 million this year as a
result of a new agriculture agreement that will take effect on March
1.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday the Jewish Council for Public
Affairs, one of the most important Jewish American organizations,
decided to support divestment from companies that do business with
the Sudanese government responsible for genocide in Darfur.

All media reported that, following an intervention by Olmert, the
Histadrut labor federation agreed to cancel the general strike
planned for today.

------------
1. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff and military
correspondent Amos Harel wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "The more time that passes since the signing of the Mecca
Agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the clearer it becomes that the
real winner in the current round of internal Palestinian conflict is
Hamas."

Block Quotes:
-------------

"Hamas Is Still Hamas"

Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff and military
correspondent Amos Harel wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (2/28): "The more time that passes since the signing of the
Mecca Agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the clearer it becomes that
the real winner in the current round of internal Palestinian
conflict is Hamas. From the declarations of senior Hamas leaders
and its spokesmen and from informal conversations with central
activists, it is clear the organization does not intend to make
significant changes in its hard-line ideological stance. In the
words of its Gaza spokesman, Ismail Radwan, 'The organization has
changed nothing in its stances toward the conqueror and Zionist
enemy,' Radwan told Ha'aretz. At most, according to Radwan, Hamas
will accept the 1967 borders as a temporary solution, and that only
on condition that the 'Palestinian refugees will return to their
homes and all prisoners will be released.' Then Hamas would
consider the possibility of a hudna [cease-fire]. Radwan is not
part of Hamas' extremist wing. He is considered a representative of
the mainstream, led from Damascus by the head of the Hamas political
bureau, Khaled Mashal. On Tuesday in Moscow, Mashal was cool to the
praise he heard from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the
PA unity government, and immediately reiterated that Hamas would not
recognize Israel. When Hamas activists summarize the events in Gaza
over the past months, their conclusion is clear: Fatah lost the
battle. "Israel has not yet understood that after the Mecca
agreement, the disappearance of Fatah is a matter of time," a senior
Hamas member said behind closed doors this week. Another senior
figure, considered a leader of the pragmatic stream, went even
further. 'Of all people,' he said, 'from you Jews, who have known so
many disasters, it should have been expected to be careful not to
drown in a sea of Muslims. You might have another Holocaust.'"

-----------
2. Taiwan:
-----------

Summary:
--------

Senior editor Rami Tal wrote in an editorial of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "It is hard to believe
that the Chinese government will not react to a step it considers as
an intolerable provocation."

Block Quotes:
-------------

"Navigating a Perilous Route"

Senior editor Rami Tal wrote in an editorial of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/28): "China views
Taiwan as an integral part of itself. The Chinese authorities have
often clarified that they do not intend to go to war in order to
conquer Taiwan, and that a solution will only be reached through
negotiations.... [But] fulfilling the intention to declare Taiwan's

separation might produce dangerous tension in the Far East. Taiwan
has good relations with Japan, and the United States sees itself as
committed to its defense. On the other hand, it is hard to believe
that the Chinese government will not react to a step it considers as
an intolerable provocation. Israel has good diplomatic and economic
ties with both China and Taiwan. It should be hoped that [Israel's]
Foreign Ministry will suitably, carefully, and wisely maneuver in
the complex situation in that region, which enjoys the fastest
economic growth in the world."

CRETZ

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