Search

 

Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0978/01 0890948
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 300948Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0307
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
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 1909
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 8654
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 1845
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 2719
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 1903
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 9723
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 2640
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 9548
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0022
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 6636
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4033
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 8923
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3128
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5049
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 6405
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000978

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

Please note: The US Embassy in Tel Aviv will be closed on
Monday-Tuesday, April 2-3, for the Passover holiday. There will be
no Israel Media Reaction on those dates.

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

Mideast

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

All major media highlighted separate Passover holiday interviews
that each of them conducted with PM Ehud Olmert. In all interviews,
the PM stressed his interest in pushing peace forward. In the
interview he granted Ha'aretz, Olmert was quoted as saying that he
wants to start a dialogue with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab
countries after the Riyadh summit again ratified the Saudi peace
initiative. He was further quoted as saying that he would be happy
to take part in a regional conference that would support direct
negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. "A bloc of states
is emerging that understands that they may have been wrong to think
that Israel is the world's greatest problem. That is a
revolutionary change in outlook," Olmert was quoted as saying.
"There are interesting ideas there, and we are ready to hold
discussions and hear from the Saudis about their approach and to
tell them about ours," he added. "We are not going overboard in
this matter, but we are also not discounting it. We will act
cautiously and wisely out of a willingness to create a dynamic that
will improve and strengthen the process. The Riyadh summit is
certainly a serious matter. We do not delude ourselves -- they want
us to go back to the 1967 borders and they also want the right of
return. We were not surprised; we understood it would be this way.
The content is important, but it is also important to relate to the
atmosphere, positioning and direction. Saudi Arabia is the country
that in the end will determine the ability of the Arabs to reach a
compromise with Israel," Olmert was quoted as saying.

In his interviews with Yediot and Ha'aretz, Olmert was quoted as
saying that peace can be reached in five years.

Summarizing Olmert's interview with the newspaper, Maariv stressed
his criticism of opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu, who Olmert
said made a career by "generating panic."

Olmert was quoted as reiterating in the interview with The Jerusalem
Post that Israel would not accept the return to Israel of any
refugees. It is "out of the question," he was quoted as saying. "I
will never accept a solution that is based on their return to
Israel, any number." In the interview, Olmert praised Saudi
Arabia's "remarkable" King Abdullah.

Media reported that Israel's official response, released in a
statement by the Foreign Ministry in coordination with the Prime
Minister's Bureau, was lukewarm. It ignored the content of the
Riyadh resolution and focused on the call by the moderate Arab
nations to enter a dialogue with Israel.

Israel Radio quoted Defense Minister Amir Peretz as saying on
Thursday that Israel must start a diplomatic initiative of its own
and begin debating the principles of the final-status agreement. He
was quoted as saying that the discussions should be with PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas, in coordination with the members of the
Quartet and Arab League representatives.

Ha'aretz reported on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's upcoming visit to
the region, citing differences between her and Olmert about the war
in Iraq. Israel Radio cited her forthcoming visit to Damascus.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a senior US State Department
official told the newspaper this week that there is a growing threat
that terrorist groups such as Hizbullah will acquire nuclear or
other WMD technology. He indicated that there are a "large number"
of nuclear smuggling incidents each year, some of which are
"substantial" and not limited to low-grade material. "You have this
environment of material, expertise and supporting equipment [for
weapons of mass destruction] being more widely available than
before," he was quoted as saying. "You have that coupled with the
demonstrated interest of some terror groups to acquire these
capabilities, and that is a real concern to us." "It's a bigger
threat than it was in the past.... You see work by the groups to try
to acquire the means. It's not just the will. They are working to
acquire the means," he added. While the official would not discuss
the specific capabilities of Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, he
was quoted as saying that "each of those terrorist groups is one
that the US is very concerned about." He was also quoted as saying
that Arab and Muslim countries were increasingly playing a role in
combating the spread of such technologies to terrorist
organizations.

The Jerusalem Post quoted a top Palestinian official as saying on
Thursday that Abbas agreed to meet with Olmert twice a month only to
appease the Americans. Leading media quoted Hamas leader Khaled
Mashal as saying in a phone address to supporters in Gaza City that
his movement would continue to launch attacks on Israel despite the
formation of the PA unity government.

Ha'aretz quoted Palestinian sources as saying on Thursday that
negotiations on the release of Gilad Shalit. the Israeli soldier
held by Hamas since his abduction on June 25 last year, have hit a
bump and are now back at the starting point. Ha'aretz reported that
Palestinian sources told the daily on Thursday that a group of
high-ranking officials in Hamas's military wing, Izz al-Din
al-Qassam, which is headed by Ahmed Jabri, have thwarted the deal.
They reportedly claim that Shalit's captors have expressed fear of
Israel's reprisal if Shalit is released. The sources were quoted as
saying that they therefore decided against transferring the list of
prisoners whom they wish to exchange for Shalit. Israel was to
release their list of prisoners in several stages, and the abducted
soldier was to be transferred to Egypt after the release of the
first group.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Arieh Herzog, the head of the
Defense Ministry's Homa Missile Defense Agency, has told the daily
that recent modifications made to the Arrow enable Israel's
ballistic missile defense system to successfully intercept and
destroy any ballistic missile in the Middle East, including
nuclear-capable missiles under development by Iran.

The media devoted considerable space to revelations about the Second
Lebanon War. Ha'aretz reported that Mossad Director Meir Dagan
recommended after the abduction of two IDF soldiers in the North
last July 12 that Israel delay its military response against
Hizbullah. According to Ha'aretz, Dagan explained to a forum headed
by Defense Minister Amir Peretz it would be advisable to take basic
steps to better protect the home front from possible Katyusha rocket
attacks before striking in Lebanon. Maariv chronicled the course of
events on July 12 -- a "failure foretold."

Hatzofe reported that senior Canadian officials refused to meet with
Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti, who is visiting
their country. The newspaper commented that Canada and Australia
are the friendliest countries to Israel -- even more so than the
US.

Hatzofe reported that Fatah Secretary Abdel Hakim Awad warned
against a wide-ranging IDF offensive in the Gaza Strip, saying that
it would lead to a new disaster for the Palestinians.

Leading media quoted police as saying that two Arab residents of
Jerusalem were under arrest on Thursday for allegedly trying to
kidnap and murder ultra-Orthodox Jews in the city.

Maariv divulged that in mid-2006 Hamas unsuccessfully tried to take
over the headquarters of the Palestinian Police in the West Bank.
The newspaper wrote that Israel arrested 250 Hamas militants, thus
thwarting the attempt. Maariv cited Hamas's denial of the story.

Ha'aretz reported that earlier this week the PA and Jordan arrested
two Palestinians suspected of selling a house in Hebron to settlers
who have been occupying it since March 19. One of the suspects is
being held in Jordan, and the other in Jericho (the latter arrest
also reported by Hatzofe). PA laws call for a death sentence for
anyone found guilty of selling land to Jews. Ha'aretz reported that
Hebron's Jewish Committee condemned the arrest, saying: "The arrest
exposes once again the anti-Semitic nature of the PA. We call upon
the government to accept the racial hatred prevalent in the PA."
The newspaper also reported that several well-known leftist
academics have called on Peretz to issue an order to evict the
settlers from the building. "The decision not to evict the settlers
is not only asinine and wrong, but also a violation of international
law and public order," they wrote.

Ha'aretz reported that, according to IDF projections, the cost of
reinforcing buildings in the western Negev town of Sderot and in the
"Gaza envelope" against Qassam rockets is approximately 1 billion
shekels (around USD 240 million). The assessment covers only 7,000
homes in five towns including Sderot, which is also in Qassam range.
While Olmert has already made a decision in principle to reinforce
homes in the Gaza envelope, no budget has been allocated.

Leading media reported that on Thursday Russia thwarted a British
bid to pass a resolution condemning Iran at the UN Security Council,
following the capture of 15 British sailors.

Leading media reported that on Thursday Greenpeace staged a
demonstration off Israel's Mediterranean coast in favor of a
nuclear-free Middle East. Yediot reported Israel's anger at the
publication by the organization of a map of nuclear sites in
Israel.

Yediot reported that on Thursday Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora informed
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that he would not let him bring
along to Beirut Yediot's Washington correpondent Orly Azolai, who
covered the Riyadh conference. The newspaper wrote that the
"Secretary-General's peace flight collided with the Middle Eastern
reality."

In a Letter to the Editor printed in Ha'aretz, HRH Prince Hassan bin
Talal of Jordan deplores the sewage flooding of a village in Gaza.
Prince Hassan wrote that one should not forget "for one moment that
the fundamental cause of Palestinian vulnerability continues to be
the illegal occupation of their land that has led to the devastating
concentration of large numbers of refugees and displaced people in
confined areas with over-stretched infrastructure."

Yediot reported that US tycoon Donald Trump donated USD 250,000 to
Israel's Soldier's Welfare Association.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that American evangelical Christian
leaders in a visit to Jerusalem this week delivered a letter of
repentance to Knesset members for crimes committed against Jews in
the name of Christianity. The letter is the initiative of the
Texas-based Covenant Alliances.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) quoted Israeli tourism officials as saying
this week that the number of foreign tourists arriving for Passover
has decreased by as much as 10 percent compared to last year. The
newspaper cited one official's belief that the reason for the
decline was last summer's war in Lebanon.

Ha'aretz reported that, in its response to the report of the
British) All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into anti-Semitism, the
British government has stated its opposition to an academic boycott
on Israel and that it is concerned about the "rising tide of
anti-Semitic discourse and anti-Semitism on university campuses."

The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported that Israeli
archeologists from the Shalem Center have uncovered a wall from the
10th century BC in the City of David area next to the Old City of
Jerusalem. The archaeologists were quoted as saying that the
discovery strengthens the belief in the existence of King David's
city.

Ha'aretz cited documents released by the CIA over the past several
years that show that, instead of capturing the escaped Nazi war
criminal Walter Rauff, Israeli intelligence paid him for information
about the Syrian army and helped him flee from Europe to South
America. The newspaper said that he was not the only one.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Rice and President George Bush, it turns
out, are undergoing a process of becoming more pragmatic, but their
basic beliefs have not changed: Without democratization, they
believe, the Middle East will know no peace."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "If the
Arab states were serious about achieving peace, they would not be
putting forward an ultimatum, complete with threats of war if it is
not accepted, to which no Israeli government could possibly agree."

Arab affairs correspondent Smadar Perry wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "This may sound odd,
especially to Arab ears: Even after the leaders of the Arab world
approved the 'full peace' plan yesterday, the ball returns to the
Arab court."

Moti Cristal, a lecturer on negotiations at Tel Aviv University and
the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in Ha'aretz: "To the extent that
Israel does not wake up and present the Arab world and its
supporters in Europe and the United States with a comprehensive
diplomatic plan ... it will find itself being dragged again and
again into the center of the international boxing ring."

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

I. "'Dancing With a Corpse'"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (3/30): "Rice and President George Bush, it
turns out, are undergoing a process of becoming more pragmatic, but
their basic beliefs have not changed: Without democratization, they
believe, the Middle East will know no peace. In any event, the
foundation on which American policy is now resting -- unification of
a front of moderates in the face of the forces of darkness that are
rocking the Middle East -- looked very rickety this week. It's
convincing on paper, but the concrete results are dubious. The
Egyptians are angry, the Saudis are conducting an independent
policy, the Jordanians are distancing themselves, and the Lebanese
are trembling. If this is the forecast, it's no wonder the Iranians
are guffawing.... Rice's delegation tried to play up modest
accomplishments in the visit. The agreement between Rice and
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni relates to the decisive issue of the
future of the talks. In Livni's words, 'There are two possibilities
-- to wait for things to work out, which isn't happening, or to keep
working on it.' And another remark, voiced by a senior figure in
the U.S. delegation, who tried to explain why Rice intends to go on
investing in the 'corpse' [the Mideast peace process]: 'Absent the
effort, all the alternatives are worse.'"

II. "Unserious Summit"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (3/30):
"The Arab states seem serious about looking like they are serious
about achieving peace. If the Arab states were serious about
achieving peace, they would not be putting forward an ultimatum,
complete with threats of war if it is not accepted, to which no
Israeli government could possibly agree. Indeed, this would seem to
be the objective of the summit: an Israeli rejection that would
enable the Arab states to once again say that it is Israel that is
the obstacle to peace. Israel should not fall into this trap. The
government should say that it is obvious that peace cannot be
achieved by ultimatums, but only by negotiation, and that Israel
remains committed to negotiating over all the final-status issues --
such as refugees, borders and Jerusalem -- and is ready to meet at
any time in Jerusalem or any Arab capital. The problem is that the
Arab side continues to insist on coming to the table with a demand
that clearly negates the objective of the entire exercise: two
states living side-by-side in peace.... If Israel's sovereignty is
to mean anything, then Palestinians can have no more right to move
to Israel than Israelis would to a future Palestine. The Arab
states, if they want peace, need to be saying this. If they cannot,
it shows that they may be serious about making Israel look
obstructionist, but not about achieving peace."

III. "The Ball Is Still in Arab Court"

Arab affairs correspondent Smadar Perry wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (3/30): "This may sound
odd, especially to Arab ears: Even after the leaders of the Arab
world approved the 'full peace' plan yesterday, the ball returns to
the Arab court. They, and only they, are the ones on whom the
burden of proof rests. They are the ones who now have to go to the
West, persuade and mobilize the international community to support
their plan. Israel hurried to announce that it rejects the plan in
its present format, even if it includes a tempting bonus in the form
of 'normal relations with all the countries of the Arab world.' It
was enough to see the broad smile on the face of Syrian President
Bashar Assad on Thursday, when he announced that he was pleased with
the Riyadh understandings, to realize that there were no
earthshaking surprises..... Mubarak, who has 30 years of experience
in negotiations with Israel, tried to say reassuringly that the
Israeli 'no' is not the end of the road, but Jerusalem was careful
to signal that it prefers the current situation to the temptations
of normalization, which could cost dearly if the dam is burst on the
matter of the right of return for refugees. On Thursday the Arab
Quartet -- Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
-- received a green light to go to Washington and to UN headquarters
in New York to mobilize support for the Arab peace plan. The
Quartet was also given a mandate to form working committees that
would launch negotiations, without mentioning Israel explicitly by
name. If they insist on sticking to the conditions of the Syrian
president and if they refuse to meet Israelis face to face, the Arab
peace plan can be buried until next time."

IV. "Danger -- and Opportunity -- Ahead!"

Moti Cristal, a lecturer on negotiations at Tel Aviv University and
the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in Ha'aretz (3/30): "In Israel
it is still believed that substantive negotiations is a 'policy' in
and of itself, whereas the rest of the world has already
internalized that negotiations are just another tool in the hands of
statesmen, and equal in legitimacy to the use of force or economic
sanctions. To the extent that Israel does not wake up and present
the Arab world and its supporters in Europe and the United States
with a comprehensive diplomatic plan -- that is, agreements with
Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians, along with the establishment of
a stable system of political, security and economic relations with
the Arab-Muslim world, it will find itself being dragged again and
again into the center of the international boxing ring. Such a
plan, for example, could already be presented at the end of the
month in Riyadh, by a senior and respected Israeli figure on behalf
of the prime minister. This would be a correct move for taking
advantage of a tactical opportunity in the complex strategic
expanse."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

COP24: Rapid Action Urged At Climate Change Conference

Following a year of devastating climate disasters around the globe, from California to Kerala, and Tonga to Japan, the annual UN Climate Change Conference opens with the goal of finalising the implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement. More>>

ALSO:

New Report: Refugees In PNG Being Pushed To The Brink

Refugee Council of Australia and Amnesty International paint a stark picture of a traumatised refugee population hit hard by Australia's recent healthcare and counselling service cuts, as well as continued threats to their safety. More>>

ALSO:

Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>

ALSO:

MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC