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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1019/01 0950822
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050822Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0386
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 1931
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 8673
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 1877
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 2738
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 1925
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 9762
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 2666
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 9570
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0046
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 6655
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4052
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 8949
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3147
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5071
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 6455
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001019

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

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

1. Mideast

2. Iran-Britain Crisis

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

All media reported that on Wednesday Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad announced that his government would release the 15
detained British sailors and marines as a gift to the British
people. The electronic media reported that this morning the freed
Britons were on the way to London. Yediot bannered: "Ahmadinejad's
Show."

Leading media reported that the Prime Minister's Office has strongly
denied that Israel relayed a message to Syria, accepting its calls
to renew peace negotiations. The bureau responded to questions
raised on Wednesday by a statement made by US House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi, following a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Pelosi was quoted as saying hat she had relayed a message from PM
Ehud Olmert, to the effect that Israel was ready for peace talks
with Syria. The Prime Minister's Office was quick to issue a
denial, stating that "what was discussed with the House Speaker did
not include any change in Israel's policy, as it has been presented
to international parties involved in the matter." In a special
statement of clarification, the bureau stressed that Olmert had told
Pelosi that Israel continued to regard Syria as "part of the axis of
evil and a party encouraging terrorism in the entire Middle East."
Ha'aretz quoted sources at the Prime Minister's Office as saying
that "Pelosi took part of the things that were said in the meeting,
and used what suited her." The same sources explained that the
decision to issue a statement of denial stemmed from questions from
Israeli and foreign press regarding a change in Israel's official
stance on negotiations with Syria. The media reported that
President Bush and Vice President hurled harsh criticism at Pelosi
over her visit to Syria.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Bahraini FM Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed
al-Khalifa told the Bahrain daily Al-Ayam on Tuesday that the Riyadh
Arab League summit set up "panels to communicate with all
influential parties, including Israel, to activate the Arab Peace
Initiative." The Jerusalem Post cited the Bahrain News Agency
quoting Khalifa as saying that the Arab League has formed "working
teams to communicate with all parties, including Israel, the UN, the
US, China, and the EU." He was quoted as saying that the team would
make contacts with Israel "within a month," and that contacts with
Israel would be made by countries "that have ties" with it, while
the other Arab nations would contact the US and the EU member
states. The Jerusalem Post reported that a source in the Prime
Minister's Office denied knowledge of any working groups that would
be calling Jerusalem. "We still haven't accepted the full
initiative," the source, adding that there would be no formal reply
until after the Prime Minister's Office returned from the weeklong
Passover holiday. "But we have never said no to contact."

Israel Radio quoted a senior Israeli defense official as saying that
Israel respects the cease-fire with the Palestinians, but that it
will not tolerate attacks against its soldiers. Leading media
reported that an Islamic Jihad militant was killed and another was
wounded during a pursuit along the Gaza Strip border. Israel Radio
reported that the defense establishment will maintain its offensive
initiative.

Israel Radio cited The New York Times quoting senior US officials as
saying that a major arms-sale package that the Bush administration
is planning to offer Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies to
deter Iran has been delayed because of objections from Israel, which
says that the advanced weaponry would erode its military advantage
over its regional rivals. Israel Radio reported that the Israeli
Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the report.

Hatzofe reported that PA Transportation Minister Saadi Al-Kunz
intends to resume the activity of Dahaniyeh Airport in the Gaza
Strip. The newspaper quoted an Israeli defense source as saying
that the Palestinians will not receive a permit to run flights from
the airport as long as rockets are launched at the Negev.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel and the PA have agreed on opening
trade passages to the Gaza Strip. A terminal for imports to Gaza
will operate via the Kerem Shalom passage. The Palestinians will be
able to import and export goods from Egypt and other countries via
the Rafah passage alone. The plan, which is supported by the
international community, is pending the approval of Olmert and
Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday Ron Nachman, the Mayor
of the West Bank settlement town of Ariel, denounced as "ridiculous"
a report that the Defense Ministry was weighing the possibility of
shortening the route of the security fence in the northern West Bank
to exclude his city.

Yediot reported that a glass wall will be erected around the Knesset
building to protect it from gunfire.

Maariv reported that Israel recently embarrassed the President of
Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, by telling him that it refused his
request to visit Israel on Holocaust Day. The official reason is
the crowded calendar of the acting president. However, Maariv wrote
that in reality, Israel fears getting into diplomatic trouble that
could strain its relations with Russia.

Maariv quoted associates of former justice minister Haim Ramon as
saying that he is seriously considering returning to the government.
The newspaper said that Ramon is getting closer to the finance
portfolio.

The Jerusalem Post reported that fewer Israelis and Palestinians
study each other's language.

Ha'aretz reported that, according to a US Commerce Department
report, Israel may remain on the list of patent infringing countries
in 2007 if its pharmaceutical law is not amended. The daily said
that, less than one month before publication of the US Priority
Watch List, the US Commerce Department has publicized its 2007
report on the limitations of commercial activity in the US and other
countries. The conclusion from the chapter on Israel is that if
Israel fails to amend its legislation on the protection of
proprietary data in the production of pharmaceuticals, and fails to
extend the term of validity of patent protection of such
information, it will again find itself on the Priority Watch List of
patent-infringing countries.

Ha'aretz and Maariv reported that the annual global quota of H1B
visas to the US, commonly issued to technology workers sent to work
there by their employers, was filled in a record single day.
Applications for the visa could be submitted only on April 2 and 3
this year. The next application dates are in April 2008.

Yediot reported that, starting next academic year, the Education
Ministry will send outstanding managers of schools in the public
sector to Harvard University for one-year extension studies.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Mormon leaders as saying that they have
finally found acceptance in Israel.

All media reported that on Wednesday, the US dollar's rate reached a
six-year low on the Tel Aviv market -- 4.135 shekels.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Rather than say 'no' to the Arab proposal,
Olmert preferred to ignore it and continue to pass on messages to
the 'moderate Arab states,' which rejected his overtures."

Jonathan S. Tobin, Executive Editor of The Jewish Exponent in
Philadelphia, wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post:
"As long as outsiders encourage the Palestinians in their madness --
something the Rice-backed Saudi plan seems to be doing -- a day of
peace for Israel such as the one the Irish now celebrate, will be
put off even further."


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

I. "Headlines Instead of Initiatives"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/5): "When the Prime Minister dropped his
'bomb' [an offer to meet with all Arab chiefs of state], a concrete
proposal from the Arab League was ticking right under his feet. In
the context of an exchange between 'heads of moderate states,' the
summit suggested that a working delegation, organized by the League,
meet with a similar Israeli delegation. The understanding that the
League would determine the composition of that delegation was a
given. Just as Arabs do not determine who is a moderate Jew, Israel
cannot determine who is a moderate Arab. Peace talks are not a
made-to-order program. Anyone who wants his picture taken with the
Saudi King will have to ensure that the Syrian President fits into
the frame. If the League invites Bashar Assad to appoint a
representative to its team, Israel cannot bring a note from Uncle
Sam saying that he does not permit us to play with 'rough
characters.' Rather than say 'no' to the Arab proposal, Olmert
preferred to ignore it and continue to pass on messages to the
'moderate Arab states,' which rejected his overtures."

II. "The Misleading Analogy"

Jonathan S. Tobin, Executive Editor of The Jewish Exponent in
Philadelphia, wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post
(4/5): "Last week's dramatic meeting between two Irish leaders was
the sort of thing no one imagined possible.... Since so many are
fixated on the Irish breakthrough and its relevance to the Middle
East, it's worth taking the time to analyze that situation and to
see just how misleading this analogy can be. Unlike the
Israeli-Arab stand-off, where one side (the Palestinians) still
refuses to accept the legitimacy of their opponents' existence as a
separate state, the historic acceptance of a two-state solution in
Ireland happened 85 years ago, not last week.... Unlike the Irish,
who agreed to a historic partition for peace, the Palestinians have
yet to meaningfully do so, despite the plethora of peace deals that
Israeli leaders have signed with them in the last 14 years.... Hamas
is based in an extremist faith, not a belief in secular
self-determination like Irish republicanism. Their oft-stated goal
is simply the destruction of the State of Israel. Were they, or
their more secular rivals in Fatah, merely interested in Palestinian
statehood, they could have achieved that a long time ago.... As long
as outsiders encourage the Palestinians in their madness --
something the Rice-backed Saudi plan seems to be doing -- a day of
peace for Israel such as the one the Irish now celebrate, will be
put off even further."

------------------------
2. Iran-Britain Crisis:
------------------------

Summary:
--------

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote on page one of
the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "[The diplomatic solution]
will now be used by Iran as proof that even powers such as the US
and Britain are limited in their ability to use force when it comes
to a minor border incident."

Defense and foreign affairs columnist Amir Oren wrote in Ha'aretz:
"The ambush of the British sailors was an Iranian challenge, not the
last one, to the US and its allies. Bush is opposed in principle to
deals involving prisoner exchanges for hostages."

Deputy Managing Editor Anshel Pfeffer wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Both US President George
W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are aware of the acute
danger Iran poses to world peace and Middle East stability, but
neither has the credibility or public backing to launch another
military campaign."

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

I. "A Gift to Britain Is Iran's Gain"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote on page one of
the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/5): "Iran understood the
advantages of a diplomatic solution. If the arrest [of the British
sailors and marines] itself, which was carried out on the eve of a
United Nations decision on sanctions, was meant to deliver the
message that Iran is not afraid of sanctions and that it
distinguishes between the nuclear issue with matters pertaining to
its territorial sovereignty, the diplomatic solution is no less
important. It will now be used by Iran as proof that even powers
such as the US and Britain are limited in their ability to use force
when it comes to a minor border incident -- and that the threat Iran
poses is precisely in initiating local incidents that are not
sufficiently important to lead to war. In addition to this gain,
Iran can also offer Syria its own gains, at a time when its Foreign
Minister, Walid Mualem, is rushing to announce the role Damascus
played in the British sailors' release. It is doubtful whether
Syria influences Iran on regional issues, but when the US House
speaker is in Syria, delivering messages of peace between Israel and
Syria, Tehran can give Damascus a bonus. It is doubtful whether
this incident would impact Iran's determination to develop nuclear
capabilities, a project considered an inalienable part of national
strategy and pride."

II. "Iran Challenges Bush"

Defense and foreign affairs columnist Amir Oren wrote in Ha'aretz
(4/5): "The ambush of the British sailors was an Iranian challenge,
not the last one, to the US and its allies. Bush is opposed in
principle to deals involving prisoner exchanges for hostages. He

did not publicly voice his opposition to the release of Palestinian
prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit. Nonetheless, a day before
the British sailors were imprisoned, Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice criticized her Italian counterpart, Massimo D'Alema, for
releasing five Taliban captives for an Italian journalist abducted
in Afghanistan. The London-Tehran deal sheds a strange light on
Bush's declared principle. But had former US President Jimmy Carter
not failed in his efforts to release the hostages from the US
Embassy in Tehran in 1980, Reagan, who is admired by Bush, would not
have become president, been commemorated with an aircraft carrier,
and have authorized an arms deal in exchange for the hostages in
Iran."

III. "Iran Shows Up Britain's Weakness"

Deputy Managing Editor Anshel Pfeffer wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (4/5): "It would seem that
the British policy of increasing diplomatic pressure through the
United Nations and the European Union and not offering the Iranians
anything for the captives' release worked. On the other hand, the
mullahs have gotten away with piracy on the high seas, thumbing
their nose at the United States' closest ally. Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seemed almost magnanimous when he announced his
country's Easter 'gift' to Britain, and then receiving (on camera)
protestations of gratitude. But Ahmadinejad also succeeded at a
more fundamental level. The British and American response to the
sailors' abduction proved how difficult it is for Western powers to
face the threat his regime poses to the free world.... Both US
President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are
aware of the acute danger Iran poses to world peace and Middle East
stability, but neither has the credibility or public backing to
launch another military campaign."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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