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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 061000Z APR 07
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RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 9772
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RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 6662
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4059
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 8959
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001029

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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

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

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

Please note: No Tel Aviv Media Reaction report on Monday, April 9,
2007, Seventh Day of Passover holiday.

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

1. Mideast

2. Iran: Detention and Release of UK Sailors

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

Yediot and Israel Radio reported that around two weeks ago IDF Cpl.
Gilad Shalit's captors passed on to him a pair of glasses sent by
his father. The radio said that the Arabic-language Assennara first
published the information, based on Palestinian members of Hamas.
Yediot quoted GOI sources as saying that this is Hamas's first
positive signal.

Maariv reported that, following Israeli pressure, the Pentagon has
canceled a major arms-sale package that the Bush administration was
planning to offer Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states. Yediot,
Ha'aretz, and The Jerusalem Post said that the deal had been
postponed. Maariv said that the United States' intentions were
positive -- strengthening those countries versus Iran, but that
Israel warned the US that the advanced technology should not reach
the hands of Arab countries, thus jeopardizing Israel's military
edge.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Defense Minister Amir Peretz
announced on Thursday night that in two weeks he will evacuate the
settlers who on March 19 moved into a new four-story building on the
road that links the settlement of Kiryat Arba with the Cave of the
Patriarchs in Hebron. Israel Radio quoted Israeli defense sources
as saying that Peretz requested that the building be vacated within
30 days.

All media quoted Muhammad Kumati, a senior Hizbullah official, as
saying in an interview with the Arabic-language Assennara that the
IDF soldiers abducted by the organization enjoy a "humane"
treatment, similar to that received by Elchanan Tenenbaum, who was
released in 2004. Assennara cited Kumati's belief that USG pressure
on Israel is responsible for the two soldiers not being released,
despite pressure by Israeli public opinion to reach achievements.
Ha'aretz quoted Israeli experts who have been involved in prisoner
swaps as saying that Britain handled the crisis with Iran "In an
exemplary manner." The newspaper quoted that experts as saying
cautiously that the release of the British servicemen could have a
positive influence on Israeli concerns. The sources were quoted as
saying that much of the possible release of the IDF soldiers
abducted by Hizbullah depends on how the Israeli leadership acts in
the next few days. The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli
diplomatic officials derided Syrian President Bashar Assad's offer
to help with the prisoners' release. The proposal that Assad
allegedly made to the ears of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was
reported on Thursday in the London-based Al-Hayat.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Thursday PA officials expressed
fear that the UN may formally declare the Gaza Strip a dangerous
zone -- a move that would result in the evacuation of the remaining
foreign nationals from the area and drastically hamper international
humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. PA security sources told The
Jerusalem Post that 25 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip
last month in internal fighting. The sources added that another
four were killed in the West Bank. The newspaper wrote that the UN
has yet to issue any formal statement about the possible move.

The media cited the IDF as saying that on Thursday evening IDF
troops shot and killed a Palestinian man while on a patrol in the
Judean Desert (near Jericho) in a case of apparent misconduct.
Media reported that the activity of the IDF unit involved in the
incident was suspended.

The Jerusalem Post published Vice PM Shimon Peres's answers to
questions posed to him by readers of the newspaper. He was quoted
as saying that there would have been no diplomatic process were it
not for Yasser Arafat.

Citing AP, Ha'aretz reported that on Thursday US Congressman Darrell
Issa (R-CA) met with Syrian President Bashar Assad, a day after a
visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Thursday British Consul-General
in Jerusalem Richard Makepeace and BBC officials met in Gaza City
with Palestinian PM Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas on ways to push for the
release of Alan Johnston, a BBC journalist kidnapped three weeks
ago. The Jerusalem Post quoted senior diplomatic sources in
Jerusalem as saying that they understood that Makepeace met with
Haniyeh specifically to deal with Johnston's kidnapping, that Israel
viewed this as an isolated meeting, and that there was no concern
that it signified any shift in the British or EU policy of not
having contact with Hamas ministers. The sources pointed out that
the British themselves issued a statement to this effect.

Hatzofe reported that, as part of the settlers' drive to sell West
Bank property to American Jews, Democratic New York State
Assemblyman Dov Hikind bought a house in the northern West Bank.

National Security Studies Center Director Dan Schueftan, the author
of "Disengagement" -- the 1999 book that The Jerusalem Post says
became a virtual blueprint for the 2005 withdrawal from Gush Katif
and northern Samaria (the northernmost part of the West Bank) -- was
quoted as saying in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that the
logic that led to the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip still applies
and that future pullouts are as inevitable as continuing conflict
with the Palestinians.

Ha'aretz reported that close associates of PM Ehud Olmert have
advised him over the past few weeks to seek the resignation of
Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson, who is under suspicion of
embezzlement and other financial crimes. The sources were quoting
as saying that Hirchson's police investigation is damaging Olmert,
the Kadima party and the image of the Finance Ministry and Israeli
economy, Globes said that cited the belief of Hirchson associates
that he will step down only if Olmert explicitly tells him to do
so.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that, after a break of seven
years, American cruise ships returned to Israeli ports this week.
The resumption of US cruise ship visits became possible after the
official US travelers warning for Israel was modified, and American
insurance companies stopped demanding excessive prices for traveling
to Israel.

Maariv reported that the Bank of Israel is considering raising the
interest rates or -- for the first time in 10 years -- buying US
dollars to halt the drop in the American currency's rate on the Tel
Aviv market. On Thursday the dollar's representative rate went down
to 4.129 shekels.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev Schiff wrote in
the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Israel is entering a
corridor that looks very promising, but also harbors great
dangers."

Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "At this stage, before anything real happens, this is purely
a propaganda battle. Instead of winning it, we are defeating
ourselves. Why?"

Senior columnist Dan Margalit wrote in Maariv: "But the current
government has no moral right to decide which concessions to
make.... Even in its low moments, Barak's government enjoyed wider
legitimacy."

Former editor-in-chief Moshe Ishon wrote in the nationalist,
Orthodox Hatzofe: " A cold wind has started blowing from
Washington."

Columnist Fayez Abbas wrote in the independent Arabic-language
weekly Assennara: "Olmert's government and all Israeli governments,
excluding Rabin's, have not been interested in the peace process."


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

I. "Forty Years on the Road"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev Schiff wrote in
the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/6): " Olmert proposed
negotiations on the Saudi initiative, but without going into detail.
Israel might make some surprising concessions, he said. Olmert
understood that flatly turning down the proposal would be bad for
Israel's international standing.... The trouble is implementing
these declarations. Israel is entering a corridor that looks very
promising, but also harbors great dangers. The process is meant to
begin as the United States withdraws from Iraq, which is sure to be
labeled a defeat, and Iran continues its race for nuclear arms. If
the initiative is to succeed, Israel will need extraordinary
leadership capable of introducing wise, courageous policies. To
date, however, there has been no serious discussion of all the
relevant factors. Israel's leaders will have to operate on several
fronts simultaneously: Saudi Arabia and the moderate Arab countries;
Syria; the Palestinians, who are swayed by Hamas; and Iran and its
lackeys. Last, but not least, is the home front. On the one hand,
the leadership of the Arab minority is calling for a change in the
character of the state and challenging its identity as a democratic
Jewish entity. On the other, the settlers are waking up, as
evidenced by the protest at [the evacuated West Bank settlement of]
Homesh and the acquisition of a Palestinian house in Hebron."

II. "Israeli Stupidity"

Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (4/6): "Israel is currently making and awful mistake. If
there is a sincere [Arab] intent of peace, Israel's negative
response is destroying the chance of creating a moderate front also
in order to jointly combat Iran. But if there is no peace intent
and just a trap, as claimed by the [Israeli] Right, Israel is
exactly playing to Hamas's tune. Israeli refusal is the fastest way
to release Hamas from the international embargo and to transfer the
latter to Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made countless
statements regarding the Saudi initiatives. He has also found that
it contains positive sides. But this is somehow an Israeli PR
failure, too. The Israeli response is being interpreted -- not only
in the Arab world but also in the entire world -- as evasive and
affected. The Arab initiative will enter the history books. After
Khartoum's three 'no's' [in 1969], it looks like a tangible change.
At this time it is not important at all whether it is a trap or a
serious offer. At this stage, before anything real happens, this is
purely a propaganda battle. Instead of winning it, we are defeating
ourselves. Why?"

III. "A Government Unfit For Negotiations"

Senior columnist Dan Margalit wrote in Maariv (4/6): "No Israeli
government can appear to be a total rejectionist of peace. 'No' to
negotiations with the Palestinians, whose government refuses to
recognize Israel and to desist from terror; 'no' to Syrian President
Bashar Assad's extended hand; and 'no' to the Saudi initiative that
insists on the 'right of return' to the descendants of the
Palestinian refugees from 1948. All those components include a
significant Israeli concession. They are about principle stances,
about the special relationship with the United States. Israel will
have to enter a discussion on one of these fronts -- at least in
order to fulfill its obligations. But the current government has
no moral right to decide which concessions to make.... Even in its
low moments, Barak's government enjoyed wider legitimacy than its
current heir. Every government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu or an
elected [leader] from the Labor Party will want to negotiate with
the Arabs. But, in order to enter negotiations, a broad-based
Israeli determination is required. The present government has no
mandate for this."

IV. "A Cold Wind Blowing From Washington"

Former editor-in-chief Moshe Ishon wrote in the nationalist,
Orthodox Hatzofe (4/6): "A cold wind has started blowing from
Washington.... [During the recent visit], this was not the same
Secretary of State we have know over the past year, who used to

SIPDIS
bring along virtuousness and understanding for Israel's diplomatic
and security interests. This time her ... diplomatic presentation
was different: It reminded us of the distant past, when secretaries
of state demonstrated no real sympathy for Israel. The changes
recently effected in the United States' Mideast policy are
influenced by its status in Iraq, among other things.... It can be
assumed that Condoleezza Rice received President Bush's approval for
the presentation of [her] plan to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.... It
is amazing that Condoleezza Rice brought along a proposal calling
for Israel's withdrawal to the 1967 borders, which is in fact the
Saudi proposal. This makeover ... indicates a significant change in
Washington's position. Prime Minister Olmert indeed tried to remove
it from the agenda, but not unambiguously. It would be more
accurate to say that [her] proposal was rejected only temporarily
and not unmistakably. This is regrettable."

V. "Syria, Israel and Peace"

Columnist Fayez Abbas wrote in the independent Arabic-language
weekly Assennara (4/6): "I do not know what exactly the message of
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Syria included. However, the big
question should be whether the Israeli government is serious
regarding the peace process with Syria and the rest of the Arab
countries. The answer to this question is very simple. Olmert's
government and all Israeli governments, excluding Rabin's, have not
been interested in the peace process. Rabin was ready to withdraw
from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria, but we all
know what happened to Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish bullet
because he was very serious about the peace process. Since the
assassination, all Israeli governments waved slogans of 'peace for
peace' and not 'peace for land' -- a concept refused by the Arab
world.... During one of my visits to Syria and meeting with
President Assad [the father], he expressed his true intentions for
peace with Israel, however those intentions weren't welcomed by
Israel, which claimed that Syria was actually preparing for war....
A couple of months after my visit I wrote about the case of Gil, the
Israeli intelligence agent who was charged over faking reports on
alleged Syrian war preparations against Israel.... This incident
proved that Israel had no clue what was happing within the Syrian
administration and yet believed the fake reports. After the arrest
of the agent Gil, will Israel believe that Syria is ready for
complete and just peace or will there be an another 'Gil?'

-------------------------------
2. Iran: Detention and Release of UK Sailors:
-------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "One can only hope that this
supposedly humanitarian gesture of 'forgiving' Britain will not stop
Bush and Blair from persisting in their battle to keep Iran, whose
declared goal is the destruction of Israel, from achieving a nuclear
capability."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Iran's
true face is most unmistakably exposed in the case of the three yet
unreleased Israeli abductees."

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in The Jerusalem Post: "Iran grows stronger in the face of
Western weakness and hypocrisy. But is still isn't all that strong.
The fact remains that even at this late date, we alone will
determine whether we win or lose."

Editor-in-Chief Bassam Jaber wrote in the left-leaning, independent
Arabic-language weekly Panorama: "The lesson that can be learned
from the release of the marines is the second lesson after Iraq, for
both Bush and Blair and for all those who build their policy on
show-offing or misusing power."

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

I. "The Forgiveness Game"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/6): "Even the biggest,
strongest superpowers have no answer for the primitive form of
warfare known as kidnapping that Islamic bullies have added to the
menu in their fight against Western civilization. With our
experience of brutal kidnappings, who knows better than we how
problematic they can be, and how high a price one is forced to pay
to bring hostages home, alive or in a box.... In this game of
horror, the kidnappers have the upper hand, because they know that
in the civilization they are out to destroy, human life is valued
above all.... A country with values is at a disadvantage when it
comes to kidnapping. Yes, Blair raised his voice and threatened to
take firmer action if a solution wasn't found right away. So he
threatened. So what? The Iranians countered that the use of force
would only complicate matters.... One thing is certain: Within a
couple of days or weeks, we will find out the price Great Britain
paid for the release of these hostages. Iranians are known for
their keen business sense. There is no such thing as a free
gift.... One can only hope that this supposedly humanitarian gesture
of 'forgiving' Britain will not stop Bush and Blair from persisting
in their battle to keep Iran, whose declared goal is the destruction
of Israel, from achieving a nuclear capability."


II. "Iran's True Face"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (4/6):
"Fifteen British sailors are safely back home, after two weeks in
Iranian captivity -- a happy ending which in itself should please
anyone who deplored their unjust detention in the first place and
all the grist their seizure provided for Tehran's propaganda mill.
Exasperatingly, however, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and
his cohorts have managed to come out looking good, despite their
out-and-out act of piracy, intimidation, and unlawful
imprisonment.... Given the track record of the ayatollahs' regime,
things could have been far worse.... Despots, of course, always have
evinced and continue to evince a penchant for such disingenuous
pageantry. Ahmadinejad isn't the first autocrat to force hapless
hostages to play act and give praise for what is falsely presented
as kindness.... A wolf is most treacherous in sheep's clothing and a
ruthless enemy is most misleading when it dons a fallaciously
pleasant mask. Iran's true face is most unmistakably exposed in the
case of the three yet unreleased Israeli abductees.... The free
world's challenge is not to be hoodwinked by his honeyed
blandishments, and critically not to let his regime's duplicitous
magnanimity in resolving its own act of piracy divert attention from
the Iranian nuclear threat."

III. "Iran Doesn't Mix Signals"

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in The Jerusalem Post (4/6): "The footage of the British
hostages thanking Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the
hospitality and forgiveness, like the footage of Speaker of the US
House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi covering her head in a scarf
while on a visit to Damascus, was enough to make you sick. Must we
lose this war?.... Iran grows stronger in the face of Western
weakness and hypocrisy. But is still isn't all that strong. The
fact remains that even at this late date, we alone will determine
whether we win or lose."

IV. "Lessons From the Release"

Editor-in-Chief Bassam Jaber wrote in the left-leaning, independent
Arabic-language weekly Panorama (4/6): "The incident of the captive
British marines has shown the key role that Syria can play in
resolving issues between conflicted sides in the region.... Iran has
proven that there is another language [of communication] that can be
used to achieve agreements other than the language of threats and
Security Council resolutions. The lesson that can be learned from
the release of the marines is the second lesson after Iraq, for both
Bush and Blair and for all those who build their policy on
show-offing or misusing power."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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