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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1476/01 1371235
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171235Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1165
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 2181
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 8913
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2164
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 2982
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2185
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0061
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 2930
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 9817
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0292
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 6895
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4300
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9203
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3390
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5325
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 6858
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001476

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:
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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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Israel Radio quoted Deputy State Department Spokesman Tom Casey as
saying on Wednesday: "Our main focus at this point is to call on all
the parties there [in the Gaza Strip] to refrain from violence. It
is clear that everyone needs to work with President Abbas to calm
the situation down. It certainly is not helpful, again, for the
aspirations of the Palestinian people to have this kind of
internecine fighting going on." The radio and The Jerusalem Post
also quoted Casey as saying: "This is something that does nothing to
help that cause of the Palestinian people. Certainly it does not
bring them any closer to achieving a Palestinian state that people
want and desire." The Jerusalem Post reported that another State
Department official told the newspaper that the recent Hamas attack
on Fatah guards at the Karni Crossing "threatens the efforts of the
US and international community to improve the economic and
humanitarian conditions for the Palestinian people in Gaza." The
Jerusalem Post quoted "observers" as saying that the violence
between Hamas and Fatah hurts American efforts at mediation between
Israelis and Palestinians.

All media led with the continuing Qassam rocket attacks against
Sderot and other Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip --
close to 30 rockets on Wednesday -- and their consequences. PM Ehud
Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and FM Tzipi Livni indicated
that Israel would not sit idle in the face of the attacks. The
media reported that, following a meeting of the principal cabinet
ministers with senior defense officials on Wednesday, targeted
killings would be renewed, though at this point they would not be
directed against Hamas political leaders but rather against those
directly involved in terrorism. The media reported that on
Wednesday IAF jets bombed a Hamas headquarters in Rafah, killing
four Palestinians and injuring approximately 20 others. All the
injured were Hamas militants. In another raid that evening, the air
force killed a Hamas militant on the outskirts of Gaza City. He was
part of crew of Qassam rocket launchers. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe said
that the GOI is considering introducing international forces to the
Gaza Strip. Ha'aretz and Maariv reported that Defense Minister
Peretz suggested to Olmert at the meeting that the residents of
Sderot be evacuated. Ha'aretz wrote that Olmert only agreed to a
"break" for the residents. All media reported that Russian-born
business tycoon Arkady Gaidamak has added complexity to the debate
by evacuating hundreds of Sderot residents to a Beersheva hotel.

Ha'aretz quoted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as saying on
Wednesday, in talks with senior diplomatic officials, that the
Egyptian Government is at a loss regarding the future of the Gaza
Strip. Ha'aretz reported that Mubarak expressed great concern over
the increasing strength of Hamas. Mubarak was quoted as saying that
Egypt was making great efforts to end the Hamas government and
support PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah.

Ha'aretz reported that Illinois Senator Barack Obama has joined the
ranks of legislators who are actively working to halt Iran's nuclear
program. Obama was quoted as saying on Wednesday, in an interview
with Ha'aretz: "Iran continues to be a major threat to both the US
and some of our allies." In the interview, Obama called for an
urgent escalation of economic pressure on Iran. Ha'aretz reported
that he backed this up on Wednesday by announcing his Iran Sanctions
Enabling Act. If the bill is passed, it will make it easier for
investors to know which companies are economically involved with
Iran and to act accordingly. The Jerusalem Post also mentioned
Obama's introduction of the legislation. Ha'aretz said that Obama
still supports talks with Tehran, but that he promises not to relent
on stopping the Iranian enrichment program. "It is important to
have low-level talks" with Iran even if the enrichment program is
continuing, he was quoted as telling Ha'aretz, but high-level talks
"will not be appropriate without some sense of progress" on
enrichment. In the interview, the Senator called the Bush
administration's talks with Iran over the issue of Iraq a "step in
the right direction" that will "establish a pattern of dialogue"
with Iran, and criticized the administration for not talking with
Iran in the past few years. "We need to check" whether there are
Iranian leaders with "a more sensible attitude" than the one
expressed by their President, he was quoted as saying.

Leading media reported that on Wednesday the Knesset passed, in a
first reading, a bill requiring a referendum for possible Israeli
concessions on the Golan or Jerusalem. Two other bills obligating
Knesset members to swear allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state and
to its symbols were passed in a first reading. The media said that
some Kadima and Labor Party Knesset members voted in favor of the
moves.

Israel Radio reported that Masseb Bashir, a 25-year-old resident of
Dir el-Balah in the Gaza Strip, was charged on Thursday in
Jerusalem's District Court with gathering intelligence as part of a
plan to assassinate PM Olmert. Bashir, whom the Shin Bet arrested in
April, is an activist of the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine. Bashir had a valid entry permit into Israel due to his
work with the organization Doctors Without Borders.

The Jerusalem Post quoted sources close to FM Tzipi Livni as saying
that, if PM Olmert decides to appoint former justice minister Haim
Ramon as minister in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians,
she will block the move.

Ha'aretz reported that on Wednesday Shas party mentor Rabbi Ovadia
Yosef once again had warm words for Shimon Peres, although he has
still not promised the support of the 12 Shas Knesset members for
the Vice PM's presidential bid. Yosef expressed Shas's uncommitted
support for Peres to Ehud Olmert in what was the men's first meeting
since Olmert became PM last year. The Jerusalem Post said that Shas
may betray Peres again.

The Jerusalem Post reported that former US ambassador to Israel
Martin Indyk told the newspaper that the Palestinians would consider
a compromise deal on the "right of return to Israel" in exchange for
the creation of a viable state in the West Bank. Indyk also spoke
at a symposium at Tel Aviv University.

Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice-Chairman of the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was quoted as
saying on Tuesday, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, that the
US intellectual elite is being poisoned against Israel in the way
the British elite already has been.

Israel Radio reported that Australian authorities released a British
citizen who had completed half his prison sentence for attempting to
attack the Israeli Embassy in Canberra.

Ha'aretz reported that on Sunday the Kinneret-Zmora-Bitan publishing
house is set to release Yediot Aharonot journalist Ronen Bergman's
"Nekudat Ha Al-Hazor" ("Point of No Return"). The book deals with
Israeli intelligence work on Iran and Hizbullah. Bergman writes
that ever since the Ayatollah Khomeini came into power in Iran in
1979, a secret war has been waged between Israel and Iran. The
English translation rights for the new book have already been sold
to Simon and Schuster. Ha'aretz said that the English-language
edition will be geared toward an American audience.


In a letter to the editor of Maariv, Rabbi Dov Edelstein of Alfei
Menashe, a West Bank settlement, compared the West Bank separation
fence with the US-Mexico border fence. Among other arguments,
Edelstein said that no Mexican trying to cross the border had
planned to carry out suicide bombings.

Ha'aretz quoted former CIA Director George Tenet as saying in his
memoir, "At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA," that,
during the 1980 Camp David negotiations, everyone shouted and not
only Yasser Arafat acted crazy.

Ha'aretz reported that sources in Jerusalem predict that as a
consequence of Israel's joining the OECD -- as a provisional member
for the next nine to 12 months -- and of its economic achievements,
three international credit rating firms (Moody's, Standard and Poor,
and Fitch) are expected to upgrade Israel's international credit
rating from A- to A.

The Jerusalem Post cited the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor
as saying that the leadership committee of the European research and
development project "Eureka" confirmed on Wednesday that Israel has
been selected to lead the project from 2010-2011. Eureka is the
world's largest R&D project, with the participation of 36 European
countries. According to Eureka officials, the project is
responsible for hundreds of new initiatives, worth over 1.5 billion
euros.

Maariv reported that a famous Israeli-Arab restaurateur from Abu
Gosh, near Jerusalem, might open a humus eatery in Baghdad.

Maariv printed the results of a TNS/Teleseker Polling Institute
survey conducted among registered Labor Party voters, which shows a
marked increase in support for MK Ami Ayalon in the party, even
though the gap between him and Ehud Barak is projected to be very
narrow in a first round of voting:
-"Were elections for leadership of the Labor Party held today, for
whom would you vote?" Ami Ayalon: 33.4 percent; Ehud Barak: 30.8
percent; Ophir Pines-Paz: 13.7 percent; Amir Peretz: 11.3 percent;
Danny Yatom: 3.5 percent; 7.3 percent undecided.
-"In case of a second round, for whom would you vote?" Ami Ayalon:
51 percent; Ehud Barak: 37 percent; 11.3 percent undecided.

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz opined in its lead editorial:
"The fateful decisions about Gaza justify the swift establishment of
a different government, with more reliable and skilled people in key
positions."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Hamas
is to blame for both of the wars it insists on fighting, against
Fatah and against Israel."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "Khaled Mashal wants to be chairman of the Palestinian
Authority, nothing less. They smell the blood of Fatah in the
water, and they do not care whom they kill."

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in Ha'aretz: "It is
difficult to talk about diplomacy as Qassam rockets are being fired
at Sderot. But that is precisely the responsibility of the
political leadership if it does not wish once again to embark on a
war driven by fury and vengeance."

Gilad Sharon, son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, wrote in
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "It is easier to
explain power outages in Gaza to the world than to explain a
takeover of the Gaza Strip or harm to civilian population."

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

I. "Protection and Afterthought"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz opined in its lead editorial
(5/17): "Both action and inaction have a price, but in the end both
are supposed to be based on forethought. The Olmert government is
not perceived by the public as worthy and serious. Defense Minister
Amir Peretz is already packing for the Finance Ministry, or for
home. Olmert, who is refusing to draw the necessary conclusions
about himself from the Winograd Committee report, is scuffling with
the state comptroller and under criminal investigation. The fateful
decisions about Gaza justify the swift establishment of a different
government, with more reliable and skilled people in key positions.
The soldiers who in the end will be sent to Gaza, if the
Palestinians do not come to their senses and hold their fire, and
the civilians who will watch them and worry on the home front should
be able to trust that the decision-makers have acted in good
judgment."

II. "Punish Hamas"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (5/17):
"The beleaguered people of Sderot are demanding action, and they are
right. The action, however, should not be what Hamas evidently
wants to provoke: a massive land incursion that will distract from
the Palestinian civil war.... Hamas is to blame for both of the wars
it insists on fighting, against Fatah and against Israel. If Hamas
had decided, after its election victory and the complete Israeli
withdrawal from Gaza, to focus on ending corruption and improving
the Palestinian standard of life, the situation in Gaza would by now
have been relatively peaceful and much improved. Instead, Hamas has
chosen the path of endless war. Hamas must be punished for this,
but without doing it any favors.... First, Israel should insist that
Egypt cannot be a peace process player while refusing to take
effective action to prevent the arming of Hamas.... Israel should
advise the UN and EU that their silence is encouraging Hamas's
aggression, and that they must signal that there is a diplomatic
price to pay, and no reward for, attacking Israel. If these
messages to Egypt and the international community bear fruit,
further attacks on Israel will be counterproductive, and Hamas will
likely have to accommodate its internal foes as well -- all without
fighting the war Hamas wants. Supporting moderates against
extremists should not just be an empty slogan, but should result in
a marked increase in international pressure against Hamas."

III. "Same Old Story"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (5/17): "Hamas is using Israel as a convenient punching-bag
for solving its domestic problems, and -- once again -- the same
voices [are being heard], the same scenes [are taking place]: The
army, the public, and the news media are trying to rush him into
[the Gaza Strip], but he is hanging onto the horns of the security
cabinet and refuses. [Ehud Olmert], for a change, is in the right.
There is no reason for an invasion of the Gaza Strip at the height
of a Palestinian civil war which is unfolding before our eyes. On
the other hand, there is the reality. [Former defense minister]
Shaul Mofaz said on Wednesday that a continuation of the Israeli
policy of restraint is tantamount to a total lack of responsibility.
Hamas is gaining self-confidence and impudence.... Khaled Mashal
wants to be chairman of the Palestinian Authority, nothing less.
They smell the blood of Fatah in the water, and they do not care
whom they kill.... The vision of a regime of armed gangs, chaos and
extremist Islam at the gates of Ashkelon is taking shape before our
eyes. This is the colossal, grandiose, resounding failure of
disengagement. It would have been possible to withdraw from the
Gaza Strip by agreement, to give Abu Mazen and Dahlan the withdrawal
little by little, to turn them into the heroes of the Palestinian
grass roots, and to stabilize the Palestinian political
establishment. If this had happened it would be Hamas which was on
the run today. It did not happen, through the fault of all of us,
and now we are paying the price."

IV. "The Alternative Plan That Was Not Presented"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in Ha'aretz (5/17): "There
are four ... alternatives [to an invasion of the Gaza Strip] now on
the table: a) A cease-fire in the West Bank..... Israel is refusing
[this] out of fear that terror attacks from the West Bank will
resume and Hamas and other terror organizations will build up
military strength. b) The Dayton Plan.... It is not exactly a
diplomatic alternative, but rather a military plan in which someone
else fights Hamas instead of the IDF. Israel is opposed, saying that
Abbas and Fatah have already lost the battle in Gaza, and that
removing the roadblocks in the West Bank will only turn it into Gaza
II; c) Talks with Hamas.... Israel rejects this, saying that a
'hudna' [truce] with Hamas would only enable the group to prepare
for the next confrontation. d) A meeting with Abbas. This is the
policy that Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni prefer....
[Still,] Olmert and Livni are unable to explain how contacts with
Abbas and his associates will lead to calm in Sderot.... It is
difficult to talk about diplomacy as Qassam rockets are being fired
at Sderot. But that is precisely the responsibility of the
political leadership if it does not wish once again to embark on a
war driven by fury and vengeance. Olmert has apparently understood
this, and at the cabinet meeting he asked the Foreign Ministry to
offer diplomatic solutions as well. It remains to be seen whether
he will take them seriously, or if this will only be a cover for the
committee investigating the next war."

V. "If There are Qassam Rockets, There Will be No Electricity"

Gilad Sharon, son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, wrote in
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (5/17): "This is a
foul form of warfare, modern terrorism, whose rotten teeth are sharp
and painful, and that, on the other hand, has no face. There is no
actual bank of targets which, if attacked, will put a stop to
terrorism.... A blow should be struck that does not take a toll in
human lives but is very painful. It would appear that in light of
all the limitations described, cutting off the power to the Gaza
Strip in response to terror attacks is necessaryQfive minutes of
power outage after the first rocket, 15 after the second and half a
day after the third. We cannot and do not want to extract every
lowly terrorist from his lair, but we know how to flip the power
switch.... This way we will neither endanger our soldiers nor risk
harming civilians, and the residents of Gaza -- who serve as a
mainstay for terrorism -- will pay a very inconvenient but
non-lethal price. We should hope that our political echelon will
try to adopt a more flexible train of thought and not remain
fixated. It is easier to explain power outages in Gaza to the
world than to explain a takeover of the Gaza Strip or harm to
civilian population."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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