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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001757

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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
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JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR PA
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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


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

1. Hamas Takeover of Gaza Strip

2. Election of Shimon Peres as President of Israel

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

All media reported that on Thursday Hamas completed its takeover of
the Gaza Strip. Maariv bannered: "Three States for Two Nations" and
Yediot "Iran, Five Minutes From Ashkelon." This morning the
electronic media reported that Palestinian PM Ismail Haniyeh refused
to comply with Thursday's announcement by Chairman [President]
Mahmoud Abbas's office in Ramallah that he had been dismissed.
Haniyeh was quoted as saying that Fatah was responsible for the
violence and that he called on Fatah to resume national unity talks
with the Palestinian factions. The media had also reported that
Abbas declared a state of emergency and the dissolution of the PA
government. The media reported that an angry mob lynched a senior
Fatah official in the Gaza Strip and that Fatah retaliated in the
West Bank.

Yediot (Shimon Shiffer) wrote that associates of PM Ehud Olmert and
the Israeli defense establishment believe that the Palestinian
Authority no longer exists and that Israel has no partner. This
morning Israel Radio quoted senior GOI sources as saying that Israel
was considering granting Gaza Strip civilians unilateral aid should
the humanitarian situation worsen. Media reported that the IDF is
prepared to face a situation in which it would have to push back
refugees fleeing from the Gaza Strip.

Israel Radio reported that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
called Abbas, stressing that Washington supports moderate elements
among the Palestinians. The radio also said that British Foreign
Secretary Margaret Beckett called on the sides to introduce a

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cease-fire immediately. Leading media reported that the EU and UN
suspended their aid to the Gaza Strip. Ha'aretz quoted the US as
saying on Thursday that the Bush administration will now work to
prevent the violence from spilling over to the West Bank. According
to Ha'aretz, the US therefore aims to accelerate Israeli-Palestinian
negotiations to allow Abbas to present some achievements. Ha'aretz
reported that a GOI official told the newspaper on Thursday that PM

Olmert also intends to tell President Bush that Hamas's coup d'etat
must be contained to the Gaza Strip and not allowed to occur in the
West Bank as well. Ha'aretz wrote that the US administration is
also interested in improving living conditions in the West Bank to
demonstrate to the Palestinians that they are better off under Fatah
than Hamas. Ha'aretz said that Washington will urge Israel to
reconsider loosening its military grip on the West Bank. Israel
will also be asked to unfreeze Palestinian tax funds it has been
withholding from the PA. The money and further funding will help
boost Abbas' new emergency government. Ha'aretz quoted political
sources in Jerusalem as saying that they expect Israel to consider
transferring the funds. Abbas, Olmert, and President Bush are
reportedly in favor of deploying multinational forces in the Strip
to maintain order, as Hamas has consolidated near-absolute control
of the area. Ha'aretz reported that on Thursday political sources
in Jerusalem were skeptical of the prospect of deploying
multinational forces in the Strip any time soon. Egypt has made it
clear it does not intend to send troops. "No one will come there,"
Ha'aretz quoted a senior political official as saying. According to
the source, the defense establishment shares Olmert's views that
containing the situation in Gaza must be a priority. "The defense
establishment agrees with the containment policy, as we are
determined not to see last week's events repeated in the West Bank,"
the source was quoted as saying. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe expects
Olmert to tell President Bush that Israel is definitely disengaging
from the Gaza Strip.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the US is trying to stir Arab
support for Abbas.

Leading media reported that the events in Gaza have also affected
Israel's negotiations with Palestinian officials over a possible
prisoner exchange to free Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier whom Hamas
abducted last year. Ha'aretz quoted the GOI source as saying that
the negotiations, which are being conducted via Egyptian mediators,
have suffered as a result of the recent fighting. "We hope,
however, that the negotiations will become more intensive after the
situation in the Strip stabilizes," he added.

Ha'aretz said that Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip will dominate
PM Olmert's White House meeting with President Bush, and in this
context, Olmert will discuss the possibility of deploying a
multinational force in Gaza with both Bush and UN Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon. The security cabinet, however, has not yet decided on
its stance regarding the deployment of such a force, and will
address the issue only after Olmert returns. Regarding the Iranian
threat, Olmert intends to suggest that Bush move to enforce harsher
sanctions against the Islamic Republic, beyond those adopted by the
UN Security Council. Among others, he will propose that Bush halt
investment by American pension funds in companies that deal with
Iran, and will also suggest that Bush and like-minded allies bar
Iranians from visiting Western countries. Olmert is also expected
to brief Bush on his contacts with Damascus and on Syria's military
efforts, which the defense establishment believes to be defensive at
this point in time.

Leading media reported that on Thursday IDF troops killed two
Palestinians in separate West Bank operations.

UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Claudio Graziano was quoted as saying on
Thursday, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, that Hizbullah
has not returned to its former strength in southern Lebanon.

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that PM Olmert and the
new Labor Party Chairman, Ehud Barak, will meet this morning for the
first time since Barak's election, amid threats from the former PM
to topple Olmert and force a general election within a year.
Ha'aretz quoted Olmert associates as saying on Thursday that Olmert
has no intention of renegotiating the coalition agreement with the
Labor Party, ahead of Olmert's meeting with Barak. The aides were
quoted as saying that, according to the coalition agreement, the
defense portfolio is earmarked for Labor's leader. In addition,
Labor is allowed another minister to replace Knesset Member Eitan
Cabel, who resigned.

The Jerusalem Post cited a new study by the Jerusalem Center for
Public Affairs saying that linking the Gaza Strip and the West Bank
with a transportation system for goods and people would be dangerous
and unnecessary.

Leading media reported that on Thursday President Bush blamed Syria
for the assassination of Lebanese MP Walid Eido.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that the newly launched Ofek-7 spy
satellite transmitted its first images to a ground station in Israel
at midnight on Wednesday. The media quoted defense officials as
saying that its performance was "beyond expectations."

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel and the US have reached an
undefined "accommodation" regarding the proposed sale of
state-of-the-art weaponry to Saudi Arabia, and that the issue is not
expected to be a source of friction when PM Olmert goes to
Washington for talks next week. Felix Frisch, Maariv's correpondent
in the US, views US-Israeli missile defense deals as business
opportunities for US firms such as Lockheed Martin.

Leading media reported that Shimon Peres' election as president was
preceded by talks between the candidate and his men, on one side,
and ultra-Orthodox community leaders on the other. Media reported
that Peres promised to block the Gay Pride parade scheduled to take
place in Jerusalem next Thursday -- or at least to move it away from
the city center.

All media reported on the death on Thursday of former UN
secretary-general Kurt Waldheim, who had concealed his past as a

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Wehrmacht officer during World War II.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that New York University will set up
a mini-campus at Tel Aviv University, according to a letter of
intent. The newspaper quoted a Tel Aviv University spokeswoman as
saying that the goal is to have the campus ready to admit students
for the fall 2008 semester.

Yediot reported that on Thursday the police arrested Yoni Mizrachi,
the son of Menashe Mizrachi, who is accused of managing an illegal
bank. Yoni Mizrachi is suspected of having received tens of
millions of dollars, with which he bought real estate in Las Vegas.

Ha'aretz reported that a record number of Israelis are going abroad
this summer -- mainly to the US and Turkey.

Yediot presented the results of a Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute)
poll:
- "Were elections for the Knesset to be held today, which party
would you vote for?" (Results in Knesset seats -- in brackets,
seats in current Knesset.)
-Likud 27 (12); Labor Party 25 (19); Shas 11 (12); Arab parties 10
(10); Kadima 9 (29); Yisrael Beiteinu 9 (11); National
Union-National Religious Party 8 (9); United Torah Judaism 6 (6);
Meretz-Yahad 5 (5); Gil - Pensioners' Party 3 (7). Respondents
representing 7 Knesset seats were undecided.
- "Whom would you like to see as Israel's next prime minister?"
Binyamin Netanyahu: 34 percent; Ehud Barak: 25 percent; Ehud Olmert:
5 percent.

Ha'aretz and Maariv cited the results of a poll commissioned by
B'nai Brith World Center: 54 percent of Israeli Jews believe that
Jews living in the Diaspora are not entitled to express criticism of
the GOI.

---------------------------------
1. Hamas Takeover of Gaza Strip:
---------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz:
"Under such circumstances, it will be hard for the United States to
make demands of Israel, which now borders an Islamic terrorist
entity."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The US
[might] have learned nothing from the serial failures born of
backing particular people rather than policies."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "In ten days the Americans will be celebrating five years
since 'President Bush's vision speech' .... What now remains is a
vision of dry bones."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "In effect, the
military arm [of Hamas] played into the hands of Israel.... [Also,
Palestinian] public opinion is still not with Hamas."

Regional correspondent Ronni Shaked wrote in Yediot Aharonot: "Abu
Mazen is largely to blame for Gaza's deteriorating into civil war,
but he is not the only one. The US and Israel had a decisive
contribution to this failure."

Palestinian politics expert Prof. Shaul Mishal wrote in Yediot
Aharonot: "Chaos is fertile ground for global jihad."

Palestinian affairs correspondent Danny Rubinstein wrote in
Ha'aretz: "The infant Hamas state will be forced to rely on Egypt."

Columnist and Editor of Ha'aretz's English-language Web site Bradley
Burston wrote in Ha'aretz: "Hamas is Hamas because of Israel. And no
group in the Holy Land has done more to bolster the Israeli
far-right than Hamas."

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

I. "An Overpowering Reality"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(6/15): "The American embarrassment [over the makeover in Gaza
Strip] provides a convenient backdrop for Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert's visit to the White House on Tuesday.... Under such
circumstances, it will be hard for the United States to make demands
of Israel, which now borders an Islamic terrorist entity. The
Americans were planning a diplomatic blitz over the next two weeks,
focusing on the Palestinian issue.... The fire has to be
extinguished first. Only then will it be possible to plan the house
that will replace the one that burned down/.... The Hamas victory
bolsters Israel's unstated policy of dividing the Palestinian
Authority into two states -- Gaza and the West Bank. Israel cannot
say this out loud in front of the Americans, who are committed to a
single Palestinian state, so Olmert will have to speak in code. He
will suggest that Bush strengthen international support for the
peace process.... The Americans, meanwhile, are not rushing to
switch gears. They still believe that strengthening Abbas is the
only solution left, and that's what they'll tell Olmert."


II. "The Fall of Gaza"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (6/15):
"First Hamas won at the ballot box, now it has won again, with
bullets.... The Quartet now has the opportunity to hold Hamas fully
accountable in Gaza, Fatah fully accountable in the West Bank, and
Egypt fully accountable for policing its border.... Some observers
have noted that in the context of the current fighting, the US State
Department is blaming Hamas's 'military wing,' thereby for the first
time implicitly distinguishing between 'good' and 'bad' parts of
Hamas. It may be that even the US is poised to treat the 'good'
Hamas as a legitimate Palestinian address, following the collapse of
the 'good' Mahmoud Abbas, and before him, the 'good' Yasser Arafat.
If so, it would mean that the US has learned nothing from the serial
failures born of backing particular people rather than policies. In
each case, the international community failed to hold its favorite
Palestinian leaders accountable for fear that worse ones would take
over. This approach has led precisely to the outcome it sought to
avoid. The alternative is a policy that does not support the search
for a Palestinian ally to support at all costs, but holds all
factions, on behalf of Palestinians and Israelis alike, to basic
standards of legitimacy, governance, and movement toward peace."

III. "Welcome to Hell"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (6/15): "In ten days the Americans will be celebrating five
years since 'President Bush's vision speech' .... What now remains
is be a vision of dry bones.... There are quite a few people in the
US administration who have been against Israel for some time. The
battle between them and the remnants of the neo-conservatives who
support Israel completely, will converge on the desk of the
President, who will have to decide. What is certain is that Bush
and Olmert, two lame ducks, are meant to work out a new outline for
putting the peace process in the Middle East in motion and renewing
hope for two peoples for peaceful coexistence. True, the last
sentence never sounded more ludicrous."

IV. "Gaza Is South Lebanon, Hamas Is Hizbullah"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/15): "The military
wing of Hamas snatched the cards from the hands of the political
leadership, which had planned to gain control of public opinion and
the institutions of government gradually, little by little, while
acquiring legitimacy in the eyes of the world. But the military
wing was in a hurry. In all its recent moves [the military wing]
was taking advantage of its own successes, not implementing a
pre-conceived plan. In effect, the military arm played into the
hands of Israel. It exposed to the entire world its pro-Iranian,
fundamentalist ideology, its brutality. The world has begun to
understand where Palestinian public opinion is going, and the
resulting damage to their cause is enormous.... The moment Hamas
seizes control of the crossing points, neither Israel nor Egypt will
cooperate with it, and it is the population of the Gaza Strip that
will pay the price. Hamas could not cope with a humanitarian
disaster on that scale. At the present stage the Hamas victory is a
military one, but it has not won the hearts and minds of the Gaza
population. Public opinion is still not with Hamas."

V. "Abu Failure"

Regional correspondent Ronni Shaked wrote in Yediot Aharonot (6/15):
"Abu Mazen is largely to blame for Gaza's deteriorating into civil
war, but he is not the only one. The US and Israel had a decisive
contribution to this failure. The Americans, in their lack of
understanding for the processes of Islamization in the territories,
pressured to hold democratic elections and brought Hamas to power
with their own hands. Israel not only did not do enough to cancel
the elections, it even helped them be held in Jerusalem. Since the
elections, Israel, like the US, declared over and over that 'Abu
Mazen must be strengthened,' but in practice, zero was done for this
to happen. The meetings with him turned into an Israeli political
tool, and Olmert's kisses and backslapping turned Abu Mazen into a
collaborator and a source of jokes on the Palestinian street.
Israel also has no firm policy against Hamas in Gaza."

VI. "Bin Ladin Is Here"

Palestinian politics expert Prof. Shaul Mishal wrote in Yediot
Aharonot (6/15): "I fear that we will yet miss the civil war in Gaza
in its present form.... Chaos is fertile ground for global jihad.
In other words: Al-Zarqawi and bin Ladin will be five minutes from
Ashkelon. From that moment, the battle will no longer be only for
the liberation of Palestine, but a war of Islam against the West.
The new situation liable to be created in Gaza will threaten the
stability of Sunni regimes in the region. Countries like Egypt,
Jordan, and Saudi Arabia will have to step in quickly. The West
will also have to intervene when a humanitarian disaster takes place
in the isolated and alienated Gaza. Israel will deal with the same
enemy, but the rules of the game will change, as well as the
challenges. It is possible that one Palestinian movement will get
the IDF to strike at a rival Palestinian movement.... With all the
chaos, we have no address. There is no one to talk to, no one to
approach and no one to blame."

VII. "The Separation Began Long Ago"

Palestinian affairs correspondent Danny Rubinstein wrote in Ha'aretz
(6/15): "The separation between Gaza and the West Bank deepened
after Israel constructed fences around the Gaza Strip and, later, in
the West Bank as well, effectively cutting the two areas off from
each other.... The fences around Gaza and in the West Bank have
increased the ties between the West Bank and Jordan, on one hand,
and between Gaza and Egypt, on the other. The infant Hamas state
will be forced to rely on Egypt. Cairo, like Jerusalem, does not
want to accept responsibility for the Gaza Strip, but it will
probably be unable to avoid involving itself in its affairs."

VIII. "Why There Is No Palestine"

Columnist and Editor of Ha'aretz's English-language Web site Bradley
Burston wrote in Ha'aretz (6/15): "Why is there no Palestine? 1.
Because Israelis can't decide what they want.... 2. Because
Palestinians cannot decide what they want..... 3. Because neither
side is willing to abide by peace agreements.... 4. Because we are,
all of us, better at vengeance than we are at forgiveness.... 5.
Because we love our extremists too much.... 6. Because the policies
of both sides play directly into the hands of extremists on the
other. Hamas is Hamas because of Israel. And no group in the Holy
Land has done more to bolster the Israeli far-right than Hamas. 7.
Because the Muslim world wants its Palestinians to suffer.... 8.
Because the West now sees them as terrorists.... 9. Because Arafat
lied to them.... 10. Because they cannot stop themselves.... 11.
Because some of the best people in Palestine are leaving.... 12.
Because each side takes it for granted that its side is clearly,
morally, objectively in the right, and that the other side is
nothing but wrong.... 13. And because the Holy Land is the world
capital of wishful thinking."


--------------------------------------------- -------
2. Election of Shimon Peres as President of Israel:
--------------------------------------------- -------

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "No one is
better suited [than Shimon Peres] to restore the dignity of the
presidency in the world's eyes and to represent Israel."

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

"His Excellency the President"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (6/15): "By
electing Shimon Peres, one of the last of Israel's founding
generation, as Israel's ninth president, the Knesset bestowed a
lovely gift on Israel and its citizens.... The new president built
up the country's defense and deterrent capabilities, and then turned
his energies to advancing the peace process, cultivating Israel's
international standing, and helping its economy. Now he is ready to
toll up his sleeves again to burnish one of the most prominent
emblems of the state, which has been tarnished. No one is better
suited to restore the dignity of the presidency in the world's eyes
and to represent Israel.... Congratulations to Shimon Peres, who
restores the dignity of the presidency. And good luck in your new
job."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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