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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1842/01 1701239
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191239Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1780
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 2335
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9056
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2356
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3147
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2358
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0270
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3098
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 9969
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0441
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7039
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4455
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9365
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3540
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5484
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 7161
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001842

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:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Iran

3. Israel: Governance

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

All media reported that on Monday the US and EU lifted the embargo
on the PA. The media quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as
saying: "We intend to lift our financial restrictions on the
Palestinian Government, which has accepted previous agreements with
Israel and rejects the path of violence. This will enable the
American people and American financial institutions to resume normal
economic and commercial ties with the Palestinian Government.
Secretary Rice was quoted as saying that the US would unblock and

SIPDIS
"restructure" USD 86 million (USD 102.3 million) in aid originally
earmarked for strengthening security forces. Rice was further
quoted as saying: "It is the position of the United States that
there is one Palestinian people and there should be one Palestinian
state." The US will also be giving USD 40 million to the UN Relief
and Works Agency, "to help ease the suffering of all Palestinians,
especially those in Gaza." Leading media reported that President
Bush called PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas, expressing his
support for the removal of Hamas from the Palestinian government.

Ha'aretz quoted FM Tzipi Livni as saying at a meeting of EU
member-state FMs in Luxembourg that "the Palestinian tax funds
frozen in Israel will be released in the near future."

Ha'aretz and Yediot quoted officials accompanying PM Ehud Olmert on
his trip to the US as saying that Olmert is expected to urge
President George Bush today to focus on isolating Hamas. Ha'aretz
quoted a source in the PM's entourage as saying: "We want to make
Hamas a pariah and prevent it joining the international game." The
Jerusalem Post wrote that PM Olmert is expected to tell President
Bush that Israel is willing to renew talks with Chairman Abbas about
a "political horizon."

Yediot reported that hundreds of Hamas militants now control the
"Philadelphi Corridor," This has led to the free passage of arms
between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported
that two weeks ago, the US Congress suspended the transfer of USD
200 million in aid to Egypt on the grounds that Egypt is "ignoring
the continuation of arms smuggling through the Philadelphi
Corridor."

Maariv reported that Dr. Sami Khiyami, the Syrian Ambassador to the
UK, proposed in London on Saturday that Israelis residing in the
Golan Heights residents could stay (with protected minority status)
after the signing of an Israeli-Syrian peace agreement, with a
minority status. Maariv emphasized that Khiyami is a close
associate of President Bashar Assad. Yediot reported that on Monday
Dr. Ahmed Badr al-Din Hasson, the Mufti of Syria, made a
conciliatory speech at an Oslo synagogue. Israel Radio reported
that on Monday Bashar al-Jafari, Syria's Permanent Representative to
the UN, reiterated his country's position that there is not a back
channel for secret communications between Syria and Israel. Israel
TV and The Jerusalem Post quoted former Syrian information minister
Mahdi Dakhlallah as saying on Monday in a TV interview that if a war
broke out with Israel, it would be a war of resistance and not of
the conventional type that Israel is used to winning.

All media reported that on Monday evening one Palestinian was killed
and at least 10 others were injured when a gunman attacked a group
of Palestinian civilians waiting to cross into Israel near the Erez
Crossing. Responsibility for the attack was later claimed by the
Popular Resistance Committees, a grassroots paramilitary
organization. The aim of the attack is still unclear.

Ha'aretz quoted IDF sources as saying on Monday that a humanitarian
crisis in the Gaza Strip is not likely, following the closing of the
crossings into Israel. The sources noted that the Karni crossing
had operated continuously from September until last week, and that
large quantities of food stocks had crossed into the Gaza Strip.
Military sources did warn, however, that the closure might lead to
an artificial crisis created by local traders wanting to inflate
their prices. Leading media reported that Israel is considering
voiding the "tax envelope" with the Gaza Strip -- a measure that
would mean the cancellation of the Oslo Accords and the treatment of
Gaza as a separate country.

Ha'aretz reported that a group of senior Fatah officials from the
West Bank recently began promoting an initiative aimed at
persuading] Mahmoud Abbas to remove his national security adviser
and associate, Muhammad Dahlan. Jailed former commander of Fatah's
Tanzim force, Marwan Barghouti, is among those urging the change.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a high-ranking UNIFIL officer told
the newspaper on Monday that Hizbullah has launched an investigation
into Sunday's rocket attack on Kiryat Shmona to determine
responsibility. Major media reported that on Monday the UN Security
Council (UNSC) issued a statement condemning the attacks, which were
in severe violation of UNSC Resolution 1701

Yediot reported that China intends to sell Iran fighter jets that
are based on the defunct Israeli Lavi project. Yediot and other
media also said that Syria is about to purchase the most advance
Russian planes -- MIG-31s.

The media reported that on Monday incoming Labor Party Chairman Ehud
Barak was sworn in as defense minister at the Knesset. Barak called
for holding elections in 2008. Yediot reported that PM Olmert is
ruling out a reorganization of his cabinet. Maariv mentioned that
Knesset Member Ami Ayalon, who lost the party's chairmanship to
Barak, has some chances of being appointed minister within the
Defense Ministry.

Yediot and other media quoted National Infrastructure Minister
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer as saying in his testimony before the Winograd
Commission probing the Second Lebanon War that the army had misled
Olmert regarding Israel's achievements during the war.

Yediot reported that 51 Nobel Prizewinners from around the world
have signed a petition strongly condemning the motion passed by
Britain's University and College Union last month to promote an
academic boycott against Israel. The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz
wrote that Columbia University President Lee Bollinger has expressed
support for Israeli academia and disapproval of the British boycott.
Commenting on the same topic, George Washington University
President Stephen Trachtenberg was quoted as saying on Monday in an
interview with The Jerusalem Post: "The illegitimacy of that sort of
behavior is so conspicuous it will have not traction with American
universities."

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

Summary:
--------
Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote from Washington on page one of the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Abu Mazen has suddenly become the object of
Israeli and American hopes.... The problem is that the basic
conditions have not changed."

Columnist Akiva Eldar wrote in Ha'aretz: "The chaos in the
territories lowered the stock of the Israeli-Palestinian channel to
ground level, and [Ehud Olmert] has no choice left but to invest in
the speculative stock of Syria's President, Bashar Assad."

Meretz-Yahad Party Chairman Yossi Beilin wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "The grave crisis in Gaza also creates an
opportunity."

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

I. "Abbas Stole the Comeback Show"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote from Washington on page one of the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/19): "This week will be remembered not for
Olmert's comeback, but for that of Palestinian Authority Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas -- the same Abu Mazen whose weakness was a source of
laughs for Israeli officials, the same Abu Mazen who lost almost
half the Palestinian Authority just last week, the same Abu Mazen
who recently called off his meeting with Olmert in anger. That same
Abu Mazen has suddenly become the object of Israeli and American
hopes.... The problem is that the basic conditions have not changed.
Abbas does not control contiguous territory, since the Palestinian
enclaves in the West Bank are under Israeli military control.
Renewed funding from the United States and Europe does not guarantee
Abbas public support from the Palestinian people. It is tough to
envision Abbas suddenly bringing order to the territories. It is
also tough to envision Israel showing a generosity that goes beyond
declarations or marginal steps like unfreezing Palestinian funds.
And the Hamas takeover of Gaza has diminished the possibility that
Israel will withdraw from additional territory. Under these
conditions, Abbas's comeback is likely to be short-lived, just as it
was in the past."

III. "Some Attention From America"

Columnist Akiva Eldar wrote in Ha'aretz (6/19): "The chaos in the
territories lowered the stock of the Israeli-Palestinian channel to

ground level, and [Ehud Olmert] has no choice left but to invest in
the speculative stock of Syria's President, Bashar Assad.... Bush
told Olmert that though he is not enthusiastic about the idea, if
the Prime Minister wants to talk with Assad, the US will not stand
in his way. But the way from there to appointing an American
official to sit at the table with a representative of the 'axis of
evil' is far, or more accurately, blocked. This is where everything
is stuck."

IV. "Give Peace a Chance"

Meretz-Yahad Party Chairman Yossi Beilin wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (6/19)s: "Israel needs to reach a cease-fire
agreement with Hamas in Gaza. In the current situation there is no
other choice but to reach an agreement of this sort by means of a
third party, such as Egypt. This cease-fire would include a
commitment by Hamas to refrain from all violence against Israel out
of Gaza, and to prevent any such violence by any other party.
Israel would immediately stop all of its ground and air activity in
the Gaza Strip. Hamas would effect the release of Gilad Shalit and
Israel would release Palestinian prisoners.... Israel needs to begin
immediate and serious negotiations on a final status arrangement
with Mahmoud Abbas.... An agreement with the PLO will make the Arab
peace initiative come true, will result in world recognition of
Israel in its new borders with Jerusalem as its capital, and will
bring about an end to the refugee issue.... The Syrian option must
be examined before it disappears once again. An agreement with
Syria will have far-reaching repercussions on Hamas, the ability of
Hizbullah to operate and IranQs isolation. ... The real question is
what we do tomorrow, since the grave crisis in Gaza also creates an
opportunity. The opportunity is not to strangle the Gaza Strip and
turn the West Bank into paradise but, rather, to act on the three
initiatives that were presented above in this article."

---------
2. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote from Washington on page one of
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Quite a few
Israelis had hoped that [the issue of Iran's nuclear program] would
be settled during Bush's term in office. The impression during this
visit, however, is that that is one hope that is not going to come
true."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Whatever messages emerge from the White House today ... there is
only one that really counts: a clear commitment to prevent a nuclear
Iran, backed by a policy with the teeth to fulfill it."

John Davis, an analyst at the Re'ut Institute, a non-partisan
advisory organization to the Government of Israel, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Israel must obtain
guarantees from its indispensable ally that when the moment of
Iranian-US reckoning arrives, Israel's essential national security
interests will not be forgotten."

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

I. "The Option is Gone"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote from Washington on page one of
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/19): "[President
Bush] still has a certain amount of maneuvering room on foreign
policy issues, but it is limited. His desk is buckling under the
weight of all the problems that are begging to be dealt with. The
most dangerous of them all originate in the Middle East: Iraq, Iran,
Afghanistan, and the Palestinian Authority. Bush is very
determined, very decisive in his approach to each one of those
issues. The problem is that he has not a clue as to where to apply
this determination. It is into this narrow window that Ehud Olmert
hopes to enter. The issue that the two of them will discuss in
public is the fate of the Palestinian Authority. Even though the
problem is big, it is nevertheless a local problem. The two men
will be able to present a united, optimistic front and sell it not
only as a problem but also as a solution.... America's account with
the ayatollahs' Iran is complicated. It began during Jimmy Carter's
term in office, four presidents before George W. Bush. Quite a few
Israelis had hoped that it would be settled during Bush's term in
office. The impression during this visit, however, is that that is
one hope that is not going to come true."

II. "The Critical Challenge For Bush and Olmert"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (6/19):
"There is much that Bush and Olmert can say and do to address the
symptoms of the rising jihadi axis, such as Hizbullah's rearming in
Lebanon, Hamas's rearming via Egypt, and the terrorist challenge to
Iraq's nascent democracy. In the end, however, these are all
battles with Iranian proxy forces, and cannot be fully addressed
except at the source. Indeed, to the extent Washington and
Jerusalem allow Tehran's proxies to distract from the real
challenge, they are playing into the mullahs' hands. Accordingly,
whatever messages emerge from the White House today, however many of
them are welcome and important, there is only one that really
counts: a clear commitment to prevent a nuclear Iran, backed by a
policy with the teeth to fulfill it."

III. "United on Hamas, Divided on Iran?"

John Davis, an analyst at the Re'ut Institute, a non-partisan
advisory organization to the Government of Israel, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (6/19): "While Israel
perceives a nuclear-armed Iran as its most serious existential
threat, the US foreign policy agenda is littered with other pressing
problems. America's number-one priority is the stability of Iraq
and the withdrawal of US forces. Any US policy decision vis-a-vis
Iran will be colored by how best to satisfy America's interests in
Iraq.... While Fatah and Hamas dominate the agenda of the
Bush-Olmert talks, Israel should clarify outstanding differences
between Israel and the US concerning Iran. Despite areas of
incongruence between Israel and the US, Israel must obtain
guarantees from its indispensable ally that when the moment of
Iranian-US reckoning arrives, Israel's essential national security
interests will not be forgotten."

-----------------------
3. Israel: Governance:
-----------------------

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "[Ehud Barak]
cannot only be a defense version of Olmert and Netanyahu."

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

"A Soldier on the Peace Front"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (6/19): "If the
Labor Party under [Ehud] Barak aspires to be an alternative to Likud
headed by Benjamin Netanyahu in the next elections, Barak must put

forth his political vision and take immediate action to fulfill it.
He cannot only be a defense version of Olmert and Netanyahu. The
citizens whose votes he wants expect that he will work without delay
and incessantly, both for the defense of Israel at home and on the
front lines, and also to achieve agreements with moderate Arab
elements willing to compromise. In his political role, Barak
promised to quit government if Olmert seeks to continue leading it
following the release of the final Winograd Commission report.
Barak's inclination to continue holding on to his role at the
Defense Ministry will test his credibility. Without credibility to
supplement his skills, Barak may fail."

CRETZ

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