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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 200952Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3155
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2366
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0278
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3106
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 9979
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001857

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. PM Olmert's Visit to US

2. Mideast

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

All media reported on Tuesday's meeting at the White House between
PM Ehud Olmert and President Bush. The media quoted the two leaders
as saying publicly that they would move quickly to strengthen PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas and moderates in the PA. The
media quoted Olmert as saying: "The US never said not to hold talks
with Syria and we have never asked for their permission. Israel
will not ask permission to conduct peace talks if it feels it is
right, nor defend itself if it feels it is necessary." Media quoted
President Bush as saying before the meeting: "They [Israel] can
handle their own negotiations with Syria. If the Prime Minister
wants to negotiate with Syria, he does not need me to mediate."
Ha'aretz emphasized Olmert's willingness to take "far-reaching"
measures with the new PA government. The Jerusalem Post bannered
his confidence that the developments in Gaza provided a "new
opportunity." Maariv stressed Olmert's statement that he does not
rule out military intervention in the Gaza Strip and that Israel
will take action in case of a massacre. Yediot reported that the PM
told President Bush that Israel does not intend to enter the
"Philadelphi Corridor" (along the Egypt-Gaza border). Israel's
Ambassador to the US Sallai Meridor said on Israel Radio that the
PM's visit was very successful.

Israel Radio reported that on Tuesday President Bush expressed his
commitment to increase assistance and sign a new 10-year agreement
to Israel in the matter. The radio cited Bush's announcement that a
team headed by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Nicholas Burns would come to Israel in July to discuss terms.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that Israel wants to transfer
Palestinian refugees currently waiting to leave Gaza at the Erez
Crossing, but quoted Egyptian sources as saying that Cairo is
reluctant to accept them. Ha'aretz reported that 190 refugees are
waiting for permission to move to the West Bank. Israel Radio
reported that this morning Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered that
medical treatment be immediately provided to wounded Palestinians at
the crossing. Ha'aretz reported that on Tuesday, for the first
time, the UN coordinated with Hamas the transfer of aid from Israel.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar as
saying on Tuesday that Israel has a moral responsibility as a Jewish
state to stop the bloodshed between Fatah and Hamas, although it
must not endanger Israeli lives in doing so.

Major media reported that Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu left for
the US last night for talks with senior US officials that will focus
on Iran. Leading media reported that he will meet with Vice
President Dick Cheney and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).
Israel Radio also said that Netanyahu will meet undeclared
presidential hopeful Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN).

Leading electronic media reported that five armed Palestinians were
killed and an IDF soldier moderately wounded during a clash in the
Gaza Strip. Israel Radio also reported that two Palestinians were
killed in a clash with IDF troops near Jenin.

Ha'aretz cited an AP wire report quoting top Arab diplomats as
saying on Tuesday that a meeting of the Quartet due to be held in
Egypt next week will likely be put off after some partners requested
a delay following Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip. Leading media
reported that on Monday, in a stark sign of its rejection of Hamas's
takeover of the Gaza Strip, Egypt announced it was moving its
embassy from Gaza.

Ha'aretz reported that on Tuesday Fatah flatly rejected a Hamas
overture for dialogue, and that Mahmoud Abbas banned all contact
with the Islamic group. The Jerusalem Post quoted Hamas leaders as
saying on Tuesday that the US and EU are blackmailing Palestinians
by aiding only Salam Fayyad's government.

All media reported that the Shin Bet reveled on Tuesday that it has
uncovered a suspected terrorist cell that was planning a series of
attacks, including bombing a Modi'in synagogue and kidnapping
American citizens in the West Bank.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that on Monday international
organizations asked Israel to drop supplies on the Gaza Strip from
the air should Hamas not allow to open the crossings. Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe quoted a source in IDF Intelligence as saying on
Tuesday that Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip did not surprise
military intelligence.
Following Tuesday's Israel Radio interview of Environment Minister
(and former deputy Shin Bet head) Gideon Ezra (Kadima), in which he
reiterated his willingness to free Fatah/Tanzim leader Marwan
Barghouti in order to help Abbas, the radio interviewed Internal
Security Minister (and former Shin Bet Chief) Avi Dichter, who said
that in no way should Barghouti be released.

The Jerusalem Post reported that National Infrastructure Minister
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer will meet today with Israel's largest utility
providers in an emergency session to discuss the continued supply of
water, fuel, and electricity to the residents of the Gaza Strip.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday the UN Human
Rights Council decided to make Israel's actions a permanent item on
its agenda. Of the council's member states, only Canada opposed the
decision.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter
(Kadima) as saying in an interview with the newspaper that Kadima
must be prepared to move on without Olmert.

Ha'aretz quoted Sharon Harel, a representative of the Israeli branch
of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, as saying on Tuesday that
Israel must not send Sudanese refugees back to Egypt. Ha'aretz
quoted Labor Knesset Member Avishay Braverman, who heads the Knesset
lobby for Darfur refugees, as saying that Israel will have no choice
but to deport them.

Maariv reported that president-elect Shimon Peres' swearing-in
ceremony, scheduled to take place on July 15, will be one of the
most grandiose held at the Knesset since the late Egyptian president
Anwar Sadat's 1979 visit. Maariv reported that former US president
Bill Clinton and renowned American artists are among the invitees.
The newspaper said that high-level representatives from the Arab
countries may attend the event.

Yediot highlighted the scars borne by Israel's northern residents
following the Second Lebanon War.

Leading media reported that Zeev Schiff, Ha'aretz's famed defense
editor, passed away last night in Tel Aviv at 74.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli defense electronics
contractor Elbit Systems announced on Monday that it has closed a
USD 14-million deal to supply their Aviator's Night Vision Imaging
System/Head-Up Displays to two undisclosed NATO member nations.

Maariv reported that the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer plans to set
up a research center in Israel.

----------------------------
1. PM Olmert's Visit to US:
----------------------------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote from Washington on page one of
the circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The President is
friendly and has true affection for our Prime Minister.... There is
only one small problem: Their entire new vision on the Palestinian
issue is a tower built in the air."

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin, opined in the lead editorial of Yediot
Aharonot: "It would be a great surprise -- and an exceptional one
for Israel -- if in his shaky political situation, George W. Bush
makes any firm, weighty, fateful decisions [on Iran]."

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

I. "Lip-Syncing"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote from Washington on page one of
the circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/20): "Everything is
perfect, really. The President is friendly and has true affection
for our Prime Minister. The two speak in similar terms and have
good intentions. There is only one small problem: Their entire new
vision on the Palestinian issue is a tower built in the air. It is
doubtful whether they believe in it. It is doubtful whether anyone
does.... The talk of negotiations for a comprehensive arrangement
with Abu Mazen's government is not more than talk. The gap in the
positions remains, but the partner only weakens from one act to the
next. What exactly will Israel negotiate with Abu Mazen about,
security arrangements in Gaza?.... Both [Bush and Olmert] are in a
continuing slump in public opinion polls. The point is that while
Olmert's situation has improved recently, Bush's situation has
worsened. [The late Israeli prime minister] Levy Eshkol was once
told that there is a drought. Where, he asked?. In Israel, they
said. Thank God, he said. When there is a drought in America I am
much more concerned. The Bush administration is currentlIO#QQQ, he will receive what several past US presidents have
received: historically speaking, people will like them more in
Israel than in the United States."


------------
2. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "From time to
time, Israel dispatches rescue expeditions to disaster areas -- the
work of nature or of man.... It is unclear, unreasonable and
inhumane that here of all places, right in our backyard, Israel
should insist on revealing its closed, ugly face."

Liberal columnist Billy Moscone-Lerman and Professor Moshe Zimmerman
of the Hebrew University wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv: "If
we do not find a way to talk to [the moderate Palestinian
leadership], we shall some day find ourselves fighting our own
Hamas."

Senior editor Arnon Gal wrote in Maariv: "It is the left wing that
should now demand military intervention, even a strike, against the
Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip."

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

I. "Open the Gates Immediately"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (6/20): "Many
Israelis are watching the television news these days with feelings
of powerlessness and shame. They see hundreds of haunted and
frightened women and children crowding into the corridor of the Erez
crossing and asking to be allowed to flee Gaza through Israel to the
West Bank in order to save their lives. But the defense
establishment sees something else: It sees wanted terrorists about
to blow themselves up and Iranian agents. The defense establishment
apparently has its own vision, which does not let emotional or
humanitarian considerations confuse it or cause it to change its
rigidly made-up mind.... In the dark days before the Holocaust, it
was similarly argued, not without justification, that the German and
Austrian refugees fleeing for their lives could include moles
seeking to assimilate into the countries through which they passed
and sabotage them.... From time to time, Israel dispatches rescue
expeditions to disaster areas -- the work of nature or of man. Our
soldiers and civilians have extended emergency assistance in Armenia
and Turkey, Rwanda and Bosnia, and many other places near and far.
All these expeditions were organized by the beautiful Israel. It is
unclear, unreasonable and inhumane that here of all places, right in
our backyard, Israel should insist on revealing its closed, ugly
face. Let the gates be opened immediately, and Israel will appear
as it should be."

II. "Prepare for Civil War in Israel"

Liberal columnist Billy Moscone-Lerman and Professor Moshe Zimmerman
of the Hebrew University wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv
(6/20): "Every Israeli peace-lover must understand that one of the
reasons for the Palestinian civil war is the fact that Israel has
not extended a stable hand to the moderate Palestinian leadership,
thus directly contributing to the rise of Hamas.... He must
understand that [moderate Palestinian] leaders ... represent the
Israelis' last opportunity.... Perhaps the most important thing to
understand is that if we do not find a way to talk to them, we shall
some day find ourselves fighting our own Hamas: religious, fanatical
people who believe that this piece of land belongs to Israel only
and who would be glad to teach the defeatists 'good manners.'"


III. "Peace Camp Demanding War"

Senior editor Arnon Gal wrote in Maariv (6/20): "Most of the time I
am proud to be on the left side of the political map, a fair
distance from the unclear line known as the 'center,' but in rare
cases, an observation of those standing next to me causes me
discomfort. That is exactly what happened to me on Tuesday, when I
read the article [in Maariv] by Meretz-Yahad Chairman Yossi Beilin
('Give peace a chance'), in which he called on Israel to reach a
cease-fire agreement in light of the events in Gaza and Hamas's
strengthening. Instead of giving this the title 'Give peace a
chance' it would have been better to call it 'on blindness'....
[Beilin is mistakenly] calling for quiet and for a political
arrangement at almost any price, even with the worst of our enemies.
Were Beilin truly faithful to the Oslo legacy, whose role in it
nobody can take away, he should have reached the exact opposite
conclusion: Israel must at any price, avoid reaching an agreement
with Hamas, certainly not at this point in time, when it is strong
and winning while our historical partners to the peace process look
at us beaten and battered.... A real and sane left wing must
continue to believe that there is a solution and political horizon
for the difficult situation in which we are found, but not to prefer
it at all costs. It is the left wing that should now demand
military intervention, even a strike, against the Hamas takeover of
the Gaza Strip, the arms smuggling, and the humiliation of the PA's
security services. Yes, even at the cost of public condemnations on
the part of the Arab world and a temporary postponement of the
chance to reach a final status arrangement with the Palestinians and
the Syrians. In any case, at this point in time neither Abu Mazen
nor any of his few potential successors have a real chance to lead
towards a long-term, painful arrangement with Israel, when he can no
longer even rule over his own offices..... Yes, sometimes it is the
peace camp that should lead the call for war."

CRETZ

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