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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3187
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2401
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0321
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3139
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0012
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RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7079
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4495
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001957

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. Mideast

2. Iran

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

All media reported that in a conciliatory address to the summit in
Sharm el-Sheikh PM Ehud Olmert declared in a surprise gesture that
he intends to ask the cabinet to approve the release of 250
prisoners from Fatah. Olmert said that he understands the
importance of the prisoner issue to the other side.

All media cited an audio recording apparently released by Izz ad-Din
al-Qassam, the military branch of Hamas, in which abducted IDF Cpl.
Gilad Shalit asks the government to free Palestinian prisoners.
Shalit said that his health is deteriorating. Media quoted Israeli
defense sources as saying that the identity of the group holding
Shalit is uncertain. Israel Radio quoted a senior Israeli defense
source as saying that the Popular Resistance Committees, which
splintered from Hamas, is the group detaining Shalit, and that Hamas
leaders Khaled Mashal and Ismail Haniyeh are unaware of Shalit's
whereabouts or of how he can be freed. Commentators and defense
sources say that Hamas is showing its weakness. The media reported
that Israeli politicians were divided along Left/Right lines
regarding the way Israel should respond to Hamas. Media quoted Shas
Chairman and Industry Minister Eli Yishai as saying that the
government should consider direct talks with Hamas over Shalit.
Maariv noted that Hamas demands the release of 1,400 prisoners in
exchange for Shalit. The Jerusalem Post reported that a senior
Egyptian government official told the newspaper in Sharm el-Sheikh
on Monday -- before the publication of the audio recording -- that
Egypt has decided to resume its efforts to release kidnapped IDF
Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

Israel Radio quoted a senior GOI source as saying that Israel should
put an end to its efforts to arrest Fatah militants -- especially
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members -- in the West Bank if they stop
receiving funds from Iran and cease their actions against Israel.
The source was quoted as saying that hey have turned into the
essential force against Hamas.

Leading media quoted sources close to the Quartet as saying that
outgoing British PM Tony Blair could be named to a top post in
Middle East peacemaking as early as today. The Jerusalem Post wrote
that diplomats of the Quartet will meet at the US Consulate-General
in Jerusalem today, with Assistant Secretary of Sate for Near
Eastern Affairs David Welch representing the US. The Jerusalem Post
reported that Russian FM Sergey Lavrov -- whose comments regarding
developments in Gaza have caused some irritation in Jerusalem --
will arrive in Jerusalem on Wednesday to assert Russian involvement
in the quickly moving diplomatic developments on the ground.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post printed an AP wire report that
Al-Qaida number two Ayman al-Zawahiri voiced his support for Hamas
after its fighters seized control of the Gaza Strip, according to a
recording posted on the Internet on Monday. Al-Zawahiri urged
Muslims around the world to back Hamas with weapons, money, and
attacks on the US and Israel. AP said that Hamas appeared
uncomfortable with Al-Zawahiri's approach

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli defense officials as saying that
recent events in southern Lebanon -- Sunday's attack and last week's
Katyusha rocket fire -- proved the UNIFIL needed a stronger mandate
and one that would enable it to better counter the growing threats
it faced.

The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported that Iran has invited
an International Atomic Agency team to Tehran to work on a plan for
clearing up suspicion about its nuclear program.

Yediot reported that PM Olmert will not name Likud Chairman Binyamin
Netanyahu finance minister. The two men met on Monday. Leading
media reported that Labor MK Ami Ayalon told Labor Party Chairman
and Defense Minister Ehud Barak that he is giving up the education
portfolio.

All media reported on the wave of lethal violence in Iraq on
Monday.

Major media reported that on Monday Egypt's State Security Court
sentenced an Egyptian nuclear scientist to life imprisonment with
hard labor for spying for Israel. Mohammed Sayyed Saber, 35, was
convicted of passing nuclear secrets to the Mossad in exchange for
USD 17,000. Two foreign nationals, an Irishman and a Japanese man,
were convicted in absentia and also sentenced to life imprisonment
for their part in the affair. Saber pleaded not guilty. He
admitted turning over documents, but said they were outdated and
that he advised the Egyptian authorities of what he was doing.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel is considering sending African
refugees to Kenya. The newspaper also reported that Israel has
resumed jailing Sudanese refugees who slip into the country along
the Egyptian border. The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday
Interior Minster Roni Bar-On met with PM Olmert to present his
policy recommendations on the growing number of refugees entering
Israel from Africa. That policy will remain secret until an
interministerial meeting on Thursday.

Yediot reported that Larissa Trimbovler, the wife of Yigal Amir,
Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, is expecting a son.

Yediot reported that the National Bank of Egypt is suing Israel for
its historical shares in Jerusalem's King David Hotel -- USD 78
million.

Yediot presented the results of a Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute)
poll:
-"Do you support the release of hundreds of prisoners -- including
murderers -- in exchange for Gilad Shalit's freedom?" Yes: 61
percent; no: 35 percent; 4 percent were undecided.
-"Do you believe that the GOI is doing enough to return Gilad home?"
No: 78 percent; yes: 18 percent; 4 percent were undecided.

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

Summary:
--------

Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote on page one
of the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Shalit's recording
serves as a clear message from Hamas to Jerusalem: Israel's real
partner for security issues is not Palestinian Authority Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas: It is Hamas."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the popular, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "The time has come for direct negotiations, with all the
discomfort that goes with so doing. The government needs to aspire
to secure Gilad Shalit's release at the lowest level of damage
possible. All the rest, the formalities, the principles, the
political reservations pale against that."

Arab affairs correspondent Jacky Hoogie wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Last week there were declarations about a window
of opportunity in the air. To the same degree, this summit could
also be the last nail in the coffin of the 'rais' from Ramallah."

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Even if you want to
believe that Mahmoud Abbas is some peace-loving good guy, he is
weak, incompetent, has no following, and no intention of really
confronting the culture of terrorism and extremism his own group
created and maintains."

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

I. "Why Now?"

Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote on page one
of the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/26): "Hamas is hoping
that the cassette [containing a voice message from abducted IDF
soldier Gilad Shalit] could help pressure Israel into renewing
negotiations by imploring Egypt to resume its role as mediator, or
to find other third parties. Hamas is seeking to undermine Israel's
resistance to releasing the 450 prisoners whom Hamas is demanding in
exchange for Shalit, by using Shalit's voice to stir up public
opinion. In addition, Hamas is attempting to thwart a possible
release of Fatah militants jailed in Israel, hoping that no Israeli
official will dare release prisoners who aren't part of a deal for
Shalit's release. It is also trying to steal the show and make the
Sharm el-Sheikh summit irrelevant. Finally, Shalit's recording
serves as a clear message from Hamas to Jerusalem: Israel's real
partner for security issues is not Palestinian Authority Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas: It is Hamas."

II. "Not at Every Price"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the popular, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (6/26): "Israel could have closed a deal a number of weeks
ago that would have brought Gilad Shalit back home. The price was
to release Hamas's entire military structure in the West Bank, a
structure that the IDF and GSS successfully crumbled and sent to
prison. That is a high price, perhaps unbearably high. It could
bring the situation in the West Bank closer to the situation in
Gaza. Gilad Shalit's captivity is an affair that is going to have
to end in a deal. The right approach is to say yes to a high price,
but not to every price. And to do so knowing that it will damage
security and elicit a sense of national humiliation, but not to say
yes to every damage. The timing of the deal and the final cost will
ultimately be determined by the Prime Minister's gut feeling: the
responsibility is his, and his alone.... Olmert went to Sharm
el-Sheikh with the hope that the rift between Fatah and Hamas might
receive the Arab world's blessing. He was in for a disappointment.
Instead of praising Abu Mazen for having parted ways with Hamas,
Mubarak called on him in his public speech to reunify the
Palestinian people. Unification means reverting the situation to
its previous state, to a government that is shared by Hamas and
Fatah. From Israel's perspective that would be catastrophic. Abu
Mazen is one thing and releasing Gilad Shalit is something entirely
different. The time has come for direct negotiations, with all the
discomfort that goes with so doing. The government needs to aspire
to secure Gilad Shalit's release at the lowest level of damage
possible. All the rest, the formalities, the principles, the
political reservations pale against that."

III. "Public Relations Show"

Arab affairs correspondent Jacky Hoogie wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (6/26): "Olmert eased many restrictions for the
Palestinians, but Abu Mazen needs much more than that. He needs an
Israeli display of courage. His hands are tied and his popularity
is at a nadir. Only artificial resuscitation will save him. Abu
Mazen needs an expansive Israeli move, which would include providing
arms to stamp out Hamas, a prisoner release and giving thousands of
workers the possibility of coming to Israel. Only if he is
strengthened, will he be able to battle Hamas. If he is weakened,
he will get the kiss of death. Last week there were declarations
about a window of opportunity in the air. To the same degree, this
summit could also be the last nail in the coffin of the 'rais' from
Ramallah."

IV. "The Fall of the House of Yasser"

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (6/26): "Ask yourselves one
simple question: Do you really believe that the Hamas coup is going
to scare Fatah straight? Are these leaders and ideologues really
going to learn their lesson? Well, this seems to be the main
assumption of political leaders and the media in democratic
countries. After all, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, facing the
hangman greatly concentrates the mind. But wait a minute! The PLO,
Fatah, and their hierarchies have made a whole career about facing
the hangman and tweaking his nose while giggling madly. If they had
learned from, say, September 1970 in Jordan or other disasters it
would have been sufficient for them to get on the right path.....
Don't get me wrong. I do believe Fatah is preferable to Hamas --
though the gap is far narrower than all too many people seem to
think. But even if you want to believe that Mahmoud Abbas is some
peace-loving good guy, he is weak, incompetent, has no following,
and no intention of really confronting the culture of terrorism and
extremism his own group created and maintains. He will also never
give up the demand that all Palestinians should be able to live in
pre-1967 Israel which is a deeply personal belief of his."

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "We do not need to give the
United States any ideas, or prod it into action. European countries
and the Gulf states are also targets, and they are the ones who have
the power to cripple Iran with their economic sanctions and
boycotts."

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

"There are Other Ways to Subdue Iran"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/26): "Every time President
Bush hints that he still supports a military operation against Iran,
I break out in hives. No matter what we wish for in our hearts, a
US attack on Iran is not in Israel's interest. Number one, the
American military is klutzy. Number two, Iran will take its fury out
on us by sending a barrage of Shihab missiles our way. Over the
past 50 years, the Americans have lost every war they started: the
Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the
war on Bin Ladin and Al-Qaida, and last of all, the Iraq War, where
the bloodletting goes on, and no end is in sight. We do not need to
give the United States any ideas, or prod it into action. European
countries and the Gulf states are also targets, and they are the
ones who have the power to cripple Iran with their economic
sanctions and boycotts."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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