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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2163/01 1971032
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161032Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2277
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 2458
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9177
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2517
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3263
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2488
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0445
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3222
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0097
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0565
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002163

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. Swearing-In of Shimon Peres as President of Israel

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

The media reported that today President Bush will give a special
address on the Middle East, which is expected to focus on the
Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process. Ha'aretz quoted a senior
Israeli political source who was briefed in advance about the speech
as saying that it will express a plan for "activism" on the part of
the Bush administration. Bush's tone is meant to express his
approval of the formation of a new PA government under Salam Fayyad,
as well as the appointment of former British prime minister Tony
Blair as the Quartet's coordinator. The speech is also intended to
reiterate President Bush's commitment to a two-state solution, and
will offer American support to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. In
addition to offering new ideas for progress, it is also expected to
include several demands to Israel. Ha'aretz quoted the senior
political source as saying on Sunday: "In the past, it had been
clear who the good guys and the bad guys were, and so long as Yasser
Arafat and [later] Hamas were in power in the PA," that was the
case. "Now, Bush needs to relate to the two sides as equals," the
source added. Yediot reported that on Sunday senior GOI sources
expressed their concern that President Bush's speech will include
contents that are uneasy for Israel. However, the daily quoted
Olmert associates as saying that the President's outline will not
impose anything on the sides, and that Bush's speech will be
balanced. The President's speech will be made several hours after
PM Ehud Olmert hosts Abbas at his official residence in Jerusalem.
Ha'aretz expects the President to make reference to it, as well as
to the package of measures Israel has undertaken to bolster Abbas
and the Fayyad government. These include the release of prisoners,
amnesty to fugitive Fatah militants, and entry permits to veteran
PLO leaders. Leading media reported that on Sunday the PA received
a shipment of weapons from Jordan with Israel's approval.

On Sunday major media reported that in a move aimed at helping PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas gain approval of the new PA
government, PM Olmert will approve allowing Nayef Hawatmeh, the
Damascus-based leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of
Palestine (DFLP), to travel to Ramallah on Wednesday to participate
in a meeting of the PLO's general assembly. One of the DFLP's most
notorious attacks was the raid on a school in Ma'alot in 1974, in
which 26 people, most of them children, were killed. On Sunday
Maariv and other media reported that Israel also allowed the return
of Farouk Kaddoumi (Abu-Lutuf), Fatah's secretary and the head of
the PLO's political wing. Kaddoumi is considered one of the
strongest opponents in the top echelon of the movement to the Oslo
agreements. Over the weekend the media reported that Israel has
agreed to stop pursuing dozens of Fatah gunmen in the West Bank as
part of an effort to boost Chairman Abbas.

All media highlighted the swearing-in of Shimon Peres as ninth
President of Israel. The media quoted Peres as saying in his
inaugural address to "devote myself to unifying" the nation. The
Jerusalem Post bannered: "Dreaming of Peace, Peres Sworn In as
President." Leading media quoted Peres as saying in an interview
with AP: "We have to get rid of the territories." Yediot and Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe noted the anger of right-wing politicians over
Peres's remarks. Maariv reported that Peres will attempt to revive
the "London Agreement" that he signed with the late King Hussein of
Jordan in 1987, according to which Jordan would rule the West Bank.

All media quoted French FM Bernard Kouchner as saying on Sunday that
the two IDF soldiers abducted by Hizbullah last year are apparently
alive, and that negotiations for their release are being conducted
via the UN. He was speaking at a press conference marking the close
of two days of talks on the future of Lebanon that were held in the
town of La Celle Saint-Cloud west of Paris. The conference was
attended by representatives of Hizbullah and the Western-backed
government of Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora. Israel Radio cited a
denial by a Hizbullah source. Yediot quoted diplomatic sources in
Jerusalem as saying that this is not the first time Hizbullah is
making such statements about the abductees, and that it should back
them up with evidence.

Leading media reported that a "senior Iranian official in Damascus"
told the Qatari newspaper Al-Watan that Iran has a map of 600
targets deep inside Israel against which the Iranian Army's General
Staff is prepared to launch missiles in case of a US or Israeli
offensive against Iran.

Maariv noted that Olmert and Lebanese politician Sa'ad Hariri, the
son of the assassinated former Lebanese PM Rafiq Hariri, visited
Amman at the same time last Wednesday.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that on Friday businessman
Dani Dayan was voted in as the Chairman of the Yesha Council of
Jewish Settlements in the Territories.

The Jerusalem Post printed an AP wire report that Egyptian
intelligence chief Omar Suleiman flew to Washington on Sunday for
talks with US administration officials. The report cited
disagreement between the two countries -- mostly on the issue of
democracy -- as the reason for the visit.

Leading media reported that Turkey has agreed to loan to Israel for
a few months the "Siloam Inscription" from the First Temple period,
which the Ottoman authorities brought to Istanbul in the early 20th
century. The artifact had been taken from the Silwan Tunnel in
Jerusalem.

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

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The influence of the president of the US
consists mainly of checking a crisis, not of finding a solution."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "Olmert must keep his promise and resume
negotiations on a permanent status settlement with the Palestinians
and on the formation of a Palestinian state. That is the only way
to truly augment Abbas's standing and that of the moderate
Palestinian bloc."

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot: "We should disengage from the Palestinian world,
for better or worse, and focus only upon ourselves."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "[The
Palestinians] must choose whether to allow the Islamification of
Gaza to spread to the West Bank, or to move in the opposite
direction, toward peace with Israel."

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

I. "An Envoy, Not a Messiah"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/16): "The next president of the United
States will operate in the narrow space, barely a crack, between the
pole of 'practical idealism,' a term coined by incumbent US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and that of 'realistic

SIPDIS
idealism,' which is how former US Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright described her recommended foreign policy. The new policy
will not overturn US President George W. Bush's decision to try to
change the face of the Middle East, but it will seek to be more
flexible in adapting to a day-to-day reality that makes it difficult
to realize such subversive visions.... The influence of the
president of the US consists mainly of checking a crisis, not of
finding a solution.... Rhetoric aside, the arena of Israeli-Arab
peace will remain of secondary importance, and will be solved only
in the unlikely case of a local decision to break the ice at one
fell swoop, as Egyptian president Anwar Sadat did, or, in a vastly
different way, Yasser Arafat. Meanwhile, an envoy will arrive, but
not a Messiah."

II. "Bolstering the Palestinian Public"

Ha'aretz editorialized (7/16): "Gestures [made by Ehud Olmert] show
that he is willing to take a controlled political risk vis-a-vis the
right-wing bloc in an attempt to express support for Abbas and his
followers in the West Bank. But this is not enough.... Even though
Olmert is meeting with the PA Chairman, the Prime Minister's moves
will produce no discernible change in the lives of the inhabitants
of the territories. In order to 'bolster Abbas's standing,' the
Palestinian public must see that the chairman's leadership is
improving their lives, not just promoting Fatah's interests in the
West Bank. The gestures must not be restricted to symbolic moves.
Olmert must keep his promise and resume negotiations on a permanent
status settlement with the Palestinians and on the formation of a
Palestinian state. That is the only way to truly augment Abbas's
standing and that of the moderate Palestinian bloc..... [Similarly,]
the push which the Quartet will give the peace process will be
embodied in launching former UK prime minister Tony Blair's mission
to the Middle East as the organization's envoy. It will provide
significant international backing for Olmert and Abbas's efforts,
and it will heighten the recognition that the current opportunity,
unlike others before it, must not be squandered."

III. "Back to the Illusions of Oslo?"

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (7/15): "True, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wants to
bolster Fatah and the nationalist stream versus Hamas, but those
people also use terrorism against Israel.... For ... released
prisoners, terrorism is the way to earn a living. It is their way
of life, their dignity and their self definition. Moreover, anyone
who is released in the framework of a deal must prove that he has
not changed, must prove his status anew, and the way to do this is
terrorism against Israel. It is possible that the Israeli
government still has not come to understand that disengagement is
what is needed here, since all our involvement in the Palestinian
arena always ends with a terrible uproar. The things that we think
will bolster Abu Mazen usually weaken him, and vice versa.... What,
have we retuned to the delusional years of Oslo? Those are dreams
whose time has long since passed, and the Israeli government should
spare itself the self-deception, the decline and the disappointment
that follows that, once everything blows up in its face. It would
be preferable were Israel to announce that it intends not to
intervene either now or in the future in the turns of events in
Palestinian life -- neither in the affairs of Hamas nor with
compensating Fatah; neither with the needless assassinations in Gaza
at present nor in the no less delusional prisoner releases. We
should disengage from the Palestinian world, for better or worse,
and focus only upon ourselves."

IV. "A Palestinian Choice"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (7/16):
"Ostensibly, the Palestinian decision to adopt ... a two-state
solution occurred with Arafat's renunciation of terrorism in 1988,
or his signing of Oslo in 1993. In practice, Arafat went to war
rather than accept a Palestinian state in 2000, and Abbas, whatever
his desires and intentions, did not lift a finger to start creating
a state when given the opportunity in the post-Arafat era.... The
risks that Israel is taking to give the Palestinians yet another
chance to take such a course should not be minimized. Based on the
record, such risks are difficult if not impossible to justify. For
the Palestinians, however, the stakes are even higher. They must
choose whether to allow the Islamification of Gaza to spread to the
West Bank, or to move in the opposite direction, toward peace with
Israel. Until now, Fatah has had the luxury of pretending it had
decided to make peace with Israel, while keeping the war against
Israel as alive as it could. Now the price of such a policy will be
abdication to Hamas, which stands for the policy of never ending the
war with Israel and never building a state. There is a limit to
what Israel, the US or anyone else can do to help Palestinian
leaders make this choice. Ultimately, it is their own. They must
decide if they want the state they claim to have been fighting for,
or not. If so, they will have to begin waging peace rather than war,
and will have to focus inward on building, rather than outward on
attacking. As usual, all of us will lose if they make the wrong
choice."

--------------------------------------------- ----------
2. Swearing-In of Shimon Peres as President of Israel:
--------------------------------------------- ----------

Summary:
--------


Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Only Peres can simultaneously be a tough
security oriented politician and a peace-loving dreamer."

Senior op-ed writer Uzi Benziman wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "In no small way, Peres is responsible for
the country's quagmire in the territories. His new role offers him
a unique opportunity to correct that mistake."


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

I. "Number One at Last"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (7/16): "Olmert -- and his successors --
will regret the day [Shimon Peres] was born, because Shimon Peres
does not know how to do nothing.... [Shimon Peres] is the most
irremediable optimist who ever existed.... Only Peres can
simultaneously be a tough security oriented politician and a
peace-loving dreamer. He has been moving between those poles during
his entire life, allowing settlers to build Sebastia [the first
settlement] and spending entire generations in efforts to evacuate
them later. He built Dimona [Israel's nuclear program] built
Israel's defense establishment, and embraced Arafat."

II. "Peres Must Busy Himself With Peace"
Senior op-ed writer Uzi Benziman wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/16): "The tradition that took root since
the time of [Israel's first president Chaim] Weizmann assigns the
president only a symbolic function. All presidents avoided becoming
involved in the running of the state and saw their role mostly as
super-unifiers... Instead of trying to collect the leftovers, the
new president is invited to stand at the head of the Israeli peace
camp and utilize his post's prestige to take energetic action toward
resolving the conflict with the Palestinians. This way Peres will
fulfill the wishes of a significant portion of the public, and also
his own. He will stray from the tradition that sanctifies the
political neutrality of the president, but he will work for its
benefit and instill genuine substance to his post. In no small way,
Peres is responsible for the country's quagmire in the territories.
His new role offers him a unique opportunity to correct that
mistake. It is one thing for Peres to be at the head of a
medium-sized party seeking an agreement with the Palestinians, and
another to strive for such an end from the Office of the
President."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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