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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2173/01 1981019
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171019Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2300
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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3270
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2502
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0459
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RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0104
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002173

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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
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:
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President Bush's July 16 Remarks on Mideast

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

All media reported that on Monday President Bush announced the
convening of an international conference later this year that will
include Israel, the PA, and some Arab states, to help restart peace
talks and review progress in building democratic institutions in the
Arab world. The President was also quoted as saying that the US
would provide the new PA emergency government with over USD 190
million in aid. Yediot quoted associates of PM Ehud Olmert as
saying that Olmert had raised the idea of an international
conference with the President. Yediot reported that these remarks
angered US administration officials, who were quoted as saying that
the meeting is an American idea.

Bush was quoted as saying that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
will lead the summit, which is planned for the fall. Bush urged
Israel to remove unauthorized outposts, stop expanding settlements,
and to "find other practical ways to reduce their footprint without
reducing their security." The President said that this was a
"moment of clarity for all Palestinians. And now comes a moment of
choice. The alternatives before the Palestinian people are stark.
There is the vision of Hamas, which the world saw in Gaza -- with
murderers in black masks, summary executions, and men thrown to
their death from rooftops" which would endlessly perpetuate
grievance, and another, "hopeful" option. "It is the vision of
President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad; it's the vision of their
government; it's the vision of a peaceful state called Palestine as
a homeland for the Palestinian people," President Bush was quoted as
saying.

Leading media reported that Israel responded positively to the
President's address. The Jerusalem Post quoted PM Olmert's
spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, as sayng that Israel hoped to see the
involvement of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Morocco.
But she played down the mandate of such a gathering, saying that
Bush had not called it an international peace conference, but rather
a regional "meeting" of participants who support the idea of a
two-state solution. While citing the satisfaction of Fatah/PLO

spokesmen over the President's address, the media reported that it
was a "crusade" against the Palestinian people. In an interview
with Israel Radio this morning, Meretz-Yahad leader Dr. Yossi-Beilin
said that he was "not impressed" by the fact that the summit will
not be attended by the President of the US.

The media reported that on Monday PM Olmert met with PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas at Olmert's official Jerusalem residence.
The media said that Olmert warned Abbas against renewing cooperation
with Hamas. Ha'aretz quoted a "political source" as saying that
Abbas vowed not to resume any such cooperation. Ha'aretz reported
that during the meeting the Palestinians proposed restarting
negotiations toward a final agreement, and offered to discuss the
"core issues" -- Jerusalem, the refugee question and borders.
Olmert rejected their proposal, saying it is too soon to discuss
these issues and insisted that there are other important issues that
must be dealt with first. However, the Palestinian delegation was
quoted as saying that it has been decided that from now on Abbas
would only deal with final status issues and not with routine
matters, such as the separation fence, fugitives, immunity to
militants and aid, which will now be handled by PM Salam Fayyad and
his interior minister. Ha'aretz noted that in so doing, the PA has
essentially imposed an agenda for future meetings between Olmert and
Abbas. Leading electronic media reported that this morning, in line
with PM Olmert's promise to Chairman Abbas, an interministerial
committee headed by Olmert approved the release of 256 Palestinian
prisoners. The prisoners, mostly from Fatah along with a few from
PFLP and DFLP, will be freed on Friday. Transportation Minister and
former defense minister Shaul Mofaz opposed their release.

Ha'aretz reported that former British PM Tony Blair, the Quartet's
envoy to the Middle East peace process, will arrive in Jerusalem on
Monday to start his mission. He was quoted as saying that he would
stay in the region for one week every month.

Israel Radio cited the London-based Al-Hayat as saying that on
Monday Secretary Rice warned Egyptian intelligence chief Omar
Suleiman against Egypt showing openness toward Hamas, so that the
latter does not get strengthened. US officials reportedly told
Suleiman that Egypt must increase its policing of the Gaza border to
prevent arms smuggling and passage of terrorists.

Leading media reported that PM Olmert has decided to appoint Vice
Premier Haim Ramon as chairman of a committee to implement
recommendations from the Talia Sasson outposts report. Yediot
reported that Ramon is mulling over a plan to withdraw from 60
percent of the West Bank and evacuate some of the settlements in
coordination with the Palestinians.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Turkish officials told the
newspaper this week that Israeli and Palestinian officials have
asked Ankara to consider involvement in commercial projects in the
West Bank and along the Gaza border.

Maariv reported that the Israeli defense establishment is
considering defensive measures against the Iranian nuclear program,
including an increase in the number of sealed rooms around the
country and the installation of filters against nuclear radiation.

Yediot and Maariv reported on Monday that Labor Party activist,
Attorney Yehiel Gutman, whom Defense Minister Ehud Barak appointed
as his representative in the issue of the abducted IDF soldiers,
resigned after 12 days in the position. Yediot reported that Ofer
Dekel, who represents PM Olmert on this matter, told Barak that he
would not cooperate with Gutman.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Nepal has agreed to open an embassy
in Israel 47 years after having established normal diplomatic
relations with the country. The newspaper quoted GOI sources as
saying that the move was meant to protect Nepalese workers from
trafficking. Nepal's announcement comes after the GOI's May 1
statement that it would no longer issue work visas for Nepalese, as
Nepal did not have an embassy in Israel.

Yediot and Israel Radio cited IDF statistics that one of four young
Israelis is not drafted in the army. Another 17.5 percent do not
complete their military service. According to Yediot, this means
that 40 percent of young people do not serve in the army.

Leading media reported that in an effort to stem the "brain drain"
from Israel, the Shochat commission reviewing the status of higher
education in Israel proposes to invest millions of shekels to keep
scientists in the country or lure them back to Israel.

Maariv reported that "in a blow to the interests of the US and
Russia" and in contradiction of an explicit request by Washington,
Turkey has signed a natural gas supply agreement with Iran.

--------------------------------------------
President Bush's July 16 Remarks on Mideast:
--------------------------------------------
Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "To create an opportunity for this chance
to come to fruition, Bush will have to think outside the box, to
create something else, something different, not to deliver a 'more
of the same' speech."

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Bush has accepted Abbas's
demand to hold direct talks on the final settlement.... But Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert ... has nothing to worry about."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Israel and the
Palestinians have no one to turn to, and no one to rely on but
themselves. Bush will provide no salvation. The question is do
they want to; the question is can they."

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote on page one of
Ha'aretz: "What side [will] ... Rice ... come down on?"

Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in Yediot Aharonot:
"The American initiative to move the process forward is meant to
prevent a situation in which the Europeans and the Arab states try
to enforce an agreement on the sides by means of their own peace
conference."

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Monday night's speech
laid the foundation of an overpass aimed at bridging the current
difficult reality."

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe: "When a president who is sympathetic to Israel
makes such blunt remarks, this means he is publicly adopting
Palestinian demands."

The ultra-Orthodox Hamodi'a editorialized: "The face and future of
the Middle East are molded neither by the American will, nor by
declarations from abroad."

Block Quotes:
-------------
I. "Last Opportunity Speech"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (7/17): "This was the last chance speech.
This is in effect the last chance for Bush to emerge from his two
disastrous terms with some achievement in his hand. It is Abu
Mazen's last chance. It is also Olmert's last chance. The problem
is that to create an opportunity for this chance to come to
fruition, Bush will have to think outside the box, to create
something else, something different, not to deliver a 'more of the
same' speech.... So what now? Now we will demolish a few illegal
outposts and deliver more of the funds, and Abu Mazen and Fayyad
will try to restore some order in their mess, courtesy of the
bayonets of the IDF, without which Hamas would also be in control of
the West Bank. In October we will all go to Washington, and if we
are lucky representatives of the Gulf States will also attend, and
perhaps some Saudi Arabian or two, to prove to us once again that
the Jewish people is alive and our hope is not yet lost, and to give
George Bush something small, very small, with which to finish his
term of office, and at long last to go home."

II. "Bush's Tough Talk on Hamas"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/17): "US President George W.
Bush threw a bone Monday to those how have accused him of ignoring
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a long address, which at times
sounded more like a laundry list of the issues currently up for
discussion and execution, he promised to intensify the American
effort to bolster confidence of both sides in the two-state
solution. It sounded nice but less exciting than the declaration he
made at the start of his second term, in which he promised to invest
American capital in establishing a Palestinian state. On Monday,
Bush refrained from promising to set up a Palestinian state. He
made do with posing a dilemma before the Palestinians, calling on
them to choose between the Hamas extremists and the moderates,
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam
Fayyad.... Bush has accepted Abbas's demand to hold direct talks on
the final settlement, and skip over the interim stage of a
Palestinian state with borders that are not finalized. But Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert, who is refusing to discuss the core issues at
this stage, has nothing to worry about. He will get his extension,
until the PA is clean of terrorism and corruption."

III. "Farewell Speech"
Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/17): "Those who
watched Bush's speech on Monday saw a president who had shrunk
amazingly. Five years and three weeks ago Bush delivered his first
two-state speech and spoke of a permanent settlement within three
years. On Monday evening he reiterated the main points of that
speech, with one difference: He took care not to specify a
timetable. Comparison of the two speeches reveals that peace in the
Middle East is like the horizon: the nearer you get, the further
away it is.... The words which five years ago were understood as a
declaration of power, last night sounded as hollow as a preacherQs
sermon: full of good intentions, but meaningless. All that he has
promised to do is to convene a regional conference headed by
Condoleezza Rice in the autumn. These conferences are little more
than an empty gesture. At the conclusion of his speech Bush turned
his back to the camera.... This was a very theatrical and symbolic
gesture. It was as if he were saying: I've had enough, I'm going.
I'm turning my back on the Middle East. And, indeed, Israel and the
Palestinians have no one to turn to, and no one to rely on but
themselves. Bush will provide no salvation. The question is do
they want to; the question is can they."

IV. "She, Not He"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote on page one of Ha'aretz
(7/17): "[Secretary] Rice's imprint could be seen on almost every
detail of Bush's speech. If she succeeds, he can take the credit.
If she fails, he can say that he sent the best person to try. In
any case, of the two main elements in his speech, one reflected the
certainty of action and the other a more hazy hope.... The
administration can assume it will be able to increase aid [to the
Palestinians] without encountering legislative obstacles. The
second element, the convening of an international summit, was more
ambiguous.... If Rice manages to drag the Saudis to the conference,
she can report a breakthrough. But the Saudis have a tendency
lately to disappoint the administration.... A regional summit holds
out hope and risk for Israel. The hope is that additional members
will be added to the circle of peace, and Israel will receive
augmented legitimization. The risk of is that Israel will find
itself dealing with a coalition for whom its interests are not
primary. The big question is, of course, what side of this
coalition Rice will come down on?"

V. "Conference Made in Israel"

Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in Yediot Aharonot
(7/17): "Olmert believes that in the absence of an authoritative
Palestinian partner, the only possibility for making progress toward
an arrangement is with the backing of the countries of the region
and the international community. That is the background to Bush's
call to hold an international conference in the fall under whose
auspices Israeli and Palestinians will meet with the neighbors in
the region. The American initiative to move the process forward is
meant to prevent a situation in which the Europeans and the Arab
states try to enforce an agreement on the sides by means of their
own peace conference. Bush and Olmert share the assumption that the
permanent arrangement will be possible after the Palestinians manage
to establish credible institutions to administer their affairs, but
it looks as if this is not going to happen during Bush's term --
perhaps not even in Olmert's. OlmertQs impression from his meeting
with Abu Mazen is that the Palestinians do not really expect Israel
to withdraw from the West Bank right now.... Abu Mazen, in internal
talks too, is unwilling to renew a dialogue with Hamas. The problem
is that this refusal makes it possible for Hamas to mark Abu Mazen
as collaborating with the US and with Israel and to prevent, by
means of terror, the chance of making any progress in the peace
process. On Monday Olmert warned Abu Mazen that if he renews his
ties with Hamas in the future, all agreements between them are
off."

VI. "Building a Bridge Over Troubled Waters"

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (7/17): "If [President
Bush's] speech five years go led to the launching of the Roadmap,
Monday night's speech laid the foundation of an overpass aimed at
bridging the current difficult reality. This reality can be summed
up as follows: Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas can make
al the right declarations, but does not have the ability to assert
his authority over all the West Bank and Gaza, and Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert is limited -- because of the bitter Israeli experience
of the last seven years and his own political weakness -- as to what
he is now able to offer the Palestinians. Hence the bridge. And
the bridge that bush laid out on Monday night is based on new
Quartet envoy Tony Blair, and the regional 'meeting' that Bush
called for in the fall.... Five years after the Bush speech launched
the Roadmap, Monday night's speech aimed at reconstructing one of
the elements that the Roadmap was based upon -- responsible,
accountable Palestinian governing institutions."
VII. "The Previous Speech Was Much More Positive"

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (7/17): "On Monday Bush demanded practical
measures -- from Israel.... When a president who is sympathetic to
Israel makes such blunt remarks, this means he is publicly adopting
Palestinian demands. Abu Mazen can indeed be happy. At the same
time, as far as Israel is concerned, there was nothing new in
positive sentences. Opposition to Hamas is anchored in
Congressional resolutions forbidding any contact with terrorist
organizations. The same applies to [Bush's] demand that Abu Mazen
not establish a national unity government with Hamas.... Bush's
speech is further evidence of how low Israel's diplomatic status has
fllen in the past few years, as a result of its own failures --
mainly the unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip."

VIII. "Broad-Based Decision-Making"

The ultra-Orthodox Hamodi'a editorialized (7/17): "There is
considerable good will in the American viewpoint on international
realities and on the Middle East in particular.... But the face and
future of the Middle East will be molded neither by American will,
nor by declarations from abroad -- even if they have the best
possible intentions. The face of the Middle East will be modeled by
its residents. Its policy will be adopted by its actual regional
leaders."

CRETZ

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