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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2367/01 2140524
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 020524Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2603
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 2541
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9257
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2607
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3343
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2575
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0545
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3307
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0180
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0645
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7240
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4662
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9575
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3739
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5682
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 7557
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002367

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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

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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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Secretary Rice Visit to the Middle East

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Key Stories in the Media:
-------------------------

All media highlighted Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal
statement during a joint press conference with Secretary Rice that
if and when Saudi Arabia receives an invitation to the international
peace conference this fall they will study it and "will be keen to
attend."

All media reported on Secretary Rice's meetings in Israel.
Ha'aretz's headline was that PM Olmert suggested to Secretary Rice
that Israel and the Palestinians would outline the principles for
establishing a Palestinian state before the regional summit. The
paper quoted government sources as saying that the Americans and
Israelis agree that the Palestinians will be unable to implement a
final deal and therefore it is necessary to proceed cautiously. The
Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli officials as saying that Saudi
Arabia's positive response to the peace conference signals the
beginning of the bargaining process to bring them to the meeting.
The paper also wrote that the planned regional meeting was the main
topic of Rice's discussion with PM Olmert.

The media reported that PM Olmert emphasized that Hamas should be
"kept out of the game." Yediot reported that PM Olmert announced
that Israel would be willing to forward the Palestinians security
control over West Bank towns only after it receives security
guarantees that they will not be used as terrorist bases. Ha'aretz
and YNET (Yediot's internet website - the most popular Israeli news
site) reported that PM Olmert told Secretary Rice that he would be
happy if other moderate Arab states such as Tunisia, Morocco,
Bahrain and the Gulf states would take part in the regional
meeting.

Secretary Rice's meeting with FM Livni: The media highlighted

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Secretary Rice's comment that the U.S. has not started handing out

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invitations for the regional meeting and that it is too early to
expect responses on participation. FM Livni was quoted as saying in
the joint press availability that the most sensitive issues should
not be put on the table immediately.

Maariv reported on Secretary Rice's meeting with President Peres and
mentioned the latter's invitation to President Bush to be the
honorary guest at Israel's 60th anniversary celebration.

YNET (Yediot's internet website) quoted an American source as saying
that in the upcoming weeks Secretary Rice and her assistant David
Welch are expected to visit the region several times before the
regional meeting will take place.

Leading media quoted Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, as
saying that the planned peace conference is a publicity stunt.
Ha'aretz quoted a close advisor to PM Haniyah as saying that any
future agreement would not be implemented unless Hamas decides to
approve it.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Hamas PM Ismail Haniyah returned a
salary payment he received from the Fatah government in protest of
what he said was the "blackmailing" of the Palestinians.

Yediot reported that a secret message was forwarded to Jerusalem
saying that if Israel continues to reject the Syrian calls for peace
it is risking a war of attrition in the Golan Heights.

Ha'aretz quoted United Nation's Mideast envoy Michael Williams as
saying that Israel is interested in a two-stage prisoner exchange
deal with Hezbollah. He added that the organization has so far
declined the offer.

YNET quoted Egyptian President Mubarak as saying on Wednesday that
action to resolve the Palestinian crisis is of utmost importance and
that hope for a solution must remain alive.

----------------------------------------
Secretary Rice Visit to the Middle East:

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----------------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The good news is that something is stirring
in the peace process.... The bad news is that the initiatives and
plans are based on an imaginary reality and on establishing a
make-believe Palestinian state.... the Israeli partner is also weak,
and in the absence of a leadership that can force its policy on the
operative level, the peace process will continue to be conducted
like a virtual exercise in diplomatic conferences and dinners."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The
Arab states cannot have it both ways. They want the US to be
successful in its confrontation with Iran, but the US is hamstrung
and distracted by the war in Iraq and the Arab conflict with Israel.
They cannot urge the US to act while barely lifting a finger to
remove impediments to action that are largely of their own making
and certainly within their power to ameliorate."

Senior Arab affairs commentator Zvi Barel wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Saudi Arabia's recent announcement that it
will participate in U.S. President George W. Bush's international
conference on peace in the Middle East next fall comes as no
surprise. After all, it closely followed Washington's announcement
that it would sign a whopping $20 billion arms deal with Saudi
Arabia."

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

I. "Gloomy Conclusion"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (08/02): "The good news is that something is
stirring in the peace process.... The bad news is that the
initiatives and plans are based on an imaginary reality and on
establishing a make believe Palestinian state.... Let's face
reality: In the absence of an effective Palestinian security force
and an Israeli Qassam-interception system there can be no
significant pullout from the West Bank and handing over territory to
a Palestinian state. Any symbolic withdrawal from outposts or
isolated settlements is unlikely.... In these circumstances, the gap
between the diplomatic discourse and reality widens.... The
'roadblock test' is a good indication for the seriousness of
Israel's intentions and for Olmert's ability to make a change in the
existing reality. So far the performance has been poor.... The
gloomy conclusion from all of this is that the Israeli partner is
also weak, and in the absence of a leadership that can force its
policy on the operative level, the peace process will continue to be
conducted like a virtual exercise in diplomatic conferences and
dinners."

II. "Arabs on the Fence"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (08/02):
"The Arab states, not the Palestinians per se, we must remember,
created the Arab-Israeli conflict.... The new reality is that
rejectionism has completely boomeranged against the Arab states....
The supposed intractability of the Arab-Israeli conflict directly
serves Iranian ends, and therefore directly threatens the Sunni-led
Arab states. The Arab states cannot have it both ways. They want
the US to be successful in its confrontation with Iran, but the US
is hamstrung and distracted by the war in Iraq and the Arab conflict
with Israel. They cannot urge the US to act while barely lifting a
finger to remove impediments to action that are largely of their own
making and certainly within their power to ameliorate.... The Arab
states ... should realize that they already have much more to lose
from risking an Iranian victory with their timidity than from
helping the US out of its current quasi-paralysis."

III. "Saudi's Participation"

Senior Arab affairs commentator Zvi Barel wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (08/02): "Saudi Arabia's recent announcement
that it will participate in U.S. President George W. Bush's
international conference on peace in the Middle East next fall comes
as no surprise. After all, it closely followed Washington's
announcement that it would sign a whopping $20 billion arms deal
with Saudi Arabia.... Should a Saudi delegation attend the summit
alongside a delegation from Jerusalem, it will be an important --
albeit not unprecedented -- breakthrough for Israel.... Saudi
Arabia's participation in the international summit bears tremendous
significance for consolidating the consensus reached at the Arab
League summit of 2002, in what became known as the Arab
Initiative.... While attending Bush's summit is hardly a substitute
for establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, and certainly
does not constitute a foundation for normalizing relations with
Israel, it is nonetheless an important gesture.... The Saudis might
have well waited months before confirming their intention to
participate in Bush's conference. But their decision to announce so
soon is designed to send signals to other regional players."
JONES

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