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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2650/01 2431052
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 311052Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3074
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEADWD/DA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 2676
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9380
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2758
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3471
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2706
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0701
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3437
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0309
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0778
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7361
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4800
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9710
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3866
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5808
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 7808
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002650

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


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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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The Jerusalem Post reported that contrary to widespread
expectations, the US-sponsored international meeting scheduled for
sometime this fall may not be held at the level of heads of
government, but only for foreign ministers. The daily quoted Andrey
Demidov, the No. 2 diplomat at the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv, as
saying it was his understanding that the proposed meeting in
Washington would "be at the level of foreign ministers." Maariv
(Ben Caspit) said that if PM Olmert and Strategic Affairs Minister
Avigdor Lieberman agree on a change in Israel's governmental system,
Lieberman's party may support the Washington meeting.

Ha'aretz reported that an IDF probe determined on Thursday that the
three Palestinian children killed in Gaza on Tuesday were only
playing near rocket launchers targeted by Israeli troops, and were
not connected with the terrorists.

The Jerusalem Post reported that senior Russian Embassy official
Andrey Demidov told the newspaper that an accusation by Amos Gilad,
the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Military Bureau, that
Russia was partly responsible for recent tensions between Syria and
Israel could undermine Israeli-Russian relations. Maariv reported
that Russian advisers are returning to Syria. Similarly, The
Jerusalem Post reported that Russia is developing an advanced naval
port at Tartus and providing Syria with sophisticated missile
technology.

Former minister Natan Sharansky was quoted as saying in an interview
with The Jerusalem Post that he gives President Bush a "C" grade for
implementing his vision. Sharansky's book, "The Case for Democracy:
The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror," had inspired
the President.

Leading media reported that on Thursday PM Olmert named Dr. Shaul
Horev as the next managing-director of the Israel Atomic Energy
Commission (IAEC). The former Israel Navy deputy chief has in the
past filled-in as temporary chairman of the IAEC and in his latest
capacity headed a secret agency within the Defense Ministry. He
will be replacing Gideon Frank, a senior expert in the field of
atomic energy who held on to the position for over 15 years and who
Ha'aretz says is held in high esteem at the International Agency for
Atomic Energy.

Ha'aretz reported that on Thursday, for the first time since 1994,
all Palestinian security organizations in the West Bank participated
in a senior level meeting with their Israeli counterparts. The
security coordination meeting took place in the army headquarters in
Beit El, near Ramallah.

The Jerusalem Post quoted PA Information Minister Riyad al-Malki as
saying on Thursday that the PA's decision to close dozens of Islamic
charities is aimed at preventing Hamas from exploiting these
institutions for money laundering. The Jerusalem Post reported that
PA security officials expressed concern that the decision would
prompt many of the affected charities to go underground or to move
their activities to mosques.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that the Winograd
Commission has still not decided who is likely to be harmed by its
conclusions, according to a statement it made to the High Court of
Justice.

The Jerusalem Post printed an AP wire report that Human Rights Watch
(HRW) has issued a report accusing Hizbullah of firing rockets at
civilian areas in Israel during the Second Lebanon War. HRW was
quoted as saying it is planning to release a report critical of
Israel on September 6. Maariv and other media revealed that a
failure to encode orders in a drone led to a 1997 ambush by
Hizbullah that left 12 IDF troops dead during an operation in
Ansariya, Lebanon.

Maariv reported that Israel is worried by the lack of public
appearances by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak over the past two
weeks.

Yediot examined the possibility of a new threat to Israel after a
pullout of US forces from Iraq.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Jewish American organizations are
not impressed by Israel's PR campaign on its treatment of Darfur
refugees.

All media reported that on Thursday Finance Minister Roni Bar-On
informed the accountant general in his ministry, Yaron Zelekha, that
his contract would not be extended when it finishes at the end of
October. The media reported that critics of the move said that
Zelekha acted as whistleblower in the affair of the privatization of
Bank Leumi, Israel's second-largest bank, in which PM Ehud Olmert
was allegedly involved. The media reported on moves to prevent
Zelekha's ouster.

Maariv ran a feature about Congressman Keith Ellison from Minnesota
(Democrat), who is active on the national level in advocacy for
Muslims in the US.

Yediot reported that on Thursday the State Department announced that
150 Israelis won its green card lottery.

The JerusalemQst reported on the journey of "hidden Jews" and
potential converts to Israel from Hispanic countries for a "personal
Jewish renaissance."

In an unusual move, Ha'aretz led with a report from Greenland on the
effect of global warming on the island's icebergs and maritime
environment.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Let
me make progress with the Israelis and Palestinians, [Secretary
Rice] told [President Bush], and I'll bring over the Arab world."

Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "It is highly unlikely
that the PA Chairman would be able to win the backing of a majority
of his people for a US-backed deal."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "Israel cannot behave like a terrorist
organization that targets civilians, even when the shooting comes in
response to an attack. After all, this is the main reason why
Israel is encouraging the boycott of Hamas the world over."

Former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon wrote in The Jerusalem Post:

"Shorn of ... mistaken assumptions, the picture in the Middle East
is disturbing indeed. No wonder emissaries hold on to them."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Russia's road back to the status of a
world power is paved with bad intentions. Vladimir Putin is being
revealed as the regional pyromaniac."

Military correspondent Yaakov Katz wrote in The Jerusalem Post:
"Overall, according to senior officers, the IDF has learned its
lesson [from the Second Lebanon War]."

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

I. "Rice's Promises"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(8/31): "The sincerity shown by Abbas and Olmert is one element the
Americans are relying on, but there is another one above it: Rice's
promise to Bush. Let me make progress with the Israelis and
Palestinians, she told him, and I'll bring over the Arab world.
Rice apparently truly believes in this, despite expressions of
skepticism on the part of Israeli officials, who have told her they
have difficulty finding any evidence of such a process. Rice
already has two achievements in the bag: the Arab League delegation
to Israel and the Saudi announcement of its participation in the
conference. Rice has learned the lessons of previous conferences.
Bill Clinton, she thinks, made a mistake when he got to Camp David
without first ensuring the Arab world's support of the agreement
being formulated. She believes that this time, the window of
opportunity created with the consolidation of 'moderate' powers in
the Arab world -- united against the modified axis of evil
consisting of Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, and Hamas -- can lead to a
different dynamic."

II. "Summits Aside"

Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (8/31): "Abbas may be
sincere in his efforts to talk peace with Israel and assert his
control over the West Bank, but it's hard to imagine that he would
be able to make crucial decisions on explosive issues concerning
Jerusalem and the refugees. It's hard to imagine that he would be
able to accept anything less than what was offered to Arafat at the
botched Camp David summit in 2000. Having lost the Gaza Strip and
much of his credibility -- not only among his constituents, but also
among many Arabs and Muslims elsewhere -- it's not even clear if
Abbas has a mandate to represent the Palestinians at the
US-sponsored Middle East peace conference due to be held later this
year.... Given the current divisions among the Palestinians, the
ongoing Hamas-Fatah power struggle, the growing mistakes of the US
and Israel in the Arab world, and Abbas's shaky status, it is highly
unlikely that the PA Chairman would be able to win the backing of a
majority of his people for a US-backed deal."

III. "Five Children in One Week"

Ha'aretz editorialized (8/31): "Three Palestinian children were
killed by Israeli fire in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday....
The Israeli public reacted to these killings, just like it did to
the killing of two other children several days earlier, with near
complete apathy. It might as well be an act of god, or an acceptable
price that balances out the frustration at the continued Qassam
rocket attacks. This indifference is dangerous because it does not
encourage greater care in identifying targets. The automatic
expressions of sorrow by government officials, and the argument that
the 'terrorists organizations send children deliberately to places
where they become targets,' does not suggest that anyone is
attempting to learn the necessary lessons from the mistakes. This
is all the more true when the targets are in areas housing
civilians, and the risk is known in advance. Israel cannot behave
like a terrorist organization that targets civilians, even when the
shooting comes in response to an attack. After all, this is the
main reason why Israel is encouraging the boycott of Hamas the world
over."

IV. "Misinterpreting the Mideast"

Former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon wrote in The Jerusalem Post
(8/31): "After a few years of benign neglect, Israel is back on the
itineraries of well-meaning foreign emissaries.... There are four
misconceptions thatQiplomats bring with them to Israel. Primary
among them is the idea that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
is a prerequisite for stability in the Middle East.... The second
misconception is that Israeli territorial concessions are the key to
progress.... Emissaries also still believe that the 'occupation'
blocks agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.... Finally, the
well-intentioned visiting diplomats believe that the Palestinians
want -- and have the ability -- to establish a state that will live
in peace alongside Israel.... Shorn of these mistaken assumptions,
the picture in the Middle East is disturbing indeed. No wonder
emissaries hold on to them. So what should be done?.... Rice,
Blair, and the other emissaries must be the countervailing voices,
offering vision, clarity, and leadership. They must draw on their
rich diplomatic experience, free themselves from misconceptions
about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the petty politics that
flow from them -- especially the binds of political correctness --
to lead us all toward freedom, security, and peace. Anything else
is mere meddling."

V. "The Regional Pyromaniac"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (8/31): "Russia's road back to the status
of a world power is paved with bad intentions. Vladimir Putin is
being revealed as the regional pyromaniac, who does as he pleases
and pays no mind to anyone. As far as he is concerned, the Middle
East can go up in flames with all its inhabitants -- as long as the
payments arrive on time. At the beginning of the year, the Russians
gave Iran information that the US was planning to attack in April.
March came, April came, but the Americans did not attack.
Afterwards they moved on to Damascus. The Israelis, so the Russians
informed the Syrians, will attack in the summer. The summer has
passed, and no attack is to be seen. What do the Russians get out
of all this? Quite a bit. Reports have now spread in the West
saying that Russia recently signed a new contract for supplying
long-range rockets to Syria. The value of the deal is estimated at
about USD 1.4 billion. The financier: Iran. Putin laughs all the
way to the bank, while in Israel and Syria everyone heads for the
bunkers. It would be distorted to pin all the regional escalation
on Russian instigation. Moscow's behavior provides a tailwind and
fuels the fire. It is not the one that started it. Bashar Assad
closely examined the outcome of the Second Lebanon War.... The
latest reassuring statements made in Jerusalem, by Ehud Barak and
others, are intended to be self-fulfilling. They are not based on
true calm, for the time being. Tension continues to be high. The
Syrians are preparing for war -- that is clear."

VI. "Lying in Wait"

Military correspondent Yaakov Katz wrote in The Jerusalem Post
(8/31): "In Gaza, Hamas is building up an army and continues to
smuggle unprecedented amounts of weapons and explosives in from the
Sinai. In the North, Hizbullah has basically rebuilt itself and is
continuing to receive large amounts of weapons, including advanced
anti-tank missiles and rockets, from Syria. At the moment, Israel's
policy regarding both is 'watch and wait'.... Upon taking his post
in February, Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi set the
summer as the deadline for getting the IDF ready for war with
Hizbullah and Syria.... Overall, according to senior officers, the
IDF has learned its lesson, and will utilize its advantage in
massive fire-power and large numbers of tanks and infantry units in
any future battle against Hizbullah."

JONES

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