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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2756/01 2551002
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121002Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3254
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 2727
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9428
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2820
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3528
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2760
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0760
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3490
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0357
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0826
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7409
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4848
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9758
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3914
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5858
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 7895
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002756

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


Please note: There will not be a Tel Aviv Media Reaction report
Thursday and Friday, September 13-14, 2007, due to the Rosh Hashanah
(Jewish New Year) holiday. Also: Israel will move to Winter
(Standard) Time on Sunday, September 16. Between September 16 and
November 4 the time difference between Israel and EDT will be six
hours.

--------------------------------
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Iran

3. Iraq

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

All media cited a report by Christiane Amanpour of CNN based on
American and Middle Eastern sources that Israel's action in Syria
last week was directed at an Iranian shipment of weapons for
Hizbullah and that it also involved ground forces. Israel Radio
reported that Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jafari denied on
the Arabic program of the BBC that ground forces took part in the
operation. He was also quoted as saying that Syria has not yet
retaliated for Israel's action. Israel Radio quoted a US Defense
Department spokesman as saying that this is a message to Syria not
to support Hizbullah. Israel Radio reported that although it
lodged a complaint with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Damascus
is refraining from calling for the convening the UN Security Council
(UNSC), possibly because it might have been seriously infringing
UNSC resolutions. As leading media reported that North Korea
condemned Israel for violating Syrian airspace, Yediot bannered:
"North Korea Aids Assad." Israel Radio quoted the Lebanese Al
Mustaqbal-TV as saying that the communication systems in Lebanon
have not worked properly since the purported Israeli attack.

Israel Radio reported that on Tuesday State Department Spokesman
Sean McCormack called on Israel to consider the consequences of any
retaliatory attack following the firing of a rocket at an IDF base
near Ashkelon, in light of the negotiations underway with PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas. The Jerusalem Post and other
media reported that PM Ehud Olmert continues to oppose mounting a
major IDF operation in the Gaza Strip or cutting off
Israeli-supplied utilities to the region, despite the attack.
Conversely, The Jerusalem Post quoted senior GOI officials as saying
that those decisions need not be reiterated. The Jerusalem Post
reported that the Right is demanding a military response, while
Kadima shies away from such action. Leading media reported that
Israel is delaying its response because of the tension in the North.
Yediot reported on an increase of the range of rockets fired from
Gaza -- from 11 to 15 km. All media cited the anger of soldiers'
parents that their children were left like "ducks in a range."
Yediot reported that Avi Dorfman, an IDF soldier who suffered a head
wound in the attack, had turned down an offer to enroll in a
prestigious US university, instead enlisting in the army.

Ha'aretz reported that the fall meeting in Washington will seek to
win support for arrangements being drafted by PM Olmert and Chairman
Abbas, but that it will not have any negotiating role. Yediot
quoted PM Olmert as saying during toasts with the security
establishment that the upcoming Jewish year will bring a diplomatic
turn and that Israel will strike the initiators of terrorism
"mightily and wisely." Israeli President Shimon Peres was quoted as
saying in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that Olmert and Abbas
are making steady progress toward a "Declaration of Principles" for
a permanent peace accord, based in part on the parameters laid down
by Bill Clinton in the final months of his presidency. Maariv
reported on significant process in the talks, mostly on the issues
of refugees and Jerusalem, but also on complex problems. Israel
Radio and other media quoted Palestinian sources as saying that the
incipient Israeli-Palestinian agreement includes a land swap and
financial compensation to Palestinian refugees who will not return
to their homes in Israel. The Jerusalem Post and Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe reported that Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu might not
remain in the government coalition, due to the impending agreement.

Leading media quoted a senior officer in the IDF's Central Command
as saying on Thursday that over the past year Israel has dismantled
most of the roadblocks and temporary barriers in the West Bank.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Portuguese FM Luis Amado, one of
the 10 foreign ministers who signed a letter hinting at the need to
engage with Hamas, told the newspaper that the initiative "was in
the past."

Leading media reported that Labor Party MK Ami Ayalon will join the
government after the holiday as a minister-without-portfolio and
will become a member of the diplomatic-security cabinet.

Israel Radio reported that Iranian FM Manouchehr Mottaki has urged
Russia to complete construction of the nuclear reactor at Bushehr.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe cited a Jewish Telegraphic Agency wire report
quoting Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton as saying that she supports a united Jerusalem and
defensible borders for Israel.

Israel Radio reported that Noam Shalit, the father of abducted IDF
soldier Gilad Shalit, met with French FM Bernard Kouchner at the
residence of the French Ambassador in Jaffa.

Leading media reported that a US district court in Washington ruled
this week that the Iranian government must pay USD 12.9 million to
the family of Marla Bennett, a US citizen murdered in a July 31,
2002 terror bombing at a cafeteria in the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem. Eight other students and cafeteria workers were killed
in the attack. In his ruling the judge asserted that the Iranian
government bore responsibility for the attack due to its
long-standing support for Hamas, which had carried out the bombing.

Maariv reported on an Israeli invention -- a camera that recognizes
terrorists by the body heat they emit in stressful conditions.

Israel Radio reported that Colombia's Ambassador to Israel has
protested to the Foreign Ministry about the GOI's travel advisory to
Israelis planning trips to his country, following reports in the
Colombian media of Israeli involvement in military training in
Colombia.

Ha'aretz reported that last week at the Washington Institute for
Near East Policy a special commemoration ceremony was held in memory
of the late Ha'aretz journalist Zeev Schiff. Dignitaries from Israel
and the US, including State Department senior adviser Professor
Eliot Cohen; Robert Satloff, the Institute's Executive Director; and
former US Ambassador to Israel. Martin Indyk attended the reunion,
along with Israeli journalist Ehud Ya'ari, who presented to the
crowd Schiff's journalistic creed.

Media reported that the latest Jewish Agency figures put the number
of people in the world who define themselves as Jews at 13.2
million. The largest Jewish community is Israel, with 5.4 million,
followed closely by the US, with 5.3 million.

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The talks
with Abbas are now the light at the end of a very dark and dangerous
tunnel, a model for what the Middle East can be one day, in an era
of sanity."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Israel
must not be deterred from protecting the lives of its people by
theoretical international pressure."

Veteran journalist Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, Chairman of the Yad Vashem
Council, and former justice minister wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: " Despite the fact that Israel has problems -- perhaps more
than any other Western state -- it is not caving in."

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

I. "A Sober Outlook for the New Year"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/12): "If the
political and security leadership maintains its restraint and avoids
arrogant talk, we may be able to declare the start of an era of
wisdom and caution. The new Chief of Staff and Defense Minister may
be this past year's main security advance, and the talks with
Mahmoud Abbas are the political one. Were it not for the Winograd
Commission, with its findings that have and have not been published
yet, it is doubtful whether any lesson would have been learned.... A
group of moderate states is forming in the Middle East, and while
this group may be weak, perhaps even temporary due to regime
changes, Israel must do everything in its power to bring the
Palestinian state into this group. So long as Hamas refuses to
recognize Israel and prefers the Iranian rhetoric calling for the
destruction of the Zionist state, and so long as Syria is on the
Iranian side of the equation, by choice and not by compulsion,
Israel must cling to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
with all its strength and prove it is willing to make concessions to
those who acknowledge its existence and are willing to cooperate
with it. The talks with Abbas are now the light at the end of a
very dark and dangerous tunnel, a model for what the Middle East can
be one day, in an era of sanity."

II. "Fighting Back"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/12):
"For too long, Israel has unilaterally acquiesced to an unwritten
rule: We have no right to respond 'disproportionately,' with
sufficient force or effect to deter attacks on our citizens. We
fret about being branded for imposing 'collective punishment' by
cutting off electricity to Gaza, even for an hour, when our citizens
are subject to the collective capital punishment of Hamas missiles.
But Israel must not be deterred from protecting the lives of its
people by theoretical international pressure. Such 'pressure' has
in any case lost all legitimacy, since the UN Security Council
continues to fail to lift a finger to condemn, let alone impose
sanctions against, the attacks against Israel. Israel must defend
itself; if we do not, we have no one to blame but ourselves. "

III. "Not a Collapsed People"

Veteran journalist Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, Chairman of the Yad Vashem
Council, and former justice minister wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (9/12): "The State of Israel is not collapsing. Despite the
fact that Israel has problems -- perhaps more than any other Western
state -- it is not caving in. Its most difficult problems derive
from its relations with the Palestinians, the Arab world, and
Islamic fundamentalism. Apart from those, and unlike the impression
given by the media, Israel as a state is working well.... Whenever
polls showing that the great majority of Israelis are happy with
their lives are published, their headlines are 'surprising poll.'
Who is surprised? The media. Why? Because, after all their
efforts they make to convince the public that it is collapsing, the
public will not collapse. It aspires to more, but it does not
collapse."

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

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner and diplomatic correspondent
Aluf Benn wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The
effort to prevent Iran from joining the prestigious club of nuclear
powers will top Israel's strategic and diplomatic agenda during the
new [Jewish] year."

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

"Nuclear Crunch Time"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner and diplomatic correspondent
Aluf Benn wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/12):
"The effort to prevent Iran from joining the prestigious club of
nuclear powers will top Israel's strategic and diplomatic agenda
during the new [Jewish] year. There is no national or international
issue that is more important and the decisions that will be made by
US President George W. Bush will shape the regional balance of power
for many years to come. The talks Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is
conducting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will be
a sideshow, no more than a warm-up act, even if they result in
agreements, understandings and spectacular ceremonies.... It is
doubtful that a new president would want to take upon him- or
herself the risk of a new war in the Middle East. This is why, if
Bush blinks and refrains from taking action, Iran will be able to
luxuriate in its new status as the world's 10th nuclear power --
tent, but certainly not last..... It will be ... interesting to see
whether Saudi Arabia shakes off its traditional reticence and sends
a senior representative to the Washington conference, who will have
his picture taken with Olmert and indicate the support of King
Abdullah, the guardian of Islam's holy places, for the move of
reconciliation with Israel. If that happens -- and Olmert believes
it will -- the front against Iran will receive important
reinforcement. This would also serve as a reminder to Bush that the
moment of truth is approaching: Saudi Arabia, just like Israel, does
not want a nuclear Iran as a neighbor."

---------
3. Iraq:
---------

Summary:
--------

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "The strategy
that the US has adopted in Iraq, which has met with such success in
the brief time it has been operative, is a long-term strategy."

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

"Where America and Iraq Converge"

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/12): "With
Petreaus and Crocker's openness in acknowledging Iran's central war
in the role in the war in Iraq, we are seeing for the first time an
admission that it is counterproductive to view Iraq in isolation
from its neighbors. And this acceptance of the regional nature of
the war exposes one of the central risks in the United States'
current counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq.... The strategy that the
US has adopted in Iraq, which has met with such success in the brief
time it has been operative, is a long-term strategy. Unless the
Democrats regain their senses, it will be difficult for anyone to
trust that the US won't simply abandon Iraq, and with it, its
responsibility as the leader of the Free World in the midst of a
global war."

JONES

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