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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2779/01 2610956
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 180956Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3297
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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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 2741
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9442
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2836
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3542
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2776
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0777
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3507
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0373
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0842
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7423
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4862
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9774
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3928
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5873
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 7930
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002779

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:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. France-US Relations

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

Leading media quoted PM Ehud Olmert as saying on Monday, in a
briefing for Russian-language media outlets in Israel: "I have a lot
of respect for the Syrian leader and for Syrian policy. They have
internal problems, but we have no reason to rule out dialogue with
Syria." He was further quoted as saying: "As I have said in the
past, we want to make peace with everyone. If the conditions ripen,
we are ready to make peace with Syria, with no preconditions and no
ultimate demands." Yediot quoted Israeli diplomatic sources as
saying that Olmert's comments were carefully chosen and that they
were intended to assuage Bashar Assad. Ha'aretz led with a report
that on Monday Israeli academics told the newspaper, based on their
conversation with a senior US official, that the US is opposed to
Syria attending Washington's regional peace summit in November. The
academics were quoted as saying that the official described Syria as
a "vicious, brutal regime allied to Iran strategically," which
subscribes to "the most barbaric anti-Semitic views."

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli officials are treating
Iran's latest claims that it has 600 Shihab-3 missiles aimed at
targets throughout the country the same way it treated Teheran's
claims last month to have crossed a key nuclear threshold: by
listening carefully, but not believing everything they hear. The
Jerusalem Post quoted PM Olmert as saying at the briefing with the
Russian-language media that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
was trying to frighten the world into thinking that it was "too
late" to get the Iranians to stop their nuclear march. Olmert was
quoted as saying that Israel was not afraid of the situation in
Iran: "We are concerned, but we don't have to lose our head."

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli and US officials as saying on
Monday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not have a
three-way meeting with PM Olmert and PA President Mahmoud Abbas
during her upcoming visit. The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio said
that the US is pushing Israeli and Palestinian leaders toward an
agreement this year that would put both sides on record on even
small areas of accord but that probably would fall short of a full
framework for peace. The Jerusalem Post's Web site and Israel Radio
quoted State Department spokesman Sean McCormack as sayng on Monday:
"It is to help them start to bridge any differences across a whole
wide range of issues" and capitalize on areas of agreement. "I
don't expect any writing of anything down to happen on this trip,"
McCormack was quoted as saying, pointing to the formation of
lower-level committees to do any detailed drafting of an eventual
joint statement or agreement. The Jerusalem Post's Web site and
Israel Radio quoted Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern
Affairs as saying that Olmert and Abbas are considering a joint
document that would give more structure to a recent series of
one-on-one talks and other contacts. "This is a very important
moment and we think that we can make some progress here," Welch was
quoted as saying. He added: "For the first time here in quite some
time I really do feel that there is an opportunity [and] with a
little hard work -- and that may take quite a bit of time -- we can
get it in a way that looks a little bit better." Ha'aretz reported
that Secretary Rice is interested in being updated on the
Olmert-Abbas talks before the US forms its view on the agenda of the
planned international meeting. The Jerusalem Post wrote that
Secretary Rice faces a "tall order" on her visit to the region.

SIPDIS

Ha'aretz quoted an Israeli defense source a saying on Monday that
Israel will alleviate traffic restrictions in the West Bank slowly
and gradually if the security situation allows it. "We will start
by removing 10 to 20 roadblocks in the periphery, gradually and
prudently," the source was quoted as saying. Ha'aretz printed a
Reuters story citing a British government report as saying that the
Gaza blockade is the biggest obstacle to PA growth. Ha'aretz also
cited a new World Bank report warning that there can be no peace and
economic recovery in the PA without including the Gaza Strip.

Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton was quoted as saying in
an interview with Yediot that North Korean scientists were
apparently killed in the attack on Syria and that Iran was likely to
be involved in the bombed nuclear facility. Bolton was further
quoted as saying that the Israeli raid was a clear message that
Israel has the right to defend itself.

Leading media reported that on Monday in Ramallah a 16-year-old
Palestinian was killed by IDF gunfire. The media quoted the IDF as
saying that he was armed -- a claim refuted by Palestinians.

All media reported that MK Zehava Gal-On, the head of Meretz's
Knesset faction, has asked Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz to make
PM Olmert brief the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
about the operation in Syria.

Yediot and other media reported that the government will set up a
commission to check the damage caused to Palestinian civilians by
the July 2002 bombardment of a Gaza building that killed Hamas
leader Salah Shehadeh.

Ha'aretz reported that US officials have recently complained that
Israeli immigration authorities harass American citizens of Arab
origin at Israeli border crossings.

Maariv reported that in a recently published book, Washington Post
diplomatic correspondent Glenn Kessler revealed that Secretary Rice
co-owned a home and shared a line of credit with another woman.

Yediot presented the results of a Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute) poll
that found that PM Olmert's popularity has grown since the "raid in
Syria":
-"How do you view Ehud Olmert's performance as PM?" Good: 35
percent (25 percent two weeks ago); bad: 63 percent (75 percent two
weeks ago); 2 percent were undecided.
-"According to foreign reports, Israel raided nuclear targets in
Syria. Do you support or oppose the operation?" Support: 78
percent; oppose: 10 percent; 12 percent were undecided.
-"Following the IDF operation, do you believe chances of a war with
Syria have increased or decreased?" Unchanged: 51 percent;
increased: 32 percent; decreased: 13 percent; 4 percent were
undecided.
-"Has the operation changed your view of PM Olmert?" No change: 70
percent; it is better: 20 percent; it is worse: 6 percent; 4 percent
were undecided.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "The alleged connection to
North Korea makes Syria vulnerable. The question is whether the
world will seize the moment."
The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "IDF
Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin's statement that Israel has restored
its deterrence capabilities was premature."

Moshe Karif, a founder of the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition,
a social justice NGO among Mizrahi Jews (Jews from Arab and Muslim
lands and the East) in Israel, wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The Jews from Arab countries ... lost
their entire world in one fell stroke..... A transparent public
administration ought to be set up [in Israel] to map the Jewish
property in Arab countries."

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

I. "There's a Reason World Is Quiet on Alleged IAF Strike"

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/18): "Damascus, it is
safe to assume will want to shrug off a North Korean image and
present itself as a responsible player on the international scene.
It has even expressed interest in coming to the international Middle
East meeting that the US is planning later this year. The
allegations of a North Korea-Syrian connection could make the time
ripe, therefore for Israel to push the world to place certain
conditions on Syria's being accepted back into the international
fold. . The conditions are obvious. And ones that Israel has been
demanding -- without any success at all -- for years: kicking the
terrorist organizations out of Damascus, first and foremost Hamas
and its leader Khaled Mashal, and an end to the support and the
supply of weapons to Hizbullah. In the past Syria has just ignored
these calls. But now, in order to avoid being seen as North Korea's
kid brother, t may have no choice but to pay a little attention.
The alleged connection to North Korea makes Syria vulnerable. The
question is whether the world will seize the moment."

II. "It Takes Time to Restore Deterrence"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/18): "IDF
Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin's statement that Israel has restored
its deterrence capabilities was premature. Deterrence is a fine and
encouraging word, but it is difficult to measure. It is much easier
to detect and measure complacency and self-satisfaction....
Excessive self-satisfaction has led Israel's past governments to
numerous failures. It has made the nation's leadership think time
is working in our favor. It has persuaded our leaders to miss out
on opportunities, to wantonly set up settlements in areas which were
supposed to serve as bargaining chips. It compelled Jerusalem to
postpone giving back the West Bank to Jordan's King Hussein when he
still wanted it back. Every time Israel relishes in its military
might, we must remind ourselves of its limits and its limitations.
Let us hope that Yadlin's words were taken out of full context, and
that if a successful action was indeed carried out in Syria, it
would not make anyone think that the weakness Israel had
demonstrated in the days of the Second Lebanon War has been
erased."

III. "Jewish Property in Arab Countries"

Moshe Karif, a founder of the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition,
a social justice NGO among Mizrahi Jews (Jews from Arab and Muslim
lands and the East) in Israel, wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/18): "Compensation of the Palestinian
refugees is one of the central issues which has to be solved for an
historic reconciliation between us and the Palestinians. But in the
same breath it must be recalled that the Jews left behind them, in
Arab countries, assets in the billions, and nobody even thinks of
paying that debt. The Jews from Arab countries, many of whom came
here ... lost their entire world in one fell stroke.... The young
State of Israel could not believe the stories of the great wealth
that had been left behind. On the rare occasions on which attention
was given to the issue of the Jewish property in the Arab countries,
this was not for the purpose of compensating the immigrants from
Tunis, Morocco or Iraq, but in order to offset, in a cynical manner,
the Jewish property that had been left there against the Palestinian
property that was left here.... Estimates of the value of Jewish
property left behind range from USD 10 to 30 billion. Others claim
that the Jewish property left in Iraq is worth USD 100 million and
the property in Egypt USD 60 million. Now, when Saudi Arabia wishes
to settle once and for all the major questions, this is the time to
discuss also a solution for the question of Jewish property in Arab
countries. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has an opportunity to put
right the decades-long injustice to the periphery of Israeli
society, which is populated by Jews from Arab countries, their
children and their grandchildren. A transparent public
administration ought to be set up to map the Jewish property in Arab
countries. Teams should be set up to gather information from the
generation of the grandparents who are still among us and can prove
that they own the properties. After the cartographical stage, the
findings should be submitted to whoever really wants to put an end
to the conflict here. We will talk to them in the fall about
everything, about the property of the Jews and the Palestinians. We
will not deduct one from the other. We will build, at long last,
the infrastructure which those who left their property behind, here
and there, truly deserve."

------------------------
2. France-US Relations:
------------------------

Summary:
--------

Columnist and French politics expert Daniel Ben Simon wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "It is no accident that Sarkozy
appointed [Bernard Kouchner] as his foreign minister -- the
right-wing man and the left-winger who have discovered that they
view the world through the same eyes."

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

"France Aligns Itself with Bush"

Columnist and French politics expert Daniel Ben Simon wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/18): "As regards Iran,
[Bernard Kouchner], the man of the Left who was appointed Foreign
Minister in a right-wing government, expressed exactly what was on
his mind.... There is a change in France's policy not only regarding
Iran but also in other arenas. Even before spending his summer
vacation in the US, Sarkozy tightened the connection with that
country.... [Kouchner's visit to Baghdad] would have been
unthinkable under Chirac's regime.... Despite being a man of the
Left, Kouchner did not condemn the US invasion [of Iraq] and is even
considered a pro-American who did not hesitate to express support
for a world under American hegemony. It is no accident that Sarkozy
appointed him as his foreign minister -- the right-wing man and the
left-winger who have discovered that they view the world through the
same eyes."

JONES

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