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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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

1. President Ahmadinejad at Columbia University

2. Mideast

3. Libya

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

Leading electronic media quoted President Bush as saying on Monday
at a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in
New York City on Monday. "I strongly support the creation of a
Palestinian state. I believe it's in the interests of the
Palestinian people, I believe it's in the interests of Israel to
have a democracy living side-by -- democracies living side-by-side
in peace." The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior official in PM
Olmert's bureau as saying on Monday that Israel will "be happy to
attend the US-sponsored meeting later this year in Washington even
if Syria is invited. The official was responding to statements made
on Sunday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice indicating that
Syria, which both Israeli and US officials have in recent weeks
hinted would not be welcomed at the conference, would indeed be
invited.

All media highlighted the speech delivered by Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University on Monday, where he
evaded the question of whether he would seek the destruction of
Israel. Instead, he said that to solve the "60-year problem, we
must allow the Palestinian people to decide its future itself." He
was quoted as saying: "Why is it that the Palestinian people are
paying the price for an event they had nothing to do with?" He was
quoted as saying that "nothing is absolute" about the Holocaust. He
also said that Iran is the country that cooperates most with the
International Atomic Energy Agency. The Jerusalem Post quoted
officials in the Foreign Ministry as saying that FM Tzipi Livni
undermined her own message that Iran is a threat to the entire
world, and not just to Israel, by breaking diplomatic decorum and
attending a protest rally against Ahmadinejad on Monday.

Leading media reported that 10,000 demonstrators rallied in New York
against Ahmadinejad. Maariv bannered: "In America's Face."

All media reported that on Monday Attorney General Menachem Mazuz
ordered police to launch a criminal investigation against PM Ehud
Olmert on suspicion of bribery. Olmert allegedly received favorable
terms for the purchase of his home on Jerusalem's Cremieux Street in
return for helping the contractor who sold it to him. However,
Ha'aretz reported that senior police officials doubt their ability
to carry out an investigation. They cited the amount of relevant
information that has already been published in official documents
and the media as the cause of their pessimism and frustration.
Additionally, all media reported that Mazuz decided to launch a
criminal probe against former finance minister Abraham Hirchson on
charges of fraud and theft.

National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was quoted as
saying in an interview with Ha'aretz that imprisoned Fatah leader
Marwan Barghouti will become the Palestinians' next leader.
Ben-Eliezer was quoted as saying: "We have to find a suitable
opportunity to release Barghouti, and we have to link it to the
release of Gilad Shalit."

Major media quoted PM Olmert as saying in remarks to the Knesset's
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that neither Syria
nor Israel are interested in a military confrontation. He also told
the committee that the recent violence in Lebanon, in which an
anti-Syrian member of parliament was assassinated, is very
troubling. With regard to the international conference scheduled to
take place in Washington in November, Olmert insisted that it is not
a peace conference, but rather a gathering meant to offer
international support to the diplomatic process between Israel and
the PA. He expressed hope that at the end of the meeting, he will
be able to present a joint declaration with PA Chairman Mahmoud
Abbas on the fundamental issues. "I intend to meet Abu Mazen
[Abbas] once more next week, and immediately after that, the two
sides will begin work in an effort to formulate a joint declaration.
At this time, there is no draft, but if there is something that
requires the government's approval, that will happen," Olmert
promised. He acknowledged that he does not take concerns about the
Palestinian government's ability to implement its diplomatic
commitments lightly. "There is a Palestinian leadership that wants
to move forward with us on a diplomatic level. Abu Mazen and [Prime
Minister] Salam Fayyad want to make peace and support a two-state
solution ... They are the ones [to deal with], and if they are not,
then no one will be." Olmert was further quoted as saying that he
would be willing to withdraw from a vast amount of territory in the
West Bank in return for a genuine peace agreement. The Jerusalem
Post cited denial by Olmert's bureau that Olmert said that a
final-status agreement could take 20 to 30 years.

Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair told Channel 2-TV on Monday
that the upcoming Mideast meeting in the U.S. should serve as a
stepping stone toward a peace accord between Israelis and
Palestinians. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that Chairman Abbas
told Secretary Rice that PM Olmert has agreed that Jerusalem will be
the capital of the Palestinians state.

Yediot reported that a senior Syrian official told Reuters that
Syria has decided to exercise restraint and not to attack Israel
following its alleged operation on its soil. Israel Radio quoted
Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal as saying in an interview
with the London-based Al-Hayat that there are not preparations for
war in his country but that the Syrian response to the operation
would come when the time is right. Leading media reported that
senior Syrian officials told Reuters that the Israeli operation has
eliminated the chance for peace and that Israel has a military edge
over Syria.

Yediot reported that five-day maneuvers of the Egyptian Army ended
on Monday. The newspaper reported that Egyptian ground and air
forces conducted an exercise simulating the crossing of the Suez
Canal, as during the Yom Kippur War. Yediot quoted Israeli defense
sources as saying that Israel should monitor such exercises.

All media reported that Labor Knesset Member Ami Ayalon was sworn in
as minister-without-portfolio. He had to contend with harsh
accusations from colleagues across the political board for entering
the cabinet despite previous pledges to the contrary.

Maariv reported that the association "Bayit Ehad" (One House), which
promotes an evacuation (with compensation) of West Bank settlements
found out that around 2,000 settlers are interested. Meretz MK
Avshalom Vilan and Labor MK Colette Vital are among the founders of
Bayit Ehad.

Yediot cited the hope of Raed Nasra, an Israeli-Arab friend of
Daniel Sharon, the dual Israeli-German citizen who was arrested in
Lebanon several days ago, that former MK Azmi Bishara -- who fled
Israel amidst allegations that he provided intelligence to Hizbullah
-- will help release him. Yediot quoted Beirut sources as saying
that senior intelligence officers in several Arab states intend to
severely punish Israelis with dual citizenship who enter Arab
countries.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday the High Court of Justice gave the
Jewish National Fund (JNF) and Israel Lands Administration three
months to reach a comprehensive agreement to resolve discriminatory
policy in allocating land to Arabs.

Yediot quoted a senior Israeli defense official as saying on Monday
that Israel plans to establish a military academy.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday the Bank of Israel elected to leave
interest rates unchanged.

--------------------------------------------- ---
1. President Ahmadinejad at Columbia University:
--------------------------------------------- ---

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The average American is not familiar with
the regional complexities. He is tired of the region's fighting.
To him, Ahmadinejad's idea may sound tempting."

Eytan Gilboa, Professor of Political Science at Bar-Ilan University
and an expert on US politics, wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Ahmadinejad wanted to capitalize on his
visit to the UN General Assembly for an offensive on American public
opinion."

Columnist and Law Professor Amnon Rubinstein, who currently teaches
at Columbia University, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv:
"Experience proves that dictators do not know how to interpret the
signals that they hear in the democratic world that is alien to
them."

Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Much of [Ahmadinejad's]
audience was not only deluded and swayed by the big lies, but was
evidently unperturbed by some of the despicable truths he vouchsafed
as well."

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

I. "Israel Is the Big Loser"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/25): "The Iranian President's visit to
Columbia University in New York on Monday resulted in one clear
loser: Israel. In his speech, Ahmadinejad took aim at Israel. If
he managed to convince one person of his views on Israel and
Zionism, then he has already gained. If he managed to persuade 50,
then he has gained even more. For months, Israel worked fervently
to prevent what happened on the podium on Monday. For the duration
of his speech, Ahmadinejad produced a televised illusion: It is not
Iran versus the world, but Iran versus Israel. If he manages to
convince enough people of this, the mirage could become reality and
Israel would be isolated, and that is exactly what Ahmadinejad is
trying to accomplish.... The pro-Israel camp consoled itself with
the knowledge that those who are familiar with the regional
complexities, and with Tehran's antics, will surely realize the
absurdity of Ahmadinejad's proposal. But the average American is
not familiar with the regional complexities. He is tired of the
region's fighting. To him, Ahmadinejad's idea may sound tempting."

II. "Congruence of Interests"

Eytan Gilboa, Professor of Political Science at Bar-Ilan University
and an expert on US politics, wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/25): "Like any terrorist leader and
like his partner Hassan Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad combines violence
with propaganda very well. Ahmadinejad wanted to capitalize on his
visit to the UN General Assembly for an offensive on American public
opinion.... Columbia's interest in the publicized event and
AhmadinejadQs interest in gaining legitimacy coincided. Freedom of
speech has nothing to do with this disgraceful event, and it is very
unlikely that the innocent students of international relations at
Columbia will learn anything from it about morality and power in our
world today. We can hope that the heavy donors to Columbia, most of
whom are Jews, will react in a way that will cause the
publicity-hungry Bollinger to regret inviting the most fascist
leader that exists in the world today."

III. "The Columbia Disaster"

Columnist and Law Professor Amnon Rubinstein, who currently teaches
at Columbia University, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv
(9/25): "Freedom of speech -- an important and lofty principle of
all democratic regimes -- is usually debated in cases of censorship
or of oppression: a person, or a newspaper, writes something, and
someone else tries to shut them up.... Censorship and suppression
were greatly reduced by supreme courts in both [the United States
and Israel]. Everyone has freedom of speech, including serial
murderers. The question that comes up in this case, has nothing to
do with censorship or suppression, but of giving a university seal
of approval to opinions that have already been expressed and been
given world wide attention. The serial murderer has freedom of
speech, but he does not have the right to be a guest at Columbia
University. This is a matter for judgment, not for freedom of
speech, and the judgment of the university administration was
completely flawed. Why? Because experience proves that dictators
do not know how to interpret the signals that they hear in the
democratic world that is alien to them."

IV. "Big Lies and Pernicious Truths"

Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/25): "The President of
Iran, a nation disseminating a perverted Islamist ideology that
obligates the indiscriminate killing of non-believers, a country
directly encouraging the deaths of American soldiers right now in
Iraq, came to a prominent institute of American learning. Canny,
well-prepared, and sharp, he emerged, there should be no doubt, with
greater legitimacy than when he went in, and thus strengthened his
standing back home and his capacity to engineer more harm. But
perhaps saddest and most worrying of all much of his audience was
not only deluded and swayed by the big lies, but was evidently
unperturbed by some of the despicable truths he vouchsafed as
well."

------------
2. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "There are
still two months before the conference in Washington, and it is
important that this time is used to further the process in which the
conference is central, and to prepare for the next stages in the
negotiations for the solution of the conflict and the establishment
of a Palestinian state."

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

"Don't Be Petty or Stingy"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/25): "'As is
always the case with the Middle East, one should recognize that the
road ahead is one that is very difficult,' [Secretary of State
Condoleezza] Rice said on Sunday at the completion of the meeting of
the Quartet. While recognizing that this is indeed the case, and
assuming that Israel has a clear interest in the peace conference
taking place and succeeding, it is important that the government
make every attempt to bolster this diplomatic effort and avoid
actions that may undermine it.... Israel must show openness and
flexibility in the negotiations on the formulation of the
declaration of principles that will be presented at the
conference.... The professional atmosphere that has characterized
the Abbas-Olmert talks to date must also guide their aides.... It is
hard to see how tiny steps [by the government of Israel] will
advance the declared aim -- bolstering Abbas's standing among the
Palestinian public -- if these are not felt by the people in the
West Bank. There are still two months before the conference in
Washington, and it is important that this time is used to further
the process in which the conference is central, and to prepare for
the next stages in the negotiations for the solution of the conflict
and the establishment of a Palestinian state."

----------
3. Libya:
----------

Summary:
--------

Intelligence affairs correspondent Gad Shimron wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Despite his efforts and mostly his statements,
the Libyan ruler is unable to overcome the old and well-known
Qadhafi."

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

"The Return of the Qadhafi"

Intelligence affairs correspondent Gad Shimron wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (9/25): "For some years Muammar Qadhafi, Libya's
perennial leader, has been presenting himself as someone who wishes
to be reintegrated in the family of nations.... But, since the
1970s, Qadhafi has claimed sovereignty over the northern part of
Niger, saying this is Libyan territory. The Agadez province is
Niger's main source of income -- gold, oil in small quantities with
a good chance of finding new fields, and mostly rich uranium mines
producing 3,500 tons annually.... Yes, it is the same uranium that
was involved in the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.... Why has
Qadhafi now decided to take over the Agadez?.... Despite his efforts
and mostly his statements, the Libyan ruler is unable to overcome
the old and well-known Qadhafi."

JONES

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