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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2918/01 2821308
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091308Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3544
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 2820
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9514
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2918
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3619
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2851
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0873
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3581
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0445
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0916
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7495
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4942
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9850
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4001
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5946
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8088
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002918

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

The Jerusalem Post reported that Palestinian Authority Minister for
Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Husseini told the newspaper on Monday that
any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will require the
establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in all of East
Jerusalem. Yediot reported that Israeli and Palestinian
participants at Annapolis will declare to start negotiations over
Jerusalem. Leading media reported that Jerusalem's "holy basin" is
at the center of the debate between Israel and the Palestinians.
Various media quoted the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi that reported
an agreement between Olmert and Chairman Abbas that would give
Jordan control over parts of the Old City -- including the Temple
Mount -- as part of a peace agreement. On Monday Maariv reported
that a majority is emerging among cabinet members to divide
Jerusalem. The media stressed a plan by Strategic Affairs Minister
Avigdor Lieberman to give up some Arab neighborhoods.

Yediot presented the results of a Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute)
poll:
As part of a final status agreement with the Palestinians, should
Israel accept any compromise in Jerusalem?
Yes: 21%; No: 63%; Only after a referendum: 16%
As part of a final status agreement, should Israel transfer [control
of] Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to the Palestinians?
Yes: 20%; No: 68%; Only after a referendum: 11%; Undecided:
1%
If a final status agreement is reached, who should control the holy
sights, including the Temple Mount?
Israel Only: 61%; An International Body: 21%; Joint
Israeli-Palestinian Sovereignty: 16%; Jordan: 1%; Undecided: 1%
Do you believe the Olmert government has a mandate from the public
to reach a final status [agreement] in Jerusalem?
Yes: 10%; No: 7%; Only if there is an 80 Knesset member-majority:
52%; Only if there is a referendum: 22%; Undecided: 7%

All media quoted PM Ehud Olmert as saying on Monday at the opening
of the Knesset's winter session that he intends "to give impetus and
a chance to a substantive diplomatic process in cooperation with PA
President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas]." Olmert warned that Israel
will not find better partners than Abbas and PM Salam Fayyad. That
if they are allowed to fall, Hamas will take over the West Bank.
And if Israel gives up on the diplomatic process and sticks to the
status quo, as opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu proposes, it
will find itself in "a bloody demographic struggle steeped in
tears." Olmert was quoted as saying that there will be no Israeli
withdrawal before terror is eradicated in the West Bank. Netanyahu
was quoted as saying that that government is bringing Iranian terror
closer to Jerusalem.
Addressing the Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu factions, Netanyahu asked
them what they are doing in Olmert's coalition. Highlighting PM
Ehud Olmert's comments in his speech to the Knesset that the cabinet
ministers should be indulgent with Netanyahu's slip of the tongue
regarding the Israeli action in Syria in September, Maariv said that
Olmert indirectly confirmed the operation. The media reported that
Israeli President Shimon Peres condemned Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's "lie" that "Iran does not intend to produce a nuclear
bomb."

Ha'aretz reported that the IDF recently issued an order
expropriating over 1,100 dunams (around 272 acres) of land from four
Arab villages located between East Jerusalem and the West Bank
settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim. The land is slated to be used for a
new Palestinian road that would connect East Jerusalem with Jericho,
thus "freeing up" the E-1 area between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim
for Jewish development. Critics of the plan argue that development
of the E1 area would effectively divide the West Bank into two and
sever East Jerusalem from the West Bank.

All media (banners in Ha'aretz and Yediot) reported that the
Winograd Commission will issue its final report without conclusions
or recommendations against specific persons involved. By so doing,
the committee is trying to avoid having to issue warning letters to
individuals who may be harmed by its conclusions, and thus be able
to publish the report by the year's end. However, according to
Ha'aretz, this may not be enough to avoid legal wrangles.

The media reported that police will question PM Olmert today about
his role in the privatization of Bank Leumi -- Israel's second
largest bank -- with the goal of trying to determine whether he
altered the tender to help a friend. In 2005, when the tender was
issued, Olmert was finance minister. The interrogation may be
open-ended. Yediot quoted senior police officials as saying that
Olmert did not receive bribes.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post quoted senior IDF officers as saying
that there has been a sharp increase in the quantity of explosives,
including various types of rockets, smuggled into the Gaza Strip
from Egypt. On Sunday, a Grad Katyusha rocket fired from Gaza
landed near Netivot, a town out of reach of the shorter-range Qassam
rockets.

Israel Radio reported that Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister and
Shas leader Eli Yishai is slated to meet today in Cairo with Egypt's
President Hosni Mubarak and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. The
Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday Minister Eli Yishai urged
Olmert to suspend his talks with Chairman Abbas until the
Palestinians halt terrorism.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday police evacuated the illegal West
Bank outpost of Shvut Ami, which was set up last week and has since
been inhabited by dozens of right-wing activists.

Ha'aretz reported that Menachem Leibovitz, deputy chairman of the
Jewish National Fund (JNF), told the newspaper on Monday that most
of the JNF's leadership is against a law that would officially
sanction the leasing of its land to Jews only. Instead, the JNF has
proposed swapping its urban land for land in rural areas which could
then remain solely under Jewish control.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli and
Palestinian negotiation teams met for the first time in Jerusalem on
Monday to draft a joint statement for next month's international
meeting in Annapolis. Ha'aretz reported that a participant in the
talks told the newspaper" "This is only the beginning. It is hard to
tell if we are going in a positive or negative direction. Each side
presented its opening positions. We also spoke about technical
matters like the talks' location and agenda."

Maariv reported that some key Religious Zionist leaders and Rabbis
now favor a return of their flock to the fold over setting up new
outposts.

Leading media quoted Hizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan
Nasrallah as saying on Friday that Israel is behind a series of
murders of anti-Syrian politicians and journalists in Lebanon over
the past two years. However, Ha'aretz reported that the charge was
instantly rejected by many anti-Syria lawmakers.

The Jerusalem Post quoted President Peres's office as saying on
Monday that Peres sent a letter congratulating Gen. Pervez Musharraf
on his victory in Pakistan's presidential elections. Pakistan has
no formal relations with Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reported that visiting Turkish FM Ali Babacan
told the newspaper on Monday that the widespread perception in
Turkey is that US Jewish organizations have linked up with Armenian
groups to "defame" and "condemn" Turkey.

On Monday Maariv presented the results of a TNS/Teleseker poll
conducted last week:
-"Do you believe the claim that Yigal Amir is not behind Yitzhak
Rabin's murder?"
Yes: General public: 28%; religious public: 46%.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "With George W. Bush and Olmert
scraping the bottom of the barrel in the public opinion polls, and
Abu Mazen lacking his people's support, peace is not going to erupt
in Annapolis. But the importance of this summit is that it is held
at all. No one ever died from talking."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "[Prime Minister
Olmert] sincerely believes that the talks with Abu Mazen are the
lesser evil and the last chance to block Hamas.... He hopes to
reach the conference with a paper that they both agree on, full of
promises for the future -- but one that does not commit to
concessions in the present."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "If the
Arab world in general, and the Palestinians in particular, are not
ready to accept [Israel's right to self-determination], they are not
ready for peace. If they continue to meaninglessly repeat only
[Israel's right to exist], they are reserving the right to continue
to seek Israel's destruction."

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

I. "The Cat's Tail"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (10/9): "If peace breaks out
between the Israelis and Palestinians at the Annapolis summit, I'll
eat my hat.... On the eve of the summit, the problem is the feeble
leadership of Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). They look
more like two British gentlemen meeting for a drink at the club than
tough statesmen who can force the extremists in their camps to
accept peace based on mutual concessions and conciliation with the
enemy. I find it hard to imagine Abu Mazen putting his foot down in
Gaza, halting terror, dissolving the terrorist organizations and
ending the Qassam rocket fire. I find it hard to imagine Olmert,
under a cloud of criminal investigations, getting a quarter of a
million Greater Israel groupies to give up the territories and kiss
some of their settlements goodbye. In the cabinet, I don't see how
Olmert will get around Ehud Barak, who opposes the summit and calls
it 'hot air,' or Tzipi Livni and Avi Dichter, who are riddled with
doubt, or Shaul Mofaz, who says that 'Jerusalem is not a piece of
real estate.' These guys can't even tie a knot in a cat's tail,
[the late influential Israeli politician] Pinhas Sapir used to say
about politicians of the Olmert and Abu Mazen ilk. With George W.
Bush and Olmert scraping the bottom of the barrel in the public
opinion polls, and Abu Mazen lacking his people's support, peace is
not going to erupt in Annapolis. But the importance of this summit
is that it is held at all. No one ever died from talking."

II. "Lucky Guy"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (10/9): "This week the
[Israeli-Palestinian] teams will hold one meeting. Condoleezza Rice
will arrive on Sunday. The Palestinians will complain about
Israel's inflexibility. Then the talks will resume, until they
reach a big crisis just before the conference. Olmert and Abu Mazen
will have to meet. Rice will be called in from Washington. In the
end, everyone will go to Annapolis feeling that they were coerced.
So let them postpone the trip for a while. Another reason for
pessimism is the sheer number of Israelis stirring the Palestinian
pot, most of whom have good intentions, but whose stirring has
raised expectations on the Palestinian side to the sky. The most
prominent of them is Haim Ramon.... The Annapolis conference is
being pushed by Condoleezza Rice. She has a personal agenda: she
wants to show up her detractors, she wants to leave a mark, and her
recognition of the suffering of the Palestinian people. President
Bush is less enthusiastic. Olmert could have perhaps turned Rice
down in a talk with Bush, but did not want to. He sincerely
believes that the talks with Abu Mazen are the lesser evil, the last
chance to block Hamas from taking over the neighboring people. He
hopes to reach the conference with a paper that they both agree on,
full of promises for the future -- but one that does not commit to
concessions in the present. A paper that will make it possible for
him to continue to keep his government. And afterwards? For what
comes afterwards he needs [continued good luck]."

III. "Real Peace"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (10/9):
"We do not know what, if anything, will emerge from the planned
conference in Annapolis next month. We do know that success or
failure should not be measured by whether some document is produced,
but by whether the Palestinians show some sign of accepting exactly
what Abu Sitta [a prominent spokesman for Palestinian refugees]
fears: that peace with Israel means ending the campaign to destroy
Israel. This is why it has become so important for Israel that the
Arab side accept the Jewish people's right to renewing its national
self-determination in this land, not just Israel's de facto
existence. If the Arab world in general, and the Palestinians in
particular, are not ready to accept the former, they are not ready
for peace. If they continue to meaninglessly repeat only the
latter, they are reserving the right to continue to seek Israel's
destruction."

JONES

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