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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 121337Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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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
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PARIS ALSO FOR POL
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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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Ha'aretz reported that in a recent IDF Intelligence (MI) assessment
doubted the likelihood for success at the regional peace summit.
According to MI, the Palestinians are looking for immediate gains,
however in return they will either postpone or fail to carry out
their commitments, primarily in countering terrorist activity.
Political and defense sources who saw the MI assessment told
Ha'aretz Wednesday that analysts believe that PA Chairman Mahmoud
Abbas will not be able to assert control over the West Bank cities
if security responsibility is passed to his forces. Currently, the
IDF operates in Palestinian urban centers to counter terrorism,
while the Palestinians are assigned policing duties. Ha'aretz
further said that the report expresses concerns over the pressure
being applied by the PA on the US to push Israel for more goodwill
gestures ahead to the summit.

All media quoted Abbas as saying on Wednesday in an interview to a
Palestinian television station that the Palestinians want to
establish a state on 6,205 square kilometers of the West Bank, the
Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem. This marks the first time that
Abbas has referenced a specific number for the size of a future
Palestinian state. Abbas said that his demand for a full Israeli
withdrawal from the West Bank is backed by UN resolutions. Abbas
did leave the door open for border adjustments amounting to a land
swap. Yediot understood that Abbas's speech allowed for the
retention by Israel of areas such as Gush Etzion. (The Jerusalem
Post quoted top Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) as
saying on Wednesday that the Palestinians are ready to yield parts
of the West Bank and Jerusalem to Israel, if compensated with an
equal amount of territory.) The media reported that he reiterated
his demand that the problem of Palestinian refugees be solved and
that he intends to bring any permanent agreement to a referendum.
Leading media quoted Abbas as saying because of the scope of
participation by Arab countries in the Annapolis meeting, all
participants would pay a price for failure. Ha'aretz reported that
Abbas is scheduled to meet today with Assistant Secretary of State
for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch in preparation for next week's
visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Maariv reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered a halt
in construction inside the Gush Etzion, Ma'aleh Adumim, and Ariel
settlements. The newspaper said that the purpose of the move is to
pressure the settler leadership into removing unauthorized outposts

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday the central committee
of the Yisrael Beiteinu party made a "surprising" decision to make
"keeping Jerusalem Israel's undivided capital" one of its three red
lines ahead of the Annapolis meeting.

Israel Radio and Ha'aretz's Web site cited the London-based Al-Hayat
as saying, based on a French source, that Israel is convinced that
the two IDF soldiers abducted by Hizbullah in July 2006 are no
longer alive. The media reported that Israel calls this speculation
and says that the soldiers are assumed to be alive.

Israel Radio reported on an IDF incursion into Gaza today.
The radio reported that in Jenin Border Police killed an armed Fatah
activist who was reportedly preparing a terrorist attack. Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe reported that on August 25 Israeli security forces
arrested two Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militants who on the same day
helped two Gaza terrorists cross into Israel.

All media reported that on Wednesday State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss issued an interim order preventing the cabinet from
appointing a new accountant general to replace Yaron Zelekha. As
ombudsman, Lindenstrauss has the authority to grant protection to
officials who uncover corruption. Zelekha uncovered the Bank Leumi
affair involving PM Ehud Olmert.

Outgoing Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinsky was quoted as
saying in an interview with Yediot that the IDF will eventually have
to make an incursion into parts of Gaza and remain there for
months.

Israel Radio quoted a senior Israeli political source as saying that
Israel is disappointed by comments made on Wednesday by Russian
President Vladimir Putin in meetings with French President Nicolas
Sarkozy that he has seen no evidence indicating that Iran is
attempting to produce a nuclear weapons. However, major media
reported that later during the day Putin told a delegation of 11
European Jewry leaders that Iranian nuclear weapons are a "strategic
threat." Putin emphasized that nuclear weapons in Iranian hands was
also a strategic threat to Russia, even more than to other
countries. This is because the missiles Iran can launch can easily
reach Russia -- not other European countries or the US.

Leading media reported that on Wednesday the US House Foreign
Affairs Committee approved a measure calling the killings of
Armenians early in the 20th century genocide. The move was in
defiance of President Bush's attempt to persuade Congressional
members to reject it. Ha'aretz quoted Armenian Archbishop Aris
Shirvanian from Jerusalem as saying: "The Turks are not the only
ones who believe the way to Washington passes through Jerusalem. We
also know that this alliance is very important, and the day Israel
recognizes the Armenian genocide, the US administration will, too."
Ha'aretz said that the "almost mystical belief" that Israel and the
Jewish lobby have the power to sway votes on Capitol Hill is
sometimes reminiscent of the conspiracy theory in the style of the
protocols of the Elders of Zion, and that this is probably the one
thing the Turks and Armenians have in common in their historic war
over the recognition of the Armenian holocaust.

Yediot ran a feature about Israelis doing brisk business with Burma
(Myanmar).

Leading media cited a New York Times story that Secretary Rice
believes that the information that Israel passed on to the US
regarding the September 6 raid on Syria is not reliable, while Vice
President Dick Cheney claims that the information is credible.

Yediot and Maariv reported that on November 3-5 the Saban Center for
Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution will hold an
Israeli-Palestinian-American dialogue during its fourth annual
Mideast policy forum in Jerusalem and Amman.

Major media reported that on Wednesday the Security-Diplomatic
Cabinet decided to provide anti-missile protection to all Israeli
airliners.

Ha'aretz quoted the office of Defense Minister Barak that he does
not intend to interfere in the legal dispute over the final report
of the Winograd Commission. Barak does not intend to order the head
of the defense team at the IDF Advocate General (MAG), Colonel Orna
David, to rescind her letter to the commission. In her letter, she
asked the commission to verify reports that it does not intend to
issue warning letters to officers who may be personally affected by
the findings in its final report. In her letter, David warned that
unless such warning letters were issued and the right to respond
granted to the officers in question, MAG would petition the High
Court of Justice. Ha'aretz reported that Likud Knesset Member Yuval
Steinitz called on Barak to order David to "put an end to the
absurdity" in which the IDF is confronting a government committee of
investigation in the halls of the Supreme Court.

Ha'aretz cited a Reuters report quoting Hamas as saying on Wednesday
that it would hold reconciliation talks with Chairman Abbas's Fatah
faction. Hamas hinted it might be ready to give up control of the
Gaza Strip.

Geostrategist Arnon Soffer from the University of Haifa was quoted
as saying in an extensive interview with The Jerusalem Post that he
did not recommend that Israel kill Palestinians, but that he said
that Israel would have to kill them -- because of the pressure at
the border with Gaza.

Maariv reported that Ehud Barak has allowed a Palestinian youth
soccer team to leave Gaza for Jordan in order to participate in the
Asian Youth Championship.

The Jerusalem Post quoted officials as saying on Wednesday that
Israel has agreed to grant residency permits to thousands of
Palestinians who have been living illegally in the West Bank on
expired visitors' visas as a new confidence-building gesture to
Abbas. Ha'aretz, Maariv, and The Jerusalem Post reported that the
High Court of Justice decided on Wednesday in a precedent-setting
ruling that Israeli labor laws will be applied to Palestinians
working in West Bank settlements.

The Jerusalem Post reported on the activity of the
Arcobaleno-Rainbow Theater comprising young Arabs, Jews, Druze, and
Circassians from different communities in the Galilee.

Maariv reported that despite President Hugo Chavez's hostile
attitude to Israel, a Venezuelan TV network is broadcasting a
documentary series favorably depicting the history of Zionism.

Ha'aretz published the results of a Dialog poll conducted this
week:
Do you support the talks between PM Olmert and Chairman Abbas?
Yes: 51%; No: 42%; Undecided: 7%.
Should investigations against Olmert be frozen?
No: 64%; Yes: 28%; Undecided: 8%.

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

Summary:
--------

Dov Weisglass, top diplomatic adviser to former prime minister Ariel
Sharon, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot:
"True, the Roadmap was adopted and approved by the Palestinian
Legislative Council, but from the outset, the Palestinians found it
difficult to implement it, and are most likely happy to discover
that Israel is not seriously demanding its implementation."

Very liberal columnist Meron Benvenisti, deputy mayor of Jerusalem
from 1971 to 1978, wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz:
"The ruling Jewish community will continue, even when it becomes a
minority, to force [a] split on the Palestinians with the usual
means."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "There
is nothing that makes the threat of force more credible than its
use, so diplomats should be the first to congratulate Israel for
taking concrete action to back the objectives of Western
diplomacy."

Washington correspondent Hilary Leila Krieger and correspondent
Caleb Ben-David wrote in The Jerusalem Post: "The Israeli strike on
Syria last month has become a Rorschach test of sorts for Bush
administration policy makers."

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

I. "And Israel Is Silent"

Dov Weisglass, top diplomatic adviser to former prime minister Ariel
Sharon, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot
(10/11): "Ariel Sharon's government had two major diplomatic
achievements in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Roadmap
conditioned permanent status negotiations on the Palestinian
Authority preventing terror; and 2) President BushQs letter to Prime
Minister Sharon that states the United States' positions of not
demanding withdrawal to the 1967 borders, that the large Jewish
settlement blocs will remain in Israel's hands; and no return of
refugees to Israel but rather to the newly established Palestinian
state.... The public Palestinian position being pushed in advance of
the international conference, ignores this entirely. And Israel is
silent. True, the Roadmap was adopted and approved by the
Palestinian Legislative Council, but from the outset, the
Palestinians found it difficult to implement it, and are most likely
happy to discover that Israel is not seriously demanding its
implementation. And another thing to remember: The Roadmap ... is
a document accepted by all nations and received the validity of a UN
Security Council resolution. As for the President's letters: the
Palestinians never agreed to the US position, and in thQ case too,
the Palestinians were not sorry to discover that Israel was not
publicly demanding its implementation. The US has a central role in
any Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and because of its special
standing, only the US can bring the negotiating sides to an
agreement.... Of course it is impossible to know what is being said
in the secret channel of negotiations, but in this part of the
world, a great deal of weight -- sometimes decisive weight -- is
given, in fact, to public positions. The media creates expectations
on both sides and determines the sense of an achievement or of a
failure. Israel, therefore, must publicly and decisively use its
diplomatic assets, because if it does not, they will disappear. And
that must not happen."

II. "Splintering as a Strategy"

Very liberal columnist Meron Benvenisti, deputy mayor of Jerusalem
from 1971 to 1978, wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(10/11): "The ruling Jewish community will continue, even when it
becomes a minority, to force [a] split on the Palestinians with the
usual means -- the carrot and the stick, dictating the agenda,
threats, collective punishments and bribery. This will preserve and
even deepen the lack of coordination, the conflicting interests, and
the weakness of the splintered Palestinian communities..... Israeli
propaganda has no interest in stressing the achievements of this
split; on the contrary, Israel aims at erecting an 'existential
threat' scarecrow that portrays a monolithic adversary that relies
on the dark forces of 'Islamo-fascism'.... That is why this strategy
can succeed; attention is diverted to marginal issues such as the
Jewish National Fund and the 'division of Jerusalem,' and even those
who are informed and well-versed, are surprised when the
fragmentation is brought to their attention. It is not a Nelson
Mandela that the Palestinians need, but rather a Giuseppe Garibaldi,
who should rise from their midst and unite them."

III. "Force and Diplomacy"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (10/11):
"The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the still mysterious
Israeli strike in Syria last month has sparked a raging debate in
Washington's corridors of power. At the center is reported Israeli
intelligence that North Korea was helping Syria develop nuclear
weapons. 'The debate has fractured along now-familiar fault lines,
with Vice President Dick Cheney and conservative hawks in the
administration portraying the Israeli intelligence as credible and
arguing that it should cause the United States to reconsider its
diplomatic overtures to Syria and North Korea,' the report states.
'By contrast, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her allies
within the administration have said they do not believe that the
intelligence presented so far merits any change in the American
diplomatic approach'.... Using their whole brains, much of
Washington officialdom, it seems, quietly opposed the Israeli
strike, seeing it as a wrench thrown in the cogs of diplomacy. But
is it really so smart to see force and diplomacy as conflicting
alternatives? The terror-sponsoring states certainly do not..QDoes this mean the West should respond in kind? Of course not. But
it is no less absurd to argue that force, or even the threat of
force, has no place in Western policy.... There is nothing that
makes the threat of force more credible than its use, so diplomats
should be the first to congratulate Israel for taking concrete
action to back the objectives of Western diplomacy. Just as we need
to use all of our brains, in a world of serious and growing threats,
the West needs to employ all the tools at its disposable in a wise
and integrated manner."

IV. "As American Officials Argue over the Implications of the IDF
Strike in Syria, Israel Can Take Solace in its Ability to Go it
Alone"

Washington correspondent Hilary Leila Krieger and correspondent
Caleb Ben-David wrote in The Jerusalem Post (10/11): "The Israeli
strike on Syria last month has become a Rorschach test of sorts for
Bush administration policy makers, many of whom are viewing the
incident in relation to how they think the US should proceed on
diplomatic nonproliferation initiatives.... Bush administration
officials don't like to talk on the record about how the Israeli air
strike has factored into policy in North Korea, and Rice avoided the
Syrian incident when meeting with w group of Jewish leaders last
week, according to those familiar with the meeting. But it was
reported that [Assistant Secretary of State Chris] Hill brought up
the incident with the North Koreans. The State Department
officially reiterates the importance of nonproliferation as a goal
of the Six-Party talks."

JONES

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