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Cablegate: Special Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #2994/01 2900636
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P 170636Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3657
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2891
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0940
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RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0486
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002994

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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
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

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: SPECIAL ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, October 14-18, 2007

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

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that today Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice will visit Bethlehem and meet with Israeli and
Palestinian figures, including PM Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas. Media reported that on Tuesday in Cairo
Secretary Rice did not rule out the possibility that the Annapolis

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meeting could be postponed. Ha'aretz quoted Rice as saying last
night at a dinner for 20 leading Israeli opinion-makers that the
time has come for an agreement between Israel and the PA and that
the joint document does not have to include dates for starting and
concluding the negotiations. The mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot reported that in her talks in Israel and Egypt, Secretary
Rice said that in the absence of progress in the diplomatic process,
Al Qaida would take over the territories. A headline in the
nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reads: "Rice Leaving
without a Date for the Conference."

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that the Pakistani Ambassador to the UN
told Israeli Ambassador Danny Gillerman that his country is
interested in participating in the Annapolis meeting. They quoted
Gillerman as saying that the Pakistani Ambassador expressed surprise
that his country has not been mentioned as a possibly invitee.

Ha'aretz reported that Tony Blair is proposing the creation of a
tripartite committee that would press for reforms in the Palestinian
security organizations and for improvements in the freedom of
movement in the West Bank. Blair calls his plan QThe Rapid Effect
Project,Q and he thinks that in the coming month or two, it will be
necessary to carry out a series of high-profile actions to show the
Palestinians that their lives will improve.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Ghazi Hamad, the spokesman of the
Palestinian government in Gaza, as saying that Hamas is willing to
negotiate with the "Israeli occupation."

Yediot reported that Syrian President may be trying to resume
contacts with Israel. In the lead story of a special late edition,
the newspaper quoted a report that an official Syrian representative
at the UN has admitted that Israel attacked a nuclear installation
in September.

Israel Radio reported that in their talks in Washington on Tuesday,
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates
agreed to set up a committee to look into establishing a ballistic
and short-range missile defense system in Israel. The radio also
reported that the two discussed the Arrow-2 defense system.

All media quoted Hizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
as saying on Tuesday that there was "positive progress" in
negotiations to swap captive IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and
Eldad Regev for Lebanese prisoners in Israel, leading to speculation
that the Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar would be freed. Nasrallah
was quoted as saying that he did not have anything to say that would
shed light on the fate of Israeli MIA Ron Arad's fate. The
Jerusalem Post reported that sources in the Prime Minister's Office
had no comment on Nasrallah's speech, saying only that "Israel
listens carefully when he speaks." The sources would also not
discuss the nature the nature of the information handed over to
Israel. Israel Radio quoted sources in Jerusalem as saying that
Israel will not give up on the failed second stage of a 2004
prisoner exchange between Israel and Hizbullah that included
Israel's expectation of receiving information on Arad. All media
quoted Germany's federal prosecutor as saying on Tuesday that two
men convicted of assassinating Iranian opposition figures in 1992
would be released, despite a plea by Arad's family.

Leading media reported that on Tuesday two Palestinians were killed
in a clash with IDF troops in Nablus.

The general tone in the Israeli media (in particular, Ha'aretz's
lead editorial) is that during his visit to Tehran on Tuesday,
Russian President Vladimir appeased Iran on the issue of its nuclear
program.

Yediot reported that during his last meeting with President Bush, PM
Olmert asked for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

-----------------------------------
Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, October 14-18, 2007:

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-----------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Like many before her, Rice failed by
demonstrating the arrogance of the mediator -- the absurd assumption
that all that is lacking in order to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict
is the charismatic presence of an experienced diplomat."

Liberal op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in Ha'aretz: "The
visiting Secretary of State may rightly doubt whether Olmert's
leadership abilities, and his ability to deliver the diplomatic
goods, are any better than those of Palestinian Authority Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas."

Former Ambassador to the US, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and
former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens wrote in Ha'aretz: "Olmert,
Livni, and Barak are about to take Israel for a ride, which will end
up costing Israel a great deal -- a ride to Annapolis."

Eran Shayson, the analyst team leader at the Re'ut Institute, a
non-partisan advisory organization to the Government of Israel,
wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv: "Israel must brace for a
failure of the talks.... As far as Israel is concerned, the goal of
the Annapolis conference should first and foremost be the
strengthening of the two-state principle as the foundation for the
diplomatic process."


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

I. "One Mistake in the Fall"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (10/17): "We can start from the end: It was a
mistake -- not necessarily the decision to convene an
Israeli-Palestinian peace summit in Annapolis or a 'meeting,' as the
Americans insist on calling the event, but the early announcement of
the planned timetable.... US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
made a mistake, and also tripped up President George W. Bush, when
she dragged him into accepting this timetable.... Like many before
her, Rice failed by demonstrating the arrogance of the mediator --
the absurd assumption that all that is lacking in order to solve the
Arab-Israeli conflict is the charismatic presence of an experienced
diplomat.... The US Secretary of State in recent years has moved
between too much interference in petty matters: On the one hand, as
in her decision to make the effort to achieve the 'crossings
agreement' in Gaza, which was never implemented; and a lack of
concentration regarding important core issues on the other, as in
her unrealistic agreement to enable Hamas to participate in the
Palestinian elections. In both cases she twisted Israel's arm, and
in both she was mistaken.... Pessimistic observers already believe
that it would be better to postpone [the fall meeting] to a more
propitious time, while the more optimistic are trying to propose
means of saving it from collapse. Therefore, as the tired joke
goes, the principle has already been laid down. Now all that
remains is to argue about the price that all the parties will pay
for this mistake."

I. "Leaving Annapolis Unscathed"

Liberal op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in Ha'aretz (10/17):
"Even if Olmert's tone is different in his meetings with the
Secretary of State, and even if Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni softens

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her position, the image Rice is getting is that of a recalcitrant
government that is not eager to avail itself of the international
summit next month to achieve peace with the Palestinians. Instead,
the impression is that this government merely aspires to emerge from
the summit unscathed; in other words, not to damage its relations
with the US.... In retrospect, the picture that emerges from the
meetings Rice had is one of division in the Israeli leadership,
which is similar to the instability of the Palestinian leadership.
The visiting Secretary of State may rightly doubt whether Olmert's
leadership abilities, and his ability to deliver the diplomatic
goods, are any better than those of Palestinian Authority Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas."

III. "No Free Ride"

Former Ambassador to the US, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and
former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens wrote in Ha'aretz (10/17):
"As is well known, there is no such thing as a free lunch. And
unlike what some people might believe, there are also no free rides.
Yet Olmert, Livni, and Barak are about to take Israel for a ride,
which will end up costing Israel a great deal -- a ride to
Annapolis.... How has Mahmoud Abbas suddenly become a 'partner for
peace?' The answer is, we made him into a partner for peace. The
withdrawal from Gush Katif brought Hamas to power, turned the Gaza
Strip into a hotbed of terrorism, and left Abbas without a mandate
to conduct Palestinian affairs. Now that Hamas has rid itself of
Abbas -- or in Olmert's upside-down world, Abbas has rid himself of
Hamas -- here comes the partner for peace. None other than Mahmoud
Abbas. Here is the law of unintended consequences, at least for
those who cannot see beyond their own nose. By unilaterally
uprooting the settlers in Gush Katif because 'there is no partner
for peace,' the Olmert government has with its own hands created a
partner for peace.... But there are no free rides. The Israeli
government's readiness to make these concessions will be firmly set
in the court of public opinion. It is not going to be easy
retracting those concessions. Of course, our Foreign Minister,
Tzipi Livni, believes that these concessions are for our own good.
It seems that we have hard this song before. Remember Gush Katif?
That was also supposed to be for our own good."

IV. "The Strategic Thereat of the Palestinian Authority Falling
Apart"

Eran Shayson, the analyst team leader at the Re'ut Institute, a
non-partisan advisory organization to the Government of Israel,
wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (10/17): "The failure of the
diplomatic process might spell the demise of the moderate
Palestinian camp and the principle of a historic compromise. The
combination of a potential Palestinian demand for one state, a basic
delegitimization of Israel, and continued tension between Israel and
its Arab citizens, might accelerate a reversal of positions among
leading states and institutions in the international community
vis-`-vis the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....
Israel must brace for a failure of the talks. Key principles of
such preparedness are the strengthening of the institutions of the
Palestinian Authority and ensuring the principle of separation
between Israel and the Palestinians through the use of unilateral or
agreed-upon steps. As far as Israel is concerned, the goal of the
Annapolis conference should first and foremost be the strengthening
of the two-state principle as the foundation for the diplomatic
process."

JONES

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