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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #3051/01 2951012
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221012Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3766
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 2880
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9568
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3004
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3673
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2907
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0962
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3638
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0502
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0970
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7549
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4997
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9917
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4063
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6000
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8204
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003051

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

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

1. Iran


2. Mideast

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

The top story over the weekend was the alleged assassination plot
against PM Olmert in June. Reportedly, the plot which was broken up
by Shin Bet and PA security services, involved five Fatah linked
individuals who were planning to hit the Prime Minister's motorcade
during a visit to Jericho. The news broke on Sunday when Shin Bet
head Avraham Diskin told the cabinet that PA security services had
released several of those being held. The media quoted Internal
Security Minister Avi Dichter as saying that this is a "classic
example of the PA's policy of make believe." All media reported
that PM Ehud Olmert told reporters accompanying him on his trip to
Paris that "what is troubling is the inappropriate way that the
suspects were handled. We cannot let this go by, but I also do not
intend to stop the efforts at dialogue and the negotiations with the
Palestinians." Ha'aretz reported that it sent a correspondent to
the prisons where these individuals were held and verified that they
were re-arrested on Friday. The paper also questioned the
seriousness of the threat by saying that those involved lacked the
means and had not devised a plan, rather they were picked up after
conversations where the idea was raised were overhead by the Shin
Bet. Ha'aretz then questioned the motivation behind the timing and
mischaracterization of Dichter's announcement.

All media reported that today PM Olmert will meet with French
President Nicolas Sarkozy and that he will continue to Britain,
where he is scheduled to meet with PM Gordon Brown. The media
reported that Olmert will discuss efforts to block Iran's nuclear
program, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and other bilateral
issues. Maariv expects Sarkozy to tell Olmert that now is the time
to take risks and that France is not ruling out military action
against Iran. Leading media quoted Olmert as saying: "The meeting
at Annapolis is not meant to propose or produce solutions, but
rather to bolster a negotiations process that should lead to a
solution of two states living side by side in peace and security."


Ha'aretz reported that FM Tzipi Livni is calling for the creation of
a "negotiation administration" to handle ongoing work on core issues
after the Annapolis meeting.

The Jerusalem Post quoted sources in Ramallah as saying that the
Bush administration is pressuring Abbas to appoint senior Fatah
figure Muhammad Dahlan as his deputy. According to the sources,
Abbas has rejected the US demand, triggering a crisis with
Washington.

Major media quoted the Israel Antiquities Authority as saying on
Sunday that Israeli archaeologists overseeing a controversial dig on
the Temple Mount to replace electrical cables, stumbled upon a
sealed archaeological level dating back to the era of the First
Temple. But the Waqf (Islamic trust), which has de facto control
over the mount, denied that any discovery was made, or that Israeli
archaeologists were even supervising the work.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Sunday Vice President Dick
Cheney reiterated the Bush administration's insistence that Iran
would not be able to acquire nuclear bombs. The Jerusalem Post
quoted PM Olmert as saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin
assured him that Russia would not "put Israel in a place where it
could be threatened." Ha'aretz reported that during his visit to
the IMF, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On is trying to build an economic
front against Iran's nuclear program. On Sunday Maariv reported
that former US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross told the newspaper that
there were no discernible signs of an impending American strike on
Iran. Over the weekend major media quoted Gen. Mahmoud Chaharbaghi,
a top Revolutionary Guards Corps commander, as boasting that Iran is
capable of firing 11,000 rockets into enemy bases in the first
minute following an attack.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post cited ABC News as saying that Israel
obtained detailed photographs from inside an alleged Syrian nuclear
facility prior to carrying out an air strike on September 6.

All media reported that Israel received from Hizbullah a 21-year-old
letter sent by MIA Ron Arad to his wife Tami.

Ha'aretz reported that James Roche, a former Secretary of the USAF,
told the newspaper this week that if Israel and the US achieve an
interceptor that its 80 percent effective against ballistic threats,
they will be sufficiently prepared to deal with such threats. Roche
is visiting Israel for the first convention of the Israel Missile
Defense Association.

The Jerusalem Post cited a draft study by the mainstream, liberal
Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies that an Israeli pullout from
Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem as part of a peace accord with
the Palestinians without an agreement regarding the Old City and the
Temple Mount will not resolve the dispute over Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Post reported that NGOs have accused settlers and
security forces of increased violence against Palestinians in Hebron
since last spring.

The Jerusalem Post reported that NATO Deputy Secretary-General
Claudio Bisogniero arrived in Israel for a two-day visit on Sunday,
three weeks after taking up his new post.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post printed an AP wire report that David
Peleg and Khaled Ghazal, respectively the Israeli and Palestinian
ambassadors to Poland, visited the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death
camp complex together on Sunday in a rare joint act of reflection on
the Holocaust.

Over the weekend Yediot and The Jerusalem Post reported that Kadima
MK Majalli Whbee, a Druze who was close to former PM Ariel Sharon
and whom Sharon sent on numerous diplomatic missions in the Arab
world, will be appointed deputy FM next week.

Leading media reported that the far Right is disseminating a new
film demanding the release of Yitzhak Rabin's assassin Yigal Amir.

---------
1. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

Liberal op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "President Bush must have envisioned the War
of Gog and Magog when he gave Israel the status of the spark that
will ignite World War III.... But why place Israel in the center of
events?"

Arab affairs correspondent Jacky Hoogie wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Do Ehud Olmert, whose name is linked with the
Second Lebanon War, and George Bush, the architect of Iraqi
quagmire, have the moral authority to pull the entire Middle East
into an adventure that is even more dangerous than their previous
two put together?"

Daniel Levy, one of the main drafters of the Geneva initiative,
wrote in Ha'aretz: "A strategy of deterrence and containment
vis-a-vis a nuclear Iran is preferable to a military option, even
from an Israeli point of view."

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

I. "No Thanks, Mr. President"

Liberal op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (10/21): "President Bush must have envisioned
the War of Gog and Magog when he gave Israel the status of the spark
that will ignite World War III.... This makes me want to say to the
President: 'No thank you. Don't make Israel your chief concern.'
Iran under its current leadership is indeed a dangerous state, and
its efforts to attain nuclear weapons must be thwarted. But why
place Israel in the center of events?.... The head of the world's
greatest power should lead the effort to foil the Iranian threat,
and he seems to be taking this complex role upon himself so far.
Bush's efforts -- diplomatic and economic pressure as well as
increasingly explicit threats to employ military force against Iran
-- are the way to tackle the problem. Israel should be left outside
the picture.... These guidelines also apply to the Israeli
government: It should not take a prominent role in the international
efforts against Iran. It should also not believe and act as if the
nuclearization of Iran is intended against it primarily....
Sixty-two years after the horror engendered by the bombing of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it would be best to bring redemption closer
through other, earthly and controllable measures -- for example, by
striving to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians. This is a
measure that is likely to neutralize the Iranian bomb."

II. "The Iraqi Lesson"

Arab affairs correspondent Jacky Hoogie wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (10/21): "What is the source of this confidence
that an Iranian nuclear bomb is necessarily an existential threat to
the State of Israel and the free world?.... The United States
conducted itself with outrageous amateurism in Iraq. Only after the
fact did it become evident just how superficial its prior knowledge
of Iraq was. It ousted from power a ruler whose advantages
outweighed his disadvantages, and created a hothouse for terrorism
in the heart of the Arab world. Israel, its political, historical
and intelligence ally, failed to inform the US of its errors on time
and, as such, is party to the fiasco. Israel, which has a tremendous
amount of intimate knowledge about its neighbors, should have
pounded on the table. It should have told its naove friend that a
weak dictator was preferable over a weak democracy. But, then, just
as now, it was enamored by the sound of the war drums beating. The
citizens of the Middle East have learned their lesson. Before
another adventure is begun on our backs, we demand to have a look at
the dossier.... And there is also the personal question. Do Ehud
Olmert, whose name is linked with the Second Lebanon War, and George
Bush, the architect of Iraqi quagmire, have the moral authority to
pull the entire Middle East into an adventure that is even more
dangerous than their previous two put together?"

III. "A Green Light to the Americans"

Daniel Levy, one of the main drafters of the Geneva initiative,
wrote in Ha'aretz (10/22): "The lesson that Iran can learn from
events in recent years is that its membership in the axis of evil
with nuclear weapons means adequate conditions for negotiations
(North Korea); this is not the case in the absence of nuclear
weapons (Iraq).... An Israeli operation against Iran that will not
get a green light from America is not an option. In any case, such
an operation does not ensure success. However, its consequences --
responses by Iran and the Muslim world -- will almost undoubtedly be
destructive -- in particular to Israel. Thus, and with all the
difficulty to accept such a conclusion, a strategy of deterrence and
containment vis-a-vis a nuclear Iran is preferable to a military
option, even from an Israeli point of view.... Many experts have
advocated the diplomatic option. So have American think tanks and
politicians. But official Washington continues to demonstrate
skepticism. An Israeli green light could tilt the balance within
the administration. Any Israeli leader who seriously intends to
'stop Iran' must relegate to the dustbin the comparison with 1938
and provide quiet diplomatic advice to Uncle Sam."

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

Summary:
--------

Former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote in the

mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The only way of
wrenching Syria free from Iran's bear hug is to include it in the
regional peace plan."

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

"To Produce a Change of Heart in Damascus"

Former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (10/21): "An
Israeli-Arab peace agreement requires a comprehensive approach that
will lay the foundations for solving the conflict.... The peace
talks between Israel and the Palestinians, just like the American
veto against negotiations with Syria, indicate that we have reverted
to a 'Palestine first' approach. But the chances of this approach
being successful are depressingly meager. When the American sponsor
still refrains from committed mediation of the kind done by Clinton,
the parties are incapable of meeting even the minimal demands to
reach a final status arrangement. This failure will have dire
repercussions for the entire region. The Syria-Iran-Hamas-Hizbullah
axis will be bolstered in its opposition to Americanization in the
region. And when President Abu Mazen is humiliated and defeated,
the scenario of a third Intifada does not seem so delusional. That
is why it is crucial that Syria be removed from the circle of
war.... The only way of wrenching Syria free from Iran's bear hug is
to include it in the regional peace plan. But, regrettably,
precisely because of their isolation in the region and because of
the paranoid nature of the regime in Damascus, the Syrians are not
expected -- as the United States hopes will happen -- to abandon
their alliances and relations with terrorists as a precondition for
peace talks. A change of heart in Damascus will be the result of
negotiations, not a precondition to them. The idea that the
Israeli-Arab peace process is a choice between the Palestinian track
and the Syrian track has proven itself to be a dangerous mistake.
Neither of the parties, neither the Palestinians nor the Syrians,
will agree to be excluded from the process. It is not too late yet
to begin the peace process once again as a comprehensive, regional
initiative and to invite Syria to the Annapolis conference. In
addition to examining once again the state of Israeli-Palestinian
negotiations, the conference should also be a platform for the
Israeli-Syrian channel and a forum in which the parties will agree
on procedure and means of communication. The conference will not
mark the end of the Damascus-Tehran axis but it certainly might be
the beginning of a process in which that connection begins to
weaken."


JONES

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