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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #3187/01 3061302
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021302Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3998
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 2943
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9626
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3083
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3731
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2969
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1034
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3696
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0564
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1030
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7607
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5059
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9975
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4121
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6059
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8324
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003187

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

Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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Ha'aretz reported that over the past few days PM Ehud Olmert told
Israeli officials and foreign diplomats that he hopes to reach an
agreement on all the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
within a year. Ha'aretz quoted senior GOI officials as saying that
this time frame stemmed from the political timetable in the US. The
newspaper reported that in conversations with Israeli officials,
Olmert cited two reasons for wanting to reach an agreement with PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas before President Bush leaves
office. One is Bush's April 2004 letter to former PM Ariel Sharon
in which he expressed support for Israel's retention of the major
settlement blocs. The second is the Roadmap. Ha'aretz reported
that an Olmert associate quoted him as saying: "We'll never have a
more comfortable administration. And the next administration will
not be committed to these principles to the same degree." Moreover,
the associate was quoted as saying that Olmert does not believe that
a new president will have the time and energy at the outset to
invest in Israeli-Palestinian talks. However, Ha'aretz noted
Olmert's opposition to a rigid timetable for implementation.
Ha'aretz quoted Olmert associates as saying that the PM has
concluded that he and Abbas will have to be much more involved than
he had expected in order to produce a joint declaration for
Annapolis. He would reportedly prefer that the US not present its
own proposal, and he realizes if the parties do not seem to be
progressing on their own, US involvement will become increasingly
likely. Citing the impatience of the US administration, Maariv
reported that a senior US official told an Israeli counterpart on
Thursday that the joint Israeli-Palestinian document of
understandings should already have been prepared ahead of
Annapolis.

Ha'aretz quoted an Israeli official as saying that Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice "is simply going to park here until the
conference to ensure that things happen and to help formulate the
declaration." Ha'aretz quoted Olmert associates as saying that he
is pleased with the progress of his talks with Abbas, but worried by
the lack of progress on the ground. "So far, the Palestinians
haven't done anything," one associate quoted him as saying.
Nevertheless, Ha'aretz cited Olmert's belief that Abbas, despite his
weakness, is the last chance to prevent a Hamas takeover. Ha'aretz
quoted Olmert aides as saying that his main hope for Annapolis is
that it will mobilize Arab countries behind his talks with Abbas.
To end the conflict, he was quoted as telling associates, it is
essential that Arab countries stop aiding Hamas and support Abbas in
making necessary concessions.

Ha'aretz quoted PM Olmert as saying at a conference in Tel Aviv on
Thursday that he hoped that Annapolis would "create a suitable
atmosphere for continuing bilateral talks between Israel and the
Palestinians. I promise that for our part, we will make every
effort. For the first time, there's a Palestinian government that
says it's willing to make peace with us, and I'm not willing to miss
this opportunity." The premier acknowledged that final-status talks
will be difficult, "but I'm convinced that at the end of the day
we'll be able to reach an agreement. Then we'll need to implement
it according to the road map, cautiously ... in order not to lose
control of this delicate process, and to progress step by step to
full implementation." The first order of business, he declared, is
to stop the rocket fire from Gaza. "No country in the world would
tolerate this, and Israel also won't tolerate continued rocket fire
on a daily basis. The Palestinians will have to deal with this with
courage and determination. At the same time, we want to continue
the negotiations, with no excuses."

All media quoted IDF sources as saying that Israeli security forces
acting in and around the Gaza Strip over the past three days have
uncovered several tunnels that served Palestinian militants in
smuggling arms from Egypt. Altogether, 14 Qassam rockets fell on
Sderot and the surrounding area on Thursday.

Ha'aretz quoted Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad as saying on Thursday
that a Palestinian-American-Israeli commission on implementing the
first stage of the Roadmap will soon begin work, but Israeli
officials deny the report. According to Fayyad, the commission will
consist of himself, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and U.S. security
coordinator Keith Dayton. However, Ha'aretz quoted Israeli
officials as saying that while the creation of such a commission was
discussed during last week's visit by US National Security Advisor
Stephen Hadley, neither its composition nor its powers have been
finalized. According to Ha'aretz, Israel would apparently prefer
that the commission not have the power to make binding decisions on
who should do what first.
Maariv reported that one of the goals of PM Olmert's recent visit to
Moscow was to prevent the sale of S-300 missiles to Syria, which he
fears would endanger Israel's aerial supremacy. The newspaper
reported that the missiles might jeopardize air traffic at
Ben-Gurion Airport. Maariv noted that since 2001, reports have been
published that ostensibly indicate the great effort invested by
Syria in nuclear development.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Yair Ramati, Deputy CEO of Israel
Aerospace Industries and former head of the Arrow Project, as saying
that central Israel is not protected from missiles that could be
fired from the West Bank.

All media reported that on Thursday the Tel Aviv District Court
approved the holding of the brit milah (Jewish circumcision
ceremony) of the son of Yitzhak Rabin's assassin Yigal Amir on
Sunday, November 4, the civil-calendar anniversary of Rabin's
murder. The event will take place in the prison where Amir is
jailed.

Ha'aretz reported that an underground passage is being planned in
Jerusalem's Old City to link the reconstructed Ohel Yitzhak
synagogue in the Muslim Quarter with the Western Wall tunnels in the
Jewish Quarter. The passageway, which is being planned by the
Western Wall Heritage Foundation, will utilize existing spaces
created by archaeological excavations beneath the Muslim Quarter.
Ha'aretz reported that the Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel
Rabinowitz, told the newspaper that this would minimize the need for
new digging. The idea still needs approval from the government,
security services, and the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Yediot reported on tension between the bureaus of Olmert and Barak.

Major media marked the 90th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration,
in which the British government expressed its support for the
establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
The media also marked 60 years of the Exodus odyssey.

Ha'aretz, Maariv, and Israel Radio reported that hundreds (300,
according to the radio) of Palestinian police officers are expected
to deploy today in Nablus, following talks on Thursday on the issue
between Israel and the PA. Nonetheless, Israel has made it clear
that the IDF will continue to operate in the West Bank city when
needed and will retain overall security responsibility in the Nablus
area, while the police officers will focus on imposing law and
order. Ha'aretz reported that Israeli intelligence officials share
the pessimistic assessment of US security coordinator in the PA Lt.
Gen. Keith Dayton, and have told the political leadership that the
PA will be unable to exercise security control over West Bank cities
in the near future. The Jerusalem Post quoted sources in the
Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry as saying that scores of Fatah
policemen who used to serve in the PA security forces in the Gaza
Strip have now joined an al-Qaida-affiliated group calling itself
the Army of Islam.

Visiting German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier was quoted as saying in
an interview with Ha'aretz that he does not understand why Israel is
so concerned over the Iranian nuclear program. However, The
Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying during a news conference with FM
Tzipi Livni on Thursday that Germany is in sync on the issue with
other Western powers. Ha'aretz cited Steinmeier's optimism about
Annapolis.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a Coordinating Council on
Jerusalem, comprising conservative Jewish organizations, has
coalesced in the US with the purpose of opposing Israeli
negotiations that would include any discussion of ceding sovereignty
over part or all of Jerusalem.

Israel Radio reported that Lebanese forces are on alert following
reports that Israeli planes have flown over Lebanon in alleged
violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. Maariv reported
that over the past three months Hizbullah has been interfering with
the reception of Orange network cell phone signals by residents of
northern Israel.

Ha'aretz reported that foreign volunteers frequently have problems
with the Interior Ministry in obtaining volunteer visas. The
newspaper quoted the ministry as saying that it makes an effort to
ease the process in cases where the request has to do with
philanthropic organizations.

Ha'aretz reported that Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf will
visit Israel in two weeks, making her the first African leader to do
so in years.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Thursday the Israeli cable
provider HOT terminated its contract with CNN, despite having said
on Tuesday that it would continue to broadcast the international
news channel.

Maariv noted that Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dennis
Kucinich (Ohio) refused to condemn Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's statement that Israel should be wiped off the map and
that his opposition to Israel is so great that "it might deter
non-Jewish voters." Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that a new
Internet service introduced last week in Washington ---
www.overseasvotefoundation.org, [supported by the Pew Foundation
Trusts], -- is expected to ease and streamline absentee voting in US
elections for eligible voters living abroad.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "[The Annapolis meeting]
is not solely -- or even primarily -- about the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. It is also about American needs, and American interests
in the Middle East."

Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote in The Jerusalem Post: "Now
looms Annapolis, an unpopular and domestically discredited
administration's improbable effort to produce a rabbit out of the
Middle East that it had left discarded for most of its two terms."

Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote on page one
of the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The Palestinian
organizations responsible for the massive firing of Qassam rockets
and mortar rounds at Israel over the past few days may harbor
hostility toward one another, but they share a common goal: Dragging
Israel into a massive activity in the Gaza Strip."

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

I. "Israel Bound to Feel the Heat as US Strives for Success at
Annapolis"

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (11/2): "As [the Annapolis
meeting] approaches, Israelis should buck up for a degree of
pressure from Washington that has not been felt for a long time.
Because the Annapolis meeting is, on the surface, about the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and President George W. Bush's efforts
in his last year in office to put his two-state vision on track, it
is not solely -- or even primarily -- about the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. It is also about American needs, and American interests
in the Middle East.... Now, just two weeks prior to one of the dates
being bandied about for this meeting, November 26, it is still not
clear whether Saudi Arabia -- a key in making Annapolis a success
because of its unique standing in the Arab world -- will even
attend. Hence the pressure on Israel from Washington. The Bush
administration simply cannot afford another Mideast failure."

II. "Doubts over Annapolis"

Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote in The Jerusalem Post (11/2):
"Now looms Annapolis, an unpopular and domestically discredited
administration's improbable effort to produce a rabbit out of the
Middle East that it had left discarded for most of its two terms.
And amid the failures on Iraq and the inability to present more than
superficial rhetoric on Iran, the belated diplomatic push begs
another question not only for the doubting American public, but
also, most urgently for those of us directly and immediately
affected: Has the administration really though this one through,
either?"

III. "Blood Brothers"

Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote on page one
of the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/2): "The Palestinian
organizations responsible for the massive firing of Qassam rockets
and mortar rounds at Israel over the past few days may harbor
hostility toward one another, but they share a common goal: Dragging
Israel into a massive activity in the Gaza Strip. On Thursday, it
was the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades that fired a
heavy salvo of rockets at Sderot. But despite their affiliation,
the men who launched the rockets are not taking orders from Fatah
chief and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. They are a
group of militants embroiled in a protracted conflict with Hamas....
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades men want to place Hamas and Israel on
a collision course leading up to a large-scale Israeli incursion.
The men who fired the mortars on Thursday see this incursion as a
possible means of overthrowing Hamas's grasp on the Gaza Strip....
But before the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades fired rockets, Islamic
Jihad and Hamas fired rockets. They, too, are trying to provoke
Israel into launching an offensive, which would quash all hope for
the Annapolis peace summit scheduled to take place next month.
However, Hamas itself is divided with regard to the U.S. conference.
Some of the so-called moderate forces within the organization
maintain that Hamas should refrain from launching suicide attacks
within Israel or escalating hostilities near the Strip before the
conference. They argue that the meeting is doomed to fail either
way.... Hamas extremists believe Hamas should not wait for the
results of the summit -- it should instead cause it to fail."

JONES

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