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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #3257/01 3131055
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091055Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4120
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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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 2983
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9662
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3135
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3767
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3011
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1087
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3734
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0601
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1066
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7643
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5096
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0016
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4157
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6095
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8389
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003257

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. Mideast

2. Iran

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

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel expects the US to formally
confirm the Annapolis meeting on Friday for the last week of
November. Major media suggested that President Bush would host the
opening evening on November 25, with two or three days of summit
talks to follow. The Jerusalem Post quoted a source in the Prime
Minister's Office as saying that Israel would respond positively to
the summit invitation, even though negotiations are still continuing
on a joint statement of principles. Media reported that these talks
are making progress and Palestinian negotiators have eased their
demands that the peace conference lay out a specific timetable for
statehood. The Jerusalem Post quoted Miri Eisin, PM Ehud Olmert's
spokeswoman, as saying, "Annapolis is not about the statement
itself, and completing the statement is not an imperative for the
conference." Ha'aretz reported that on Thursday Israel and the PA
agreed that any future agreement between them will be conditioned on
the implementation of the first stage of the road map.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel will be represented at
Annapolis by PM Ehud Olmert, FM Tzipi Livni, and a negotiating team
made up of officials from the Prime Minister's Office and the
Foreign and Defense ministries. Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas will head the Palestinian delegation, which will
include former Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala).

Maariv cited the Shin Bet's belief that the Palestinians might
soften their demands and content themselves with an Israeli
agreement to take in 100,000 refugees over the next decade. Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe reported that a classified Israeli intelligence
report claims that Abbas and the PA are unable to implement an
agreement with Israel, and that there is a total disconnect between
the Palestinians' leadership and their public.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor
Lieberman told the newspaper on Thursday that Egyptian and Saudi
intentions to begin or revive their nuclear programs present an
"apocalyptic scenario." Lieberman was also quoted as saying that
Pakistan was a major threat to Israel due to the political
instability there and the fact that the country has "missiles,
nuclear weapons and a proven capability." Ha'aretz reported that
during a meeting with PM Olmert on Thursday, Lieberman demanded that
he submit the outline of the Annapolis declaration to the cabinet
for approval before leaving for the meeting. Ha'aretz quoted
sources close to Lieberman as saying that Olmert promised to hold
such a cabinet discussion. They added that the PM has thus far
behaved decently toward Lieberman's party Yisrael Beiteinu and that
he has kept his promises. Ha'aretz reported that the Shas party
"says 'yes' to talks but 'no' to declarations."

Major media reported that on Thursday PM Olmert and Defense Minister
Ehud Barak held a private meeting to reach an understanding for
routine meetings between Olmert and senior defense officials.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Thursday Assistant Secretary of
State for Near Eastern affairs David Welch told the newspaper that
the United States' intention is to have a meeting at Annapolis
devoted to the Palestinian issue." The newspaper reported that
Welch ruled out that an "Annapolis II" was planned for Syria. On
Sunday IDF Radio quoted Defense Minister Barak as saying recently
in a closed forum that Israel should seriously consider opening
negotiations with Syria.

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that Israel's Ambassador to the UK, Zvi
Heifetz, is expected to serve as an informal adviser to Quartet
envoy Tony Blair after Heifetz's posting ends. Heifetz's stint in
London is due to end next week.

Yediot reported that less than 18 months after the Second Lebanon
War, Hizbullah has the 10th largest stockpile of rockets in the
world. Leading media quoted Hizbullah Secretary-General as saying
that the exercise his organization held this week was a "preparation
for the next war." The Jerusalem Post cited Israel's concern that
European countries might "downsize" from UNIFIL, as the
international troops are said to be busier protecting themselves
than tackling Hizbullah.

Israel Radio reported that responding to a petition by the group
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR), the High Court of Justice
asked the state why it will not allow severely ill Palestinians to
receive medical treatment in Israel. Justice Salim Joubran rejected
PHR's request to expedite the case.


Israel Radio reported that today women from Jordan and Israel will
meet along the border between the countries in an event called
"Women Build a Bridge of Peace" The radio said that the Israeli
delegation will comprise Jewish and Arab women, and that the
delegations will be headed by a Jordanian general and Israeli
Science, Culture, and Sport Minister Raleb Majadele.

Ha'aretz reported that Spain seeks to improve its ties with Israel
and end the crisis that has plagued bilateral relations since the
election of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in 2004. Ha'aretz quoted
Carles Casajuana, foreign and security policy adviser to Zapatero,
as saying on a visit to Israel that Spain is examining ways to
contribute to the Annapolis peace effort. "If Spain is asked to
contribute troops to the region -- as part of an Israeli-Palestinian
agreement -- undoubtedly it will respond positively," Casajuana was
quoted as saying.

Ha'aretz reported that Pensioner Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan is
seeking to reopen the 1952 reparations agreement between Israel and
Germany. He was quoted as saying that Israel sees Germany as
responsible for the Holocaust survivors.

Ha'aretz quoted Menachem Ben-Sasson, Chairman of the Knesset's
Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, as sayng that his committee
will soon begin discussing a shift from straight proportional
representation to a mixed system in which some Knesset members would
be elected from districts.

Leading media reported that Accountant-General Yaron Zelekha, the
whistleblower in the Bank Leumi affair in which PM Ehud Olmert is
allegedly involved, may soon resign.

Leading media quoted the Chairman of the Knesset's State Control
Committee, Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) as saying on
Thursday that he intended to ask State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss to examine the behavior of successive Israeli
governments in the Pollard affair. Jonathan Pollard was quoted as
saying in an interview with Yediot that he believes that senior
Israeli politicians want him to commit suicide.

Ha'aretz reported that senior Israeli banking officials and analysts
fear that the worsening of the world credit crunch and the continued
sub-prime crisis in the US will cost Bank Hapoalim, Israel's largest
bank, to lose hundreds of millions of shekels. (Thursday's exchange
rate for the US dollar was 3.927 shekels.)

Leading media reported that the Tax Authority investigators intend
to probe Yisrael Beiteinu MK Esterina Tartman over the alleged
affair involving her partner Uri Shmuel, who is suspected of selling
fuel originally meant for the PA without reporting to the Tax
Authority.

------------
1. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "More than a fight over these or other paragraphs, the
Annapolis conference will be an arena for the fight over Israel's
legitimacy."

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "No Israeli prime minister has
ever pretended that he could work out all the snags in our struggle
with the Palestinians. For now, there is no one to talk to, and
nothing to talk about."

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

I. "The Tip of the Iceberg"

Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (11/9): "In the world, there are those who try to continue to
nurture the enormous campaign of delegitimization [of Israel]. The
academic boycott in Great Britain is only the tip of the iceberg....
In other words, [this is about] the destruction of Israel.... Now we
have a golden opportunity. More than a fight over these or other
paragraphs, the Annapolis conference will be an arena for the fight
over Israel's legitimacy. Therefore, Israel must say yes. Yes to
ending the occupation. Yes to a Palestinian state. Yes to a just
solution to the refugee problem. The Palestinians already say no.
They have already made it clear that they oppose the formula of 'two
states for two peoples.' They are willing to have only 'two states'
-- in other words, one Palestinian state immediately, and another
one when the right of return is realized. Not the whole world is
against us. Most of the sane world supports a solution of two
states for two peoples. If and when the Palestinians agree to this,
it will be necessary to take into account all the correct claims of
the right wing, which do not belong to it alone: how to prevent
Iranization and how to prevent rockets being fired at Ben-Gurion
Airport and [central Israel]. But the Palestinians want to exempt
us from that discussion."

II. "A Journey to La-La Land"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/9): "With the same haste that
characterized his decision to embark on the Second Lebanon War,
Olmert declared at the Saban Forum that he is going to Annapolis
with no lesser goal than solving all the fundamental historic
problems of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- borders, refugees,
Jerusalem, the whole kit and caboodle -- maybe even before President
George W. Bush's term ends at the beginning of 2009.... Defense
Minister Ehud Barak has rightly warned of the dangers that lie ahead
in Annapolis and advised Olmert and other top ministers to look
before they leap.... No Israeli prime minister has ever pretended
that he could work out all the snags in our struggle with the
Palestinians. For now, there is no one to talk to, and nothing to
talk about. One after another, their leaders have turned out to be
bloodthirsty extremists or too weak to reach an agreement, of which
compromise is a central component. In the Palestinian camp, there
is a sense that they have nothing to lose, while Olmert will find
himself at Annapolis in a situation where he cannot say no to
Condoleezza Rice, who will be flexing all her muscles to bring home
at least one achievement, at our expense, before Bush leaves the
White House. At most, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
will quit and Hamas will grab the reins -- a scenario that is not so
far-fetched even without Annapolis. President Shimon Peres is on
the ball when he says that failure is not an alternative, but a
catastrophe."

---------
2. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote on page one of the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "Calculations involving Iran most
certainly factor in as Jerusalem shows a willingness to boldly move
ahead on the West Bank/Palestinian front."

The Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Germany has become a key
bottleneck in the sanctions campaign."

Editorial staff member Michalis Firillas wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Iran's nuclear program, and its president's
vitriol, are certainly cause for concern, but they may have served
to draw our attention away from a much more immediate danger -- in
Pakistan."

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


I. "Heading for Annapolis While Looking toward Tehran"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote on page one of the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (11/9): "Resolving the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that Israel can focus on countering
the growing threat posed by an increasingly powerful Iran has been a
general strategic principle going all the way back to the Oslo
Accords. But never before has it seemed more urgent..... The
conference is not ... simply a wedding being held on false pretenses
for other purposes; the Olmert government is sincere about trying to
move the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward. But
calculations involving Iran most certainly factor in as Jerusalem
shows a willingness to boldly move ahead on the West
Bank/Palestinian front -- as it prepares itself for a post-Annapolis
period that, on the Iranian and Gaza fronts, will certainly be no
honeymoon."

II. "The German Bottleneck"

The Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/9): "The sanctions train is not
moving fast enough to overtake and block Iran's nuclear train. At
the same time, despite US President George W. Bush's increasing
insistence that Iran must be stopped, there are no external signs
that he is trying, let alone succeeding, to overturn barely
concealed Pentagon and State Department opposition to such a move.
This leaves Israel.... Relying on Israel to take military action is
the worst possible scenario short of allowing the world's foremost
terrorist regime to go nuclear.... There is no excuse for the
failure of the sanctions track, regardless of the obstructionism of
China and Russia.... In this context, Germany has become a key
bottleneck in the sanctions campaign. While France and Britain are
pressing for tighter EU sanctions, Germany is hiding behind the UN,
where the Chinese and Russian vetoes prevail.... [Chancellor Angela
Merkel] must now have the courage to say to her public and the more
than 100 major German companies still trading with Iran: Tighter
sanctions are the only way to prevent war and the necessity of
military action."

III. "A Twin Nuclear Crisis in 2008?"

Editorial staff member Michalis Firillas wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/9): "Iran's nuclear program, and its
president's vitriol, are certainly cause for concern, but they may
have served to draw our attention away from a much more immediate
danger -- in Pakistan.... If Pakistan is in turmoil, starved for
funds, with power devolving into the hands of various groups,
including rogue elements in its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI) with known ties to Islamic extremists, nuclear proliferation
is likely. This could come in the form of off-the-shelf weapons
being sold to countries like Saudi Arabia, forced to turn nuclear by
an Iranian bomb, or with terrorists interested in acquiring small
quantities of fissile material for 'dirty bombs,' whose potential
targets are many. Indeed, according to the Foreign Policy survey,
three-quarters of the experts pointed to Pakistan as the country
'most likely to transfer nuclear technology to terrorists in the
next three to five years.' In spite of calls for elections, these
may prove to be too little too late to stem chaos in Pakistan --
which could include the loss of parts of the country to radical
armed groups. For Israel and the West, this means preparing to face
two nuclear crises in 2008."

JONES

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