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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Aftermath of Annapolis Conference

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Key stories in the media:
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All media led with the concluding ceremony at Annapolis on Tuesday,
in which President Bush read a joint statement by Israel and the PA,
in which they agreed to immediately launch peace negotiations in
order to reach an agreement by the end of 2008. Reading from the
statement, the President said: "We agreed to immediately launch good
faith, bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty
resolving all outstanding issues, including core issues, without
exception." According to the statement, Israel and the PA also
agreed to implement their commitments under the Roadmap. Ha'aretz
quoted sources in the Israeli delegation as saying that the
Palestinians had refused to sign the document until the last minute.
Ha'aretz reported that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas to "stop the games." Leading
media quoted Secretary Rice as saying on Tuesday that PM Ehud Olmert
and President Abbas will come to the White House today to officially
start the negotiations.

Banners: "Negotiations on Final Status to Get Underway in Two Weeks"
(Ha'aretz); "A New Beginning" (Yediot); "The Test Year" (Maariv);
"The Goal: A Peace Agreement in One Year" (The Jerusalem Post);
"Agreement at Annapolis: A Palestinian State by End of 2008 (Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe); " Annapolis: Israel and the Palestinians to Try to
Reach Full Agreement in a Year" (Hamodi'a); "Olmert: 'Reality
Created in 1967 Will Change Significantly; Israel Willing to Make a
Compromise Rife with Risks" (Yated Ne'eman); and "The Conference Is
Over. What's Next - the Peace Process?" (The Russian-language
Vesty); and the following Arabic-language websites: Arabs48
(affiliated with the Balad Party): "Annapolis Conference, the Last
Chance" and "I'm the Police... of the Middle East" (a pun on "Anna,"
"I am" in Arabic). Assennara: "Olmert Pledged to Do his Utmost to
Complete the Peace Agreement"; Al-Ittihad: "Annapolis Conference
Swings within American-Israeli Aggression Strategy"; and Ashams
Radio: "Moscow to Host the Next Meeting of the Middle East
Process."

Ha'aretz highlighted comments by President Bush: "With leaders of
courage and conviction on both sides, now is the time to seek the
peace that both sides desire" and President Abbas: "Our region
stands at a crossroad that separated two historical phases,
pre-Annapolis and post-Annapolis." In his address, Abbas called for
an end to the "occupation of all Palestinian lands since 1967,
including East Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan and occupied
Lebanese territory," as well as a solution to the Palestinian
refugee problem. "We need East Jerusalem to be our capital, and to
establish open relations with West Jerusalem," he continued, urging
respect for the holy places of all religions.

Various media quoted Olmert as saying that he did not come to
Annapolis to "settle historical accounts" for the conflict, adding
that he was aware of that Palestinians too have suffered greatly.
Olmert expressed hopes that the sides could resolve the refugee
issue, one of the toughest sticking points. "Israel will be part of
an international mechanism that will assist in finding a solution to
this problem," he said.

Among the participants of the conference were the foreign ministers
of most Arab states, including Saudi Arabia,. Maariv noted that the
Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., Adil al-Ahmad al-Jubayr, applauded PM
Olmert's speech. Israel Radio quoted Deputy Syrian FM Faisal Mekdad
as saying that Syria favors peace, but that ties with Israel will
only be possible when it fully withdraws to the 1967 borders.

Israel Radio reported that opposition leaders from the Right and
Left were critical of Annapolis: While Likud Chairman Binyamin
Netanyahu told the radio that more Israeli concessions will not
bring peace, Yahad-Meretz leader MK Yossi Beilin said that Olmert
had not gone far enough to compromise with the Palestinians. The
media quoted Avigdor Lieberman and Eli Yishai, the respective
leaders of Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas, as saying that the Annapolis
conference was pathetic, but that they would remain in the
government. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe and other media reported that the
Likud and other right-wing elements are increasing their call on
those parties to quit the government coalition.

Major media reported that Olmert will discuss the Iranian issue in
his meeting with President Bush today.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Gen. James Jones, the former
commander of NATO's military forces in Europe, is touted for chief
U.S. monitor of the Roadmap, as mandated by the joint statement.

Israel Radio quoted Israel's Ambassador to the U.S., Sallai Meridor,
as saying that the Arab states can do much more for the diplomatic
process.

Ha'aretz reported that FM Tzipi Livni told the Arab foreign
ministers at Annapolis that Israel is extending its hand in peace to
the entire Arab world.

Ha'aretz reported that on Tuesday one person was killed and dozens
wounded when Palestinian police opened fire on a demonstration in
Hebron against the Annapolis conference. Seven other Palestinians,
all armed, were killed in clashes with IDF soldiers in the Gaza
Strip.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that on Tuesday the High Court of
Justice ruled that the Winograd Commission does not have to include
comments about individuals in its final report on the government's
handling of the Second Lebanon War, not does it have to send warning
letters to those who may be harmed by its conclusions.

The Jerusalem Post reported that President Bush has met with
American-Jewish author Roy Neuberger, who divides his time between
New York and Jerusalem and has written "2020," a thriller about a
massive Islamic terror attack against the U.S. and the West.

Yediot reported that Nobel Peace Prizewinner and former U.S. Vice
President Al Gore will visit Israel next year.

Ha'aretz reported that the Netherlands' largest trade union has
shelved its plan to hold a Palestinian solidarity conference on
Thursday, the 60th anniversary of the UN vote on the Partition Plan.
The move, which ended concerns of a boycott against Israel, came
after the Histadrut Labor Federation insisted it be invited.

----------------------------------
Aftermath of Annapolis Conference:
----------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "As one might have
expected, the Americans overdid the festivities."

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The
[joint Israeli-Palestinian] declaration contains two elements that
will serve the Israeli right wing in attacks it is expected to make
on the Prime Minister [the comparison made between Palestinian and
Israeli terrorism and the rejection of Israel's position on the
timetable]."

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in Ha'aretz: "Whoever
heard [National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley] talk this week
about the long and arduous and boring road to building a Palestinian
state understood that Bush will not be 'Mr. Palestine.'"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Bush wanted to protect peace ... but did
not know that he was actually applying the ... protection to
Olmert."

Columnist and popular TV talk show host Yair Lapid wrote in Yediot
Aharonot: "In the Middle East, one should not declare successes too
soon, but neither should one hurry to announce failures."

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz: "If
Israel refuses to incorporate Gaza and include Hamas in the talks,
there is no chance of reaching a solution -- certainly not within a
year. In such a case, it will keep clinging to the Roadmap as a
shield against reaching a deal."

Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "If Intifada-style
terrorism rages afresh ... then the eloquence of the speakers and
the array of their supporters will count for nothing."

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote on page one of the
nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (11/28): "The joint
understanding, and President Bush's speech, expressed a complete
Israeli collapse on Tuesday."

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

I. "They Overdid It"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/28): "As one might
have expected, the Americans overdid the festivities. Someone
unfamiliar with Middle East affairs might have thought that
Tuesday's ceremony marked the signing of an eternal peace agreement,
not the beginning of the beginning of negotiations, under difficult
conditions.... President Bush spoke as a person who believes that
here in Annapolis, he created the infrastructure for a new coalition
against what is called in diplomatic language 'extremists,' and in
more concrete terms, Iran and fundamentalist movements in the Muslim
world. If he wished to inspire his Arab listeners with this talk,
it is doubtful whether he succeeded. There was little inspiration
in the room, only the chilly politeness of those who have a great
deal to say, but a clear interest in not saying it. Whatever the
conference at Annapolis brings, if at all, it is a great success for
U.S. diplomacy. The entire world, including the Arab world, came
under the aegis of America, like in the good old days (for the US)
of the early 1990s."

II. "Who's in Favor of Ending (Israeli) Terrorism?"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(11/28): "The [joint Israeli-Palestinian] declaration contains two
elements that will serve the Israeli right wing in attacks it is
expected to make on the Prime Minister. The first is the comparison
the declaration makes between 'terrorism and incitement that is
perpetrated by Palestinians or Israelis.' Translation: Olmert
agreed that Israel too is responsible for terrorism and incitement
against the Palestinians, and that America will decide in every case
who is inciting and who is a terrorist. No public relations spin
will be able to erase that. The comments Ariel Sharon's government
presented for the Roadmap specifically rejected the requirement that
Israel 'cease the violence and the incitement against the
Palestinians.' Now Israel has given up on its opposition and a
moral comparison has been established, which leaves Olmert with a
lot of explaining to do. The second problematic element, from
Israel's point of view, is the commitment to 'make every effort' to
complete the agreement by the end of 2008. On this matter, the
Palestinian demand for a timetable was accepted, and Israel's
position, which proposed to leave the timing unspecified, was
rejected."

III. "To Palestine via the Side Road"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in Ha'aretz (11/28): "A
source who knows both Bush and Rice described the difference between
them this week: Rice understands nothing at all about politics while
Bush understands mainly politics.... Bush has another year in office
and his National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley, this week met
with Jewish and Christian leaders from the concerned opposition and
even succeeded in calming their fears. He sounded to them sober and
without illusions. Annapolis is not a move but rather an attempt to
start a process, he said. He is quite cautious and he too, like
Abbas and perhaps also like Olmert, has the label of a dull
technocrat. He never starred like Rice on the covers of magazines
and never enjoyed the kind of public relations that she is used to
getting. But Hadley is a much more effective national security
adviser than Rice was. Whoever heard him talk this week about the
long and arduous and boring road to building a Palestinian state
understood that Bush will not be 'Mr. Palestine.' If Abbas can, let
him be."

IV. "Making Peace for the Cameras"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (11/28): "[On Tuesday President Bush] gave
the audience a victory look. Had he glanced to the left, Bush
would have seen Ehud Olmert, giving his own victory look at the
television cameras. Olmert is Tuesday's real winner. Bush wanted
to protect peace ... but did not know that he was actually applying
the ... protection to Olmert.... Almost everyone received what they
wanted at Annapolis. Each one spoke to his own audience. Bush
celebrated the last pose as world leader, just like in the past.
Abu Mazen returned to Ramallah without yielding, with the revival of
the Palestinian track."

V. "Cheap Pessimism"

Columnist and popular TV talk show host Yair Lapid wrote in Yediot
Aharonot (11/28): "It is no accident ... that the origin of the
phrase 'haste is from the devil' is from Arabic. In the Middle
East, one should not declare successes too soon, but neither should
one hurry to announce failures. This can be attested to by all
those who dismissed the chances of peace with Egypt and Jordan, as
well as those who prophesized that 'there will be no disengagement,'
and those who promised -- just on Tuesday -- that the Syrians would
not go because the Iranians would not permit them. We should not
make light of the sincerity of Olmert's and Abu Mazen's intentions.
They both mainly stand to lose from the process that was renewed on
Tuesday, and we should ask ourselves why they decided nonetheless to
commit to it before the entire world.... Pessimism, like cynicism,
is a wonderfully easy solution. It is also a conservative trait of
people who believe that only the reality that is familiar to them is
valid."

VI. "Bring in Hamas"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz
(11/28): "If Arab states -- headed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia --
manage to revive talks between Fatah and Hamas, Abbas would be
hard-pressed to reject Hamas, especially as Saudi Arabia has
strengthened his standing by attending Annapolis. Moreover, how
could Abbas hold negotiations with Israel while Gaza is running out
of fuel and its electricity is being reduced? Washington too should
find a way to redefine its insistence on 'disbanding terror
infrastructure,' a motto set in stone on the Roadmap -- a motto that
has so far thwarted the Roadmap's implementation. If Israel refuses
to incorporate Gaza and include Hamas in the talks, there is no
chance of reaching a solution -- certainly not within a year. In
such a case, it will keep clinging to the Roadmap as a shield
against reaching a deal."

VII. "Going for Broke"

Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (11/28): "The bottom line
of the process formally revived here at Annapolis is that it
represents a case of going for broke -- of seeking to achieve the
hitherto unattainable final peace agreement within barely a year,
before the Bush era is over, before the extremists have gathered
further strength. But though Olmert has agreed to sever the revived
diplomatic effort from the ever-present security concerns, it is the
reality on the ground that, as always, will determine the fate of
this new effort. If Intifada-style terrorism rages afresh, if Abbas
proves incapable of marshalling the strength to thwart it, and if
the wide Arab and international backing evidenced here is of
irrelevant practical effect, then the eloquence of the speakers and
the array of their supporters will count for nothing."

VIII. "Complete Israeli Collapse"

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote on page one of the
nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (11/28): "The joint
understanding, and President Bush's speech, expressed a complete
Israeli collapse on Tuesday, a withdrawal from all the principles
that had guided the government thus far on the way to Annapolis....
Olmert has backed down from the demand based on the Roadmap,
according to which the next stage of the agreement will only be
implemented after the Palestinians fight terror.... Olmert for the
first time adopted the Arab initiative -- which presents the
toughest Arab positions such as an uncompromising right of return
and a withdrawal from all of East Jerusalem -- by stating that he
'appreciates and respects it, and values its contribution.' Bush,
for the first time, talked about the Israeli 'occupation,' when he
said that the Israelis must show that they are willing to put an end
to the occupation that began in 1967. Bush did not mention the
letter to Sharon in which he agreed to recognize settlement blocs or
the reality that has changed since 1967. Bush did not mention any
issue in his speech that is of significance to Israel. For
instance, he did not mention the rocket fire."

MORENO

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