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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #3454/01 3391115
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051115Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3107
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9775
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3265
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3881
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3128
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1223
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3856
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0714
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1184
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7756
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5217
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0134
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4270
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6209
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8550
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003454

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

Iran

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

Last night Channel 2-TV, followed by all media, reported that
President Bush is expected to make a two-day visit to Israel in
January. Maariv reported that the White House and PM Ehud Olmert's
office have confirmed the visit, but that they added that no exact
date for the visit has been set. Various media cited possible dates
ranging from the beginning through the middle of the month.
Ha'aretz and Yediot said that the visit will focus on advancing
Israeli-Palestinian talks.

All media highlighted President Bush's comment, following the
publication of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iranian
Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, that pressure can change Iran's
mind, but that Iran remains dangerous. Media quoted Israeli
officials as saying that their assessment of Iran's nuclear program
differed greatly from the U.S. report. Yediot reported that Israel
has shown the U.S. intelligence that contradicts the NIE. Yediot
reported on a severe disagreement between the top Israeli officials
who received the report and President Bush and Vice President
Cheney. However, Yediot cited denial of the incident by sources in
the Prime Minister's Office. Major media quoted PM Ehud Olmert as
saying that sanctions against Iran must be tightened. Ha'aretz
quoted PM Ehud Barak as saying that words do not stop missiles.
Maariv reported that Israel's main concern is the international
public atmosphere that the report will produce and the greater level
of difficulty that the continuation of the sanctions regime against
Iran will encounter. Leading media reported that FM Tzipi Livni has
initiated a worldwide diplomatic campaign aimed at tightening
sanctions against Iran. The Jerusalem Post quoted Strategic Affairs
Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying on Tuesday that the U.S. report
is irrelevant and will not affect decisions about how to handle
Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Maariv cited Israel's concern
that Iran has received assistance from North Korea. Yediot reported
that in a letter to his troops, IAF commander Eliezer Shkedy
compared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's utterances to
Hitler's.


Maariv cited a classified Israeli Foreign Ministry document stating
that President Bush is politically weak and unable to carry out a
military operation against Iran.

Leading media reported that this morning two or three Palestinians
were killed and two others were wounded in an IAF strike in the Gaza
Strip. The Jerusalem Post reported that on Tuesday the IDF denied
that a house on a western Negev kibbutz was hit accidentally during
an IAF helicopter attack on a Gaza training base overnight on
Monday.

The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz cited a Peace Now report released on
Tuesday, according to which only 3% of illegally constructed
buildings in West Bank settlements and unauthorized outposts have
been dismantled by the authorities.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Knesset has begun to discuss
extending temporary legislation granting the Shin Bet extensive
powers to investigate security suspects at the same time that the
High Court of Justice is holding hearings on whether this same
legislation contravenes human rights and should be cancelled.

Maariv reported on a thaw in relations between Olmert and Barak
after the Annapolis conference. The newspaper reported that the two
have apparently realized that maintaining the government coalition
is now crucial for both of them.

Ha'aretz reported that the registrar of non-profit organizations has
given the Elad organization, which purchases property in Arab East
Jerusalem for Jewish settlers, 21 days to reveal the identity of its
donors.

Yediot reported that an Israeli radio station -- Al-Masharkiyeh --
broadcasts to south Lebanese audiences.

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that visiting American
financier Michael Milken warned on Tuesday that Israel's $7 trillion
human capital market is in danger of rapidly depreciating should the
government not take the appropriate corrective steps to repair and
invest in the local education system.

The Jerusalem Post quoted visiting Cypriot FM Erato
Kozakou-Marcoullis as saying this week that Israelis investing in or
purchasing property in the Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus may be
engaging in an illegal transaction.

The Jerusalem Post printed a Jewish Telegraphic Agency newswire
report that Venezuela's Jews are relieved by President Hugo Chavez's
defeat in the country's constitutional referendum.

-----
Iran:
-----

Summary:
--------

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Those who wish to avoid a
nuclear Iran better heed those within the Islamic Republic who are
seeking to engage in dialogue."

Washington correspondent Orly Azolai wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: " A dialogue between the United States
and Iran will be good for America, perhaps for Israel too."

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "From a Jerusalem viewpoint, the message [the NIE
report] sends from Washington seems to be: If you're thinking of a
military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, Israel -- you're
on your own."


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

I. "No Military Strike? Then Start Talking"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/5): "The American
intelligence report that makes the option of a military strike
against Iran -- and possibly the next dose of sanctions- - less
likely to materialize gives us an important time-out to try a new
avenue vis-a-vis the Islamic Republic. That route would center on
diplomacy aimed at neutralizing Tehran's motivation to further
pursue the development of nuclear arms. For some time now, Iran has
held an internal debate -- which sometimes reaches the Iranian media
-- on how far Tehran can go in defying international pressure to
abandon its nuclear program.... The American interest in talks with
Iran stems from the fact that it was not only Tehran that was
pleased by the intelligence report. Russia, too, was no less
satisfied.... For the Americans, the trick now will be to find the
right leverage to open up a channel of negotiations -- which could
deprive Russia of its virtual monopoly on ties and influence on
Iran. Those who wish to avoid a nuclear Iran better heed those
within the Islamic Republic who are seeking to engage in dialogue --
especially in light of the assumption that Iran will continue its
efforts to obtain nuclear weapons."

II. "In America, There Are Already Calls for Talks with Tehran"

Washington correspondent Orly Azolai wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/5): "Bush may not have modified his
policy, but the reality around him has changed a lot since [the
publication of the NIE] report. At this juncture there is
absolutely no chance of Congress allowing him to go to war with
Iran. His ability to lead a move of sanctions is also fading away:
China and Russia will not agree; neither will Europe.... A dialogue
between the United States and Iran will be good for America, perhaps
for Israel too. Handshakes between Washington and Tehran are better
than American cruise missiles in the skies of Bushehr. This being
said, it is important to remember that over the past few years the
forecasts of U.S. intelligence have not been brilliant.... It has
become clear that the U.S. intelligence agencies did not really know
what was going on in Tehran: the report that was made public this
week is the opposite of the one that was presented two years ago."

III. "Reading Between the Lines of the New Iran Report"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (12/5): "The White House may have tried to keep [the
NIE] report from going public, as some pundits have suggested.
However, having claimed proudly to have forged at Annapolis a
coalition of Arab states in opposition to Iran and its radical
Islamist proxies, Bush and Rice might well be thinking that it might
be handy at this stage to have a reason to implicitly back down from
the military option that those 'moderate' Muslim allies so ardently
oppose. That's certainly what the NIE report conveniently provides,
even if that will not be publicly acknowledged by the
administration. What does the NIE analysis really tell us about
Iranian nuclear intentions and capabilities? That's anybody's
guess. But from a Jerusalem viewpoint, the message it sends from
Washington seems to be: If you're thinking of a military strike
against Iran's nuclear facilities, Israel -- you're on your own."

JONES

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