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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #3491/01 3451135
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111135Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4530
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 3124
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9790
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3288
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3896
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3143
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1249
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3875
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0731
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1201
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7771
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5238
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0151
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4285
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6225
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8588
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003491

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 quoted senior diplomatic officials in Jerusalem
as saying that the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators who will meet
in Jerusalem on Wednesday to kick off final-status negotiations will
focus on process, procedure, and building a framework for the
bilateral talks aimed at reaching an agreement. The sources were
quoted as saying that nothing has yet been decided regarding the
framework for the talks, though they are expected to begin in
earnest following President Bush's planned visit in mid-January.

Media reported that the PA at first threatened to boycott the talks
if Israel did not cancel a tender -- and later recanted threats --
to build 307 housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har
Homa. Leading media reported that on Friday Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice criticized Israel for the construction plan.

Ha'aretz cited information obtained by the Foreign Ministry from
Russian sources in recent days, according to which the U.S. supports
holding a second peace conference in Moscow that would address
Israel's conflicts with Syria and Lebanon as well as the Palestinian
issue. Nevertheless, Ha'aretz quoted GOI sources in Jerusalem as
saying they have some doubts about the Russian claim, as they have
received contradictory reports from Washington. They added that
they expect the situation to become clearer at next week's meeting
of donor nations to the Palestinian Authority, as representatives of
the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers -- the U.S., EU, UN, and
Russia -- will meet on the sidelines to discuss whether to hold a
Moscow conference and if so, when and in what format. Ha'aretz
cited information received by the Foreign Ministry that that U.S.
supports a regional conference that would also deal with the Syrian
and Lebanese tracks. Ha'aretz reported that the conference would
probably take place in April 2008 and would be at the level of
foreign ministers.

The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz quoted Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad
as saying on Monday that that he hopes that next week's donors
conference to the PA will yield $5.6 billion to stoke the economy
and lay the basis for an independent state by 2011.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday PA officials in Ramallah
expressed outrage with Saudi Arabia for hosting a senior Hamas
delegation headed by Khaled Mashal.

Major media quoted Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for visiting U.S.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, as saying
on Monday that the intelligence estimate "made it clear that Iran
did have a nuclear weapons program and that they are still enriching
uranium." The Jerusalem Post reported that Mullen's remarks left
the IDF with a feeling the Israel does not stand alone in the face
of the Iranian nuclear threat, despite the recent NIE report.
Maariv reported that Mullen was briefed on the IAF's offensive
capability. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Mullen as saying that
friends do not have to agree on everything.

Leading media reported that on Monday in Paris French President
Nicholas Sarkozy told opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu that
the world must continue to press Iran over its nuclear program,
including via a new UN Security Council resolution imposing tougher
sanctions on Tehran. Yediot quoted senior sources in the entourage
of PM Ehud Olmert as saying on Monday that Israel has no information
that would contradict that Israeli assumption that Iran continues
its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Leading electronic media reported that three Palestinian gunmen,
members of Islamic Jihad's military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, were
killed in an Israeli air strike on Tuesday, after they opened fire
at IDF forces operating near the town of Khan Yunis in southern
Gaza. Two other IAF strikes left three Popular Resistance
Committees members critically injured and wounded four Palestinians,
according to local sources. The leading web site Ynet reported
that dozens of Israeli tanks and bulldozers have entered the Strip.
Ynet quoted the Israeli defense establishment as saying that this is
not the large-scale operation that has been bandied about in recent
weeks.

Ha'aretz reported that in late November Hamas's government in the
Gaza Strip tightened its grip on three important civilian
institutions: the court system, the municipality, and the Central
Palestinian Bureau of Statistics. Ha'aretz says that in taking
over these branches of governance, Hamas deepened the institutional
rift between its dominion and the Fatah-led West Bank, enhancing the
Strip's character as a separate entity.

Major media reported that two men convicted of the 1992
assassination of four Iranian opposition figures in a Berlin
restaurant have been released early from prison. The release of one
of the men, Kazem Darabi, an Iranian, had been previously tied to
information on missing IAF navigator Ron Arad.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday President Bush hosted
Jewish leaders, including Deputy Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, the spiritual leader of the Abayudaya Jews of
Uganda, who had suffered religious persecution, as part of White
House events commemorating Chanukah Bush condemned the "ideology
of hate" which he said the U.S. was fighting against, and told his
guests that freedom of worship is a key American value.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday the right-wing group
Human Rights in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza accused the state
authorities of "trampling" on the rights of West Bank settlers and
their supporters.

The Jerusalem Post quoted the International Monetary Fun as saying,
in a report released on Monday by the Finance Ministry, that Israel
must step up efforts to cut debt, reducing the economy's
vulnerability to "external shocks and preserving the government's
ability to fund welfare payments during an economic slowdown.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli and Palestinian doctors met
on Monday in East Jerusalem with World Health Organization officials
in the territories, but ended up being bogged down by politics
without agreeing on any concrete proposals. They had intended to
find practical solutions to the health problems of Gaza residents.

Hamodi'a reported that applying for a U.S. non-immigrant visa will
become more expensive, reaching $131. The $31 increase covers a
fingerprinting fee.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the American Embassy's Foreign
Commercial Service wants to double the number of Israelis studying
in the U.S. The Israeli Fulbright program and a subsidiary of the
Smile Internet Zahav web provider are associated with this program
and will launch a special on-line portal where young Israelis can
easily apply to hundreds of American institutions of higher
education.

Ha'aretz presented the results of Tel Aviv University's Peace Index
poll conducted among Jewish Israelis on December 3-4:

As in the past the main issues on which the public thinks the sides
will have trouble reaching a compromise are (in rank order)
Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees, although compared to
the late 1990s, less weight is now ascribed to Jerusalem and
considerably more is given to the refugee issue.
As in the past, the dominant view is that the Israeli government and
people are interested in peace -- 78 and 80 percent, respectively.
Surprisingly, though, now there is also a majority -- albeit a
small one -- that says the PA under President Mahmoud Abbas also
wants peace (55 percent). Regarding the desire for peace among the
Palestinian people in general, opinions are divided, with a very
slight lead on the positive side: 48 percent think the Palestinians
want peace, while 45 percent think they do not.
Notwithstanding all the events of recent years, a majority of the
Jewish public also views the Palestinians' demand for an independent
state as justified -- 62 percent (compared to 34.5 percent who see
it as unjustified). As in the past, there is also a majority - 58
percent -- that is sure or thinks Israel can permit the
establishment of an independent Palestinian state (32 percent think
or are sure it cannot, and the rest do not know).
However, despite the positive attitude toward the two-state solution
both in terms of justice and pragmatism, a large obstacle is the
widespread belief among the Jewish Israeli public that even if a
peace agreement is signed along these lines, it will not end the
conflict with the Palestinians. Whereas 61 percent hold this
pessimistic assessment, only 31 percent believe an agreement on two
states would end the conflict from the Palestinians' standpoint.
Furthermore, a large majority -- 71 percent -- believe it is
impossible to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians without
Hamas's consent, with only 21 percent claiming the opposite. The
pollsters said that given the perception of Abbas' weakness, it is
clear why this assessment also contributes to a lack of faith in the
feasibility of a peaceful solution.

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "In the face
of all [right-wing efforts], the government and a majority of the
public must respond clearly and confidently: 'Yes to concessions in
Jerusalem, as distinguished from conceding Jerusalem.'"

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

"Holy Stones, not Stumbling Blocks"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (12/11): "The
bargaining lines on the issues of borders and the refugees are
clear. So will the distribution of blame for the negotiations'
failure be, should Israel refuse to withdraw to the '67 lines and
the Palestinians refuse to accept financial compensation for the
refugees and settling them in their own state. Reaching
arrangements on these two core issues would leave only Jerusalem,
which was already debated at the Camp David conference held in the
summer of 2000. The peace objectors, or those who speak in favor of
peace but are unwilling to pay its price, are now forming a
fortified wall around Greater Jerusalem. If their plan succeeds,
they will convert the city of peace into an obstacle to peace. The
method is simple, having been tried and tested repeatedly on the
Israeli public, involving pulling out the slogan 'Peres/Barak/Olmert
will divide Jerusalem.' Right-wing politicians, with the financial
and political support of American rightist Jewish and Christian
groups, launch a preemptive attack. They intend to sway public
opinion, parts of the coalition that may support them, and the next
Knesset elections. In the face of all these, the government and a
majority of the public must respond clearly and confidently: 'Yes to
concessions in Jerusalem, as distinguished from conceding
Jerusalem.'"

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

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "If
Israel sees no urgency, why should any other country? This
impression needs to be corrected quickly, or the year ahead will be
marked by Iranian advances rather than by increasing pressure on the
world's most dangerous terrorist regime."

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in The Jerusalem Post: "Israel may
have to act for its survival, is the message [Chairman of Joint
Chiefs of Staff Mike] Mullen received Monday. One wonders though,
that even as he sat there politely listening to our concerns, what
he really wanted to say in response was: 'Tell it to the Marines.'"

Columnist Yoaz Hendel wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe: "If the recent [NIE] report illustrates a
'different' thinking in the CIA, Mullen's visit shows that as far as
he is concerned, common threats [to the U.S. and Israel] are real
and existent."

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

I. "Missing the Urgency"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/11):
"It is not possible ... to sound and turn off the alarm at the same
time. If the U.S. indeed wants sanctions to be intensified, it must
undo the self-inflicted damage it has caused to its own diplomacy.
It is not enough to say that Iran is 'still dangerous,' as Bush and
his team have been doing. Rather, the NIE's bizarre attempt to
distinguish between Iran's 'military' and 'civilian' nuclear program
must be effectively reversed.... [President Bush has implied that]
the Iranians' 'civilian' enrichment program is fundamentally
military in nature, and their race to build a bomb, therefore, does
not have to be 'resumed.' It is continuing right now. The Bush
administration, if it is to achieve its declared policy goal of
increasing pressure on Iran, must find a way to drive this point
home, as difficult as this has become after the NIE's twisted
analysis. Israel, for its part, needs to issue the equivalent of
its own NIE, in whatever form, restating the largely agreed-upon
facts: Iran has and continues to single-mindedly pursue nuclear
weapons and is doing so overtly and perhaps also covertly.... For
some time, Israel has tried to keep a somewhat low profile on the
Iranian issue, in the hopes that the world would act appropriately
on its own. This reticence may have been misinterpreted as a lack
of urgency on Israel's part. And if Israel sees no urgency, why
should any other country? This impression needs to be corrected
quickly, or the year ahead will be marked by Iranian advances rather
than by increasing pressure on the world's most dangerous terrorist
regime."

II. "Attack Iran? Tell It to the Marines"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in The Jerusalem Post (12/11): "Last
week, in a Time magazine article titled 'Why the Pentagon is happy
about the NIE,' Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, was among the US military heads cited as being relieved that
the release of the National Intelligence Estimate declaring that
Teheran is not now developing nuclear weapons had seemingly taken
the military option off the table. The reason is simple: With close
to 190,000 American troops now in Iraq and Afghanistan, US military
manpower is being stretched to the limit.... From Mullen's
perspective, the last thing he needs right now is a new [front] with
Iran. Sanctions and diplomacy, yes, but military action, no -- even
if Israel acts on its own, since Iran would likely respond elsewhere
in the region where American troops are in combat. And without
American consent and cooperation, it is very unlikely Israel would
be able to carry out any effective attack, certainly from the air,
on Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel may have to act for its
survival, is the message Mullen received Monday. One wonders
though, that even as he sat there politely listening to our
concerns, what he really wanted to say in response was: 'Tell it to
the Marines.'"


III. "Identity of Interests"

Columnist Yoaz Hendel wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe (12/11): "As one can remember, the invasion of Iraq
started following a detailed report from the American intelligence
agencies found that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass
destruction. The army that quickly conquered Iraq was unable to
find anything. Admiral Mullen's visit at this juncture, even if it
was planned in advance, shows that there is an identity of interests
between the U.S. Army and the IDF. If the recent [NIE] report
illustrates a 'different' thinking in the CIA, Mullen's visit shows
that as far as he is concerned, common threats are real and
existent."

JONES

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