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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

VZCZCXYZ0008
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #3520/01 3481108
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141108Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4589
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 3143
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9809
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3308
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3915
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3162
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1273
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3896
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0750
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1220
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7790
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5257
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0171
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4304
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6247
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8618
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003520

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

Maariv reported that President Bush is expected to accept an
invitation by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik to visit Israel during the
state's 60th anniversary celebrations. The newspaper reported that
the Prime Minister's Office confirmed the visit, but added that it
does not yet have an official response.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that on Sunday the cabinet is
expected -- at Defense Minister Ehud Barak's request -- to maintain
the "state of emergency" status of Sderot and communities bordering
the Gaza Strip until the end of March because of continued Qassam
rocket fire. Under the order, the IDF is involved in managing the
communities targeted by Qassam rockets. Meanwhile, Sderot Mayor Eli
Moyal rescinded his resignation at Barak's request. Maariv reported
that as opposed to PM Ehud Olmert, Barak is in favor of protecting
Sderot's houses. Israel Radio reported that since Israel's
disengagement from Gaza, the Palestinians have launched over 3,500
rockets and shells at Israel -- half of then since Hamas's takeover
of Gaza. Maariv reported that contradicting professional advice in
the Defense Ministry, Barak has ordered his ministry to consider
again two interception systems -- one of which is being built by the
Rafael company. Barak's announcement comes after Israel Aerospace
Industries' decision to build its own system.

The Jerusalem Post quoted FM Tzipi Livni as saying during a meeting
with EU ambassadors in Tel Aviv on Thursday that the
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that began on Wednesday with mutual
distrust need to be divorced from "current events." Maariv reported
that Livni told the diplomats that Syria is exacerbating the
security situation along the border with Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on the eve of the donors conference
in Paris, which is expected to discuss ways of strengthening the
Palestinian Authority, PA officials admitted on Thursday that they
still have a long way to go in reforming their security forces -- a
key condition set by the international community for funding the
government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The Jerusalem Post also
reported that PA Civil Police commander Gen. Kamal al-Sheikh
revealed that 612 Fatah-affiliated policemen -- out of 13,000
policemen in the Gaza Strip -- helped Hamas take control of the Gaza
Strip last June.

Ha'aretz reported that Israeli and American officials involved in
the intelligence analysis of Iran's nuclear efforts will meet soon
to discuss their differing assessments. Ha'aretz said that Israel,
which was surprised by the National Intelligence Assessment, asked
for the meeting. Ha'aretz quoted defense establishment sources as
saying this week that Israel accepted 90 to 95 percent of the
intelligence material on which the American assessment was based,
including the assertion that Iran stopped the development of nuclear
weapons in 2003 but was continuing uranium enrichment and the
development of long-range weapons. Among the Israeli participants
in the talks will be experts at the level of department heads in IDF
Intelligence, the Mossad, the IAF, and the Atomic Energy Commission.
The U.S. intelligence community will be represented by
representatives from the CIA, Pentagon intelligence agencies, the
Department of Energy, and the National Intelligence Council
operating alongside the Director of National Intelligence. Makor
Rishon reported that Dr. Thomas Fingar, Chairman of the U.S.
National Intelligence Council, the author of the recent NIE report,
had written a report with opposite conclusions this summer.

The Jerusalem Post reported that speaking at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy on Thursday, European diplomats
promised "robust" action from the EU on Iran and said the EU will
introduce their own sanctions if the UN Security Council approves a
weak third resolution, despite the NIE report. Leading media
reported that on Thursday Russia and Iran agreed on a time line to
complete the construction of the nuclear reactor in Bushehr.

Israel Radio quoted Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian Ambassador to the
U.S., as saying that the U.S. administration has only a few months
left to advance Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Ha'aretz obtained a copy of the speech PA Chairman [President]
Mahmoud Abbas is expected to deliver at the donors conference in
Paris on Monday. Ha'aretz said that he will demand a complete halt
of Israeli construction in the territories. Major media reported
that on Thursday Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair,
Defense Minister Barak, and Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad, met to
discuss possible economic cooperation ahead of next week's
conference.

Maariv quoted the London-based Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat as saying that the
authority of Hizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has
been transferred to this Deputy, Naim Qassem. The Jerusalem Post
cited a Congressional report that North Korea might have helped
train and equip Hizbullah, improving its capabilities ahead of the
war.

Maariv reported that grave warnings by the Jordanian authorities
about possible assassinations of Israeli diplomats in Jordan have
almost completely crippled the activity of the Israeli Embassy in
Amman. The newspaper reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry
would not comment.

Citing Reuters, Ha'aretz quoted the International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC) as saying on Thursday that Israeli restrictions
have caused a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank that is
growing worse, leaving hospitals unable to treat the sick and
keeping farmers off their land. The ICRC called on Israel to "lift
the retaliatory measures which are paralyzing life in Gaza" and
urged Palestinian factions to stop targeting civilian areas and
putting lives at risk.

Ha'aretz reported that jailed Fatah/Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti
told the editor of Al Jazeera-TV's web site that Israel is not
serious in the negotiations. Barghouti cited construction in the
settlements and killing and arrests of Palestinians. Ha'aretz and
Makor Rishon quoted Barghouti as saying that Palestinian suffering
has worsened since Mahmoud Abbas came to power.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Palestinian Shipping Council
plans to file a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against "those
responsible" for causing the severe monetary damage that has
resulted from the loss of business brought on by the now
half-year-long closure of the Gaza Strip crossings.

Ha'aretz reported on British PM Gordon Brown's ambition to play an
active role in the Middle East. The newspaper reported that he
dispatched his close adviser, Secretary of State for International
Development Douglas Alexander, to the region with a 243-million
pound ($500 million) contribution destined for the Palestinians over
three years, in accordance with progress in the peace process.

Leading media reported that police have twice interrogated MK Said
Naffaa (National Democratic Assembly) over an unauthorized trip to
Syria.

Maariv reported that officers in the professional army are
increasingly leaving the IDF for reasons such as last year's Lebanon
War and civilian "temptations."

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that on Thursday Israel's Consulate
General in New York opened a page on the leading online social
network Facebook. Ha'aretz quoted David Saranga, the Consul for
Media and Public Affairs at the Consulate General, who initiated the
project, as saying: "It is meant to reach the younger population,
which according to our studies tends to view Israel as less relevant
to their lives." Saranga was quoted as saying that the Consulate's
page was the first any country in the world has launched on
Facebook.

Maariv reported that on Wednesday, ending a lengthy legal dispute,
Israel agreed to return "Sergey's Courtyard" (in West Jerusalem's
Russian Compound) to Russia. The newspaper reported that the Duke
of Edinburgh, a member of the Russian imperial family, might claim
ownership to the building.

Ha'aretz reported that a record 17,000 participants in the
Taglit-birthright israel program will land in Israel this winter in
the latest chance for Jews 18 to 26 years old to visit Israel on a
heavily subsidized educational trip.


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

Summary:
--------

Liberal columnist Doron Rosenblum wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "When it appears that Barak's policies ...
are improvised ... and when his party's electoral strength continues
to plummet in surveys, along with fragments of the party itself, the
result is the feeling of a vacuum."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "[Palestinian pollster Khalil] Shikaki has indicated that as
of today Hamas would lose elections by a large margin.... Israeli
security sources are starting to see this."
Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "The main problem that
[Mahmoud] Abbas and his lieutenants continue to face is not whether
the bulldozers are continuing to work in Har Homa, but the fact that
many Palestinians still don't see them as a better alternative to
Hamas."

Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in Maariv: "Why for God's
sake must youngsters with skullcaps realize Hamas's dream?"

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

I. "Our Mona Lisa"

Liberal columnist Doron Rosenblum wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/14): "If ... many Israelis sleep soundly
with [Ehud] Barak at the wheel, it is due more to the things that
they do not know he is doing than the things that they know he is
doing. Their hope is that, in the dark of night, he is conducting
the country's defense matters wisely, responsibly and intelligently
-- which is almost the opposite of the clumsy, crafty, bumbling
manner in which he conducts himself before the television cameras,
in his party and in Israeli politics in general.... When it appears
that Barak's policies (on the Supreme Court's status, Annapolis, the
settlers) are improvised, in accordance with the newspaper articles
he read that morning, and when his party's electoral strength
continues to plummet in surveys, along with fragments of the party
itself, the result is the feeling of a vacuum. Israel needs a
leadership that is more than the sum total of the 'eccentricities of
genius' (to quote Mr. Pickwick in Charles Dickens' 'The Pickwick
Papers,' when he hears that someone who devoured oysters then threw
the shells at one of his friends)."

II. "Barak's Nightmare"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (12/14): "The Annapolis process, of which the Palestinian
street is skeptical, is the key [to the fate of Palestinian
politics]. Should it fail, the Palestinian public would in large
numbers run to Hamas. Within a year, a galactic explosion can be
expected -- to the extent of Fatah disappearing, radical movements
taking over Palestinian society, and secularism and pragmatism being
obliterated. [Palestinian pollster Khalil] Shikaki has indicated
that as of today Hamas would lose elections by a large margin.
Currently, only 30% of Palestinians support suicide bombings, as
opposed to 70-80% in the past.... Israeli security sources are
starting to identify this. The pressure of sanctions on Gaza,
severe international isolation, and IDF activity.... The cabinet was
presented ... with data showing the weakening of Hamas. In the
present state of affairs, the IDF and Ehud Barak believe that some
patience is needed.... The time is not yet ripe."

III. "Under Pressure"

Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (12/14): "The main problem
that [Mahmoud] Abbas and his lieutenants continue to face is not
whether the bulldozers are continuing to work in Har Homa, but the
fact that many Palestinians still don't see them as a better
alternative to Hamas... In fact, the Palestinians look at the Mukata
'presidential' compound in Ramallah and continue to see the same old
faces of those who failed their people time and again over the past
15 years. The negotiators who came to Jerusalem on Wednesday are
the same figures that negotiated on behalf of the Palestinians at
Madrid, Oslo, Paris, Cairo, Wye River, Camp David, and, finally,
Annapolis. As far as many Palestinians are concerned, these
officials belong to an era of financial corruption, embezzlement,
and anarchy which they wish to forget. Perhaps that's the reason
why most Palestinians have no confidence in the peace talks that
were launched this week."

IV. "In the Service of Hamas"

Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in Maariv (12/14): "The
project to destroy the Jewish states won yet another achievement
this week -- a Chanukah miracle for Hamas.... True, these [new]
outposts are for show. But experience teaches us that outposts win
in this battle. Some will stay.... In fact, it is not the settlers
or the outposts that win. The victory is Hamas's. In stages ... 60
years after the UN resolution on the establishment of a Jewish
state, the operation to annihilate it is gathering speed. The
Jewish and Zionist camp in Israel is astounded by this idiocy. Why
for God's sake must youngsters with skullcaps realize Hamas's dream?
Don't say that you are following in the footsteps of the fouders
from the 1930s. You are taking the Jewish state from us. There is
no need to take away history, too."

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

Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "Can Iran yet be stopped, military or by
any other route? The thinking in Israel is still that, yes, it can,
but that the NIE's intervention means military action, if it proves
necessary, will only be possible further down what is a fairly short
road."

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

"The Year of Engagement"

Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (12/14): "[According to Brig. Gen. (res.)
Shlomo Brom, the former head of strategic planning in the IDF,] if
the U.S. intelligence assessment is accurate, then a military strike
on Iran would actually be more feasible than previously thought from
a purely military perspective, because the NIE minimizes the
likelihood of current covert facilities.... But equally, of course,
the sanguine NIE has rendered the likelihood of military action
thoroughly unfeasible from a political perspective -- and not just
for the U.S., but for Israel, too.... Can Iran yet be stopped,
military or by any other route? The thinking in Israel is still
that, yes, it can, but that the NIE's intervention means military
action, if it proves necessary, will only be possible further down
what is a fairly short road.... By [2009], according to [IDF Chief
of Staff] Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel's ability to act 'against various
threats' will be upgraded greatly -- with a strong emphasis,' as he
so resonantly put it this week, 'on long-range capability.'"

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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