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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #3536/01 3511124
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171124Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4615
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 3150
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9816
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3319
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3924
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3171
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1289
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3903
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0757
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1228
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7798
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5264
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0178
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4311
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6254
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8637
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003536

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. Iran

2. Mideast

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

Maariv quoted the Israeli defense establishment as saying that
Mossad Director Meir Dagan is not capable of convincing the
Americans about the seriousness of the Iranian nuclear threat. On
Sunday Maariv reported that an Israeli intelligence team has headed
to the U.S. for an in depth review of the National Intelligence
Estimate (NIE). Maariv reported that Israel will likely make
available to the U.S. new material which up till now has been held
back for "information security" reasons. All media reported that
on Saturday Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter blasted the NIE,
warning that the NIE is liable to bring about the regional
equivalent of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and that Israel would be one
of the victims. Today Ha'aretz and Maariv reported that PM Ehud
Olmert rebuked Dichter over his remarks. Dichter was also quoted as
saying that if Washington was wrong about Tehran, it could also be
wrong about Palestinian intentions. The Jerusalem Post reported
that Maj. Gen. Benny Ganz, the IDF's incoming military attache to
the U.S., told the newspaper that the world does not yet appreciate
the gravity of the Iranian threat.

Yediot reported that on Sunday PM Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud
Barak authorized the IDF to "upgrade" the list of Gaza targets in
response to Qassam rocket fire. All media reported that a
two-year-old toddler from Kibbutz Zikim in the Ashkelon area was
slightly wounded on Sunday in a rocket strike.

On Sunday Ha'aretz reported that a planned Israeli-Palestinian peace
gathering in Madrid "collapsed before even taking off."

The Jerusalem Post's web site and other media quoted Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice as saying on Sunday that militant
Palestinians, not Israel, are to blame for deteriorating conditions
in the sealed-off Gaza Strip, as the U.S. announced it intends to
donate about $550 million to the impoverished Palestinians this
year. The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli diplomatic officials as
saying on Sunday that Arab states participating in today's donor
conference in Paris are likely to pledge generous sums to the PA,
but that won't follow through on their pledges so as not to
antagonize Hamas. According to the officials, this was likely to be
especially true of Egypt. On Sunday Yediot reported that the
Palestinian government intends to ask the donor countries for $2
billion annually for the next three years. This sum is between
three and four times the annual amount that was transferred to the
PA following the Oslo Accords. Maariv and other media reported that
on Sunday FM Tzipi Livni told PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas
that there will be progress in the negotiations if the Palestinians
fight terror. Over the weekend all media reported on Saturday's
100,000-strong rally in Gaza, at which Hamas leaders vowed never to
recognize Israel.

Ha'aretz reported John Rood, Assistant Secretary of State for
International Security and Nonproliferation, arrived in Israel last
night for discussions on the NIE and sanctions against Iran.
Ha'aretz quoted Israeli officials as saying that they will give Rood
the most up-to-date intelligence Jerusalem has gathered on this
program, however, their outlook is gloomy. "There won't be a third
Security Council resolution against Iran before January, and even
then, it is likely to be watered down and toothless," an Israeli
official was quoted as saying.

Ha'aretz reported that the U.S. is examining the possibility of
helping Egypt build a physical barrier to foil the weapons-smuggling
tunnels that run from Sinai to Gaza. According to Ha'aretz, the
Americans plan to send a delegation of officers from the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and engineers from the Department of Defense to
the Sinai in the near future for a feasibility study. The
recommendation to send the delegation came from two senior
administration officials who visited Israel and Egypt a few weeks
ago to investigate Israel's claim that the Egyptians were not doing
enough to stop weapons-smuggling into Gaza.

Ha'aretz reported that the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has
been instructed by the cabinet to continue its work at the Mugrabi
walkway near the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The cabinet recently
instructed the IAA to complete the work "as soon as possible, with
full transparency and with the cooperation of the relevant bodies."
Excavations at the site were halted in June after they raised an
international protest.

Ha'aretz cited an advertisement published in the Palestinian
newspaper Al-Quds last week as saying that the GOI has decided
Palestinians who have been "annexed" to Jerusalem by the separation
fence will receive neither permanent nor temporary Israeli
residency. Instead, they will receive residency permits from the
military authorities -- which confer no right to work, to health
insurance or to any other benefit of legal residency. The
Association for Civil Rights in Israel accused the government of
trying to force the Palestinians to leave the city.

Major media cited an Islamic Jihad site, Falastin Al-Yawm, quoting
an eyewitness to the abduction of Gilad Shalit that he was weak and
wounded at the time.

Leading media reported that on Sunday Yossi Beilin, the Chairman of
Meretz-Yahad, left the race for leadership of his party. Yediot
reported that MK Haim Oron is the leading candidate in the race.
Maariv reported that Beilin is promoting an initiative to achieve
peace within a year.

Sheikh Abdullah Nimr Darwish, the founder of Israel's Islamic
Movement, was quoted as saying in an interview with The Jerusalem
Post that Israeli Arabs will never agree to do national service for
the state because it would call into question their loyalty to the
Palestinian cause.

Ha'aretz reported that American real estate mogul Bob Stark is
heading an investor group that plans to invest $3-4 billion in a new
university town in the Safed area that will include a medical school
affiliated with Bar-Ilan University. The town is slated as well to
have housing, shopping centers and cultural institutions, Stark told
Ha'aretz on Sunday. The medical school is to be funded by a
donation of some $500 million, to be provided by Stark and others,
which would make such a project the first instance in Israeli
academia of a donation being made as part of a business enterprise.

Maariv noted that the "Maof" share index on the Tel Aviv stock
market has dropped by 3.2% following the published of consumer price
indexes in the U.S. and Israel over the weekend. The media reported
on a continued rise of the US dollar as compared to the shekel (on
Sunday, a dollar was worth 3.971 shekels)

Major media reported that three Tel Aviv University academics have
been named by Scientific American on the magazine's list of the past
year's greatest advancements in science. Professor Eshel Ben-Jacob
and Dr. Itay Baruchi created a new type of organic memory chip and
Professor Beka Solomon was honored for her research in treating
Parkinson's disease

Donatella Rovera, chief researcher for Amnesty International on
Israel and the Palestinians, was quoted as saying on Sunday in an
interview with The Jerusalem Post that the Annapolis conference
failed to address human rights issues on both sides in the
Israeli-Palestinian dispute, just as previous initiatives including
Oslo failed before it. The Jerusalem Post reported that "in a rare
public statement," the International Committee of the Red Cross
warned that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are facing a
"worsening humanitarian crisis as a result of the drastic
deterioration of the situation there."

On Sunday Maariv reported that the Separation Fence Administration
was disbanded in the course of the past number of weeks and that its
director has ended his term.

The Jerusalem Post cited AP quoting that Abu Ghazal, head of the
Knights of the Night group, loosely associated with Fatah, as saying
that he is calling off attacks on Israel and taking his group
underground, after Israel refused to grant his gang amnesty.

The Jerusalem Post reported from Washington that on Saturday the
Union for Reform Judaism, America's largest Jewish movement, and the
Islamic Society of North America, unveiled an interfaith dialogue
curriculum and are urging their hundreds of thousands of members to
use it. Both sides say it is the broadest Jewish-Muslim interfaith
effort in the continent's history.

Maariv reported that Defense Ministry Barak has okayed the creation
of a second cellular phone network in the Palestinian territories.

Maariv reported that a group of Labor Party veterans, which does not
believe that Ehud Barak has changed and is identified with the late
Yitzhak Rabin's line, has threatened to join the Likud.

Leading media reported that on Monday an interministerial committee
decided that the president of Israel will not be able to pardon or
reduce the sentence a person who assassinated a prime minister. The
Knesset must pass a bill to this effect.

Leading media reported that Israel will sign a free-trade agreement
today with Mercosur, the South American free trade union that
includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and a "country
outside of Latin America." The treaty has been in the works for a
decade.
---------
1. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/17):
"Bush ... can forget about the Annapolis process getting anywhere if
the U.S. is perceived to be easing the pressure on the Iran."

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "With
all due respect to the United States, Israel must determine its
defense policy independently -- and listen to Dichter."

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

I. "On His Way to Israel"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/17):
"Bush ... can forget about the Annapolis process getting anywhere if
the U.S. is perceived to be easing the pressure on the Iran.... A
high-profile, top-level U.S. push for European sanctions on Iran
could correct these impressions, demonstrate that an Iranian bomb is
not inevitable, and help convince the Arab world not to run away
from the American 'weak horse' and towards accommodation with Iran.
As much as Israelis are always happy to see an American president,
it is only in the context of a renewed sanctions push that Bush's
visit would make policy sense. "

II. "An Alternative to Olmert's Perception"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized
(12/17): "In light of past experience, Minister Dichter's warning
[about the NIE's report] cannot be ignored. He urged us ... to
learn the lessons of the past. The conclusion that should be drawn
is that Israel should lead its defense policy from a purely ...
Israeli point of view. With all due respect to the United States,
Israel must determine its defense policy independently -- and listen
to Dichter."

------------
2. Mideast:
------------
Summary:
--------

Security and intelligence affairs commentator Amit Cohen wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv: "One way or another, Hamas is here to
stay, and to stay in power."

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "It seems that Washington has understood only
the gravity of the threat [of smuggling tunnels] -- not what is
needed to cope with it."

Columnist and former IDF Intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit wrote in
Maariv: "As opposed to Professor [Bernard] Lewis, I support
negotiations and the achievement of a diplomatic agreement."

Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote in Ha'aretz:
"It is difficult to see how [Salam] Fayyad plans to implement
hundreds of millions of dollars in economic projects without Hamas's
agreement."

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

I. "Here to Stay"

Security and intelligence affairs commentator Amit Cohen wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv (12/16): "More than anything Hamas
would like us to visit, so that we would see Gaza under its rule --
order in the streets, the cleanliness, the [absence of] the vendor
stalls that have been removed from the roadsides. Ironically, this
extremist organization, which prides itself on its isolationism,
behaves as though it is longing for attention from Israel, perhaps
even for a pat on the shoulder. They want us to see; it's not that
they believe in reconciliation. They genuinely believe that they
faithfully represent the interests of their people, and that is what
they want us to understand.... One way or another, Hamas is here to
stay, and to stay in power. Twenty years have passed since that
secret, nocturnal meeting at the home of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin [when

SIPDIS
Hamas was founded]. The people who started that phenomenon now
called Hamas numbered only seven. Four of them are still alive.
'We did not plan to come to power but we always knew it would
happen,' one of the seven founders said. 'We knew that victory
would come, sooner or later. Islam is the future.'"

II. "They Still Don't Get It"

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/17): "The U.S. administration's
willingness to talk with the Egyptians about ideas for halting
weapons smuggling across the Gaza-Egypt border reflects Washington's
belated recognition of the severity of the problem. Even the United
States now understands that the smuggling industry -- and especially
its contribution to Hamas's military build-up in Gaza -- is liable
to result in an Israeli invasion of Gaza, thereby further
undermining the regional situation. But based on the reported
American recommendations, it seems that Washington has understood
only the gravity of the threat -- not what is needed to cope with
it.... What the U.S. apparently refuses to understand is that the
first requirement for any solution to the problem must be
substantive, not technical: As long as Cairo does not view the war
on weapons smuggling as a genuine Egyptian interest, no real
progress will occur."

III. "The Bone of Contention"

Columnist and former IDF Intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit wrote in
Maariv (12/17): "Professor Bernard Lewis, one of the greatest Middle
East scholars, published an article on the eve of the Annapolis
conference.... Lewis believes that there is no chance nor reason for
negotiations and an agreement, if the bone of contention is not
Israel's borders but its very existence.... Lewis concludes that as
long as the Arab stance has not changed, there is no point to Israel
engaging in the diplomatic process.... I share Professor Lewis'
pessimistic, even realistic assessment, but I have reservations
about his conclusion.... As opposed to Professor Lewis, I support
negotiations and the achievement of a diplomatic agreement. As long
as a [protracted hudna, i.e. lull] goes on and the Arab attitude
doesn't change, Israel will be at war.... [But I can sum up my
position thus:] Yes to an agreement, yes to a process that will
turn a hudna into a new reality."

IV. "Fayyad's Alibi"
Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote in Ha'aretz
(12/17): "[Palestinian Prime Minister Salam] Fayyad is an exception
in Palestinian politics: He belongs to neither Fatah nor Hamas,
having helped found the Third Way party, and unlike most Palestinian
leaders, Fayyad does not blame 'the occupation' for everything....
In Nablus he wrought significant change on the ground, making the
city secure again. As a result, both the United States and Israel
see him as 'the great hope.' Nonetheless, it is difficult to see
how Fayyad plans to implement hundreds of millions of dollars in
economic projects without Hamas's agreement. He has also neglected
to mention that the Israeli blockade of Gaza is continuing in part
due to the pressure the PA is exerting on Israel to do so. Some
Fatah officials argue that Fayyad has been trying to signal to Hamas
in anticipation of the possibility that Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas will go back to negotiating with them. Such a
scenario may be part of Fayyad's calculations, but Fatah complaints
appear to stem primarily from the fear that in the next elections,
Fayyad, with his clean public image, is likely to steal votes from
Fatah. The billions of dollars coming in from the donor states will
only help him do so."

JONES

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