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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0133/01 0161039
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161039Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5014
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 3269
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9928
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3474
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4036
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3294
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1449
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4031
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0877
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1351
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7911
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5383
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0295
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4423
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6367
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8851
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000133

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:
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Mideast

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

All media led with the violent incidents between Israel and the
Palestinians that took place in Gaza and the surrounding Israeli
communities on Tuesday. The media reported that at least 19
Palestinians were killed with 15 of them being confirmed as armed
militants. On the Israeli side, 10 people were injured as a result
of a barrage of over 30 Qassam rockets, as well as a Grad rocket
that landed in Ashkelon, being fired at Israel. A kibbutz volunteer
from Ecuador working a field near the Gaza fence was also killed by
a sniper. Among the casualties on the Palestinian side was the son
of Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar. Ha'aretz and Maariv reported that
his death may jeopardize a prisoner swap involving Gilad Shalit.
The IDF has said that senior Hamas members are not being targeted
and those killed were trying to launch rockets against Israel.
Hamas is claiming that the IDF attack was the result of a green
light given by President Bush during his recent visit. The Jerusalem
Post reports that the PA is threatening to suspend negotiations in
response. This morning Israel Radio quoted Palestinian sources as
saying that IDF troops killed Walid Obeid, the commander of Islamic
Jihad in the West Bank.

The electronic media reported that this morning Avigdor Lieberman
announced that his party Yisrael Beiteinu is leaving the government
and PM Olmert's coalition over the negotiations on the core issues.
This will reduce PM Olmert's majority from 78 to 67 Knesset seats.
Yediot earlier cited the disapproval of MK Yisrael Hasson, the
party's No. 2, of the move. Leading media reported that Meretz may
take Yisrael Beiteinu's place, although senior Meretz members like
MK Zahava Gal-On are opposed to such a move. Some media said that
Meretz's entrance into the coalition would cause Shas's departure.
The Jerusalem Post reported that United Torah Judaism is also split
on entering Olmert's coalition.

Ha'aretz quoted a senior Western diplomat as saying on Tuesday that
President Bush left Israel last Friday convinced that PM Ehud
Olmert's coalition was stable enough to advance the peace process.
The newspaper further quoted the diplomat as saying that this was
one of the purposes of Bush's trip: to evaluate the Israeli
political situation for himself, in order to decide whether it was
worth the investment of his time and energy. Bush reportedly made
this clear at a dinner with Olmert and his senior ministers,
including Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Eli Yishai
(Shas). The diplomat was quoted as saying that Bush also tried to
reassure his hosts, saying that he will not impose an agreement on
Israel, but encourage it to reach an agreement. The diplomat was
also quoted as saying: "Bush hinted to the ministers that if there
weren't a stable coalition, he would not invest himself in the
process. The fact that he announced he would return in May shows
clearly that he believes there is a chance." Ha'aretz also reported
that there is growing support in Washington for reopening the Gaza
border crossings, despite Israel's objections. Yet the
administration also wants to continue isolating Gaza's Hamas
government.

The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior Western diplomatic source as
saying on Tuesday that President Bush is "very conscious" that
Jewish refugees fled to Israel from Arab lands after the 1947-49
war, and this came up in his discussions on the Palestinian refugee
issue last week in Jerusalem.

Citing AP, The Jerusalem Post quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice as saying on Tuesday in Riyadh that the U.S. wants Arab nations
to do more to reach out to Israelis, to help nudge a Middle East
peace accord into being. The Jerusalem Post reported that two
Jewish members of Congress -- Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Robert
Wexler -- are circulating a resolution condemning a plan to sell and
advanced weapons system to Saudi Arabia.

Ha'aretz reported that two weeks ago, Jerusalem's district planning
and construction committee approved a controversial plan to restore
the Mugrabi bridge leading to the entrances of the Temple Mount.
Israel Radio reported that the Knesset will vote next week on
approving the inclusion of four towns, including Ma'aleh Adumim, in
the municipal jurisdiction of Jerusalem.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe cited the London-based Al-Hayat as saying that
the Egyptian government has expressed its objection to the
definition of Israel as a Jewish state.

All media reported that the university presidents and heads of the
university governing councils decided unanimously at an emergency
meeting last night that all Israel universities will shut down on
Sunday if the Finance Ministry does not reach an agreement with the
striking senior lecturers.

Ha'aretz reported that its journalist Gideon Levy has won this
year's Euro-Med Journalist Prize for Cultural Dialogue.

Right-wing writers praised Yinon Magal and Meirav Miller, the new
anchors of Israel TV's central news broadcast, saying that they
restored objectivity to the station.

Maariv reported that the fictional Israeli movie "Beaufort" about
the First Lebanon War is among the nine final contestants for the
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The Jerusalem Post
reported that the Herzliya Theater Ensemble will perform in New York
-- and the Orna Porat Children and Youth Theater in Tulsa, Okla.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Military correspondent Amir Rappaport wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: " The question arises of what is Israel's
policy. The answer, unfortunately, is that there is no policy. In
the meantime, we are advancing from one operation to the next, and
praying that the number of casualties on the home front will be
'tolerable.'"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "There is a military
option and there is a political option. Both are uncertain, both
are temporary, and both have a price. The government should decide
which is better for us."

Maj. Gen. Yossi Peled (res.), the former OC Northern Command and a
member of Likud, wrote in the independent Israel Hayom: "The
Palestinians must understand that firing at Israel's cities comes at
a cost. There is no matter of politics here, or one kind of
worldview. There is a moral imperative here."

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Olmert must
prove that he has the courage needed to complete the life-saving
operation that Ariel Sharon began."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Occasionally there are murmured allusions to [claims to
compensation of Jews from Arab countries] from official Israel, such
as from Menachem Begin in the first Camp David process and Ehud
Barak in his 2000 Camp David talks. But the issue has not been
pursued in earnest. It should be."

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

I. "First Gaza War"

Military correspondent Amir Rappaport wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (1/16): "The prime minister can continue
to declare that he has no interest in a large-scale ground operation
in Gaza, but in practice Israel is being dragged into the Gaza Strip
one step at a time.... At this stage, what is preventing a truly
large-scale ground operation in the Gaza Strip, the kind that will
also require a call-up of reserves, is the paralyzing fear of
another Winograd Commission, the deep fear of dozens of casualties,
as well as weather considerations. The IDF, like any other army in
the world, prefers to wage its large-scale wars in the summer or in
the spring at the earliest, so that clouds do not limit the Air
Force's activity. ... The question arises of what is Israel's
policy. The answer, unfortunately, is that there is no policy. In
the meantime, we are advancing from one operation to the next, and
praying that the number of casualties on the home front will be
'tolerable.'"


II. "Dragged into Gaza"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/16): "It is hard to
shake the feeling that the IDF settled a score on Tuesday. During
Bush's visit, the army was asked to keep a low profile. Hamas and
Islamic Jihad took advantage of the opportunity and fired mortar
shells and Qassam rockets. On Tuesday they paid for it....
Tuesday's lesson: Partial operations will not put an end to the
Qassam rockets. A military raid, no matter how successful, and even
taking control of parts of the Gaza Strip, will not stop the fire.
On the contrary, they may only increase it. The Qassam rockets will
only stop, at least temporarily, by an agreement with Hamas or by a
full military takeover of the Gaza Strip. This is the juncture we
are fast approaching. There is a military option and there is a
political option. Both are uncertain, both are temporary, and both
have a price. The government should decide which is better for
us."

III. "Break the Equation"

Maj. Gen. Yossi Peled (res.), the former OC Northern Command and a
member of Likud, wrote in the independent Israel Hayom (1/16): "For
many years, the Palestinians got us accustomed to an untenable
situation: Sderot and the Gaza periphery communities under fire.
We, with our Jewish morals, make an exerted and real effort not to
harm innocent people -- while the Palestinians fire deliberately in
order to indiscriminately harm children and civilians. This
untenable situation must be broken.... It does not matter how we
react, whether it is by aerial activity, by overt or covert ground
activity or by raising the level of punitive action. It has to be
clear and painful. The Palestinians must understand that firing at
Israel's cities comes at a cost. There is no matter of politics
here, or one kind of worldview. There is a moral imperative here,
and with all the desire not to harm civilians -- the needy of your
own city come first.... There is, of course, the concern that there
will be casualties among our troops, but we must not forget that
with all the sincere concern for the wellbeing of the combatants,
the IDF must defend the country's residents. And this comes at a
costQif we seek to live, we should remember this over and over."

IV. "There Are No More Excuses"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (1/16): "If
Kadima is a party and not a mere accident of circumstances, if it
plans to run again in the next elections, it must prove that it
intends to fulfill the Prime Minister's promises. If the Prime
Minister cannot even keep his promise to evacuate settlement
outposts, there would seem to be no reason for him to remain in his
seat for so much as another day.... Olmert must prove that he has
the courage needed to complete the life-saving operation that Ariel
Sharon began.... Following the Annapolis conference and George
Bush's visit, a bold decision to remove the outposts is needed in
order to signal that Israel has a government that stands behind its
statements and promises. The mooted departure of [Avigdor]
Lieberman will be welcome if it leads to results. But in any case,
there are no more excuses."

V. "Fair Compensation"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (1/16):
"As was highlighted in this space on Sunday, U.S. President George
W. Bush displayed a critical understanding of the real obstacle to
peace when he stressed last week that an agreement 'must establish
Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel
is a homeland for the Jewish people.' This language is the clearest
U.S. rejection to date of the Palestinian demand of 'return,' which
is a backdoor method of denying Israel's right to exist. It is
difficult to overstate the importance of repeating this formula and,
even better, explaining what is behind it, namely that mutual
recognition is a non-negotiable prerequisite for any serious talks
on the two-state vision.... The establishment of Israel afforded
Arab tyrants the pretext to engage in massive ethnic cleansing
against their own Jewish inhabitants.... The Jews, though, were
never compensated for the property they were forced to
relinquish.... Occasionally there are murmured allusions to these
facts from official Israel, such as from Menachem Begin in the first
Camp David process and Ehud Barak in his 2000 Camp David talks. But
the issue has not been pursued in earnest. It should be."

JONES

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