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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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SECDEF WASHDC FOR USDP/ASD-PA/ASD-ISA
HQ USAF FOR XOXX
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Israeli Politics

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

All media continued to lead with the situation in and around Gaza.
The media reported that on Wednesday over 50 Qassam rockets and at
least a dozen mortar shells landed in Sderot and its surroundings,
while five Palestinians were killed in IDF air strikes. Three of
the Palestinians were civilians who were killed when a missile
missed its target. The media quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak and
other defense officials as saying that Israel will step up
operations in Gaza if the rocket barrages continue. Maariv reported
that the political echelon has ordered the defense establishment to
hold off on large-scale operations until the spring. Senior Hamas
official Ismail (or Osama) El-Muzeini warned in an interview with
Israel TV on Wednesday that the ongoing IDF raids on the Gaza Strip
could turn negotiations over the release of abducted soldier Gilad
Shalit into a "Ron Arad affair." The warning was in reference to
the IAF navigator who has been missing in action since his plane
went down over Lebanon in 1986. El-Muzeini, who is overseeing the
Shalit matter for the group, said that if the raids continued, Hamas
would cut off all contacts with Israel over the release of Shalit.
Israel Radio assessed that such a scenario was unlikely, given
Shalit's importance to Hamas. Ha'aretz quoted Hamas's exiled leader
Khaled Mashal as saying that recent IDF operations in the coastal
strip also made Hamas less likely to negotiate any truce with
Israel. Speaking to Israeli leaders, Mashal said: "What you are
doing will deny you of any plan you could be betting on: No exchange
for Gilad Shalit and no truce." Israel Radio reported that senior
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told the London-based Ash-Sharq
Al-Awsat that the PA cannot continue to talks with Israel as long as
raids into Gaza continue.

Israel Radio and the leading Internet news service Ynet reported
that this morning Israel's security establishment held a successful
rocket systems test at the Palmachim Air Force Base (on the
Mediterranean coast, near Rishon le-Zion), adding a propulsion
system to a test-missile in order to review its operation.

Following Yisrael Beiteinu's decision to leave the government, some
media touted the idea of new Knesset elections in 20008. Ha'aretz
quoted National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor)
as saying on Wednesday that Yisrael Beiteinu's decision actually
helps Labor to be a partner in reaching a peace agreement and that
the party must not miss the opportunity. Ha'aretz quoted other
senior Labor officials as saying that the party's Chairman Ehud
Barak could not ignore the Winograd report and that he would look to
find a replacement within Kadima for Olmert as a way to continue in
government until early elections could be held. But Barak's
advisors are continuing to repeat that only after the report is
published will he decide on the matter, based on national and
security concerns. Speaking on Israel Radio this morning, former
Labor Party cabinet minister Moshe Shahal recalled that the law does
not allow Barak, who is not a Knesset member, to become prime
minister. The Jerusalem Post quoted Meretz-Yahad Chairman Yossi
Beilin as saying on Wednesday that his party will support Olmert's
coalition from the outside but not join it.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Shas sources as saying following
conversations with the Prime Minister's Office that PM Ehud Olmert
intends to accept Shas's demand that negotiations on the fate of
Jerusalem be set aside until the end of the Annapolis diplomatic
process. Speaking on Israel Radio on Wednesday, Shas leader and
Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Eli Yishai stated his belief
that his party will quit the government by the end of this year.

Maariv quoted senior Likud members as saying that a merger of their
party with Yisrael Beiteinu is possible, despite Yisrael Beiteinu
leader Avigdor Lieberman's statement on Wednesday that the chances
for such a development are close to nil.

Yom Leyom reported that President Bush told cabinet minister Eli
Yishai during their meeting in Jerusalem that he empathizes with the
residents of Sderot.

Yediot quoted Mahmoud Zahar, whose son was killed in an IAF raid on
Tuesday, as saying that Gilad Shalit's father Noam sent him his
condolences.

Major media reported that on Wednesday Israeli Arab politicians
demanded that Yisrael Beiteinu be outlawed, after Avigdor Lieberman
said that Israeli Arabs are "more dangerous" than Hamas's Khaled
Mashal or Hizbullah's Nasrallah.
The Jerusalem Post quoted the Civil Administration as saying that it
filed a complaint with the Foreign Ministry against U.S.
Consul-General Jacob Walles after the diplomat refused to roll down
his window or open his door and show identification papers on
Wednesday. The newspaper quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying that
it had not yet received a complaint. However, The Jerusalem Post
quoted a U.S. official as saying that Walles had shown
identification through the car window but that he refused to open
the door. The daily reported that after a short standoff at the
Beit El checkpoint and after Ambassador Richard Jones got involved,
Civil Administration head Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai authorized
Walles to enter Ramallah.

All media reported that on Wednesday oligarch politician Arkady
Gaidamak arranged a new recreational trip for Sderot children.

Maariv reported that Professors Uzi Arad and Gideon Biger of the
Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) will next week present to
the Eighth Herzliya Conference a plan involving regional territorial
swaps between Israel and the PA, as well as between Syria and
Israel, Syria and Lebanon, Israel and Egypt, and Egypt and
Palestine.

Media reported that on Wednesday a former Border Police officer was
convicted of manslaughter in the death of a Palestinian man during
an October 2006 search in Jaffa for people without entry permits.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, while rejecting the idea of Israel
or other countries in conflict joining NATO, five former Western
defense chiefs called on Wednesday for the alliance and the EU to
create a joint security "directorate" to address global terrorism
and the challenges posed by Iran and China.

Yediot reported that the U.S. refuses to grant a visa to former
defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai, who was indicted for sexual
misconduct. The newspaper reported that even the Prime Minister's
Office was unable to rescind the decision.

The media cited data published by the GOI's Central Bureau of
Statistics according to which tourism in 2007 was up 25% over the
previous year, and up 20% over 2005, with the country drawing a
total of 2.3 million visitors. U.S. tourists were the most frequent
visitors, with 527,000 (a record number), or about a quarter of all
entries.

Ha'aretz reported that the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company -- a
privately-owned firm owned jointly by Israel and the government of
Iran (it was established during the Shah's rule and since the
revolution, Iran has stopped involvement in the venture) -- is
leading an international initiative to channel crude oil from Johan
in southeast Turkey to eastern Asia. A memorandum of understanding
is expected to be signed within three months. The oil would be
pumped in Georgia and Azerbaijan, and be brought to Turkey by
pipeline. From Turkey it will be shipped by tanker to Ashkelon,
whence it would be transported by pipeline to Eilat. In Eilat, the
oil will be loaded onto anew set of tankers for transportation to
eastern Asia.

Ha'aretz reported that Teva Pharmaceuticals is bolstering its
marketing and sales activities for its inhalers, made by Ivax. The
firm has signed and agreement with Europe's UCB to jointly market
Teva's products that treat respiratory diseases in the U.S.

Ha'aretz ran a feature on renowned American jazz and blues musician
Amina Claudia Myers, who will perform in Israel twice next week.

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "While the IDF
is preparing for [a large-scale] operation [in the Gaza Strip], the
government must focus on preparing the ground for a political move
at its conclusion. Until Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, and Ehud Barak do
this, they must not send the IDF into the Gaza Strip."

Popular columnist and anchor Yair Lapid wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The Israeli instinct
is that if force doesn't work, then more force should be used....
[Quite the opposite,] the only thing that can be done at present is
to try to turn the wheel back by one month."

Gilad Sharon, son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, wrote in
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "We must fight to
win, but without unnecessary risks to our troops. Better for an
entire neighborhood in Gaza to become ruins than to hold funerals
for our soldiers."

Conservative contributor Menachem Ben wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "It is impossible for Israel to mind Palestinian
'territorial contiguity' and to dump Israeli 'territorial
contiguity.'"

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

I. "Start from the End"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (1/17): "In
recent days, the seven-year-old war of attrition in southwestern
Israel has intensified.... The military operation the Palestinian
groups seek to draw Israel into will not be measured only by whether
it removes the immediate threat. No military operation exists
outside of a political context, and in the case of Gaza, the
operation will not end if it is not preceded by sufficient
preparations for a political solution.... In essence, two elements
are necessary. One needs to be Palestinians: The Palestinian
Authority.... Its interlocutor is Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas, and the Gaza Strip must be surrendered to him. The second
element must be the ability to secure the Egyptian border.... An
international force is required, including a military component
(preferably Jordanian), along with American, European, and other
units.... While the IDF is preparing for the operation, the
government must focus on preparing the ground for a political move
at its conclusion. Until Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, and Ehud Barak do
this, they must not send the IDF into the Gaza Strip."

II. "Reduce the Fire"

Popular columnist and anchor Yair Lapid wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/17): "The Israeli
instinct is that if force doesn't work, then more force should be
used.... This is not just irresponsible, it is also dangerous.
According to all the IDF scenarios going into Gaza may well entail
scores of casualties. This is an unacceptable number... Less than a
month ago Hamas tried to broadcast in every manner possible ... that
it was offering us a cease fire. Minister [Binyamin, a.k.a. Fuad]
Ben Eliezer went on the radio almost immediately to express his
support for the idea. Those familiar with the relationship between
Ben Eliezer and Ehud Barak were well aware that it was reasonable to
suppose that the Minister of Defense was speaking from Fuad's
perpetually hoarse throat. So why did it not happen? Because we
applied too much pressure, because Hamas has no real control over
what is happening on the ground, because that's how things are in
this insane region of ours.... The only thing that can be done at
present is to try to turn the wheel back by one month: to calm
things down, reduce the fire, use mediators, ask the criteria
committee politely to hurry things up a bit so that we can put
together the Shalit deal, and restore Gaza and Sderot to their usual
abnormal state. It won't be good, but it will be a little bit
better than now."

III. "An Extreme Situation Deserves an Extreme Solution"

Gilad Sharon, son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, wrote in
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/17): "The
pressure employed by the terror organization [Hamas] on our civilian
population is unacceptable and must be responded to with
extraordinary pressure on their population whose support is the main
oxygen and fuel for terror. Even if ultimately we are compelled to
embark on a large-scale operation in Gaza, we must not treat it like
a surgical operation of microscopic accuracy. We must call on the
non-fighting population to evacuate. We must fight to win, but
without unnecessary risks to our troops. Better for an entire
neighborhood in Gaza to become ruins than to hold funerals for our
soldiers. All resistance must be pulverized and crushed before our
forces enter and this -- as all Gazans will agree -- is less
desirable than sitting by candle light. The Gazans must be told:
'We will have quiet. You can choose if this will come about by your
sitting in the dark or by turning your houses into rubble.' The
dilemma should be theirs. Let them choose how quiet should be
brought about."

IV. "Our Swiss Cheese"

Conservative contributor Menachem Ben wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (1/17): "George Bush's comment, following Ariel
Sharon's, that is not possible for the Palestinians to have a state
shaped like a Swiss cheese full of holes (the Israeli settlements)
was almost universally accepted in Israel.... But, even within the
Green Line's borders, Israel is more 'punctured' than Judea and
Samaria [i.e. the West Bank], to say nothing of Gaza, which has
become judenrein [free of Jews] after all of its Swiss holes [the
Gaza settlements] were abandoned with awful brutality. [Avigdor]
Lieberman is totally right about this: It is impossible for Israel
to mind Palestinian 'territorial contiguity' and to dump Israeli
'territorial contiguity.'"

---------------------
2. Israeli Politics:
---------------------

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "It
should be obvious that Labor will only continue to lose more of the
public's confidence if it clings to Olmert's sinking political
ship."

Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in The Jerusalem Post:
"Between the dual effect of Palestinian terror and Israeli
prosperity, Netanyahu's worldview has taken over politics in this
country during the two years since the last election.... What I once
thought of as right-wing demagoguery has become, in the present
conditions, common sense."


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

I. "Barak's Promise"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (1/17):
"The current combination of a leadership crisis created both by the
sudden incapacitation of Ariel Sharon and the collapse in confidence
in his successor and external challenges would seem to warrant an
emergency coalition of national unity under a new prime minister.
What is already clear, even before the final Winograd Report, is
that the worst option is a continuation of the status quo. While
Olmert himself bears primary responsibility for not drawing the
personal conclusions that Dan Halutz and Amir Peretz eventually did,
it is Ehud Barak who is now sustaining Olmert's coalition. Barak
and the Labor Party leadership apparently fear new elections, in
which polls indicate that the party would lose seats. But it should
be obvious that Labor will only continue to lose more of the
public's confidence if it clings to Olmert's sinking political ship.
If Barak can succeed in engineering Olmert's resignation without
new elections, that might be preferable, but Labor must not sustain
this government just to avoid going to the polls. [Avigdor]
Lieberman kept his commitment; Barak should keep his promise to the
public as well."

II. "The Three Bibis"

Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in The Jerusalem Post (1/17):
"There's no controversy anymore. Between the dual effect of
Palestinian terror and Israeli prosperity, Netanyahu's worldview has
taken over politics in this country during the two years since the
last election.... So -Q who do you want for prime minister? When it
comes to the Bibi-ization [Bibi is Netanyahu's nickname] of Israeli
of policy toward Gaza and the West Bank, I blame the Palestinians.
They didn't have to keep firing Qassams after we got out of Gaza,
but they did, and now even an old leftist like me is unwilling to
get the IDF out of the West Bank for fear that the Palestinians will
rocket Ben-Gurion Airport like they're rocketing Sderot. What I
once thought of as right-wing demagoguery has become, in the present
conditions, common sense. As for peace negotiations, they can't go
anywhere as long as the Palestinian Authority can't or won't control
terror, and the PA can't or won't. On security, then, the debate in
Israel is no longer between hawks and doves, but between hawks and
super-hawks."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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