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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0157/01 0181200
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181200Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5053
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 3283
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9942
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3490
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4050
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3308
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1464
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4045
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0891
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1365
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7925
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5397
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0309
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4437
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6381
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8873
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000157

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:
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The media continued to highlight the situation in Gaza and the
western Negev. On Thursday Palestinians around 40 Qassam rockets
and two mortar shells at Israel and the IDF killed at least five
Palestinians. This morning Israel Radio reported that IDF troops
killed Ahmed Sanakra, a senior Fatah (Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades)
militant in Nablus. Yediot and Israel Radio reported that last
night PM Ehud Olmert toured Sderot. Israel Radio quoted him as
saying that, should rocket attacks against Israel go on, Israel will
want to hit back, but that it will have to exercise caution to avoid
harming innocents. Leading media reported that Olmert has
instructed the army to intensify targeted killings and the
stranglehold of the Strip. Israel Radio reported that on Thursday
Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave instructions to close the crossings
into the Gaza Strip. He earlier ordered to continue the policy of
restricting fuel supply to the Gaza Strip. He also asked for
260,000 shekels (around $69,500) for protecting Sderot and other
communities in the region.

Ha'aretz cited the belief of Palestinian sources that Hamas would
continue the rocket barrages, in an attempt to force Israel into a
cease-fire. Hamas, they were quoted as saying, believes that its
previous, lower level of rocket and mortar fire allowed the IDF to
operate freely in Gaza without Israel paying a serious price.
Moreover, the sources cited Hamas's calculation that Israel wants to
avoid a major ground operation in Gaza, and that therefore, it will
have no choice but to call a truce if heavy rocket fire. Hamas is
currently refraining from firing rockets on Ashkelon lest that
reverse Israel's opposition to a major incursion, the sources added.
However, Ha'aretz reported that Hamas officials declined to confirm
that the recent escalation represents a new policy.

Ha'aretz (Hebrew Ed.), Maariv, and The Jerusalem Post led with
Second Lebanon War-related developments. Leading media wrote that
the Winograd Commission has reportedly decided not to take an overly
harsh tone with PM Olmert in its final report following a heated
internal debate. Channel 2-TV reported last night that commission
member Yehezkel Dror demanded a tough stance, which would "place a
loaded gun on Olmert's table" and force him to resign. On Thursday
the Ynet Internet site quoted a commission member (perhaps Dror) as
saying that the report would have a "dramatic, decisive" impact, "up
to and including a replacement of the government." The Jerusalem
Post and Maariv focused on parents of soldiers who fell during the
war. The Jerusalem Post quoted members of the Bereaved Parents
Forum as saying on Thursday that such parents are planning to block
roads and stage mass protests and hunger strikes from January 31,
the day after the Winograd Commission publishes its final report on
the war, until PM Olmert "goes home."

Leading media reported that following Israel's test-firing of a
dual-stage missile on Thursday -- which some media said was of the
long-range Jericho-4 type -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
told Al Jazeera-TV: "The Zionist regime ... would not dare attack
Iran. The Iranian response would make them regret it, and they know
this."

Major media cited Radio Sawa or a PA official as saying that PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas threatened to resign and put an
end to the negotiations with Israel if it continues the escalation
in the Gaza Strip. Israel Radio quoted a source in Abbas's bureau
as saying that Abbas told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that
there is no use in negotiations if the Israeli offensive goes on.
The radio quoted the source as saying that Secretary Rice asked
Abbas to continue and that she promised to pressure the GOI to stop
its raids and construction in the settlements. Media reported that
the PA has addressed the international community through Jordan and
Egypt to try to stop the Israeli raids. Nabil Amro, media advisor
to Abbas, was quoted as saying in an interview with the
Arabic-language Kull Al Arab that Fatah wishes to open a new page
with Hamas, as the Israeli aggression against Gaza will make the
negotiations worthless, with no results. Palestinian Resistance
Committees (PRC) spokesman Abu Mujahed was quoted as saying in an
interview with the Arabic-language Assennara that the PRC will deal
a painful blow to Israel and that it now shares aims with Hamas and
Fatah.

Israel Radio reported that FM Tzipi Livni, who is currently visiting
Moscow, warned that nuclear fuel that Russia is delivering the
Bushehr nuclear reactor might be used for military applications.
She added that she expects countries around the world to transform
their words into actions and not to let Tehran acquire nuclear
weapons. The Jerusalem Post reported that Livni denounced the
combination of Iran's "destructive ideology" -- which she said "is

not connected to Israel, but to deep extremist foundations" -- with
attempts to obtain nuclear weapons. Ha'aretz reported that several
drafters of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) will attend
next week Herzliya Conference to discuss the scenario of a
multi-nuclear region.

Israel Radio reported that a solution to the strike of Israeli
universities' senior lecturers is apparently close, thanks to an
outline devised by Histadrut Labor Federation Secretary-General Ofer
Eini.

Ha'aretz reported that FM Livni has demanded that her ministry redo
its public relations plan for 2008 -- which puts "branding Israel"
as its top priority -- because the original ignores Israel's
negotiations with the PA. However, these talks are the focus of a
separate diplomatic plan the ministry is currently preparing.

Ha'aretz reported that Ron Prosor, Israel's new Ambassador to the
UK, is applying a proactive PR policy, seeking out the "lion's den
to get Israel's message across."

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) quoted Peter Joseph, chairman of the New-York
based organization Israel Policy Forum, as saying that the "silent
majority" of American Jews are eager to end the Arab-Israeli
conflict and bring about a two-state solution, despite voices within
the community that suggest otherwise.

Maariv quoted Abu Obeideh, the commander of the military branch of
Hamas, as saying on Thursday in an interview with the
Arabic-language Israeli radio Al-Shams that Hamas does not intend to
harm Gilad Shalit.

Leading media reported that around a month ago Israeli security
forces arrested five Islamic Jihad militants who planned to place a
bomb on railroad tracks between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Maariv reported that the Judean Desert portion of the West Bank
security fence will not be erected, following concerns over its
environmental impact.

The media reported that on Thursday the Tel Aviv District Court
sentenced an Israeli army psychiatrist convicted of endangering
national security to five years in prison and two years suspended
sentence. David Shamir, a major in the IDF reserves, accepted a
plea bargain last week in which he admitted to contact with a
foreign agent and of possessing information with the intent of
harming national security. Shamir tried to pass to Iran, Hamas, and
the Russians classified information which he acquired during his
reserve duty. The judges termed Shamir's conduct in the matter
"bizarre, enigmatic, and wholly disconnected from reality."

The media reported that a District Court judge ordered the release
of seven 13- to 14-year-old girls who had refused to identify
themselves. The state prosecution had said it would not advocate
their release. The girls were arrested 23 days ago at the settler
outpost of Givat Ha'Or near the settlement of Beit El and charged
with illegal gathering in a closed military zone.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that Grammy Award-winning musician
Miri Ben-Ari, an Israeli "hip hop violinist" best known for her
collaborations with artists Kanye West and Jay Z, was awarded the
first annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Israel Award for her work in
bringing together African-American and Jewish communities closer
together through music. Tuesday's event at the Prime Minister's
residence was sponsored by the Fellowship of Israel and Black
America (FIBA), an initiative aiming to nurture and develop ties
between the two communities. President Shimon Peres and the Rev.
Kenneth Flowers, an African-American pastor from the Detroit area,
also received the award.

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

Summary:
--------

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "Given the speed at which the situation is
deteriorating, [the] day [set by President Bush for a peace
agreement] may be much too late."

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: " Barak's intentions are definitely good, but even
he, the experienced and sophisticated man, has forgotten that the
settlers eat him for breakfast."

Columnist and former Meretz Party Chairman Yossi Sarid wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Fear of Netanyahu has struck
the political establishment.... [It] is justified."

Very liberal columnist Meron Benvenisti, deputy mayor of Jerusalem
from 1971 to 1978, wrote in Ha'aretz: "Olmert is wringing every last
drop out of people's desire for peace and will unashamedly exploit
the weakness of the Palestinians."

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

I. "Dimming of the 'Vision Track'"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (1/18): "When Bush expressed confidence that a
final-status agreement could be reached in just a year's time, the
immediate reactions among analysts was that the deadline was
unrealistic because it was set too soon. Now given the speed at
which the situation is deteriorating, that day may be much too
late.... The Americans may well have to start considering some of
the more out-of-the-box proposals that have been suggested -- such
as the introduction of the international force into Gaza -- rather
than wait for an eventual 'vision of democracy' that may never
materialize.... [President Bush's] next trip here ... is not
scheduled until May, just in time to join in Israel's 60th
anniversary celebrations. But if there are many more weeks [such as
the past one] before then, it is hard to say who in the government
here Bush will have to officially mark that event with -- and just
what exactly there will be to celebrate in terms of a post-Annapolis
peace process off to a shaky start."

II. "Barak at the Settlers' Service"

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (1/18): "Barak's intentions are definitely good,
but even he, the experienced and sophisticated man, has forgotten
that the settlers eat him for breakfast. Based on a Shin Bet report
according to which settlement removal will this time be more violent
than Amona's [in 2006], the Defense Minister decided for the
umpteenth time to improve the law breakers' condition and to sign an
agreement with them.... During the past seven years countless
agreements have been reached with the settlers to voluntarily remove
unauthorized outposts. But now the party seems over. Olmert has
decided that he is going to give a real chance to a peace agreement
with the Palestinians. For this he needs his defense minister....
But his defense minister is very angry. His talks and agreements
[with the settlers] have been torpedoed. He is mad at Olmert rather
than at the settlers.... But the situation is quite the opposite!
Barak was elected to represent his voters' worldview. Free gifts at
the expense of the state to those who trespassed into and stole
Palestinian land in the territories, are not included in this
worldview."

III. "Fear of Netanyahu"

Columnist and former Meretz Party Chairman Yossi Sarid wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (1/18): "It is not his acrobatic
abilities that are saving Olmert from falling -- the rescuer is
opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. Fear of Netanyahu has struck
the political establishment, and the weekly surveys only reinforce
it: Anyone who doesn't want Olmert will get Netanyahu, and there is
great panic.... The fear of Netanyahu is justified. The very
thought that he will soon return makes one shudder. They are
afraid, the politicians, as are many ordinary citizens. But fear
itself is not recommended over the long term, because fear is a
disease and not a cure. Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are
the ones responsible for this situation, because they were unable to
convince people that they are not Netanyahu: The three are too
similar in the eyes of the general public, so why not prefer the
original to his clones? To embark on a war unknowingly and flee
responsibility, to expand settlements rather than evacuate them, to
conduct useless negotiations, to harm the poor and help the rich, to
reopen the Ministry for Religious Affairs, to humiliate teachers and
professors, to increase the burden on students, and harass the
judges in Jerusalem -- to do all this Netanyahu is sufficient and
his successors are superfluous. For the purposes of an inferior
personal example as well, Netanyahu will do."

IV. "The March of Cynics"

Very liberal columnist Meron Benvenisti, deputy mayor of Jerusalem
from 1971 to 1978, wrote in Ha'aretz (1/18): "Olmert's cynicism is
astonishing. He says bombastic things about how he was 'elected
with a broad diplomatic agenda, wants to bring about an agreement
and intends to realize his vision'.... He is intentionally blurring
the difference between a theoretical 'shelf agreement' and an
agreement for which there is a commitment to implement it. Since he
will never arrive at the first, there is no need to worry about the
implementation of the second. Olmert is wringing every last drop
out of people's desire for peace and will unashamedly exploit the
weakness of the Palestinians, who have to conduct peace
negotiations, ostensibly, when scores of them are being killed by
the Israeli army. All means are justified to survive politically --
all three cynics [Bush, Olmert, and Abbas] need each other in order

to survive."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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