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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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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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Israel's siege of Gaza dominated the news over the weekend. The
media reported that, Israel agreed on Monday to allow some fuel and
medicine to reach Gaza in order to avert a humanitarian crisis,
while saying at the same time that the siege will continue and
blaming Hamas for creating the suffering. This decision followed
growing international pressure over Israel's actions in response to
increased rocket fire from Gaza. The media reported that PM Ehud
Olmert told a Kadima Knesset faction meeting Monday: "We will not
allow a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But we have no intention of
making their lives easier... As far as I am concerned, every
resident of Gaza can walk because they have no gasoline for their
vehicles, because they have a murderous regime that doesn't let
people in southern Israel live in peace."

Maariv reported that Israel has apparently infringed the Supreme
Court's conditions for cutting energy to the Strip. According to
Yediot, on Monday the Foreign Ministry claimed that Hamas
intentionally cut the power in Gaza at 8 p.m. on Sunday to coincide
with the prime time news broadcasts in Israel and the Middle East
(and Europe), sending scores of Gazans in to the streets. Media
reported that on Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided to
allow the EU to resume deliveries of industrial fuel to the power
plant in Gaza as well as diesel and butane gas used for cooking.
Ha'aretz quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that
restrictions would remain in place on gasoline used for cars.
Maariv and Israel Radio reported that the UN Security Council will
convene following a call by the Arab countries.

Ha'aretz reported that there is growing concern in Israel that the
recent tightening of sanctions against the Gaza Strip will result in
international pressure to transfer control of the border crossings
into the Strip to the PA. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad proposed
during last month's donor nations' conference in Paris that
Palestinian forces not affiliated with the rival Hamas and Fatah
factions take over operations at the crossing points. Fayyad is
also considering the possibility of involving private international
companies specializing in border crossings, who would assist PA
officials in running them. Senior U.S. officials have sent a
number of memos to Israeli counterparts describing Fayyad's idea as
"creative and worth a serious look." Israeli sources quoted
American officials saying that "Fayyad is a person we completely
trust and if he is proposing such an idea it is worthwhile to assist
him and approach the matter favorably." Ha'aretz wrote that
Fayyad's proposal also enjoys the support of many European states,
including Britain, Spain, France, and the Netherlands. Ha'aretz
reported that at this stage Israel has reservations about Fayyad's
proposal, but that it has not rejected it. Ha'aretz quoted a senior
diplomatic source in Jerusalem as saying on Monday: "Opening the
crossings by Fayyad, without coordination with Hamas, is
impossible." "Opening the crossings with the agreement of Hamas
means the group is granted legitimacy. This can only result in a
weakening of Fayyad and a bolstering of Hamas," the same source
added. Another Israeli concern is that agreeing to Fayyad's
proposal may lead to an irreversible situation, making it impossible
to use closures as leverage in response to Qassam rocket attacks.

On Sunday all media reported on what they described as a "heinous"
and "sickening performance" by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan
Nasrallah on Saturday when he announced that his organization holds
body parts of Israeli soldiers, including "hands, legs and heads."
Nasrallah complained that no progress was being made on a prisoner
exchange deal, due to the "lack of responsiveness" on the Israeli
side. Military sources defined this as a cynical and wicked move,
and slammed Nasrallah for trampling basic codes of human dignity.
Israeli political officials made it clear that no negotiations would
be held with Hizbullah over body parts.

The media (Maariv's lead story) reported that 50 IDF reserve
officers, most of whom fought in the Second Lebanon have sent PM
Olmert a letter in which they urge him to take responsibility for
the failure of the war.

The Jerusalem Post and Maariv quoted Western sources as saying that
the successful launch on Monday in India of an advanced Israeli
satellite was delayed in recent months by Iranian sabotage. The
TECSAR satellite -- developed and manufactured by Israel Aerospace
Industries (IAI) -- was supposed to be launched in September, on the
heels of the June launch of the Ofek-7 spy satellite. Media
reported that the new satellite will be tightly watching Iran's
ground-to-ground missiles.

Maariv quoted senior Labor Party members as saying that they will
convince PM Olmert to proclaim new elections in 2009. On Monday The
Jerusalem Post quoted President Shimon Peres as saying at the
Herzliya Conference on Sunday that the government should bring its
plan for a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians to the people
for approval -- apparently in general elections. On Sunday The
Jerusalem Post reported that Yisrael Beiteinu's exit from the
government deals a blow to prospects for electoral reform.

On Sunday Maariv reported that the special ministerial forum that
was appointed to make recommendations regarding which of the Hamas
prisoners described as having "blood on their hands" should be
released in exchange for Gilad Shalit has drawn up a partial list,
and over the next several days is expected to complete its work and
submit it to Ehud Olmert on its way to approval by the cabinet.

Visiting Dutch FM Maxime Verhagen was quoted as saying in an
interview with Ha'aretz on Monday that the singling out of Israel
for criticism in international fora was unfair. On Sunday The
Jerusalem Post reported that Canada plans to remove both Israel and
the U.S. from a list drawn up by the Foreign Ministry in Ottawa of
countries where prisoners risk torture and abuse.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton was quoted as saying in
an interview with Ha'aretz on Sunday that the IDF ground offensive
during the Second Lebanon War did not influence the UN cease-fire.
He told Israel Radio that part of Israel's air raid in Syria in
September should be exposed. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Israeli
defense sources as saying that Israel's ambiguity policy will
continue.

On Monday The Jerusalem Post reported that 150 families from Sderot
are considering sending their children to the U.S.

On Monday Ha'aretz quoted Israeli government officials as saying on
Sunday that U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones is the leading
candidate for the post of U.S. Ambassador to Russia.

Leading media reported that a Housing Ministry official told a
Knesset panel on Monday that the ministry has stopped publishing
tenders for state construction in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the
Green Line without the prime minister's approval.

Yediot cited the belief of lawyers for some of the families of 13
Israeli Arabs killed in the 2000 riots that Attorney General
Menachem Mazuz will drop the cases of policemen involved in the
disturbances.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post quoted Thelma Askey, Deputy
Secretary General of Organization for Economic Cooperation and

SIPDIS
Development (OECD), as saying at a press conference in Jerusalem on
Monday that Israel still has to make some changes, including passing
legislation, before it is fully accepted into the OECD. The
Jerusalem Post quoted Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer as
saying that Israel will become a full-fledged member of the
organization by the time he leaves office.

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

Summary:
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Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: " The Palestinians
often say: 'Let a thousand mothers weep, just don't let my mother
shed a tear.' Somebody needs to explain to them that that saying
applies equally on either side of the border."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Even if
the suffering were comparable, the moral culpability is not. What
have the citizens of Sderot done to Gazans or Hamas?"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "It is incumbent upon us to understand
that the only alternative to the power outages in the Gaza Strip is
an IDF invasion or, alternatively, bombardments from the air."

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Over one million people -- children, women, the
elderly, the infirm -- are abandoned to their fate, in the hope that
they will rebel against the Hamas leaders.... In Gaza, however, the
calculations work differently."

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Most of the
cabinet ministers have so far been wise not to cooperate with
Nasrallah's provocative trafficking in bodies and emotions.... The
government would do well to stick to that position."

Block Quotes:
-------------
I. "So What, Let Them Suffer"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/22): "As soon as the
Defense Minister announces that we are renewing the supply of
diesel, crude oil or both today -- that is tantamount to an
admission of guilt: We were out of line. As if there really wasn't
electricity in the Gaza Strip because of us. As if we really are
responsible for the death of five people in Gaza hospitals. Mubarak
picked up the telephone, and the Israeli officials became weak in
the knees. The Defense Minister ought to announce that not only
will no fuel oil enter, but not a single drop of gasoline will make
its way from Israel into the Gaza Strip either. That there is no
reason that Israel should supply transportation for the Qassam
rockets. That if they're so eager to shoot them, let them carry the
rockets on their backs or use donkeys. In order to make any sort of
achievement with respect to the Gaza Strip Israel needs to use four
levers of pressure simultaneously and at full force: targeted
killing operations against the leadership, strikes at the military
infrastructure and the fighting troops, strikes on symbols of
government and Hamas installations, and economic closure and
stopping the flow of funds into the Gaza Strip. Israel has been
doing that only temporarily for the time being. The alternative to
those four levers is an IDF invasion: thousands of Palestinians and
hundreds of Israelis will be killed or injured. Who needs that?....
The weak win with images. The hungry child with a candle in his
hand will always elicit sympathy. That is the way of the world. The
Palestinians often say: 'Let a thousand mothers weep, just don't let
my mother shed a tear.' Somebody needs to explain to them that that
saying applies equally on either side of the border -- that as far
as we are concerned, the children in Sderot mustn't shed a tear."

II. "Hamas's Dupes"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (1/22):
"It would be nice if the international press and the governments
that blindly took their cues from it would take a moment to consider
that their Pavlovian embrace of the manufactured 'humanitarian
crisis' in Gaza could lead, at best, to prolonging the suffering of
Gazans and Israelis and, at worst, to full blown war. The reason
for this is that anything that reduces the pressure on Hamas to end
its unprovoked aggression against Israel will encourage that
aggression, with all its associated results. Israel obviously has
no interest in causing suffering of any kind in Gaza, and every
interest in encouraging Palestinian development, absent the war
Hamas is waging against Israel. But Hamas is responsible for the
firing of dozens -- 50 in one day last week -- of missiles at the
citizens of Sderot. As a result, Israel has reduced fuel supplies,
producing a 25 percent reduction in the electricity availability to
Gazans.... Power outages and gas shortages are no picnic, but they
cannot compare to the deadly and indiscriminate threat from missiles
landing on kindergartens and homes. Even if the suffering were
comparable, the moral culpability is not. What have the citizens of
Sderot done to Gazans or Hamas? How could Israel have withdrawn
more completely from Gaza, after uprooting not only every
settlement, but also cemeteries and the security strip along the
border between Gaza and Egypt? It is one thing for Hamas to have
decided to attack Israel without any justification, to the detriment
of the people it claims to represent. But why would nations that
claim to be concerned for Palestinians, Israelis and for peace chime
in to reinforce the transparent ploy by Hamas to blame Israel for
having been attacked?.... As necessary as Israeli military and
non-military measures are, the greatest pressure of all would be if
the international community let it be clearly known that it was fed
up acting as Hamas's dupes."


III. "There Is No Alternative"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (1/21): "Today will be Gaza's day. The
pictures of the blackout, the march of the candles and the
nauseatingly familiar manipulations made by the Arab propaganda
machine will deluge the media, from one end of the world to the
other, including in Europe. Everyone will upbraid Israel for having
created a humanitarian crisis, and people in Israel will begin to
squirm uncomfortably in their seats as well. We mustn't be moved by
any of that. It is incumbent upon us to understand that the only
alternative to the power outages in the Gaza Strip is an IDF
invasion or, alternatively, bombardments from the air.... If the
Gazans want to live peacefully, if they want a regular supply of
food and medicine, if they want electricity, water and fuel and
quiet, if they want to rehabilitate their refugees and to build new
lives, they don't need to recognize Israel or forge peace treaties
with it, and they don't need to convert to Judaism and to begin to
sing Israel's national anthem. They need to stop shooting. That is
a truth that no one can distort, and it is the only truth that is
out there. In the end, it is going to have to prevail."

IV. "Closed Cycle"


Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (1/21): "Every price tag that we attach to the
Qassam rocket fire at us has a price tag of its own, and so on and
so forth -- a cycle of blood and suffering, which as of now is
hermetically sealed. Over one million people -- children, women,
the elderly, the infirm -- are abandoned to their fate, in the hope
that they will rebel against the Hamas leaders, and bring about a
cessation of the fire at Sderot and the surrounding communities.
This is the arithmetic according to which the current price tag was
calculated.... In Gaza, however, the calculations work differently.
Instead of coming out against Hamas, many of the city's residents
came out for a darkened demonstration in favor of it.... And there
is of course the world, which sees on its television screens day-old
premature infants whose lives are feared to be at risk, because
there may not be power to operate their incubators, and thinks that
someone in Israel has gone crazy.... Whoever says that the value of
guarding the lives of the residents of Sderot is less important, is
right, but it is also clear to many officials in the security
establishment that the act of darkening Gaza will not achieve this.
They too have their insane price tag. The crossings will eventually
be opened. It will take three, four, or five days. But when it
happens, another few hundred or few thousand civilians in Gaza will
have joined the ranks of Hamas. What else do they have left?"

V. "Provocative Trade in Corpses"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (1/21): "The
responses to Hassan Nasrallah's speech stating that Hizbullah was in
possession of the remains of IDF soldiers who died in the Second
Lebanon War range from demands by ministers and Knesset members to
assassinate Nasrallah to an attempt to interpret his comments as an
expression of weakness. The voices of the relatives of abducted IDF
soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser could also be heard amid
the tumult, saying that as long as the Hizbullah leader was not
offering negotiations for their release, he should be ignored.
Nasrallah, the father of the theory that Israel is weaker than a
spider's web, has already proven that he is attentive to the mood of
Israeli society and knows how to get on its nerves and generate
debate among its leadership on all matters related to the redemption
of captives, whether alive or dead. In stating that his
organization has the body parts of soldiers killed in battle,
Nasrallah has hit at the heart of Israeli sensitivity.... Most of
the cabinet ministers have so far been wise not to cooperate with
Nasrallah's provocative trafficking in bodies and emotions.... The
government would do well to stick to that position and treat
Nasrallah with the repugnance due him, while ignoring -- in the name
of the dignity of the dead and the living -- his recent macabre call
for opening additional negotiations."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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