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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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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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President Bush was quoted as saying in a comprehensive interview
with Yediot that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians
will be reached by the end of the year. The President was also
quoted as saying that he will not allow a terror state alongside
Israel. Bush also talked about Palestinian statehood, the
possibility that Israel may attack Iran, his relations with Ariel
Sharon and PM Olmert, and the legacy he will leave behind in the
White House. The full text of the interview will appear in Friday's
Yediot.

Ha'aretz quoted GOI sources as saying that Israel is seeking to
reach an understanding with the U.S. administration that would
safeguard Israel's security interests during current negotiations
and in a future final-status agreement with the Palestinians. The
sources were also quoted as saying that Israel is seeking President
Bush's support for its security demands so that such understandings
can serve as a basis for the work of the American special security
envoy General James Jones, who has been tasked with formulating the
security arrangements for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. At the
heart of Israel's demands is that it remain free to act against
terror in the West Bank for as long as negotiations last, and that
demilitarization arrangements place limitations on the future
Palestinian state. Israel wants to maintain effective military
superiority in the territories during the talks, and ensure that it
has the freedom to act against terror organizations in Gaza. "It is
inconceivable that we would be prevented from continuing the
extraordinary achievement against terror in the West Bank," a source
said. Israel would like the U.S. to agree to a number of
limitations on the future Palestinian state's sovereignty. Israel
wants Palestine to be completely demilitarized, and for Israel to be
able to fly over Palestinian air space. Border crossings would be
monitored by Israel in such a way that the symbols of Palestinian
sovereignty would not be compromised, but Israel would know who was
coming and going. Israel is to propose the deployment of an
international force in the West Bank and along the Philadelphi Route
in Rafah, and would ask that a permanent IDF presence remain for an
extended period in the Jordan Valley. According to Israel's plan, a
small Israeli force would be stationed in the Jordan Valley as a
"tripwire force" that would act as a deterrent. Israel would also
demand Palestinian agreement that in the case of an emergency Israel
could deploy in essential areas of the West Bank to thwart a threat
of invasion from the East. According to government and security
sources, "in most of the issues involving the agreement with the
Palestinians, Israel is the one being asked to give tangible things.
The only area in which we have real demands from the Palestinians
is that of security arrangements. Therefore it is important that
the talks have the proper outline so that Israel can insist on its
security demands and the Palestinians will not dilute them."

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli diplomatic officials as saying
that the involvement of a number of Palestinian security officials
in the murder of Israelis in terrorist attacks will be raised during
President Bush's meeting with PM Olmert next week.

All media reported that defense officials slammed Egypt on Wednesday
after it allowed hundreds of stranded Gazan pilgrims returning from
Mecca to cross into the Gaza Strip trough the Rafah border crossing.
Media quoted PA and Hamas officials as saying that Egypt's decision
was made at the behest of Saudi King Abdullah. Media reported that
dozens of senior Hamas members were part of the group of pilgrims
and were believed to be carrying tens of millions of dollars that
they had collected in Saudi Arabia. In addition, some of the Hamas
members were believed to have undergone advanced military training
in Iran. Senior Israeli officials were quoted as saying that
Egypt's decision is against all agreements.

All media quoted Hizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
as saying last night in an interview with the Lebanese TV station
NBN that his group is holding remains of Israeli soldiers and that
he is ready to negotiate with Israel over them. Speaking on Israel
Radio, Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said that Israel is
unaware of Nasrallah's claim. Nasrallah was also quoted as saying
that Hizbullah is monitoring Israeli military moves along the
border, and that it is preparing accordingly, but that he does not
expect war to break out soon. Ha'aretz quoted him as saying that
Israel is behind the assassinations in Lebanon.

The media reported that on Wednesday the IDF killed seven militants
in the Gaza Strip and destroyed a heavy machine-gun post that was
used by Palestinian militants to fire at IDF forces. Israel Radio
reported that on Wednesday Abu Shaaban, the Popular Resistance
Committees' leader in Gaza, escaped an assassination attempt by the
IDF. Israel Radio reported that this morning for the first time
Palestinians fired a Katyusha rocket that landed north of Ashkelon
-- the longest range launching ever. Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command claimed
responsibility for the attack. The radio quoted Palestinian sources
as saying that this morning an IDF shell killed five Palestinians in
a building east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. Leading
media cited a claim by Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades that it
fired a rocket on Wednesday at the northern West Bank settlement of
Shaked.

Israel Radio reported that in a letter to Libya's Ambassador to the
UN (the current UN Security Council President) and to UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Danny

SIPDIS
Gillerman, protested against a UN report on the Middle East that
failed to mention the two IDF soldiers who were abducted to
Lebanon.

Last night Israel TV reported that on Tuesday, at a gathering of
right-wing rabbis, Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe of Chabad called for PM
Ehud Olmert to be hanged.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the One Jerusalem organization,
which is against government plans to divide the capital, will make a
human chain next week surrounding the Old City -- as a response to
President Bush's visit.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Tuesday Israel and the PA
renewed meetings of their Joint Economic Committee following a
seven-year hiatus.

All media reported that on Wednesday Justice Minister Daniel
Friedmann unveiled plans to increase politicians' influence in
picking Supreme Court justices.

Ha'aretz reported on the restoration of public order in Nablus by
the PA police.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday the
police questioned seven Druze dignitaries over their visit to Syria
four months ago.

The Jerusalem Post, citing AP, wrote that Charles Steele, Jr., the
President of the Southern Christian Leadership, arrived on Wednesday
for a trip to the West Bank to promote Arab-Israeli peace talks
based on the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Major media reported that on Wednesday, in what marks its largest
acquisition in Israel, IBM Corp. announced that it has purchased
XIV, a local privately-held data storage technology company. The
companies would not put a price on the deal, but reports in the
Israeli financial press earlier this week valued it at $300 million
to $350 million.

Ha'aretz reported that sources at Israel's Export Institute accuse
the government of bending before American pressure regarding
products that China could use for military purposes, which has hurt
exports. (Under U.S. pressure following Israel's controversial 2005
sale of spy drones to China, Israel ruled that companies exporting
products that could be used militarily need permission from the
Export Control Department of the Defense Ministry.)

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Since [the
Annapolis] summit, both Jerusalem and Ramallah have been affected by
weakening positions, coupled with evasion and procrastination.
Bush's mission during his upcoming visit will be to convince his
hosts of his determination to see his vision -- which is also their
vision -- realized."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit and others wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "In advance of the visit of the U.S. President
next week, Israel is trying to put together an agenda and derive
benefits from it, as well as benefits for Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert."

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in Maariv: "Even
Olmert doesn't really care if new apartments are or are not built in
East Jerusalem, in complete violation of the promises that Israel
gave at the Annapolis conference."

Former ambassador to Egypt and Sweden, contributor Zvi Mazel wrote
in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Though Egypt has
made peace with Israel, it is first and foremost an Arab country
aspiring to regional leadership, and wholeheartedly on the side of
the Palestinians in their struggle against Israel."

Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in The Jerusalem Post:
"Condoleezza Rice [compared] what Palestinians go through at the
West Bank checkpoints to what blacks went through in the Jim Crow
South.... Israelis can scream bloody murder at Condoleezza Rice, but
they're only trying to shoot the messenger."

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

I. "Bush's Final Effort"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (1/3):
"Precisely because the [next U.S.] administration will need
considerable time to make appointments and formulate its policies,
in a manner that is liable to make 2009 a wasted year, Bush must
frame one final, concerted effort to close the gaps between the
Israeli and Palestinian positions.... The Palestinians, for their
part, must choose between a leadership that is willing to compromise
and an extremist element that aspires to total religious control --
even if it is delayed for tactical reasons -- over the entire
territory between the [Mediterranean] Sea and the Jordan River....
Recognition of this fact does not exempt Israel from its obligation
to work toward an agreement, without waiting for the fall of the
Hamas government in the Gaza Strip and the unification of the two
parts of Palestine under a single, moderate leadership. The present
government represents a large, realistic and willing-to-compromise
majority of the Israeli public.... [President Bush's] brief stay in
Israel is an opportunity to persuade him, and indirectly also those
who aspire to succeed him, that in the eyes of the Israelis who live
here, the friendships of the President and of American legislators
is not measured in terms of tougher stances than those of the
government in Jerusalem. At Annapolis, both parties undertook to
act continuously in order to get closer to the precious goal by the
end of 2008. Since that summit, both Jerusalem and Ramallah have
been affected by weakening positions, coupled with evasion and
procrastination. Bush's mission during his upcoming visit will be
to convince his hosts of his determination to see his vision --
which is also their vision -- realized."

II. "Goal: American Recognition of Israel's Interests"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit and others wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "In advance of the visit of the U.S. President
next week, Israel is trying to put together an agenda and derive
benefits from it, as well as benefits for Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert. In a meeting on Wednesday with Olmert prior to the visit, an
emphasis was put on an attempt to get a presidential declaration
from Bush on US recognition of Israel's 'vital interests' in advance
of the negotiations on a permanent status arrangement with the
Palestinians. Before the Annapolis conference, Olmert's aides,
Yoram Turbowicz and Shalom Turgeman, went to Washington with a
document containing a map of Israel's vital interests. Now they are
trying to redo the list, and the security establishment is
reformulating Israel's critical security interests in an attempt to
extract from President Bush a declaration on the matter that can be
presented as an achievement. Among other things, this refers to
such interests as the future Palestinian state being demilitarized
of all heavy weapons, allowing Israel to maintain freedom of
security action in the course of the negotiations, maintaining
Israeli airspace, etc."

III. "Playing Let's Pretend"

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in Maariv (1/3):
"Ostensibly, the Prime Minister ... informed his good friend from
long back, Housing Minister Zeev Boim, that from now on, every house
that is built in East Jerusalem or in the settlements, has to
receive his permission and the permission of the government.... But
Boim, it appears, needs to be told these things, after, with great
impudence, he approved the expansion of settlements without
notifying anyone. That is how weak the central government is
here.... Even Olmert doesn't really care if new apartments are or
are not built in East Jerusalem, in complete violation of the
promises that Israel gave at the Annapolis conference. Moreover, to
some degree, he doesnQt even want all construction to stop, because
otherwise, he will have to deal with [right-wing cabinet ministers]
Avigdor Lieberman and Eli Yishai, and he really doesn't feel like
getting into a coalition crisis over this.... And so, a handful of a
few hundred right wing extremists will continue to dictate a
distorted agenda to an entire country that the majority of Israelis,
according to every possible poll, do not want."

IV. "The Unholy Return of the Palestinian Pilgrims"

Former ambassador to Egypt and Sweden, contributor Zvi Mazel wrote
in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (1/3): "After three
days of a tense standoff, Egypt's determination not to allow the
thousands of pilgrims returning from Mecca into the Gaza Strip
without being thoroughly checked by Israel to prevent smuggling of
explosives and cash to bolster Hamas rule finally crumbled and a
jubilant crowd surged into the strip.... Though Egypt has made peace

with Israel, it is first and foremost an Arab country aspiring to
regional leadership, and wholeheartedly on the side of the
Palestinians in their struggle against Israel. The idea that
Egyptian soldiers would be instructed to stop smuggling at all costs
-- which means they would have to report to violence and to live
fire -- is ludicrous in that context.... It is now up to Israel to
think long and hard about what it wants to do. What we need is a
solution, not someone to blame. There is a warning for America,
too, in that story: Don't push Egypt too far."

V. "Dr. Rice Strikes a Nerve"

Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in The Jerusalem Post (1/3):
"Condoleezza Rice [compared] what Palestinians go through at the
West Bank checkpoints to what blacks went through in the Jim Crow
South, and Israelis are shocked, offended, outraged, etc.... [There]
are some dissimilarities between the West Bank and the old South,
and the dissimilarities are all that Israelis, in general, will
allow themselves to see. But after coming to this country from
America 23 years ago, I have seen Israelis treating Palestinians and
Israeli Arabs in ways that made me think immediately of white
crackers putting blacks in their place in Louisiana or South
Carolina back in the old days.... When Israeli Jews bully Arabs,
they don't appear to be acting out of desperation, to be avenging
Arab terror or war, to be striking back at their oppressors -- they
appear, instead, to be luxuriating in the power of the strong over
the weak, of the bosses over the bossed. The kind of Israeli
behavior documented most recently by the IDF's own survey may not be
the rule around here, but neither is it by any means the exception,
and it can only go on because Israeli society, tacitly or overtly,
condones it. This is the way in which Israel's treatment of
Palestinians -- and, to a much lesser extent, its own Arab citizens
- is reminiscent of the treatment of southern blacks in the days of
Jim Crow. It's not the whole story of the Israeli-Arab conflict,
but it's a very important part of the story. Israelis can scream
bloody murder at Condoleezza Rice, but they're only trying to shoot
the messenger."

MORENO

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