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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0211/01 0251115
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251115Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5148
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 3314
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9972
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3528
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4080
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3340
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1498
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4075
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0921
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1395
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7955
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5427
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0339
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4467
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6414
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8920
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000211

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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All media reported that the IDF closed down Highway 10 along the
Israeli-Egyptian border from Gaza to Eilat on Thursday night amid
heightened concern of terrorist infiltration following the Gaza
border breach. Defense officials expressed concern that terrorists
were among the hundreds of thousands of Gazans to swarm into Egypt
over the last 48-hours and would try to launch attacks from Sinai.
In addition, the National Security Council's counter-terrorism
bureau issued a warning Thursday recommending that Israelis avoid
visiting Sinai and that any Israelis currently there "leave
forthwith." Israel Radio reported that a parliamentary delegation
from the Egyptian opposition, which included one of Saddam Hussein's
lawyers, visited Gaza, and paid a condolence visit to senior Hamas
leader Mahmoud Zahar, whose son was killed in a recent IDF
operation. Maariv and other media reported that Israel is concerned
that Gilad Shalit could be smuggled into Sinai. Maariv cited the
belief of Palestinian sources that around 150 rockets were smuggled
into Gaza over the past couple of days. Israel Radio reported that
the Egyptian authorities will close the border with Gaza at 3 p.m.
(08:00 EST) today.

Leading media quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying at the
World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday that Israel could allow
Gaza crossings to be opened under PA security control. Israel Radio
said that the defense establishment finds the idea objectionable.
Ha'aretz quoted Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad as saying that Barak's
statement was a cause for hope. "We must seriously consider
Israel's security concerns. We are committed to non-violence and to
solving the conflict by peaceful means," he was quoted as saying.
The Jerusalem Post reported that President Shimon Peres told UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Davos that Israel will not allow

SIPDIS
the people of Gaza to starve.

Leading media published reports and commentaries ahead of the final
Winograd report which will be released on Wednesday. Yediot quoted
Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying in Davos that maintaining
government stability in Israel is important. Maariv said that he
hinted that he would not resign following the publication of the
report. Referring to the backing of Olmert by liberal figures,
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe bannered: "On the Eve of Winograd, the Left
Sides with Olmert."

All major media reported on two late-night terrorist attacks that
took place minutes apart: A border policeman was killed and his
female colleague was wounded by assailants at a checkpoint outside
the refugee camp of Shuafat immediately north of Jerusalem. A
hitherto unknown branch of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- the
Return and Struggle Brigades -- claimed responsibility for the
attack. Two Palestinians were killed while attempting to carry out
an attack at a yeshiva in Kfar Etzion, Gush Etzion. Two Israelis
were slightly wounded in the incident.

Israel Radio reported that the IAF killed four Palestinians
militants in the Gaza Strip.

Ha'aretz reported that in Davos FM Tzipi Livni would not commit to
completing negotiations with the Palestinians by the end of the
year. She said that negotiations are not bound by the current
American administration. Livni was quoted as saying that both sides
want to solve the conflict and that it takes time to do so properly.
"I don't believe it's connected to the present American
administration. We're doing it for our own sakes. We want to do it
this year. We will have meetings every few days," she was quoted as
saying. Livni said that before implementing the agreement certain
changes must be made. At this stage it does not appear possible to
complete the agreement and throw a key over the fence, hoping
someone on the other side catches it. We need an effective
government that can rule, a proper administration, something that
could change the situation and accept the key not only in the West
Bank but in Gaza," she said.

Leading media reported that on Thursday a delegation of Kadima
Knesset members traveled to Ramallah and met with PA President
Mahmoud Abbas and PM Salam Fayyad. The Jerusalem Post reported that
the Palestinian leaders told the members of the delegation that all
core issues were on the table. The newspaper noted that those
comments did not help PM Olmert's chances of surviving the Winograd
report.

Leading media reported that U.S. objections to a draft UN Security
Council presidential statement about the situation in Gaza continued
on Thursday, stalling action for the third day in a row. The
Jerusalem Post reported that Israel slammed a "farcical"
condemnation of Israel by the UN Human Rights Council over its
actions in the Gaza Strip. Israel and the U.S. boycotted the
proceedings.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Under Secretary of State for
Political Affairs Nicholas Burns told reports in Jerusalem on
Thursday that a new draft for a third round of UN sanctions could
cause Tehran to rethink its pursuit of nuclear power by paving the
way for the EU to impose to own much harsher sanctions.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the High Court of Justice changed
course on Thursday and scheduled a hearing for Sunday regarding the
government's decision to reduce fuel and electricity supplies to the
Gaza Strip.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel has completely frozen all new
construction in West Bank settlements, despite recent comments by PM
Ehud Olmert that Israel would treat construction in the major
settlement blocs differently from building in most settlements.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Sallai
Meridor has blasted his predecessor Danny Ayalon for an article
critical of Sen. Barack Obama that he published in The Jerusalem
Post.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) is
promoting the diplomatic plan of MK Benny Elon (National
Union-National Religious Party) in Congress. The plan calls for
applying Israeli sovereignty in the West Ban, granting Jordanian
citizenship to West Bank Palestinians, and eliminating refugee
camps.

Leading media reported that this week Yad Vashem launched an
Arabic-language Web site.

Ronen Bergman of Yediot wrote a feature about "all the secrets" in
Israeli-Moroccan relations, including Israel's part in the
assassination of opposition leader Mehdi Ben Barka, intelligence
that Morocco gave Israel on the eve of the Six-Day War that Arab
armies were not prepared for war, and the breakthrough that led to
President Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem and the Israel-Egypt
peace treaty.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that U.S. citizens in Israel will be
able to vote online for the first time this year, when Democrats
Abroad holds its global primary.

Yediot cited the results of a poll conducted among high school
students, education students, army officers and soldiers: 82%
believe that the Holocaust could repeat itself.

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

Summary:
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The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "There is
little point in [Olmert] extolling the quiet on the northern border
when a diplomatic and security crisis for which Israel has no
solution is taking place in the South."

Liberal columnist Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "Lebanon was a quagmire; Gaza is a Gordian knot."

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe: "The collapse of the border at Rafah is one of
the good things that has happened in the Gaza Strip following
disengagement."

Conservative columnist Nadav Haetzni wrote in Maariv: "After we
digest Winograd, there will be room for pushing the next commission
of inquiry, which will have to check how Israeli society entered
this trap in the South -- from which it is not certain how Israel
will escape."

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

I. "The Siege of Gaza Has Failed"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (1/25): "The
border with Egypt was breached in a single moment, with no warning.
It is impossible to refrain from asking whether any of our decision
makers, or any of those who whisper in their ears, foresaw this
scenario and prepared for it.... As hundreds of thousands of
Palestinians were streaming into Sinai by car and making a mockery
of Israel's policy in Gaza, the Prime Minister gave a speech at the
Herzliya Conference that sounded disconnected from reality. There
is little point in extolling the quiet on the northern border when a
diplomatic and security crisis for which Israel has no solution is


taking place in the South.... In his speech, Ehud Olmert declared:
'Mistakes were made; there were failures. But in addition, lessons
were learned, mistakes were corrected, modes of behavior were
changed, and, above all, the decisions we have made since then have
led to greater security, greater calm and greater deterrence than
there had been for many years.' Olmert was referring to the Winograd
report. But he categorically ignored the fact that what was
happening in the South completely contradicts his statements. If
that is what learning lessons looks like, if that is what deterrence
means, the Olmert government has precious little to boast about."

II. "Nauseating Odor"

Liberal columnist Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (1/25): "Two-and-a-half years after the disengagement the
Gaza Strip is taking on an appearance similar to that of Lebanon in
the late 1990s -- exactly the same sorry state of mind as evoked by
the 'security zone' ... a nauseating feeling that nothing good will
come out of Gaza, and that anything Israel does will create nothing
but a fiasco. But it is impossible to disengage from Gaza. We've
already left, but Israel cannot disengage from a territory that does
not have a sovereign ruler and depends on Israel for its
subsistence. Israel does not recognize the regime in Gaza. It
cannot change the dependence [problem]. Lebanon was a quagmire;
Gaza is a Gordian knot."


III. "The Best Thing since the Disengagement"

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (1/25): "The collapse of the border at Rafah is
one of the good things that has happened in the Gaza Strip following
disengagement. If it later results in an exodus of Gazans to Sinai
-- this is even better. If this is the product of Israel's siege,
it might turn out to be one of the few achievements of the Olmert
government.... The arrangement at the Rafah crossing following
[Israel's] pullout continued to link the Gaza Strip to Israel even
after the disengagement. That arrangement allowed the entire world
to demand that Israel continue to supply water and electricity,
medicines and equipment, to the Gaza Strip, and caused Israel to
apologize forever and beat its breast every time it did not in fact
support its enemies. An opening has now been produced to change the
situation. We have disengaged from the Strip, at least until Israel
frees it again in a military operation."

IV. "The Southern Fiasco"

Conservative columnist Nadav Haetzni wrote in Maariv (1/25): "As
regards the situation in southern Israel, a single man, the supreme
leader, is lying in stupor, enjoying a halo of sanctity despite
everything, while a bunch of his suns [aides] are guiding the
country. No one is thinking of calling Winograd to investigate.
Neither does anyone demand of the Prime Minister and the architects
of the southern fiasco to draw conclusions.... It has turned out to
be that the Gazan neighbors are not playing according to Sharon and
Olmert's rules of the game. They are not folding down. At the same
time the border with Egypt -- the very Philadelphi route against
whose abandonment Sharon had warned -- was breached. If a motorway
of weapons functioned there until now, an ocean will flow through it
from now on.... After we digest Winograd, there will be room for
pushing the next commission of inquiry, which will have to check how
Israeli society entered this trap in the South -- from which it is
not certain how Israel will escape."

JONES

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