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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #0232/01 0291151
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P 291151Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5181
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9985
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3541
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4093
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3353
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1511
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4088
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0934
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1408
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7968
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5440
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0352
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000232

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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
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PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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

1. Final Winograd Report

2. Mideast

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

All major media led with the political situation on the eve of the
publication of the final Winograd report. Ha'aretz and other media
quoted associates of PM Ehud Olmert as saying on Monday that he has
no intention of scheduling early elections. The Jerusalem Post and
other media reported that Olmert took steps to reinforce his
coalition by issuing reassuring statements to Kadima, Labor, and
Shas MKs in a speech to the Kadima faction. Yediot quoted Olmert
associates as saying that Defense Minister Ehud Barak may resign,
but that Kadima will not set a date for early elections. Maariv
reported that associates of Olmert and Barak are placing
responsibility for the government's future at one another's feet.
Maariv cited an assessment within the Labor Party that Barak will
act to advance the elections.

Israel Radio reported that in his State of the Union Address,
President Bush reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution and
his determination not to let Iran acquire nuclear weapons.

Israel Radio reported that Israel will try to share control of the
Rafah border with Egypt. Media reported that Hamas refuses to let
the PA share control of the border. Maariv reported that Hamas told
Egypt that it will return control to Egypt if it opens the Rafah
crossing. Yediot and other media reported that Egypt has asked
Israel to help resolve the Rafah crisis, saying that it will seal
the border by the end of the week and that Israel should accept
European observers and the transfer of responsibility to the PA.
The Jerusalem Post quoted the EU foreign ministers as saying on
Monday that the EU would "consider resuming its monitoring mission
at Rafah." Leading media reported that Hamas stressed its
opposition to allowing the PA to control the border. Major media
reported that Iran announced on Monday that it will soon renew its
diplomatic ties with Egypt.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that U.S. Roadmap monitor
Lt. Gen. William Fraser launched his mission on Monday.

Ha'aretz reported that Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack
Obama told Israeli reporters and the American Jewish press that a
"constant virulent campaign" was being waged against him, that Jews
have nothing to fear from him, and that there is no substance to
allegations that he is a Muslim who does not swear allegiance to the
U.S. Obama was also quoted as saying that he believes in Israel "as
a Jewish state," that he does not accept that a right of return for
Palestinians can be interpreted "in any literal way," that he
opposes talks with Hamas as long as the Islamist organization
refuses to recognize Israel, and that he believes in a two state
solution for two nations, but only as long as Israel has "security"
that the Palestinians will not only sign on to in a final agreement,
but also actualize.

Maariv reported that the Mauritanian opposition is applying strong
pressure to its government to revoke its ties with Israel because of
the Gaza crisis.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a new, state-authorized radio
station catering to West Bank settlers could be established
somewhere in the West Bank as early in April, unless a pending High
Court petition torpedoes the move.

All media reported that on Monday the High Court of Justice
sentenced Omri Sharon, the former PM's son, to seven months
imprisonment. Sharon, a former Knesset member, was convicted of
concealing illegal contributions from secret donors to his father's
1999 campaign for the chairmanship of the Likud Party.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger as
saying in an interview with the British weekly The Jewish News that
hardships suffered by the Palestinians in Gaza should be resolved by
setting up a state for them in the Sinai. Metzger was also quoted
as saying that while peaceable Arabs should be allowed to pray in
Jerusalem mosques, they should recognize that Jerusalem belongs to
the Jews.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday four Israeli-Arab Knesset members
attended the funeral of George Habash, the founder of the
Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), outside
Amman.

Israel Radio reported that based on the invitation of Knesset
Speaker Dalia Itzik, German FM Angela Merkel and French President
Nicolas Sarkozy will both address the Knesset in honor of Israel's
60th anniversary celebrations.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday MK Benny Elon, Chairman of the
Knesset's Science and Technology Committee, told members of a NASA
delegation visiting Israel that Israel would like to send another
astronaut to participate in a NASA expedition.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Joshua Fund, an American
evangelical organization, has decided to "adopt" Barzilai Medical
Center (hospital) in Ashkelon. The fund aims to invest at least
$1.2 million in humanitarian relief over the next year for Israeli,
Lebanese, and Palestinians families devastated by war and
terrorism.

Ha'aretz reported that renowned Israeli author David Grossman was
awarded an honorary doctorate in international literature by the
University of Florence in a ceremony held on Sunday to coincide with
European Holocaust Day.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli companies
listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) will now be able to
automatically register for trading on the pan-European Euronext
stock exchange in Paris.

Leading media reported on the upcoming visits to Israel of Cisco
Chairman John Chambers and Dr. Jacob Richter, a member of the senior
management of Juniper Networks.


--------------------------
1. Final Winograd Report:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote on page one of the independent
Israel Hayom: "One could receive the impression that the final
stages of the war in Lebanon were a masterpiece that the Prime
Minister conducted as if he were a statesman on the order of at
least Napoleon and Montgomery -- and not that this was a bitter,
hasty and superfluous battle that took the lives of dozens
needlessly. Olmert's spin masters are now counting on this."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "If the [Winograd] report's tone ...
leads clearly to the conclusion that Olmert must go home, everything
will change. On the other hand, if it is lukewarm ... [Olmert] will
be able to breathe easy."

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

I. "This Should Have Ended Long Ago"

Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote on page one of the independent
Israel Hayom (1/29): "It would be hard to describe a harsher or more
blatant or graver or more unequivocal indictment against the Prime
Minister than the one submitted last April-- and it is hard to think
of a final and summary synopsis that will not be viewed now as a
disappointing anticlimax.... The long waiting period wracked the
nerves of the political establishment and weakened the judgment of
the media, and now, on the last lap, everyone is firing all their
ammunition from all their guns and in every venue, and the spins and
the speculations are flying as if there were no tomorrow. This is
so extreme, that from some of the reports on the war's final days,
one could receive the impression that the final stages of the war in
Lebanon were a masterpiece that the Prime Minister conducted as if
he were a statesman on the order of at least Napoleon and Montgomery
-- and not that this was a bitter, hasty and superfluous battle that
took the lives of dozens needlessly. Olmert's spin masters are now
counting on this."


II. "Preoccupied"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (1/29): "The statements of Judge Eliyahu
Winograd, which will echo at six o'clock on Wednesday evening in
Jerusalem's International Convention Center, will shuffle the cards
-- this way, or that way. If the report's tone is harsh,
unequivocal, obvious, and leads clearly to the conclusion that
Olmert must go home, everything will change. On the other hand, if
it is lukewarm, focuses on the army and levels reasonable criticism
at the Prime Minister while mentioning the process of learning
lessons and reconstruction, he will be able to breathe easy. Judge
WinogradQs body language, statements, the terms he uses, the
commentary, the headlines that spread in their wake, and the public
response will all decide the fate of Olmert's government this week,
for good or ill. The way is looks now, good is in the lead."

------------
2. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The
decision to build a border fence ... is not about a particular
crisis, but the fulfillment of a basic long-term need."

Gershon Baskin, Co-Director of the Israel/Palestine Center for
Research and Information (IPCRI), wrote in The Jerusalem Post:
"(The)new reality, which is far from desirable from an Israeli point
of view, could be turned around in Israel's favor."

Liberal columnist Gadi Taub wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv:
"The simultaneous use of an aggressive policy, both toward the
illegal outposts as well as toward those who fire Qassam rockets,
will make it clear that the laws of policy, not of gangs, apply to
this conflict."

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

I. "Time for Hourglass"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (1/29):
"In 2005, just before Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza ...
then deputy IDF chief of staff Moshe Kaplinsky drew up a plan to
build a proper barrier along the international (Israel/Egypt)
border. The plan was called Project Hourglass. Back then,
Hourglass was estimated to cost $1.5 billion. That is a lot of
money, but as has been seen with the security fence in Judea and
Samaria (i.e. the West Bank), even a partial barrier can be a major
asset in preventing the infiltration of terrorists and catching them
if they do.... The border with Egypt is not a temporary one, nor is
it in dispute. As the U.S. is discovering regarding its border with
Mexico, even peaceful borders often need to be fenced off in order
for nations to exercise their sovereignty and determine who may
enter. The decision to build a border fence, accordingly, is not
about a particular crisis, but the fulfillment of a basic long-term
need. This need existed before Gaza fell to Hamas, and it will
exist even if the threat from Hamas is removed. It is an investment
worth making now that will benefit the nation far into the future."

II. "The Prospect of a New Gaza Reality"

Gershon Baskin, Co-Director of the Israel/Palestine Center for
Research and Information (IPCRI), wrote in The Jerusalem Post
(1/29): "(The)new reality, which is far from desirable from an
Israeli point of view, could be turned around in Israel's favor.
Recognizing that the smuggling of people, money, and weapons have
been taking place under the Gaza/Egypt border for years, even when
Israel fully occupied Gaza, the new reality brings that smuggling
above ground and ads the possibility that Egypt will station border
inspectors on the Egyptian side of Rafah. Furthermore, it is
possible to renegotiate the agreement with the European Union on the
stationing of EU monitors on the border. It could be possible to
move those EU monitors to the Egyptian side of the border, which
would remove any Israeli control over the monitors' movement and
enable at least some form of third-party supervision over the
border. The most obvious advantage for Israel, and probably for
Gaza as well, is if the new arrangements enable the Gaza border to
remain open and Israel to wash its hands of Gaza entirely. Israel
would be able to claim that it is no longer responsible for the
welfare of the Palestinian people of Gaza.... While taking these
bold steps, Israel could offer the Palestinians in Gaza a cease-fire
arrangement that the Hamas leadership has been trying to achieve
without success."

III. "The Whining Cossacks"

Liberal columnist Gadi Taub wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv
(1/29): "In the settlements, as in Gaza, the mentality of the robbed
Cossack comes to the fore: Beat and cry; shoot and also whine that
you are the victim. In both cases the government can restore the
principle of responsibility: Those who fire will be considered
responsible, and not be considered victims. The simultaneous use of
an aggressive policy, both toward the illegal outposts as well as
toward those who fire Qassam rockets, will make it clear that the
laws of policy, not of gangs, apply to this conflict. Israel is not
picking on the Palestinians, but rather demanding insistence on the
outline whose goal is to divide the land, and in the long term --
peace."

MORENO

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