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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 041113Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4855
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9876
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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3984
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3239
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1389
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3978
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0825
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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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Major media (banner in Ha'aretz (Hebrew Ed.)) reported that in an
interview with Reuters on Thursday President Bush called Israeli
settlement expansion an "impediment" to the success of revived peace
efforts and urged Israel to follow through on its pledge to
dismantle unauthorized settler outposts. Bush was also quoted as
saying that his visit is also aimed at thwarting Iran. Leading
media reported that the President's schedule is too busy to hold a
three-way meeting with PM Ehud Olmert and PA President Mahmoud
Abbas. However, Israel Radio and other media reported that the
President will visit Ramallah, where he will meet with Abbas and
Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad.

Bannering "Bush: Iran Lied to the World," Yediot continued to
present highlights of the full interview with Bush that appears in
today's newspaper. He was quoted as saying that he will try to
build a coalition against Iran, and that Olmert is a man endowed
with vision, in whom he believes and whom he likes.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, PM Olmert praised "our
friend" in the White House, warned of the daggers of a one-state
solution, and wished he were at liberty to provide the public with
more details of everything he is doing to serve Israel.

The media reported that the IDF killed nine militants in the Gaza
Strip on Thursday and two Hamas members this morning. The Jerusalem
Post reported that a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office
characterized Thursday's Katyusha rocket attack on Ashkelon as "very
problematic" and a "strategic threat." The official was quoted as
saying that it showed once again the urgency of stopping the arms
smuggling from Sinai into the Gaza Strip. Ha'aretz quoted defense
sources as saying that Israel will not respond to the attack with a
large-scale operation in Gaza. Leading commentators believe that
Hamas is hiding behind claims of responsibility issued by various
Palestinian organizations.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that PM Olmert promised King
Abdullah II during a flash visit to Jordan that Israel will not set
up new settlements in the territories and will not confiscate new
territory in the West Bank. Olmert made the statements after the
King recently criticized Israeli construction in Har Homa and
Ma'aleh Adumim.

The Jerusalem Post quoted PA officials in Ramallah as saying on
Thursday that the prospects for a breakthrough in the peace process
in the near future have dwindled following reports that Israel will
demand that the future Palestinian state be demilitarized.

Ha'aretz reported that on Thursday the High Court of Justice
confirmed Israel's right to continue diminishing the quantities of
fuel it transfers to the Gaza Strip to the planned weekly amount of
230,000 liters.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, in a letter sent earlier this week
to Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avihai Mandelblit, the
Public Committee against Torture in Israel charged that IDF solders
are using dogs to attack and harass Palestinian civilians and
detainees.

Ha'aretz (lead story in its English Ed.) reported that Labor Party
Chairman (and Defense Minister) Ehud Barak is considering a call for

early elections by the end of 2008 after the release of the final
report of the Winograd Commission, expected in the next few weeks.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, after decades of battling, Israel
received seats on the UN's Human Settlement Program and the
Environment Program panels, both based in Nairobi.

The Jerusalem Post cited a study released on Thursday by Hebrew
University researchers that found that Israel's image in the
international media deteriorated after the pullout from the Gaza
Strip, despite Israeli expectations that the unilateral withdrawal
would boost support for its policies.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel is not ruling out the possibility of
Hizbullah holding remains of IDF soldiers, as stated by Hizbullah
leader Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday.

Maariv reported that Defense Minister Barak has hinted to PM Olmert
that he will initiate a coalition crisis if Olmert does not stop
reforms launched by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann.

Yediot reported that 16 prominent U.S. business people will visit

Israel next week. The group includes Nancy Tellem, President of CBS
Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group, her husband NBA
agent Arn Tellem, who may purchase an Israeli sports team, and
former top Coca Cola executive Herbert Allen.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that American medical schools in
Israel have finally received recognition from the Israeli Council
for Higher Education (ICHE), a step that will allow their graduates
to remain in Israel for their residencies.

Leading media marked two years since Ariel Sharon fell into a coma.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a replica of a collection of
Biblical illustrations created by a Holocaust victim while hiding
from the Nazis during World War II will be presented to President
Bush during his visit to Yad Vashem next week.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that former U.S. poet laureate
Robert Hass will be in Israel next week for a conference at Tel Aviv
University on "Poetic Natures: The Environment, Literature, and the
Arts."

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "When
a chance to embarrass Israel fell into their hands [the
Palestinians] took it."

Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "[Olmert] and Bush and Abbas ... set
themselves this improbable one-year deadline."
Former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold wrote in the nationalist,
Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe: "The [April 2004] Bush letter [to
Sharon] did not intend to impose an outline for designing a future
framework for negotiations."

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

I. "Meetings of the Minds"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (1/4):
"At Annapolis, Olmert, Abbas and Bush promised to make 'every
effort' to complete the Israeli-Palestinian agreement by December
2008. In the meantime a month has gone by and the agreement is not
a single millimeter closer.... There is no doubt that Olmert
supports removing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank that are
outside the security fence -- that was the basis of his 'convergence
plan' -- but now it looks as though he has caved in to Palestinian
and American pressure. He tried to reach an understanding with
Abbas about construction in the settlements even before the 'Har
Homa crisis.' We will continue to build in the large blocs, he told
the Palestinian president, but we will not expropriate land or
establish new settlements. In many places, explained Olmert, lands
have fallen into the hands of private contractors, and if they have
permits, they can start building tomorrow. Thus machinery and
construction will be visible, especially within the blocs. I can't
stop everything, Olmert said. The Palestinians heard him, but when
a chance to embarrass Israel fell into their hands they took it. As
far as they -- and the Americans -- are concerned, there is no
validity to the Israeli distinction between 'neighborhoods in
Jerusalem' and 'Jewish settlements in the territories.' Har Homa is
beyond the Green Line, just as Itamar and Eli are."

III. "The Asymmetry Confronting Bush"

Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (1/4): "As Bush flies in ... the question
is -- as it has been through so many bloodily failed previous
efforts at peace-making -- is not whether Israel is anxious for a
viable accord, or whether America and much of the international
community want one, but whether the Palestinian leadership is, and
if so whether it speaks for or can win over the Palestinian
public.... Olmert rightly remarked [in an interview with The
Jerusalem Post this week], when asked whether anything had moved
since Annapolis, that it was somewhat absurd to be expecting
progress in a matter of weeks when 'we are talking about a conflict
of 100 years.' Indeed, it is. Except that it was he and Bush and
Abbas who set themselves this improbable one-year deadline."

IV. "The Bush Administration against the Bush Letter"

Former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold wrote in the nationalist,
Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (1/4): "It is important to stress that
Sharon believed that Bush's [April 2004] letter not only gave Israel
the settlement blocs, but also another territorial element. One
year later Sharon described to Ha'aretz ... his conception of
'defensible borders', in particular the Jordan Valley as an
extremely important area militarily.... The Bush letter did not
intend to impose an outline for designing a future framework for
negotiations, but it presented the basic American stance regarding
the final-status agreement, were the U.S. to detail its positions to
the sides in case the negotiations reached a stalemate.... Bush's
letter did not deal with the Jerusalem issue, but in the past few
years Israel obtained great American acceptance of its claims....
The important point is that [in the late 1990s] Washington did not
pressure Israel to stop construction at Har Homa, whereas today the
Bush administration is willing to criticize Israel on construction
in East Jerusalem -- only because this might affect the
post-Annapolis negotiations."

MORENO

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