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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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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
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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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President Bush Visits the Mideast, Jan. 8-16

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

Last night Channel 2-TV broadcasted an interview with President
Bush, who emphasized his support for Israel, and said that he could
not predict that an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would be finalized
by the end of this year. He was quoted as saying: "There'll be an
agreement on what a [Palestinian] state would look like, in my
judgment. I am not going to try to force the issue because of my own
timetable, but I do believe that Prime Minister Olmert and President
Abbas do want to get this done."

On Sunday, The Jerusalem Post reported, based on President Bush's
weekly radio address, that he will work with Middle East allies to
develop a security plan to counter Iran during his visit.

The Jerusalem Post and Yediot reported that today, under orders from
the political echelon, the IDF will begin reducing its activities in
the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, ahead of President Bush's arrival
on Wednesday. The decision to scale back operations was made by
Defense Minister Ehud Barak. All media reported that five
Palestinians were killed and five IDF soldiers were wounded during
an IDF incursion into the central Gaza Strip, focusing on the Bureij
refugee camp. The media reported that the IDF conducted a raid in
Nablus during the weekend.

The Jerusalem Post quoted GOI officials as saying on Sunday that
both Israel and the PA are trying to create a "positive atmosphere"
before the arrival of President Bush. According to the officials,
FM Tzipi Livni is scheduled to meet Palestinian negotiator Ahmed
Qurei on Monday for the fourth time since the Annapolis conference
to try to hammer out a framework for negotiations. This meeting is
expected to be followed by another meeting on Tuesday, between PM
Olmert and PA President Mahmoud Abbas. On Sunday Ha'aretz reported
that Israelis and Palestinians will negotiate the core issues in a
special committee to be headed by Livni and Qurei. Leading media
quoted Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Chairman of
Yisrael Beiteinu, as saying that his party will leave the government
if negotiations touch the core issues.

Ha'aretz reported that PM Ehud Olmert plans to assure President Bush
this week that he is committed to dismantling illegal settler
outposts. The government, however, is refusing to publish a
database containing full details about the settlements and outposts.
In response to a High Court of Justice petition on the matter, the
Defense Ministry has argued that publication would harm state
security and Israel's foreign relations. Maariv reported that
right-wing activists are expected to populate a new Jewish
neighborhood in East Jerusalem ahead of President Bush's visit.
Speaking on Israel Radio today, MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Kadima), the
Chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said
that Israel will dismantle the outposts when the Palestinians abide
by their commitments.

On Sunday Maariv reported that Ofer Dekel, PM Olmert's chief
negotiator for the release of the kidnapped soldiers, has met a
number of times with jailed Fatah/Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti.
Today Yediot cited a denial of the story by Olmert's bureau.

All media underscored speculations ahead of the January 30
publication of the final Winograd report. Israel TV quoted a member
of the Winograd Commission as saying that the report would be "fire
and brimstone." Yediot leads this morning with a report about
secretive cooperation between Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and

SIPDIS
Uzi Dayan, a former director of the National Security Council who
made a failed bid to be elected to the Knesset in 2006. According
to the report, Dayan, who has been coordinating the reservists
protest against PM Olmert over his role in the Second Lebanon War,
is actually working closely in conjunction with Netanyahu in order
to further their joint political goals. Speaking on Israel Radio
this morning, Dayan characterized the report as spin. Maariv and
The Jerusalem Post reported that members of Kadima and the Labor
Party are working toward setting up an alternative government headed
by Tzipi Livni that would be in power through 2010.

Major media reported that on Sunday Al-Qaida called on its
supporters to welcome President Bush with bombs, not with flowers.

Ha'aretz cited the Shin Bet as saying that Palestinian security
forces have arrested more than 250 Hamas operatives in the West Bank
over the past month.

Ha'aretz reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak will lay out for
President Bush the differences in interpretation regarding Iran's
nuclear program between the Israeli security establishment and U.S.

intelligence branches.

The Jerusalem Post reported that senior Likud sources have accused
PM Ehud Olmert of intervening to prevent President Bush from meeting
with opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu when the President comes
to Israel. The newspaper quoted Netanyahu as saying: "It would be
right if the President would take the time to listen to someone who
represents more than half the people in Israel, who oppose the
Annapolis process." The newspaper quoted a Kadima source as saying:
"At the White House they think [Netanyahu] is a liar, because of his
behavior when he was prime minister." The Jerusalem Post reported
that Likud officials expressed outrage that the only person Bush
will meet with on the trip who opposes the Annapolis diplomatic
process is former PM Ariel Sharon's son, Gilad Sharon, whom Bush
requested to meet in order to discuss the agricultural expertise he
has gained running the Sharon family ranch. The Jerusalem Post
quoted MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) as
saying that Israelis living in the West Bank should ignore the law
and continue to build in their communities in a show of civil
disobedience to the government-ordered construction freeze.

Ha'aretz reported that the Israel National Police has decided to
postpone the move of the Samaria and Judea (Shai) [i.e., West Bank]
District Police to its new headquarters in the controversial E-1
area, which links Jerusalem with the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh
Adumim. The police denied that the delay was linked to President
Bush's visit

Ha'aretz quoted Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.)
as saying in Nashua, N.H., on Sunday that Israel can get by without
U.S. aid.

Yediot reported that Egyptian parliamentarians are demanding the
establishment of a commission of investigation on war crimes
allegedly carried out by Israel following the discovery of a mass
grave in Eilat in which bodies, allegedly of Arab soldiers, were
found. On Sunday Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that a study that
was published in Cairo claims to have exposed the danger to the area
at large posed by the radioactivity given off by Israel's nuclear
weapons arsenal.

Yediot quoted former FBI agent Sibyl Edmunds as saying in an
interview with the British weekly Sunday Times that corrupt
high-ranking U.S. officials have helped unstable regimes such as
Pakistan obtain nuclear technologies, and that they turned a blind
eye to moles in the service of Israel and Turkey.

Maariv reported that during the past year over 50,000 surfers of the
internet from Arab countries have entered the citizens' counseling
service on the website of Israel's Welfare Ministry (in Arabic).
Maariv said that Saudi surfers were interested in driving lessons.

All media reported that the Tel Aviv Stock Market experienced losses
on Sunday (index changes ranged from -2.5% to -4.5%). The media
said that the trend echoes the situation on Wall Street.

Ha'aretz presented the results of Tel Aviv University's Peace Index
poll conducted among Jewish Israelis on January 1-2, 2008:

An overwhelming majority (81 percent) of the Jewish public (compared
to a minority of 11.5 percent who are opposed) currently support or
strongly support escalating the policy of targeted killings of those
who fire Qassam rockets or their dispatchers. This is despite the
responsible organizations' threat to react to the assassinations
with terror attacks. Some 61 percent (vs. 31.5 percent) also oppose
Israel reaching understandings with Hamas on stopping the rocket
fire in return for stopping the targeted killings and military
operations in Gaza.
Compared to this hard-line stance regarding Hamas and Gaza, the
attitude toward the Abbas-headed PA seems less hostile. A small
majority (51 percent vs. 43 percent) of the Jewish public think
Israel should uphold its undertakings at the Annapolis conference on
a settlement freeze, and a slightly larger majority (53 percent vs.
37 percent) think it should meet its obligations to the PA on
evacuating the illegal outposts. Furthermore, there is considerable
recognition of the Palestinians' rights to the territories that were
transferred to the PA in the Oslo framework.
In response to the question, "If the Winograd report includes harsh
criticism of PM Ehud Olmert's functioning during the Second Lebanon
War, would you support or oppose a demand that he resign from his
post, even if the commission does not make personal
recommendations?" 61 percent said that they would want Olmert to
resign, with only 20 percent saying they would not.

---------------------------------------------
President Bush Visits the Mideast, Jan. 8-16:
---------------------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The question remains whether the President's
support will convince skeptical Israelis that the Annapolis summit
and the peace process can achieve any substantial goals."

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz:
"Why is Israel negotiating with Washington and not with the
Palestinian Authority? After all, these issues cannot be
implemented without Palestinian consent."

Very liberal columnist Gideon Levy wrote in Ha'aretz: "The Middle
East has only moved further away from peace during Bush's tenure....
Only here is he accorded honor and glory."

Conservative columnist Nadav Shragai wrote in Ha'aretz in a mock
letter by Ehud Olmert "as mayor of Jerusalem" to President Bush:
"Division will expose some 200,000 Jews, who live a mere few dozen
or few hundred meters from Arab neighborhoods, to ... terror, to ...
fire, just as happened in [the neighborhood of] Gilo."

Contributor Yitzhak Klein wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe: "[Washington] is part of the problem and not of the
solution."


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

I. "A Friend to Olmert Indeed"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (1/6): "Unlike his predecessor Bill Clinton
who came to Israel four times during his presidency, Bush was here
just once, when he was governor of Texas two years before he was
elected president. In addition, press conferences with visiting
Israeli prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon, were kept
short, and he does not count any Israelis among his inner circle of
friends. Ahead of his visit, Bush gave two interviews to the
Israeli press -- to ... Yediot Aharonot -- and ... Channel 2-TV.
Choosing the most popular television station and most widely-read
newspaper shows the U.S. administration wants to reach the largest
target audience. In the interviews, Bush's main message addressed
Israeli politics. 'I trust him,' he said of Olmert. 'He's a man of
vision and I believe and like him, and I think he's a strong man.'
Few Israelis will say such things of Olmert.... To Olmert, Bush's
visit is a congenial event in which the President will arrive,
express his friendship and leave without putting forth policies
uncomfortable to Israel. But the question remains whether the
President's support will convince skeptical Israelis that the
Annapolis summit and the peace process can achieve any substantial
goals."

II. "There's a Partner, and he's American"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz
(1/6): "'Israel is asking the U.S. to agree to limitations on the
sovereignty of the future Palestinian state, including its complete
demilitarization, the freedom for Israel to fly in Palestinian
airspace, and concealed Israeli supervision of the border crossings
of the Palestinian state,' as Aluf Benn [of Ha'aretz] reported last
week. In particular, if and when there are negotiations, Israel
wants to be able to continue to operate in the territories without
restrictions while the talks are being held. It is possible, of
course, to argue that these demands result from a serious Israeli
internalization of the new reality in which a Palestinian state will
arise, and that to seal the deal there remains only the question of
the airspace and Shin Bet officials sitting behind one-way glass at
the border crossing. But there is a sneaking suspicion that this
conclusion is unfounded. Because why is Israel negotiating with
Washington and not with the Palestinian Authority? After all, these
issues cannot be implemented without Palestinian consent. It seems
Israel seeks conditions that will become the permanent policy of the
U.S., regardless of who its president may be.."

III. "Iran, then Annapolis"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (1/7):
"Every which way. U.S. President George W. Bush is trying to send a
signal, as he heads to the region this week, that he is with Israel
and with the Arab states that feel threatened by Iran.... Judging
from the travel schedules of Bush and his secretary of state, the
top U.S. priority is Annapolis, not Iran. This is backwards, and
until these priorities are reversed, no amount of hand-holding will
assuage the concerns of Israel and the more moderate Arab states....
This, indeed, is the grand bargain that Bush should propose to Arab
states: a serious U.S. sanctions campaign -- backed by a Bush visit
to Europe -- to isolate Iran in exchange for greater Arab gestures
toward normalization with Israel. Such a deal would help the U.S.
convince Europe to impose tougher sanctions, help the Palestinian
Authority against Hamas and increase American prestige , and it
could help turn the tide of inevitability away from the Iranian
bomb. Bush should make clear: Annapolis depends on isolating Iran,
so anyone who says they want Annapolis to work -- as have Europe and

the Arab states -- needs to join in dramatically tightening the
screws on Tehran."

IV. "A Hostile President"

Very liberal columnist Gideon Levy wrote in Ha'aretz (1/6): "This is
all we got from Bush: a more entrenched and brutal occupation with
the open, or tacit, encouragement of the U.S.; a green light for
another superfluous war in Lebanon; a Hamas government in Gaza,
which the U.S., and consequently the rest of the world, is
boycotting -- a measure that has only led to the starvation of Gaza,
while failing to weaken Hamas; and U.S. authorization for the
'settlement blocs.' The Middle East has only moved further away
from peace during Bush's tenure.... This is the man who is coming to
us this week. History will yet judge him for his actions and his
failures. The world feels enmity toward him and even the U.S. is
already sick and tired of him. Only here is he accorded honor and
glory."

V. "Mr. President, Would You Divide New York?""

Conservative columnist Nadav Shragai wrote in Ha'aretz in a mock
letter by Ehud Olmert "as mayor of Jerusalem" to President Bush
(1/7): "'Mr. President, do you know what happened in Jerusalem the
last time it was divided, in 1948? About one quarter of its Jews
left -- more than 25,000 people! They weren't willing to live in
border neighborhoods and be exposed to rifle and machine-gun
fire.... Division will expose some 200,000 Jews, who live a mere few
dozen or few hundred meters from Arab neighborhoods, to ... terror,
to ... fire, just as happened in [the neighborhood of] Gilo....
Would any other country in the world give up the right to pray at
its holiest site, the Temple Mount, as Israel has done, out of
respect for members of another faith who also pray at that site?
And in exchange -- look at how the Palestinians 'respect' our holy
sites: Joseph's Tomb, Rachel's Tomb ... Mr. President, I am
admittedly only a mayor, but what I said to then prime minister
Barak in 2000, I am saying now to you, and to Prime Minister Olmert:
'It's dangerous. It is irresponsible. Life in this city will become
hell, for Jews and Arabs alike.' Please explain this to the Prime
Minister of Israel.'"

VI. "Needless Imposition"

Contributor Yitzhak Klein wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe (1/7): "Washington does not understand [Israel's]
condition ; thus, perhaps because of lack of knowledge, it is part

of the problem and not of the solution. But this can also be said
of many Israelis.... Something indeed happened after the Second
Lebanon War: the general public no longer believes in those who try
to impose [enslavement]; it no longer trusts them [the Americans].
From here to the desire to free ourselves -- the road is still long.
But when the myth of the 'rapists' [a paraphrase on a remark
allegedly made by Ha'aretz editor David Landau that 'Israel wants to
be raped'] is debunked, the liberation from their [the Americans']
burden will surely come. This is only a matter of time and
consciousness."

MORENO

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