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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0005/01 0021120
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P 021120Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4807
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3202
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9863
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3390
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3971
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3226
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1368
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3965
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0812
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1286
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7846
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5318
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0230
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4358
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6302
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8737
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000005

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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Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that the leaders of Israel, the PA and
the U.S. are expected to hold a joint meeting during President
Bush's visit here next week, in an effort to accelerate negotiations
on the conflict's core issues -- borders, refugees, and Jerusalem.
Ha'aretz reported that an association of Israeli rabbis, whose
dominant faction is a group of Chabad rabbis, recently wrote the
President, asking him to cancel his planned visit to Israel. The
group cites reports interpreting the visit as being intended to
pressure Israel to cancel various security measures that make life
difficult for Palestinians and to carry out a major evacuation of
West Bank settlements, steps that would "directly cost the lives of
hundreds of Jews."

PM Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying in an interview with The
Jerusalem Post that he is satisfied with the current makeup of his
coalition and convinced that he would be able to pass a potential
deal with PA President Mahmoud Abbas without changing it. The
Jerusalem Post reported that Olmert's statement surprised his
coalition partners, Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu, who were already
angry at the PM for comments he made to the newspaper, published on
Tuesday, in which he spoke about the need to internalize that even
Israel's friends on the international stage conceive of the
country's future on the basis of the 1967 borders and a divided
Jerusalem. Olmert was quoted as saying that he believes that "a
decisive majority of Israelis and a majority in the Knesset will be
able to support an agreement that I will be able to sign."

The media cited the Shin Bet as saying that the killers of the two
soldiers shot on Friday during a hike near Hebron were on the
payroll of the PA and that at least one of them was a member of
Fatah security organizations. Israel Radio reported that the PA
will not extradite the two men, and that Israel will not interrupt
the ongoing talks with the Palestinians as a result of the event.
Ha'aretz quoted the PA as saying on Tuesday that it recently foiled
a Hamas-planned suicide bombing in Israel by arresting the would-be
suicide bomber, but the Shin Bet says it knows nothing about the

case.

Maariv reported that Israel's political echelon has set as a goal a
deal to release Gilad Shalit in a few weeks. On Tuesday Maariv
cited the fear of defense officials that Olmert is incapable of
reaching a decision regarding Shalit on his own.

On Tuesday Ha'aretz reported that over the past two months Ehud
Barak has taken legal action against illegal outpost dwellers.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Tuesday the PA reacted angrily
to PM Olmert's assertion that Ma'aleh Adumim was an "indivisible"
part of Jerusalem and Israel, and warned that continued construction
in the settlements and Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem would
"sabotage" the peace process. In an interview with The Jerusalem
Post published Monday, Olmert made it clear that he did not envisage
a permanent accord along the 1967 lines, adding that his primary
responsibility as prime minister lay in ensuring a "separation" from
the Palestinians. "I don't think when people are talking about
settlements they are talking about Ma'aleh Adumim," Olmert said.
The Jerusalem Post reported that a top PA official in Ramallah
responded: "Olmert must be living on another planet. Peace and
settlements don't go together. If this is his policy, he can forget
about finding a partner on the Palestinian side." On Tuesday
Ha'aretz reported that the Israel Lands Administration recently
published two construction tenders for Jerusalem in areas over the
Green Line (for 440 apartments in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood
and for hotels in the Gilo neighborhood). Ha'aretz reported that
the Jerusalem District Court ruled last Sunday that eight Jewish
families must vacate an illegally built East Jerusalem house they
have been living in since 2004, marking the largest ever removal of
settlers from East Jerusalem. However, the families plan to appeal
the ruling to the Supreme Court.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli officials as saying on Tuesday
that Egypt has worked to thwart Israel diplomatically in various
international fora for years, so Egyptian FM Ahmed Ali Abu
al-Gheit's recent threat to turn up the diplomatic heat on Israel is
nothing new. Maariv reported that PM Olmert has canceled a debate
on relations with Egypt due to take place today, because of the
tension between the two countries.

Ha'aretz reported that Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter
recently wrote Knesset members Uri Ariel and Arieh Eldad (National
Union-National Religious Party) that a Jew is not allowed to pray in
any overt manner whatsoever on the Temple Mount, even if he is just
moving his lips in prayer. The newspaper reported that Dichter's
statement came in response to a test of the state's position on the
issue by the two Knesset members.

On Tuesday Yediot cited data for 2007 from the GOI's Central Bureau
of Statistics: Growth was the highest in the western world (5.3%).
This is the fourth year running that Israel leads western countries
in growth over 5%. Personal consumption has risen by 5.3%.
Exporters' fears that the sharp drop in the U.S. dollar would harm
exports was exaggerated. Export and services rose by 8.6%. Israel
also leads with a decline in unemployment: No other western country
can boast a 40% drop in unemployment over a four-year period, from
11% to 6.9%. However, the GDP per capita in Israel last year came
to just $22,600, while the average for other industrialized
countries to which Israel aspires is $30,000. Inflation rose to a
worrying rate, and is expected to clock in at 3.3%, above what the
government aimed for - between 1% and 3%.

All media told the story of Tamir Nabuani, a soldier killed in an
accident on Tuesday. He was soon to become the first Druze to enter
the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit.

Electronic media reported that eight Palestinians were killed
overnight in fighting with the IDF.

Electronic media reported that the Israeli, U.S., and British
embassies in Canberra reported that they had been sent envelopes
containing a white substance, which turned out to be innocuous.

On Tuesday Ha'aretz reported that the Shin Bet presented a dramatic
drop in terror fatalities of 2007 compared to previous years.
Israel Radio reported that Shin Bet officials warned that Hamas has
improved its military deployment in the Gaza Strip since its
takeover about a half year ago and smuggled, from Egypt, dozens of
tons of explosives and millions of dollars.

Ha'aretz reported that several hundred Palestinians who have been
stranded in Sinai for the past few months finally began their
journey back to the Gaza Strip -- via the Kerem Shalom checkpoint.
However, about 1,000 Palestinians are still living in tents at
Al-Arish, in the northern Sinai. Hundreds of Palestinians
demonstrated in Al-Arish on Tuesday to reiterate their opposition to
entering Gaza via Israel.

On Tuesday The Jerusalem Post reported that a Jerusalem square will
be "symbolically" dedicated to convicted spy Jonathan Pollard ahead
of President Bush's visit to Israel.

Yediot presented a "rare glimpse" (with photographs) into the Dimona
nuclear reactor.

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

Summary:
--------

Ely Karmon, a senior terrorism researcher at the Interdisciplinary
Center Herzliya, wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz:
"Israel's acceptance of the hudna [truce] proposal would constitute
a strategic victory for Hamas and its allies."

Zalman Shoval, a senior Likud member and former ambassador to the
U.S., wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "If
evacuation [of Israelis] is presented to the Palestinians as a
given, not even to be negotiated -- why should they want to make
concessions to Israel?"

Ha'aretz editorialized: "The announcement that the Prime Minister
has directed cabinet ministers not to build in the territories
behind his back sounds like a sleight of hand.... Settlement
construction will not be stopped with words."

The Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Sarkozy's bold step marks a
lasting change in this pattern [of tolerance for rogue regimes] and
becomes a harbinger of a shift toward a more effective Western
policy."

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

I. "Hudna Is No Solution"

Ely Karmon, a senior terrorism researcher at the Interdisciplinary
Center Herzliya, wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(1/2): "In light of the success of the pinpoint military operations
against Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, and signs of weakening in
the Hamas leadership, many are calling for accepting Ismail
Haniyeh's purported offer of a hudna (a cease-fire), or alternately
a tahadiyeh (a lull in the fighting), in exchange for an end to IDF
operations in Gaza and a lifting of the siege. It appears that the
decision makers in Israel have learned nothing.... Israel's
acceptance of the hudna proposal would constitute a strategic
victory for Hamas and its allies: The organization would be regarded
by the Palestinian population as the leading element in the national
struggle. It would quickly receive international legitimacy.... In
a year or two, an extremist state, allied with Iran, Syria and
Hezbollah, will emerge on our southern border, with a good chance of
taking over the West Bank and affecting the stability of Jordan,
Egypt, and possibly also the Islamic Movement in Israel. Even if
Hamas meets its promise not to violate the cease-fire for several
months, Iran and its ally, Islamic Jihad, will do everything in
their power to sabotage the negotiations with the Palestinians....
We should remember that there are still radical elements in Fatah
who do not accept a compromise with Israel, among them Fatah
Secretary General Farouk Kaddoumi, whose permanent base is Damascus.

SIPDIS
Only by bolstering the moderates in the Palestinian leadership and
population in the West Bank, while politically and socially
weakening Hamas in Gaza, will it be possible, perhaps, for fissures
to occur in the Islamic movement and for a joint struggle with the
Fatah moderates and the pragmatic leaders among Hamas against the
radicals in control in Gaza and elsewhere."

II. "Has Israel Given Up on Reciprocity?"

Zalman Shoval, a senior Likud member and former ambassador to the
U.S., wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (1/2):
"Sharon considered President George W. Bush's recognition of the
settlement blocs to be ironclad. But in view of the Annapolis
conference and Bush's failure to even mention his famous letter
affirming the settlement blocs to Sharon in his speech -- plus the
fact that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is raising objections
to any building in those locations, as well as in Jerusalem --
questions arise regarding the firmness of that commitment.... Even
accepting the premise of most previous Israeli governments --
namely, that for genuine peace, unlike the present virtual exercise
hatched at Annapolis, Israel would have to make 'painful'
compromises, this would have to be on the basis of give and take.
And if there was any lingering doubt about this principle, the
letdown after the Gaza disengagement should tell us that once is
enough. But that is exactly what the 'evacuation compensation'
proposal is: unilateral withdrawal. In other words, if evacuation
[of Israelis] is presented to the Palestinians as a given, not even
to be negotiated -- why should they want to make concessions to
Israel? The inevitable result would be a demand for additional
concessions west of the security fence, including in the supposedly
immune -- and even for this government, non-negotiable -- settlement
blocs."

III. "Words Won't Stop the Construction"

Ha'aretz editorialized (1/1): "The announcement that the Prime
Minister has directed cabinet ministers not to build in the
territories behind his back sounds like a sleight of hand.... First
of all the state must take back the powers it surrendered to the
settlers' local councils.... Stopping construction in East Jerusalem
is more problematic, but possible.... Today, as Olmert attempts to
move ahead talks with Mahmoud Abbas, he probably regrets some of his
decisions. But meanwhile the system continues to work, and
neighborhoods like Ras el-Amud and Har Homa, which were already
provocations back then, continue to expand due to construction
permits given in the past.... Even if the Olmert government has
difficulty dismantling outposts, it must at least find a way to stop
their growth.... Olmert is trying to navigate between [right-wing
cabinet minister Avigdor] Lieberman and Abbas; but if his intentions
to negotiate are real, this does not stand a chance. Therefore the
statements this week about directives to cabinet ministers on the
need to stop construction in the settlements, or at least to inform
the Prime Minister of any such construction, are pitiful and
deceptive. Settlement construction will not be stopped with
words."


IV. "Sarkozy's Bold Shift"

The Jerusalem Post editorialized (1/1): "French President Nicholas
Sarkozy announced Sunday that Paris 'will have no more contact with
Syria... until we have proof of Syrian willingness to let Lebanon
appoint a president by consensus.' This severing of diplomatic
relations is being termed by some as a 'failure' of French policy.
Yet the real failure is in the more common Western belief in a
business-as-usual approach toward rogue regimes.... Tehran and
Damascus are counting on the West to continue to trade with them and
treat them as international 'players,' rather than pariahs to be cut
off from the entire world. So long as such Western tolerance for
these regimes continues, no one should be surprised that the rogues
see their support for terrorism as producing more benefits than
costs. We can only hope that, as the new year begins, Sarkozy's
bold step marks a lasting change in this pattern and becomes a
harbinger of a shift toward a more effective Western policy."

MORENO

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