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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 081247Z JAN 08
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RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1406
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WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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SECDEF WASHDC FOR USDP/ASD-PA/ASD-ISA
HQ USAF FOR XOXX
DA WASHDC FOR SASA
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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:
-------------------------

Major media reported that this morning, ahead of President Bush's
visit, the police were placed on a level of alert just beneath that
of war.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the U.S. is preparing a plan to
station third party troops in the West Bank to secure the area after
an Israeli withdrawal and before the PA can take over full security
control. The newspaper reported that the issue is likely to be
discussed between President Bush and his Israeli and Palestinian
hosts. The Jerusalem Post reported that U.S. Special Envoy for
Middle East Security Gen. James Jones has been assigned the task of
preparing a plan on this issue within six months.

In a joint interview with The Jerusalem Post and the leading
Internet site Ynet, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice delivered a
stern warning to Iran ("the single greatest threat to the kind of
Middle East we all want to see") and rapped Egypt for not doing
enough to stop weapons smuggling over the border into Gaza.

Ha'aretz reported that PM Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas are scheduled to meet in Jerusalem today to confirm
the agreement to create negotiating committees and teams that will
tackle the conflict's core issues. According to Ha'aretz, Olmert
will also tell Abbas that Israel will not allow back into the
country most of the Palestinian militants who took refuge in the
Church of the Nativity when it was besieged in April 2002. The
Palestinians have requested that Israel allow the transfer of the
militants to the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, where they are now.
A security source told Ha'aretz on Monday that the matter has been
thoroughly evaluated after requests by the Palestinians, and the
conclusion is that most of the militants are still involved in
terrorism. Leading media reported that on Monday the negotiating
teams headed by FM Tzipi Livni and her counterpart in the talks,
former Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei, met to finalize the agreements on
the framework of the negotiations.
Yediot cited some assessments that appear in the 2008 intelligence
report that was distributed yesterday by the Foreign Ministry's
Center for Political Research to the Israeli political leadership:
- The current U.S. Administration is growing weaker and will be
unable to advance most of the key issues in its foreign policy, such
as curbing the Iranian nuclear program and achieving a breakthrough
in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Having said that, the
administration's efforts to advance the peace process will not stop
and, with that in the background, Israel can expect friction in its
relations with Washington, mainly over the settlement and outpost
issues.
- No real progress in the peace process is expected to be made, but
the process is likely to continue since it serves both sidesQ vital
interests.
- Hamas is expected to continue to govern the Gaza Strip despite the
difficulties it faces, and it is expected to continue to build
itself up in anticipation of a possible clash with the IDF.
- The U.S. administration will not apply any real pressure on Cairo
on the issues of arms smuggling and passage of Palestinians through
crossings, and will defend it against Congress, which is inclined to
adopt IsraelQs position.
- Syria is not expected to initiate a military confrontation with
Israel, nor is any progress towards a peaceful resolution of the
conflict with Israel expected to be made.
- No strategic change is expected in Iranian policy regarding its
nuclear program, including its uranium enrichment program,
particularly in light of the Iranian assessment that the U.S. has
abandoned its military option against them.
- Hizbullah is not expected to take any proactive military action
against Israel in the course of the coming year, but it will
continue to upgrade its military capabilities in anticipation of
another violent clash in the more distant future.
- No normalized relations are expected to develop between Israel and
the Arab world, inter alia, because the pragmatic forces are in
decline against Iran and its allies.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that PM Olmert has written to Rabbi
Shear Yashuv Cohen, the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Haifa, saying that
an Israeli concession on the Temple Mount is out of the question.

Maariv reported that GOI sources in Jerusalem are worried by the
apparent relegation by Senator Barack Obama of Senator Hillary
Clinton to a less enviable position in the Democratic race for the
presidency. Clinton is considered a much better candidate for
Israel.
All media reported that on Monday the Knesset's House Committee
voted to create a state commission of inquiry to be headed by a
Supreme Court Justice to investigate the findings of the State
Comptroller's Office regarding government aid to Holocaust survivors
in Israel.

The electronic media reported that two Katyusha rockets were fired
early this morning at the town of Shlomi in the western Galilee. No
one was injured.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel missed a reasonable option for a
cease-fire with Hizbullah during the first week of the Second
Lebanon War, which could have included transferring kidnapped
Israeli reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev to the Lebanese
government, according to senior Israeli and UN officials who were
involved in the indirect talks.

The media reported that three Islamic Jihad militants were killed in
clashes with the IDF -- two who shot at IDF troops across the Gaza
border and another activist in Jenin.

Leading media reported that right-leaning ministers Avigdor
Lieberman and Eli Yishai will tell President Bush that they oppose
making concessions to Mahmoud Abbas. The Jerusalem Post reported
that Yishai will urge Bush to free Jonathan Pollard.

Media reported on Monday that Defense Minister and Labor Party
Chairman Ehud Barak told army reservists that "things have changed"
since he declared that he would resign when the final Winograd
report is published.

Yediot and other media reported that Nobel Prizewinner in Economics
for 2005 Prof. Israel Aumann is setting up a new right-wing party,
"Ahi" (which means "my brother" and is the Hebrew acronym for "Land,
Society, Judaism") with National Religious Party legislator Effi
Eitam. Aumann cited the lack of leadership on the Right and the
loss of direction in national and personal security.

Ha'aretz reported that billionaire politician Arkady Gaidamak has
instructed his supporters in Sderot to call off a planned protest in
Jerusalem against President Bush during his upcoming visit to
Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reported that ten Sderot families are suing the
Egyptian government for NIS 260 million (about $68 million) in
damages for family members who were killed or seriously wounded by

Qassam rockets fired at the town from the Gaza Strip.

Citing AP, The Jerusalem Post quoted Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) as
saying on Monday that Egypt has agreed to spend $23 million in U.S.
military aid on technological equipment to detect tunnels used for
smuggling weapons across its border with Gaza.

Maariv cited the concern of the defense establishment that the U.S.
will sign a $30-billion arms sales agreement with Saudi Arabia
during President Bush's Middle East tour.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday Dutch diplomat Robert
Serry formally took up his post as the new UN Mideast envoy.

Israel Radio reported that Moshe Levy, who served as IDF
chief-of-staff from 1983 to 1987, passed away this morning.

Maariv cited the belief of senior sources in the Israeli defense
establishment that Eli Zeira, a former head of IDF Intelligence who
resigned after the Yom Kippur War, should be questioned for
revealing the name of Egyptian Mossad agent Ashram Marwan, who
warned Israel about the start of the Yom Kippur War. Marwan died
mysteriously in London in June 2007.

The Jerusalem Post quoted the Manufacturers Association of Israel as
saying on Monday that the expected slowdown in the U.S. economy will
not lead to a slowdown in the number of Israeli companies bought by
foreigners.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Bush is not coming to save
Olmert but to do his little bit to grease the [peace] process ....
It seems fair to say that no great miracle will happen here."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "If the
Arab leadership does not embark on a ... project [to end
incitement], we are at best spinning our wheels, and the most Bush
can hope to achieve is a pause before the next war."
The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized:
"Terror must be stopped regardless of any settlement activity."

Intelligence affairs correspondent Gad Shimron wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Chavez lost. Bush won. So maybe he deserves
some credit?"

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

I. "No Great Miracle Will Happen Here"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (1/8): "One way or another,
imposing a settlement on Israel has not been on Bush's agenda
throughout most of this presidency.... [But] such a [Middle Eastern]
itinerary could not leave out a visit to Israel, in order to deal
with the hot spot of Islamic fundamentalism that is sprouting in
Gaza. The current focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is
Condoleeza Rice's baby. She is the one who initiated the Annapolis
summit and is seeking an active role in our neck of the woods....
When Bush arrives on Wednesday, one of the obvious topics will be
the relentless shelling of communities in southern Israel and the
need to put a stop to it. Dismantling outposts and the status of
Jerusalem will also be on the agenda. Everybody will say what the
have to say, and Bush will continue to instruct Rice to do what
needs to be done. But let's not get our expectations too high. We
are talking about weak leaders on both sides, leaders who can barely
stand on their own feet. Bush is not coming to save Olmert but to
do his little bit to grease the process. In the spirit of the
festival of Hanukkah, now behind us, it seems fair to say that no
great miracle will happen here."

II. "Spinning Our Wheels"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (1/8):
"Declaring [as Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said on
Sunday] that Bush is responsible for moving the process forward is a
declaration that Arab states are not. In the Arab leadership's
unfortunately abiding conception of peacemaking, it is someone
else's responsibility, and failure is always someone else's
fault.... To make peace, both sides in a conflict must understand
that they are recognizing that some justice lies on the other side.
As the Israeli people has spent the 1990s coming to terms with the
justice of Palestinian self-determination, so must the Arabs and the
Palestinian undertake the same cultural and intellectual
challenge.... It is not George Bush who is responsible for making
peace between Jews and Arabs. It is the Jews and the Arabs,
including Amr Moussa and all other Arab leaders and the peoples they
lead.... The world must demand an end to Arab incitement against the
Jewish national project -- the prerequisite to any true and lasting
recognition of Israel's legitimacy and existence. If the Arab
leadership does not embark on such a cultural project, we are at
best spinning our wheels, and the most Bush can hope to achieve is a
pause before the next war."

III. "The Original Sin"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (1/8):
"The question about the reasons around which a discussion revolves
often is no less important than inquiring about its consequences.
The endless squabbling of Israeli governments and the Americans
regarding the outposts is an excellent example of this: The equation
between Palestinian terror and the outposts is twisted and grants
victory to Israel's enemies in advance.... This therefore is the
original sin: Israel's agreement to the creation of this warped
balance. Terror must be stopped regardless of any settlement
activity. If one is interested in stopping the race of placing
facts on the ground, they must be based on simple and direct
reciprocity: Israel will not build -- neither will the Palestinians.
If this sounds strange, it is an indication that something very
deep has gone wrong in Israel's national thinking over the past
decades."

IV. "The Cowboy Actually Won"

Intelligence affairs correspondent Gad Shimron wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (1/8): "Bush's critics emphasize that the U.S.
invaded Iraq based on mistaken, if not deceptive, information that
Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction. But on this
issue the deceased leader can only blame himself since he had
behaved as if he had such weapons and did everything in order for
the world to believe him.... [When the Americans took Baghdad,] the
Iranians groaned, 'This cowboy is crazy.Q If one believes [NIE
author Thomas] Fingar, they stopped their military plan before Bush
started taking care of Tehran. If this is not an achievement, what
is? ... [Also], the Venezuelan people voted 'No' [to Hugo Chavez's
referendum]. Chavez lost. Bush won. So maybe he deserves some
credit?"

MORENO

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