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Cablegate: Special 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
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: SPECIAL ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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

President Bush to Israel, West Bank, January 9-11, 2008

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

All media led with the first day of President Bush's visit to
Israel. They reported that the President met this morning with
opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu and former prime minister Ariel
Sharon's sons Omri and Gilad. The Jerusalem Post expected Netanyahu
to press the President on Iran and the status of Jerusalem. Bush
visited Ramallah and will also travel to Bethlehem. Major media
(lead story in Ha'aretz (Hebrew Ed.)) expect Bush to tell PA
President Mahmoud Abbas that he must choose between a state and
chaos.

The Jerusalem Post bannered: "Bush: This Is a Historic Opportunity
for Peace." The Shas Party-affiliated weekly Yom Leyom bannered the
President's comment that he was hopeful he could achieve an
agreement.

All media emphasized that President Bush told his Israeli hosts that
unauthorized West Bank settler outposts "ought to go." Israel Hayom
bannered: "Bush: You Will Also Need to Talk about the Right of
Return."

Yediot bannered: "Olmert to Bush: [Israel] Bracing for Large-Scale
Operation in Gaza." The media quoted Olmert as saying that there
will not be peace until terror stops, and that Israel has made clear
to the Palestinians that Gaza must be part of the package. Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe underscored President Bush's comment that he does not
expect Israelis to accept a terrorist state.

Leading media reported that President Shimon Peres and PM Ehud
Olmert presented Iran's secret nuclear program to the President.
Maariv bannered: "Israel to the President: You Are Being Cheated."
The media quoted Bush as saying: "Iran was a threat, Iran is a
threat, and Iran will be a threat if the international community
does not come together and prevent that nation from the development
of the know-how to build a nuclear weapon." At a press conference
following his meeting with Olmert, Bush said that the National
Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear program did not alter his

stance. "I interpreted it [the NIE] to mean you better take the
Iranian's threat seriously," he added. "Our unequivocal
conclusion," Olmert said, referring to the Israeli report, "is that
they [the Iranians] are busy developing nuclear weapons." Bush
agreed, saying that his understanding of the NIE report is that the
Iranians could resume their weapons program with the same ease that
they froze it in 2003.

The media linked a volley of Qassam rockets that landed on Sderot to
the President's visit. Leading media reported that on Wednesday an
IDF strike in the northern Gaza Strip killed two Palestinians. The
media reported on protests against President Bush's visit in the
PA.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that during the arrival ceremony at
Ben Gurion Airport, the President asked Industry, Trade, and
Employment Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) not to quit the government.
Several newspaper quoted Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef as saying
that "no one is authorized to discuss concessions on Jerusalem."

Ha'aretz reported that Israeli Arab political activists joined
left-wing protests around the country on Wednesday to demonstrate
against President Bush's visit to Israel and the West Bank. Several
hundred Hadash (Communist) activists participated in an anti-Bush
demonstration in front of the American Consulate in West Jerusalem.
"Bush totally and blindly adopts Israel's most extreme positions and
prevents progress toward a final-status agreement," Hadash Chairman
Mohammed Barakei said during the demonstration. Meanwhile, Balad
party members protested at universities in Tel Aviv, Haifa and
Jerusalem, and in Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm. Major media reported
that In Lebanon, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah called Bush's
visit a "black day in Arab history" and said that he had come to
visit on its 60th anniversary a state that has no right to exist.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday Israeli defense
officials raised concerns that information being providing to UNIFIL
and the Lebanese Armed Forces was also reaching Hizbullah.

Leading media reported that fifty-seven Knesset members have come
out against a plan to compensate settlers for leaving their homes
east of the separation fence.

A Mina Zemach/Dahaf poll for Yediot asked: "Do you believe that
Bush's visit will succeed in moving forward the negotiations with
the Palestinians?" No: 77%; Yes: 21%.
The poll also asked: "How does the Bush visit influence PM Ehud
Olmert's status?" No influence: 59%; it strengthens Olmert: 38%; it
weakens him: 3%.

Ha'aretz published the results of a Dialog poll that found that 61%
of Labor Party voters favor remaining in the government after the
publication of the Winograd report. In Yediot's poll, that
percentage was 56%.

------------------------
President Bush to Israel, West Bank, January 9-11, 2008:
------------------------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "It would be easier to market
concession to the Palestinians, if the U.S. decidedly removes the
Iranian threat by striking in Iran."

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "[Progress in the negotiations] can be made through
'small' arrangements that are not arrangements of 'principle' as
each one individually has no future political significance, but over
time, they would aggregate into a significant step."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The
most important thing Bush can do in Ramallah is to say to the
Palestinians that if they want a state they must stop spewing hatred
and glorifying terrorism."

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in Ha'aretz: "In [the present] state of
affairs [in the Middle East], the United States does not have the
safety margins for another mistake such as the one that brought
Hamas to power."

Conservative contributor Menachem Ben wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "The Palestinian refugee problem is the Arab
League's problem, not a Zionist one. The world must be told this
basic truth -- Bush's visit is the first opportunity for this."

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "The
fact that the issue of Har Homa is increasingly clouding
[U.S.-Israel] relations is cause for concern."

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

I. "Starting Off on the Right Foot"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (1/10): "Olmert sees the Iranian
and Palestinian issues as interlinked. It would be easier to market
concession to the Palestinians, if the U.S. decidedly removes the
Iranian threat by striking in Iran. Bush would have an easier time
selling that strike, if he can point to progress in negotiations
with the Palestinians. Except it would take more than a handshake
between the two leaders to realize such a far-reaching deal."

II. "Not Political, Not in Principle"

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (1/9): "The security] reality is not expected to improve
for the foreseeable future, and in fact, it will most likely get
worse. Therefore, the chances of reaching a permanent status
arrangement, even meeting minimum Israeli conditions, does not
exist, and certainly not in the space of one year, as declared at
Annapolis.... Now is the time to again reflect on more practical,
and less 'festive' steps.... A precondition for this is completing
the security fence, following the route that was agreed upon with
the U.S.... One of the steps that Israel should take is to evacuate
immediately all unauthorized outposts.... [Among] other steps: ...
withdrawing the IDF from Palestinian population centers and shifting
troops, as far as possible, west toward the fence area in such a way
as to safeguard central Israel from Palestinian rocket fire ...
Areas that are vacated of an Israeli presence would be given to the
PA to administer while keeping Israeli security measures and
intelligence as far as necessary. In parallel, Israel would work
together with the world's nations to develop the Palestinian
economy, to raise the standard of living, and create a real motive
for the Palestinians to want quiet and stability. All of this can
happen through 'small' arrangements that are not arrangements of
'principle' as each one individually has no future political
significance, but over time, they would aggregate into a significant
step."

III. "Tell Abbas to Stop Educating for War"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (1/10):
"No one expects [Mahmoud] Abbas to start teaching his people to be
good Zionists. But he cannot make peace when he is readying them
for war. On the contrary, just as it took Israelis years to reverse
the inculcated rejection of a Palestinian state, it will take
Palestinians years to reverse their rejection of the rights and
history of a Jewish state. It is a long process, but for a peace
agreement to happen, it must be begin and be fast-tracked.
Accordingly, the most important thing Bush can do in Ramallah is to
say to the Palestinians that if they want a state they must stop
spewing hatred and glorifying terrorism. Rather than constantly
using the 'right of return' as code for Israel's destruction, Abbas
must tell his people the truth: a Palestinian state requires giving
up the dream of Greater Palestine, making peace with the Jewish
democracy of Israel, and building a state alongside it in most of
the West Bank and Gaza."

IV. "On a Divine Mission"

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in Ha'aretz (1/10): "This was the essence
of [President Bush's June 24, 2002] statement: The solution to the
100-year-old conflict is a two-state solution, but before the
two-state solution is implemented a Palestinian conversion must take
place. Only after the Palestinian people undergo a conceptual,
ideological and institutional conversion will it be possible to
establish a Palestinian state that will exist alongside Israel in
peace and prosperity.... In [the present] state of affairs [in the
Middle East], the United States does not have the safety margins for
another mistake such as the one that brought Hamas to power. A
mistake of that kind will not only endanger Israel's future, it will
endanger the ability of Western civilization to confront the forces
of September 11, 2001."

V. "Right vs. Right"

Conservative contributor Menachem Ben wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (1/10): "[According to studies recently published
in Ha'aretz and Maariv], the number of Jews who were expelled -- or
were forced to leave following persecutions -- from the Arab
countries is greater that of Arab refugees who fled, or were
expelled from, Israel in 1948. Moreover, the property confiscated
from Jews in the Arab countries is incomparably more important that
the property and land abandoned by Arab refugees. Here are the
exact figures, as officially recorded in the Arab states: Around
850,000 Jews left them from 1948 through the early 1970s. Around
600,000 of them were absorbed in Israel. According to the UN, the
original Palestinian refugee population numbered 600,000.... The
Palestinian refugee problem is the Arab League's problem, not a
Zionist one. The world must be told this basic truth -- Bush's
visit is the first opportunity for this."

VI. A Cold, Alienated Visit"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (1/10):
"There is a feeling that the President's visit is a kind of tourist
excursion for someone who really loves Jerusalem and Israel, but
that hardly contributes to U.S.-Israel relations.... The fact that
the issue of Har Homa is increasingly clouding those relations is
cause for concern. Once again, this proves that personal friendly
relations between the U.S. President and the Prime Minister of
Israel are meaningless -- if a crisis can be created around such a
topic. The only positive point in the visit would be if President
Peres succeeds in moving something in intelligence about Iran."

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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