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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0262/01 0321102
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011102Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5242
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEADWD/DA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3348
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0007
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3563
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4114
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3374
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1533
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4109
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0955
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1429
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7989
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5461
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0373
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4501
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6448
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8974
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000262

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:
--------------------------------

Final Winograd Report

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

Israel Radio reported that this morning six gunmen opened fire at
the Israeli Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania. No Embassy staff
were hurt in the attack.

All media quoted former PM Binyamin Netanyahu as saying on Thursday:
"The people of Israel know today that they are led by a prime
minister who is not qualified or fit to lead them. Barak knows this
and he knows that the public expects him to ensure that this failed
leadership does not continue." Ha'aretz reported that on Thursday
Kadima ministers closed ranks around PM Ehud Olmert at a meeting in
Tel Aviv. The Jerusalem Post quoted associates of Labor Party
Chairman Ehud Barak as saying that he will neither quit the
government nor push for immediate elections, but that he will decide
over the weekend whether to press hard for Kadima to replace Ehud
Olmert with an alternative prime minister. Major media reported
that the Knesset will debate the Winograd report on Monday. In its
lead story, Yediot found that Olmert prevails over Barak in a public
opinion poll (see under: polls).

Ha'aretz reported that senior IDF officers have characterized the
Winograd Commission's findings on the army's performance in the
Second Lebanon War as "nothing less than an earthquake."

Maariv cited the belief of political sources that Gilad Shalit --
and perhaps the diplomatic process -- will dominate the activity of
the government in a few weeks. Yediot and Israel Radio quoted the
Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashal as saying in the Italian
weekly Panorama that Shalit is alive, healthy, and being treated
"with white gloves." The radio also quoted Mashal as telling
Panorama that Hamas is willing bring about a truce of at least 10
years with Israel, provided the latter withdraws [from the
territories], recognizes [the Palestinians' right to] Jerusalem, the
right of return, and dismantles the settlements. Khaled also said
that "evil is being helped by some of our brothers [the PA, under
Mahmoud Abbas] who support it with silence and complicity."Ha'aretz
and The Jerusalem Post cited press agencies quoting EU
External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as saying on
Thursday that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Mideast
Quartet envoy Tony Blair are to travel to the Middle East next week
to work out a solution for better access to Gaza.

Ha'aretz quoted the state as saying a few days ago that it is
suspending the construction of a neighborhood in the Givat Ze'ev
settlement north of Jerusalem, contrary to PM Olmert's promise to
Shas leader Ali Yishai that there would be no freeze in the greater
Jerusalem area. Ha'aretz also reported that UNESCO is attempting to
mediate between Israel, Jordan, and the Waqf Muslim religious trust
over construction at the controversial Mugrabi Gate in the Old City
of Jerusalem. Visiting UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura
discussed the efforts in an interview with Ha'aretz this week.

Major media reported that on Thursday IDF troops shot and killed an
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militant who approached the border between
Israel and the southern Gaza Strip, east of Rafah.

Reporting on the decision by the UN Security Council to abandon a
presidential statement on the situation in Gaza, The Jerusalem Post
noted that it was a rare victory for Israel, and that the ensuing
discussions signified a subtle shift away from the condemnation of
Israel "typical of the international body." The Jerusalem Post
reported that the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Louise Arbour expressed concern on Wednesday over the
"incompatibility of some of the provisions" of the Arab Charter on
Human Rights "with international norms and standards." On January
24, she had praised its ratification as a "step forward."

Major media reported hat the Winograd Commission charged that the
IDF's rules for using cluster bombs were unclear and that it called
on the army to review them with the aim of reducing civilian
casualties from bomblets that explode after the end of hostilities.

Maariv reported that the remains of Alona Avraham, an Israeli who
traveled on United Airlines Flight 175 that crashed into the World
Trade Center on 9/11, were interred in Ashdod on Thursday.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that the American Embassy in Tel
Aviv has added more appointment slots to its Web site in a move that
it claims has reduced waiting time for reporting citizen births
abroad to just over two months. The move followed a "public outcry"
over lengthy waits, first reported by Ha'aretz.
Yediot presented the results of a Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute) poll
(in parentheses, results of a previous poll):

Whom would you like to see as prime minister?
Binyamin Netanyahu: 33% (30%); Ehud Olmert: 18% (8%); Ehud Barak:
14% (17%); 38% are undecided (37%).

Ha'aretz printed the results of a Dialog poll (in parentheses,
results of the Dialog poll conducted on May 1, 2007, after the
interim report):

What do you thing PM Olmert should do [after the publication of the
final Winograd report]?
Resign: 53% (68%); stay as PM and fix mistakes: 37% (23%); 1% (9%)
are undecided.

What do you thing Defense Minister Barak should do [after the
publication of the final Winograd report]?
Remain in the government: 36% (24%); resign and act to move up
elections: 36% (4%); call for Olmert's replacement: 14% (17%); 14%
(19%) are undecided.

Maariv presented the results of a TNS/Teleseker poll conducted on
Wednesday (other questions than those asked on Thursday):

"Were elections held today, for whom would you vote?"
(Results in Knesset seats -- in brackets, 2006 elections results.)
Likud: 32 (12); Labor Party (under Ehud Barak) 21 (19); Kadima
(under Ehud Olmert):11 (29); Yisrael Beiteinu 10 (11); Shas: 10
(12); National Union-National Religious Party: 9 (7); Arab parties:
9 (10); Social Justice (under Arkady Gaidamak) 7; Meretz-Yahad: 6
(6); United Torah Judaism: 5 (7); Pensioners Party: 0.

"Were the party map to change, for whom would you vote?"
Labor-Kadima bloc (under Tzipi Livni): 39; Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu
bloc (under Netanyahu): 38; Shas: 10; National Union-National
Religious Party: 8; Social Justice: 7; United Torah Judaism: 5;
Meretz-Yahad 4; Pensioners Party: 0.

----------------------
Final Winograd Report:
----------------------

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "If there is
any Realpolitik justification for Olmert's continued tenure, it lies
in the faint hope that if the Prime Minister is already fated to
fall, he will at least choose to fall on the sword of peace efforts
rather than the sword of a failed war."

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote on page one of the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "Not taking bolder action than
[government members] have until now means simply keeping their
cabinet seats warm through the cold winter for Netanyahu and the
Likud until the next election."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "Fortunately for Olmert, his enemies made everything depend
on the last 60 hours [of the ground offensive]."

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in The Jerusalem Post: "The source of the government's failure
in Lebanon 18 months ago and of its failures in Gaza today is its
political commitment to the strategy of unilateral withdrawal from
territory."

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

I. "Fall on the Right Sword"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/1): "If
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert thought he would be 'let off' by the
Winograd Commission, just as he has been saved thus far from an
incredible number of other investigations against him during his
brief tenure, he was mistaken.... Olmert's immediate resignation or
ouster would satisfy a desire for revenge and let him go down in
history as Israel's worst prime minister ever. The question is how
the state would benefit from this, given that his removal would
absolve him, and us, of any attempt to satisfy the obligations he
has undertaken, on the basis of which he was elected with a party
and coalition that may well prove one-time events. This is all the
more true when the alternative is a policy that gloried in
torpedoing the Oslo Accords and has a hidden but firm agenda of not
dividing the land. Following the report's publication, Olmert will
no longer have the excuse that he is waiting for Winograd and so is
refraining from bold actions that would implement his diplomatic
declarations. If there is any Realpolitik justification for
Olmert's continued tenure, it lies in the faint hope that if the
Prime Minister is already fated to fall, he will at least choose to
fall on the sword of peace efforts rather than the sword of a failed
war."

II. "Olmert Must Look Beyond Mere Survival"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote on page one of the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (2/1): "The Winograd Report may have
bought the government breathing space until the next national vote,
but it has not improved the electoral prospects of anyone sitting in
it; if anything, the opposite is true. Simply surviving the report
has until now provided the coalition with all the 'vision horizon'
it needed. From here on in, though, with the impact of Winograd
melting away as fast as the winter snows that fell this week, it
will have to prove to the public, especially its own constituencies,
that it has some purpose beyond staying in power. For 18 months the
Olmert government has been largely reactive, including in the peace
process, where it has been primarily responding to the Bush
administration's initiatives. Taking a more proactive approach --
be it a large-scale operation in Gaza, staking out solid positions
on final-status issues in the peace talks, evacuating the outposts,
even some kind of response to the Iranian nuclear project -- carries
real risks, political and otherwise, for Olmert, Barak, Livni et al.
But not taking bolder action than they have until now means simply
keeping their cabinet seats warm through the cold winter for
Netanyahu and the Likud until the next election."


III. "The Other Way Around"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (2/1): "The final [Winograd] report was a pale compromise
document that shrank in comparison with the expectations built in
the first one and, with its minor tone, granted Olmert a new life.
If in its first report, the commission wanted to topple Olmert
almost at all cost, in its second report it tried with the same
fervor to rescue him.... The two Winograd reports should have
appeared in the reverse order... Fortunately for Olmert, his enemies
made everything depend on the last 60 hours [of the ground
offensive]. When this died down, all the rest fell. This is one
good thing we can say about Olmert. We utter it wholeheartedly.
But this is also the only good word we owe Olmert after that war."

IV. "Will We Now Be Silent?"
Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing
columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in The Jerusalem Post (2/1): "The Winograd Commission properly
noted the government's failure to define what it was doing in
Lebanon. But it did not explain why the government failed. The
source of the government's failure in Lebanon 18 months ago and of
its failures in Gaza today is its political commitment to the
strategy of unilateral withdrawal from territory. Olmert's Kadima
Party and Barak's Labor Party have embraced this strategy. It is
the centerpiece of their governing rationale.... During the war in
Lebanon and since Israel withdrew from Gaza, the guiding assumptions
of the unilateral withdrawal strategy have proven false. But
Israel's leaders have refused to acknowledge reality. Rather they
claim that it is reality, not their policy, that is mistaken. Their
daily search for new silver bullets is a manifestation of their
denial of reality."

MORENO

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