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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1549
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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

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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JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
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PARIS ALSO FOR POL
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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

1. Mideast

2. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

All media bannered Monday's suicide bombing in Dimona, in which a
woman was killed and 48 others wounded. The media reported that the
IDF fears that the terrorists may have infiltrated Israel through
the Sinai following the Gaza border breach two weeks ago. However,
leading media quoted defense officials as saying that there is a
growing consensus that the two terrorists had come from the West
Bank, entering the Negev via a 26-km gap in the southern section of
the West Bank security fence. Major media quoted Hamas's armed wing
as claiming responsibility for the attack and that the bombers came
from Hebron. Yediot quoted Hamas as saying that the target was
chosen because of its proximity to Israel's nuclear reactor. Maariv
noted that this was Hamas's first bombing since August 2004.
Speaking on Israel Radio this morning, Tzachi Hanegbi, the Chairman
of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that
the Hamas leadership should be targeted.

Ha'aretz reported that the Foreign Ministry is recommending that
Egypt double the number of soldiers it has stationed along its
borders with Israel and Gaza -- something that Cairo has long wanted
to do, but that Jerusalem has hitherto vetoed. Since the
Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty strictly limits the forces that Egypt
can deploy, any increase would require Israel's consent. The
Defense Ministry and the IDF oppose any effort reopen the treaty,
saying it would set a dangerous precedent.

The media reported that on Monday evening the Knesset approved PM
Ehud Olmert's speech in response to the final Winograd report. The
speech was approved in a non-binding, purely symbolic vote, by a
majority of 59 to 53. One Knesset members abstained from voting.
The statement was approved despite the fact that six coalition MKs
-- Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor), Shelly Yachimovich (Labor), Eitan Cabel
(Labor), Danny Yatom (Labor), Avigdor Yizhaki (Kadima) and Marina
Solodkin (Kadima) -- voted against the statement. Four Arab MKs
were absent, as was former Defense Minister Amir Peretz. Opposition
leader Binyamin Netanyahu likened Olmert to the "captain of the
Titanic." Yediot reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not
bother to listen to Olmert's speech and later said it was cynical.
A commotion broke out in the Knesset before the vote, after bereaved
parents began screaming at Olmert during the speech. During his
speech, Olmert said he "carries the full responsibilities of the
failures" of the war, although he defended the decision to go to war
against Hizbullah.

Yediot quoted Ofer Dekel, Israel's chief negotiator for securing the
release of abducted soldiers, as sayng that the publication of a
letter by Gilad Shalit jeopardizes the deal to bring him back home.
Leading media reported that Germany was instrumental in obtaining a
sign of life from Shalit.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday IDF troops killed a senior
operative of the Popular Resistance Committees in the northern Gaza
Strip and two armed Palestinians in Qabatiyeh near Jenin. Israel
Radio reported that this morning Qassam rockets fell on two
factories in the Sderot area.

Leading media reported on Iran's inauguration of its Space Research
Center. Yediot quoted Israeli experts as saying that the center is
a diversion for the development of advanced missiles. Maariv
reported that Mossad Director Meir Dagan told the Knesset's Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Iran will have nuclear
weapons in three years. The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel is
expected to press Austrian FM Ursula Plassnik for greater
cooperation on meaningful economic sanctions against Iran. Israel
Radio reported that Iran complained to India for launching an
Israeli spy satellite.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday the Lebanese government decided to
lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council for a cross-border
incident that killed one Lebanese man and wounded another.

Yediot quoted two American citizens in Israel -- the Democrat Dan
Cook (phon.) and the Republican Mark Zell -- as saying that it is
important for the 100,000 Americans living in Israel to cast votes
in the presidential election.

Yediot reported that Tal Zilberstein, an Israeli political
consultant who in the past worked for Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert,
was part of the American-Israeli team GPS that helped Serbian
President Boris Tadic get re-elected.
Ha'aretz reported that the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem will
relocate from East Jerusalem to the neighborhood of Arnona later
this year, a move expected to improve services and slightly decrease
the long wait times to register births of American citizens. The
Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday the Consulate General
announced that it was entertaining a number of options to address
the problem.

The Jerusalem Post printed a special op-ed article by Republican
presidential contender Mike Huckabee, who says that the U.S. and
Israel must jointly "defeat Islamofascism."

Ha'aretz reported that the Israeli airline Israir plans to operate
regular flights to Miami and Las Vegas. New York is presently its
only U.S. destination.

Yediot reported that the American actor Denzel Washington will make
his first visit to Israel around Israel's 60th anniversary.

------------
1. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Times of
emergency sometimes demand emergency steps, and the current threat
of terror demands more courageous cooperation with Egypt."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Israel
should actually do what Egypt anyway accuses Israel of doing: press
the U.S. to treat Egypt like Syria so long as Cairo acts like
Damascus."

Correspondent Shahar Ginossar wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Legitimate domestic criticism of the
management of the [Second Lebanon] War gives encouragement to the
Tehran-Beirut axis and provides Hizbullah with everlasting evidence
to justify its violent approach."

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in Ha'aretz:
"The most important thing at the moment is political stability.
Barak and Olmert need to work together."

Columnist and former IDF Intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv: "[Barak] made a decision without any
commitment by Olmert. This will be an erroneous decision without a
commitment about peace."

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

I. "Common to Dimona and Cairo"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/5):
"According to Hamas's announcement last night, the two terrorists
responsible for Monday morning's attack in Dimona set out from
Hebron. At the same time, the original and reasonable assumption
that the bombers had moved from Gaza, via Sinai, to the Negev was
based on the profusion of intelligence warnings that had multiplied
following the breach of the border between Gaza and Egypt. These
warnings are still current, and continue to concern the security
establishment. This situation was created by the helplessness of
Egypt, which did not hasten to close the breaches, and the
permission it gave to Gaza civilians to enter its territory. But it
was also caused by carelessness, or at least excessive complacence
on the part of Israel, which for years has not bothered to build a
real fence along its long border with Egypt.... Times of emergency
sometimes demand emergency steps, and the current threat of terror
demands more courageous cooperation with Egypt. In the past, Egypt
proved its determination to fight terror even if, like Israel, it
has not always succeeded in eliminating it. This is currently
another difficult test of Egypt's determination and its commonality
of interests with Israel, a commonality that rests on peace
agreements between the two countries."

II. "Seal the Borders"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (2/5):
"The urgent task is both for Israel to complete the missing sections
of the West Bank security fence and seal its border with Egypt and,
critically too, for Egypt to seal its border with Gaza. We cannot
go back to the status quo ante, where weapons and money flowed into
and terrorists flowed into and out of Gaza courtesy of Egypt's blind
eye. It is completely irresponsible for Egypt to allow Hamas to
strengthen itself in Gaza, even aside from Israel's interests and
Egypt's responsibilities toward the peace process that the U.S. has
been trying to launch. Hamas, after all, is allied to the Muslim
Brotherhood, which Egypt has ruthlessly suppressed for years.
Evidently, the Egyptian government feels little external or internal
pressure to take serious steps to cut off Hamas's weapons lifeline.

The fault for this lack of pressure lies with the U.S., but first
and foremost, with Israel. The U.S. has quietly and ineffectively
raised the issue with Egypt for years. But it is understandable
that the U.S. government cannot get itself more exercised about the
problem than Israel is. And it is seems that Olmert places his
relationship with President Hosni Mubarak above the emphatic,
insistent pursuit of the demand that Egypt shut down the weapons
flow to Gaza. This must change.... [Among other things], Israel
should actually do what Egypt anyway accuses Israel of doing: press
the U.S. to treat Egypt like Syria so long as Cairo acts like
Damascus."

III. "Nasrallah's Victory"

Correspondent Shahar Ginossar wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/5): "The turning a blind eye to the
debate in the Arab world by members of the Winograd Commission is
causing tremendous harm to Israel. The report ... should have taken
into account the fact that legitimate domestic criticism of the
management of the [Second Lebanon] War gives encouragement to the
Tehran-Beirut axis and provides Hizbullah with everlasting evidence
to justify its violent approach.... Assuming that the Winograd
Commission had expected this, it should have acted accordingly. For
instance, during its press conference it should have conveyed an
additional, pointed, and clear message to the hundreds of millions
of Muslims who were watching it live -- words to the rejectionist
camp that initiated the war, which, as is well-known, caused a
greater disaster to them than to the residents of northern Israel."

IV. "The Man Who Saved Olmert"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in Ha'aretz
(2/5): "The good of the country, getting the army back on its feet
and making diplomatic headway are more important than a promise [to
quit the government] made [by Ehud Barak] under different
circumstances -- all the more so, when there are no fabulous
alternatives lining up that would make going to the polls
worthwhile. The most important thing at the moment is political
stability. Barak and Olmert need to work together. They need to
establish mutual trust and pay no attention to provocations.
Formally, it may have been necessary to rap Olmert on the knuckles
and insist that he take ministerial responsibility as head of the
system, but the good of the country comes first. You don't switch
horses in midstream. Toying with the idea of early elections will
only turn Ehud and Ehud into lame ducks at the least desirable
moment."

V. "No Resignation and No Peace"

Columnist and former IDF Intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv (2/5): "[If I were Ehud Barak, I would
ask Ehud Olmert]: 'How do you propose to face Palestinian demands on
the core issues, and how you intend to secure a political majority
in Israel for an agreement? How Olmert will succeed in surmounting
those obstacles is unclear. It is doubtful whether he believes in
his own pronouncement -- they are no more than a polite answer to
Washington's expectations and a lever for obtaining popular support
in Israel. As far as is known, Barak has not asked Olmert. He made
a decision without any commitment by Olmert. This will be an
erroneous decision without a commitment about peace."

--------------------------
2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker opined in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "As a 'slightly pro-Israeli' Democratic
president, Obama is 'worth' much more to Israel than a 'very'
pro-Israeli Republican president like John McCain.... [But] I wish
for [Hillary Clinton's] victory."

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

"Good for the Jews"

Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker opined in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/5): "Obama ... may turn out to be an
unexpected asset for Israel. He is good for the Jews, because he
enjoys great popularity among those segments of American and world
public opinion that are secretly or openly hostile to Israel. He is
their new oracle. If he tells them -- as he has -- that Israel has
the right to exist forever as a Jewish state, and that the
Palestinians can subsequently forget about the right return, his
statements will have an influence and an echo among publics that
Israeli public relations do not touch. As a 'slightly pro-Israeli'
Democratic president, Obama is 'worth' much more to Israel than a

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