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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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

1. Aftermath of Final Winograd Report

2. Mideast

3. Iran

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

Ha'aretz and other media quoted Dr. Abu-Osama Abed Al-Makati,
Hamas's representative in Iran, as saying on Wednesday that Israel
can expect a wave of suicide bombings inside its 1967 borders.
Al-Ma'ati described the suicide bombing earlier this week in Dimona
as just the beginning. The announcement came as Palestinian
militants from the Gaza Strip launched at least 10 Qassam rockets
into Israel, lightly wounding two girls in Kibbutz Be'eri. The
Jerusalem Post quoted sources close to Hamas as saying that
thousands of Arab men poured into Gaza through the breached border,
offering to join in the fight against Israel. Overnight IAF strikes
in Gaza killed six militants -- five from Hamas and one from Islamic
Jihad. Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that a poll
released on Wednesday showed Hamas receiving a boost in popularity
from their actions in breaching the Egyptian border.

The Jerusalem Post quoted defense officials as saying on Wednesday
that there is a growing possibility that the IDF will retake the
Philadelphi Corridor between the Gaza Strip and Sinai to prevent
arms smuggling and terrorist infiltration. The media reported that
PM Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and FM Tzipi Livni held
an informal meeting on Wednesday in which they were briefed on the
situation in southern Israel. Reportedly, they decided construction
of a fence needed to begin immediately along parts of Israel's
230-km border with Egypt. Although no formal announcement was made,
it is believed that work will begin near Nitzana in the northern
region of the border, and in Eilat in its south. Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe and Israel Radio cited a Kuwaiti newspaper that Hamas
threatens to kidnap Egyptian soldiers.

The media cited ongoing controversy around the comments of Winograd
Commission member Prof. Yehezkel Dror. Media reported that many
politicians, including MK Avigdor Yitzhaki from Kadima -- a former
coalition whip, who tended his resignation from the Knesset this
morning -- demanded the establishment of a state commission of
inquiry. The media quoted Meretz leader MK Dr. Yossi Beilin as
saying that Dror's remarks were chilling and that they prove that
the commission acted on behalf of the government.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel will begin reducing on
Thursday the amount of electricity it supplies to the Gaza Strip, as
part of punitive measures against the Hamas government. The power
cutback was made possible last week, when the High Court of Justice
turned down appeals by several rights groups against the sanctions.

Marc Otte, EU special envoy to the Middle East, was quoted as saying
in interview with Ha'aretz on Wednesday that Israel's policies in
the Gaza Strip are likely to turn the territory into a new Somalia.
"Israel's tactics in the Gaza Strip did not work," Otte was quoted
as saying. "The blockade and the sanctions against the population
failed, and only strengthened Hamas and weakened [PM Salam] Fayyad
and Abu Mazen [President Mahmoud Abbas]."

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Ruchama Avraham, the minister in charge
of relations with the Knesset, as saying on Tuesday that Israel will
continue to allow cash to enter Gaza as it is in Israel's
interest.

Leading media reported that Iran has started using advanced
centrifuges at its nuclear facility in Natanz.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday a group of Palestinian
and Israeli law enforcement officers met for a discussion of
crime-fighting techniques and cooperation.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, looking to upgrade its sea-based
capabilities, the Israel Navy has submitted a Request for Proposal
to the U.S. Navy for a new missile ship -- the Littoral Combat Ship
-- currently under development by Lockheed Martin Corp.

Yediot reported that Defense Minister Barak will visit Turkey next
week. The newspaper wrote that Barak will promote several defense
deals with that country.

Ha'aretz reported that the GOI's Water Authority warns that Israel
might soon not be able to utilize a significant part of its national
water (groundwater reservoir) sources. The Authority cited the low
quality of the water and climate change.
On Wednesday The Jerusalem Post reviewed the upcoming visit to
Israel (February 9-15) of blues, gospel, and jazz singer Janice
Harrington under the auspices of the U.S. Embassy.

---------------------------------------
1. Aftermath of Final Winograd Report:
---------------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "The suspicion is that the Winograd Commission was... a
body set up to protect the Prime Minister."

Liberal columnist Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "[Professor Yehezkel] Dror is right.... Olmert ought to have
resigned a long time ago. The politicians who support him ought to
have paid a price."

The nationalist Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "Elections must
be scheduled as soon as possible in order to clear the public
atmosphere in Israel."

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

I. "A Suspicious Failure"

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(2/7): "In the second, analytical part of the [Winograd] report,
Prof. Yehezkel Dror and his colleagues devoted about 200 outstanding
pages to crucifying the IDF. However, not a single page was devoted
to the preparation and conduct of the Prime Minister's Office....
Dror's statements to the daily newspaper Maariv stir suspicions of
the commission's failure.... The suspicion is that the Winograd
Commission was... a body set up to protect the Prime Minister. The
suspicion is that the Annapolis Summit accounts for the inexplicable
gap between the commission's treatment of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
in the interim report and its treatment of Olmert in the final
report. The suspicion is that the commission that was appointed by
Olmert identified with him politically and therefore protected him.
The suspicion is that members of the commission knowingly betrayed
their task due to extraneous considerations.... After 18 months of
stagnation under Olmert and in the shadow of Winograd, Israel needs
a sound leadership that enjoys the public's confidence -- a new
leadership, a legitimate leadership, a leadership that is not
protected."

II. "Professor Dror Is Not to Blame"

Liberal columnist Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (2/7): "The mandate of the [Winograd] Commission, the
circumstances in which it was established, its composition, and its
legal standing left no chance that it would pass a guilty verdict
against Olmert. Consequently the commission was handed a burden
which its members were unable to bear. Prof. Gavison's legal
stratagems, and the interim report, which was a kind of riposte to
the impasse in which the commission members found themselves, only
made the situation worse. All this has been known to the public for
a long time, but in Israel knowledge never prevails upon infantile
politics fuelled by the news media.... Olmert, cynical and
self-possessed, established the Winograd Commission. That
commission ought to have been disqualified in the eyes of everyone,
including the commission members themselves. But those five
well-meaning members, including one [Professor Yehezkel Dror] whose
judgment has been made amply clear in the past few days, turned into
a kind of dumb oracle. Everyone was waiting expectantly for their
pronouncement, but they were unable to say anything of significance.
They produced a lame, emasculated report, and now everybody is
trying to find a conspiracy under the carpet, all this in a blaze of
publicity. Dror is right. Everyone ought to have made his own
political judgment without waiting for this superfluous report.
Olmert ought to have resigned a long time ago. The politicians who
support him ought to have paid a price. The protest ought to be
permanent, nationwide, and ought to reflect what the opinion polls
show. Anyone who is not capable of all this has no right to dump
the responsibility on one professor who does not really understand
what has happened to him."

III. "The Public Will Judge"

The nationalist Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (2/7): "It seems
that those who believe that anything that comes in contact with Ehud
Olmert is permeated with rot and corruption, are right. This is the
feeling today, after the presentation of lukewarm [Winograd report]
a week ago and following remarks by [Professor Yehezkel Dror], a
senior member of the [Winograd] Commission. It is a body that even
those who wanted a state commission of inquiry defended, confident
in its integrity and the seriousness of its members. Today, some
still accept the report as is. But skepticism remains. Elections
must be scheduled as soon as possible in order to clear the public
atmosphere in Israel."

------------
2. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot: "For decades Egypt has been accusing Israel of
alienating the Palestinians and punishing them.... The open border
acted like a boomerang to Egyptian claims, causing them great
embarrassment.... Egypt has ... fallen victim to its own rhetoric."


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

"You Don't Play Around When It Comes to Egypt"

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (2/7): "For decades Egypt has been accusing Israel
of alienating the Palestinians and punishing them, while Egypt, like
the other Arabs, claim, of course, that the Palestinians should be
helped. That was successful and risk-free rhetoric, since the
Palestinians were entirely within the sphere of Israeli
responsibility. The Egyptians thus completely ignored the
Palestinians and also enjoyed blaming Israel. Pro-Palestinian
rhetoric was an Arab weapon against Israel. Israeli pressure on
Gaza, which led to the breakdown of the border between Gaza and
Sinai, did away with the old game rules. The open border acted like
a boomerang to Egyptian claims, causing them great embarrassment.
How can Israel be blamed when the Arab sides do nothing for the
Palestinians?.... Egypt has thus fallen victim to its own rhetoric.
If it uses violence to close the border, it will be said, with
justification, that it is crueler than Israel. And if it does not
close the border, the Palestinian problem also becomes its problem.
In the meantime, Egypt, in confusion, is doing both..... If Egypt is
sucked into Gaza, it will be at its expense, and that is something
that Hamas does not want..... Since Gaza suddenly erupted, hundreds
of thousands began to move into Sinai, and the Islamic opposition
rejoiced at [President Mubarak's] expense. He now realizes that he
must no longer ignore Gaza, since if he does, Gaza is liable to get
back to him and to his rule."

---------
2. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Though
Europe is acting blindly to its own self-interest, let alone
Israel's, our government should make clear that any nation that
fails to take minimal effective steps to confront the Iranian threat
cannot be considered a friend of the Jewish state."

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

"Stop Fueling Iran"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (2/7):
"Iran, and the radical Islamist movement it spearheads, pose the
greatest totalitarian threat to international peace and security
since the defeats of Soviet communism and Nazi fascism. As in the
1930s, we are at the point when the threat is growing, but can still
be stopped by imposing draconian diplomatic and economic sanctions,
without military force. Europe's foot-dragging on sanctions is
leading inevitably to military action, war, a nuclear Iran, or some
combination of the exact scenarios that European leaders claim they
want to avoid. The refusal to impose small economic costs now will
result in major economic costs -- both through rising terrorism and
oil prices -- to European economies later, not to mention growing
loss of life, freedom and security in the world. Though Europe is
acting blindly to its own self-interest, let alone Israel's, our
government should make clear that any nation that fails to take
minimal effective steps to confront the Iranian threat cannot be
considered a friend of the Jewish state."
JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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