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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 121124Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5373
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RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3398
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0051
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3618
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4160
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RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1592
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4157
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1003
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RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8033
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RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0424
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4545
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6494
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000343

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

1. Mideast

2. Islam and Democracy

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

Leading media reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that one
of Israel's goals in the Gaza Strip is to bring down Hamas. Laying
out the general strategy, Barak said that the first priority is to
contain the Qassam rockets and the smuggling of arms and explosives
from the Sinai, followed then by destabilizing Hamas's grip on the
territory. All media quoted IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi as
saying on Monday that the "IDF is prepared and ready to deepen and
broaden its activities in the Gaza Strip, in any way necessary, and
in line with the [political] decisions that will be made." Ha'aretz
noted that sources at the Defense Ministry have said that the army's
preparations are not yet complete and may take several more months.
Leading media reported that on Monday an assassination attempt by
the IDF in Gaza failed.

All media reported that Shas is threatening to pull out of the
governing coalition following reports that Palestinian and Israeli
negotiating teams have been secretly discussing the future of
Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Post said that a story it printed on
Sunday is the basis for Shas's threat. Maariv reported that senior
Shas members attacked FM Tzipi Livni, quoting one of them as saying
that she "is stirring things up for Olmert and pushing Shas out of
the government.

Ha'aretz quoted Jerusalem city manager Yair Ma'ayan as saying that
the government is holding up construction of hundreds of apartments
in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, including in Pisgat Ze'ev
and Har Homa. However, Ha'aretz reported that Ma'ayan told the
Knesset's Economics Committee on Monday that the municipality is
still moving forward with plans to build 10,000 apartments in East
Jerusalem, including some in these same neighborhoods.

All media reported that on Monday around 200 people from Sderot
blocked streets in central Tel Aviv to protest the government's
inability to stop Qassam rocket tikes on their city. In Jerusalem,
hundreds of protesters gathered at a protest tent erected by Sderot
residents. Ha'aretz commented that the demonstration leaders are
politically slanted (to the Right) but that the despair is real.

Israel Radio quoted Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad as saying in a
lecture in Washington that Israel is not living up to its Roadmap
commitments.

Major media quoted a Justice Ministry official as saying on Monday
that the Registrar of Nonprofit Organizations has decided to
withdraw the certificate of proper administration from the
organization that provides funding for Peace Now.

Ha'aretz reported that the police arrested five Palestinian
residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan this week
after they petitioned the High Court of Justice to stop an Israel
Antiquities Authority (IAA) excavation under their homes. According
to the IAA, the dig has uncovered the remains of a Second Temple-era
drainage channel. It is being financed by Elad, an organization
that promotes the Judaization of East Jerusalem.

Ha'aretz reported that last night PM Ehud Olmert met with German
Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss, among other Middle East issues,
tougher sanctions against Iran. Ha'aretz quoted a senior GOI source
as saying Olmert planned to show Merkel intelligence information on
the Iranian nuclear program. The two leaders also planned to
discuss German mediation efforts for the release of the two Israeli
soldiers abducted by Hizbullah, as well as efforts to broker a deal
for the release of Gilad Shalit. The Jerusalem Post reported that a
senior Hamas official in Gaza warned on Monday that Israel can
forget about Shalit if it goes ahead with its threats to assassinate
the political leaders of Hamas. The leading Internet news site Ynet
quoted Merkel as saying during her meeting with Olmert that the
situation along the Gaza border has only one solutions and that is
for Hamas to stop the Qassam attacks. Should the fire persist,
Merkel was quoted as saying, Israel has every right to defend
itself.

The Jerusalem Post reported that during his two-day visit to Ankara
that starts today, Defense Minister Barak plans to sell Turkey the
Arrow missile defense system and the Ofek spy satellite.

Israel Radio reported that some Jewish and Palestinian residents of
Hebron have complained about last week's meeting between Palestinian
and settler leaders in the city. The radio reported that radical
right-wing militant Baruch Marzel was among the Jewish dissenters,
and that the PA summoned Sheikh Abu-Hader Jabri for clarifications.

The Jerusalem Post cited Al Jazeera-TV as saying that a proposal by
Israeli Ambassador to Cairo that Hebrew be added to the list of
foreign languages in the Egyptian curriculum was met with anger and
demands to remove Hebrew studies from the university curriculum.

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that a settler group --
the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel -- has demanded that
Education Minister Prof. Yuli Tamir revoke the Israel Prize awarded
last week to Prof. Zeev Sternhell. The group cited Sternhell's
long-time antagonism toward settlers, and claimed that he "justified
their murder at the hands of Arab terrorists, and essentially called
for civil war."

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that Fitch, one of the
three leading international credit-rating agencies, has upped its
ratings on Israel for the first time in 15 years, on the back of the
country's rapidly falling public debt and "revitalized growth."

All media reported that Rep. Tom Lantos, the Chairman of the House
Foreign Affairs Committee and the only Holocaust to serve in
Congress, died on Monday aged 80. The media recalled his close
affinity with Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday in Washington, the
American friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center (at Tel Aviv
University) will pay tribute to Jimmy Hoffa at a gala dinner that
will feature guest speakers Dalia and Yuval Rabin, as well as former
President Bill Clinton. The newspaper wrote that Hoffa demonstrated
his willingness to help the Jewish community in Palestine's hour of
need.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "[Ehud Olmert] needs to make a
serious effort to ... move toward a peace agreement with the
Palestinians while U.S. President George W. Bush is still in
power.... Olmert may have risen to power with a message of peace,
but Gaza could be his downfall."

Military correspondent Amir Rappaport wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Statements [recently] made by [cabinet ministers]
... attest to the fact that not much was learned from the painful
lessons of the Second Lebanon War."

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz:
"Israel has turned into a vital plaything [in] the intra-Palestinian
struggle."

Ahmed Yousef, senior political advisor to Palestinian (Hamas) Prime
Minister Ismail Haniyeh, wrote in Ha'aretz: "If our people can see
no genuine and realistic political or economic horizon and their
attempts to establish a genuine truce are consistently rejected, it
is inevitable that they will turn to resistance as the only outlet
for their anger and frustration."

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

I. "Gaza Could Be His Downfall"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/12): "Quite a few voices
nowadays are clamoring for the army to go [into Gaza] and fix [the
terrorists'] hides.... Israel cannot go into Gaza today unless it
knows how to get out, when to get out, what it plans to achieve, and
how many soldiers it may cost us. After one bloody trap in Lebanon,
Israel must beware of a sequel.... After the Lebanon fiasco and the
problems in Gaza, there is only one way for Ehud Olmert to get the
country out of the mess he's dragged us into. He needs to make a
serious effort to get back on the Annapolis track and move toward a
peace agreement with the Palestinians while U.S. President George W.
Bush is still in power. Mahmoud Abbas is weak? So strengthen him
with a multi-national force in Gaza, before Hamas gets its claws on
the West Bank, masterminding terror attacks and grabbing the reins
of the Palestinian Authority. Olmert may have risen to power with a
message of peace, but Gaza could be his downfall."

II. "We HavenQt Learned Anything"

Military correspondent Amir Rappaport wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (2/12): "The events of the past number of days --
the terror attack in Dimona, the injury of the brothers from Sderot
and the fact that Israel has come to be perceived by the Arab world
and its own residents as helpless in the face of the Qassam rocket
fire -- have clearly demonstrated that not only do the IDF and the
despairing residents of Sderot yearn for a leader who might radiate
authority and set a path, but the government in its entirety.
Statements [recently] made by [cabinet ministers] ... attest to the
fact that not much was learned from the painful lessons of the
Second Lebanon War. Even worse, many security establishment
officials say they feel that the Winograd Commission report has
served to paralyze the political echelon and to prevent any
possibility of dealing in an organized way with the current threat
facing Israel. And so, instead of a policy that defines what goals
Israel would like to achieve versus Hamas in the Gaza Strip, ideas
are tossed into the air at a dizzying pace but without any clear
purpose. And so, without any clear path, the list of means to
achieve any sort of military or political goal with respect to the
Gaza Strip does not look promising."

III. "Hamas Sets Its Crosshairs on Ramallah and Cairo"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz
(2/12): "Hamas's battle against Fatah and the Palestinian Authority,
and in the face of Arab pressure, including from Egypt and Saudi
Arabia, is guiding its Qassam fire and tactics no less than its
desire to hit Israel. Since Hamas understands that Qassam rockets
will not bring down Israel, Hamas will pursue its objectives in
Ramallah and Cairo.... Israel has turned into a vital plaything [in]
the intra-Palestinian struggle.... On the diplomatic level, Hamas
assesses that to the Arab public, the fighting with Israel, even if
it becomes bloody, will turn the organization into the true fighter
against the occupation; first and foremost, it will preclude
[Mahmoud] Abbas's diplomatic negotiations with Israel when the
latter crushes neighborhoods in Gaza. Even Hamas's detractors
within Fatah will find it difficult at such a time to express
themselves against Hamas -- this would be deemed support for Israel.
Hamas believes that a military confrontation threatens Abbas no
less than it would harm Hamas and the Gazans. A possible refuge
would be a Fatah-Hamas dialogue that Abbas is not yet ready for, but
Hamas is not against it, at least on its own terms."

IV. "Palestinian Revenge Was Inevitable"

Ahmed Yousef, senior political advisor to Palestinian (Hamas) Prime
Minister Ismail Haniyeh, wrote in Ha'aretz (2/12): "Last week's
bombing in Dimona was the first martyrdom operation committed by
Hamas in more than five years.... In the last two months, more than
a hundred people have been killed by the Israeli occupation forces
in the Gaza Strip, including many civilians, women and children.
Thirty people have died in the last month for lack of medical care
brought on by the embargo.... The cold-blooded fact is that the
ratio of Palestinian deaths to Israelis is now over 40 to 1. The
Hamas-led government has consistently called for a long-term
cease-fire.... If the people of Sderot want to know why rockets
continue to land around them, they should ask their own government
why it has continually rejected our calls for a cease-fire and
continued its policy of daily incursions and reckless targeting that
put the whole population at risk.... If our people can see no
genuine and realistic political or economic horizon and their
attempts to establish a genuine truce are consistently rejected, it
is inevitable that they will turn to resistance as the only outlet
for their anger and frustration.... Given the facts on the ground
and the total mistrust that now prevails on all sides, we believe
neither Israelis nor Palestinians are ready for final-status
negotiations."


------------------------
2. Islam and Democracy:
------------------------

Summary:
--------

Former foreign minister Prof. Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The question that must
be asked is whether the Muslims are prepared to accept the fact that
Islam is a religion and not a state."

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

"Possible Reconciliation?"

Former foreign minister Prof. Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/12): "The question
that must be asked is whether the Muslims are prepared to accept the
fact the fact that Islam is a religion and not a state, and that
just like in the Christian world, there is the Emperor's domain --
and God's. An enlightenment in the Muslim states should be pushed
by the fact that during the entire history theocracy has not served
to promote humanity.... It is always possible to claim ... that the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the mainstay of the problem and that
resolving the distress of the Palestinians will greatly contribute
to the improvement of relations between Muslim society and the
West.... However, Muslim Arabs should not delude themselves into
thinking that this conflict is the main reason for their slow
progress. The end of the American occupation in Iraq and an
Israeli-Arab peace agreement will have a tremendous influence, but
they are no miracle cures. The battle to eradicate distress,
analphabetism, and corruption, as well as a rapprochement between
Islam and the age of science, do not have to wait for the outcome of
the Annapolis process."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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