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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #0357/01 0441147
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131147Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5399
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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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 3405
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0058
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3629
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4167
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3425
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1602
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4167
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1010
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1482
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8040
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5515
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0431
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4552
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6501
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9066
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000357

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. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

Israel Radio and other media quoted Hizbullah as saying that Imad
Mughniyah, the senior Hizbullah military leader believed to be the
mastermind behind the attack against a Jewish center in Buenos Aires
in 1994, the bombings of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992
and of U.S. military barracks in Beirut in 1983, was killed in a
mysterious blast in Damascus. Hizbullah has blamed Israel. Israel
has not yet commented.

Ha'aretz quoted PM Ehud Olmert as saying in Berlin that borders will
be the easiest of the core issues to solve and negotiations should
begin there instead of on more difficult topics like Jerusalem. The
paper added that officials in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and
the U.S. now doubt that a peace agreement can be reached this year..
A "senior source in Washington" was cited as saying that efforts to
adjust expectations for the negotiations had begun, but that the
ultimate goal of the process has not changed. PM Olmert and Vice
PM Haim Ramon have said in recent days that a detailed agreement
cannot be expected by the end of the year, this despite warnings
from Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad that it was time to demonstrate
progress in the talks. Ha'aretz also added that FM Tzipi Livni said
on Sunday in an interview with AP that an agreement can't be reached
as long as Hamas militants control Gaza.

Hatem Abdel Qader, the Jerusalem affairs adviser to PA Prime
Minister Salam Fayyad, was quoted in an interview with The Jerusalem
Post on Tuesday as saying that Jerusalem "is not only on the
[negotiating] table, it is also under the table." He added that
discussion are focusing on property claims in both the eastern and
western halves of the city. Ha'aretz and other media reported that
senior Shas officials have criticized the escalation in rhetoric by
faction head Eli Yishai in his threats to quit the coalition. These
sources said that the party's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,
does not want to leave the government, and that Yishai's statements
are in contradiction to the position adopted by the Council of Torah

Sages three weeks ago, which stipulated that Shas will only quit the
government when Jerusalem enters into the negotiations. The Shas
sources also asterisk this by adding that Yosef does not believe
that the negotiations will have a tangible result since Abbas is so
weak, therefore he sees no need for Shas to take immediate action.
On the other hand, The Jerusalem Post wrote that Yishai was
surprised to hear about the frequency of FM Tzipi Livni's contacts
with former Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei.

Leading media quoted Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) as

saying on Tuesday that his ministry plans to submit to the
government a proposal this year to build a new Arab city -- probably
in the Galilee. If the plan goes through, it will be the first time
such a city is built in Israel, aside from towns meant to absorb the
Bedouin.

Maariv reported that Israel has started a world-wide PR campaign in
preparation for a military operation in Gaza.

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, was quoted as saying on Tuesday in
an interview with The Jerusalem Post that Israeli security needs
must be met for there to be cooperation between the two sides.

Ha'aretz reported that in Jerusalem on Tuesday Malcolm Hoenlein, the
head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
Organizations, expressed concern over Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's
campaign for president. While carefully stressing that he is not
worried specifically about the candidate, he is nervous about the
atmosphere around the campaign and the talk of "change". He was
also somewhat critical of Obama's stance on Iran and warned that the
Presidential campaign could mark a shift in U.S. support for Israel.
Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post did not carry any quotes about the
Obama campaign, but instead focused on Iran and Hoenlein's statement
that a military strike "would be a sign of a failed policy, because
it would show we didn't do everything we cold have done."

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that Dov Alfon, 46, will succeed David
Landau as editor of Ha'aretz. Ha'aretz reported that Guy Rolnik,
deputy publisher of the Ha'aretz group, cited Alfon's long resume,
experience, talent, and originality. Alfon is expected to take up
the position on April 15. Landau has been Ha'aretz's editor for the
last four years.

The Jerusalem Post reported that seven students from the Leo Baeck
High School in Haifa will join American students for two weeks in
Nicaragua building homes for the poor.

Yediot reported that the U.S. Basketball Hall of Fame will honor the
Maccabi Tel Aviv club in an exhibition marking Israel's 60th
anniversary.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that FM Tzipi Livni is
scheduled to visit Washington on Thursday to attend a memorial
ceremony for California Congressman Tom Lantos. Ha'aretz reported
that Livni will stay in town for only a few hours, but is expected
to meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Ha'aretz quoted German Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying on Tuesday
during a meeting with PM Olmert Germany that she supports further
UN sanctions. Israel Radio quoted Olmert as saying in Germany that
Israel will not build settlements but that it will continue
construction in Jerusalem.

Major media reported that on Tuesday in Ankara Defense Minister Ehud
Barak criticized calls for military action in Gaza, claiming that
such remarks, especially by government ministers, give the enemy
detailed and damaging information. Ha'aretz also reported that Barak
declined to comment on wire service reports that Turkish officials
had passed on a message from Syrian President Bashar Assad. Yediot
reported that on Tuesday Turkish Minister of National Defense Mehmet
Vecdi Gonul acknowledged that Israel is helping his country fight
Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq by leasing Israeli unmanned aerial
vehicles (UAVs).

Yediot cited the concern of the GOI that Hizbullah may ignite the
northern border if Israel embarks on a broad-scale military
operation in Gaza. Leading media reported that the residents of
communities along the northern border will strike today in protest
of the Finance Ministry's plan to cut certain tax benefits that they
enjoyed.

On Tuesday, leading media reported that the northern town of Kiryat
Yam is suing Internet giant Google for slander because a feature of
its worldwide map service shows the town was built on the ruins of
an Arab village. In an interview with AP, Kiryat Yam official Naty
Keyzilberman was quoted as saying that "this obviously cannot be
true, because Kiryat Yam was founded in 1945."

Major media reported that Israeli author Amos Oz and former U.S.
Vice President Al Gore are among the recipients of this year's Dan
David Prize for influential scientific, technological, cultural or
social achievements. The winners will receive the award in Israel

in May. The prize, which is based at Tel Aviv University, awards
three prizes of $1 million each in categories representing the past,
present and future.

Maariv reported that following an agreement with Covanta, the
largest recycling company in the U.S., the Israeli firm Global
Energy will set up hundreds of plants in America to produce fuel
from waste, and receive 10% of the profits from the fuel.

The media reported that on Tuesday the U.S. dollar reached a 10-year
low on the Israeli money market -- 3.58 shekels.

Ha'aretz presented the results of Tel Aviv University's Peace Index
poll conducted among Jewish and Arab Israelis from February 4 to 6,
2008:
Following the Winograd Report, nearly two-thirds (63%) of the Jewish
public still think that the decision to launch the Second Lebanon
War was justified (25% say it was the wrong decision). This
compares to only 58% after the interim report (April 2007).
Voters for the National Religious Party-National Union are now most
likely to support the war -- 88% -- while the fewest supporters can
be found among Meretz and Likud - in both cases 48%
As for the report's political implications, 53% say that Ehud
Olmert cannot continue serving as prime minister (38% think he
can).
Only 40% are in favor of new elections; 31% favor the current
government staying; and 22% support the current coalition but under
a new PM.
Interestingly, only 12% of the public has trust in the government
and 15% trusts the Knesset.

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

Summary:
--------

Prominent liberal writer Amos Oz wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Israel must not fall
into the trap that Hamas is laying for us in Gaza."

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote on his Internet site Gplanet: "We
have to ensure a balance of military terror to stop the fire at
Israel, but we will not save Hamas from itself."

Columnist Avraham Tirosh wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv:
"The shadow of the Winograd Commission hovers above the commanders
who will decide on a broad-ranging operation [in Gaza]."

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

I. "Don't March into Gaza"

Prominent liberal writer Amos Oz wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/13): "The rage, the
frustration and the fulminating rhetoric have gone to our heads.
Israel must not fall into the trap that Hamas is laying for us in
Gaza. Because the number of casualties in a ground incursion will
be far larger than the number of people hurt by Qassam rockets over
seven years. Additionally, for five of those years, we controlled
Gaza, and even then could not stop hundreds of rockets being fired
on Sderot.... Evidently we have forgotten.... By having Israeli
troops invade Gaza, Hamas fighters will be depicted in the eyes of
the Palestinians, in the eyes of the Arab world and in the eyes of
world public opinion as the Palestinian Masada -- the few against
the many, residential neighborhoods against a regular army, refugee
camps against bomber planes, boys against tanks, David against
Goliath. As the rulers of Gaza, we will be sitting on a can of
worms. The occupying force will not have a single quiet day. Nor
will Sderot and its environs. Even at these moments of rage, as our
hearts go out to the continuous suffering of the residents of Sderot
and its environs, we must not forget that the root of the Gaza
problem is that hundreds of thousands of people are rotting there in
refugee camps, camps that are hotbeds of poverty and despair,
ignorance, religious and national zealotry, hatred and violence.
From an historical perspective, there is no answer to the Gaza
problem without there being, at least on the horizon, a degree of
hope for these desperate people. What can be done now? It is
possible and crucial to reach a cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza. A
cease-fire like this has a difficult political price, of course.
But of all the prices that Israel is liable to pay for an erroneous
and hasty decision, this is the least fatal and most tolerable."

II. "More Surprises, Sweet as Wormwood"

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote on his Internet site Gplanet (2/10):
"About half a year after it took over the Gaza Strip in a military
coup, Hamas has brought the Palestinians in Gaza back 60 years, as
through a the time tunnel, straight to 1948. They are again a public
that behaves like a flock of sheep, without a name, without a face,
without an identity, without a goal, either national or
organizational.... With great skill, Hamas has managed to completely
isolate itself, surrounded by rivals, perhaps even enemies.... If
Hamas takes the Palestinians and the Palestinian issue to
self-destruction, we won't get in its way. We have to ensure a
balance of military terror to stop the fire at Israel, but we will
not save Hamas from itself.... If, despite everything, we are
planning a large-scale ground operation, it must be properly
planned.... Obviously the operation's plans must be gone over
intelligently, and we must ensure military brilliance, deception,
diversion and cunning. The IDF has all the time in the world. We
demand a brilliant operation!.... 'Talk to Hamas' (!) major figures
in the government here have said, talk to Hamas. But Hamas is not
interested. Israeli logic says that we are always to blame or are
responsible, and it's hard to accept the fact that we are simply not
wanted. Does anyone remember President Bush's silly visit to the
region? The great fears? The negotiations on the 'core issues'?
Tony Blair and his regional prattle? A peace agreement with the
Palestinians 'this year'? Along came the winter wind and scattered
the illusions in all directions."

II. "War in Winograd's Shadow"

Columnist Avraham Tirosh wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv
(2/13): "The shadow of the Winograd Commission hovers above the
commanders who will decide on a broad-ranging operation [in Gaza]
and its timing.... Thus, Israel will not be stuck in the Gazan
quagmire.... The number of Israeli casualties will be reasonable (as
horrible as this sounds). So will the number of civilians killed in
Gaza. The aims of this operation -- first and foremost the
elimination of the Hamas regime, will be clearly defined.... We are
already at war, but the impeding one will be harsher and longer."

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

Summary:
--------

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin, wrote in an editorial of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: " The possibility
exists -- but not for certain -- that Barak Obama will be the next
U.S. president.... We are apparently facing a 'window of
opportunities.' May God protect us."

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

"A Bunch of Troubles"

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin, wrote in an editorial of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/13): "The possibility
exists -- but not for certain -- that Barak Obama will be the next
U.S. president.... If Obama gets elected ... the basic assumption is
that his rapport to Israel will be different from that of Bush and
Clinton -- I wish I were wrong. No words can describe our current
dependence on the United States in all aspects of our lives; thus
any drop in support of Israel would be a significant disaster. We
are apparently facing a 'window of opportunities.' May God protect
us."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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