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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #0388/01 0461314
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151314Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5447
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000388

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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
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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

1. Imad Mughniyah's Assassination

2. Mideast

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

All media reported that in a recorded video message at Imad
Mughniyah's funeral in Beirut on Thursday, Hizbullah
Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah vowed to avenge his death,

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saying, "His blood will lead to Israel's fall.... You have killed
Hajj Imad outside the natural battlefield." Nasrallah was referring
to Hizbullah's longtime contention it only fights Israel within
Lebanon and along their common border. Nasrallah further said.
"With this murder, its timing, location and method -- Zionists, if
you want this kind of open war, let the whole world listen: Let this
war be open." On Thursday Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued
a severe travel advisory to all Israeli citizens amid concerns that
Hizbullah will attempt terror attacks or kidnappings. The IDF and
Shin Bet have gone on high alert. FM Tzipi Livni was quoted as
saying in Washington on Thursday that Israel is a "strong country,"
and that statements uttered by terrorists will not change that.
Media reported that Syria intends to provide information on the
circumstances of Mughniyah's death soon. Israel Radio reported that
the FBI has raised the level of alert in synagogues and other Jewish
institutions across the U.S.

Ha'aretz reported that the heads of the Palestinian negotiating team
and FM Livni object to PM Ehud Olmert's directive to put
negotiations on Jerusalem off until the final stage. Ha'aretz
quoted chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei as sayng that he was
fully authorized and prepared to negotiate on all core issues,
without exceptions or priorities. Dr. Saeb Erekat told the paper on
Thursday that it was not possible to discuss certain maters without
involving Jerusalem. Erekat denied reports of a secret channel
between Vice PM Haim Ramon and Palestinian businessman Muhammad
Rashid. Erekat added that Rashid had not been authorized by anyone
to conduct talks. Ha'aretz further reported that FM Livni sent a
letter last week to the head of the Jerusalem city council
opposition, Nir Barkat, in which she wrote that in Annapolis Israel
and the Palestinians agreed to conduct negotiations on all the core
issues "without exception." The paper also mentioned that Livni
told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Qassam rocket fire
must stop before the end of the negotiations.

Israel Radio reported that hundreds of housing units are being built
in dozens of settlements in defiance of the orders given by PM
Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Ha'aretz reported that on
Thursday the Israel Lands Administration named the winners of the
tenders to build 307 housing units in East Jerusalem's Har Homa
neighborhood. This will make it extremely difficult, if not
impossible, to stop the planned construction and thus could possibly
jeopardize the peace talks.

Yediot and Maariv led with interviews and stories linked to the
Second Lebanon War. In Yediot, former chief of staff Dan Halutz
admitted having made mistakes. Maariv reported that former deputy
chief of staff Moshe Kaplinsky told associates that it was too bad
that the Winograd Commission did not issue personal recommendations,
while Halutz told Maariv that this was a good thing.

Ha'aretz reported that on Thursday the IDF bombed a number of
abandoned buildings in Gaza that the army said were being used to
launch rockets and mortar shells at Israel. Palestinians fired five
Qassam rockets at Israel on Thursday. Ha'aretz quoted a security
source as saying that that former Hamas FM Mahmoud Zahar entered
Egypt from Gaza to resume talks with the Egyptian government on
arrangements along the border. Israel Radio quoted senior Egyptian
official as saying that Hamas's military branch will not release
Gilad Shalit out of concern that Israel will assassinate senior
Hamas members. In a feature story, Yediot listed a series of
Israeli mistakes in the Shalit affair.

Ha'aretz, The Jerusalem Post, and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that
the U.S. has recently shared new evidence on Iranian efforts to
obtain nuclear weapons to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Jerusalem Center for Public
Affairs has set up an Arabic-language web site -- www.infoarab.org
(?) -- run by former Israeli ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel. Mazel
was quoted as saying: "We are seeking to translate materials from
progressive and democratic voices in the West into Arabic, and make
them available to Arab peoples in the Middle East who otherwise
cannot access this material."

Yediot reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak threatens to pull
the Labor Party out of the government if the Finance Ministry does
not restore certain tax benefits to communities along the northern
border.

Major media reported that on Thursday hundreds of Golan Heights
Druze residents attended an annual protest against Israel's
annexation of the area.

The Jerusalem Post reported that France and the U.S. have threatened
not to participate in the 2009 UN anti-racism conference if it shows
signs of being dominated by the same anti-Semitism that was so
prevalent in the controversial 2001 event held in Durban, South
Africa.

Leading liberal writer A.B. Yehoshua was quoted as saying in an
interview with Ha'aretz that Israelis and Palestinians are two
completely different peoples, that the Palestinians have other moral
and cultural codes than Israelis, and that a binational state is a
recipe for disaster. Yehoshua, who in 1976 called on Israel to talk
to the PLO, said in the interview that the Israeli occupation has to
be taken in its proper context.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe and other media reported that on Israel's
Independence Day (in May) the pro-settler Jewish-American tycoon
Irving Markowitz will award $100,000 to an "outstanding personality
in the field of Zionist achievement," as a counterweight to the
official Israel Prize.

Yediot quoted Silvio Berlusconi, the frontrunner in Italy's
legislative elections, as saying in a new book that Europe cannot
afford to appear to Israeli society as an enemy entity.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that the Foreign Ministry and the
American Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC) are seeking to tighten
relations with the U.S. Latino community through a visit this week
by 20 leading American Hispanics to immigrant absorption centers
across Israel. The JDC claims that this delegation is the first of
its kind.

Ha'aretz quoted Dr. Dan Ben David, a Tel Aviv University researcher,
as saying that the scope of the brain drain of Israeli lecturers to
the U.S. is much more important than that from Western countries.

Maariv presented the results of a TNS/Teleseker poll:

"Do you support or oppose a ground operation in Gaza aimed at
stopping Qassam fire?"
Support: 67%; oppose: 25%.

"The IDF believes that many lives will be lost in a broad-ranging
ground operation in Gaza. In light of this belief do you support or
oppose a ground operation in Gaza aimed at stopping Qassam fire?"
Support: 51%; oppose: 38%.

"Do you believe that a ground operation in Gaza will stop Qassam
fire?"
No: 53%; yes: 44%.

-----------------------------------
1. Imad Mughniyah's Assassination:
-----------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Military correspondent Amos Harel and Palestinian affairs
correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "The Gaza problem is still on the government's agenda.
After Mughniyah, escalation could come on both fronts
concurrently."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "Mughniyah's killing does not mark anything.... But one must
admit that the [assassination] was sweet. In these crazy times,
this is already something."

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Mughniyah's
legacy is not simply a laundry list of massacre and torture. It is
the nexus of global terror."

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

I. "Don't Break Out the Champagne Just Yet"

Military correspondent Amos Harel and Palestinian affairs
correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (2/15): "The ramifications [of the Mughniyah] operation are
likely to be very serious. The year and a half of quiet on the
Hizbullah front, about which Olmert boasted at last month's Herzliya
Conference, is probably over, although Israeli intelligence
officials believe the target will be far from the northern border.
Hizbullah is not Syria, which has shown restraint since last
September's air force strike. Most indications are that Hizbullah
will try to respond relatively quickly, with a terror attack
designed to make a big impression. The dramatic news from Damascus
made everyone forget the events in Sderot for a day or two. But the
Gaza problem is still on the government's agenda. After Mughniyah,
escalation could come on both fronts concurrently. The Gaza
challenge is immeasurably more complicated, one that cannot be
solved by obliterating a jeep.... The IDF is heading toward Gaza.
What is not known is whether it will arrive before, after or during
the escalation on another front, against Hizbullah."

II. "One Man's Defense Establishment"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (2/15): "Mughniyah has five or six possible successors -- all
of them talented and efficient. But an experienced intelligence
source who followed Mughniyah for years says that nobody surpasses
him.... [But] the West's war on terror is far from over. Mughniyah's
killing does not mark anything. There's no knock out, maybe only a
victory in points, but one must admit that the [assassination] was
sweet. In these crazy times, this is already something."

III. "Mughniyah's True Legacy"

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/15):
"Mughniyah's legacy is not simply a laundry list of massacre and
torture. It is the nexus of global terror. While it is a great
thing that he is dead, it must be understood that his death is
insufficient. Hundreds of thousands converged in Beirut to
celebrate his life's work. The West must understand the
significance of that work and unite to destroy it -- layer after
layer."

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Forget sanctions against the
civilian population. Forget power cuts. Forget striking down their
firstborn. Talk to Hamas. No one ever died from dialogue."

David Kimche, former senior Israeli intelligence agent and former
director general of the Foreign Ministry wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "The Arab states have a vital role to
play in the weeks and months ahead.... Prince Turki would never have
sent [a] message [of peace] ... if he did not have the backing of
the Saudi king to do so."

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

I. "A Comment on Gaza"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/15): "Israelis have stopped
believing in victories, with or without quotation marks, for which
scores of people have to die. The large-scale operation in Gaza
that the generals are talking about is like riding a tiger. It's
easy to climb on, but hard to climb off without getting battered and
bruised. There is no way to stop the Qassam rockets by force.
Massive military incursions are not the answer, and neither are
targeted assassinations. Sheikh Yassin was assassinated. So was
that the end of Hamas? Did terror stop? Forget sanctions against
the civilian population. Forget power cuts. Forget striking down
their firstborn. Talk to Hamas. No one ever died from dialogue."

II. "An Outstretched Hand"

David Kimche, former senior Israeli intelligence agent and former
director general of the Foreign Ministry wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (2/15): "For those of us who had
connections with Israeli intelligence, Prince Turki al-Faisal was a
household name.... The brother of Foreign Minister Prince Faisal, he
is considered to be one of the most senior -- and respected --
members of the Royal Household. Perhaps people with a background in
intelligence fear less to speak their minds than others.... A
Reuters journalist asked the prince if he would like to send a
message to the Israeli public. This is what the prince had to say:
'The Arab world, by the Arab peace initiative, has crossed the
Rubicon from hostility to Israel to peace with Israel and has
extended the hand of peace to Israel, and we await the Israelis
picking up our hand and joining us in what inevitably will be
beneficial for Israel and the Arab world.' He told the journalist
that Israel and the Arabs could cooperate in many areas including
water, agriculture, science and education.... The Arab states have a
vital role to play in the weeks and months ahead. We should be
urging them to become more involved. We should be discussing their
peace initiative with them. We should be seeking ways to reach out
to them. Prince Turki would never have sent that message via the
Reuters journalist if he did not have the backing of the Saudi king
to do so."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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