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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 211231Z FEB 08
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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

1. Mideast

2. Iran

3. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

Major media reported that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon promised
on Wednesday to respond "firmly" to Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's verbal attacks on Israel, which he called
"intolerable." Ban made the promise in a meeting with Israel's
Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman, who requested the meeting with
the UN chief following remarks made by Ahmadinejad on Wednesday.
Ahmadinejad's remarks were broadcast on Iranian Television, in which
he called Israel a "filthy germ" and "savage beast" established by
Western states in their bid to dominate the Middle East. The
comments came just days after Ali Jafari, the top commander of
Iran's Revolutionary Guards, called Israel a "cancerous germ" which
would be wiped out by Hizbullah, Army Radio reported. Jafari made
the comment in a letter to Hizbullah leadQ Hassan Nasrallah,
offering condolences after the killing of terrorist mastermind Imad
Mughniyah, which Iran has blamed on Israel. Earlier this week IDF
Radio reported that the Foreign Ministry sent a letter of protest to
the UN over Jafari's remarks. Also this week, the Iranian news
agency ISNA quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as
saying that even after 60 years, Israel still has neither legitimacy
nor any role in the Middle East. The media also reported that on
Wednesday Iran urged the UN Security Council to condemn Israel and
demand that it immediately stop threatening to use military force
against the country's nuclear program.

All media reported that on Wednesday Mohammad Mohaddessin, a
representative of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of
Iran, claimed that Tehran has accelerated its alleged nuclear
weapons program, including the production of nuclear warheads. He
claimed that, for the first time, Tehran had established a command
and control center to work on a nuclear weapon and that it was also
setting up a center southeast of Tehran to produce warheads.

Yediot reported that Israel has identified five additional
terrorists as possible successors of slain radical Imad Mughniyah.
Yediot cited the belief of senior Israeli defense sources that one
of them is planning the terrorist attack that would avenge
Mughniyah's death.

Ha'aretz reported that Ran Koriel, Israel's ambassador to the EU,
recently warned the Foreign Ministry of a change in EU policy on
Hamas, amid mounting international pressure on Israel over its
handling of the situation in the Gaza Strip. The government has
recently been getting strong signals that both the U.S. and Europe
are deeply frustrated by lack of progress in negotiations with the
Palestinians. Ha'aretz recalled that envoys of the Quartet convened
in Berlin on February 11 to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip
and the peace process between Israel and the PA. The newspaper
quoted Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, who joined the
criticism of Israel's conduct in the Gaza Strip, as saying at the
meeting that the U.S. was not comfortable with Israel's approach to
Gaza. "First, we must not allow the suicide bombing in Dimona and
shooting on Sderot to affect the negotiations," he was quoted as
saying, adding that "It is also important to us that neither the
Palestinians in Gaza nor the Israelis in Sderot are hurt. Also, we
must continue to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad." Welch
added that the Quartet must demand that Israel open the border
passes with the Gaza Strip. Ha'aretz said that the EU's Special
Representative to the Middle East Peace Process, Marc Otte, was more
severe toward Israel than Welch.

Leading media reported that on Wednesday PA President Mahmoud Abbas
dismissed a call by his advisor Yasser Abed Rabbo for a unilateral
declaration of statehood if negotiations fail. The Jerusalem Post
reported that Israeli officials rejected out of hand any idea of a
unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians. Media
quoted State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack as saying that
unlike Kosovo, the Palestinians were still involved in peace
negotiations.

Leading media quoted IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi as saying on
Wednesday that he could not rule out the possibility of Israel
facing a military conflict in the near future. He was talking
during an officers' training course graduation ceremony. Israel
Radio cited the London-based Al-Hayat as saying that Defense
Minister Ehud Barak has conveyed to Syria a message through Turkey
that Israel may intensify its fighting against Hamas and Hizbullah.
The Jerusalem Post cited Al-Hayat as saying that Egypt warned Israel
this week against carrying out an intensive military campaign in
Gaza, saying that such an operation would likely lead to a high
number of civilian casualties.

Ha'aretz reported that American victims of terrorist actions fear
that the State Department may recommend a halt to massive fines
levied against the PA on related charges.

Maariv cited the defense establishment's concern that 500,000 more
Israelis might be targeted by Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza.

Ha'aretz reported that over the past week the Foreign Ministry has
tried to convince countries from around the world that the
diplomatic process is moving forward.

The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz quoted Saudi FM Prince Saud
al-Faisal as saying on Wednesday at the opening of a meeting in
Buenos Aires between leaders of Arab and Latin American countries:
"The lack of a positive response from Israel to Saudi Arabia's
Middle East peace initiative is likely to lead to Arab states
reevaluating their positions." The FM added: "We hope that Israel
will respond positively to our efforts in order to avoid despair
which will force us to reassess our options." Citing the Jewish
Telegraphic Agency, The Jerusalem Post reported that Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice has written to Congress that a planned arms
sale to Saudi Arabia will not harm Israel's military superiority in
the region.

Ha'aretz cited a Peace Now report according to which 94% of
Palestinian requests to build in the West Bank's "Area C," which is
under full Israeli control, were rejected between 2000 and 2007.

Yediot reported that PM Ehud Olmert will focus during his visit to
Japan next week on North Korea's involvement in Iran and Syria's
nuclear program, and on tightening bilateral economic ties.

Ha'aretz reported that a PA commission of inquiry found that Fatah's
military echelon was responsible for the PA's failure in Gaza.

Yediot reported that on Wednesday the American companies Northrop
Grumman Corporation and Oshkosh Corporation selected the Israeli
firm Plasan-Sasa, a leading developer and manufacturer of add-on
armor systems for the military and commercial market, to assist with
the design and engineering of the armor for the Joint Light Tactical
Vehicle (JLTV) program.

Yediot reported that Standard and Poor's (S&P), a division of
McGraw-Hill and the world's leading ratings company, and the new
Israeli economic newspaper Calcalist have signed an exclusive
cooperation agreement according to which Calcalist will reprint
selected S&P publications.

The Jerusalem Post, Maariv, and other media reported that a
reference to Israel was removed from an on-line poll to select the
cities to be featured in the international version of the popular
Monopoly board game. From Tuesday until Wednesday afternoon,
Jerusalem was the only city to be listed without a location. Unlike
Paris, France; Montreal, Canada; and Riga, Latvia; Jerusalem stood
on its own as a city with no homeland. However, following
complaints, all country names were removed from the list on
Wednesday. The Israeli Consulate expressed satisfaction with
Hasbro's decision to remove all country references, and even took
credit for the change. According to a Hasbro Company spokesman,
Wayne Charness, Israel was originally removed from the list by a
mid-level employee following a slew of e-mails from angry
Palestinians, when no one in upper management was there to handle
the situation.

Maariv quoted associates of former defense minister Amir Peretz as
saying that PM Olmert has offered him a social portfolio in his
government. The newspaper cited Olmert's bureau as saying that the
issue was raised between the two, but that it has not reached a
practical stage.

Leading media reported that the low Consumer Price Index in the U.S.
has resulted in negative indices on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Ha'aretz cited the results of a Haifa University poll released on
Wednesday according to which 75 percent of Israeli Arabs between the
ages of 16 and 22 support voluntary national service.

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

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "According to the American scenario, what is
first required is complete Israeli readiness for a military
operation [in Gaza], and also for political allowances.... What [the
United States] really wants is the forceful takeover of the
territory by a bolstered Palestinian Authority."

Arab affairs correspondent Jacky Hoogie wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Mughniyah's removal caused damage to Hizbullah's
morale and hurt it emotionally, but does not have the ability to
paralyze an organization such as this, which is based on broad
civilian support."

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "[A
proclamation of Palestinian statehood] would be the result of the
reckless diplomatic process launched by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
at Annapolis."

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

I. "America Wants an Operation in Gaza"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/21): "The Americans know that change must
occur in the Gaza Strip. 'The status quo there, I think, cannot
hold,' Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a congressional
hearing last week. According to the American scenario, what is
first required is complete Israeli readiness for a military
operation, and also for political allowances.... However, the
Americans will require assurances, more so than in the past, that
this will not be an operation that will commence with a promise only
to end with an investigation. Like Kissinger said, it undermines
American interests. The Bush administration is wary of yet another
victory by the extremists; it has never had faith in the ability of
the international community to prevent such victory. Only the most
naive among the senior administration officials still toy with the
idea of a multinational force that will take over in the Gaza Strip.
The lessons from Lebanon have also been learned on this. What they
really want is the forceful takeover of the territory by a bolstered
Palestinian Authority."

II. "Damage to Morale, No More"

Arab affairs correspondent Jacky Hoogie wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (2/21): "To paraphrase David Ben-GurionQs
expression, it doesn't matter how much the Jews deny, the main thing
is what Nasrallah sayQA week after [arch-terrorist Imad]
Mughniyah's death, Hizbullah is making no effort to conceal the
magnitude of the loss.... We mistakenly tend to identify the
disappearance of a figure with the elimination of his organization.
There are several truths about Hizbullah that are more important
than Nasrallah's declarations.... [Hizbullah] is a state within a
state, whose ears are attentive to the distress of the weak, and the
level of corruption in its ranks is close to zero. It is no wonder,
then, that it has admirers among the Christian community as well.
Mughniyah's removal caused damage to Hizbullah's morale and hurt it
emotionally, but does not have the ability to paralyze an
organization such as this, which is based on broad civilian support
-- certainly not to dry up its ideology. It would have been naive
to believe that a military operation could crush the movement.... It
would be even more naove to think that the Shi'ite community would
rise against Nasrallah and rebel against the hand that feeds it.
The Shiites will not do this at normal times, and certainly not in
the service of a state that sent its planes to sow destruction in
its towns. Israel is compelled to accept the existence of hostile
relations with its radical neighbors to the north, and to search for
more sophisticated ways of crushing them."

III. "Annex Area C"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (2/21):
"One of the immediate consequences of Kosovo's declaration of
independence was an announcement by [senior Palestinian official]
Yasser Abed Rabbo that if no progress is made in the
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the Palestinian Authority will
unilaterally proclaim Palestinian statehood. Such an announcement
would not only be inspired by the Kosovars. It would be the result
of the reckless diplomatic process launched by Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert at Annapolis.... Regardless, Israel may have to carry out a
move: Legislation fully annexing Area C [those parts of the West
Bank under full Israeli control]."

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

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The
silence from the nations of the world in the face of [Iran's]
blatant endorsement of terror and incitement to genocide is
deafening, giving the lie to oceans of pious rhetoric."

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

"Condoning Genocide"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (2/21):
"The silence from the nations of the world in the face of this
blatant endorsement of terror and incitement to genocide is
deafening, giving the lie to oceans of pious rhetoric.... Iran
openly backs Hizbullah, openly hosts Hamas leaders and openly calls
for Israel's destruction. Nor are these genocidal intentions 'only'
rhetorical. They are already being carried out in practice, in the
form of daily missile attacks and other terrorist acts, ongoing
weapons buildups and -- topping it all off -- through Iran's race to
full nuclear weapons capability. The stunning global silence in the
face of incitement to and preparation for genocide testifies to a
belief that all this is 'just' Israel's problem -- as if an
existential threat to one small state is not of sufficient
concern.... Which leaders and nations will speak out and act - not
only in Israel's defense but in their own?"

--------------------------
3. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Liberal columnist Avirama Golan wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The longing for change [in the U.S.], which
seeks to violate the old order ... and to create a new
administration, ought to interest Israel -- because of the adulation
for the American ethos that our culture and society blindly
imitate."

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

"An American Change, Perhaps"

Liberal columnist Avirama Golan wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/21): "The longing for change, which seeks
to violate the old order, defy the connection between capital,
power, religion, and government and to create a new administration,
ought to interest Israel -- because of the adulation for the
American ethos that our culture and society blindly imitate. The
Americans are fed up with their old browbeating, in its
neoconservative incarnation. In Israel it remains a hit. Maybe
change will happen in the U.S. and maybe not. It is possible that
Obama's inexperience, skin color, and origin will work against him,
and that the longing for change will wind up being exploited by the
conservative right. Such things have happened before. But in the
meantime the need for a new order is coalescing into a fascinating
cultural-political expression. If we are such fine mimics, then
perhaps we can at least watch and learn something."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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