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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0437/01 0531150
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221150Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5534
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
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 3446
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0098
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3679
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4207
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3465
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1656
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4210
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1050
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1525
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8080
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5558
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0471
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4592
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6543
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9127
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000437

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


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

1. Mideast

2. Kosovo

3. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

Yediot reported that preparations are well underway for President
Bush's "farewell" visit to Israel in May.

Ha'aretz reported that PM Ehud Olmert will meet with U.S. Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice while both are in Japan next week. The
meeting was requested by Secretary Rice. Ha'aretz noted that it is
particularly surprising because Rice is due to come to Jerusalem for
a working visit the following week. Ha'aretz reported that GOI
officials predicted that the meeting would focus on the situation in
the Gaza Strip, and quoted them as saying that Rice probably wanted
to express her concern over the humanitarian situation there.
Ha'aretz reported that General William Fraser, the U.S. envoy
responsible for monitoring implementation of the Roadmap, visited
Israel this week and met with officials in the Prime Minister's
Office, the defense establishment and the Foreign Ministry.
Ha'aretz quoted a GOI official as saying that on his next trip,
Fraser would present a plan for how both sides should move forward
on these obligations.

The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported that on Thursday in
Washington Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs
David Welch cautioned Israel on the use of force in Gaza as the IDF
mulls an invasion to stop the Qassam rocket fire. "We urge caution
and proportionality," he was quoted as saying.

Maariv reported that in private talks, a senior GOI source involved
in negotiations to free Gilad Shalit said that the price tag -- the
list of prisoners demanded by Hamas -- of a deal is too high.

The Jerusalem Post quoted an official at the Prime Minister's
Office, who is familiar with a plan by PM Olmert to establish an
unprecedented high-level government task force charged with altering
the Israel-Diaspora relationship, as saying that "now U.S. Jewry is
in a crisis of identity, or intermarriage. We see it and we feel
it, if nowhere else, in the cash flow."

Israel Radio reported that overnight the IAF conducted two raids
against the central Gaza Strip. The radio quoted Palestinian
sources as saying that two Islamic Jihad militants were killed and
that another man was injured. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that
the IDF is planning to evacuate Ashdod residents in case Qassam
rockets hit strategic targets in the city, such as chemical plants.

Yediot reported that the Transportation Ministry's security officer
has instructed all airlines landing in Israel to compel all
passengers to fasten seat belts 290 km (10 miles) from the Israeli
coastline, i.e. about half-an-hour before the plane reaches the
coast. Until now, that distance was 150 km from the coastline.
Yediot reported that Mossad Director Meir Dagan has asked President
Shimon Peres to reassure the Diaspora Jews, saying that the fear of
terrorist attacks against Jewish targets abroad is exaggerated.

Ha'aretz ran a feature about Republican presidential candidate Sen.
John McCain, whose unconditional support for Israel "is likely to
draw Jewish voters." Yediot reported that Sen. Barack Obama's staff
of are distributing to potential Jewish donors his list of Middle
East advisors, Dennis Ross being the most prominent one. The
Jerusalem Post reported that the residents of the Catholic northern
Israeli village of Fassouta, which Sen. Obama visited two years, are
particularly supportive of him. Dr. George Ayoub, the Mayor of
Fassouta, hailed his charisma, humility, and emphasis on dialogue.

Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann was quoted as saying in an
interview with Yediot that the High Court of Justice acts "like a
religious party" and "does things that I believe no court in Europe
dares do: it deals in propaganda, lobbies journalists and Knesset
members, and meets Knesset members. Afterwards the Knesset members
present petitions to the court." Friedmann also criticized the
court's intervention in government and military decisions, such as
interdiction of the "neighbor procedure," and the determination of
the route of the security fence.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that Shas plans to quit the government
coalition in the summer, after the completion of religious
legislation.

Ha'aretz reported that Russia has offered to host and finance events
to celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary. However, an official source
in Jerusalem cautioned that there are no free lunches in Moscow.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that on Thursday a group of 14
Palestinian militants escaped from a PA prison in Nablus. The
prisoners, members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, had been
involved in fighting against the IDF in recent months and were
hiding in Nablus' old city, the Kasba. Some six weeks ago, the
group turned itself in to the PA, following a comprehensive IDF
operation in the Kasba. The IDF agreed to let the militants, who
are wanted by Israel, stay in the Palestinian prison on condition
that the Palestinian security forces keep them incarcerated and deny
them weapons and contact with terror organizations until Israel
pardons them. So far, however, Israel has refused to include the
men in the pardon agreement for Fatah fighters, under which
Palestinians give up their arms in return for an Israeli amnesty.
Israel Radio reported that this morning the prisoners returned to
the prison.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Jordan's King Abdullah II as saying in
an interview with the Jordanian newspaper Ad-Dustour that Israel's
legitimacy in the region depends on its treatment of the Palestinian
people.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Thursday FM Tzipi Livni slammed
Europe for failing to grasp Gaza's "zero sum game." Ha'aretz and
Israel Radio reported that on Thursday the European Parliament
passed a resolution urging Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza. The
resolution says that Israel's policy of isolating Gaza has "failed"
and calls for a "controlled re-opening" of crossings in and out of
the territory. Ha'aretz reported that Italian FM Massimo D'Alema
termed the assassination of Imad Mughniyah "terror" in an interview
to be published today in the popular Italian weekly L'Espresso. He
also said that Israeli assassinations of Hamas officials "have not
bolstered the West's image, and serve as an alibi for terror."

Leading media cited the IDF's claim that Peace Now figures on the
discrimination by Israel on West Bank building permits are
distorted.

Yediot and Maariv reported that computerized imaging by experts from
the European Commission's Joint Research Center (JRC) has determined
that by July Iran will have enough enriched uranium to produce
nuclear weapons.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a conference of individuals and
NGOs will convene in Brussels on Friday to discuss what organizers
call the "crimes committed by the Israeli army in Lebanon. MK Said
Nafa (National Democratic Assembly - Balad) plans to attend.

Leading media cited the British daily The Guardian as saying that
the British Foreign Office fought to keep secret any mention of
Israel in the first draft of the controversial Iraq weapons dossier
made public this week.

Leading media reported that handling of the riots in the mostly
Druze village of Peki'in were marked by gross organizational failure
on the part of the police. The riots, in which 29 police officers
and 13 civilians were injured, occurred on October 30, 2007.

The Jerusalem Post quoted senior officials as saying that the
government has launched a program to distribute the recent influx of
African refugees to the northern and southernmost peripheries.

Ha'aretz reported that the Jewish community in Russia is concerned
that a rumor campaign by Russia's nationalist parties that Russian
presidential candidate Dmitri Medvedev is Jewish could create a
backlash that would strengthen anti-Semitic currents in Russia.

The Jerusalem Post reported that in a move that ends a central
dispute between the two largest Orthodox rabbinic organizations in
the world, Israel's Chief Rabbinate has agreed to recognize
conversions performed by the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA).
Until now, RCA conversions were not automatically accepted by the
Chief Rabbinate.

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Whoever wants
to avoid the need for ... international intervention [in Gaza], the
need for an IDF offensive, and the suffering of the Palestinian
population -- must pressure Hamas to put an end to the shooting that
is causing all this."

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

"Who Is Pressuring Gaza?"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/22): "Israel
can no longer explain to itself that it has to become reconciled to
the shooting of rockets and mortars against its communities. A
responsible government is required, at the end of the day, to be
accountable to its citizens who are under attack. Its
justifications for the failings, however reasonable they may be, may
result in its rejection.... It may be exaggerated to describe the
attitude of the international community as 'pressure'.... So long as
there is no president in the White House who threatens to suspend
military aid to Israel, or avoids vetoing a Security Council
resolution unfavorable to Israel, it is too much to talk about
pressure being applied on Israel.... To this is added the
multinational force idea. [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak and Chief
of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi have sent out a clear message in recent
weeks: They are not excited about a large-scale operation in
southern and northern Gaza, but the operation is nearing because the
Qassam terror is not coming to an end. The duration of the
operation will depend on the political and security arrangements
that will be reached at its completion -- the transferring of
responsibility for the territory from which the IDF will withdraw
following the completion of its mission.... The idea will not be
enthusiastically welcomed by all; but whoever wants to avoid the
need for such international intervention, the need for an IDF
offensive, and the suffering of the Palestinian population -- must
pressure Hamas to put an end to the shooting that is causing all
this."

-----------
2. Kosovo:
-----------

Summary:
--------

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "[Israel]
should also state that as a consequence of Kosovo's independence,
Israel ... refuses to cede its legal right to sovereignty in Judea,
Samaria [i.e. the West Bank], Gaza, and Jerusalem to international
arbitration."

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

"Kosovo's Stark Warning"


Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/22): "The
fledgling failed-state of Kosovo is a great boon for global jihad.
It is true that Kosovar Muslims by and large do not subscribe to
radical Islam. But it is also true that they have allowed their
territory to be used as bases for al-Qaida operations; that members
of the ruling Kosovo Liberation Army have direct links to al-Qaida;
and that the Islamic world as a whole perceived Kosovo's fight for
independence from Serbia as a jihad for Islamic domination of the
disputed province.... [In the same direction,] today, Israel is
enabling the Palestinians to set the political and legal conditions
for the establishment of an internationally recognized state of
Palestine that will be at war with Israel.... The lessons of Kosovo
are clear. Not only should Israel join Russia, Canada, China,
Spain, Romania and many others in refusing to recognize Kosovo. It
should also state that as a consequence of Kosovo's independence,
Israel rejects the deployment of any international forces to Gaza or
Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank], and refuses to cede its
legal right to sovereignty in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Jerusalem to
international arbitration."

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

Summary:
--------

Daniel Levy, who was the main Israeli drafter of the Geneva
Initiative, wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The
preference for a prolonged strategic relationship with the U.S.
should not extend to an exclusive reliance on that relationship or
preclude placing some eggs in other baskets -- in Europe, in Asia,
and yes, also in the Arab and Muslim worlds."

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

"Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst"

Daniel Levy, who was the main Israeli drafter of the Geneva
Initiative, wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/22):
"Israel should be looking beyond the election. Yes, an Obama

presidency is more likely to reverse America's decline -- internally
and externally -- and to correct the hubris, incompetence and
adventurism of the Bush years. The same might also be true of
Clinton and McCain, though it seems less likely. It is what Obama
could do to reenergize America that is first and foremost the good
news for Israel. And when he talks of 'changing the mindset' that
got America into the Iraq war, Obama implies a policy of realism and
engagement that stands to stabilize the region and even advance
genuine peace. Israel could well be a main beneficiary of such a
change. But what if the next president is all about more of the same
or something very similar? Israel must plan for the possibility of
an America that continues in its decline, that can deliver less, and
remains militarily bogged down in Iraq and perhaps elsewhere in the
region. Under this scenario, the special relationship with Israel
will become an ever-more contentious issue. America itself might
increasingly turn its gaze toward Asia. So while following American
developments closely, and hoping for change, Israel should also be
more active out there on the dating circuit. Though efforts have
been made to strengthen other alliances, results have been mixed so
far, and our options will remain limited so long as the Palestinian
issue remains unresolved. The preference for a prolonged strategic
relationship with the U.S. should not extend to an exclusive
reliance on that relationship or preclude placing some eggs in other
baskets -- in Europe, in Asia, and yes, also in the Arab and Muslim
worlds."

MORENO

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