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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 251157Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0105
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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4214
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3472
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1663
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4217
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1057
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1532
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000442

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
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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All media reported that Hamas vowed to use any means to breach the
Israeli embargo on the Gaza Strip, hours before a planned mass rally
in Gaza to protest economic sanctions against the Strip. As part of
the demonstration, the protesters are scheduled to march this
morning toward the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. The
organizers of the demonstration are planning a "human chain" which
will stretch along the main highway running north to south in Gaza.
The IDF has bolstered its forces along the border with the Gaza
Strip, fearing that the rally's participants will try to break into
Israel. Commanders have received orders to stop entry into Israel
"by all means," including sniper fire against the legs of the
demonstrators. The media quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as
saying on Sunday that "Hamas is behind this activity that is
intentionally placing the civilians at the front -- and not for the
first time." "Israel does not intervene in demonstrations inside
the Gaza Strip, but it will defend its territory and will prevent a
breach of its sovereign borders," Barak added. "We are working to
prevent a deterioration and we are making it clear that if something
happens, the sole responsibility will be on Hamas." Other Israeli
political and military leaders made similar comments. At midday
Israel Radio reported that the Palestinian demonstration drew far
fewer people than expected.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that the EU is playing an
increasingly important role as Israel's "third pillar of survival"
-- along with the IDF and the U.S.

All media reported that on Sunday the cabinet decided to invest 327
million shekels (about $91 million) in the fortification of Sderot
and other communities in the area by 2010. Over the weekend major
media reported that thousands of Israelis heeded a call and thronged
to Sderot on Friday morning to show their solidarity with the
beleaguered town and to help prop up its faltering economy.

Ha'aretz reported that the Qatari PM and Foreign Minister, Sheikh
Hamed bin Jassem al-Thani, told Knesset Member Yossi Beilin (Meretz)

in Doha on Sunday that Qatar is willing to broker a cease-fire
agreement between Israel and Hamas.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Foreign Ministry welcomed the
creation by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators of three committees
to deal with civil affairs issues: water and the environment; legal
matters; and economic subjects.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli officials have
dismissed as a "tempest in a teapot" reports from Arab League
officials that the organization may withdraw its 2002 peace plan
unless Israel explicitly accepts the initiative.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post quoted former Foreign Ministry
director-general Alon Liel as saying in Washington this week that
the obstacle to a peace deal with Syria is not Jerusalem but the
U.S.

Leading media quoted FM Tzipi Livni a saying last night at the
conference against anti-Semitism, which was held at the Foreign
Ministry in Jerusalem, that Israel would not take part in the second
Durban Conference unless it is clear that it will not become a
platform for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Livni further
said that the participation of the international community in the
first Durban Conference gave legitimacy to hatred, extremism and
anti-Semitism.

Over the weekend, the media reported that on Saturday Israeli forces
arrested Majdi Tzuibhi Qassam Mabruk, a senior member of the PFLP in
Nablus. On Saturday IDF troops hit what they said was a
mortar-launching cell. Several activists were struck during the
weekend. Israel Radio reports that last night three Hamas activists
were killed in two raids in Gaza.

On Sunday Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that over 20
activists were wounded on Friday in clashes with the IDF near the
security fence at Bil'in. An American activist was among those
wounded.

Ha'aretz reported on a rare decision by the Jerusalem Magistrate's
Court: It has ruled that settlers be removed from the property of a
West Bank Palestinian.

Senator Barack Obama's top aide, Samantha Power, was quoted as
saying in an interview with Ha'aretz that she does not believe in
imposing peace. Power also rebuffed claims that her candidate is
hostile to Israel. Ha'aretz reported that Senator Hillary Clinton
won the Israel vote in the Democrats Abroad Global Primary (54% for
Sen. Clinton and 45% for Sen. Obama). Obama captured a majority of
the total votes cast by American expatriates worldwide in the ballot
(66% for Sen. Obama and 33% for Sen. Clinton).

Maariv told the story of Amichai Biton from Chicago, whose father
emigrated from Israel and who enlisted to serve in Iraq, where he
fell this week.

Ha'aretz reported that on Sunday Defense Minister Ehud Barak
objected to PM Ehud Olmert's instructions to make it easier for
border troops to open fire on anyone trying to cross into Israel
illegally. On Sunday Olmert had ordered the defense establishment
to step up efforts to prevent the illegal infiltration of
job-seeking Africans into Israel through the border with Egypt.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "When the malice of
Hamas meets the confusion of an Israeli government that has no
solution to the Qassam rocket fire, the outcome means playing with
fire."

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe: "If dozens or hundreds of thousands of
Palestinians try to break into the Negev, the response needs to be
indiscriminate gunfire into the masses in order to kill."

Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote on page one of the independent
Israel Hayom: "Now comes Hamas, the standard bearer of Palestinian
brutality, and dons the mask of supposedly legitimate civil protest
against the siege on Gaza."

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Look closely at the picture of
Israeli-Palestinian reality. Washington isn't in it."

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

I. "When Two Sides Play With Fire"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/25): "Hamas loves its
fellow Palestinians, but it does not love them enough to refrain
from sacrificing their lives for the sake of a political cause. The
demonstration planned for today along the fence between Gaza and
Israel is ostensibly intended only to sound the outcry of the
besieged Gazans. If it deteriorates into a massacre, Hamas will
proclaim its innocence: Only Israel's hands have spilled this blood.
The same duality exists on the Israeli side. Last night, the IDF
issued an abundance of threats of fire aimed at the Palestinian
side. The assumption was that only a show of brinkmanship would
deter the crowd from trying to breach the fence. But as we learned
in the events of the [Western Wall] tunnel and in October 2000,
threats of fire could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Not only Hamas
hears the IDF's threats. So too do the soldiers who are sent to
stop the demonstrators. When the malice of Hamas meets the
confusion of an Israeli government that has no solution to the
Qassam rocket fire, the outcome means playing with fire.... There
is, of course, another option: For the Israeli government to
announce that the siege was a mistaken move, and that it has changed
its mind. Such a possibility is completely within the realm of
fantasy: The realistic people sitting around the cabinet table would
prefer a thousand bullets to one small regret."

II. "Shoot Indiscriminately"

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (2/25): "The Palestinians, encouraged by the
breach of the Rafah border crossing, are likely to try to repeat
their success at the Gaza Strip's borders with Israel. This threat
must be met with a decisive Israeli response, with a clarification
that cannot be misunderstood.... If dozens or hundreds of thousands
of Palestinians try to break into the Negev, the response needs to
be indiscriminate gunfire into the masses in order to kill -- not in
the air, not in warming. Shoot to kill. As opposed to the
relations between Egypt and the Palestinians, the Palestinians are
Israel's enemies, not brethren. When enemies charge at you, you
take aim and shoot in order to save your life, even if your enemies
are women and children."

III. "On the Border of Danger"


Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote on page one of the independent
Israel Hayom (2/25): "Almost no one knows the name Mubarak Awad
today, but 20 years ago he was a hot item in main newspaper
headlines. Awad, a Jerusalem-born U.S. citizen, was an odd
Palestinian bird who preached Mahatma Gandhi-style non-violence and
Martin Luther King-style civil disobedience.... The history of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict could have looked completely different
had the Palestinians adopted the Awad doctrine two decades ago, but
they preferred to embrace the terrorist ideology and adhere to the
principle of violence. In doing so, it could be argued, they
condemned themselves to many more years of occupation. Now comes
Hamas, the standard bearer of Palestinian brutality, and dons the
mask of supposedly legitimate civil protest against the siege on
Gaza. The organization intends to send thousands of mothers and
children to the border in order to embarrass Israel and exploit what
is perceived by the Palestinians as their great success in breaching
the border with Egypt. It is possible to dismiss Hamas's
sixties-style flower child masquerade as the height of chutzpah and
the nadir of cynicism -- but we should not underestimate the
magnitude of the danger. The difficult mission that faces the IDF
today, on the assumption that the border march should indeed
materialize, is to prevent the border from being crossed -- but also
to refrain from a diplomatic downfall. One errant shell or an
overly accurate salvo of shots could ignite a new fire in the
territories, inflame the Arab world, entangle Israel in a
complicated diplomatic crisis and grant the Palestinians a success
of the kind that Awad could only have dreamed of."

IV. "Where's Dubya?"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/24): "Last week, [Condoleezza]
Rice spoke of being frustrated by Israeli policy. Her aide, David
Welch, said during a Quartet meeting that the U.S. 'was not
comfortable with Israel's approach to Gaza.' Alas, the superpower
is uncomfortable and frustrated, but it is also slothful..... Every
U.S. presidential candidate can count on winning the Jewish voted as
long as he or she extends blind support for Israeli policy, whatever
it might be. There is a common assumption that Israel's peace
policy is designed more to appease Washington than to achieve real
peace. If not for U.S. pressure, Olmert would not have met with
Abbas. This cuts both ways: If Bush did not oppose the prospect,
Israel would now be deep in negotiations with Syria. The premise is
amply demonstrated each time a senior U.S. officials comes to visit.
Like excited hamsters in their exercise wheel, a frenzied running
begins, as if peace must genuinely be achieved by the end of 2008,
or at the very least as if the American reaction is to be feared.
This misleading premise has been in operation for far too long.
Look closely at the picture of Israeli-Palestinian reality.
Washington isn't in it."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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