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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB
DE RUEHTV #0489/01 0631113
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031113Z MAR 08 ZDK PER UR SVC #2121
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5641
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
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 3486
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0136
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3723
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4247
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3503
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1698
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4249
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1088
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1565
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8120
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5596
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0509
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4630
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6582
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9188
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 TEL AVIV 000489

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. Ahmadinejad in Baghdad

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

This morning the electronic media reported that the IDF's "Operation
Hot Winter" in Gaza has come to an end. The pull out of Infantry
and armored forces was completed in the early hours Monday morning,
however, IAF strikes continue. Ha'aretz reported that the IDF
senior command recommended keeping up the intensive pressure on
Hamas, while The Jerusalem Post quoted senior GOI officials as
saying that the government will wait to see if Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice's visit this week brings calm before deciding on a
wider offensive in Gaza. The officials were quoted as saying that
the longer-term goals for an IDF operation that has not yet been
approved by the government include "weakening and even bringing down
the [Hamas] government." IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was
quoted as saying that contrary to media reports, 90 of the 100
Palestinians killed so far were gunmen. The electronic media
reported that Ashkelon was again hit by two rockets this morning
following the IDF withdrawal; no injuries were reported.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that PM Ehud Olmert is expected to
stress to Secretary Rice at their scheduled meeting in Jerusalem
Tuesday evening that Israel reserves the right to act freely in the
Gaza Strip against Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.
According to Ha'aretz, Olmert will also tell Rice that Israel is
interested in continuing negotiations with moderate elements in the
PA. In Olmert's view, Israeli military activity in Gaza has sent a
message to Hamas that the group needs to rethink its strategy.
"Israel will not consent to the equation that Hamas wants to dictate
in the Gaza Strip by firing on Ashkelon. We will be the ones to
create the equation, not Hamas," he was quoted as saying at Sunday's
weekly cabinet meeting.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak
is considering the use of artillery against populated areas of Gaza
from which Qassam and Katyusha rockets are being fired. Barak will
meet with other officials today to examine the legal aspects of such

TEL AVIV 00000489 002 OF 007


strikes. Various media quoted Vice PM Haim Ramon as saying at
Sunday morning's government session: "Why don't we shoot at the
sources of the fire? According to international law, we are allowed
to do it. The issue was legally examined during the Second Lebanon
War and the conclusion was that if they fire from a village, we are
allowed to fire back even if this is a populated area." Ha'aretz
reported that cabinet minister Ami Ayalon (Labor) is planning to
propose that Israel begin indirect negotiations with Hamas, with
Egyptian mediation, to bring about a cease-fire in Gaza.

On Sunday Maariv reported that FM Tzipi Livni told the Palestinians
on Saturday that their decision to suspend negotiations over the
violence in Gaza was in breach of the understandings agreed upon at
Annapolis. Furthermore, the FM was quoted as saying that the
Palestinians' decision to suspend the talks would have no impact on
the IDF activity in the Gaza Strip.

The media reported that a 14-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by
IDF troops in Hebron as violence spilled over into the West Bank.
This morning, IDF Radio reported that an armed Israeli settler
opened fire and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian hurling rocks at a
public bus traveling near Ramallah. There were also protests
against the army's operations in Gaza by Israeli Arabs in Wadi Ara
and elsewhere.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that on Friday the Bush
administration declined to interfere in the case of American terror
victims who are suing the PLO.

Ha'aretz wrote that local defense officials reported on Sunday that
Israel has recently purchased a new supply of Logol pills against
nuclear radiation.

Maariv reported that Salah Abassi, an Israeli-Arab publisher from
Haifa, has started to translate Israeli best-sellers and distribute
them in Arab countries.

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

Summary:
--------

Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote in the independent Israel
Hayom: "The complicated situation we are now in -- between a rock

TEL AVIV 00000489 003 OF 007


and a hard place, as the Americans say -- is a direct result, to a
large degree, of the failed policy of the Bush administration in the
Middle East."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Condoleezza Rice, accompanied by an
armada of American generals that have been roaming around here for
many months taking notes, will come to Jerusalem tomorrow. Let's
see [Olmert] extricate himself from that."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The choice between
[controlling the Gaza Strip and negotiating a long-term cease-fire
with Hamas] is a choice between the plague and cholera.
Nevertheless, it appears to be unavoidable."

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "When senior
Israeli military and political leaders speak about obliterating
neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip or shrug their shoulders at the
killing of Palestinian civilians, they must understand the cost of
these kinds of retaliatory operations on the peace process."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Instead
of looking for ways to 'pay' Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to
return to talks with Israel, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
must impose concrete costs on Hamas's aggression.... The alternative
... is ... even more surely burying the process that the U.S. is
trying to revive."

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote on page one of the
nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe: "Israel must not be
tempted again to ... a cease-fire proposal, which will serve only
Hamas."

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

I. "Like a Bird on a Trip Wire"

Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote in the independent Israel
Hayom (3/3): "Tomorrow, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
will arrive in the region. According to knowledgeable sources, Rice
is said to be angry at everyone, including Israel, even though the
complicated situation we are now in -- between a rock and a hard
place, as the Americans say -- is a direct result, to a large
degree, of the failed policy of the Bush administration in the

TEL AVIV 00000489 004 OF 007


Middle East, a policy that is now returning, perhaps as a last
resort, to the gunboat diplomacy of the 19th century."

II. "Waiting for Condoleezza"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (3/3): "[Cabinet minister Ami Ayalon
says]: 'We have to achieve a cease-fire from a position of strength,
which will be binding on all the organizations. We have to reach an
agreement on the crossing points with the cooperation of the
international community, and we need a courageous and genuine
political process in Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank]. There
are 600 roadblocks there and not one of them is being removed, and
in such a way there will never be a better economic situation there.
About all these things we have to think, to talk, to hold a
discussion.' Ah, there lies the problem. 'I don't identify
willingness for such a discussion on the part of the Defense
Minister,Q says Ayalon. What he does not say, at least publicly, is
that Olmert is a hostage of the Defense Minister and cannot force
such a discussion on him.... The Prime Minister tries to maneuver
between Barak and Ayalon, the general and the admiral, without
getting entangled. He is, after all, just a corporal. For his
part, it is better for Ayalon to blow up at Barak than at him. But
Ayalon knows that in the end, the responsibility lies on the
shoulders of one Ehud only -- Olmert. One of his aides called him a
'prime minister without portfolio.' At this rate, it appears that
Olmert does not lack portfolios. Ayalon is not necessarily the
weightiest of these. Condoleezza Rice, accompanied by an armada of
American generals that have been roaming around here for many months
taking notes, will come to Jerusalem tomorrow. Let's see him
extricate himself from that."

III. "Between the Plague and Cholera"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (3/2): "Conquering the
Gaza Strip is likely to cost a large number of casualties on both
sides. More difficult than that, from Israel's perspective, is the
problem of controlling the Gaza Strip after the conquest. The
feeble coexistence between Israel and the PA that exists in the West
Bank cannot be applied, as is, to the Gaza Strip. The other option,
for Israel to resign itself to the existence of the Hamas regime in
Gaza and to negotiate with it over a long-term cease-fire, comes
with equally high costs. Among other things, it is a death sentence
to Abu Mazen's regime, with which Israel hoped to reach an
agreement; it will end the international boycott on Hamas; and it

TEL AVIV 00000489 005.6 OF 007


marks IsraelQs resigning itself to the existence of an Iranian base
near the Israeli hinterland. The choice between those two options
is a choice between the plague and cholera. Nevertheless, it appears
to be unavoidable."

IV. "Bank of Political Objectives"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (3/3): "The
usual 'criterion' for success -- the body count -- is on Israel's
side, but it cannot be a goal in and of itself if it does not stop
the Palestinian rocket fire. At the same time, the fighting in Gaza
could damage the desire to reach a peace agreement with the
Palestinians over the long term.... The Palestinian Authority, which
considers itself committed to the Arab League initiative and the
understandings reached at the Annapolis summit -- the same PA that
was forcibly robbed of its authority in the Gaza Strip by Hamas --
cannot escape its commitment to the peace process at precisely this
trying time. But it would be delusional on Israel's part to think
the PA can ignore the fighting in the Gaza Strip and calmly sit down
at the negotiating table when not only gunmen but also innocent
civilians, including newborns, are being killed in Gaza. And so,
when senior Israeli military and political leaders speak about
obliterating neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip or shrug their
shoulders at the killing of Palestinian civilians, they must
understand the cost of these kinds of retaliatory operations on the
peace process."


V. "Defeating Hamas"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (3/3):
"Hamas has calculated that, since it does not care about and indeed
cynically exploits the suffering of its own people, it has nothing
to lose. The more it escalates, the more likely it will compel
Israel to respond with greater force, the more Israel will be blamed
for the inevitable collateral damage from its operations, and the
more pressure there will be to negotiate with Hamas and reduce its
isolation. In other words, the more Hamas attacks Israel, the
better its chances for international acceptance. Accordingly, if
the international community, particularly the U.S., truly wants to
prevent further escalation, it must break this cycle. Instead of
looking for ways to 'pay' Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to return
to talks with Israel, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice must
impose concrete costs on Hamas's aggression. This means greatly
increasing the pressure on Egypt to stop the weapons flow into Gaza,
and supporting Israel's right to respond with the necessary means,

TEL AVIV 00000489 006.4 OF 007


as any other state would, in order to defeat those responsible for
the unprovoked terrorist attacks against her cities. To the U.S.,
such a course of action may seem unwarranted in that it risks
censure by Europe and trouble in the UN. The alternative, however,
is encouraging a deepening war that will cost many lives, handing
victories to militant Islamists, and even more surely burying the
process that the U.S. is trying to revive."

VI. "Anything But a Cease-Fire"

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote on page one of the
nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (3/2): "A cease-fire is
in the interests of Hamas. Under its cover, it will be able to grow
as strong as Hizbullah. This contradicts the Israeli goal of
preventing Hamas from growing stronger, which will lead to long-term
calm. Security-establishment officials know that a cease-fire can
be accepted only if there is full supervision of the
Israeli-Egyptian border. Since such supervision does not look
realistic right now, a cease-fire is not in IsraelQs interest.
Throughout its history, Israel has known cease-fires many times that
only gave enemies the time they needed to resume fighting under
conditions that were more comfortable for them and more difficult
for us. Israel must not be tempted again to such a cease-fire
proposal, which will serve only Hamas."

---------------------------
2. Ahmadinejad in Baghdad:
---------------------------

Summary:
--------

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Ahmadinejad's arrival [in
Baghdad] raises questions about Washington's ability to set up
permanent military bases in Iraq in the future.

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

"Baghdad's New Strategic Partner"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (3/3): "The historic visit to

TEL AVIV 00000489 007 OF 007


Iraq by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which began on
Sunday, suggests that Tehran is finding ways to bypass efforts to
pressure it.... And while the United States is holding talks with
Iraq on the details of a bilateral cooperation agreement that will
define America's status in Iraq following a U.S. withdrawal,
Ahmadinejad's arrival raises questions about Washington's ability to
set up permanent military bases in Iraq in the future. The official
visit by Iran's president also holds out a promise of cooperation
and economic ties with the Kurdish autonomous region. If Turkey
continues to pressure the PKK guerrillas and imposes sanctions on
Kurdistan, Iran will become the Kurds' main economic outlet. With
its links to the Kurds, its economic contribution to Iraq and its
close political ties with the main Shi'ite parties, Iran is
increasingly becoming a strategic partner of Iraq. Hence
Washington's recognition of the need for political dialogue with
Tehran about Iraq's future. But this development worries the Arab
League, and especially Saudi Arabia, which is being faced with
another large Shi'ite state on its borders."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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