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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0589/01 0731038
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131038Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5830
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 3540
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0189
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3786
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4337
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3559
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1799
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4304
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1181
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1621
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8173
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5652
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0562
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4683
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6635
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9314
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000589

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. Iran

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

The media reported that at a Labor Party forum on Wednesday Defense
Minister Ehud Barak hinted that fighting in Gaza may again flare up.
He was quoted as saying: "We will see worse things before we reach
the next stage of the calm." All media reported that on Wednesday
evening an anti-terrorist unit of Israel Police killed four wanted
Islamic Jihad activists from Bethlehem, including the group's
leaders in the city, senior militant Mahmoud Shehada. Shehada had
sent the car bomb that killed the daughter of then National
Religious Party chairman Yitzhak Levy in Jerusalem in November 2000.
Major media reported that overnight Islamic Jihad launched Qassam
rockets at the western Negev.

Ha'aretz reported that tension between Jerusalem and Washington is
intensifying over Israel's foot dragging in the removal of
roadblocks and outposts in the West Bank. The Americans are
complaining that Israel is not keeping its promises to improve the
day-to-day life of West Bank Palestinians. Ha'aretz quoted a senior
Israeli official said Friday's scheduled tripartite meeting could be
difficult, as Gen. Fraser is expected to present a report of Roadmap
violations likely to be critical of Israel. On the other hand, the
official noted, the Palestinians can expect criticism over last
week's terror attack in Jerusalem and other issues related to the
war on terror. "Real tension has developed with the Americans, and
if there are no steps on the ground we will find ourselves in big
trouble," the Israeli source was quoted as saying. He added that in
the eyes of the Americans and of other members of the international
community, a "gap has developed between the Israeli-Palestinian
negotiations on the core issues and events on the ground." The
Jerusalem Post quoted senior GOI officials as saying on Wednesday
that Israel is bracing for what is reported to be a "skewed" report
from Fraser on Israeli and Palestinian implementation of Roadmap
obligations. Ha'aretz reported that on Wednesday Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice spoke again about violations of the road map,
specifically mentioning that Israel's recent announcements of new
construction plans in East Jerusalem and the West Bank were
"unhelpful" to the peace process. Ha'aretz reported that Tony Blair
is also unhappy about Israel's activities on the West Bank and its
failure to take steps to improve Palestinian civilian life. He was
quoted as saying as much to Ehud Barak during their meeting on
Wednesday. Ha'aretz reported that while Blair is still optimistic
about his mission, many of the projects he is championing face
obstacles, largely due to opposition from the Israeli military
establishment.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Defense Ministry Director-General
Pinhas Buchris will travel to the U.S. next week to try to interest
the Pentagon in the Israeli-developed Iron Dome missile defense
system and to explore procuring the Skyguard laser system to protect
Sderot from Qassam rockets. The Jerusalem Post and Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe cited the Defense Ministry's belief that Iron Dome is
better than the Nautilus system.

Israel Radio quoted FM Tzipi Livni as saying in a speech at Harvard
University that the decision to allow construction in the
settlements did not help the negotiations with the Palestinians, but
that these were private construction plans and not of great
consequence. Livni noted that the GOIQs policy was not to expand
settlements, and added that in a peace agreement, Israel would be
asked to dismantle more settlements. The radio reported that Livni
spoke on the phone to Republican presidential candidate Senator John
McCain and Democratic presidential contender Senator Hillary
Clinton.

All media highlighted the spectacular fall of the U.S. dollar
against the shekel.

Leading media reported that on Wednesday street notices posted by a
group of rabbis identified with the extreme right called on Jews to
avenge their enemies "measure for measure." Israel Radio reported
that the terrorist who killed eight yeshiva students last week was
quietly buried last night. Major media reported that the police
have started to check whether it is possible to raze the terrorist's
house. The media quoted Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter as
saying that he wants the house demolished.

Mel Levine, one of Senator Barack Obama's closest advisors and a
former congressman from Los Angeles, was quoted as saying in an
interview with The Jerusalem Post that Obama would be great for
Israel.
Leading media reported that on Wednesday dozens of demonstrators
shouting that Israel should be wiped off the map protested against
President Shimon Peres' visit to Lyon, France,

Yediot ran a feature about the growing dissent among young Israeli
Arabs.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday senior
Foreign Ministry officials denied any decision to boycott the
Qatari-based Aljazeera-TV due to biased coverage. Earlier on
Wednesday Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Whbee told IDF Radio that
the ministry had decided to embargo the station, which he accused of
"untrustworthy reports" and of incitement to terror. The media
quoted Walid al-Omari, Aljazeera-TV's bureau chief in Israel, as
saying that he had received no official notice from the Foreign
Ministry and accused Israel of trying to intimidate the station. He
was quoted as saying that Israel "speaks of democracy but persecutes
the media and restricts its freedom of speech and movement."

Major media reported that two policemen from Ma'aleh Adumim are
suspected of abusing a Palestinian detainee.

Yediot reported that early this week, in his testimony in the libel
suit against him, Israeli-Arab film director Muhammad Bakri admitted
that "Jenin, Jenin," his controversial movie about Operation
Defensive Shield, received funding from then PA culture minister
Yasser Abed Rabbo. Bakri added however, that the PA did not
influence the film's content.

Yediot and Ha'aretz reported that Microsoft has acquired the
Ramat-Gan start-up Kidaro for $80 million.

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

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Israel and the Palestinians will not reach a
proper implementation agreement under a timetable that has been
determined for a political reason -- the Bush administration's
reason."

Military correspondent Amos Harel and Palestinian affairs
correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote on page one of Ha'aretz: "Israel
apparently does not have the time or space to accept Palestinian
mistakes in the West Bank."

Military correspondent Amir Rappaport wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "When the current security situation is
examined at a time when there is still talk of calm, one can
understand the great cause for concern."

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

I. "The Three Whiners"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (3/13): "[Roadmap monitor Lt. Gen. William]
Fraser will sit down at the table with a pair of whiners whose
strength is in their weakness. This one is not doing enough, that
one is not doing enough. This one says he cannot, the other says he
is unable. The time may have come, after so many years, to insist
-- with both parties. Let the Palestinians build their
institutions, let them prove they can fight terror, let them
dismantle the militias and find a way to neutralize Hamas. Let
Israel find the strength to remove outposts, restrain its coalition
partners and meet its obligations. This will not be a pleasant
process for either the Israelis or Palestinians, but contrary to
what is usually thought, the two whiners are not what prevents the
necessary choice of such a path. The problem is actually with the
third whiner, the Americans. Because such insistence on fulfilling
all obligations will include the painful recognition of a fact the
U.S. administration is not prepared for: Israel and the Palestinians
will not reach a proper implementation agreement under a timetable
that has been determined for a political reason -- the Bush
administration's reason."

II. "Little Room for Mistakes"

Military correspondent Amos Harel and Palestinian affairs
correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote on page one of Ha'aretz (3/13):
"The fragile, indirect agreement the Egyptians brokered between
Israel and Hamas over Gaza will meet its first test today. The
killings on Wednesday of five wanted militants by the Israel
Police's anti-terrorism unit, in two incidents on the West Bank, is
likely to spur Islamic Jihad into attempting retaliatory rocket
attacks from Gaza into the Negev. It seems we've been here many
times before.... Hamas is demanding that the cease-fire include an


Israeli commitment, in the long term, to stop arresting terror
suspects in the West Bank. Hamas's leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh,
raised the demand on Wednesday just a few hours before the incident
in Bethlehem. Israel rejects the demand out of fear it would give
the terror organizations a free pass to plan attacks. The fight
against terror in the West Bank is constant. When it leads to
Palestinian casualties it can have immediate effects on events in
Gaza. Until Wednesday Hamas seemed to be imposing its will for a
lull on the other factions in the Strip. But Islamic Jihad, to
which four of the five militants killed Wednesday belonged, has very
different interests. Iran, which controls Islamic Jihad with an
iron hand and has significant influence over Hamas, apparently wants
a renewed escalation of the conflict.... Wednesday's police
operation dealt a blow to the PA's efforts to bolster its military
status. But Israel apparently does not have the time or space to
accept Palestinian mistakes in the West Bank. Every missed
opportunity, intentional or not, in the PA's war against West Bank
terror could end in another terror attack in Jerusalem."

III. "Danger on Three Fronts"

Military correspondent Amir Rappaport wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (3/13): "When the current security
situation is examined at a time when there is still talk of calm,
one can understand the great cause for concern.... In practice, the
understanding for calm is very fragile from the outset.... Hamas
ostensibly won when it forced the IDF, as part of the agreement, to
halt its operations inside the Gaza Strip as it had demanded for
months, in exchange for Hamas stopping the rocket fire. But Hamas
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh made another demand last nightQfor
Israel to also stop its operations against wanted men in Judea and
Samaria. He soon received a firm answer: Wednesday's operations in
Bethlehem and the village Saida illustrate that from IsraelQs
standpoint no understanding -- whether it exists officially or not
-- applies in Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank].... The
security establishment does not rule out the possibility that the
terror attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva and additional terror
attacks that are liable to originate in Judea and Samaria could be
linked to 'sleeper cells' set up in the territories by HizbullahQs
1800 unit -- which is responsible for operating Palestinian
terror.... The security establishment is certain that Hizbullah,
with the help of Iran, is making supreme efforts to carry out
'quality' terror attacks against Israeli targets in Israel and
abroad. A painful terror attack could lead to a sharp reaction on
IsraelQs part, which could very quickly deteriorate into another war
with Hizbullah.... Israel is becoming increasingly concerned about
the Iranian project for developing a non-conventional warhead, which
they would be able to install on a cruise missile that could strike
any place in Israel. The fear of this threat is particularly great
since the defensive measures that have been developed by Israel so
far against surface-to-surface missiles such as the Shihab -- the
Arrow missiles that intercept any enemy missile at an altitude of
several dozen kilometers -- are not effective against a missile
cruising towards Israel at a low altitude."

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

Summary:
--------


Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "The closer their political time comes to running out, the
more opposition to Bush and Cheney's hostile policies toward Iran
they encounter within their own security establishment."

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "Clearly, the Bush administration prefers that Iran
believes the U.S. presence sitting right on its doorstep is less a
reasonable fox, and much more a big bad wolf."

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

I. "One Admiral Too Many"

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (3/13): "The closer their political time comes to running
out, the more opposition to Bush and Cheney's hostile policies
toward Iran they encounter within their own security
establishment.... [Admiral William] Fallon, who enjoyed the role of
the voice of wisdom and dialogue in contrast to Bush and Cheney's
saber-rattling, was one admiral too many.... . Just last week,
Fallon testified before Congress about Iran and its damaging
activities in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza. The words were belligerent
Bush style, but it was Fallon's placatory music, because the dispute
is not about the diagnosis, but rather the treatment. Fallon also
fell out with his subordinate, General David Petraeus, the commander
of the forces in Iraq, and Petraeus, who turned failure into
success, however relative, is the darling of Bush and McCain.
Whoever falls out with them is seen as indirectly assisting the
Democrats. The Democrats are happy to lean on Fallon, but in line
for practical politics as a senior retired officer is General Wesley
Clark, who wanted to run but failed and became a Clinton
supporter."

II. "The Message that Fallon's Farewell and Cheney's Arrival Sends
to Tehran"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (3/13): "Sending Dick Cheney to the region is
certainly one way of rattling both the sabers and the Iranian cage
-- as is removing from the scene the U.S. military commander
[Admiral William Fallon] who reassured Esquire, and the rest of the
world, 'I am the reasonable one,' when it comes to Iran. Clearly,
the Bush administration prefers that Iran believes the U.S. presence
sitting right on its doorstep is less a reasonable fox, and much
more a big bad wolf."

JONES

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