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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0629/01 0781025
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181025Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5891
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0209
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3815
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4369
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3579
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1826
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4325
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1202
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1642
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8193
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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


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

1. Global Stock Market

2. U.S.-Israel Relations

3. Iran

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

All media, except The Jerusalem Post, led with the financial crisis
on Wall Street and all capital markets, including Tel Aviv Stock
Exchange, which dropped by 4% on Monday and by 9% over the past
three days. Property stocks and banks have been hit the hardest
with the biggest loser being Bank Hapoalim (it had heavy exposure to
the U.S. subprime market) which is down 35% this year. Banners in
Yediot: "Pressure"; Maariv Collapse; and Israel Hayom: Tsunami on
the Markets." Ha'aretz reported that the Israeli market fell mostly
out of fear and was exacerbated by increasing numbers of mutual fund
redemption requests. However, despite the weak dollar hurting
exporters, high commodity prices and the sluggish real estate
market, the Israeli economy is still expected to grow 3.5% this
year. (This is down from previous estimates of around 5.%.)

Ha'aretz reported that last night Israel and the PA officially
renewed negotiations on core issues after two weeks of suspension
following the Gaza flare up. Monday's meeting was carried out
under protest from the Palestinians over Israeli construction in
Givat Ze'ev and East Jerusalem. Leading media quoted Qurei as
saying: "We completely reject the building, not only of one room,
but of even one brick being laid in any of the Israeli settlements
in the West Bank and East Jerusalem." Ha'aretz quoted FM Livni as
saying, as the two sides prepared on Monday to resume the
negotiations, that terror could not be used as an excuse to suspend
talks. The Jerusalem Post reported that for the first time since
1998, the IDF Civil Administration hosted a one-day symposium with
its Palestinian counterparts, bringing together all of the officials
that coordinate civilian and defense issues between Israel and the
PA.

Ha'aretz quoted PM Ehud Olmert as saying on Monday, during a press
conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, that "we
have not stopped, we are not stopping and we will not stop the
negotiations, until we reach the essential results that we believe
in." Olmert said Israel "has no intention of evading or denying its
obligations but our primary obligation, a prerequisite condition for
progress, is an end to terrorism. It is impossible to compare it to
any of the other commitments on the Roadmap." Regarding
construction in Jerusalem, Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post quoted
Olmert as saying that "everyone knows that there is no chance that
Israel will give up Har Homa, which is part of Jerusalem. The
Palestinians know this, and therefore there is no significance to
one more or less buildings. Everything else is open to
negotiation."

Israel Radio reported that Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar
Suleiman has postponed his visit to Israel, citing Israel's
"violation of the calm" when it assassinated four Islamic Jihad men
in Bethlehem.

The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz reported that the Shin Bet is
planning an online recruitment campaign, complete with blogs, at the
Web address http://www.shabak.gov.il/.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Palestinian Authority is
planning to mark Israel's 60th anniversary by calling on all
Palestinians living abroad to converge on Israel by land, sea, and
air. The idea of unilaterally implementing U.N. resolution 194 was
drawn up by Ziad Abu Ein, a senior member of Fatah, and is
calculated to embarrass Israel during 60th anniversary celebrations
by highlighting the issue of "right of return". The plan calls for
refugees to peacefully march to Israel's borders with suitcases,
tents and UN flags with the stated goal of settling in their former
villages and calls on Israelis to "live together with them in the
land of peace."

Ha'aretz reported that some people present at a meeting between
visiting German Chancellor Merkel and PM Ehud Olmert describer her
remarks about the Iranian nuclear program as being "tough and
decisive." All media reported that on Monday a joint meeting took
place between Israeli and German ministers.

Over the past few days major media reported that Syria may have sent
peace feelers to Israel. Some media said that Turkey acted as an
intermediary.

Senator John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, who is
due to arrive in Israel today, was quoted as saying in an interview
with Yediot that he is concerned about the possibility of missiles
being launched at Israel, and that he wants to explore how it is
possible to help in the Israeli-Palestinian tension.

All media reported that the elections for chairmanship of Meretz
will take place today. The three candidates are Knesset members Ran
Cohen, Zahava Gal-On, and Haim Oron, who is considered to have the
highest chances of winning. If Oron does win, he is expected to
keep his party in the opposition despite hints in recent months from
Olmert's associates that if the governing coalition continues to
fracture over negotiations with the PA, that Meretz may step in as a
partner. The party which reached its peak in 1992 with 12 Knesset
seats has only five in the current parliament.

Israel Radio reported that this morning the head of an ultra-yeshiva
was stabbed and injured at Jerusalem's Damascus Gate.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday jailed Fatah/Tanzim leader Marwan
Barghouti announced that he was considering running for PA
president.

The media reported that senior police officers, both active and
retired, are highly critical of the Jerusalem police's conduct on
Sunday night when they failed to prevent Jewish rioters from pelting
homes and cars in the East Jerusalem village of the Mercaz Harav
terrorist. The police opted to let the Jewish demonstrators vent
their anger after the terrorist attack at the yeshiva on March 6, in
which eight youths and young men were murdered by a gunman from the
village of Jebel Mukaber.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that some Kadima Knesset members have
threatened to establish a commission of inquiry if PM Olmert does
not finally resolve the claims made by the evacuees from Gaza's Gush
Katif.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe cited the results of a study conducted by the
IDFQs Behavioral Sciences Department, according to which the army
units in which grave defects were found in the security of equipment
and stores were the same units against which complaints were
submitted by Palestinians.

Ha'aretz reported that important Israeli businessmen Yitzhak Tshuva
and Nochi Dankner may delay their planned $7-8 billion investment in
Las Vegas due to the financial crisis.

Ha'aretz cited CNN Money as saying that that Delek U.S., a

subsidiary of the Israeli energy company Delek, is among three top
contenders to acquire the refineries from energy giant Valero Energy
Corp. The other bidders are Petroplus and Petroleo Brasileiro
(Petrobras).

Leading media reported that Israeli VIPs flew to Namibia to attend
the bar-mitzvah of the son of Kobi Alexander, the founder and former
CEO of Comverse Technology, who is sought by U.S. authorities.

Maariv published the results of a TNS/Teleseker poll:
Q: If general elections were to be held today and the following
parties were running, for which party would you vote? Results in
Knesset seats. (In parentheses, results from a previous poll
conducted on January 31 and current Knesset seats):
Likud: 30 (30; current strength: 12); Labor Party: 19 (21; current
strength: 19); Kadima: 15 (11; current strength: 29: Yisrael
Beiteinu: 12 (10; current strength: 11); Shas: 10 (10; current
strength: 12); Arab parties: 10 (9; current strength: 10); National
Union Party and National-Religious Party: 8 (9; current strength:
9); Meretz: 6 (6; current strength: 5); United Torah Judaism: 5 (5;
current strength: 6); New party headed by Arkady Gaidamak: 5 (7;
current strength: 0); Pensioners Party: 0 (0; current strength: 7).
Q: To what extent, in your opinion, did the affair of Binyamin
NetanyahuQs trip and expenses in London and the publicity damage
NetanyahuQs public image?
Damaged very much/rather a lot: 60.2%; did not damage too much/
caused no damage: 35.6% were undecided.

The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported that a Palestinian
public opinion poll published on Monday showed that Hamas PM Ismail
Haniyeh would defeat PA President Mahmoud Abbas if presidential
elections were held these days in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The
poll also showed that Haniyeh would defeat Marwan Barghouti if the
latter were to run in a presidential election. The Jerusalem Post
noted that Barghouti is altogether more popular than Abbas among the
Palestinians.

------------------------
1. Global Stock Market:
------------------------

Summary:
--------

Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker opined in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "If [the captains of the U.S. economy]
can lead the shipwrecked boat of the American financial market to
safe shores, we're all saved. If not, may God have pity upon us."

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

"A Beacon of Light on a Dark Day"

Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker opined in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (3/18): "If [the captains of the U.S.
economy] can lead the shipwrecked boat of the American financial
market to safe shores, we're all saved. If not, may God have pity
upon us. Until the end of last week, their record in handling the
crisis was pretty much a failure. Hundreds of billions of dollars
were injected into the markets to provide the oxygen needed for
their normal performance. The fever has not vanished; the plague
has not been eradicated.... What about Israel? Our stock exchange
is behaving exactly like its sisters in the world.... At last one
can sense that someone is in charge of the world economy.... We
should not be deluded in our hopes."

-------------------------
2. US.-Israel Relations:
-------------------------

Summary:
--------

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "As far as Israel is concerned, and in view of the
candidates' current positions -- no one is better than McCain."

Former ambassador to France and the UN Yehuda Lancry wrote in
Ha'aretz: "The [reported] reservations of [diplomatic] sources in
Jerusalem [about U.S. ambassador-designate to Israel James
Cunningham] are curious and even obnoxious."

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

I. "The Best of All Possible Presidents"

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (3/18): "As far as Israel is concerned, and in view of the
candidates' current positions -- no one is better than McCain. The
Republican candidate is clearly more qualified than his rivals to be
commander in chief -- in theory of the American armed forces only,
but in practice also of the international alliance against radical
states and terrorist organizations. McCain has a deep understanding
of the region's strategic problems and publicly supports a nuclear
deterrent for Israel. McCain visited Israel many times as part of
Congressional delegations.... While Obama and Hillary kept silent,
and years before they entered politics, McCain dared speak out --
not only against an Iranian nuclear capability, but also in favor of
an Israeli one. In essence, McCain seeks both to prevent nuclear
proliferation and grant Israel an exemption from this regime; he
calls it a 'special status'.... McCain does not require an
explanation of the linkage between progress on the diplomatic track,
which involves withdrawal from the territories, and ensuring
Israel's strategic strength."

II. "An Unwelcome Welcome"

Former ambassador to France and the UN Yehuda Lancry wrote in
Ha'aretz (3/18): "Maariv recently wrote about 'disappointment in the
Foreign Ministry' concerning the new U.S. ambassador to Israel,
James Cunningham, whose appointment is described by Israeli
'diplomatic sources' as a weak and strange choice of a 'diplomatic
bureaucrat' who lacks understanding of, and diplomatic background
in, the Middle East. Both in form and essence, the reservations of
the sources in Jerusalem are curious and even obnoxious.... During
my service in the United Nations, I knew Cunningham in his capacity
both as deputy ambassador and as the acting ambassador of the U.S.
delegation to the UN. He showed himself to be an excellent,
professional and decisive diplomat, very much exposed to the
complexities of the Middle East. The UN delegation heads, along
with the representatives of the permanent members of the Security
Council, treated him with respect. The second Intifada had placed
Israel in some difficult situations before the Security Council.
Cunningham made considerable efforts to follow his superiors'
instructions and bail out their friend, Israel, either by using the
U.S. veto or making sure Israel escaped with minimal damage. In
extreme situations, when in its fight against terror Israel
extracted an unusually high cost of Palestinian lives, Cunningham
might well have suggested during closed talks that Israel restrain
itself when exercising force. But he scarcely did so, and he should
not be viewed as holding strict views on Israel."

---------
3. Iran:
---------
Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The
great challenge facing any presidential candidate is to show how he
or she will galvanize Western strength and unity to achieve victory
in the war against totalitarian Islamism."

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

"McCain's Challenge"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (3/18):
"By saying, as early as January 2006, 'There's only one thing worse
than the United States exercising the military option; that is a
nuclear-armed Iran,' McCain has taken the critical step of asserting
that Iran must be stopped at almost any cost. But he has not shown
how he intends to bring along the 'hearts and minds' of other
democracies into such an effort. This is something that McCain can
and should begin to do in the context of his visits to London and
Paris. Although these capitals are the strongest on the Iranian
issue, they would be the right place for McCain to call for a
completely united front between Europe and the U.S. -- by Europe
joining the American trade embargo, not by the U.S. joining Europe's
overly head in the sand mindset. The stark truth is that America is
not currently winning against Iran, and cannot win unless there is
more Western unity behind an effective policy, rather than behind
empty rhetoric and weak sanctions. The great challenge facing any
presidential candidate is to show how he or she will galvanize
Western strength and unity to achieve victory in the war against
totalitarian Islamism."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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