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Cablegate: Special Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0675/01 0840621
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 240621Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5969
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEADWD/DA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3584
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0229
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3842
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4389
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3599
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1850
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4345
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1222
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1668
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8216
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5696
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0602
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4726
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6675
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9385
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000675

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: SPECIAL ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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

Vice President Cheney to Israel, West Bank, March 22-24, 2008

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

The Jerusalem Post cited a release put out by Defense Minister Ehud
Barak's office on Sunday that Barak told Vice President Dick Cheney
that "Iran's build-up is endangering the stability of the region and
the entire world. Israel believes that there is still time for
sanctions, but none of the options should be removed from the
table." During a press availability with the Vice President,
Israeli President Shimon Peres indicated that under the current
constellation of forces in the region, Israel could not afford to
withdraw from the Golan Heights. While Israel's hand was always
extended in peace, Peres said: "Israel is not prepared for a deal
whereby the Golan Heights will be returned to Syria in exchange for
Iranian-Syrian control." The Jerusalem Post cited Peres's office
quoting VP Cheney as saying that the U.S. was concerned about arms
going to Hizbullah from Syria, and that it did not appear that
Syrian President Bashar Assad was interested in any kind of
dialogue. All media reported that the Vice President told Peres
that the U.S. was well aware of the threats facing Israel, and that
it was clear that the Iranian threat was not to Israel alone, but
also to the U.S.

All media highlighted VP Cheney's remark in Ramallah on Sunday:
"Terrorism and rockets not only kill innocent civilians, they also
kill the legitimate hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian
people." Cheney, who was speaking at a press conference with PA
President Mahmoud Abbas, reassured him that the U.S. would continue
to support efforts to establish a Palestinian state. The media
cited the desire of Palestinian officials to see settlement
construction activity halted, with the help of the USG. The
Jerusalem Post quoted an official in Ramallah as saying that VP
Cheney did not bring anything new, and that "we don't want
statements, we want deeds. Bush is deluding himself if he thinks
that a peace agreement could be achieved by the end of 2008."

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli government officials as saying on
Sunday that a list of goodwill measures Defense Minister Ehud Barak
is considering for the Palestinians may be intended as a message for
the PA that if it gets too close to Hamas, it risks "losing
everything." Maariv quoted a senior cabinet minister as saying that
Israel cannot agree to take in rocket volleys from Hamas while
continuing negotiations with its "coalition partner." (The media
reported that in Sanaa on Sunday Fatah and Hamas agreed to keep
reconciliation contacts alive but that they immediately wrangled.)
The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported that Barak is
considering a series of measures meant to ease the lives of
Palestinians ahead of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit
next week.

Ha'aretz reported that a source in the Israeli defense establishment
recently told the newspaper that Israel has lifted its opposition to
a deal with Hizbullah involving the release of Palestinian prisoners
in exchange for signs of life from captured soldiers Eldad Regev and
Ehud Goldwasser. This source and other officials were quoted as
saying that indirect negotiations for the release of the two IDF
soldiers whom Hizbullah abducted in July 2006 did not bog down after
the assassination of senior Hizbullah official Imad Mughniyah last
month in Damascus, for which Hizbullah blamed Israel. Yediot cited
the IDF's concern that a terrorist attack by Hizbullah overseas
would spark an all-out war between Israel and Lebanon. Yediot
quoted senior IDF officers as saying that Hizbullah may kidnap IDF
soldiers, hit senior IDF officers in the Northern Command, or
infiltrate an Israeli community or a strategic facility.

Reviewing the U.S.- and Israeli-devised interception systems (Magic
Wand, Iron Dome, Arrow, and Nautilus), Ha'aretz reported that the
Defense Ministry is developing it own unique, laser-based system.

Ha'aretz reported cited an internal Meretz-Yahad report released
last week as saying that the party is on the verge of paralysis and
would be unable to contest an election.

The Jerusalem Post and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that Israel has
been granted membership to the Development Center of the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),
marking another step on the country's path to full membership in the
OECD.

Ha'aretz and Maariv reported that PM Olmert has issued instructions
that African refugees caught crossing the Sinai border will be
immediately deported to Egypt.

The media reported on a surge on Tel Aviv's financial market but
quoted analysts as saying that this may be a fleeting trend.

Ha'aretz reported that the Israeli government is planning to set up
an Internet portal in English and Hebrew for Jews and Judaism. The
newspaper said that the initiative is part of a comprehensive
program being prepared for PM Ehud Olmert to redefine the
relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.

-------------------------------------------
Vice President Cheney to Israel, West Bank:
-------------------------------------------

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "If the
U.S. had limited itself to the gist of what Cheney said in Jerusalem
on Saturday night, and to elaborating in this same spirit, it is
likely that the prospects for peace and moderation in this region
would be substantially greater."

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "The more the diplomatic negotiations meant to achieve
final-status arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians remain
stalled, the more Israel is required to conduct a wise and
courageous policy vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority."

Former Ambassador to the U.S., former Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Shas knows that nothing will come of the
negotiations with Abbas. Olmert also knows that nothing will come
of them, but in the meantime he is keeping his coalition together.
Each gets what he needs, at least for the moment. This is Olmert's
agenda. That's all there is to it."

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

I. "The Cheney Model"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (3/24):
"U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney is not known for making
flamboyant speeches, but sometimes less is more. If the U.S. had
limited itself to the gist of what Cheney said in Jerusalem on
Saturday night, and to elaborating in this same spirit, it is likely
that the prospects for peace and moderation in this region would be
substantially greater.... There are, it should be understood, two
basic models for looking at the conflict, each of which leads to
different policy approaches. The standard model is that Arabs and
Israelis have been fighting for years and that blame for
perpetuation of the conflict lies with both sides, or perhaps mainly
with Israel, since Israel is the 'occupying power' and the
Palestinians are seeking independence within land held by Israel.
The second model is almost nonexistent in diplomatic circles but was
instinctively expressed by Cheney and is taken as axiomatic by the
many Americans who sympathize with Israel. This model holds that
the Arab world opposed Israel's creation, tried many times to
destroy Israel, and still has not come to terms with Israel's right
to exist. It is this Arab rejection of Israel, not a supposed
Israeli refusal to allow the creation of a Palestinian state, that
is the true obstacle to peace. A peace process designed to produce
Arab acceptance of Israel would start with simple statements of the
problem. The U.S. might state that: 'Israel has accepted and seeks
to implement the two-state solution. So the principal obstacle to
peace is the remaining rejection among many Palestinians and within
much of the Arab world of the legitimate national rights of the
Jewish people to their own state, the State of Israel.' The next
important step would be to demand that the Arab states lead by
example, rather than waiting for the divided and radicalized
Palestinians to move first. Indeed, the Arab states are behind, in
that Mahmoud Abbas routinely meets Israeli leaders, but the leaders
of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states will not."

II. "A Lighter Touch"

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (3/24): "The more the diplomatic negotiations meant to
achieve final-status arrangements between Israel and the
Palestinians remain stalled, there is no tangible chance for an
agreement and Israel must do all it can to preserve and strengthen
the PA's current leadership.... Everyone understands that the
collapse of the [PA's] current leadership would bring about a much
worse alternative: a PA ruled ... by Hamas, with the Gazan reality
moving to Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank].... In the current
circumstances Israel must help nurture life conditions in the PA so
that the Palestinian population-at-large understands the PA's
conciliatory policy toward Israel benefits the Palestinians and
stabilizes the current PA."

III. "Olmert's Agenda"
Former Ambassador to the U.S., former Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (3/24): "To those who have their doubts about
the wisdom of Olmert's policy, he produces the American card.
Visits by Condoleezza Rice to Israel and Tzipi Livni to Washington
give the impression that Israel really has no choice. The U.S. will
not allow effective action to be taken in Gaza and the negotiations
with Mahmoud Abbas must continue. Nobody who knows the U.S. scene
will be fooled by this argument. George W. Bush might welcome an
Israeli-Palestinian agreement to crown the final months of his
tenure as president, but he surely has the Palestinian Authority
sized up. In any case he is not about to get into a confrontation
with Israel at this time. That's all he needs in addition to his
other headaches. But some people want to be fooled, and some even
want to be raped. With the peace camp in tow, all Olmert needs to
survive politically is Shas. He is showering them with presents
they could only have dreamed of. Meanwhile, Labor and even Meretz
grin and bear it. After all, this is for the sake of peace.... Shas
knows that nothing will come of the negotiations with Abbas. Olmert
also knows that nothing will come of them, but in the meantime he is
keeping his coalition together. Each gets what he needs, at least
for the moment. This is Olmert's agenda. That's all there is to
it."

JONES

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