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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0691/01 0851025
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251025Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5990
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 3590
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0234
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3848
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4395
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3605
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1856
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4351
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1227
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1673
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8221
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5701
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0607
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4731
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6680
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9397
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000691

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. Mideast

2. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

The Jerusalem Post reported that Vice President Dick Cheney's second
meeting with PM Ehud Olmert on Monday morning, like their first
meeting on Saturday night, was shrouded in mystery, leading to
speculation among diplomatic officials that the focus was on
stopping Iran's nuclear program.

Electronic media quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying this
morning during a visit to an army base that the security
establishment is considering relief measures for the Palestinians.
He was quoted as saying: "It is obvious to everyone that in order to
help the atmosphere of the talks with the Palestinians, we must do
everything, where it does not compromise security, to try, even with
a calculated risk, to institute relief measures." Israel Radio
reported that Barak has allowed 600 Palestinian police to train in
Jordan. They will eventually be posted in Jenin.

All media quoted the police as saying that an IDF non-commissioned
officer (from the standing army) is suspected of providing sensitive
security information on IDF troop movements along the Lebanese
border to elements associated with Hizbullah. The NCO was arrested
along with two Israeli Arabs who headed a drug smuggling ring.
Yediot quoted defense officials as saying after the affair was made
public that Hizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
plots to flood Israel with drugs. All media reported that on Monday
Nasrallah promised to hit Israel "at the time and place of our
choosing." The media noted that contrary to his pledge a few days,
Nasrallah failed to provide evidence that Israel was behind the
assassination of Imad Mughniyah. The Jerusalem Post cited
assessments in Jerusalem that Syria's reticence in blaming Israel
for killing Mughniyah, despite Hizbullah's claims of having "100%
proof" that Israel was involved, indicates that there is some
friction between Syria and Hizbullah. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted
Defense Minister Barak as saying that Hizbullah's threats must be
taken seriously.

Ha'aretz reported that Israeli defense officials suggested on Monday
that Hamas is interested in maintaining the lull in fighting against
the IDF along the Gaza border. Likewise, Egypt is keeping up heavy
pressure on Hamas leaders in Gaza not to deviate from the
understandings reached with it regarding the suspension of fighting.
Ha'aretz quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying on Monday
that if the rocket fire from the Strip and arms smuggling cease,
"The door to another reality will open," but he added that "we are
still far" from that reality. Barak added that Israel will not
negotiate with Hamas, "except for indirect talks regarding kidnapped
soldier Gilad Shalit." Ha'aretz reported that on Sunday Egypt
released 33 Hamas operatives who were arrested in Sinai after the
Rafah border fence was breached in late January. Ha'aretz wrote
that this is a significant gesture by Cairo, evidently intended to
"bolster" the lull. Ha'aretz reported that IDF sources confirmed
that Hamas is also refraining at this time from supplying rockets to
other Palestinian factions. Ha'aretz reported that Israeli defense
sources told the newspaper that the lull should not be viewed as an
agreement between Israel and Hamas. They were quoted as saying that
Egypt was motivated to reach understandings with Hamas for interests
of its own and out of fear the violence would spill over into its
territory. Israel merely "hitched a ride on an arrangement already
reached between Hamas and Cairo," the sources said. However,
Ha'aretz reported that senior military commanders indicated this
week that the lull is expected to be temporary, because Egypt will
have a hard time securing an overall agreement due to the massive
distance between the sides. Ha'aretz reported that the head of the
Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, Amos Gilad, who is in
charge of the talks with Cairo, has been instructed to take a tough
negotiating line with Egypt.

The media reported that on Monday there was an increase in the
number of incidents along the Gaza border. At least one rocket and
several mortar shells were fired at the western Negev, and IDF
troops were fired on near the perimeter fence. There were no
casualties.

The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported that Russia and Egypt
are expected to sign a civilian nuclear cooperation treaty this week
that will boost Cairo's efforts to join a string of Sunni countries
keen on developing nuclear potential and that government officials
in Jerusalem believe it is intended to counter Iran's nuclear
program. The Jerusalem Post quoted a GOI source as saying that
Jerusalem would have no public or formal comment on the deal, and
that in principle Israel had no objection to Egypt's acquiring
nuclear technology as long as Egypt was a member of the
Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it is, and as long as it would be
under ironclad supervision and regulations of the IAEA. Israel
Radio also reported that the U.S. and Bahrain have signed a civilian
nuclear cooperation agreement. Maariv reported that this week the
UAE announced it was launching a civilian nuclear program.

All media reported that on Monday Bank of Israel Governor Stanley
Fischer cut the prime interest rate by 0.5%. It now is 3.25%, the
lowest rate in Israeli history. The move followed last week's
announcement by Fischer that the Bank of Israel would purchase $10
billion in the next two years in order to strengthen the dollar
against the shekel.

Maariv and other media highlighted tension between Defense Minister
and Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak and the party's former leader,
Amir Peretz. Maariv bannered: "Labor on Verge of Splitting."

All media reported that on Monday the Knesset approved a law
intended to regulate organ donations in compliance with Jewish law.
The bill was passed with the support of the ultra-Orthodox Shas
party. Reflecting the views of the United Torah Judaism party, the
ultra-Orthodox Hamodi'a, strongly protested against the law.

Ha'aretz reported that Arab sources told the newspaper on Monday
that the leaders of at least 12 countries will not attend the Arab
League summit in Damascus. Israel Radio reported that Arab League
Secretary-General Amr Moussa is prodding Lebanon to take part.

SIPDIS

Tesfamariam Tekeste, the Eritrean Ambassador to Israel, was quoted
as saying on Monday in an interview with Ha'aretz that Israeli must
repatriate Eritrean "deserters." Ha'aretz quoted an Eritrean
refugee as saying that the Eritrean government does "monstrous
things."

Major media reported that in an audiotape released on Monday
Al-Qaida deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called on Muslims to strike
Jewish and American targets in revenge for Israel's offensive in
Gaza earlier this month.

Nibal Thawabteh, the Editor-in-Chief of the Palestinian monthly Al
Hal (The Situation), whom Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named
one of eight International Women of Courage, was quoted as saying in
an interview with The Jerusalem Post in Washington that she receives
the prize "for all the courageous Palestinian women" and that her
publication is "different from the newspapers of Palestine, because
it is critical [and] courageous." Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, she was quoted as saying: "One day we will hopefully
finish this conflict, because we've paid a lot."

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe cited the concern of many politicians in the
Arab world over the candidacy of Senator John McCain for president.

Last night Channel 10-TV quoted air marshals employed in Israeli
airlines as saying that their working conditions, including their
salaries, are very poor, and that their presence on planes might not
prevent hijackings.

Ha'aretz quoted political sources familiar with the Jonathan Pollard
affair as saying that Israel has no knowledge of plans to release
him from prison in the U.S., where he is serving a life sentence for
spying on Israel's behalf. The comments came in response to
statements by Pensioner Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan, who had been
Pollard's handler, in an interview last night with the Knesset TV
Channel. Eitan said that Pollard will be released soon. In
response to a query by Ha'aretz, Eitan, who emphasized that his
words were based on an "intuition," expressed his hope that
President Bush will pardon Pollard on the occasion of Israel's 60th
anniversary.


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

Summary:
--------

Columnist Eitan Livne wrote in the independent Israel Hayom: "With
the current state of domestic Lebanese and international politics,
Nasrallah does not want to get into trouble with Lebanese army and
the international forces, which could impact his freedom of
movement. The Lebanese public would not forgive him for a new
adventure."

Gershon Baskin, Co-Director of the Israel/Palestine Center for
Research and Information (IPCRI), wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "The use of the word 'normal' is quite
intentional by the authors [of the Arab Peace Initiative] who
understood the deep transformation of Arab positions that 'normal'
relations intended to indicate."
Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Given Syria's current state of
isolation, with its Arab brothers in a huff and a boycott imposed on
it by America, the time is ripe for Israel to invite it to join the
good guys and urge the Bush administration, or the next one in line,
to support an initiative for dialogue between the two countries."

Former ambassador to Egypt and Sweden, contributor Zvi Mazel wrote
on page one of The Jerusalem Post: "The present steps [taken by
Egypt to advance its civilian nuclear program] might be seen as a
means of letting the U.S. know that it should not push Egypt too
far."

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

I. "The Joke Is on Nasrallah"

Columnist Eitan Livne wrote in the independent Israel Hayom (3/25):
" Nasrallah is dying to avenge [Imad] Mughniyah's death, but he's in
a trap. Any large-scale action could come flying back in his face
like a boomerang. With the current state of domestic Lebanese and
international politics, Nasrallah does not want to get into trouble
with Lebanese army and the international forces, which could impact
his freedom of movement. The Lebanese public would not forgive him
for a new adventure.... A terrorist attack overseas poses problems
as well. After all, the person who was responsible for that kind of
activity was Mughniyah. And what would a terror attack do to
Hizbullah's public image -- an organization that has political
aspirations? Furthermore, the Arab League summit meeting is about
to be held in Damascus, and it is in everyone's interest that the
central subject on the table be the Palestinians and not the
Lebanese. Until Hizbullah is able to find a way to take revenge
without having to suffer unduly, Nasrallah takes comfort in the
panic that has gripped Israel. That too is a form of revenge."

II. "A Long Way from the Three Noes"

Gershon Baskin, Co-Director of the Israel/Palestine Center for
Research and Information (IPCRI), wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (3/25): "The Arab Peace Initiative offers
Israel, in return to meeting the demands, full peace and 'normal'
relations with all 22 Arab countries. The use of the word 'normal'
is quite intentional by the authors who understood the deep
transformation of Arab positions that 'normal' relations intended to
indicate.... There is talk in the Arab world that because Israel has
not responded positively to the Arab plan - on the table since March
2002 -- that the time has come to withdraw the offer. Is that the
achievement that Israel would like to take credit for? It seems to
me that the primary strategic objective of the Olmert government is
to reach a framework agreement on permanent status with the
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. At the same time, perhaps Olmert
should accept the Syrian offer to renew negotiations and to continue
the process until full agreement is reached. The issue of the Sheba
farms, over which Israel has no claims of sovereignty, should be
discharged to the United Nations with an Israeli demand that its
security concerns be addressed before Israeli troops leave the area.
Undertaking all of these steps would provide the Arab world with
hard evidence that Israel was in fact implementing all of the
demands of the Arab Peace Initiative and now the challenge would be
referred back to the Arab League to begin to start planning for
establishment of diplomatic and normal relations with Israel instead
of planning to withdraw the offer of full and comprehensive peace in
the region."


III. "Go to Damascus"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (3/25): "[The Palestinian]
leaders are divided into goodies and baddies. The goodies are
prepared to talk to us about a peace agreement, but they are too
weak to reach any kind of accord in the name of the Palestinian
people. The baddies just want us dead. Toward that end, they are
linked up to the axis of evil -- to Iran, Hizbullah and all the
countries and groups that embrace raging Islamic fundamentalism.
Under the circumstances, we have two options: We can sit and twiddle
our thumbs, which means wasting precious time, or we can launch a
new political initiative -- talks with Syria. Now, as countries in
this region are growing weaker, and the terror organizations are
growing stronger and working toward the delegitimization of Israel
as a state that has no right to exist, it is vital to cut Syria's
links with Iran, Hizbullah and the terrorist groups it is
harboring.... Given Syria's current state of isolation, with its
Arab brothers in a huff and a boycott imposed on it by America, the
time is ripe for Israel to invite it to join the good guys and urge
the Bush administration, or the next one in line, to support an
initiative for dialogue between the two countries.... An agreement
with Syria would strategically change the picture in this region: It
would isolate Iran, neutralize the headquarters of the terrorist
organizations and strengthen the moderate Islamic regimes. Unlike
the Palestinian leadership at the moment, the Syrians, in their bid
for international acceptance, are capable of delivering the goods.
But only if Israel realizes that secure and recognized borders come
with a price tag, a hefty one, but worth it for peace -- the Golan
Heights."

IV. "Cairo Climbs the Nuclear Pyramid"

Former ambassador to Egypt and Sweden, contributor Zvi Mazel wrote
on page one of The Jerusalem Post (3/25): "The announcement that
Egypt is going to cooperate with Russia to develop its nuclear
energy program should not come as a surprise. After all, the Soviet
Union was the first country to start cooperation with Egypt in this
field in 1961, when it built its first two-megawatt nuclear center
for research in the town of Inchass. That is where Egypt began to
acquire knowledge and expertise in the field of nuclear technology
and to train its first nuclear technicians.... The driving force
behind [the 2006] decision [to restart the nuclear program for
peaceful purposes] was the ongoing crisis with Iran.... Sunni Egypt
was compelled to enter the field to counterbalance Shi'ite Iran's
growing threat to the international community and to the Middle
East.... Turning its back on America, which sends billions of
dollars in aid each year and cooperates with Egypt in a number of
projects, might lead to a crisis in the relations between the two
countries. The present steps, however, might be seen as a means of
letting the U.S. know that it should not push Egypt too far."

--------------------------
2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote in the independent Israel
Hayom: "It is absolutely uncertain whether [Obama' election] would
be good for the Jews."

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

"America's Black Past"

Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote in the independent Israel
Hayom (3/25): " One must admit that [Obama's] election would fill
the ancient Chinese curse -- 'May you live in interesting times.'
This would certainly be good for the media, perhaps also for the
Americans, but it is absolutely uncertain whether it would be good
for the Jews."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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