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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0736/01 0881015
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281015Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6067
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3616
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0258
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3872
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4419
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3629
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1883
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4375
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1251
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1697
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8245
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5726
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0631
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4755
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6704
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9429
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000736

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:
--------------------------------

Mideast

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

The Jerusalem Post reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has
warned that the transfer of weapons and armored vehicles to the
Palestinian Authority could ultimately backfire if Hamas comes to
power in the West Bank as then it would be better equipped to turn
on Israel. Barak issued the warning during a recent meeting with
the U.S. special envoy to Israel and the PA, Gen. James Jones. The
Jerusalem Post quoted defense officials as saying that Barak told
Jones: "We need to keep in mind the possibility that after all we
have done, Hamas will take over the West Bank, not only by force but
even in the upcoming general elections. This is certainly a
possibility." Barak plans to present a list of Israeli concessions
to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday. Ha'aretz
reported that Secretary Rice plans to hold two trilateral meetings
during her visit: One American-Israeli-Palestinian conclave will
deal with the final-status negotiations, while the other will
address the situation on the ground in the West Bank and what both
sides are doing to fulfill their obligations under the Roadmap.
Headlines in the leading Internet news site Ynet: "Rice Arrives on
Reprimand Visit"; in Ha'aretz: "U.S. Increases its Involvement: Rice
Arrives for Three-Way Meeting"; and in Makor Rishon-Hatzofe: "Assad
Presents: Split Arab Conference."

Ha'aretz quoted senior PA sources as saying that Hamas militants who
recently returned to Gaza after training in Iran have a detailed
plan for upgrading the capabilities of the rockets being developed
in the Strip. Yediot cited the belief of Israeli defense sources
that Syria is trying to thwart Egypt's efforts to reach
understandings between Hamas and Israel, in order to distract
attention from the Arab League summit in Damascus, which Egypt and
Saudi Arabia are boycotting.

Major media reported that on Thursday Arab foreign ministers
re-endorsed the 2002 Saudi initiative that promises Arab recognition
of Israel should it withdraw in full from the territories captured
in 1967. The proposal was ratified in Damascus during the
preparation for Saturday's Arab summit, despite proposals by some

Arab elements to withdraw or modify the initiative. Ha'aretz
reported that Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa recently
raised the possibility of withdrawing the Arab peace blueprint at
the Damascus summit if Israel continues to ignore it.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted a senior hydrologist in Israel's Water
Authority that there has been a steep increase in illegal water
drilling in the PA. The hydrologist was quoted as saying that this
damages the aquifer. The newspaper reported that Israel coninues to
send large quantities of water to the Palestinians.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Sergey Brin of Google and Mark
Zuckerberg of Facebook, as well as Barbra Streisand, Rupert Murdoch,
Steven Spielberg, as well past ant present international
politicians, will attend President Shimon Peres' May 13-15
conference -- "Facing Tomorrow" -- marking 60 years of Israel's
independence.

Israel Radio reported that Israeli-Arab MK Ahmed Tibi left for Yemen
at the invitation of President Saleh in order to discuss a
conciliation between Fatah and Hamas. The radio reported that Tibi
told the London newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi that the Arabs of Israel
supported the Yemenite initiative. He called on the Arab League
convening in Damascus to adopt the initiative. On Sunday the Yemeni
University will mark Land Day, and Ahmed Tibi will be guest of
honor.

The Jerusalem Post ran a feature about the reconstruction work on
the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City,
which was destroyed by the in the 1948 war.

Major media reported that on Thursday the Tel Aviv District Court
stripped former strategic affairs minister Avigdor Lieberman of his
attorney-client privilege. The court said that classified mater
indicate that Lieberman's actions (as a cabinet minister and in a
private capacity) have been "tainted by more than a tinge of
criminality."

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, outgoing Special Rapporteur
to the Human Rights Council on Palestine and Other Occupied Arab
Territories recognizes the frustrations that lead to acts of terror
and accepts the UN's decision not to address Palestinian violations
of Israelis' human rights. Dugard does not "wish to minimize the
terror to which the people of Sderot have been subjected."

Leading media reported on the Justice Ministry's decision to deny
the title of university to the Ariel College (in the West Bank)

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported on Jewish-American actress
Debra Winger's recent visit to Israel, where she helps to promote
bilingual Hebrew-Arabic schools. Ha'aretz reported that Winger met
with Israeli-Arab writer and Ha'aretz columnist Sayed Kashua.

Yediot reported that for the first time in Israeli history,
President Shimon Peres on Thursday appointed a Druze military
secretary -- Hasson Hasson.

SIPDIS

The Jerusalem Post cited an announcement made by Israel Aerospace
Industries (IAI) on Thursday that IAI generated $3.3 billion in
sales in 2007, an increase of 18% from 2006.

Ha'aretz reported that almost 100 years after its establishment
sparked a heated debate over using European languages in education,
the Technion announced on Thursday the opening of its first-ever
program of study in English -- an MBA program.

On Thursday Israel Radio published the results of a Shvakim-Panorama
poll conducted on March 26:
Q: If general elections were to be held today, for which party would
you vote? Results in Knesset seats:
Likud: 26 [current strength: 12]; Labor Party: 19 [current strength:
19]; Kadima: 16 [current strength: 29]: Yisrael Beiteinu: 11[current
strength: 11]; Shas: 11 [current strength: 10]; Arab parties: 10
[current strength: 10]; National Union Party and National-Religious
Party: 8 [current strength: 9]; Meretz: 6 [current strength: 5];
United Torah Judaism: 6 [current strength: 6]; Social Justice,
headed by Arkady Gaidamak: 3 [current strength: 0]; Pensioners
Party: 0 [current strength: 7].

As the media marked the second anniversary of PM Ehud Olmert's
accession to power, Yediot presented the results of a Mina Zemach
(Dahaf Institute) poll:

Has there been a change in your support for Olmert since he entered
office?
It is lower: 49%; it has not changed: 44%; it has gone up: 5%.
If your support has declined, what was the cause?
The war in Lebanon: 31%; his general performance: 21%; the Qassam
rockets: 15%; the real estate affairs: 11%; his personality: 8%;
lack of credibility: 6%; negotiations with the Palestinians: 3%

The poll shows that the most popular PMs in Israeli history are

currently those who made peace: Menachem Begin (34%) and Yitzhak
Rabin (32%). Ariel Sharon comes third, with 16%. Olmert is only
credited with 1% of support.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "We already are in a mini-crisis with the Americans; Barak
is the point man in it, and we must cool down [our enthusiasm]."

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "It would be
better if the Palestinians did not see the [targeted killings] in
Bethlehem as the essence of Israeli policy."

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote on page one of the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "The question now is whether [a show of
disrespect from the Arab leaders] will only help push Assad deeper
into an Iranian embrace, or make him better understand the growing
price he (and his country) will pay for that alliance."

The Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The launching of an interfaith
dialogue by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is a remarkable
development that should be warmly welcomed by the Jewish people....
[But] the Saudis cannot demand that Muslims stick together while
attempting to drive Jews apart."

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

I. "Does Barak Have to Prove his Commitment to Peace?"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (3/28): "The sharpest criticism [hurled at Ehud] Barak is on
the diplomatic level. He was supposed to head the peace camp and
has become the national refusenik. He thwarts easing restrictions
for the Palestinians, disregards the diplomatic negotiations, and
by-passes Olmert and Livni [on the Right].... [But] all of a sudden
he authorizes some measures, assistance, armored vehicles,
Kalashnikov rifles, and police training in Jordan. He meets with
Salam Fayyad.... He authorized them with a frown, without grace, as
a preparation for Condoleezza Rice's visit next week and George
Bush's later. We already are in a mini-crisis with the Americans;
Barak is the point man in it, and we must cool down [our
enthusiasm]."

II. "Do Not Reignite the Flame"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (3/28): "[Ehud]
Barak leads a party that waved the banner of advancing the peace
process with the Palestinians. But in practice, he has adopted a
pessimistic and suspicious attitude toward the talks with the
Palestinian Authority. Skepticism might be in order, but the
problems begin when the Defense Minister turns it into a reason for
inaction. On Wednesday, Barak hosted PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
at his home and scattered promises about gestures to West Bank
residents. In practice, however, Israel is still moving
disturbingly slowly to fulfill its obligations, from those of the
2002 Roadmap peace plan to those of the Annapolis conference last
November. Past experience teaches that such promises will never be
kept as long as army field officers do not receive explicit
instructions to fulfill them. Barak must finally take steps to
accelerate the diplomatic process and genuinely improve life for
residents of the West Bank. It would be better if the Palestinians
did not see the [targeted killings] in Bethlehem as the essence of
Israeli policy."

III. "No-Show Arab Summit -- a Slap in the Face for Assad"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote on page one of the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (3/28): "[The Arab League] summit will be
remembered as a slap in the face to the Syrian dictator from his
fellow Arab leaders, a gesture of disrespect that is hard to imagine
would ever have been paid under almost any circumstances to his
feared and respected father. The question now is whether such a
development will only help push Assad deeper into an Iranian
embrace, or make him better understand the growing price he (and his
country) will pay for that alliance."

IV. "A Saudi Initiative to Be Encouraged"

The Jerusalem Post editorialized (3/28): "The launching of an
interfaith dialogue by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is a remarkable
development that should be warmly welcomed by the Jewish people....
Osama bin Laden came from Saudi Arabia, as did most of the 9/11
terrorists. This is not a coincidence. Saudi Arabia remains the
seat of the Wahabi strain of Islam.... So for the Saudi king to
preach tolerance and dialogue is quite a departure. But it does not


come out of the blue. An analysis released in February by MEMRI [an
Israel-based Mideast media research institute] found that 'in recent
years, Saudi Arabia has been making intense efforts to fight both
terrorism and its religious and ideological underpinnings....
[However,] the Saudis have said that they are interested in Jewish
participation in the new dialogue, but don't want anyone involved in
'oppressing Palestinians.' If this is code for excluding all
Israelis, Jewish invitees should refuse to participate. The reason
for this is simple: It is not possible to have a dialogue with the
Jewish people that deliberately excludes the Jewish state. The
first step of tolerance and understanding is to accept that the Jews
are a people, that Israel is the Jewish state, and that the denial
of Jewish national rights not only constitutes anti-Semitism, but
the most virulent form of anti-Semitism today.... The Saudis cannot
demand that Muslims stick together while attempting to drive Jews
apart. No less to the point, they cannot combat militant forms of
jihad while kowtowing to a major objective of that jihad -- Israel's
destruction. An attempt to dialogue with Jews, but not Israelis,
will rightly be seen as a classic case of the 'new anti-Semitism,'
with the supposed embrace of Jews as cover for delegitimizing
Israel. The Saudis, if they want their campaign to tame jihad to be
effective, must not fall into this trap -- and if they do, Jewish
leaders should not fall into it with them."

JONES

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