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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0742/01 0910629
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 310629Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6083
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 3622
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0264
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3879
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4426
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3636
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1890
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4382
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1257
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1703
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8251
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5732
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0637
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4761
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6710
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9439
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000742

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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

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, March 29-31, 2008

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

Ha'aretz (lead story) and other media reported that on Sunday
Secretary Rice vowed that the U.S. will be more insistent that

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Israel follows through with its commitments, including the removal
of roadblocks announced yesterday. (A headline in Maariv reads:
"Rice Demands More Concessions." Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that
Rice was "surprised" by Israel's gestures and that she welcomed
them.) Leading media reported that on Sunday the Secretary flew to
Amman, where she met with King Abdullah II and PA President Mahmoud
Abbas.

Ha'aretz reported on President BushQs interview with the German
daily Die Welt and his statement that Israel and the Palestinians
will sign an agreement before the end of his term in office. The
President was quoted as saying: "This [the Palestinian state] could
then immediately take shape when the conditions of the Roadmap are
fulfilled. But the first step must be the clear definition of the
Palestinian state. I hope it's possible. And I have an optimistic
feeling that it will happen." Israel TV reported that on Sunday
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a "top Israeli official"

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that she believes that a framework for an agreement could be reached
by President Bush's planned May 14 visit to Israel.

The Jerusalem Post, citing senior defense officials, reported that
Israel is considering allowing armed PA soldiers in Tulkarm and
Hebron (700 such soldiers are to be deployed in Jenin next month).
Major media reported on the trilateral meeting between Rice, Barak
and Fayyad and the list of measures presented by Barak. Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the IDF is opposed to Barak's list of
good will gestures. Yediot reported that Barak warned Hizbullah and
Syria against provoking Israel. Yediot reported that he told
Secretary Rice that Israel is still the strongest country within a

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radius of 1,500 km from Jerusalem.

Ha'aretz reported that PM Olmert recently approved the construction
of 48 new apartments in Ariel, deep inside the northern West Bank.
The newspaper quoted Ehud Barak's office as saying in a statement
that the new construction was meant to allow evacuated Gaza
settlers, who had relocated to Ariel with the government's consent,
to move from temporary to permanent housing.

Ha'aretz reported that the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ)
party has for the first time joined with the Yesha Council of Jewish
Settlements in the Territories in order to promote the expansion of
the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Ilit, located between
Jerusalem and Gush Etzion. Referring to PM Olmert's pledge to
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to freeze construction in the

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settlements, UTJ MK Avraham Ravitz was quoted as saying: "Olmert
must tell his rabbi, Condoleezza, 'I can't do it.'"

Ha'aretz quoted police as saying on Sunday that they had postponed
today's planned opening of a new police station in the E-1 area.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter stressed that the
postponement is temporary and unrelated to Secretary Rice's visit to
Israel.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan as saying that
the Knesset vote on the proposed law to compensate West Bank
settlers for relocating to within the Green Line may come sooner
than thought and stands a better chance of passing than opponents
believe. Vilan is a co-sponsor of the bill. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe
quoted FM Livni as saying that the bill should be promoted.

Yediot and Ha'aretz reported that on Sunday, before a forum of
bereaved families, Defense Minister Barak said that the current
government will fall within a few months and that Olmert should have
resigned following the Winograd Report. Channel 2-TV's microphones
caught National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor)
as saying on Sunday at a government event: "If [Barak] wants to
commit suicide, he can commit suicide. If he continues this way,
[Labor] is finished."

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that there are good chances of uniting
the right-wing religious parties.

Yediot reported that Saudi Arabia has invited rabbis from Israel to
its planned interfaith conference.

Visiting Czech Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanova suggested on Sunday
in an interview with Ha'aretz that a new missile-defense system that
will be deployed in the Czech Republic will also contribute to
Israel's defense. "If there is an effective missile defense, it
will diminish the threat posed by Iran on Israel," she was quoted as
saying. She will meet with her counterpart Ehud Barak today, and
discuss greater defense cooperation between the two countries, and
possible procurement of Israeli-made defense systems. Parkanova
also told Ha'aretz that she and her colleagues support the
deployment of a missile-defense system on Czech soil.

Maariv reported that the Zimbabwean opposition accuses the Mossad of
acting through an Israeli high-tech company to rig the elections in
favor of President Robert Mugabe.

-----------------------------------
Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, March 29-31, 2008:

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-----------------------------------

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "[Foreign
Minister Tzipi] Livni's calm determination is especially conspicuous
when compared with the rather frenzied positions taken by Defense
Minister Ehud Barak.... The U.S. administration views the policy
adopted by Barak ... as a stumbling block."

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "Barak has good reasons to be cautious, both for the
safety of the Israeli people, as well as his own prime ministerial
prospects if security concessions on the West Bank lead to renewed
terror attacks."

Columnist Assaf Golan wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe: "Simple logic apparently does not exist in the
Kadima-led Israeli government. This cabinet might accept American
involvement with open arms."

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz:
"Terms such as the 'general Arab interest' or 'Arab policy,' which
were the showcases of previous Arab summits, were dealt a fatal
blow."

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

I. "Livni's Perseverance"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (3/31): "The
[confidential Israeli-Palestinian] talks are succeeding, despite all
the difficulties, in preserving the status of the Palestinian
Authority in the eyes of the public in the territories. [Foreign
Minister Tzipi] Livni remains steadfast in her belief that this
status, which appears to be shaky, must continue to be strengthened
to prevent Hamas from gaining control of the Palestinian political
arena. This is an important achievement, even if it is threatened
incessantly, and it refutes the claim that 'there is no one to talk
to' and enables the government to continue its dialogue with those
who are legitimate representatives -- in its eyes and those of the
world - of the Palestinian people. In addition, the talks make it
possible to dismantle at least some of the small stones in the
fortified walls of opposition in Israeli public opinion.... Livni's
calm determination is especially conspicuous when compared with the
rather frenzied positions taken by Defense Minister Ehud Barak....
The U.S. administration views the policy adopted by Barak -- who
also met a few times with the settlers and according to them, gave
them promises that are not in accordance with the spirit of the
negotiations with the Palestinians -- as a stumbling block. Livni
has to cope with more than enough obstacles from the right and does
not need additional interference from members of the government.
She should be allowed to get on with the job and should be supported
in her efforts."

II. "Condi's Three Generals vs. Barak"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (3/31): "Barak's team may feel [Lt. Gen. Keith]
Dayton's authority has diminished with [Gen. James] Jones and [Lt.
Gen. William] Fraser on the scene; but for the latter two, the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is very much a part-time gig, while
it's Dayton who is on the ground here full-time, and is specifically
tasked with the job - creating a viable security force -- on which
any future real political progress is likely to depend, Barak has
good reasons to be cautious, both for the safety of the Israeli
people, as well as his own prime ministerial prospects if security
concessions on the West Bank lead to renewed terror attacks (or the
nightmare scenario of those weapons and APC's being given to the PA
eventually falling into the hands of Hamas). But as 2008 winds in
and the Bush administration presses for more progress on the
Israeli-Palestinian peace front, it will be Rice's generals who will
be leading the Secretary's charge for Israel to make even more
concessions on the West Bank -- and Israel's own general of generals
who will have to find the right balance to both keeping Washington
happy, and Israelis secure."

III. "Beware, Condoleezza Is Already Here"

Columnist Assaf Golan wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe (3/31)": "The decision-makers in Jerusalem should
envelop the important host [Secretary Rice] with an ocean of words
of warning and state ceremonies devoid of contents. This is how
most world leaders -- including in the Arab world -- deal with the
Bush administration, as they await a regime change in Washington.
Unfortunately, such simple logic apparently does not exist in the
Kadima-led Israeli government. This cabinet might accept American
involvement with open arms."

IV. "Shaky Peace Initiative"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz
(3/31): "The [Arab League] summit failed to reach agreement on
solutions to either the Lebanon crisis or the Palestinians' internal
divisions; it did not even issue a clear statement of support for
national reconciliation in Iraq. The task of dealing with the
Middle East's three major crises has thus been returned to
individual states or small groups of countries. The
Israeli-Palestinian crisis will be handed back to Egypt and Saudi
Arabia; the Lebanon crisis will be dealt with by Egypt, Saudi
Arabia, Syria and Iran; and the internal Palestinian conflict will
continue to be left to sporadic initiatives such as that of Yemen
and Egyptian mediation. Syria might ultimately dive into this
latter conflict as well: President Bashar Assad plans to convene a
mini-summit of the various Palestinian factions in Damascus to try
to record a personal achievement. But regardless, terms such as the
'general Arab interest' or 'Arab policy,' which were the showcases
of previous Arab summits, were dealt a fatal blow. This time, the
very fact that the summit occurred was the achievement, with the
list of participants replacing the list of decisions as the measure
of its success."

JONES

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