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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 031114Z APR 08
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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4442
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3652
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1908
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4400
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1273
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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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SECDEF WASHDC FOR USDP/ASD-PA/ASD-ISA
HQ USAF FOR XOXX
DA WASHDC FOR SASA
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JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
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PARIS ALSO FOR POL
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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

1. Mideast

2. Zimbabwe Elections

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

Yediot reported that senior advisers of President Bush (headed by
National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley) and PM Ehud Olmert (Yoram
Turbowicz and Shalom Turgeman) met over the weekend in Washington to
discuss the Iranian nuclear program and Hizbullah.

Major media (lead stories in Ha'aretz, Maariv, and The Jerusalem
Post) reported that Israel fears that recent moves by the Syrian
army foreshadow a cross-border Hizbullah operation. The Deputy IDF
Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, warned yesterday that Israel
will respond with heavy force if targeted. Speaking on Israel
Radio this morning, Vice PM Haim Ramon said that Israel has no
intention of launching a preemptive attack on Syria. Yediot
reported that over the weekend that Syrian President Bashar Assad
will soon reveal the findings of an inquiry into the assassination
of senior Hizbullah operative Imad Mughniyah. According to the
paper, Assad will say that an Arab intelligence service, likely
Saudi Arabia's, cooperated with the Mossad.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has canceled a planned to trip to
Germany over concern of escalation along the Northern border.
Ha'aretz reported that Barak's visit to the border region on Tuesday
was directly linked to the growing tensions with Syria and
Hizbullah. Additionally, while Israel has sent a number of messages
to Syria recently stating that it has no offensive intentions, it
has also warned that it will strike back if attacked. Citing
intelligence sources, Ha'aretz, reports that Israel does not expect
offensive action from Syria, however, there is concern that
Hizbullah with support from Syria and Iran may try to assassinate a
senior Israeli official. The defense establishment is also
concerned that Israeli interests in the developing world will be
targeted.

Israel Radio and the leading Internet news site Ynet reported that
deputy Al-Qaida leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has made threats that he
will do "all he can" to harm Jews in Israel and all over the world.

Israel Radio reported that a "senior American official in Jerusalem"
as saying that the administration will monitor the implementation of
IsraelQs recent commitment to lift certain restrictions for
Palestinians in the West Bank. The senior American official
reportedly told AP that next week an American observer will return
to the region to check the progress.

Leading media reported that on Wednesday the Knesset passed the
Reservists' Law, which anchors in legislation a series of reforms
regarding the remuneration, conditions of service and government
supervision of the IDF reserve corps. Ha'aretz noted that the
Second Lebanon War was not the impetus for the legislation.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe focused on what it calls Peace Now's systematic
bias, distortion, and basic mistakes in its reports on Israeli
actions in the territories.

Ha'aretz and Ynet reported that on Wednesday night in Cincinnati
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism,
told the annual conference of the movement's rabbis and cantors that
his movement cannot cooperate with the "Christian Zionists," whose
support of Israel he says is different from his. Yoffie's speech
focused on John Hagee, founder of the Christians United for Israel
lobby.

Ha'aretz reported that on Wednesday West Bank settlers clashed
violently with peace activists and Palestinians hours after the
evacuation of an illegal outpost close to the Kedumim settlement.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday senior defense
officials dismissed speculation that Palestinian terrorists took
advantage of the opening of the Sinai border on Tuesday to cross
back into Gaza after undergoing training abroad.

Leading media reported that on Wednesday former Labor Party leader
Amir Peretz called for reconciliation with present party chairman
Ehud Barak. Media reported that Peretz will begin a campaign after
Passover (late this month) to bring about the release of Fatah
terrorist Marwan Barghouti.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that on the eve of
Holocaust Memorial Day -- May 6 -- Tunisian Ambassador to the PA
Ahmed Al-Abbasi, will deliver a speech at Yad Vashem.
Israel Radio and Arabic-language newspapers reported that Knesset
Member Ahmed Tibi arrived in Beirut today accompanied by three Arab
journalists, one from the Arabic-language Assennara, despite Israeli
restrictions on visits to "enemy countries." Speaking on Israel
Radio upon his return, Tibi said in Jordan that Beirut International
Airport was a one-hour stopover on his return from Sanaa, Yemen.
The radio cited the anger of right-wing politicians over Tibi's stay
in Beirut.

Yediot and the Arabic-language Kull Al-Arab reported that Jewish
right-wing activists have called on their supporters to follow and
harass Arab Knesset members. The media reported that high school
students are asked to berate and provoke the parliamentarians with
insults and curses. (Kull Al-Arab reported that the threats are
focused on Jewish schools in the Jerusalem area.) It is reported
that 350 activists have already joined this group.

Israel Hayom quoted former chief justice Aharon Barak as saying that
the independence of the courts is under threat. He was implicitly
referring to Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann's course.

Today the Arabic-language Arabs48 web site cited the results of a
poll conducted by the Israeli institute Geocartographia that 55% of
the Israelis believe that the 'LeftQ no longer exists. And on
solutions presented by the parties, 23% believe that Likud presents
the right and logical solutions, Kadima 13%, and the Labor party
only 7%.

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

Summary:
--------

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "[Ehud Barak] must finally address his agenda in a speech.
Here is a draft: 'Dear citizens.... The shelf-agreement idea is
surreal and dangerous. The Annapolis process is reckless and
groundless. Don't let the cynics mislead you: Those racing toward
peace are the enemies of peace.'"

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot: "After the stage of hysteria and embarrassment,
Nasrallah wished to calm the situation and to reduce the risk of a
new war along [Israel's] northern border."

Dr. Gabi Avital, managing member of the conservative group
Professors for a Strong Israel, wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "Isn't talk about demilitarizing the Galilee and seeking an
arrangement in the Golan in the form of a light defense system, a
safe recipe for the next war?"

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

I. "Will the Real Barak Please Stand Up?"

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(4/3): "If [Ehud] Barak wants to live, he must emerge from the
bunker immediately, face Israel and speak out. He must finally
address his agenda in a speech. Here is a draft: 'Dear citizens....
Just as Camp David 2000 burst the peace bubble, the Hamas victory
and Second Lebanon War in 2006 put an end to any concept of a
solution by unilateral action. After the shattering of those two
great illusions, is it absolutely clear that in the years to come no
one-sided Israeli pullout to the Green Line will be possible. As
the leader of the peace camp and as one who did more than anyone
else to achieve peace, I say today with pain that we will not
achieve true peace in our generation. Therefore our generation's
duty is to manage the conflict, while reducing the occupation and
setting its limits. Our generation's role is to build the
infrastructure that will enable Israelis and Palestinians to achieve
peace -- but not in our time. Our Palestinian neighbors must follow
Salam Fayyad's way -- they must build the emerging Palestine and
adopt a positive life ethos. We Israelis must establish a strong
government and form broad national agreements, which will enable us,
when the time comes, to dismantle our Algeria as France dismantled
hers. But the ripening process will take time for both Palestinians
and Israelis. The shelf-agreement idea is surreal and dangerous.
The Annapolis process is reckless and groundless. Don't let the
cynics mislead you: Those racing toward peace are the enemies of
peace.... However, there is another truth, which is even more
difficult to accept. The Second Lebanon War laid bare the real
challenge Israel now faces -- its intentions don't count, only what
may be achieved counts."

II. "Nasrallah Does Not Want War"

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (4/3): "[Hassan Nasrallah's] speech to mark 40 days
since the elimination of Imad Mughniyah was a ... rectification
speech. After the stage of hysteria and embarrassment, Nasrallah
wished to calm the situation and to reduce the risk of a new war
along [Israel's] northern border. His concern that one of his
enemies, for instance Al-Qaida, might harm an Israeli or Jewish
target in the world would force him to bear the consequences of a
renewed war.... In the speech he delivered this week, Nasrallah
constantly made use of a new spin about the annihilation of Israel
that he had learned in Iran. It is clear why he did so: he needs a
reason to exist. 'Do we believe that it will disappear some day?
We definitely do!,' he said. But since this was a reassuring
speech, and so that nobody in Israel interprets it, God forbid as
far as he is concerned, as a real and repeated threat against
Israel, he added, pay attention: 'This does not mean that we will
start a front in the south [of Lebanon] to topple the Zionist
regime, because this task is not a Lebanese responsibility. Neither
are we calling for it."

III. "Middle Eastern Symmetry"

Dr. Gabi Avital, managing member of the conservative group
Professors for a Strong Israel, wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (4/3): "When a few days ago [Israeli] newspapers printed
headlines such as 'New Hizbullah Missiles Can Reach Dimona' and
'Hizbullah's Arms Race, the radio somehow festively cited the Prime
Minister's willingness to conduct secret negotiations with Syria,
along with the axiom that the 'price has already been set.' This
means the loss of the Golan Heights, including its waters, its
residents, and its houses. This happens at the same time the radio
reports on large-scale maneuvers by the Syrian Army, and the
newspaper report on extra efforts to negotiate with Assad, under
well-known terms.... A blatant asymmetry exists in the domain of
missile procurement.... Will the payment to Syria -- the Golan in
exchange for a piece of paper -- provide an answer to those threats
... ? Isn't talk about demilitarizing the Galilee and seeking an
arrangement in the Golan in the form of a light defense system, a
safe recipe for the next war?"

-----------------------
2. Zimbabwe Elections:
-----------------------

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Mugabe's regime, quite apart from its abysmal abuses of its own
people, has been no friend to Israel."

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

"New Dawn for Zimbabwe?"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (4/3):
"Mugabe's regime, quite apart from its abysmal abuses of its own
people, has been no friend to Israel. It gave consistently strong
support to the PLO, and its state-run newspaper, The Herald,
regularly and intemperately condemns the Jewish state. In March
2003, Mugabe responded to critics comparing him to Hitler by sayng,
'This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people,
sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his
people and their rights over their resources. If that is Israel,
then let me be a Hitler tenfold.' This is one tyrant Israel -- and
the rest of the world -- has no interest in sustaining."

JONES

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