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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #0790/01 0951025
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041025Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6159
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC 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 3645
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0286
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3902
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4448
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RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1915
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RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1279
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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6732
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9469
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000790

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

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

1. Mideast

2. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

The media continued to report on Syrian military movements, which
intelligence officials attributed "more to nervousness than a
likelihood of conflict" (The Jerusalem Post). The Jerusalem Post
quoted Israeli defense officials as saying that Israel had passed a
message to the Syrian military via UN forces that Israel has no
offensive intention. Nonetheless, the message said that Israel
would respond forcefully if attacked. Israel Radio reported that
Syrian FM Walid Muallem told European ambassadors in Damascus
yesterday that peace is still Syria's priority but that Syria is
watching possible signs of aggression by Israel.

The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported that Israel removed ten
more roadblocks in the West Bank yesterday. Until now half of the
roadblocks whose removal was agreed upon with the U.S. have been
taken away. The radio quoted a senior defense source as saying that
PM Ehud Olmert and FM Tzipi Livni forced the IDF to remove the
roadblocks. In another development, The Jerusalem Post reported
that this week Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem protested
against a ban on East Jerusalem residents passing through a
southeastern Jerusalem checkpoint. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported
that Olmert promised Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel
would employ 50,000 Palestinians.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel and the U.S. decided a few weeks ago
to boycott the Durban II conference -- scheduled for early 2009 and
likely to harshly criticize Israel's human rights record -- unless
they receive firm guarantees that the event will not turn into an
anti-Israel festival. The Jerusalem Post reported that newspaper
ads in America are urging the U.S. to skip the conference.

Yediot reported that Shin Bet is focusing its anti-terror alert on
take-offs and landings of Israeli airliners.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that Israeli Arabs form Olmert's
political base, since they represent one-fourth of Kadima' new
voters.

The Jerusalem Post cited a report to be released today by the
Israeli organization Palestinian Media Watch that the Netherlands
and Denmark provide funding to Ma'an, a Palestinian news agency that
the group says glorifies terrorists and promotes hatred for Israel.

Maariv led with a report from Sanaa by a special Maariv and Kull
al-Arab envoy about the "besieged "Yemenite Jewish community.
Maariv reported that a yeshiva student who lost his friends in the
Mercaz Harav Yeshiva murder rampage decided to return to Yemen,
asking, "Did the Jews respond [to the massacre]?"

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post cited a report submitted to the U.S.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee indicating that if Iran acquires
nuclear weapons, this could set off a chain reaction in the Middle
East, pushing other states in the region to launch their own nuclear
arms programs.

Electronic media reported that Mati Gil, the bureau head of Internal
Security Minister Avi Dichter was shot and moderately wounded this
morning by a Palestinian sniper near the Gaza Strip. Dichter, who
was present at the time of the attack, was not hurt. They were
touring the Givat Nazmit observation point overlooking the Gaza
Strip and adjacent to the security fence. Israel Radio reporter
that Dichter and his aide accompanied a group of Canadian Jews to
familiarize them with the situation in Israeli communities bordering
Gaza. The media also reported on sniper fire directed at
agricultural workers in the field of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha.
Ha'aretz and other media reported that IDF forces killed three
Palestinians yesterday morning during a military operation near the
central Gaza town of Khan Yunis.

Israel Radio reported that a resident of the Mitzpe Asael outpost in
the southern Hebron hills was arrested yesterday after firing in the
air in order to drive off Palestinians and left-wing activists who
approached. Left-wing activists say that the man prevented
Palestinian residents of the area from working their land, but the
settlers say that the land is state-owned.

Maariv ran a feature about Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, the "religious
leader of the far Right," who the paper said believes that the Arabs
are a lower race, that the Zionist establishment must be smashed,
and that private acts of revenge bring redemption [for the Jewish
people] closer."

Leading media reported that a bill approved yesterday by the
Knesset's House Committee would ban anyone who has visited a hostile
state for running for the Knesset for seven years after the visit.
The bill was sponsored by two right-wing Knesset members.

Leading media reported that three Knesset members who have split
from the Pensioners' Party have stepped up contacts with billionaire
politician Arkady Gaidamak to form a faction that would represent
his Social Justice party.

All media reported that a Jerusalem court ruled late on Wednesday to
partially override the law barring stores and eateries from selling
hametz (leavened) products during Passover. Religious leaders and
lawmakers from religious parties were infuriated by the blow to
Israel's Jewish identity.

The Jerusalem Post reported that New York State official Eric
Dinallo is urging insurance companies to stop telling Americans that
they could forfeit life insurance payments, or risk being denied
coverage entirely, if they travel to Israel.

Yediot reported that PM Olmert and Transportation Minister Shaul
Mofaz intend to allocate 150 million shekels (around $42 million)
for the planning of a Tel Aviv-Eilat railway line. China is in
talks with Israel to build the railroad. A Petra branch of the
railroad is also being weighed.


Maariv published the results of a TNS/Teleseker poll conducted on
March 25:
Q: Which of the following people is the most suitable to be prime
minister of Israel?:
Binyamin Netanyahu -- 28%; Tzipi Livni -- 10.2%; Arkady Gaidamak --
8.1%; Ehud Barak -- 7.8%; Ehud Olmert -- 7.1%; undecided -- 8%; none
of the above -- 30.8%.
Q. Who will bring the most votes to the Labor Party if that
politician becomes its leader?
100 percent of the sample:
Ehud Barak -- 39.1%; Ami Ayalon -- 14%; Benjamin Ben-Eliezer --
5.9%; Dalia Itzik -- 5.6%; Amir Peretz -- 4.8%; undecided -- 30.7%.
Those who voted for the Labor Party in the previous elections:
Ehud Barak -- 54.3%; Ami Ayalon -- 13%; Benjamin Ben-Eliezer --
4.1%; Dalia Itzik -- 1.2%; Amir Peretz -- 1.5%; undecided -- 26.2%.
Q. Has your feeling of security grown stronger since Barak became
defense minister?
It is much improved -- 9%; improved somewhat -- 30.8%; not so much
--18.6%; not at all -- 33.4%; undecided -- 8.2%.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The Prime Minister's proximity to a
diplomatic solution is more or less identical to the Defense
Minister's distance from a military solution."

Editor-in-Chief Amnon Lord wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe: "When his box becomes full with far-reaching
Israeli, U.S.-backed concessions, Abu Mazen will join -- as he is
signaling -- the Damascus=Tehran axis.

Political commentator Shalom Yerushalmi wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "[A] 'shelf agreement' has great importance as far
as [Tzipi Livni] is concerned, because it establishes Israel's
understandings and interests, and halts the severe erosion of its
positions."


Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "Israel's waiting -- for the change in the U.S.
administration or for war [with Syria]. Whatever comes first."

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

I. "The Lie of Peace and the Nonsense of Security"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/4): "Presumably there is a strange but
legitimate dispute between a leader who comes from the right, who
believes that if Israel continues to hold on to the territories the
Jewish state will be in danger, and a leader who comes from the
left, who claims that if Israel stops holding to the territories
Jewish lives will be in danger. Ostensibly one proposes reaching a
quick solution to the conflict by negotiating with Fatah, and on the
other side prefers long-term resolution via a military struggle with
Hamas. In effect, the argument between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
and Defense Minister Ehud Barak is divorced from reality. The Prime
Minister's proximity to a diplomatic solution is more or less
identical to the Defense Minister's distance from a military
solution."

II. "What's Going On in the Pressure-Cooker?"

Editor-in-Chief Amnon Lord wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe (4/4): "It seems that both the Foreign Minister and
the Defense Minister do not want to see Olmert waving to the Israeli
public and the world an agreement that represents a unilateral
commitment by Israel to far-reaching concessions. The question is
how negotiations with a partner such as Abu Mazen are being
conducted. On the eve of Rice's visit he found it fit to make a
pilgrimage to Damascus: When his box becomes full with far-reaching
Israeli, U.S.-backed concessions, Abu Mazen will join -- as he is
signaling -- the Damascus=Tehran axis. He just wants to live. The
'agreement' that Olmert will leave him, will become ... a genetic
disease: the moment conditions are ripe, the disease will break
out."

III. "When She Wants Something, She Gets It"

Political commentator Shalom Yerushalmi wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (4/4): "Many people have grave doubts about the
negotiations between [Tzipi] Livni and the Palestinians. The Prime
Minister himself sounds skeptical.... Livni hears the background
noises and does not let them bother her. Even if she still believes
in the possibility of reaching an agreement, she doubts the
possibility of implementing it. This 'shelf agreement' has great
importance as far as she is concerned, because it establishes
Israel's understandings and interests, and halts the severe erosion
of its positions.... Today Livni says that she still wants to be
prime minister, because that is the only place from which one can
really have an effect.... On the way to the post of prime minister,
she will have to overcome three seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
She will have to beat Olmert in the battle for the leadership of
Kadima, overcome Ehud Barak in the war for the leadership of the
Center-Left camp, and beat Binyamin Netanyahu in the battle for the
leadership of the country. There is almost no one who is willing to
gamble that she will reach the finish line. The obstacle posed by
Olmert is the most difficult. He does not have strength in the
public, but he enjoys immense support in Kadima.... When she was
elected to the Knesset in 1999, she embarked on her political path
in the left lane of the Likud. Most people in Kadima could find
their way back to the Likud. Not Livni. The bridges have been
burned. Today she is the darling of the left wing camp."

IV. "Assad on Call Waiting Mode"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (4/4): "What is really happening with Syria? Not much.
Israel's waiting -- for the change in the U.S. administration or for
war. Whatever comes first. In the mean time emissaries come and
go, but nothing happens. If one were to organize a convention and
invite all the people who have traveled to Damascus over the past
few years with messages from an Israeli leader, one could fill quite
a large hall. What does Assad want? No one really knows.... Even
if he knew, it is not sure whether he could do something. And he's
afraid. He is afraid that peace with Israel could take his power
away. He's also afraid of war with Israel. He knows that if Iran
is attacked, this could effect him. And if Hizbullah carries out a
massive retaliatory terrorist attack, Israel might blame him."


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

Summary:
--------

Ha'aretz editorialized: "Are Americans who see themselves as friends
doing Israel a favor by supporting even its faulty policies and
urging the administration and Congress to support them?"

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

"With Friends like These"

Ha'aretz editorialized (4/4): "The President of the Union for Reform
Judaism, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, has called for non-cooperation with the
Christian Zionists, a movement of millions of Americans who ardently
support Israel. Yoffie represents a movement that supports Israel
for very different reasons from those of the Christian Zionists, who
identify largely with the most right-wing sectors of Israeli
society. His call on Wednesday reawakens the controversy over
Israel's practical approach toward its supporters in the United
States.... Are Americans who see themselves as friends doing Israel
a favor by supporting even its faulty policies and urging the
administration and Congress to support them? This is an extension
of President Lyndon Johnson's question to then-prime minister Levi
Eshkol after the Six-Day War, the occupation of the territories and
the Security Council's adoption of Resolution 242. LBJ asked: What
kind of Israel do you want? Perhaps Eshkol knew the answer, but for
the past 40 years Israel's governments have been struggling to
formulate it to themselves and to the world. Consequently, even in
the midst of peace talks involving concessions, less compromising
Israeli officials, not always outside the government, are busy
recruiting Americans to foil conciliation. Instead of recruiting
supporters for its mistakes, Israel should be bolstering the support
for its existence against those who believe that it was established
in error, that it is temporary or should not necessarily be
Jewish."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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