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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #0805/01 0981115
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071115Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6194
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3654
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0293
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3910
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4455
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3665
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1922
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4413
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1286
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1732
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8280
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5761
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0666
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4790
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6739
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9476
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000805

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
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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:
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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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Maariv reported that Israeli diplomatic sources said that President
Bush will spend his May 14 visit celebrating Israel's 60th
anniversary and not use the visit to push diplomatic issues.

Leading media reported that PM Ehud Olmert will meet PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas today for the first time in over a month.
Maariv quoted Israeli diplomatic sources as saying that PM Olmert,
along with FM Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Barak, want to
increase the frequency of contacts with the PA. Israel Radio
reported that Abbas is likely to request an end to the Gaza siege.
On Sunday Israel Hayom reported that PM Olmert intends to draft by
summer a joint declaration of principles that will establish a
framework for a permanent status arrangement. The declaration of
principles will address the "usual land mines" that derailed the
previous agreements.

Ha'aretz reported that the U.S. and Israel seek to pressure North
Korea to cease its nuclear cooperation with Iran, which is one of
the motives behind their agreement to disclose details on the
air-force strike in Syria last September. Ha'aretz cited
information obtained by Washington and Jerusalem according to which
North Korea transferred technology and nuclear materials to Iran to
aid Tehran's secret nuclear arms program. Ha'aretz reported that
U.S. and Israeli officials agreed last week that the talks between
the U.S. and North Korea, scheduled to take place in Singapore
tomorrow, should be used to pressure Pyongyang to disclose its
nuclear cooperation with countries in the Middle East. As a
pressure tactic, U.S. officials could reveal details of North
Korea's cooperation with Syria to Congress. Ha'aretz reported that
during talks in Washington last week, Yoram Turbowicz and Shalom
Turgeman agreed to the release of details on the air strike. Media
reported that Israel would continue to decline commenting on the
matter, as it has done since September, and would not alter its
censorship policy.

Maariv and other media reported that Israel warned Syria that it
would consider Syria responsible for any attack to avenge the
February assassination of senior Hizbullah operative Imad Mughniyah
in Damascus. On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that Hizbullah
may retaliate by using an explosives-packed drone aircraft. The
newspaper reported that Iran provided UAVs to Hizbullah during the
Second Lebanon War. On Sunday Maariv reported that the Israeli
intelligence community has decided to form a special team that will
be responsible for mapping out the various threats Hizbullah poses
to Israel.

All media reported on Israel's largest-ever emergency exercise,
which began on Sunday and will end on Thursday. Ha'aretz and other
media quoted PM Olmert as saying: "The drill is no front for Israeli
bellicose intentions toward Syria." (The media reported that
Lebanese FM Fouad Siniora, Hizbullah, and Syria have expressed
concern over the exercise.) Maariv reported that one of the drills
involves an "Iranian attack against Israel." Ha'aretz reported that
Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin told cabinet ministers yesterday that
that Egypt is doing more to prevent weapons smuggling from Sinai
into Gaza along the Philadelphi strip. Yediot quoted Diskin as
saying that Israel's relief measures for the Palestinians that are
not granted in exchange for anything serious will only invite
terror.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Sunday Kadima cabinet ministers
warned Hamas of dire consequences if any harm comes to kidnapped
soldier Gilad Shalit. The warning came after top Hamas leaders
publicly threatened his life. The Jerusalem Post and Yediot
reported that Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas's political
bureau, told the Kuwaiti Al-Qabas newspaper on Sunday that the group
would negotiate with Israel over Shalit's bones if Hamas prisoners
were not released. Hamas lawmaker Mushir al-Masri warned Shalit's
parents Saturday that Israel was jeopardizing their son by not
agreeing to release the Palestinian prisoners. Ha'aretz quoted Abu
Marzouk as saying in the Kuwaiti daily that Israel has rejected a
temporary cease-fire brokered by Egypt.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel has rejected the Palestinians' offer
to deploy their national security force's special battalion in
Hebron. After talks between the two sides and consultations with the
U.S., Israel and the Palestinians agreed that the battalion would be
stationed in Jenin instead.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that veteran Fatah officials
in Ramallah warned over the weekend that some of their "young guard"
colleagues were planning to stage a "coup" against the faction's
leadership.

Ha'aretz reported that Peace Now is marking 30 years since its
inception. The newspaper said that the group "has apparently never
before looked or sounded more part of the establishment than during
the days of the Olmert government." Ha'aretz quoted former Meretz
MK Dedi Zucker as saying: "Some of us became Knesset members. There
is a minister. But when I peel away the trappings, then Peace Now
is a nice non-profit whose vision is really right but whose agenda
also led to a quarter of a million settlers in the West Bank."

The Jerusalem Post reported that all IAF top commanders are Harvard
graduates.

The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz reported that in the latest attack
targeting Yemen's few remaining Jews, rebel Houtni militiamen
destroyed several homes that had belonged to the now-absent Jewish
community in the northwestern Saada province. Ha'aretz reported
that Magen Avraham, the largest synagogue in Beirut, is in danger of
being demolished as part of a city center renovation project.

Major media reported that the expected cost of Israel's 60th
anniversary celebrations is 98 million shekels (around $27 million).
On Sunday Ha'aretz cited a statement issued by the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that the three
U.S. presidential hopefuls are scheduled to serve as vice-chairmen
of the National Committee for Israel's 60th.

Over the weekend major media cited the British weekly The Economist
as saying that the Israeli economy is stable, but that it has shaky
foundations, particularly in education.

On Sunday Ha'aretz and other media reported that Attorney General
Mazuz recently instructed the Israel Airports Authority "to
implement visible equality" between Arabs and Jews in security
checks at Ben-Gurion Airport.

--------
Mideast:
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Summary:
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Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The least required of the American president
who forced the elections that brought Hamas to power is to translate
his 'vision' into a peace treaty."

Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom: "The declaration of principles that Ehud
Olmert and Abu Mazen are cooking up is not a diplomatic document....
It is a delusional initiative that is devoid of any real content."

Former Mossad director Ephraim Halevy wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Mashal's declaration diametrically
contradicts al-Qaida's approach, and provides Israel with an
opportunity, perhaps an historic one, to leverage it for the
better."

Contributor Dmitri Reisman wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe: "The question is whether the Roadmap ... may turn
out to be a great delusion and whether there is ... a different,
truer map, with which both sides, not just one, can be happy."

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in Ha'aretz: "The practical
result of Bush's enmity [toward Syria] is that Damascus is waiting
for the next American president."

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

I. "The Time Has Come for Bush to Intervene"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/7): "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have repeatedly said they are
committed to the two-state solution. Both of them agree, more or
less, on the principles of an agreement. Both of them are
maneuvering between the fear of being toppled by the camp that
opposes the political process and the risk that the neighboring
government will be toppled by opponents of compromise. It would be
far easier for both of them to win domestic support for a peace
agreement that the United States played an active role in preparing.
When Bush wants to influence reality, as in the case of Iraq, he
does not hide behind the dubious excuse that the United States
cannot interfere in another country's internal matters. The U.S.
does not need to send its boys to risk their lives in the Nablus
market or the outposts of the Hebron Hills. But the U.S. has not
fulfilled its obligation simply by removing a few roadblocks from
the West Bank. The least required of the American president who
forced the elections that brought Hamas to power is to translate his
'vision' into a peace treaty."

II. "A Delusional Initiative"

Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom (4/6): "The declaration of principles that
Ehud Olmert and Abu Mazen are cooking up is not a diplomatic
document. It is for an election campaign. It is for elections in
Israel and perhaps in the Palestinian Authority. It is a delusional
initiative that is devoid of any real content. Its sole purpose is
to show the Israeli public that the 'emperor has new clothes' as if
there were anything of substance to them. Olmert doesn't have a
public-moral mandate to engage in political negotiations that lead
to obligations. But he still has a parliamentary majority which
entitles him to engage in dialogue in the name of the people. He
can 'go for broke.' He can try to make the dream he harbors in his
heart -- the Geneva agreement plus Israeli willingness to take in
Palestinian refugees -- come true. If that is the case, let him
present to the public a whole and courageous draft agreement that
addresses the issues of the refugees and Jerusalem, and let him face
the voter and face his fate on election day. It won't work. It was
tried in the past until it became apparent that there isnQt a
Palestinian partner even for a generous peace of the kind that Ehud
Barak offered at Camp David.... We could also reconcile ourselves
with a different course of action in which the government takes
steps to prevent itself from being perceived by the world as a
rejectionist country and, as such, talks with Abu Mazen while
pretending that it and he have a mandate from their respective
constituencies to close a political deal. What is the problem?
Every such document entails one-sided losses.... If Olmert promises
to take Palestinian refugees into Israel -- and there is a
discrepancy over which number he discussed with Abu Mazen, but there
is no doubt that they discussed the matter -- the precedent will
have been set.... The survival of the government is not worth the
price of that piece of paper, even if they refer to it with phony
pomp and ceremony as a 'declaration.'"

III. "Khaled Mashal's Bombshell"

Former Mossad director Ephraim Halevy wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (4/7): "Only a weak echo was heard in the
Israeli and international media after the interview given by Khaled
Mashal to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam last week. Mashal said
publicly for the first time that his movement would recognize the
1967 borders for a Palestinian state and that the arrangement would
have to include the issues of Jerusalem and the refugees.... Hamas,
and Mashal as one of its spokesmen, does not want to participate
directly in peace talks with Israel. If it receives legitimacy as a
recognized partner in the overall Palestinian equation, it will
leave it to Abu Mazen to conduct the talks. Israel is not being
required, then, to sit down face to face with Hamas representatives.
This being the case, why are Israel and the international community
refusing to permit Hamas's inclusion? Whoever examines the
publicly-stated positions of Fatah and Hamas must admit that there
is no difference between them..... If Israel does not seriously
consider a change of policy in light of the voices coming from the
leaders of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and in Damascus, under conditions
that are optimal for Israel at the present time, we may find
ourselves quickly falling down a slippery slope.... In the past two
weeks, Ayman al-Zawahiri has called twice to attack Jews and Israel,
'in Israel and everywhere else.' In the eyes of al-Qaida, the
members of Hamas are perceived as heretics due to their stated
desire to participate, even indirectly, in processes of any
understandings or agreements with Israel. Mashal's declaration
diametrically contradicts al-Qaida's approach, and provides Israel
with an opportunity, perhaps an historic one, to leverage it for the
better. Are our eyes too blind to see? Are our ears too deaf to
hear?"

IV. "Is the Roadmap Good for the Jews?"

Contributor Dmitri Reisman wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe (4/7): "Until this very day, at every meeting with
Condoleezza Rice, U.S. President George Bush, EU envoy [sic] Tony
Blair, or other important people, Israeli leaders keep repeating the
same mantra: They swear allegiance to the legendary qualities of the
Roadmap -- the map of the 'peace treasure' in the Middle East.... Of
course the Palestinians have not ceased terror and violence; they
never intended to do so. As is well known, we removed -- not some
outpost or community... An entire population -- tens of thousands --
who lived in Gaza for years and made them refugees.... What about
the Palestinian state in interim borders? It has been standing in
place for years. This state is better known by the name of
Hamastan.... What about the 'peace treasure'? The battle for peace
is raging. The [Hamas] gang ... is holding a prisoner, and as
abductors would have it, is negotiating over the captive and the
terms of his release. Also, the gang is shelling with rockets
unperturbed.... The question is whether the Roadmap ... may turn out
to be a great delusion and whether there is ... a different, truer
map, with which both sides, not just one, can be happy."

V. "Damascus, Ramallah, or Tehran"

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in Ha'aretz (4/7): "President
George W. Bush indeed blatantly abhors the Syrian regime, but
Israel's pointing to this fact as a reason for the deadlock in the
channel between Jerusalem and Damascus is a mere excuse. No
American administration has ever dared to repudiate diplomatic
progress between Israel and the Arabs when this was achieved under
its nose and contrary to its plans. The practical result of Bush's
enmity is that Damascus is waiting for the next American president.
Whether this is John McCain, who supports an Israeli-Syrian
agreement and respects the advice of Baker and Brent Scowcroft,
former advisers to Bush Sr., who urged him to achieve this; or
whether it is Hillary Clinton, who told an Israeli friend that she
would prefer an effort in that channel to treading water in the
Palestinian channel; or whether it is Barak Obama, who favors
conciliation in a pleasant manner and by way of a dialogue between
rivals, the year 2009 will be one of renewed efforts at contact....
But so long as Bush is sitting in the White House, a military move
by Assad would be an adventurous gamble. Even if the outcome
between the countries is a forgone conclusion, on the way there Bush
is likely to permit Israel to deal a smashing blow to Syria, to its
regime and even to Assad himself. And so this is a time of not-war
and not-peace in the North. A military conflict would be bad for
Syria and bad for Israel, which is focused on the nuclear threat
posed by Iran."

JONES

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