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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #0830/01 1011017
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P 101017Z APR 08
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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
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COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE FOR PAO/POLAD
COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019

JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
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PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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

1. Mideast

2. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

Ha'aretz quoted U.S. sources as saying yesterday that President
George Bush is likely to visit Masada during his visit to Israel
next month. The newspaper reported that PM Ehud Olmert would escort
Bush to the site. Yediot reported that Bush would like to address
the Knesset and meet Israeli youth.

Israel Radio quoted a senior Palestinian source in Ramallah, who is
involved in the negotiations with Israel, as saying that since
Annapolis, Israel has conceded less than it did at Camp David in
2000.

All media led with the two incidents along the Gaza border
yesterday: The killing of an elite-unit Druze soldier in a clash in
the Khan Yunis area in the morning, and of two Israeli civilian
employees at the fuel depot at Nahal Oz, near the Karni crossing, in
the afternoon. The media reported that the depot was not secured by
the army and that several Palestinians warned of the attack. Two of
the four Palestinian terrorists were killed in the exchange of fire
with IDF troops immediately after striking Nahal Oz. Although
Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, along with a group
linked to Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility,
Israel -- in particular Defense Minister Ehud Barak -- blamed Hamas.
Leading media quoted GOI sources as saying that the terrorists will
continue their attempts to kidnap IDF soldiers or take over Israeli
communities. Israel Radio quoted Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Dan
Gillerman, as saying that the attack took place while Israel
supplies fuel to Gaza. The radio reported that PA sources demanded
that Israel continue supplying fuel to Gaza, while Hamas applauded
the action.

Ha'aretz reported that PM Olmert has not been invited to a regional
summit at Sharm El-Sheikh, contradicting reports he would
participate in the event. Ha'aretz quoted U.S. sources as saying
yesterday that the summit would be attended by President Bush,
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak, and Jordan's King Abdullah II, and that it is intended as a
U.S.-Arab meeting. Citing AP, Ha'aretz reported that President
Bush, Tony Blair, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Rupert Murdoch are among
those expected to attend the May conference organized by President
Shimon Peres.

Yediot reported that PM Olmert's bureau has announced that due to a
full schedule, Olmert will be unable to meet with former U.S.
President Jimmy Carter, who arrives in Israel on Sunday. Ha'aretz,
The Jerusalem Post, and Israel Hayom cited a Fox News report
broadcast yesterday that Carter will meet Hamas leader Khaled Mashal
in 10 days during a visit to Damascus. Ha'aretz reported thQ
Carter's press secretary confirmed he was planning on visiting
Damascus but denied he had any intention to meet with Mashal.
"President Carter plans to visit Damascus next week but we are still
formulating details and will issue a press release next week," she
was quoted as saying. Ha'aretz and Israel Hayom quoted former U.S.
ambassador to the UN John Bolton as saying: "Going to Damascus and
meeting with Mashal at this time is terrible timing and shows a lack
of judgment on Carter's part."

The Jerusalem Post reported that Swedish FM Carl Bildt angered
Israeli officials yesterday when, in an interview with a Swedish
radio station, he made a direct comparison between Hamas and
opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Jerusalem Post presented the results of a recent questionnaire
compiled by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center and
presented to the three U.S. presidential candidates: Democratic
candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton back active diplomacy
begun by the Bush administration to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian
negotiations, while Republican candidate John McCain would take a
"more hands-off approach."

The Jerusalem Post quoted Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu as
saying yesterday at an international conference entitled "Russia,
the Middle East, and the Challenge of Radical Islam": "Iran will be
the first nuclear state in history against which deterrence won't
work, even if the deterrent is nuclear." The Jerusalem Post
reported that yesterday, in an interview with the newspaper, Lars
Kunchel, spokesperson for the Swiss Foreign Ministry in Bern,
blasted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for not telling the truth
in an ad campaign claiming that a 25-year, multi-billion dollar
Swiss Iranian energy deal -- a deal to which the Swiss state "was
not party" would contribute to international terrorism. The
Jerusalem Post quoted ADL Director Abe Foxman as saying that
"Switzerland is hiding behind legalities."

Yediot reported that the number of Israelis immigrating to the U.S.
has declined. Only 1,831 green cards were issued to Israelis in
2007 -- the lowest number in a decade.

Visiting Polish PM Donald Tusk was quoted as saying in an interview
with Israel Radio that at the end of this year his government will
begin compensating -- to the tune of 5% to 20% -- Jews and others
for material losses sustained during World War II and under the
Communist regime. Yediot and The Jerusalem Post reported that
President Peres will visit Poland next week.

Globes and other media reported that the GOI's long-term liabilities
reached 1.28 trillion shekels (around $356 billion) at the end of
2007, while its assets totaled 319 billion shekels (around $88.7
billion). The Finance Ministry report adds that the 2007 cross
budget totaled 325 billion shekels (around $90.35 billion) and
budget usage was 96%.

The Jerusalem Post cited a poll commissioned by the Washington-based
Joshua Fund, an evangelical organization: Eighty-two percent of
American Christians say they have a "moral and biblical obligation"
to support Israel, and half say that Jerusalem should remain its
undivided capital.


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

Summary:
--------

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "It tugs the heartstrings of some people
in Gaza that people have something to eat and they are doing
everything to sabotage even this minimum."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The
Palestinian leadership adamantly places 'resistance' -- read:
killing Israeli civilians and soldiers -- over providing food,
shelter, and the prospect of a better life for its people."

Military correspondent Amir Rappaport wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Israel needs to respond as if [a
thwarted] kidnapping had been a success.... But there is no chance
of Israel responding forcefully."

Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom: "After the uprooting of Gush, Katif Israel
has absolutely no right to show any understanding for the
continuation of terror from Gaza."

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "[Peace Now] bound together (justified) resistance to the
occupation of the Palestinians and (invalid) faith that the
Palestinians are allies."

Settler leader Israel Harel wrote in Ha'aretz: "[Peace Now]
undermined many people's confidence in the righteousness of the
Zionist enterprise, and even in the Jewish state's right to exist in
the Land of Israel [i.e. Israel, including the territories]."

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

I. "Mustn't Spoil the Party"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (4/10): "The American President is on his
way here, with birthday presents in his bag. These are valuable
gifts that Israel has been wanting for a long time and has been
working hard to get. Uncle Sam expects, in return for the gifts,
that Israel give him something akin to a document of understandings
with the Palestinians. So there must be no rifts today with the
PA.... [But] yesterday's terror attack ... shows that Palestinian
terror has gone up a rung. Whereas up until now it would use the
civilian population as a human shield from where it would fire
Qassam rockets and act against Israel, now it is also turning this
population into a hostage. It uses its suffering for political
achievements. Palestinian terror in Gaza is willing to cut off fuel
supplies and attack the crossings to stop goods from entering in
order to further the pictures of suffering. After all, there is no
real economic siege there. Every day for the last three months 90
trucks filled with food and other goods have been arriving. The
Sufa crossing [to the southern Gaza Strip] did not stop for even a
single day during these months -- despite the intelligence warnings
of terror attacks. It tugs the heartstrings of some people in Gaza
that people have something to eat and they are doing everything to
sabotage even this minimum."

II. "Murder at the Border"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (4/10):
"The Palestinian leadership adamantly places 'resistance' -- read:
killing Israeli civilians and soldiers -- over providing food,
shelter, and the prospect of a better life for its people. And it
has ruthlessly exploited any and every vulnerable target where
Israel tries to partner with Gazans for their own benefit --
including joint industrial zones, supply depots and border crossings
-- to carry out such killings.... Thousands upon thousands of tons
of humanitarian aid have been transferred by Israel to an entity
that is at war with us -- a state of war unaffected, indeed often
intensified, by Israel's 2005 removal of all vestiges of its
civilian and military presence in Gaza. Israel insistently
maintains this aid supply, enabling an enemy government that targets
our civilians to continue to rule, because, despite everything, it
cannot bear to see ordinary Palestinians starving. Israel does so,
too, because that's what the civilized world expects from the only
democracy in the Middle East. But Israel must have its limits....
If all the international community is prepared to do is issue
ineffectual denunciations of the 'cycle of violence' rather than of
its instigators, and if it persists in equating Israeli retaliation
with Palestinian aggression, it too will remain part of the problem.
The Quartet -- the EU, UN, U.S. and Russia -- should, rather,
demand an immediate halt to Palestinian violations of Israel's
border. And it should firmly support Israel in conditioning ongoing
assistance to Gaza on a halt to such attacks."

III. "No Understanding for the Continuation of Terror"

Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom (4/10): "While Israel mourns its three
terror victims who died around Gaza, it is worthwhile putting things
in perspective: After the uprooting of Gush Katif, Israel has
absolutely no right to show any understanding for the continuing
terror from Gaza. Winking by the government in this matter is
totally forbidden.... But the responsibility for the chaos isn't
[Hamas's] only. IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi commented to
[Agriculture Minister] Shalom Simhon that the pressure to ease the
siege of Gaza, as a service to his farmers' economic interests plays
into Hamas's hands."


IV. "There Is Going to Be Another Kidnapping"

Military correspondent Amir Rappaport wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (4/10): "There is going to be another
kidnapping in the Gaza Strip. It will take another week or two, a
month or two, and maybe even a year or two, but there is no doubt
that if drastic action is not taken around the Gaza Strip, sooner or
later the terror organizations, headed by Hamas, are going to take
either Israeli civilians or soldiers captive.... If the [Israel
Defense Forces] publicly spoke yesterday about the possibility that
the terrorists intended to carry out a kidnapping operation, Israel
needs to respond as if the kidnapping had been a success and not the
way it did yesterday when supposedly 'just' one soldier was killed
in a raid and two civilians were killed in the fuel depot. But
there is no chance of Israel responding forcefully. The policy of
'containment' that was in place prior to the Second Lebanon War, the
policy of taking terror attacks in stride as long as the price paid
wasn't 'intolerable' is now being applied to the Gaza Strip.
Indeed, there aren't any simple solutions for this complex
situation, but in any event the chances of the military echelon
suggesting a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip right
before Passover and the 60th anniversary celebrations right after
that are low."

V. "A White Tent in the Square"

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(4/10): "The visionary element in Peace Now was, and remains, an
illusion. It was a messianic illusion, a self-deception. But,
illusory slogan aside, there was also an incisive grasp of reality.
It understood that occupation corrupts, that the settlements were a
disaster, and that every effort must be made to divide the land
between two nation-states.... Peace Now was an impressive
movement.... [But it] never distinguished between the solid truth of
the occupation and the shaky truth of the promise of peace. It
bound together (justified) resistance to the occupation of the
Palestinians and (invalid) faith that the Palestinians are
allies..... It was captivated by the PLO's charms, and Oslo's
delusions, and finally became Yasser Arafat's hostage. Then, when
harsh reality struck at Camp David, Peace Now lacked the courage to
face it and take stock. It did not face the public and declare
where it was right, and where it went wrong, and how it would update
its peace message. With this failure, Peace Now's moral authority
crumbled, it lost political clout and finally it simply faded
away."

VI. "War and Peace (Now)"

Settler leader Israel Harel wrote in Ha'aretz (4/10): "Peace, which
tops the list of [Peace Now's] objectives, is moving further away
and the number of victims -- Jewish as well as Arab -- is rising.
In addition, when the movement pinned the primary blame for the
absence of peace on its own people, it sinned against truth, and
against peace as well. The ramifications of this sin are that it
undermined many people's confidence in the righteousness of the
Zionist enterprise, and even in the Jewish state's right to exist in
the Land of Israel [i.e. Israel, including the territories]. The
more this feeling of Jewish righteousness was undermined, the more
the Arab, especially the Palestinian, sense of self-confidence
blossomed. For if the Jews blame themselves, as proven by Peace Now
rallies (which a biased press greatly exaggerated, thereby
strengthening the Arabs' feeling that time was on their side), then
why move toward a peaceful solution? It's better to wait until
there's no more wind in the sails of the Zionist state and it
collapses."


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

Summary:
--------

Conservative columnist Menachem Benn wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "The development of the Jewish-Christian connection is
perhaps the most important occurrence in Israel-America relations
over the past decades."

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

"Jewish Ingratitude"

Conservative columnist Menachem Benn wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (4/10): "The development of the Jewish-Christian connection
is perhaps the most important occurrence in Israel-America relations
over the past decades: From a base of support of five million Jews
in the U.S., backing has grown to 50 million 'Christian Zionists'
... but it looks as if the Jewish and Israeli publics have not yet
internalized this entirely.... Two segments of society are trying to
break the connection: the ultra-Orthodox and some conservative
religious groups, who fear their missionary influence, and the
Leftists, who fear the right-wing influence, because they are
opposed to returning land and the establishment of a Palestinian
state.... Reform [Judaism] leader Rabbi Eric Yoffie has called on
Israel to boycott one of those key Christian organizations -- the
one led by pastor and televangelist John Hagee, claiming that Hagee
is opposed to a two-state solution. This means that if you want to
be a friend of Israel, you must believe in Palestinian statehood,
otherwise you'll be ostracized."

JONES

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