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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #0916/01 1131019
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P 221019Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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HQ USAF FOR XOXX
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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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Leading media reported that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has
passed a message to Israel from Hamas which offers tacit recognition
and a 10-year truce if Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 borders.
Khaled Mashal told reporters in Damascus yesterday that Hamas would
accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank with Israel as its
neighbor, but stressed that his group would not formally recognize
it, a move that several media noted the U.S. (State Department
Spokesman Tom Casey and White House Press Secretary Dan Perino)
immediately dismissed as meaningless. Media quoted Carter, who has
concluded his nine-day trip, as saying that Hamas told him that a
referendum on a peace deal must be preceded Palestinian
reconciliation. Ha'aretz quoted Sami Abu-Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman
in Gaza, as saying that Palestinian refugees living in exile must be
included in the voting -- a condition that could complicate approval
of a deal. Abu-Zuhri also noted that Hamas would regard any future
Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as "transitional."
Carter told reporters that the Hamas leaders he met "didn't say
anything about transitional." Yediot front-paged the picture of a
three-year-old boy from Kibbutz Gavim -- next to the border with
Gaza -- who was wounded by a Palestinian rocket, under the headline:
"Carter, Look into His Eyes."

Israel Radio quoted the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram as saying that Egypt
has prepared a "tahdiya" (truce) plan between Hamas and Israel. The
radio reported that the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai detailed the terms
of a gradual process with Hamas ceasing operations against Israel
and Israel lifting the blockade of Gaza. An exchange of prisoners
would then be postponed to a later date. Egyptian sources told
Al-Rai that Israel is insisting that a stop to arms smuggling be
part of the deal. Israel Radio quoted GOI officials in Jerusalem as
saying that there is no agreement with Hamas and that the reports
about it are exaggerated. Ha'aretz reported that over the past few
days Israel has noticed a shift in Hamas's position on a truce.
Maariv reported on tension within the Hamas leadership, as Mashal,
who "leads the group's moderate line" promised another letter from
Shalit. Maariv reported that Mahmoud Zahar directs the continuation
of terrorist attacks and kidnapping attempts. Yediot and other
media quoted Gilad Shalit's family as saying that a letter from him
is not enough.

Ha'aretz reported that Shas chair Eli Yishai was criticized
yesterday by members of his party, who said it was strange that the
party leader should be calling on Israel to stop negotiations with
Abbas while saying that he is willing to meet with Mashal. The
Jerusalem Post quoted a "senior government source" as saying
yesterday that it is extremely unlikely that Yishai could have met
Carter without PM Ehud Olmert's tacit approval.

Ha'aretz and other media quoted Carter as saying yesterday in
Jerusalem that Syrian President Bashar Assad is "eager" to restart
negotiations with Israel over the Golan and that he believes that 85
percent of the differences between the two countries have already
been resolved. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe cited the "heavy concern" of
right-wing politicians that Carter's visit will serve as a platform
for a pullout from the Golan. Ha'aretz cited Japanese media and
Reuters reports as saying that the U.S. suspects that North Korea
has transferred plutonium to Syria and that it will demand
clarifications from North Korea at talks that begin today.

Israel Radio quoted former Mossad director Ephraim Halevy as saying
that the moment Hamas was allowed to participate in the Palestinian
elections, its expansion was inevitable, and that Carter's role will
be acknowledged in the future.

Ha'aretz quoted a government official in Jerusalem as saying that
Italy is expected to join an EU consensus on Iran's nuclear program,
after dropping earlier objections last week, possibly paving the way
for new sanctions. Ha'aretz quoted the official as saying: "The
outgoing government does not want to enable prime minister-designate
Silvio Berlusconi to portray it as a government that went against
the whole European Union." Ha'aretz cited Jerusalem's belief that
Berlusconi's return to office will strengthen the line for imposing
additional sanctions on Iran. Ha'aretz quoted an Israeli source as
saying that Italy's objection to widening the sanctions on Iran was
also based on the close ties between the outgoing Italian
administration and senior Iranian officials.

Israel Radio cited the London-based Al-Hayat quoting Jordanian
sources as saying that Jordanian King Abdullah II will ask President
Bush during his upcoming visit to Washington to cancel his visit to
Israel unless Israel and the Palestinians sign a declaration of
principles this year.

The Jerusalem Post cited a report produced for Israeli policymakers
by the "semi-official" Intelligence and Terrorism Information
Center. The document says that Muslim anti-Semitism is growing in
scope and extremism, to the point that it has become a credible
strategic threat for Israel.

Ha'aretz reported that five years after British filmmaker James
Miller was fatally shot by IDF troops in Gaza, Israel is poised to
pay the family some 12 million shekels (about $3.5 million) in
compensation. In return, the British government will close the case
and not pursue extradition of any of the soldiers responsible.

Yediot reported that pilot retention by the IAF has increased
following a four-year decline.

The Jerusalem Post quoted senior defense officials as saying that
the Kerem Shalom crossing, which was targeted by Hamas in a double
car bombing over the weekend, will likely remain closed until after
Passover, which ends on Saturday. Maariv reported that the Sufa
crossing to Gaza will reopen today. Yediot reported that Vice PM
Haim Ramon is calling for cutting contacts with Gaza and stopping
the transfer of food and fuel to the Strip.

The Jerusalem Post quoted defense officials as saying yesterday that
the IDF will allow Palestinian policemen to conduct patrols in
villages throughout the West Bank armed with automatic weapons.

Yediot reported that a survey commissioned by Vice PM Ramon found
that 25% of the settlers needing to be removed in a future agreement
with the Palestinians would voluntarily relocate for financial
compensation.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Shin Bet charged yesterday that
Palestinians from Gaza have bribed local doctors to declare they
were seriously ill and required treatment in Israel.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon has demanded that all Lebanese militias be dismantled.
Ha'aretz cited a report drafted by Ban, which says that a UNIFIL
force was forcibly ousted when it discovered Hizbullah weapons.

Yediot reported that Hamas survives on taxes levied on goods
smuggled through tunnels from Egypt to Gaza.

Ha'aretz reported that a group calling itself the Foundation for
Israel's Lands is planning to resettle Moshav Atarot, north of
Jerusalem, which was dismantled on May 17, 1948, due to attacks by
the Jordanians. Atarot, which sits within Jerusalem's city limits,
is now home to an industrial zone and a defunct airport.
Resettlement is planned for May 18 by the group, headed by
right-wing activist Aryeh Koenig. Koenig says he has power of
attorney from the owners of the land and their heirs to take over
300 dunams (about 122 acres) of the 1,150 dunams of Jewish-owned
land in the area. The group intends to farm the land.

Maariv reported that Barbra Streisand, who was scheduled to come to
Israel to mark the country's 60th anniversary, has canceled her
trip. The newspaper cited the belief of President Shimon Peres'
bureau that this is a protest against President Bush's visit.

Yediot reported that Kirk and Michael Douglas have contributed to a
new museum that will contain a model of the Jewish Temple. The
museum will be built opposite the Western Wall.

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

Summary:
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Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom: "Peace was born out of an Israeli-Egyptian
initiative. Carter took a ride. He hasn't stopped slandering
Israel ever since."

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "An enemy whose very essence is the negation of Israel's
existence as a Jewish state is not one who can be talked with."

Liberal columnist and anchor Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "[The Israeli leaders who boycotted Carter] don't
realize, or pretend that they don't realize, that it was not Carter
they boycotted this week but themselves."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Too bad
that in the twilight of his public life, Carter has undermined the
relative moderates among the Palestinians and become an apologist
for violent religious fanatics."

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "Khomeini chose Reagan, and freed the hostages the moment
he was sworn in as president. Mashal [and other Hamas terrorists]
are now working for McCain. This may yet do some good for the hopes
of peace."

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

I. "Carter -- a Sophisticated and Relentless Adversary"

Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom (4/22): "Jimmy Carter didn't get everything
he wanted from Mashal, but Hamas got what it wanted. The very
presence in Damascus of a former president for talks with Mashal
ended the boycott. After it received this, Hamas no longer had an
interest in giving Carter anything in exchange. But his trip was
mostly successful. Carter functions as a serial provocateur who
comes to the Middle East each time there is a consensus in the
enlightened world to curb a wave of Palestinian terror threatening
Israel.... For unknown reasons, which apparently relate to
education, culture, and faith, Carter has always been a
sophisticated and relentless adversary of Israel. Already during
his 1976 election campaign he provoked the Jewish voter with
embarrassing remarks about the future of the Temple Mount.... Peace
was born out of an Israeli-Egyptian initiative. Carter took a ride.
He hasn't stopped slandering Israel ever since.... The worst
appeared in his book that denigrates Israel as an apartheid state.
Israel's right to defend itself is insignificant compared with the
ambitions of Hamas, Hizbullah, Al-Qaida, and Iran. Palestine cannot
accept the notion of another Jewish settlement in its midst --
Carter views Israel as the embodiment of apartheid. Israel's far
Left treats him as a peace-lover."

II. "One Does Not Talk with Every Enemy"

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (4/22): "In Israel, the slogan that we 'talk peace' only
with an 'enemy' is increasingly being repeated. Indeed, it is
important to talk with an enemy when one can reasonably assume that
a common platform will be found. An enemy whose very essence is the
negation of Israel's existence as a Jewish state is not one who can
be talked with. Peace with Israel contradicts the essence of
Hamas's very existence, and extremist organizations do not tend to
dismantle themselves willingly. Therefore, any temporary
arrangement is nothing but a place to rest and recuperate on the way
to the final goal: the destruction of Israel as a state....
Regrettably, 'pragmatic' politicians offer 'to be practical' and
speak with Hamas every morning. And Hamas learns that patience,
persistence and cool-headedness pay off.... The fact that Gilad
Shalit is in captivity will be a burden on Israel in all its
attempts to subdue Hamas.... Israel has an immediate interest in the
soldier's return -- first of all because of the supreme moral
obligation to do so, but no less in order to deprive Hamas of a
valuable asset.... [A prisoner exchange] is liable to turn out in
the end as the lesser of the evils that Hamas can bring about
through its holding of Gilad."

III. "The Real Boycott"

Liberal columnist and anchor Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (4/22): "[Jimmy] Carter came here as a peace envoy.
Perhaps confused, I'm not sure, but you are definitely entitled to
think so. Perhaps biased. But in his travels between Damascus and
Ramallah and Jerusalem, he did not carry bombs, but rather messages
of negotiations. The people with whom he spoke are those that
Israel must conduct a dialogue with and doesn't want to. This means
that while maybe it is impossible to recognize officially the talks
that Carter held or wanted to help conduct, this certainly does not
justify the total boycott of someone who with his own hands, brought
us the most important peace agreement in the history of our country.
[The Israeli leaders who boycotted Carter] don't realize, or
pretend that they don't realize, that it was not Carter they
boycotted this week but themselves, one day they will use the exact
same explanations that he used or when they do exactly what he
recommends doing, because they will have no other choice."

IV. "Hamas's Apologist"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (4/22):
"To [Jimmy] Carter's muddled thinking, Palestinians and Israelis are
equally responsible for the conflict. After all, Palestinians
launch Qassam rockets into Israeli kindergartens, and Israelis live

over the Green Line.... Carter professes to understand why Israel is
'reluctant' to negotiate with Hamas. The organization refuses to
renounce violence, has 'yet' to recognize Israel and doesn't accept
the 1993 Oslo Accords. But Carter forgives all this. He
'understands' that Hamas feels 'some violence is necessary' to keep
the Palestinian issue alive, and that when the organization is
sidelined, the 'cycle of violence' is exacerbated.... To sum up
Carter's assessment: Hamas wants peace.... That Hamas carried out an
attack against the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Saturday,
wounding 13 soldiers -- while its leaders were telling Carter they
supposedly wanted peace -- is irrelevant, Carter insists, because
the mission had been planned 'months in advance'.... Carter, of all
people, ought also to know how far Israel is prepared to go for
peace. It ceded every inch of the Sinai to Anwar Sadat. But the
Egyptian leader first demonstrated that he genuinely sought an
accommodation with Israel. When King Hussein embraced Yitzhak
Rabin, a peace treaty resulted 100 days later... Carter's 'study
mission' 'failed to uncover the obvious: Hamas is a toxic opponent
of peace. Too bad that in the twilight of his public life, Carter
has undermined the relative moderates among the Palestinians and
become an apologist for violent religious fanatics."


V. "Hamas for McCain"

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (4/22): "The battle for Gaza will not be won at Kerem
Shalom [along the Israel-Gaza border], but in Washington. [John
McCain] wanted to say, here is an evil square:
Iran-Hamas-Carter-Obama. He also meant: If Obama is like Carter,
the weak loser, then McCain is like Reagan, his idol, and all that
is left is to rerun the election results from 1980.... McCain, who
visited rocket-bombarded Sderot, and expressed his identification,
as a former prisoner of war, with the suffering of the families of
the abducted IDF soldiers, represents a clear and firm line against
terror. The Democrats are tottering after him in half silence:
According to their view, Al-Qaida also certainly had a moderate
wing, which on September 11 supported knocking down only one of the
twin towers in Manhattan. Khomeini chose Reagan, and freed the
hostages the moment he was sworn in as president. Mashal [and other
Hamas terrorists] are now working for McCain. This may yet do some
good for the hopes of peace."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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