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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0924/01 1141012
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231012Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6424
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEADWD/DA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3725
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0364
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3997
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4529
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3739
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2013
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4487
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1359
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1803
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8351
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5832
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0742
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4861
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6810
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9577
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000924

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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
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

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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

1. Arrest of Ben-Ami Kadish

2. Iran

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

Leading electronic media cited a report published today by the
Syrian news agency Sham-Press that PM Ehud Olmert has relayed
messages to Syrian President Bashar Assad affirming that he would
agree to a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan in return for
peace. According to the report, the message was passed on by
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ha'aretz says that Sham-Press is
an independent Syrian news agency affiliated with the Damascus
regime, and that it is believed to be a relatively credible source
of information. Ha'aretz's web site reported that the Prime
Minister's Office would not respond to the story. Israel Radio
cited serious condemnations by the Likud and Kadima MK Zeev Elkin of
Olmert's reported concession. Speaking on the radio, Meretz leader
Yossi Beilin said that peace with Syria would be a "dramatic change"
for Israel.

All media led with yesterday's arrest of the American Jew Ben-Ami
Kadish, 84, a former U.S. Army mechanical engineer, on charges that
he spied for Israel over 20 years ago. The Jerusalem Post reported
that the charges cited nuclear information transfer to Jonathan
Pollard's handler from 1979 through 1985. Israel Radio reported
that Kadish was apprehended following a phone conversation between
him and his handler "Yosef (or Yossi) Yagur." (The media quoted the
FBI as saying that the two handlers are the same man.) Media quoted
State Department Spokesman Tom Casey as saying: QI would simply say,
just as a general matter, that 20-plus years ago during the Pollard
case, we noted that this was not the kind of behavior we would
expect from friends and allies, and that would remain the case
today.Q Yediot quoted Kadish's wife, Doris, as saying after the
federal Manhattan court hearing that the Israeli Embassy in
Washington refused to assist Kadish, since he is not an Israeli
citizen. Leading media quoted PM Ehud Olmert's bureau and the
Foreign Ministry as saying that they knew nothing about the affair.
However, Yediot cited the concern of Israeli diplomatic circles that
relations with the U.S. could be harmed. Major media quoted
Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan, who recruited Pollard, as
saying that he was not aware of the Kadish case. The question of
the timing came up in various media. Several media commented that
some members of the U.S. administration might not be happy with
efforts to release Pollard.

The Jerusalem Post quoted senior defense officials as saying that
Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman is planning a trip to
Israel next week to present the cease-fire proposal he has brokered
with Hamas. The Jerusalem Post quoted the officials as saying that
the negotiations have picked up speed in recent days, and that PM
Olmert will need to make a decision. Ha'aretz reported that at this
time Israel is not responding to the Egyptian mediation bid. Maariv
reported that Hamas will reply to the offer within two days.
Leading media quoted PA Information Minister Riyad Al-Malki as
saying yesterday that Egypt's mediation efforts, which include much
joint activity with Hamas, are directly harming Israeli-Palestinian
talks.

Headlining "Hillary Clinton's Balance of Terror," Maariv reported
that the Democratic presidential candidate told the newspaper that
if she is elected president, the U.S. will punish Iran if the latter
attacks Israel. Clinton was quoted as saying that the U.S. must
return to the balance of terror like in the Cold War. Clinton would
not respond to Hamas's declaration following former U.S. President
Jimmy Carter's visit to Damascus. The Jerusalem Post wrote that
former NATO commander Wesley Clark's support for Clinton might be a
liability with Jewish voters. The Jerusalem Post reported that Sen.
Barack Obama has enlisted former Ambassador to Egypt and Israel
Daniel Kurtzer to his campaign.

Leading media reported that two rockets were fired from Gaza
yesterday. One of them struck a house in Sderot.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that yesterday the State
Department announced the appointment of Robert Danin as head of Tony
Blair's professional team. Ha'aretz reported that Danin is Jewish,
has relatives in Israel, and is held in high esteem by Israel's body
politic.

The media reported that yesterday Israel reopened the Sufa and Erez
crossings into Gaza, allowing some 60 trucks to enter with
humanitarian supplies.

The Jerusalem Post quoted PA officials in Ramallah as saying
yesterday that PA President Mahmoud Abbas will tell President Bush
at their meeting tomorrow that this is the last time to reach an
agreement -- a framework agreement and not a declaration of
principles.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Roadmap monitor Lt. Gen William M.
Fraser is leaving the country.

Ha'aretz, The Jerusalem Post, and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as saying yesterday that the

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Bush administration explicitly warned Carter against meeting with
Hamas. Rice contradicted Carter's assertions that he never got a
clear signal from the State Department.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post printed an AP story that Al-Qaida's
deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has blamed Iran for spreading the
theory that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks. In an audio tape
posted on the Internet, Zawahiri insisted al-Qaida had carried out
the attacks on the U.S. He accused Iran, and its Hizbullah allies,
of trying to discredit Osama Bin Laden's network.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a new grassroots effort to unify
the religious Zionist parties might end up in the formation of one
single list for the new Knesset that would include dovish Meimad MK
Rabbi Michael Melchior and far-Right (formerly Kach) activist Baruch
Marzel.

Ha'aretz reported that Russia has asked Israel for clarifications
about its sales of UAVs to Georgia.

-----------------------------
1. Arrest of Ben-Ami Kadish:
-----------------------------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Not so long ago the Americans forced us
to sack the director general of the Defense Ministry, and isolated
other senior officials from access to information. Appropriate,
measured but forceful Israeli handling of this affair should make it
clear to them that we will not let it happen again."

Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The ironic side of
this affair is also related to the initial talks held over the past
year on the possibility that Israel and the U.S. would sign a
defense pact in order to express the overwhelming support of the
U.S. for Israel."

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin, wrote in Yediot Aharonot: "This is an old
story, but from our past in Israel we have already learned that
extremely old stories can topple governments in Israel and be
scorched in the political consciousness for generations."

Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote in the independent Israel
Hayom: "The affair will only slightly, if at all, cloud Israel's
relations with a very friendly U.S. administration.... Conversely,
the affair will supply valuable ammunition to various
anti-Semites."

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

I. "No Need to Panic"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (4/23): "Senior Israeli officials who know
the Pollard affair well are warning that it would be very worthwhile
that this time, if the allegations are true, Israel should not
behave like a banana republic or a protectorate. It would be very
desirable that this time, also because the case has been dug out of
the archives, that we should not capitulate, nor panic, nor do
things which we will regret for generations. It is worth recalling
that it was Israel that incriminated and handed over Pollard.
Without the material that was sent from here after he was caught,
the man would be free today and our relations with the United States
would also have been healed. So we panicked, probably not without
reason. Today there is no reason for this, at least according to
the information which we possess at the moment. Israel has to
remember that in spite of everything it is considered a sovereign
state. Not so long ago the Americans forced us to sack the director
general of the Defense Ministry, and isolated other senior officials
from access to information. Appropriate, measured but forceful
Israeli handling of this affair should make it clear to them that we
will not let it happen again."

II. "Spoiling Bush's Celebration"
Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (4/23): "A senior
Israeli political source said last night: 'It is an embarrassment
that someone in the law enforcement agencies in the U.S. decided to
cause George Bush.' Embarrassment, because in the coming weeks,
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush and his wife

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Laura will arrive in Israel in order to celebrate with Israel the
60th year of its founding, and the alliance that the two countries
have [forged].... The Americans also know that Israel has learned
the lesson from PollardQs handling and from its attempts in the
distant past to learn about weapons systems and technological
know-how that the Americans refrained from giving it..... We can
presume that at the current stage ... officials in America think
that the U.S. intelligence community is warning Bush against
considering pardoning Jonathan Pollard towards the end of his term.
Even after 25 years, these systems do not forgive those who
succeeded in outsmarting them.... The ironic side of this affair is
also related to the initial talks held over the past year on the
possibility that Israel and the U.S. would sign a defense pact in
order to express the overwhelming support of the U.S. for Israel.
And now, someone has come along and decided to spoil the expected
celebration, and to say: Before you celebrate, tell us what else you
tried to steal from the American nation."


III. "The Eternal Price to Pay"

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin, wrote in Yediot Aharonot (4/23): "This is
all we needed.The current new-old story has no connection -- none!
-- with the Jonathan Pollard affair, but the people who dredged up
yesterday's story would do anything to link the two stories.... What

suddenly set off the Americans, who remembered a story that was
nearly 25 years old? Well, in various branches of the U.S.
administration, there are circles who are displeased by the special
relations between Washington and Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. These are
mainly people whose criticism of these special relations is not
listened to, and they have it in for us.... To sum up: This is an
old story, but from our past in Israel we have already learned that
extremely old stories can topple governments in Israel and be
scorched in the political consciousness for generations."
IV. "Embarrassment for the Jews, Celebration for the Anti-Semites"

Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote in the independent Israel
Hayom (4/23): "It is difficult to understand what caused the
Americans to suddenly wake up and take the skeletons out of the
closet, after twenty-odd years of restraint, but two possible
explanations were given yesterday by people in the know: Firstly,
this is a diversion intended to shift attention from the emerging
failure of the Justice Department and the FBI to prosecute senior
AIPAC lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, whose trial, in an
ironic and very inconvenient timing, is scheduled to begin next
Monday in Virginia. The second explanation, even more intriguing
and even more threatening, is that Kadish's exposure is only a
by-product of a large-scale, ongoing American investigation aimed at
revealing the 'senior Israeli mole' whose existence has been
suspected by the Americans since the Pollard affair.... However, the
affair will only slightly, if at all, cloud Israel's relations with
a very friendly U.S. administration, which was not the target of
Kadish's espionage acts in any case. Conversely, the affair will
supply valuable ammunition to various anti-Semites, who last night
already voiced cries of joy and 'we told you so' on their rapidly
multiplying web sites. At the same time, it will greatly embarrass
the American Jews, particularly those who fill sensitive posts in
branches of the administration and the military."


---------
2. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

Likud Knesset Member and co-chair of the U.S.-Israel Joint
Parliamentary Committee on National Security Yuval Steinitz wrote in
the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Intelligence errors are
unavoidable. What is troubling regarding the new National
Intelligence Estimate is that it is not a matter of pure error, but
an unreasonable repression of the threat -- precisely like the case
of Little Red Riding Hood."

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

"Repressing the Iranian Threat"
Likud Knesset Member and co-chair of the U.S.-Israel Joint
Parliamentary Committee on National Security Yuval Steinitz wrote in
the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/23): "American
intelligence ... saw the Iranian Wolf prior to 2003.... What seems
to have happened, according to the [National Intelligence Estimate]
report, is that Iranian efforts to develop the bomb mechanics
recently dropped off the radar screens of U.S. intelligence (as
opposed to the focus on the fissile material which lies at the
center of the nuclear project). And since not all the parts of the
project are visible any longer, the ability to determine the
presence of the wolf, according to the new standards set, also
dissipated. The way American intelligence has conducted itself on
this matter constitutes a thrilling example for what is described as
the 'pendulum effect' -- which is causing the intelligence
assessments to shift between an 'overestimate' pole and an
'underestimate' pole. Overestimation, as occurred in Iraq, draws
criticism and underestimation is carried onto the next case, and the
other way around..... Intelligence errors are unavoidable. What is
troubling regarding the new National Intelligence Estimate is that
it is not a matter of pure error, but an unreasonable repression of
the threat -- precisely like the case of Little Red Riding Hood."

JONES

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