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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 251103Z APR 08
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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

1. Syria

2. Mideast

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

Most media featured the intelligence briefings yesterday to Congress
on the alleged Syria - North Korea nuclear connection. The media
quoted senior Bush administration members as saying that Israel
destroyed a nuclear reactor during its September 6, 2007 strike on
Syria and that the reactor was close to being operational. Israel
Radio quoted a senior U.S. official as saying that the U.S. was
never asked for nor gave a green light to the Israeli raid. Yediot
and Maariv illustrated the story with pictures allegedly taken
inside and outside the reactor, which was said to be modeled on a
North Korean design. (Maariv claims that the pictures were taken by
"an Israeli spy.") Israel Radio reported that Israeli cabinet
ministers have been instructed not to respond to the story.
Ha'aretz quoted senior Israeli defense sources as saying that it was
still too early to gauge how Damascus will react, but that they
warned that the Syrians may now be forced to retaliate in some way.
Channel 2-TV reported that PM Ehud Olmert obtained Defense Minister
Ehud Barak's approval to share the reactor pictures with the
Americans. However, Maariv cited a claim by Barak's office that he
was absolutely opposed to passing on the documents.

Leading media reported that yesterday a delegation from Hamas that
included Mahmoud Zahar and Said Siam told Egyptian intelligence
chief Omar Suleiman that Hamas is prepared to accept a temporary
cease-fire with Israel. The cease-fire would first be limited to
Gaza and then be expanded at a yet to be determined date to the West
Bank. Hamas had previously demanded that a truce apply
simultaneously to both areas, but Israel refused. According to
Hamas's understanding, Israel will immediately cease all military
activity in Gaza, including arrests, assassinations and field
operations. In return, Hamas will ensure an end to cross-border
rocket fire and stop arms smuggling. Additionally, the Rafah
crossing will be opened to ease cargo shipments into and out of the
Strip. The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli defense officials as
saying that it was likely that Defense Minister Barak would agree to
the cease-fire , since he opposes a large-scale military operation
in Gaza, currently Israel's only viable course of action. The
Jerusalem Post quoted Hamas officials in Gaza as saying that Hamas
is keen on ending the case of Gilad Shalit soon, "to create a better
atmosphere" that would consolidate the cease-fire. Ha'aretz
reported that Israel will now monitor Hamas's compliance with its
commitments to Egypt: If Hamas manages to keep things calm and rein
in terrorist activity by the other Palestinian factions, the IDF
will be instructed to refrain from taking offensive action in the
Gaza Strip. Ha'aretz wrote that while no such order was given
yesterday, apparently as of today there is a new, more cautious
procedure in place for authorizing military operations.

Leading media quoted Syrian President Bashar Assad as saying in the
interview published yesterday in the Qatari newspaper Al-Watan that
he did not expect direct talks with Israel to be resumed in the
coming year. "Perhaps we will be able to talk about direct
negotiations with the next American administration," he was quoted
as saying. Israel would not comment on the withdrawal offer, but
did say it was interested in negotiating with Damascus. Maariv
reported that Syrian FM Walid Muallem told a Western figure whom
Syria hosted that "Syria has no claim to the water resources in the
Golan, and Israel will be able to access all of them." Ha'aretz
quoted Mark Regev, a spokesman for Olmert, as saying "We are
interested in peace with Syria. We know what the Syrians expect
from negotiations and the Syrians know what Israel wants from them."
Maariv quoted President Shimon Peres as saying in a private
conversation: "We will not hand over the Golan to Syria. Assad
prefers Lebanon and the connection with Hizbullah. Unless Syria
disengages from Iran and Hizbullah, Israel must not give it the
Golan." Makor Rishon-Hatzofe bannered the Golan settlers'
opposition to giving up their homes,

Israel Radio reported that two Israeli security guards were shot and
killed in a terrorist attack in the Israeli industrial zone of
Nitzanei Shalom near Tulkarm. The radio cited Islamic Jihad's claim
of responsibility.

Israel Radio quoted Danny Gillerman, Israel's Ambassador to the UN,
as saying that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's hands are
"tainted with blood" because he met and shook hands with Hamas
leader Khaled Mashal. Gillerman also voiced his indignation at
Libyan Ambassador to the UN Giadalla Ettalhi's stating at the
Security Council that the situation in Gaza is worse than that of
the Nazi concentration camps. The radio and other media reported
that Gillerman and other Israeli spokesmen claim that Hamas is
refusing to pump a large amount of fuel that is in storage tanks on
the Palestinian side of the border in order to create a fabricated
crisis and blame it on Israel.

Ha'aretz reported that yesterday PA President Mahmoud Abbas asked
President George Bush to tighten oversight over Israeli settlement
expansion in the West Bank. Abbas told his host in Washington that
the continued construction in the settlements would make it
difficult for him to convince the Palestinian people that his peace
talks with Israel may reach a breakthrough. Abbas also told the
President about the good atmosphere in his talks with PM Olmert.
But he said progress was slow and that there were still many issues
on which there was no agreement. The Jerusalem Post and Israel
Radio cited Bush's optimism regarding the achievement of an
Israeli-Palestinian accord before he leaves office..

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the release of Jonathan Pollard
is not expected to be discussed during President Bush's visit to
Israel.

All media reported that an engineering problem has delayed the
launching of the Amos 3 communications satellite from Baikonur,
Kazakhstan, which was scheduled for yesterday, until Monday.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel will sign a declaration of
trade and economic cooperation together with Rwanda, Burundi, Benin,
and Liberia nest Wednesday to develop new export markets and to help
the African countries build infrastructure and technology.

Maariv reported that billionaire businessman/politician Arkady
Gaidamak has sold his English-language newspaper The Moscow News to
the Russian government. Maariv quoted senior sources in Russia as
saying that he is reimbursing part of a $365-million debt to Russia,
which was part in a deal with Angola.

Ha'aretz reported that Ivanka Trump, the daughter of real estate
mogul Donald Trump, will arrive in Israel on May 12 to gather
information on investments for her father and try to interest
Israelis in his new real estate project in Philadelphia.

----------
1. Syria:
----------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The dismal figure in
[the Syrian nuclear reactor] affair is Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice.... Yesterday's revelations presented her as a
sucker -- worse: as someone betraying her position."

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The silence in Jerusalem made moderation in
Damascus easier. These regional behavioral codes are now disrupted
by the Americans in a way that may push Assad toward defending
Syrian honor."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "If he
wants Israelis to risk all by ceding the Golan, Assad is going to
have to show that he truly wants a change -- and he is going to have
to take some chances too."

Liberal columnist Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "The Syrian demand for public negotiations, which might only
be a pretext for rejection -- who knows -- is something that the
Prime Minister should seriously consider."

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "It
looks as if America is running around with two souls at least: The
litmus test between the two is the attitude toward Israel."

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

I. "Second Roles"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (4/25): "In this play
Israel finds itself playing a role it is not accustomed to: a lesser
one. This story isn't about Israel. It touches the roots of U.S.
foreign policy and a domestic political struggle, in which Israel
has nothing to gain. Israel's priorities in this affair are Syria
first, and then North Korea. America's priorities are first of all
North Korea and -- far behind -- Syria.... The dismal figure in this
affair is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The accord with North
Korea is her only tangible achievement in her over three years at
the State Department. She is adhering to the agreement even as
senior administration officials have understood that the Koreans
have breached it. Yesterday's revelations presented her as a sucker
-- worse: as someone betraying her position. If she doesn't get an
Israeli-Arab agreement in her remaining seven months, she will leave
the administration empty-handed -- like her predecessor Madeleine
Albright."

II. "Those Who Need to Know"

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/25): "The moment it is officially known
that Israel destroyed a reactor in Syria and Damascus failed to
respond, Assad's standing becomes weaker domestically and in the
Arab world. In Israel, the assumption has been that time eases the
pain, but will not cure it. The silence in Jerusalem made
moderation in Damascus easier. These regional behavioral codes are
now disrupted by the Americans in a way that may push Assad toward
defending Syrian honor. The release of information on the site
comes at a bad time for Assad.... Amid this complexity, Jerusalem
and Damascus have tried their best to bolster each other this week
with declarations on their willingness to renew negotiations on the
Golan Heights, an effort geared to cool the atmosphere before the
revelations in Washington. In talks with reporters, senior
officials in Israel complimented Assad's 'seriousness and maturity'
and described him as a worthy successor to his father."

III. "A Golan Peace"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (4/25):
"Since [the Yom Kippur War], the Syrians have remained a force for
instability in the region.... Whatever his motivations, Israel
should judge Assad by what he says and what he does. Assad insists
that even under a peace treaty normalization is out of the
question.... It is in Israel's long-term interest to have a peace
treaty with Syria, but not at any price, Israel would have to make
irrevocable strategic concessions. So it's hard to imagine many
Israelis having the confidence to support a deal that does not
signify a true opening of genuine peaceful relations. If Assad
wants a treaty, we urge him to come to Jerusalem or invite Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert to Damascus. After 60 years of unremitting
anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement Syrians may indeed not be
ready for normalization. But if he wants Israelis to risk all by
ceding the Golan, Assad is going to have to show that he truly wants
a change -- and he is going to have to take some chances too."

IV. "This Is Not Yet the Time to Talk about It"
Liberal columnist Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (4/25): "This is how the Israeli leadership looks under Ehud
Olmert, the prime minister whose most common response is: 'I
can't/don't want/I don't believe the time has come to talk about
this.' Those who are trying to find out what's happening between
Israel and Syria must rely on tidbits and statements from those
people close enough to have maybe or maybe not heard something from
Olmert or to interpret by themselves the silences and hints of the
Sphinx in Jerusalem.... Ehud Barak can tell him firsthand: In a
democratic state, the preparation of hearts for an agreement is no
less important than any list of security demands it contains. It
won't be easy for Olmert to sell the Israelis overnight a virgin
agreement from an unpopular prime minister. The Syrian demand for
public negotiations, which might only be a pretext for rejection --
who knows -- is something that the Prime Minister should seriously
consider."

V. "The United States Has Two Souls"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (4/25):
"This was one of the most complex weeks in Israel-U.S. relations.
The arrest of an elderly Jew dubbed 'Pollard No. 2' whose
transgressions allegedly took place in America close to 30 years
ago; the CIA has acknowledged that the target that was struck in
Syria on September 6, 2007 -- by Israel, according to foreign media
report -- was a Syrian-North Korean nuclear reactor; the U.S. press
also reported that contrary to restrictions inherent in President
Bush's peace initiative, there is a secret Israel-U.S. agreement
allowing development and expansion of existing Judea and Samaria
[i.e. West Bank] settlements that Israel views as being within its
future borders.... The various events in Israel-U.S. relations that
occurred this week point first of all to a war of institutions
within the U.S. administration and the American elites.... It looks
as if America is running around with two souls at least: The litmus
test between the two is the attitude toward Israel."

------------
2. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Columnist and former Meretz Party Chairman Yossi Sarid wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "All good reasons for apartheid
are bad reasons; apartheid always has a reason, and it never has a

justification."

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

"Yes, It Is Apartheid"

Columnist and former Meretz Party Chairman Yossi Sarid wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/25): "Let's let old Carter be,
so he may let sleeping warriors lie; he will not be back. The
contents of his words, however, should not be ignored. 'Apartheid,'
he said, 'apartheid' -- a dark, scary word coined by Afrikaners and
meaning segregation, racial segregation. What does he want from us,
that evil man: What do we have to do with apartheid? Does a
separation fence constitute separation? Do separate roads for
Jewish settlers and Palestinians really separate? Are Palestinian
enclaves between Jewish settlements Bantustans? There is no hint of
similarity between South Africa and Israel, and only a sick mind
could draw such shadowy connections between them. Roadblocks and
inspections at every turn; licenses and permits for every little
matter; the arbitrary seizure of land; special privileges in water
use; cheap, hard labor; forming and uniting families by bureaucratic
whim -- none of these are apartheid, in any way. They are an
incontrovertible security necessity, period. The white Afrikaners,
too, had reasons for their segregation policy; they, too, felt
threatened -- a great evil was at their door, and they were
frightened, out to defend themselves. Unfortunately, however, all
good reasons for apartheid are bad reasons; apartheid always has a
reason, and it never has a justification."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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