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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 281009Z APR 08
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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3747
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0386
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4019
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4551
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3761
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2038
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4509
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1381
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1825
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8373
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5854
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0764
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4883
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6832
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9606
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000954

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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

SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
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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The Jerusalem Post quoted defense officials as saying on Sunday that
the U.S. and Egypt have increased the pressure on Israel to accept
the cease-fire deal with Hamas before President Bush's visit to
Jerusalem. The newspaper quoted a top defense official as saying on
Sunday: "There is a push to wrap up the deal before Bush's visit.
The hope is that quiet in Gaza will enable Israel and the PA to
focus on reaching a peace deal by the end of the year." On Sunday
Ha'aretz quoted Israeli security officials as saying that Israel
will accept a cease-fire only if small Palestinian factions are
included. The Jerusalem Post also reported that while the Defense
Ministry is pursuing the cease-fire talks, senior IDF officers have
voiced opposition to halting military operations in Gaza. Maariv
quoted senior IDF officers as saying that the agreement does not
serve the army's interests, but that Defense Minister Ehud Barak is
inclined to accept it provided Egypt's terms are upheld and Gilad
Shalit's release is accelerated. On Sunday Israel Hayom reported
that Khaled Mashal admitted on Saturday in an interview to
Aljazeera-TV that a cease-fire with Israel was Qanother tactic in
the management of the struggle against it.

Over the weekend media reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has
cancelled a planned trip to the U.S. Barak, who was scheduled to
leave this morning, was to meet with the U.S. Secretary of Defense
and Vice President. Israel Hayom quoted a spokesman in Barak's
office said that the meeting had been cancelled due to technical
reasons, but cited the belief of other people that the cancellation
stems from the security situation in the south and the reports in
the U.S. about the Israeli attack in Syria in September 2007. The
Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported that Transportation
Minister Shaul Mofaz is expected to meet with Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice in Washington on Monday, a day before he takes part
in the quarterly Israeli-American strategic dialogue. That daylong
dialogue is once again expected to focus on Iran and the
ramifications of Tehran's nuclear program. Mofaz will head the
Israeli team, and his counterpart on the U.S. side will be State
Department Counselor Eliot Cohen, who has replaced Nicholas Burns.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Mofaz was quoted as saying that
all options regarding Iran are still on the table.

Ha'aretz quoted a source in Jerusalem as saying on Sunday that
Turkey is trying to find a compromise that would allow peace talks
between Israel and Syria to begin. Ha'aretz reported that Turkish
PM Recep Erdogan plans to send an emissary to Jerusalem to brief PM
Ehud Olmert on his recent talks with Assad in Damascus. Erdogan
will apparently send his foreign policy advisor, who is also in
charge of talks with Syria and has in the past met with Olmert
adviser Yoram Turbowicz in Ankara. According to Maariv, Turbowicz
would conduct the negotiations with Syria. Ha'aretz quoted the GOI
source as saying: "The U.S. has never vetoed talks between Israel
and Syria, which is why there is nothing to stop talks from going
ahead during this U.S. administration -- if the conditions are
ripe." Yediot quoted diplomatic sources saying that Olmert will
not concede the Golan as a precondition for the negotiations. In
response to the congressional hearings on the September strike in
Syria, Olmert said over the weekend that "It seems to me that today
we can say with confidence, not, heaven forbid, with arrogance, that
the nation of Israel has a government that knows how to protect it,
that it has a leadership that knows how to take care of our security
and our future, and perhaps today we know that a little bit more
than what the general public knew."

Ha'aretz reported that based on an agreement signed with former
police commissioner Moshe Karadi, right-wing settlers will take up
residence in a group of buildings in East Jerusalem's predominantly
Arab neighborhood Ras al-Amud in the next few days. The building
had hitherto served as the Samaria and Judea [West Bank] District
Police headquarters. The buildings are slated to become the nucleus
of a new Jewish neighborhood in the so-called Holy Basin area, the
fate of which is supposed to be decided in Israeli-Palestinian
negotiations. Ha'aretz quoted police officials as saying yesterday
that work began before Passover on vacating the place, and that in
the coming days they will finish moving the offices to a new
facility built in controversial Area E1, which connects Jerusalem
with Ma'aleh Adumim.

On Sunday, two Qassam rockets struck Sderot. One scored a direct
hit on a home, causing extensive damages but no injuries. Eight
more rockets landed in the western Negev today. Electronic media
quoted Palestinian sources as saying that seven Palestinians were
killed and six were wounded in an IAF strike in Gaza this morning.
According to Israel Radio, a mother and her four young children, as
well as two armed Palestinians, were killed in the raid.

On Sunday leading media quoted U.S. Republican presidential
candidate John McCain as saying over the weekend that he would be
Hamas's worst nightmare, while Democratic rival Barack Obama was
clearly Hamas's choice for president.

Leading media cited PA President Mahmoud Abbas's disappointment with
the outcome of his talks with President Bush. The Jerusalem Post
reported that Hamas has subsequently urged Abbas to officially
declare the failure of peace talks with Israel and to resume
national unity negotiations with the movement and other Palestinian
factions.

The Jerusalem Post ran a feature on senior State department official
Robert Danin, who will head Tony Blair's Jerusalem mission.

On Sunday Ha'aretz reported that the U.S. registered an official
protest with Israel against its ambassador to the United Nations,
Dan Gillerman, for calling former U.S. President Jimmy Carter an
"enemy of Israel" and "a bigot" prior to Carter's recent visit to
the region. In addition, Ha'aretz reported that the State
Department is planning to issue a public statement condemning
Gillerman's comments. FM Tzipi Livni refused on Saturday to respond
to the demand by MK Yossi Beilin that Gillerman be recalled. Beilin
described the ambassador's statements as "mad." A Foreign Ministry
source was quoted as saying that Gillerman's attack on Carter
"surprised and embarrassed" Jerusalem, which contravened direct
instructions from Livni to avoid comments on the former president.

The Jerusalem Post quoted sources in the Palestinian Petroleum
Authority as saying that on Sunday Hamas militiamen in Gaza attacked
fuel trucks headed toward the Nahal Oz border crossing , forcing
them to turn back. The newspaper also reported that Jerusalem
expressed mild satisfaction on Sunday that a statement issued by the
EU on the fuel shortage in Gaza placed at least part of the blame on
Hamas's shoulders.

Ha'aretz quoted senior sources in Jerusalem as saying that UNIFIL is
intentionally concealing information about Hizbullah activities
south of the Litani River in Lebanon to avoid conflict with the
group. In the last six months there have been at least four cases
in which UNIFIL soldiers identified armed Hizbullah operatives, but
did nothing and did not submit full reports on the incidents to the
UN Security Council.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Tel Aviv University as saying that former
U.S. Vice President Al Gore will deliver the opening address at a
conference on "Renewable Energy and Beyond," scheduled to be held at
the university on May 20-21.

Yediot and Maariv reported that the IAF has resumed flights by F16I
aircraft after it has been found that the risk from a carcinogen
present on the planes is low.

Major media reported that Yossi Harel (Hamburger), the commander of
the ship Exodus, passed away on Saturday, aged 90. He later
commanded intelligence operations.

All media (lead story in Yediot and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe) reported
on the global food crisis, which has also been affecting Israel.
The price of rice has increased by 50-65%, while that of meat has
gone up by 40%.

All media reported that on Sunday the Jerusalem District Court
sentenced Shas MK Shlomo Benizri, who was convicted of accepting
bribes, breach of faith, obstructing justice, and conspiracy to
commit a crime, to eighteen months imprisonment and an 80,000-shekel
fine (approx. $ 23,000). The sentence involved moral turpitude,
which automatically revoked Benizri's membership in the Knesset.
Benizri's successor in the Knesset could be Mazor Bayana, who plans
to push for increased immigration from his native Ethiopia.

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

Summary:
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Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "Soon Israel will have to choose between two contradictory
policies: seeking peace with its neighbors, or denying them nuclear
capability."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "The cease-fire, if successful, could
establish a period of absence of hostilities whose duration would
depend on the speed at which both sides, Israeli and Palestinian,
proceed along the path toward a peace agreement."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Experience shows that Hamas will use [a truce] to rearm and
regroup, then come at Israel twice as hard.... A counter-proposal
might be the wisest approach."

Liberal op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in Ha'aretz: "If
achieving peace with Syria is one of Olmert's burning ambitions, and
if he is endowed with leadership characteristics, the Prime Minister
is capable of getting the public backing he needs."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "[Allegedly,] Israel's
deterrence was raised. No one is better than we are. But in the
long run we are going to pay for all this boasting."

Veteran columnist and anchor Yaron London wrote in Yediot Aharonot:
"The political outlook of most Jews was shaped in the spirit of the
Enlightenment period, whereas most Muslims trail far behind. Hamas
is an expression of the spirit of the Middle Ages, which cannot be
moderated with words, only by force."

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

I. "Peace or the Nuclear Option"

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (4/28): "Soon Israel will have to choose between two
contradictory policies: seeking peace with its neighbors, or denying
them nuclear capability. Until now, Israel has avoided such a
dilemma because its neighbors either tried and failed to obtain
nuclear capabilities (Iraq and Syria), or have accepted the status
quo. But what if a change in government or policy in Jordan or
Egypt, or in one of the countries with which Israel may sign a peace
deal in the future, leads to an attempt to acquire nuclear
capabilities? Such a course of action would not constitute a breach
of any peace accord. After all, a clause prohibiting nuclear
capabilities would be reciprocal. Israel's dilemma, then, will be
whether to risk violating the accord by launching a strike against
its neighbor's nuclear facilities or restrain itself and accept a
nuclear Middle East."

II. "Instead of Doing Nothing"

Ha'aretz editorialized (4/27): "The objection to the proposal for a
bilateral cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is understandable....
What is the point of a cease-fire if every organization or faction

can rain Qassam rockets onto Israeli territory while Hamas, the
actual ruler of the Gaza Strip, can claim that its hands are
clean?.... The cease-fire entails Israeli agreement to allow the
reopening of the Rafah crossing and thus to restore life in the
Strip to a reasonable and tolerable level. That is an essential
interest of Hamas, which seeks to prove that it can function as a
responsible government for its citizens, and it may be expected to
enforce the cease-fire on the other groups as well. It is also in
the interests of Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. This
is because the sanctions that Israel imposed on Gaza, which were
received at first with understanding by the international community
and even with Arab cooperation, now place Israel and the countries
that have signed peace treaties with it -- Egypt and Jordan -- under
heavy public pressure.... The creation of an opportunity for calm
and for continuing the negotiations without violent interruptions
obligates Israel to respond positively to the cease-fire proposal.
The objection and potential for risk embodied in the proposal
require Israel to tighten its military cooperation with Egypt, to
allow more Egyptian troops to deploy along the border with Gaza and
to set clear conditions for monitoring and controlling the Rafah
crossing. This is not the ideal outcome of the war of attrition
underway now for years along the border, but those who drag their
feet in peace talks must make do with a fragile cease-fire. The
cease-fire, if successful, could establish a period of absence of
hostilities whose duration would depend on the speed at which both
sides, Israeli and Palestinian, proceed along the path toward a
peace agreement."

III. "Hamas's Offer"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (4/28):
"The prospect of a six-month truce is superficially enticing -- even
one that is, in the words of Hamas chief Khaled Mashal, purely
'tactical'.... Regrettably, however, experience shows that Hamas
will use this time to rearm and regroup, then come at Israel twice
as hard. Moreover, the price of saying yes would be a massive boost
to Hamas's standing and torpedo any prospect of cutting a deal with
moderate Palestinians. Unfortunately, the situation is exacerbated
by Abbas. Concluding his final White House meeting with George W.
Bush on Saturday, the Palestinian leader told his people that the
peace talks with Israel are going nowhere because of 'settlement
expansion.' Yet negotiating precedent makes plain an Israeli
readiness to dismantle the overwhelming majority of settlements, and
Olmert has stressed repeatedly his sense of an Israeli imperative
for an accommodation. If the talks are indeed as fruitless as Abbas
claims, therefore, he must be making unrealistic demands, from a
position that combines weakness with ineptitude. So what should
Israel do about Hamas's truce offer? A counter-proposal might be
the wisest approach. First, Hamas should free Gilad Shalit in an
exchange palatable to the Israeli body politic; next, it should
allow American-trained forces loyal to Abbas to be redeployed
throughout Gaza. Only then should Jerusalem accept a truce -- with
the explicit proviso that any sign of enemy war preparations would
instantly void the cease-fire."

IV. "Above All, Olmert Must Want Peace"

Liberal op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in Ha'aretz (4/28): "If
achieving peace with Syria is one of Olmert's burning ambitions, and
if he is endowed with leadership characteristics, the Prime Minister
is capable of getting the public backing he needs. To do so, Olmert
must occupy center stage, not operate solely from behind the
curtains. This means he has to create a stable coalition for the
peace initiative, get the support of the defense establishment, and
prepare the public for the concessions that successful negotiations
will entail. A poor start does not necessarily say anything about
the expected results. Even the counter-examples -- the assassination
of Rabin and Ehud Barak's political downfall in the wake of
negotiations with the Palestinians -- do not contradict the bottom
line, that above all, Olmert must want."

V. "Dangerous Exposure"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (4/27): "Had the
Americans shown the pictures [from the alleged Syrian nuclear
reactor] to the North Koreans behind closed doors without citing
their source in order to secure achievements in the negotiations
with them and to prove to them that they had been lying, that
wouldnQt have been so bad. At least it would have obviated
provoking the Syrians. It is very safe to assume that someone in
Israel wanted to demonstrate to the Americans just what IsraelQs
capabilities are and how credible Israeli intelligence is when it
comes to other countries in the region. Israel, after all, has been
trying to convince the Americans to accept its reading of the
progress Iran has made on its way to the production of nuclear
weapons. But none of those reasons justify the damage that was
caused to a national intelligence asset.... The intelligence
officials on either side might have had agreements about what should
be publicized and how. But as soon as that material landed in the
laps of Israeli and American politicians, who use it for domestic
purposes, those agreements became worthless. Initially, perhaps,
they'll be able to claim innocence and say that no damage was done.
Rather, on the contrary, Israel's deterrence was raised. No one is
better than we are. But in the long run we are going to pay for all
this boasting."

VI. "We Are All Muslim Sages"

Veteran columnist and anchor Yaron London wrote in Yediot Aharonot
(4/28): "Those who advise us to talk to Hamas are, in most cases,
commentators of the secular, democratic, and liberal variety.... It
is interesting that commentators of this breed are the last to agree
that a consensus can be reached with Jewish religious authorities on
the image of the state and the character of Israeli society....
Imagine a council with representatives of the senior spiritual
leaders of the national-religious and the ultra-Orthodox. Would
rabbis [from all those persuasions] ... agree that the 'divine
promise' is a text written by humans who needed a formative
religious idea in order to strengthen their control of the territory
known as the 'Land of Israel'? Would they agree that the source of
political hegemony is the will of the people as manifested in civil
law, that religious law should defer [to civil law] in case of a
clash between the two, that there is no conditional democracy, that
all citizens deserve equal rights and that women are equal to men in
all rights? None of them would agree.... Hamas's religious
authorities are no different from them, with one exception: the
political outlook of most Jews was shaped in the spirit of the
Enlightenment period, whereas most Muslims trail far behind. Hamas
is an expression of the spirit of the Middle Ages, which cannot be
moderated with words, only by force."

MORENO

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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