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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #0967/01 1211025
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301025Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6512
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3763
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0402
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4041
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4567
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3777
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2054
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4525
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1397
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1841
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8389
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5870
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0780
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4899
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6848
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9631
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000967

SIPDIS

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:
-------------------------

All media (lead story in Ha'aretz) quoted President Bush as saying
yesterday that the recent disclosure of details on Israel's strike
last September against a nuclear facility in Syria was meant to
pressure North Korea and send a strong message to Tehran. Israel
Radio reported that yesterday the members of the quarterly
Israeli-American strategic dialogue expressed their belief that
current sanctions against Iran are having economic effects, but so
far have been ineffective in halting Iran's nuclear program. Citing
Reuters, Ha'aretz quoted World Jewish Congress officials, who met
with Swiss President Pascal Couchepin yesterday, as saying that they
would urge the Swiss government to rethink a major deal to buy
natural gas from Iran.

Ha'aretz reported that Bush sought to project optimism towards the
prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord this year and
accused Hamas of trying to undermine peace efforts, while avoiding
direct criticism of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter meetings with
the group. The Internet site Ynet reported yesterday that a recent
meeting between the lead negotiations -- Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qurei
-- ended badly after Livni presented a proposal laying out future
borders with Israel retaining control over Jerusalem, the Jordan
Valley and larger settlement blocks in the West Bank. Reportedly,
Qurei reacted angrily by grabbing the map and pushing it away with
both hands. Livni's office refused to comment on the incident
saying that the negotiations are not being conducted in public,
while a senior Palestinian source confirmed the details. Another
Israeli source quoted in the story said that this just clarifies how
far away the sides are from an agreement. This morning Israeli
Radio reported that in an interview with the Palestinian daily
Al-Ayyam U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem Jacob Walles criticized
Israeli settlement and roadblock policy, and hinted that the
settlement blocs, for which former prime minister Ariel Sharon
allegedly obtained from President Bush on April 14, 2004,a U.S.
Letter of Assurances okaying their future annexation to Israel, are
negotiable.


Ha'aretz reported that Israel relayed a message this week to Egypt
that it objected to the outlines of the cease-fire now under
discussion for Gaza, since it might lead to the strengthening of
Hamas and the weakening of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Ha'aretz
quoted a GOI source in Jerusalem as saying that at this time it
appears that there has been no significant progress in talks between
Egypt and the Palestinian factions. Israel Radio reported that the
PFLP and Islamic Jihad have voiced reservations about Hamas's terms
for a cease-fire. All media reported that yesterday IDF
Intelligence head Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin told the cabinet that Hamas
will do everything it can to spoil Israel's 60th birthday bash next
week with a high-profile terrorist attack. Israel Radio reported
that yesterday Secretary Rice told an American Jewish Committee
audience that Hamas, which she said "is increasingly serving as
proxy warriors for Iran," must be isolated. The Jerusalem Post
quoted senior Hamas officials Mahmoud Zahar as saying yesterday that
Israel may have 200 nuclear warheads, but that Hamas has 200,000
people who want to blow themselves up inside Israel. Ha'aretz and
other media reported that Israel-Egypt relations have recently
warmed up following the border breach by Hamas.

Maariv reported that what jump-started the recent flurry of activity
on the Syrian negotiating track was a phone call by PM Ehud Olmert
to Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which he allegedly said that
he is aware of the "deposit" (left by the late PM Yitzhak Rabin).

Leading media cited the IDF's insistence that the Gaza mother and
her four children killed on Monday were struck by militants'
explosives, not a shell. Ha'aretz reported that the IDF probe will
be presented this evening to the army brass. The newspaper cited
admission by military sources that the evidence available is
limited.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the possibility of holding an
international conference in Moscow sometime in June is expected to
be one of the main issues the Quartet will discuss in London on
Friday, with Israel under the impression that the Kremlin is intent
on going ahead with it.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio cited a joint Israeli-Palestinian report
recently submitted to security authorities, according to which 10
roadblocks that Israel set up in the West Bank have little security
value and are needlessly disrupting trade in the Palestinian
territories. The report, drawn up by a team that included U.S.
experts, Palestinian officials, and former IDF officers working
under the auspices of the Peres Center for Peace, the Palestine

Center for National Strategic Studies, and the Danish government,
urges Israel to remove the roadblocks.

Over the past few days media reported that the Muslim hackers' group
DZ Team (comprising Algerians and Egyptians) broke into the Bank of
Israel's Internet site and threatened to attack other Israeli
sites.

Yediot reported that while Jordan is preserving and maintaining the
resources of the Dead Sea's Eastern bank, Israel is not doing
anything on its side.

Ha'aretz quoted Yoel Lifschitz, the Deputy Director General of the
Health Ministry, as saying that Israel has been kept on the USTR's
priority watch list of countries accused of intellectual property
rights (IPR) violations because the Industry and Trade Ministry hid
key information from the health and justice ministries.

All media highlighted Holocaust Memorial Day-related events. The
commemoration will last from this evening through tomorrow night.
The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday the U.S. military attache
in Israel was on an IDF-guided tour of the Yad Mordechai Holocaust
Museum for foreign military officers.

Major media reported that the Forbes business magazine has rated
Israel as the world's most "up-and-coming" real estate market.


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

Summary:
--------

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "The only answer [to the Hamas offensive in Gaza] is
a sustained public diplomacy effort to demonstrate what the results
would be if the IDF didn't act against Hamas."

Uri Elitzur, who was a senior aide top former prime minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote in the editorial of the nationalist,
Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (4/30): "Israel shouldn't apologize
for the deaths of the mother and her four children in Beit Hanun....
The Palestinians have no one to blame but themselves."

The ultra-Orthodox Hamodi'a editorialized: "Syrian President Assad
... isn't on his own. He can't free himself from the axis of
evil."

Conservative columnist Yosef Harif wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "[Syria] can only achieve [progress] through U.S. and
Western assistance.... [Israel] can certainly not make an early
declaration about a withdrawal."

Jewish affairs reporter Yair Sheleg wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The European sin is not anti-Semitism but
rather pacifism, especially when dealing with the Europeans'
attitude toward force on the part of a Western country. But this is
not a sin that is any less dangerous than anti-Semitism."

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

I. "Making the Best of a No-Win Situation"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (4/30): "The phrase 'damned if we do, damned if we
don't' is an apt description of Israel's overall situation in Gaza
as it confronts an enemy that doesn't hesitate to sue the hapless
civilians of Beit Hanun as cover for its Qassam and sniper fire. At
the end of the day -- or any specific day, to be more precise --
there's nothing Israel's oft-criticized hasbara [public relations]
efforts can do to completely assuage the impact of images like those
out of Beit Hanun on Monday. The only answer is a sustained public
diplomacy effort to demonstrate what the results would be if the IDF
didn't act against Hamas -- namely, an even greater increase in the
attacks against Israeli civilians in Sderot and other communities
along the Gaza border."

II. "Don't Apologize"

Uri Elitzur, who was a senior aide top former prime minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote in the editorial of the nationalist,
Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (4/30): "Israel shouldn't apologize
for the deaths of the mother and her four children in Beit Hanun....
The Palestinians have no one to blame but themselves. They started
this war; they're the only ones who can stop it; every day they
again choose not to do so. Neither should Israel invest enormous
resources to court the world media to prove its claim that the
killing was caused by Palestinian explosives and not by IDF fire.
That Sisyphean PR effort would do more harm than good.... All Israel
can say is that such things happen in war and that they will
unfortunately occur in the future, too, if the Palestinians do not
decide to stop the terror and Qassam fire."

III. "Syria Has Capitulated to Iran"

The ultra-Orthodox Hamodi'a editorialized (4/30): "It was to be
expected that talk about a peace agreement with Syria would dissolve
during its formative period. Syrian President Assad ... isn't on
his own. He can't free himself from the axis of evil.... The
Iranians panicked when the media blatantly publicized messages
between Israel and Syria. They were all the more terrified when
Assad appointed an envoy to manage the talks via a Turkish
representative . When the Iranians panic, the Syrian President has
hardly any choice but to give in.... At least as regards the
prevention of scary and painful discord [in Israel], the Syrian
President, who climbed down the tall tree that Olmert placed in
front of him, deserves thanks."

IV. "No to Syria"

Conservative columnist Yosef Harif wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (4/30): "Israel has a bitter experience with Syria. Over
recent years, when Damascus-Tehran ties became stronger and as Syria
is flooding Hizbullah with weapons and rockets, it has turned into a
dangerous enemy. Syria aspires to stabilize its shaky economic
conditions and enter a track of development and of scientific and
technological progress. It can only achieve these through U.S. and
Western assistance. It will be able to receive that aid only if it
disengages from Iran, shake off Hizbullah, and cease to sponsor the
terrorist organizations operating from its territory. Negotiations
can only develop if Syria does fulfill those conditions. [Israel]
can certainly not make an early declaration about a withdrawal.
Some people fear that Olmert, who aspires to a diplomatic
achievement for electoral reasons, will express his willingness for
important concessions on the Golan before the issue is intensely
discussed. This is a risky gamble."

V. "No Less Dangerous than Anti-Semitism"

Jewish affairs reporter Yair Sheleg wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/30): "Israel is not alone in facing the
arrows of European criticism, but rather stands alongside the United
States. Uncle Sam is also constantly attacked by European public
opinion for having aggressive policies; the clearest example of the
past few years being, of course, the American invasion and control
of Iraq. And indeed there is a common denominator to the European
criticism of Israel and the U.S., and this common denominator
apparently also stems from the lessons of that war. It is the
phenomenon of European pacifism, the desire to avoid the use of any
kind of force, to avoid any forceful confrontation even with evil
regimes. This instinct is particularly salient when talking about a
confrontation of a Western country with a society from the
developing world, such as the confrontation between the U.S. and
Iraq or between Israel and the Palestinians.... Israel is indeed
discriminated against by the criticism leveled at it; not
necessarily because it is a Jewish state, but rather mainly because
it is a Western state. That is to say, the European sin is not
anti-Semitism but rather pacifism, especially when dealing with the
Europeans' attitude toward force on the part of a Western country.
But this is not a sin that is any less dangerous than
anti-Semitism."

MORENO

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