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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1010/01 1281009
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071009Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6610
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 3797
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0436
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4077
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4602
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3812
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2092
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4561
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1431
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1875
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8423
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5904
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0814
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4933
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6883
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9668
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001010

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


Please note: no Tel Aviv Media Reaction report on Thursday, May 8,
2008, Israel's Independence Day holiday.

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

1. Israel's 60th Independence Day

2. Mideast

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

All media, except the ultra-Orthodox papers, prominently and
extensively covered, and commented on, events related to Israel's
Memorial Day and 60th Independence Day. Leading media quoted
President Shimon Peres as saying last night at the official Memorial
Day ceremony near the Western Wall: "We are ready to pay a price for
the day of peace. "We are ready to pay in exchange for the day of
peace, in exchange for a smile of children, Palestinian children,
Jordanian, Egyptian, and Syrian, too. We want to shake hands, but
our enemies know that we are capable of pressing the trigger."
Peres was quoted as saying in an interview with Ha'aretz this week
that he did not imagine that Israel would leave Gaza and that the
Palestinians would fire Qassam rockets from there, and that Hamas
would show so strongly in the elections. Peres was also quoted as
saying that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hamas are
taking him back to the "Jew within himself."

The media reported that a foreign national who is the central
witness in the new investigation against PM Ehud Olmert will give
testimony in the case. "This does not indicate that an indictment
will be issued against the respondents, PM Ehud Olmert and Shula
Zaken," the judges wrote. The Jerusalem District Court allowed this
detail to be published, however, did not lift the gag order even
though The New York Post published details of the investigation,
including the name of the foreign national -- Morris Talansky.
Media have highlighted this report in their stories as breaking new
details while saying that they face legal action if they repeat
those details. Just about the only thing lacking in helping readers
access the NY Post article is a hyperlink. Israel Radio cited a
denial by Olmert's bureau of an Aljazeera-TV report that Olmert will
suspend himself after the Independence Day holiday.
Ha'aretz reported that a senior Palestinian official told the
newspaper yesterday that the investigation into Olmert means that
Palestinians do not have a peace partner. The official was quoted
as saying that the PA realizes the allegations currently being
investigated are more serious than previous probes. "Our trouble is
that we don't have a partner in Washington either," the official
said about the American position on Israeli-Palestinian talks. In
another development, Ha'aretz reported that Nabil Abu Rudeineh, PA
President Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman, has released a statement saying
that although Monday's meeting between Olmert and Abbas included an
in-depth discussion on borders, there remain extensive gaps between
the two sides. Abu Rudeineh was quoted as saying that Abbas told
Olmert that any final-status agreement must include the handover of
the entire West Bank to the Palestinians. He was also quoted as
saying that Abbas would have to take drastic measures if no peace
deal was reached. Maariv quoted a high-ranking source in Abbas's
bureau as saying that if a new government is formed, it would be
necessary to see what its composition is before it is possible to
see how the negotiations are affected. "If you hold new elections,
that's already another thing," said the source. "In such a
situation, there is no question that negotiations will be
postponed." Maariv reported that another high-ranking Palestinian
source also related to the possibility that Olmert would not remain
in his position. "We only hope that the next prime minister, if
Olmert falls, will honor all the commitments made so far," he was
quoted as saying. "Israel has always said there is partner on the
Palestinian side, but now we are discovered that the Israeli partner
is the weak one." Maariv also cited the concern of the security
establishment about the investigation's effect on PM Olmert. It was
quoted as saying that political instability in wake of Ehud OlmertQs
investigation is liable to have security ramifications --
particularly because after the holiday, the political echelon is
supposed to decide whether to accept EgyptQs proposal to declare a
cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that FM Tzipi Livni, who the newspaper
says is veering to the right, is "bracing to inherit Olmert." The
paper quoted Livni associates as saying that red lines have been
crossed in the talks with Abbas. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe cited the
anger of Livni's entourage, which is quoted as saying that she does
not support Olmert. The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday
Kadima members criticized Olmert and called for his resignation.
The newspaper said that they see Livni, Internal Security Minister
Avi Dichter, and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz as possible
successors.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel believes that Iran will
master centrifuge technology and be able to begin enriching uranium
on a military scale this year. The new assessment moves up
Israel's forecasts on Tehran's nuclear program by almost a full year
-- from 2009 to the end of 2008. According to the new timeline,
Iran could have a nuclear weapon by the middle of next year. The
newspaper quoted a senior defense official as saying yesterday that
Iran had encountered numerous technical obstacles on its way to
enriching uranium but was now on track to master the technology
within six months. The Jerusalem Post also reported that Israel is
concerned that Tehran is developing a cruise missile that could
evade interception by the Arrow, the IDF's anti-ballistic missile
defense system.

Israel Radio reported that the IAF carried out two raids in Gaza
this morning. Electronic media quoted Palestinian sources as
saying that at least 11 Palestinians, most of them gunmen, were
injured in the operation.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai as
saying that Israel will hand over the Sdema army base near Bethlehem
to the PA.

Ha'aretz reported that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann has
proposed an amendment to the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom
that would exempt laws relating to immigration and citizenship from
judicial review. The amendment would presumably make it even harder
for Palestinians married to Israelis to obtain citizenship.
However, Ha'aretz reported that the amendment seems unlikely to
pass. After receiving a draft of the proposal a few days ago, Labor
Party Chairman Ehud Barak and two senior party members, Shalom
Simhon and Ophir Pines-Paz, decided to recommend that their party
oppose the bill. Under the coalition agreement, no Basic Law can be
amended without the consent of all coalition partners, so Labor's
opposition would kill the proposal. Earlier, Friedmann had proposed
legislation to bar the court from intervening in security and
budgetary issues, but Labor's opposition forced him to drop this
idea as well.

Major media reported that the Foreign Ministry is sending $100,000
in initial emergency food and medical supplies to survivors of the
deadly cyclone that battered Myanmar over the weekend. The aid is
being sent in coordination with the American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee.

Maariv published the results of a TNS/Teleseker poll conducted on
the occasion of Independence Day:
Q: Will there soon be an agreement with the Palestinians?
I don't believe so: 42.8%; I am sure there won't be one: 30.2%; I
believe so: 17.9%
Q: Which Israeli achievement are you most proud of?
The high-tech [industry]: 63.1%; the IDF and its operations: 60.1%;
the War of Independence and the establishment of the State of
Israel: 52%.
Q: What event influenced Israel most?
The Six-Day War: 60.5%; the Yom Kippur War: 47.9%; the Rabin
assassination: 46%.
Q: Who was Israel's best prime minister?
Menachem Begin: 31.4%; David Ben Gurion: 28.6%; Yitzhak Rabin:
17.5%
Q: Who was the IDF's best chief of staff?
Moshe Dayan: 20.3%; Rafael Eitan [the commander of the First Lebanon
War]; Yitzhak Rabin: 16.8%.
Q: What is the most Israeli attribute?
Cheekiness: 62.2%; The "trust me" and "it'll be OK" culture: 58.9%;
impatience: 50.7%.

-----------------------------------
1. Israel's 60th Independence Day:
-----------------------------------

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "[Positive
diplomatic developments] arouse the hope that the State of Israel is
stronger than its ills."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Sixty
years after the Palestinian Arabs first rejected a two-state
solution, they appear little closer to accepting a compromise that
most Israelis could live with."

Liberal columnist Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "When you are defending yourself against a Holocaust, there
is no limit to the degree of force, and it has no purpose except
that of survival."

Liberal-turned-conservative author Eyal Megged wrote in Maariv:
"Among wide, influential, leading circles in Israel, the word
'homeland' has become a dirty word, an untouchable concept. How can
one love an occupying country?"

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

I. "Israel Is Stronger than its Ills"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (5/7): "The
present Independence Day will be celebrated by the citizens of
Israel as it is every year, ignoring the investigations of
corruption, because basic pride at the success of the Zionist
enterprise still beats in their hearts.... A government that is
being dismantled cannot be expected to bring peace, but apparently
the historical processes that are taking place in the region and in
the world are stronger even than it. The isolation of Hamas, which
still wants to destroy Israel, the worldwide enlistment against the
Iranian nuclear program, the peace talks with the moderate wing of
the Palestinian people -- which wants to establish an independent
state alongside Israel and to live with it in cooperation in the
same conflict-ridden parcel of land -- the peace signals from Syria,
which have met with a positive response on the Israeli side, and
also a new U.S. administration, which may provide momentum for peace
with Syria that the current administration refuses to provide -- all
these arouse the hope that the State of Israel is stronger than its
ills.... The aspirations of most Israelis for peace today have
genuine partners in the Arab world, whose stance is no longer
dependent only on the composition of some government or other in
Israel. If the gauntlet is picked up on both sides, perhaps we will
finally see that same new Middle East that the president of the
state [Simon Peres] has praised so highly."

II. "The Next 60 Years"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (5/7):
"Sixty years on, Israel is a regional power, yet still not at peace
with all its Arab neighbors. The fight against terrorism demands
unrelenting vigilance. Sderot and other southern communities are
under intermittent bombardment from the Gaza Strip. Hizbullah beats
the drums of war, while Bashar Assad's intentions remain enigmatic.

The greatest strategic threat comes from the fanatical Iranian
regime, which threatens to wipe Israel off the map even as it
dementedly denies the Holocaust. The Palestinians mark our
achievement of sovereignty as their Nakba, or catastrophe. Mahmoud
Abbas has yet to prepare his people for reconciliation. Sixty years
after the Palestinian Arabs first rejected a two-state solution,
they appear little closer to accepting a compromise that most
Israelis could live with. As Israeli officials speak of
'considerable progress' in the post-Annapolis negotiations
involving, perhaps, the uprooting of 60,000 Jews from Judea and
Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] and exit from parts of east Jerusalem,
the Palestinians adhere to their demand for an Israeli pullback to
the narrow boundaries of the 1949 Armistice Lines. They have not
abandoned their demand for a 'right of return,' which would spell
the demise of the Jewish state. That the Jewish people have
sovereignty and the chance to enjoy a civilizational renascence in
this land after a millennium in exile is -- quite literally -- a
miracle. May God shine His countenance upon us and navigate us
safely through the next 60 years, and beyond."

III. "To Be Normal"

Liberal columnist Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (5/7): "Anyone who sees himself as constantly on the
defensive against a Holocaust, whose politicians, when they ask for
his vote, instead of promising him hope and change, purport to be
defending him against destruction, will recognize no limits, because
when you are defending yourself against a Holocaust, there is no
limit to the degree of force, and it has no purpose except that of
survival. Such a state perceives a local kidnapping by a small
terrorist organization as an existential threat, and does not accept
the limits of the purpose of its reprisal action.... In such a state
the citizen does not get up in the morning and ask himself one
simple question: what benefit do I derive from this umbrella
organization called the state, which I established together with my
fellow-citizens to make a better life for ourselves?.... Instead of
that there is collective addiction to a 'feeling of security,' to
expressionless generals who radiate 'military experience,' to the
pointless sacrifice of every civilian objective for the sake of
'security,' to the distorted values of the man at war, which in
Israel are still regarded as expression of all that is exalted and
beautiful in us."

IV. "It Is Allowed to Love"

Liberal-turned-conservative author Eyal Megged wrote in Maariv
(5/7): "It is allowed to love the land without loving Olmert. One
may long for the land without longing for Netanyahu or Barak, or
even Ben Gurion.... Is it conceivable that the amount of love a
Russian has for Russia depends on his degree of affection for
Stalin, Gorbachev, or Putin? Is it conceivable that the Russian
will lose one gram of his connection to his homeland because of what
it did in Afghanistan or Chechnya? But among wide, influential,
leading circles in Israel, the word 'homeland' has become a dirty
word, an untouchable concept. How can one love an occupying
country? Loving Israel has become an ignominy.... As Israel turns
60, we can already relate to a condition in which we manage with our
isolated homeland as one does with fate, and love it like the love
of our life."

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

Summary:
--------

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote on his Internet site Gplanet:
"Israel would have to be completely insane to accept [Hamas's]
offer, which is meant to cast blame on it for the failure [of the
truce], since this means a festival of terror [inside Israel]."

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

"The Paradox of Courage"

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote on his Internet site Gplanet (5/6):
"Closing the border with Gaza was a brilliant step and I assume that
many have already begun to realize this, since enormous pressure has
begun to be put on Egypt, which also has a border with Gaza, and
less and less on Israel.... The Egyptians are trying to effect a
'tahdiya,' a truce between Israel and Hamas, and have already
reached agreement with all the Palestinian factions.... The
agreement states: Israel will stop all its military activity in
Gaza, and in tandem, the factions will stop firing Qassam rockets at
Israel. In six months this will also apply to Judea and Samaria
[the West Bank], i.e., Israel must promise Egypt and the Americans
that it will stop military activity in Judea and Samaria, and the
factions are to stop their terror attacks from there. Not a word,
of course, about Gilad Shalit, whom Hamas does not want to give up.
Israel would have to be completely insane to accept this offer,
which is meant to cast blame on it for the failure [of the truce],
since this means a festival of terror in Kfar Saba, in Jerusalem, in
Petah Tikva and in central Israel, especially since after eight
years, the separation fence is still not finished. This means that
the Palestinians will have a completely quiet home front in Judea
and Samaria to develop their missile infrastructure there, too --
just as happened in Gaza, until the next round, when they will be
much better prepared. And the main point: high-ranking Palestinian
sources say that Egypt promised the Palestinian factions that if
Israel turned down the truce offer, or broke it, Egypt promises to
open the Rafah crossing unilaterally to Palestinian traffic, and in
effect, link Gaza to Egypt and to the Arab world.... Both Israel and
Egypt are now sticking their fingers in the dam known as Gaza, which
nobody wants. The first to take his finger out -- the deluge will
sweep over them, and I wish to remind us again of the 'bicycle
strategy' that Khomeini espoused, and with which he succeeded in
Iran: conducting a battle like this is like riding a bicycle. If
you stop, you fall."

JONES

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