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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1025/01 1340522
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 130522Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6646
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 3805
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0444
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4086
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4610
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3820
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2100
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4569
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1439
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1883
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8431
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5912
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0822
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4941
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6891
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9677
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001025

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 media began describing President Bush's visit to Israel starting
Wednesday. A headline in Yediot reads: "Bush-Mania Is Back."

All media reported that Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman
will present the Gaza cease-fire proposal today to Prime Minister
Olmert, Defense Minister Barak, and Foreign Minister Livni. Yediot
reported that Ofer Dekel, PM Ehud Olmert's special envoy on a
prisoner swap, wrote Olmert and Barak to say that if Israel does not
demand the release of Gilad Shalit as part of the agreement with
Hamas, it would mean that they have given up on him. Yediot cited
Egypt's belief that this agreement is the last chance to avoid a
large-scale Israeli incursion into Gaza. Ha'aretz reported that PM
Olmert is expected to visit Egypt in the coming weeks and discuss
Gaza as well as the state of the post Annapolis negotiations with
President Hosni Mubarak.

Ha'aretz reported that according to sources involved in the probe
into Olmert, the investigation is focusing on hundreds of thousands
of dollars that American businessman and fund-raiser Morris Talansky
gave to Olmert while Olmert was Minister of Trade and Industry and
not as Olmert claimed, on supposed campaign contributions from
Talansky while Olmert was the Mayor of Jerusalem. According to the
sources, Olmert was not involved in any political campaign at the
time of these alleged payments. Ha'aretz has additionally learned
that the debts of an organization that campaigned for Olmert's
election as mayor of Jerusalem were covered out of funds received
from Talansky. In an interview with Channel 10-TV on Sunday,
Talansky "emphatically" denied that he bribed Olmert.

Maariv cited the concern of Kadima members that Olmert will push FM
Livni to the wall and make her resign. They were quoted as saying
that Livni does not back Olmert and that she will pay for this in
elections, even if Olmert is not Kadima's candidate. However,
Maariv quoted senior Kadima members as saying that if Olmert forces
Livni to resign, the party will crumble. Maariv said that if Livni
goes, the big winner may be Shaul Mofaz, who would take over the
post of FM.

Yediot quoted IDF Intelligence head Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin as saying
at Sunday's weekly cabinet session that Iran pushed Hizbullah into
acting. Maariv reported that acceding to U.S. pressure, Israel
agreed to reduce IAF flights over Lebanon to a bare minimum.

The Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom emphasized Lebanese PM Fouad
Siniora's comment on Sunday: "Even the Israeli enemy never dared to
do to Beirut what Hizbullah has done." Ha'aretz reported that Vice
PM Haim Ramon told cabinet members yesterday that Lebanon must be
viewed as a "Hizbullah state," after the Shi'ite guerilla group
seized control of the western part of Beirut over the weekend.
"Lebanon has no government. It is a fiction, there is only
Hizbullah," Ramon was quoted as saying.

Yediot reported that PM Olmert will leave for the U.S. on May 31 for
a five-day visit to attend AIPAC's annual convention.

Ha'aretz and Yediot featured the aircraft carrier USS Harry S.
Truman -- according to Ha'aretz, "first and foremost a magnificent
fighting machine" -- currently cruising between Israel and Cyprus.
On Sunday Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that the Bush
administration appears set to offer Israel a powerful radar system
that could greatly boost Israeli defenses against enemy ballistic
missiles. The Jerusalem Post reported that President Bush is
expected to discus the issue during his visit this week.

On Sunday Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the IDF is concerned
over the sharing of information and the joint learning process among
the extremist elements surrounding Israel -- Iran, Syria, Hizbullah
and Palestinian terror organizations in the West Bank and Gaza. The
newspaper also said that the U.S. is suffering from this military
cooperation.

Leading media quoted Democratic presidential candidate Senator
Barack Obama as saying during a surprise appearance at the Israeli
Embassy's celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary that the
U.S.-Israel friendship is "unbreakable." The Jerusalem Post
reported that a new Gallup survey found that 61% pf Jewish voters
prefer Obama to Sen. John McCain, who got 32% of the Jewish
support.

Israel Radio reported that two improved Qassam rockets landed in
Ashkelon this morning. All media reported that Jimmy Kedoshim, a
member of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, was killed in a mortar attack on Friday.
Media reported that IDF retaliations killed five Hamas men. Media
reported that an IDF/police investigation found that a Palestinian,
who was shot to death on Friday near a cave north of Ramallah where
Israelis were hiking, was killed by Israeli gunfire.

Ha'aretz reported that Gaza's only power plant has been shut down
since Saturday afternoon due to a lack of fuel, and that the Strip's
bakeries announced Sunday that they would shut down as well because
of a lack of fuel to run their ovens. As a result of the power
plant's shutdown, almost a third of Gaza's residents are without
electricity. Israel has not transferred fuel to Gaza since last
Wednesday, just before the Independence Day holiday began. Maariv
reported that Hamas has recently inaugurated the "Palestine Cavalry
Unit" -- because of the fuel shortage.

Ha'aretz reported that a new winery is currently being set up in the
West Bank, in an area three kilometers from Migron, an outpost that
the state promised the Supreme Court would be removed by August.

Maariv reported that Al-Azhar University-associated Muslim scholars
in Cairo have issued an edict forbidding the sale of Egyptian gas to
Israel.

Ha'aretz reported that yesterday several dozen Palestinian refugees,
public figures, and Israeli left-wing activists toured the West
Jerusalem neighborhoods of Talbieh and Baka to mark the 60th
anniversary of the Nakba.

The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz reported that Shmuel Katz in The
Jerusalem Post's words, a "historic figure of the Zionist Right" --
died on Friday in Tel Aviv, at the age of 93.

Yediot presented the results of a Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute)
poll, which show that 59% of Israelis believe that PM Olmert should
resign.
Asked about their voting intentions if Livni heads Kadima in the
next elections, the respondents said they favor Kadima granting it
the equivalent of 27 Knesset mandates; Labor would get 15 mandates;
and Likud 23.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Not only have matters not improved since ...
Annapolis ... since then, the occupation has been progressing, while
the vision of two states has been receding."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "Faced with ... two threats, from both north
and south, Israel can no longer sit with arms folded or make do with
military bombast. It must also examine the diplomatic alternatives
and make immediate and wise use of them while they still exist."

Veteran columnist and anchor Yaron London wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Contrary to those who
believe that we should not have launched the [Second Lebanon] War or
that it should have been reduced to a short and deterring
retaliatory strike, I believe that had we been better at forecasting
what we could expect, we would have expanded the war's goals and
defined them as weakening Hizbullah's strength to such an extent
that it would not be able to restore it for some years."

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Iran and Syria back their
friends with weapons and help; the West responds with words backed
by nothing. Who can blame Hizbullah and Damascus and Tehran for
laughing in contempt?"

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon and military correspondent
Yaakov Katz wrote on the first page of the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "If Hizbullah takes over Lebanon and uses it to
stage attacks on Israel, Jerusalem would have no compunction about
striking at Lebanon's infrastructure, something it was hesitant to
do during the Second Lebanon War."

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

I. "Bush Should Stay Home"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (5/12): "If George Bush were a true friend of
Israel, he would seize the investigation against Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert as an excuse to stay home tomorrow. Unless he has a rabbit
in his hat, this will be the third time in the past half year that
the President of the U.S. shows the Palestinians and the entire Arab
world that they are wasting their time by trying to end the
occupation by peaceful means. Not only have matters not improved
since he troubled dozens of leaders from around the world to come to
Annapolis in late November, 2007; since then, the occupation has
been progressing, while the vision of two states has been receding.
The number of new buildings erected in the settlements in the last
few months rivals only the number of roadblocks that have been added
since Bush last visited Jerusalem, in January. Bush is an
accomplice to an offense far worse than all of the criminal offenses
of which Olmert is suspected combined. Every speech made by the
President is one more bit of exposure of the nakedness of the
Palestinian circles who tied their collective fate to the Annapolis
declaration, which pledged to 'make every effort to conclude an
agreement before the end of 2008.' In light of the stasis in the
negotiations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) seems
likely to resign even before Olmert does. The failed gamble of the
United States also undermines the standing of leaders in Egypt,
Saudi Arabia and Jordan."

II. "Bypassing the Factions"

Ha'aretz editorialized (5/12): "On its northern border, Israel is
facing a country controlled less by its government than by a
dangerous organization. And within Lebanon itself, there is not
much Israel can do about this situation, either militarily or
diplomatically. However, it has another alternative: Prompt,
serious engagement in diplomatic negotiations with Syria could
create an envelope around Lebanon that would significantly reduce
Hizbullah's ability to act against Israel. Granted, Syria cannot be
expected to sever its ties with either Iran or Hizbullah. But when
a country that is allied with Iran and gives aid to Hizbullah is not
'embarrassed' to declare its desire to forge a peace and security
pact with Israel, it thereby presents a genuine strategic
alternative. However, it is not just on its northern border that
Israel faces an organization in control of a state. In Gaza, Hamas
continues to hold the reins of government and to determine not only
its own military response to Israel, but also the nature of Israel's
relationship with its neighbors, especially Egypt. But as with
Hizbullah in Lebanon, in Gaza, too, Israel has an opportunity that
must not be missed to deal with the political monopoly that Hamas is
gradually consolidating for itself: advancing negotiations with the
Palestinian Authority and demonstrating its determination to fulfill
all the conditions of the Roadmap peace plan. Even removing
sanctions on Gaza, which have thus far not proven effective, might
do much to neutralize Hamas's political leverage. Faced with these
two threats, from both north and south, Israel can no longer sit
with arms folded or make do with military bombast. It must also
examine the diplomatic alternatives and make immediate and wise use
of them while they still exist."

III. "The Syrian Option"

Veteran columnist and anchor Yaron London wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (5/12): "Hizbullah did
not wait for its constant pressure and measured steps to topple the
secular government, influenced by the democratic traditions of the
West. Rather, it launched an exercise to take control of the
capital, and if it can control the capital, that is the same as
controlling the entire country. The street battles in Beirut proved
once again just how powerless Hizbullah's rivals are. The Sunni
Arab states and the superpowers in the West did not threaten with
military intervention and sufficed with a call to the warring sides
to settle their differences by means of negotiations. The execution
of sentence has been slightly delayed because, for the time being
Hizbullah would prefer to rule without taking on the responsibility
required of a ruling party. But as soon as its leaders want it,
Hizbullah will grab the reins and we will be sitting next to a
benighted Shi'ite regime, Iran's forward outpost. This outpost is
equipped with tens of thousands of rockets that have all of Israel's
population centers within range, and when it fully seizes power, it
will also enjoy territorial depth and will have seaports and an
airport at its disposal. Against this background, we must reexamine
the causes and the purpose of the two wars in Lebanon. In the
first, we forged a sterile alliance with the receding element of the
Lebanese population and we missed an opportunity to win the trust of
the Shiite element. In the second, we did not define our goals
properly and did not properly evaluate the ability of the enemy.
Contrary to those who believe that we should not have launched the
war or that it should have been reduced to a short and deterring
retaliatory strike, I believe that had we been better at forecasting
what we could expect, we would have expanded the war's goals and
defined them as weakening Hizbullah's strength to such an extent
that it would not be able to restore it for some years. What we
didn't do then, we will have to do under more difficult conditions,
unless we make peace with Syria."

IV. "As Lebanon Turns into Gaza"

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (5/12): "While America's
secretary of state devotes her time to doomed Israel-Palestinian
talks and America goes gaga over a candidate whose entire foreign
policy strategy is to talk to dictators, yet another crisis is
empowering radical Islamists and undercutting Western friends and
interests. The Lebanese logjam has broken at last as Hizbullah
seized Beirut and inflicted a major defeat on the government.
Hizbullah is pulling a more limited version of Hamas's Gaza strategy
in Lebanon as the world stands by. Iran and Syria back their
friends with weapons and help; the West responds with words backed
by nothing. Who can blame Hizbullah and Damascus and Tehran for
laughing in contempt?.... This is Hizbullah's program: a new
Lebanese consensus based on 51% of power for itself and its
pro-Syrian allies. What's needed isn't consensus (equivalent to
getting Fatah-Hamas cooperation or an Iraq coordinated with Iran and
Syria) but winning a conflict. Instead, Obama is -- whether he
knows it or not -- backing a Syrian-Iranian- and Hizbullah-dominated
Lebanon. Such talk makes moderate Arabs despair. When Obama says
he'll make Syria and Iran partners in setting Iraq's future, he is
signaling every Persian Gulf regime to cut its own deal with
Iran.... This does not mean that Obama is the candidate favored by
Arabs in general; he is favored only by the radicals. Egyptians,
Jordanians, Gulf Arabs, and the majorities in Lebanon and Iraq are
very worried. This is not just an Israel problem. It is one for all
non-extremists in the region. If the dictators and terrorists are
smiling, it means everyone else is crying."

V. "Israel Eyes both Dangers, Opportunities in a Hizbullah Takeover
of Lebanon"

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon and military correspondent
Yaakov Katz wrote on the first page of the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (5/12): "If Hizbullah takes over Lebanon and uses it
to stage attacks on Israel, Jerusalem would have no compunction
about striking at Lebanon's infrastructure, something it was
hesitant to do during the Second Lebanon War for fear of toppling
the democratic government in Beirut, diplomatic sources said on
Sunday. According to the officials, while Hizbullah control of
Lebanon would pose enormous challenges for Israel, it would provide
opportunities for the IDF in that infrastructure targets considered
out of bounds while Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora was in
control would suddenly be fair play if Hizbullah leader Hassan
Nasrallah were making the decisions.

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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