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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #1051/01 1401010
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P 191010Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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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 reported that even as Defense Ministry officials
said Sunday that Israel was likely to accept the Gaza cease-fire
deal brokered by Egypt, Defense Minister Barak in a meeting with a
high-level US congressional delegation talked only about a
large-scale military incursion. Ha'aretz added that Barak is
skeptical about the chances of achieving long-term quiet with Hamas,
and that his feelings are shared by PM Olmert and FM Livni. The
Jerusalem Post quoted defense officials as saying that Barak, who
will hold talks in Sharm el-Sheikh today, is expected to push Egypt
for a two-stage deal that would begin with a cessation of terrorist
activity and IDF military operations and then be followed by the
opening of the border crossings in exchange for the release of Gilad
Shalit. Yesterday The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior Hamas official
in Gaza as saying that Hamas has not ruled out including Shalit's
release as part of the cease-fire. The Jerusalem Post quoted GOI
sources in Jerusalem as saying that such a change would make it
difficult for Israel to turn down the truce. The officials were
also quoted as saying that Israel was likely to accept the
cease-fire deal even if it does not include Shalit's immediate
release. Ha'aretz reported that Israel will not publicly endorse
the cease fire but rather treat it as a series of steps beginning
with a lull in hostilities, followed by gradual relaxation of the
financial blockade of Gaza. Ha'aretz added that if the deal
includes Shalit, possibly in exchange for Israel's release of 450
prisoners, Israel would also agree to reopen the Rafah crossing.
Ha'aretz quoted security sources as saying that the gap on the
prisoner swap is slightly smaller than it was a few months ago.
Ha'aretz reported that GOI officials are slowly coming to realize
that a large-scale military operation in Gaza does not serve Israeli
interests right now. In addition to meeting Mubarak and Suleiman,
Barak will meet with Turkish FM Ali Babacan and then have dinner
with Egyptian Defense Minister Muhammad Hussein Tantawi.

Ha'aretz quoted a senior Israeli official familiar with the talks
with Hizbullah as saying that Israel has recently informed the
Lebanese organization that it will not release Palestinian prisoners
in exchange for its two kidnapped soldiers. The official also told
Ha'aretz that if Hizbullah continues to insist that Palestinians be
included in the deal, Israel may break off the negotiations. In
that case, the official was quoted as saying, Israel would have to
evaluate whatever intelligence it has about the two soldiers and
decide whether it justifies declaring them dead.

Visiting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quoted as saying yesterday
in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that Washington must make
clear to the world that if they want America's friendship then they
need to do more to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Pelosi
was quoted as saying that the U.S. needed to be more "proactive" in
saying to the countries of the world -- including Russia, China, and
the Muslim countries in Asia -- that "one of the pillars of U.S.
foreign policy is to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction to anyone." Pelosi added that the U.S. cannot stop
nuclear proliferation alone, and that "if these weapons proliferate,
they are a threat to everyone, not just to the U.S., and not just to
Israel." Israel Radio quoted Pelosi as saying that no option can be
rued out in stopping Iran's nuclear program except -- at this time
-- a military attack against Iran. Yesterday Yediot reported that
Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Dan Harel met over the weekend with
the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen
to discuss Iran. The meeting took place at the NATO Chiefs of Staff
Conference in Brussels.

All media reported that the High Court of Justice is scheduled to
hold a hearing this afternoon to decide whether the police should
take preliminary testimony from American financier Morris Talansky
next week in the bribery case against PM Olmert. Leading media
reported that Olmert is wavering on this issue, if not obstructing
the investigation. Ha'aretz reported that law enforcement officials
told the newspaper yesterday that new evidence obtained in the
latest probe of Olmert has uncovered several new offenses with which
the premier could be charged.
All media reported that the Knesset House Committee is due today to
discuss the application of two MKs who quit the Pensioners Party and
signed an agreement with Arkady Gaidamak's Social Justice Party to
set up a new Knesset faction. Leading media quoted the Knesset's
legal adviser, Nurit Elstein, as saying that in the agreement
between the MKs and Arkady Gaidamak, there are grounds to suspect
that the Election Law and the Party Funding Law were violated. This
morning Israel Radio reported that the police are investigating
Gaidamak about the long-standing Bank Hapoalim fraud probe.

Maariv quoted Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak as saying at a meeting
of the Labor Party faction yesterday that he believes that general
elections will take place by December. Yesterday Maariv reported
that the "rebellion" within Kadima has fizzled.

Major media cited President Bush's call for democracy in the Arab
countries at the World Economic Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh yesterday.
Yesterday The Jerusalem Post quoted the President as saying at a
roundtable discussion with young Israelis on Friday at Jerusalem's
Bible Lands Museum that young people can bring peace.

Major media reported that Likud Knesset Member and former education
minister Limor Livnat has embarked on a campaign to knock down the
status of the Arabic language in Israel.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that Palestinians have recently
and repeatedly destroyed a vineyard and fields cultivated by
settlers in the West Bank.

Maariv reported that Iraqi members of parliament are demanding an
investigation into why dozens of Iraqi children have been sent to
Israel for operations to cure heart defects. These operations save
the lives of the children and are carried out at Wolfson Hospital in
Holon, but the opponents argue that Israel is an enemy country. The
protesters are headed by Ahmed Saadawi, one of the representatives
of the young Shi'ite leader Sheikh Muktada Sadr, a supporter of Iran
and an enemy of the United States.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the IDF is about to build a "Jewish
heritage" campus in Jerusalem.

Over the weekend Maariv and other media reported that next month
Emuni University will be inaugurated in Slovenia. It is described
as the first European-Mediterranean university. Students from
Israel, the PA, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Libya, and other countries
will be studying together in the new institution.

Yesterday Ha'aretz reported that Google co-founder Sergey Brin told
the newspaper over the weekend that the Israeli firm Ormat is one of
the companies that Google is talking to about alternative energy.

Channel 10-TV and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe published the results of a
Maagar Mohot poll (responses by residents of southern Israel, from
Ashkelon and southwards, including Sderot, Netivot, Ofakim and the
Gaza periphery communities, in parentheses):
Q: What would you prefer for the Israeli government to do today:
Reach a cease-fire agreement with Hamas or continue the war against
it?
Israel should reach an arrangement: 33% (39%).
Israel should continue the war: 56% (51%).
11% (10%) were undecided.
Q: Do you think the Israeli government should sign a cease-fire
agreement with Hamas today, even without Gilad Shalit's release?
The government shouldnQt sign such an agreement: 57% (52%).
It should sign the agreement: 24% (31%).
19% (17%) were undecided.
Q: Should the IDF launch a large-scale ground operation in Gaza,
despite the possibility of casualties among IDF soldiers?
It shouldnQt launch an operation: 38% (36%).
It should launch an operation: 51% (58%).
11% (5%) were undecided.

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

Summary:
--------

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "The diplomatic payback [Ariel] Sharon demanded ... will
vanish once John McCain or Barack Obama take office."

Liberal columnist and anchor Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Removing the Hamas government by force will
accomplish nothing and ... we must talk with it not only with force
but also by all possible means, since force will not bring quiet."

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "According to [Bush's Masada] statement, the guarantee of
Israel's security is not only of the administration, but also of the
entire nation: a personal obligation of every single American
citizen."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "It would be more
correct to treat the United States as an ally, a partner in peace, a
helper in war, rather than an apron to hide behind at the critical
moment."

Columnist Amos Gilboa wrote in Maariv: "Who will help [the Lebanese
communities arm and set up militias]? The West? The Sunni Arab
states that are for some reason called 'moderate'? Nobody has
lifted a finger for Siniora's government."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The
Saudis still need to overhaul their own fundamentally flawed 2002
peace plan to make it a genuine starting point for improving
Arab-Israel relations."

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

I. "The No-Return Point of a Return to Gaza"

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (5/19): "One thousand days after the disengagement, the
'point of no-return' that the instigators of the withdrawal wished
to establish has disappeared. Instead, a new 'point of no-return'
has emerged, pointing in the other direction: a 'return' to Gaza.
The diplomatic payback [Ariel] Sharon demanded -- Bush's consent to
leave the settlement clusters in the West Bank, along with the
dubious interpretation of an American blessing for their further
expansion -- all these will vanish once John McCain or Barack Obama
take office. Hamas's conditions for a cease-fire are nowhere near
those set by Israel. So far, Israel's military entry into Gaza has
been delayed because of IDF demands that the political echelon first
formulate an 'exit strategy.' Now the General Staff has stopped
waiting for a reply. If the disengagement was the strategy for
exiting Gaza, the only plan now really being put together is the
strategy for exiting the exit strategy."

II. "To Talk, Not Just Use Force"

Liberal columnist and anchor Ofer Shelach wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (5/18): "What remains? It remains to wait -- until
Hamas, which is under heavy pressure of its own, blinks first. Or,
Heaven forbid, perhaps we cannot say that for fear of being accused
of cynicism but what can we do -- something will happen after which
we will have to act in the name of our boiling blood. That is what
happened in Operation Defensive Shield (which did not stop the
terrorism either, and it was necessary to repeat it over and over),
and was interpreted afterwards as Ariel Sharon waiting wisely for
the right time for legitimization. It remains to wait until the
last traces of reasonable doubt disappear, as happened to us so many
times in the past, and ended badly. And only the alternative
insight -- that removing the Hamas government by force will
accomplish nothing, and that we must talk with it not only with
force but also by all possible means, since force will not bring
quiet -- only that insight has no takers. When, among us, did it
ever?"

III. "When the (American) President Makes a Promise"

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (5/18): "[In his address to the Knesset], in order to
magnify the weight of American commitment to Israel's security, Bush
mentioned Masada -- the prominent symbol of the heroic struggle of
the few against the many -- and said, 'Masada shall not fall again,'
since when the day comes that Israel must defend itself, 'IsraelQs
population may be just over seven million. But when you confront
terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United
States of America stands with you.' According to this statement,
the guarantee of Israel's security is not only of the
administration, but also of the entire nation: a personal obligation
of every single American citizen. This is not only official policy,
but also -- and perhaps primarily -- an expression of the Americans
desire for Israel's secure existence as a consequence of profound
ethical-moral recognition. I would not be exaggerating if I were to
say that no American president has ever made such statements before.
Although Bush is still in office, we should not make light of the
significance of his statements. In American political culture, an
important presidential speech is not thrown into the wastebasket,
but rather 'filed away' as part of the entire political-diplomatic
legacy, and preserved for generations."

IV. "Words, Words, Words"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (5/19): "In other days,
the Americans would have sent the Sixth Fleet to anchor at Beirut
harbor or bombed Hizbullah strongholds from the sea. Not now.
America is tired, emasculated, torn from within. All it can give
its proteges in the Middle East at the moment are words.... If the
IAF strike -- according to foreign sources -- on the Syrian reactor
on September 6, 2007 was intended to convey a message to Iran that
it is not immune to a military blow, the paralysis that has taken
hold of the U.S. and its allies in light of the Hizbullazation of
Lebanon has conveyed the opposite message. The deterrence was
ruined. From the standpoint of countries such as Egypt and Jordan,
the outcome is harsh. For Israel, it is destructive. The lesson is
simple, and it is as old as is the state: We have no one to rely on
but ourselves. Three hundred million Americans will only stand
behind us if we do the job before them. If we shun responsibility,
we will find that the Americans, not to mention the Europeans, are
fleeing much quicker than we are. Therefore, it would be more
correct to treat the United States as an ally, a partner in peace, a
helper in war, rather than an apron to hide behind at the critical
moment."

V. "If I Don't Take Care of Myself, Who Will?"

Columnist Amos Gilboa wrote in Maariv (5/19): "[Hizbullah's show of
force] was meant to tell all of us that it is the only force in
Lebanon.... It must be remembered that since 1990 the communities in
Lebanon do not have armed militias, except Hizbullah. The lesson
imparted on the other communities is the need to arm and set up
militias.... Who will help them do so? The West? The Sunni Arab
states that are for some reason called 'moderate'? Nobody has
lifted a finger for Siniora's government. That was a reminder, and
not only for the government and the communities of Lebanon: If I
don't take care of myself, who will?"


VI. "Oil and the Saudis"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (5/19):
"The Saudis have come a long way from the days, after the 1973 Yom
Kippur War, when they orchestrated the 1973 Arab oil embargo; and
1979, when they opposed Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.... Gone
are the days when the Saudis could single-handedly bring down oil
prices and solve [energy-cost] problems. Nor can we expect them to
contain Iran by themselves. Still, they could be far more helpful on
Lebanon, Hamas and Arab-Israel relations. This newspaper has
applauded the King for launching an interfaith dialogue among
monotheistic religions and urged him not to boycott the Jewish state
in this endeavor. We have also applauded Saudi efforts to tear down
the edifice of religious justification for Muslim terrorism. With
Lebanon's rivals meeting in Qatar, we'd like to see the Saudis
leveraging their clout within the Arab League, against Hizbullah.
And with Hamas again seeking a rapprochement with Fatah, the Saudis
should insist the League embrace the Quartet's conditions for
including Hamas in the Palestinian Authority. Of course, the Saudis
still need to overhaul their own fundamentally flawed 2002 peace
plan to make it a genuine starting point for improving Arab-Israel
relations. Given the regime's origins, it is ironic that the
inheritors of Wahhabism are today uniquely positioned to help bridge
the civilizational gap between Islam and the West. Failing to do so
will ultimately cost them, and us all, dear."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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