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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1070/01 1421018
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211018Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6758
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 3860
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0496
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4140
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4662
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3872
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2155
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4622
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1491
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1935
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8483
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5970
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0874
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4993
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6943
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9737
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001070

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

1. Mideast

2. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

Leading electronic media reported that today Israeli and Syrian
representatives announced in Jerusalem, Damascus, and Ankara that
their countries were engaged in indirect peace negotiations under
the auspices of Turkey. Maariv reported that over the past few days
PM Olmert's diplomatic advisor Shalom Turgeman had held a "secret
meeting" on the Syrian track in Damascus. Speaking on Israel Radio,
Labor Knesset Member and previous Mossad head Danny Yatom accused
Olmert of coming out with the announcement because of his legal
entanglement.

Reporting that Syria has prevented IAEA inspection of two suspected
nuclear sites, Yediot bannered: "What Is Assad Hiding from the
Nuclear Inspectors?" The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel is
closely following meetings being held in Moscow this week between a
high-level Syrian military delegation and Russian Defense Ministry
officials. According to reports in the Russian media, the talks will
focus on arms sales -- including submarines, anti-aircraft missiles,
the latest model MiG
fighter jets, and advanced surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.

Israel Radio quoted a senior GOI source as saying that Israel has
not yet responded to the Egypt-mediated cease-fire offer. The radio
said that the remark came in response to comments by a senior
Egyptian official yesterday that Israel had accepted the deal in
principle. Ha'aretz reported that Egypt is still trying to commit
smaller Palestinian factions to the tahdiya (truce).

Ha'aretz reported that PM Ehud Olmert proposed in discussions on
Monday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that a naval blockade be
imposed on Iran to pressure it into stopping its uranium enrichment
program. Ha'aretz reported that although the White House denied a
published report that President Bush intends to attack Iran before
the end of his term in January, the Bush administration is said not
to have ruled out military action against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Ha'aretz cited a story in The Jerusalem Post quoting an
unidentified official as claiming that a "senior member" of Bush's
entourage to Israel last week made the statement about attacking
Iran in a closed meeting. However, Ha'aretz quoted White House
Press Secretary Dana Perino as saying that the article is "not worth
the paper it's written on." She added that the administration's
preference and actions for dealing with Iran remain through peaceful
diplomatic means. Ha'aretz said that Israelis who spoke to Bush and
his entourage while they were in Israel last week said they had the
impression that the military option "is on the table," and that the
president felt a sense of deep obligation to take care of Iran.

The media reported that yesterday the High Court of Justice rejected
PM Olmert's and his former senior aide Shula Zaken's petition
against the deposition of Olmert's alleged briber, American
millionaire Morris Talansky, ruling that the Jerusalem District
Court's decision to hear prior testimony from Talansky was sound.
Ha'aretz reported that today Olmert and Zaken will continue to try
to delay Talansky's deposition. Maariv and other media quoted
Talansky as saying that he had given Olmert money that was used for
other purposes than for Olmert's election needs. Media quoted New
York Assemblyman Dov Hikind as saying that he saw then Jerusalem
mayor Olmert take an envelope full of cash following a Brooklyn
fundraiser for the New Jerusalem Foundation in the 1990s. The
Jerusalem Post quoted a senior former law enforcement official as
saying yesterday that police do not accept Olmert's explanation for
where the money went. Leading media reported that the gag order on
Olmert's investigation will expire today. Maariv reported that
the succession struggle within Kadima is intensifying and quoted
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz as saying during a close meeting
with Kadima activists: "What has FM Livni done, except talking with
some foreign ministers?" The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio
reported that Kadima and Labor officials are considering Vice PM
Haim Ramon for the post of acting PM.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe and Israel Radio reported that the heads of
local councils in the western Negev have written Olmert, demanding
that he remove the threat of rockets from their area.

Ha'aretz reported that in a reversal of its previous decision, the
Defense Ministry has decided to bring the Phalanx air defense system
from the U.S. to Israel in order to examine whether it can be used
to counter Qassam rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza. Defense
Minister Director General Pinhas Buchris made the decision despite
opposition from several senior ministry officials, according to a
number of sources. Ha'aretz has learned that several weeks ago,

Buchris contacted the relevant authorities in the U.S. and requested
one Phalanx system so that its performance could be tested. The
U.S. approved the request. However, it is not clear when the system
is due to arrive in Israel.

Ha'aretz and other media quoted Palestinian doctors and Hamas as
saying that a 13-year-old boy, an unidentified man, and a Hamas
militant were killed in at least three Israel Air Force strikes on
targets in the Gaza Strip yesterday. The media reported that at
least three Qassam rockets and several mortar shells were fire into
Israel yesterday.

A Ha'aretz reporter (Avi Issacharoff) visited the Jenin area with
Palestinian forces and found that the military and police forces
deployed in the area in recent weeks have succeeded in restoring law
and order to what had been viewed as an uncontrollable district.
More importantly, they also seem to be having a great amount of
success in dismantling of what Israelis call "terror
infrastructures." Issacharoff noted that Israeli defense officials
generally respond dismissively to questions about that capabilities
of the PA's preventive forces.

The Jerusalem Post quoted diplomatic officials as saying yesterday
that Israel is expected to air complaints on UNIFIL's performance in
Lebanon with French FM Bernard Kouchner in Jerusalem this week.

Maariv reported that the settler construction company Amana has made
residents of the Eshal outpost (in the southern Hebron hills) sign a
clause obligating them to leave their property should the state
demand it. The newspaper quoted the residents as saying that the
demand contradicts their values. Amana's legal advisor was quoted
as saying that the clause is meant to protect the firm from claims
by settlers. The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday a
Palestinian woman whose land has been seized by Jewish settlers from
the unauthorized outpost of Shvut Ami 11 times in the past eight
months petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding that security
force evict the trespassers and establish a permanent presence to
protect the property.

Globes and Maariv cited the wonderment of former visiting vice
president Al Gore about the fact that Israel does not make use of
solar energy, despite its being the "land of the sun." The
Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday at Tel Aviv University
conference, Gore called on Israel to play a leading role in
renewable energy.

Ha'aretz cited a Reuters news report quoting the state-run Egyptian
Middle East News Agency (MENA) as saying that Prime Minister Ahmed
Mohamed Nazif said yesterday that Egypt has told Israel it wants to
raise the price of the natural gas it exports to the country.
Natural gas from Egypt began flowing to Israel through a pipeline
for the first time in May.

Ha'aretz cited Bank of Israel data showing that the Israeli public's
portfolio of financial assets shrank by 77.4 billion shekels (around
$23 billion) in March 2008, losing 3.9% of its value to 1.996
trillion shekels (around $590 billion), mainly because of the
turmoil on the financial markets. However, the main reason is that
Israeli stocks held by the general public tumbled during March.
Foreign stocks held by Israelis generally maintained their value
that month, staying put at about 62.5 billion shekels (around $18.5
billion).

Over the past few days the media have reflected the Israeli public's
considerable interest in tonight's Champions League Final soccer
game between the English clubs Chelsea and Manchester United in
Moscow. Avram Grant, Chelsea's Israeli coach, was appointed by
Chelsea's owner, Jewish Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich last
summer.


------------
1. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "It's a shame that the Olmert government is
being dragged into the tahdiya as though seized by the devil,
instead of being seen as the one dictating the conditions.... A
leader who behaves as if there is no tomorrow has to go home --
today."

Arab affairs correspondent Smadar Perry wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "If the deal involving
Gilad Shalit's release is at last carried out, Prime Minister Olmert
will reap its fruits.... Mubarak will gain points in the White
House."

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "Painstakingly ... [Ehud Barak] is
trying to resurrect his stature in the eyes of the public as a
diplomat, and not only a general."

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

I. "If There's No Tomorrow, Let Him Go Home Today"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (5/21): "The indirect negotiations with Hamas
for a tahdiya [lull] agreement are a necessity that should not be
condemned.... It's a shame that the Olmert government is being
dragged into the tahdiya as though seized by the devil, instead of
being seen as the one dictating the conditions. In this way, it is
bestowing on Hamas additional public opinion points, just when the
organization was losing its popularity in the wake of the prolonged
siege.... Instead of attacking France and others trying to promote
an agreement with Hamas, the decision makers in Israel would do
better to use every means possible to strengthen Fatah. The most
effective means is, of course, accelerated achievement toward a
final-status solution that will end the occupation. In the Prime
Minister's situation, he does not have the power to force the
evacuation of even a single outpost and the removal of checkpoints.
But a leader who behaves as if there is no tomorrow has to go home
-- today."

II. "Untying the Gaza Knot"

Arab affairs correspondent Smadar Perry wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (5/21): "[As they are
preventing Abbas from getting loose of their grip, Israel and Egypt]
are holding hands in a vital struggle against a joint enemy abhorred
by both sides -- Hamas.... If the deal involving Gilad Shalit's
release is at last carried out, Prime Minister Olmert will reap its
fruits. Mubarak will wait for Olmert in Egypt to sign the deal;
Olmert will get a time-out; and Mubarak will gain points in the
White House. A miracle may take place: Gilad Shalit would return
home earlier, in the Prime Minister's plane."
III. "The Slow Repackaging of the Diplomat Ehud Barak"

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (5/21): "Painstakingly -- meeting after
meeting with the Rices and Pelosis and Kouchners and Moratinos of
the world -- [Ehud Barak] is trying to resurrect his stature in the
eyes of the public as a diplomat, and not only a general. Another
sign of this new direction is that the statements to the press on
Barak's various meetings -- while still far from overly instructive
-- are not as painfully anemic as previously.... 'The Defense
Minister reiterated his position that Israel is committed to the
concept of 'two states for two peoples,' and that it is interested
in progressing in the process with the Palestinians, despite the
gaps that exists on the core issues,' [Barak's] statement [during
his visit to Sharm el-Sheikh this week] read. 'This progress
obligates "painful concessions" also on the Palestinian side.'
Those sounded like the words of one entrusted with the nation's
diplomatic process, not its security portfolio. Or, more precisely,
one who wants to convince the country he should be in charge of
both."


--------------------------
2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Liberal columnist Aviad Kleinberg wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "It is very doubtful whether the United
States is a proper emulation model for Israel."

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

"We Love You George"
Liberal columnist Aviad Kleinberg wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (5/21): "What made me feel uneasy (not to
say slightly nauseous) [during George and Laura Bush's visit to
Israel] is the lack of limits, I would say the lack of self-respect
-- in the bowing at the feet when only a handshake is needed. Bush
was repeatedly presented as an incomparable leader, almost as a
cosmic redeemer.... We love and admire our darling Mum and Dad. Our
gratitude to them is boundless.... It is [also] very doubtful
whether the United States is a proper emulation model for Israel; it
is even more dubious whether American geopolitical thinking -- at
least in its current manifestations -- does not constitute a
veritable threat to America's little ally.... When you are small,
you had better develop a regional view."

JONES

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