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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #0969/01 1221019
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P 011019Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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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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Ha'aretz quoted Palestinian sources in Cairo as saying yesterday
that Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman will go to Israel to
discuss a cease-fire agreement. The proposal, which 12 Palestinian
factions agreed to yesterday, would include an end to the rocket
fire out of Gaza in exchange for a cessation of Israeli strikes and
the opening of the crossing points, including Rafah. Hossam Zaki,
the Egyptian Foreign Ministry's spokesman, told Ha'aretz that Egypt
is expecting Israel to accept and implement the proposal. Speaking
by phone from Cairo, Zaki said: "The Israelis are giving themselves
plenty of time to think and evaluate ... Israel can contribute by
accepting the Egyptian effort and the tahdiya [calm]." Egyptian
Foreign Minister Abu al-Gheit is also expected to raise the issue
with FM Livni tomorrow at the PA donor conference in London. The
Jerusalem Post quoted a top official involved in the negotiations as
saying that Israel's acceptance would "significantly" expedite Gilad
Shalit's release. However, Yediot and Maariv reported that Israel
may refuse to sign on to the agreement, claiming that Hamas is only
looking for a chance to rearm. Israel Hayom quoted Internal
Security Minister and former Shin Bet head Avi Dichter as saying
that Israel should not reach any agreement with Hamas but "set the
rules by itself." Speaking on Israel Radio, Interior Minister Meir
Sheetrit (Kadima) said that Israel should crush Hamas rather than
enter an agreement with it. Additional criticism focused on the
danger of opening Rafah.

Ha'aretz reported that senior U.S. administration officials told PA
President Mahmoud Abbas last week that President Bush will not set
guidelines or propose solutions to the core issues. Ha'aretz quoted
an American official who met with Abbas in Washington as saying that
the latter was deeply disappointed by the administration's
unwillingness to pressure Israel. It was reported that Abbas's
visit to Washington was the first step in a campaign to publicly
lambaste Israel on construction in the settlements and highlight
what he terms "major gaps" on the borders issue." Ha'aretz quoted
a political source in Jerusalem as saying that "Abbas wants to press
Israel at international conferences and vis-a-vis the Quartet, in
the hope of creating a situation in which Israel stands alone
against the world. That's why he's eager to promote the Moscow
conference as a sequel to Annapolis." Ha'aretz reported that
according to officials who met with Abbas in D.C. Abbas asked Bush
and Secretary Rice to intervene in the negotiations and press Israel
on the border issue. However, Ha'aretz said that there seem to be
differences of opinion between Abbas and Ahmed Qurei, who has
indicated positive progress in the talks. Ha'aretz quoted Abbas as
saying that there is disagreement over what constitutes 100 percent
of the territory of the West Bank, with an emphasis on the Latrun
region, parts of the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea, and areas
surrounding Jerusalem. Abbas took issue with Israel's wanting to
hold on to eight percent of the West Bank, in a territorial
exchange, which would enable it to keep the major settlement blocs.
The Palestinians are demanding that the border follow the 1967
lines, with border adjustments of no more than two percent.

All media, except the ultra-Orthodox newspapers, underscored the
events of Holocaust Memorial Day. President Shimon Peres said at
the official ceremony in Yad Vashem last night that he asks himself
every morning what can be done so that the Holocaust will not be
repeated and that one must not fall asleep in the face of history.
Yediot, Israel Hayom, and Israel Radio quoted Chief of Staff Gabi
Ashkenazi as saying in Auschwitz yesterday that "the U.S. knows
about the Iranian bomb, too." Ashkenazi was referring to the notion
that the U.S. knew about the nature of the camp of
Auschwitz-Birkenau but failed to bomb it. Israel Hayom says that
Israeli politicians view Ashkenazi's remark as veiled criticism of
U.S. policy. Leading media quoted Transportation Minister Shaul
Mofaz, who is leading Israel's strategic dialogue with the U.S., as
saying yesterday in Washington that Iran will reach nuclear
capability within a year. Yediot and Israel Radio reported that
tomorrow FM Livni will meet with British PM Gordon Brown, FM David
Milliband, and top British intelligence officials to discuss
cooperation in countering the Iranian nuclear program and present
intelligence in the matter. The radio said that the meeting will be
patterned after the U.S.-Israel strategic talks. In an exclusive
first interview with an Israeli medium, Rolf Mengele, the son of
Josef Mengele, told Yediot that he recognized his father's heavy
guilt early on and that he is trying to empathize with the victims
of the Holocaust.

The Jerusalem Post repotted that on April 18 Hamas's Al-Aqsa-TV
aired a documentary special according to which Jewish leaders
concocted the mass murder of handicapped Jews in order to keep from
having to support them, and this murder is what the Jews term the
"Holocaust." The Israeli organization Palestinian Media Watch
located and translated the contents of the footage, which it
uploaded to YouTube under the headline: "Hamas: Jews Planned
Holocaust."

Major media reported that yesterday PM Ehud Olmert met with King
Abdullah II in Amman. Maariv quoted sources in the royal palace as
saying that the King asked Olmert to set a timetable for the
Israeli-Palestinian talks. Abdullah was quoted as saying that the
sides should reach an agreement by the end of this year. The
Jerusalem Post said that the visit reflected an Israeli interest in
keeping the monarch "in the loop" on negotiations with the
Palestinians.

The media reported that yesterday 14 Qassam rockets were fired at
Israel. For the first time one of them landed in Moshav Gea near
Ashkelon. Leading media reported that yesterday the IAF bombed a
rocket-manufacturing plant in Gaza. Maariv quoted a group of Gazans
residing in high-rise buildings as saying that they are unhappy with
Hamas and that Hamas fighters should leave their buildings, in which
they have been positioning rockets.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday OC Southern Command
decided to extend the deadline for the IDF probe into the cause of
Monday's explosion in northern Gaza that killed a mother and her
four children.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that yesterday two small unauthorized
settler outposts were pulled down.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday the UN charged that the
number of roadblocks in the West Bank has increased by 61.4% since
August 2005, in spite of recent measures taken by the IDF to ease
such restrictions.

Ha'aretz reported that last week National Infrastructure Minister
Benjamin Ben-Eliezer obtained from Defense Minister Ehud Barak
approval of construction permits for five Mekorot -- the national
water company -- projects in West Bank settlements.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel wants to close a Hebron
school for disadvantaged children, saying that it is run by Hamas.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Canadian Union of Postal
Workers passed a resolution at its nation convention in April
supporting the international campaign of boycott, divestment, and

sanctions against Israel, labeling it an "Apartheid state" and
calling on the Canadian government to increase humanitarian aid to
the Palestinians. The Jerusalem Post reported that a highly
controversial publicly funded photo exhibit equating Israel'
security fence with the Berlin wall has sparked controversy in the
German capital.

The Jerusalem Post reported that IBM is establishing a new Systems
and Technology Group lab in Israel to focus on R&D of storage and
microchip technology solutions.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel and the EU have agreed on
trade concessions: 95% of processed foods will be exempted from
levies and quotas.

Ha'aretz cited a survey among 500 15- to 17-year-olds released
yesterday, according to which a majority of teens in Israel believe
that the country is under threat of destruction. Fifty-two percent
believe that Israel is under somewhat of a threat, and 30% believe
the threat is significant, 6% more than in the last survey in 2007.
In another survey, 38% of those 18 and over said they believe Israel
is under a significant threat of destruction.

Israel Radio cited the results of a poll conducted among Israeli
youth by Massua, the Institute for the Study of the Holocaust -
Memorial to Members of Zionist Youth Movements in Disaster and
Revolt - Kibbutz Tel Itzhak: 98% believe that another Holocaust is
possible; 90% want to help Darfur.

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Instead of
rejecting the calm and helping the gloomy forecast to come true, it
would be better to give a chance to the hesitant step to achieve a
cease-fire."

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz:
"Hamas will continue holding the 'right to veto' the peace process,
supported by the Palestinian resistance groups that agreed to the
cease-fire."
Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "A cease-fire with Hamas may bring us
more security or it may not, but I don't see how it can bring us any
less security than what we've got with the status quo."

Zalman Shoval, a senior Likud member and former ambassador to the
U.S., wrote in The Jerusalem Post: "By now it is fairly obvious that
by the end of this year there will not be a final agreement, and
certainly not one that could be implemented."

The Jerusalem Post editorialized: "It is an irony of history that
delegitimization of Israel and Jewish nationalism in the name of a
progressive 'universalism' now finds fertile ground in the very
European soil that hosted the genocide of the Jews.... Jews learned
that universal human rights are meaningless unless rooted in a state
capable of enforcing them."

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

I. "The Moment before the Respite"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (5/1): "[The
defects in the proposed cease-fire's outline] are important factors
that must be weighed, but they are countered by other
considerations, which should tip the overall balance to the positive
side. The Palestinian factions are supposed to accept the
separation between Gaza and the West Bank in terms of Israeli
security forces activity. The IDF can continue to operate in the
West Bank for the next six months against the terror organizations,
without fearing the collapse of the cease-fire in Gaza. Israel, for
its part, will not be able to claim that the activity of the terror
organizations in the West Bank is considered a cease-fire violation.
In other words, the state of warfare between the IDF and the terror
organizations in the West Bank will continue as was. Three years
ago, this aspect was an obstacle to the success of the de facto calm
in Gaza, in advance of the evacuation of the settlements in the
Strip. Even if the calm is described this time as temporary and
limited to a few months, the Israeli-Arab conflict has already known
cease-fires and armistice agreements that began that way and lasted
much longer. The cease-fire also requires the opening of the Rafah
crossing; without it Gaza will continue to be in a state of
agitation and to threaten both Egypt and Israeli communities.... On
the other hand, Israel can contribute a great deal to prolonging the
cease-fire by gradually removing the sanctions from Gaza, and
particularly by promoting diplomatic steps vis-a-vis the PA.
Instead of rejecting the calm and helping the gloomy forecast to
come true, it would be better to give a chance to the hesitant step
to achieve a cease-fire."

II. "Hamas Claims Victory"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz
(5/1): "Several Arab states were required to bring about the truce
with the Palestinian factions in Cairo on Wednesday. Egypt
orchestrated the move, but in coordination with Jordan and Saudi
Arabia and with Syria's assistance. The Egyptians' resolve stemmed
from their fear that Hamas would carry out its threats of another
breach of the border, with thousands of Gazans spilling into
Egyptian territory. Hamas's rigid opening position included a
comprehensive cease-fire both in the West Bank and Gaza, a written
commitment for a full opening of the Rafah border crossing and a
prisoners' release. These required flexibility on Egypt's part,
which is reflected in an explicit promise- - Hamas says it is a real
commitment although apparently it was not given in writing -- to
open the border. This promise softened Mahmoud Zahar's stance and
he accepted the 'Gaza first' idea.... Egypt went to a lot of trouble
to balance Israel and Hamas's demands to prevent either side from
claiming victory. Israel 'received,' at least on paper, quiet in
Sderot and the western Negev and freedom of action in the West Bank,
while Hamas received Rafah. Hamas is presenting the agreement as a
victory for the Palestinian nation and for violent resistance. But
it cannot claim an all-Palestinian achievement because Israel has
retained freedom of action in the West Bank. However, Hamas will
continue holding the 'right to veto' the peace process, supported by
the Palestinian resistance groups that agreed to the cease-fire.
Thus the truce has brought about a historic upheaval -- secular
Palestinian groups seeking shelter under the wing of a religious
movement to achieve political clout."

III. "For a Cease-Fire with Hamas"

Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (5/1): "Those in [the right-wing]
opposition say that ... an Israeli pact with Hamas would teach the
Palestinians that terror pays. But if Hamas agreed to a cease-fire
with Israel and then violated it, the Palestinians would learn that
terror didn't pay. On the other hand, if Hamas agreed to a
cease-fire and kept to it, and the Palestinians no longer had
helicopters and tanks shooting at them, and they could come and go
to Egypt and from there to the rest of Middle East, and they didn't
live on or over the edge of destitution all the time, they would not
learn that terror pays -- they would learn that stopping terror
pays. So why the hell not try it?.... I don't know whether a
cease-fire would hold or not, and neither does anyone else. What we
do know, however, is that after years of us bombing Gaza and killing
Palestinians, the Qassam rockets are still flying, Hamas has risen
to power and the 'moderates' are nowhere. This policy is not
working. This policy has failed. A cease-fire with Hamas may bring
us more security or it may not, but I don't see how it can bring us
any less security than what we've got with the status quo."

IV. "Muddling Along from Annapolis to Moscow"

Zalman Shoval, a senior Likud member and former ambassador to the
U.S., wrote in The Jerusalem Post (5/1): "In going to Annapolis,
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ignored
one of the first rules of Israel's traditional diplomacy: Try to
avoid international conferences at which you are bound to find
yourself ipso facto in a minority.... Ahead of the Annapolis
conference there apparently was very little prior coordination with
the U.S., which has resulted in more than a few misunderstandings --
including on Israeli security measures and on construction in the
supposedly agreed-on settlement blocs and in and around Jerusalem.
But the most fundamental error of Annapolis, of course, was putting
the Palestinian 'statehood cart' before a weak horse which could
hardly hobble along, let alone gallop on its remaining two legs --
the other legs being in Gaza and Damascus. By now it is fairly
obvious that by the end of this year there will not be a final
agreement, and certainly not one that could be implemented.... While
the Palestinians enthusiastically support the Moscow conference --
seeing it as an opportunity to continue the pressure on Israel --
the government is demonstrably and rightly unhappy with it. Olmert
was quoted in The Jerusalem Post as saying Russian Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov that 'what we need to make peace in the Middle East is
for the two sides to sit together to talk rather than going to
international conventions. This going from one convention to the
other is not something I am particularly on favor of.' Well put,
Mr. Prime Minister -- but why didn't you think about that before
embracing Annapolis?"

V. "The Meaning of Holocaust Memorial Day"

The Jerusalem Post editorialized (5/1): "It is an irony of history
that delegitimization of Israel and Jewish nationalism in the name
of a progressive 'universalism' now finds fertile ground in the very
European soil that hosted the genocide of the Jews. Many Europeans
took from the ravages of the twentieth century a lesson concerning
the dangers of unbridled nationalism. Jews, however, who suffered
not a little from that century, derived the opposite conclusion: had
they possessed a state with which to defend themselves, had they not
been thrown on the benevolence of other nations, the Holocaust would
not have raged so destructively. Jews learned that universal human
rights are meaningless unless rooted in a state capable of enforcing
them; that a sense of national belonging can offer not only physical
survival, but also cultural regeneration; that the national Jewish
mission, far from denying the universal human mission, can do much
to encourage it -- and since the days of the biblical prophets in
fact has. That is the meaning, for us, of Holocaust Memorial Day."

MORENO

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