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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0973/01 1231130
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021130Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6530
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 3777
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0416
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4055
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4581
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3791
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2068
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4539
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1411
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1855
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8403
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5884
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0794
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4913
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6862
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9645
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000973

SIPDIS

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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Heralded by a Channel 2-TV story last night, the media reported that
PM Ehud Olmert is being questioned by police today at his residence
in Jerusalem. Although the reason for the questioning is unknown,
Yediot reported that Olmert is suspected of accepting a bribe from
an American businessman with interests in Israel before he was
appointed Prime Minister. Maariv and Israel Radio reported that
this latest probe into Olmert's questionable past is related to the
questioning of Olmert's bureau chief Shula Zaken earlier this week.
Maariv reported that the police, with approval from the Attorney
General, are moving forward very quickly out of concern that given
time, Olmert and Zaken would coordinate their version of events.

The Jerusalem Post quoted defense officials as saying yesterday that
Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security
Bureau, will meet Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Cairo
in a few days to discuss the proposed cease-fire with Hamas. The
newspaper reported that Israel has several reservations about the
deal, including the reopening of the Rafah crossing. Israel Radio
quoted Egyptian FM Ahmed Abu al-Gheit as saying in an interview with
the BBC's Arabic service that the truce is not limited in time.
Maariv quoted Shin Bet head Avraham Diskin at saying at the latest
cabinet meeting that the GOI is holding secret meetings with Hamas
behind the Shin Bet's back. The media reported that the IAF
assassinated a Hamas terrorist involved in the capture of Gilad
Shalit, and that IDF troops killed a civilian in another incident.
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that Hamas threatened to cancel the
hudna [truce] following the assassination.

All media quoted IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi as saying
yesterday that Israel took "very seriously" calls for its
destruction. He was speaking on Holocaust Memorial Day at the March
of the Living ceremony in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in
Poland.

Ha'aretz reported that donor states to the PA are expected to
express concern for the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. Israel
Radio quoted Henrietta Fore, the U.S. representative to the donors
conference, as saying that the U.S. administration will look
favorably on a PA request for additional economic aid. Ha'aretz and
The Jerusalem Post cited a report from the UN's Office of the
Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as saying that millions
of liters of sewage have been released over the past three months
into the Mediterranean Sea from Gaza. OCHA says that unless there
is a consistent electrical supply, it is impossible to make regular
use of the sanitation equipment in the Strip. The UN is also
calling on Israel to allow the transfer of materials and spare parts
that are necessary to upgrade and expand the sewage system.,

The Jerusalem Post reported that Nof Zion (View of Zion), a new
neighborhood in East Jerusalem that straddles an Arab residential
area with sweeping vistas of the Old City and the Temple Mount will
be populated this summer. Leading media reported that Ma'aleh
Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel plans to protest lack of construction in
the controversial E-1 area by spending Independence Day in a tent on
a West Bank hilltop. Maariv, Israel Radio, and Ha'aretz's website
quoted Secretary Rice as saying Thursday en route to London that
Israel and the Palestinians must agree "once and for all" on final
borders and settle the contentious matter of settlement expansion in
the West Bank.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak was quoted as saying in an interview
with Yediot that a solution to the Gaza problem cannot be reached
without the use of force and that no option can be ruled out on
Iran. He also added that 80 percent of Israelis are prepared for a
peace accord with Syria even if it means painful concessions. As
far as Lebanon, Barak opined that the presence of 40,000 missiles in
the hands of Hizbullah is a threat to the entire territory of
Israel.

Yediot (Nahum Barnea) reported that an associate of Vice President
Dick Cheney may have been behind the leak to reporters of the video
on Israel's attack of the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor. Barnea
noted that Cheney is opposed to Secretary Rice's agreement with
North Korea.

Makor RIshon-Hatzofe reported that Ehud Barak has instructed the IDF
to remove the roadblock between Ramallah and the settlement of
Beit-El.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israel's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva as
saying yesterday that he was relieved that South Africa had
withdrawn its offer to host next year's "Durban II" event. The
newspaper quoted a Foreign Ministry source as saying that Israel was
still worried about the racism parley. The Jerusalem Post quoted the
Jerusalem-based watchdog NGO Monitor as saying in a report issued
this week that Human Rights Watch has systematically condemned
Israel for "collective punishment" in Gaza, undermining its stated
agenda of promoting human rights universally.

The Jerusalem Post quoted PA officials as saying that over 100,000
Palestinians living in Lebanon are expected to march toward the
border with Israel on May 14 in the context of the PA's plan to mark
the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Israel. Leading media
reported that the PA leadership has announced that it would boycott
any world leader who arrived in Israel to participate in the
anniversary celebrations. Leading media reported that yesterday an
Israeli-Arab judge from the Nazareth District Court ruled in favor
of allowing a Nakba (Catastrophe) Day parade planned by the northern
branch of Israel's Islamic Movement in the Israeli-Arab community of
Kafr Kana. Right-wing politicians condemned the ruling.

Major media reported that this week the Great Rabbinical Court in
Jerusalem revoked the conversion to Judaism of a woman who does not
observe the principles of Judaism (neither do many converts, NB).
The ruling might retroactively reverse the status of many converts,
who will effectively no longer be able to marry.

Israel Radio reported that Yuval Rabin, the late PM Yitzhak Rabin's
son, may run for Tel Aviv mayorship.

Yediot reported that on the occasion of Israel's 60th anniversary
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will allow Israeli inmates
in his state to serve the remainder of their prison terms in
Israel.

Yediot reported that the American Embassy in Tel Aviv has doubled
the fee to schedule a visa appointment. The newspaper quoted the
embassy as saying that the upgrading of the Internet service and
expenses related to the maintenance of the system are the causes of
the hike, and that the embassy is currently working with Israel Post
(the Post Office) to implement a payment system which would allow
MRV fees to be paid at the prevailing exchange rate instead of being
fixed far in advance.

--------
Mideast:
--------
Summary:
--------

Military correspondent Yaakov Katz wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "What is likely to happen
is that Israel will 'silently' accept the [truce] offer.... And
Israel would have a tough time explaining its policies abroad if it
continues firing in Gaza when Hamas and other factions have all
announced their readiness to lay down their weapons."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented from Aqaba in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The talk of an alleged
breakthrough in the attempts to renew negotiations between Jerusalem
and Damascus are nothing more than camouflage for a major setback in
Israel's talks with the Palestinians."

The Jerusalem Post editorialized: "With so much attention focused on
the Hamas threat and Independence Day security concerns, and given
the degree to which Israel was taken by surprise in summer 2006, all
we're urging is: Keep an eye on southern Lebanon."

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev wrote in Ha'aretz: "The Nazis' goal
was to murder every single Jewish person in Europe, and ultimately
in the world.... In contrast, the current situation in the Middle
East is a classic one of adversaries."


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

I. "Edging toward 'silent acceptance' of a Truce"

Military correspondent Yaakov Katz wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (5/2): "One of Israel's
greatest concerns with a truce is the possibility that Hamas will
continue smuggling weapons into Gaza and build up its military
infrastructure at an unprecedented rate. It will be up to Egypt to
prevent this. In the end what is likely to happen is that Israel
will 'silently' accept the offer.... Israel also has to be concerned
about its image abroad and what the international community will say
if it respects the cease-fire. The U.S., The [Jerusalem] Post has
reported, is pressuring Jerusalem to wrap up the deal ahead of
President George W. Bush's visit to Israel in two weeks. And Israel
would have a tough time explaining its policies abroad if it
continues firing in Gaza when Hamas and other factions have all
announced their readiness to lay down their weapons."

II. "The Syrian-Palestinian Lie"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented from Aqaba in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (5/2): "Olmert's attempt to
reopen the Syrian channel at the expense of the talks with the
Palestinians will not only accomplish nothing on either front, with
the long arms of Iran and Al-Qaida (a new periodical the
organization published in Gaza received the blessing of Ayman
Al-Zawahiri), reaching every corner of the region, such a move might
unsettle even the fragile peace with Jordan and Egypt and bury the
Arab peace initiative.... Olmert is part of a big charade being held
for the upcoming visit by President Bush, patron of the Annapolis
declaration: 'an effort to reach an agreement by the end of 2008.'
The talk of an alleged breakthrough in the attempts to renew
negotiations between Jerusalem and Damascus are nothing more than
camouflage for a major setback in Israel's talks with the
Palestinians.... When the negotiations with the Palestinians come to
a noisy end, and Hamas, having obtained calm in Gaza, drives the
remnants out of the Muqata ...Syria will also pop loudly. The
supposed negotiations in two simultaneous channels will become a
case of double Israeli recalcitrance. Assad will wave around his
fruitless wooing of Olmert and the violation of the Annapolis
declaration. He will call for the implementation of the Arab
Leagues' Damascus declaration from March, he will claim that the
peace initiative with Israel must be reexamined, and he will demand
that Egypt and Jordan adhere to the standard of making normalization
with the Jewish state conditional on its withdrawal to the June 4,
1967 borders. That is the danger of which King Abdullah spoke to
Bush. That is why he invited Olmert to Amman."

III. "An Eye on the North"

The Jerusalem Post editorialized (5/2): "Something odd may be going
on in southern Lebanon, and the Israeli security apparatus needs to
be watching.... Of course, UN Security Council Resolution 1701
mandates no military activity in southern Lebanon save for the
10,000 soldiers of the Lebanese Army deployed there, supported by
13,000 UNIFIL troops and 1,500 personnel of the UNIFIL Maritime Task
Force stationed along the coast.... In practice, Hizbullah
shamelessly violates the cease-fire.... Hizbullah watcher Guy
Bechor, writing on [the Hebrew-language site] www.gplanet.co.il,
does not foresee a Hizbullah assault in the near term. But he
doesn't discount the prospect of a large-scale surprise attack down
the line. He warns that hundreds of guerrillas could burst through
the entire length of the border, seize territory, and take hundreds
of hostages. Nasrallah could then claim to be the fist Arab leader
to have successfully invaded 'Palestine' since 1948, thus
solidifying Hizbullah's hold on the Arab imagination. With so much
attention focused on the Hamas threat and Independence Day security
concerns, and given the degree to which Israel was taken by surprise
in summer 2006, all we're urging is: Keep an eye on southern
Lebanon."

IV. "If Everything Is Genocide..."

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev wrote in Ha'aretz (5/2): "Recently,
yet another Hamas spokesperson compared the situation in Gaza to
events during the Holocaust. Coming from an official who represents
an organization that unabashedly declares its commitment to
terrorism and the destruction of Israel, this is in itself not
surprising.... Language has power. The words we choose to use carry
weight, and are meaningful. If we elect to label every event
'genocide,' or equate every event with the Holocaust, then we
detract from the real meaning of those words and reduce their
ability to represent true horror. Subsequently, when faced with a
real incident of genocidal murder, people will be less likely to be
moved to act. If everything is genocide, nothing is genocide.....
The Nazis' goal was to murder every single Jewish person in Europe,
and ultimately in the world.... In contrast, the current situation
in the Middle East is a classic one of adversaries. The conflict
between the Palestinians and Israel is fundamentally about land and
sovereignty, with tangible issues and a long, convoluted history.
It is legitimate to criticize both sides in this conflict. But to
employ outright lies in place of legitimate criticism undermines any
possibility of building understanding. Despite assertions to the
contrary, a lie, no matter how big and how often it is told, does
not become truth.... Doing this to the Holocaust, arguably one of
the most significant and horrific events of modern history,
dishonors the victims, and trivializes the events themselves."

MORENO

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