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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1170/01 1551013
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031013Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6948
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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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 3920
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0556
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4211
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4724
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3934
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2226
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4684
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1555
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1999
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8544
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6030
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0934
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5054
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7008
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9829
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001170

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

Ha'aretz quoted associates of PM Ehud Olmert as justifying his trip
to Washington in spite of the political crisis, by saying that the
security dialogue began by President Bush in January requires
attention. At the cabinet meeting on Sunday, Olmert said that these
security-related issues address the "essence of Israel's existence."
Media reported that Olmert will focus on Iran and emphasize
Israel's belief that Iran is developing military nuclear
capabilities. "There is progress in the dialogue with the
Americans, but no decisions are expected [to be made]," a political
source said. Olmert is also interested in reaching an agreement
on a series of joint defense projects that will begin under the
current administration, and it is hoped by Israel, bind the next
U.S. administration. A political source said that the projects in
question are very sensitive and have to do with missile defense
systems and advanced warfare capabilities that Israel would like to
acquire in the coming years. The Jerusalem Post, quoted officials
assaying yesterday that Olmert is expected to use the trip to "tie
up some loose ends on several requests by the IDF for new military
platforms as well as funding for defense-related projects, such as
the Arrow 3 anti-missile system. Yediot reported that Olmert will
purchase missile defenses and request F-22 stealth fighters.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a senior State Department official
told the daily yesterday that Israel's continued blockade of Gaza is
misguided and has helped rather than harmed Hamas. The newspaper
reported that the State Department is likely to convey its
displeasure over Israel's Gaza policy to Olmert during his visit.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Olmert as saying that the "hour of
decision" was approaching regarding continued Palestinian rocket
fire from Gaza, pledging that the attacks, which have continued
unabated for seven years, will be stopped "one way or another."
Olmert was speaking at a commemorative ceremony for the Six-Day War.
Maariv bannered Egypt's insistence that Gilad Shalit will not be
released without a truce agreement with Hamas. The newspaper
reported that Cairo intends to start negotiations for Shalit's
release on the day after the beginning of the truce.

Leading media reported that Shas is attempting to extort the
government into increasing child welfare payments (a large
percentage of which go to Shas ultra-orthodox base) by threatening
to support Likud's effort to dissolve the Knesset. Speaking on
Israel Radio this morning, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On declared
that the government was prepared to invest in social services, but
not in child allowances. Ha'aretz reported that Transportation
Minister, and apparently Livni's chief rival in Kadima to supplant
Olmert, Shaul Mofaz has been forging closer links with Shas to head
off early elections and lay the groundwork for an alternative
government headed by him in the current Knesset. Ha'aretz reported
that the Shas leaders told him that they would support him if he
promised to increase child allowances. Ha'aretz quoted Shas sources
as saying that party leaders have already reached agreements with
Mofaz on this issue. According to Ha'aretz, Mofaz believes he can
prevent early elections and is acting to secure Shas's support
before the Kadima leadership primary.

Ha'aretz reported that Egypt has recently been attempting to thwart
a proposed agreement to improve Israel's access to the European
Union market. Egyptian ambassadors in key European capitals have
been instructed to approach host governments and ask them to
reconsider the trade agreement in light of Israel's ongoing
construction in West Bank settlements and its blockade of Gaza.
Senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials have warned their Egyptian
counterparts that Israel views this effort very gravely and wants it
stopped. According to an Israeli assessment, the Egyptian campaign
is actually in retaliation for a U.S. Congressional decision to
freeze up to $200 million in U.S. military aid to Egypt. Cairo
blames Israel for this freeze, because Israel has frequently
complained to Washington about Egypt's failure to combat arms
smuggling into Gaza. Cairo is also upset because the EU has refused
to grant Egypt a similarly favorable agreement. Major media
reported that Israel also sent a formal protest to the PA yesterday
over a letter sent by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to the OECD, in
which he asked the organization to reconsider its invitation to
Israel to join. Fayyad based this request on Israel's military
operations in the territories, and construction in the settlements.
Ha'aretz reported that PM Ehud Olmert told President Mahmoud Abbas
yesterday Israel deems the letter completely unacceptable.

Israel Radio reported that White House Press Secretary Dana Perino
condemned the latest announcement of construction in East Jerusalem,

"Our position on the settlements is that we don't believe that any
more settlements should be built, and we know that it exacerbates
the tension when it comes to the negotiations with the
Palestinians." The radio also cited UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon's criticism of Israel's action. Israel Radio quoted
Construction and Housing Minister Zeev Boim as saying the PM Ehud
Olmert concurs with the decision. The Jerusalem Post quoted Olmert
as saying yesterday: "I believe there is no contradiction between
the people of Israel's total allegiance to Jerusalem and its unity
and our ambitions to create peace within it."

Israel Radio reported that the only positive result of PM Olmert's
talks with PA President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday was related to the
issue of the right of return. The radio did not elaborate.

Major media quoted the Shin Bet as saying yesterday that three Arab
citizens from Lod were indicted in Central District Court on Monday
for allegedly planning to kidnap and murder an Israeli soldier and
later use his body as a bargaining chip for the release of
Palestinian security prisoners.

Israel Hayom and The Jerusalem Post reported that, speaking before
the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yesterday, - Senator
John McCain attacked Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama's
willingness to engage in dialogue with Iran. McCain presented
himself as the best candidate for Israel. Israel Hayom bannered:
"McCain: Obama Is Dangerous for Israel."

Yediot reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad admitted
yesterday that an agreement has not been reached for a full,
absolute Israeli withdrawal from the Golan. However, he stressed
that he is demanding a full withdrawal and that he is preparing
plans to populate the areas that Israel will vacate. Maariv quoted
Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying yesterday before the Knesset's
Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee that there are scant chances
of achieving peace with Syria this year. The Jerusalem Post and
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Barak as saying that only the U.S. can
sponsor negotiations with Syria. The Jerusalem Post quoted Barak as
saying that the Golan is not Syria's top priority.

Yediot reported that the leaders of the Jewish community in Hebron
intend to demand that vacant Jewish real estate (from before 1929)
be returned to them, in accordance with a military committee
decision last week. Israel Radio reported that last night security
forces demolished the synagogue "Hazon David" (David's Vision) in
the city, but that settlers immediately rebuilt it.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the state informed the High Court
of Justice yesterday that it might reconsider its blanket refusal to
allow Gaza students to leave the area. The decision comes after
heavy U.S. pressure to allow seven Fulbright scholars from Gaza to
study abroad.

The media reported that the Knesset's House Committee has approved
the creation of a new Knesset faction: "Justice for the Elderly,"
which split from the Pensioners' Party. The decision was made
possible after the cancellation of a deal with billionaire
politician Arkady Gaidamak.

Ha'aretz reported that the Shin Bet has recently questioned Malah
Haj Yihia, an Israeli citizen and a senior member of the
organization "Physicians without Borders - Israel," over alleged
hostile activity in Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Prof. Jeffery Sachs, director of the Earth
Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals
that Israel has key knowledge and technology in several specific
areas that are hugely important in Africa right now, Sachs was the
keynote speaker on Sunday at the 50th conference of MASHAV, the
Foreign Ministry's Center for International Cooperation.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Indonesian doctors receive casualty
training in Israel. The Indonesian team gave a workshop on
earthquake response and preparedness.

Ha'aretz reported that the recent invalidation of thousands of
conversions is making some Russian-speaking immigrants wonder why
they came to Israel.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/3): "If Kadima wants to prove
it is a party with a backbone, it must respond to [Ehud] Barak's
suggestion and solve the problem of Olmert without general
elections."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Israeli
policymakers need to revaluate their willingness to engage in
lopsided prisoner exchanges."

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

I. "Anything but Elections"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/3): "If Kadima wants to prove
it is a party with a backbone, it must respond to [Ehud] Barak's
suggestion and solve the problem of Olmert without general
elections.... [Tzipi] Livni, a graduate of Herut, the major
predecessor of Likud, has evinced more courage than [Shaul] Mofaz in
pointing out Olmert's defense errors, and she had the guts to demand
outright that Olmert resign. It is no accident that in most of the
public opinion polls she is in the lead as the candidate to become
prime minister, and she is worthy of being chosen in primaries to
head Kadima so she can continue the current peace coalition.
General elections at this time are, above all, a waste of money....
With no hope that premature elections will give rise to some meteor,
that which has been is that which shall be after the elections
except for the replacement of Olmert by Livni. In a game that has
failed, you replace the coach -- not the team."

II. "Another Bad Deal"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (6/3):
"How astute is it to trade an unreconstructed killer for what, it is
now increasingly feared, are the remains of two IDF fallen? When
that killer continues to swear loyalty to the blood-soaked path of
jihad? And when the exchange would further bolster Hassan
Nasrallah's stranglehold on Lebanon? This is the dilemma facing
Israeli policymakers: whether to trade Samir Kuntar for Eldad Regev
and Ehud Goldwasser. Hizbullah has provided no sign of life from
the soldiers since they were abducted on June 26, 2006, in the
cross-border aggression that ignited the Second Lebanon War....
Kuntar, a Lebanese Druze, is serving four life sentences for the
1979 deaths of Danny Haran, 28, his two daughters, four-year old
Einat and two-year-old Yael, and the killing of police officer
Eliahu Shahar in Nahariya.... Israeli policymakers need to revaluate
their willingness to engage in lopsided prisoner exchanges....
Israel's enemies know that Judaism attaches the highest priority to
freeing captives and bringing closure to the families of fallen
fighters. Isn't it time they also learned that Jews understand a
thing or two about bargaining?"

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

Summary:
--------

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "The question is whether AIPAC ... is ready to
listen up and, if necessary come autumn, move on and adjust itself
to a new day in Washington."

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

"AIPAC Is Celebrating... But Is It Faltering?"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (6/3): "The agenda of [the annual policy conference
of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)] will focus
on such pressing issues as the Iranian nuclear program, the current
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and strengthening U.S.-Israeli
ties at every level. Not on the schedule, though, are some pressing
matters for AIPAC that bring with them unsettling undercurrents for
the organization -- developments that pose serious challenges both
internally and externally for an organization still regarded as the
very model of a modern political lobby. Foremost among them is the
still looming and oft-delayed 'AIPAC trial'.... Attacks from outside
the Jewish community, such as the Walt-Mearsheimer report, only
serve to strengthen AIPAC's position within it. But an internal
ideological backlash is evident in the recent forming of J Street,
the new Israel lobbying group that recently sprung up poising itself
as a left-leaning alternative to AIPAC.... The real challenge for
AIPAC is more in the winds of general ideological change sweeping
the U.S.... This year, it will undoubtedly be Obama's scheduled
appearance on Wednesday that will draw the most media attention.
The question is whether AIPAC -- from its grass roots to its highest
leadership levels -- is ready to listen up and, if necessary come
autumn, move on and adjust itself to a new day in Washington."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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