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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

P 041021Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Iran

2. Mideast

3. Muslims in European Society

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

Leading media reported that PM Ehud Olmert addressed the AIPAC
conference yesterday and focused on Iran, saying that it must be
stopped by all possible means. Yediot bannered: "Olmert to Bush:
[the U.S. Must] Attack Iran." Olmert was also quoted as saying that
the time for Israel and the PA to make tough decisions is fast
approaching. Major media reported that Secretary Rice, who also
addressed AIPAC yesterday, stressed the urgency of establishing a
Palestinian state, saying that the increase in violence in the
Middle East makes the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state
all that more urgent. Ha'aretz noted that her remark was greeted
with silence -- though the Secretary had been warmly greeted by the
conference. (AIPAC is skeptical that the current Palestinian
leadership would be able to control terrorism should a state be
established.) Ha'aretz quoted sources in Washington as saying that
Rice is concerned that the parties will not be able to reach an
agreement before the end of the year, and there will be no
possibility of creating continuity in the negotiations with the next
U.S. administration. The Jerusalem Post quoted Rice as saying that
Hamas will use the truce as a tactic to plan for war. On Iran, Rice
was quoted as saying: "We would be willing to meet with them [Iran],
but not while they continue to inch closer to a nuclear weapon under
the cover of talk."

Ha'aretz reported that Knesset Member Tzachi Hanegbi, who heads
Kadima's party affairs committee, will meet today with
representatives of the four contenders for the Kadima leadership
post to settle on a date for the party primary. Shaul Mofaz, who
has already discussed the matter with Hanegbi, wants to hold the
primary at the beginning of September, while Livni wants it sooner.
The party affairs committee will also have to decide after a new
Kadima leader is elected, whether Olmert will be allowed to continue
serving as prime minister until the general elections. All media

reported that Mofaz visited the Golan yesterday (Netanyahu made the
same trip last week) and said that the area has been and will be a
part of Israel, and that Syria is not yet ready for peace. Yediot
reported that MK David Tal (Kadima) is busy organizing a referendum
on the Golan issue.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli NGO anti-trafficking activists as
saying that no significant change is expected in the evaluation of
Israel in the State Department's 2008 Trafficking in Persons report,
due to be released tomorrow. The newspaper quoted an activist as
saying that Israel's path to the top, desired tier is blocked by the
inactivity of the Interior Ministry and its "humiliating treatment
of victims who have managed to escape the cycle of human
trafficking."

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that western diplomats, including
senior Americans, have recently secretly met with Hamas officials.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a new government strategy to
redefine ties with the Diaspora that will be "less patronizing and
more humble," will be unveiled on June 22. The plan calls for
quadrupling the funding for Birthright israel (the program allowing
young Jews to get acquainted with Israel in free trips) and for a
full-time Jewish world minister.

All media reported that the Tel Aviv District Court will indict
former finance minister Abraham Hirchson today on charges of graft.

The media reported that an IDF soldier was moderately wounded
yesterday by a Palestinian sniper near the Gaza border and that a
terrorist was killed. Five civilians were wounded. The media
reported that yesterday a "Faggot" guided missile landed along the
Gaza border, and that a 107-mm Katyusha rocket landed in the western
Negev.

Maariv quoted Syrian and Turkish media as saying over the past few
days that Turkey-mediated indirect Israel-Syria contacts are due to
resume tomorrow. The daily cited a denial by the Prime Minister's
Office, which said that the principal Israeli negotiators on the
Syrian track, Yoram Turbowicz and Shalom Turgeman, are accompanying
Olmert on his U.S. trip.

The Jerusalem Post quoted senior defense officials as saying that
the government will decide on an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire
in Gaza on Sunday. The newspaper quoted Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh as
saying yesterday that Israel's position regarding the Egyptian

initiative for achieving a truce with the Palestinians is totally
unclear, but that does not mean that Hamas does not want a
cease-fire.

Major media reported that Syria has told fellow Arab countries that
it will not permit an International Atomic Energy Agency probe to
extend beyond a site bombed by Israel, despite agency interest in
three other locations.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday, after Defense Minister
Ehud Barak approved the move, the PA opened three police stations in
West Bank villages southeast of Jenin.

Maariv quoted Israel's Ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor, as saying
in an interview with London's Times that Israel is prepared to press
ahead with Middle East peace negotiations with or without Ehud
Olmert as prime minister.

Israel Radio reported that in an interview with Aljazeera-TV,
Bar-Ilan University Arabic scholar Dr. Mordechai (Moti) Kedar said
that Jerusalem was the Jews' capital when Arabs were "drinking
alcohol and burying girls alive."

The media reported that the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA),
which incorporates Israel TV and Israel Radio, announced yesterday
that it will trim its budget by some 40 million shekels (around
$12.2 million) by the end of the year. The Authority's estimated
deficit will reach an estimated 150 million shekels (around $46
million) by the end of December.

Media quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying
yesterday in Rome that Israel will cease to exist with or without
Iran's involvement. Various media quoted him as saying that
Europeans like his remarks because people will save themselves from
the yoke of the Zionists. Major media reported that yesterday at
the Knesset FM Tzipi Livni branded Iran a "neighborhood bully" that
must be met with firmness, telling a closed-door meeting of the
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the
international community must take decisive action on Iran and
reiterated that military action was an option.

---------
1. Iran:
---------

Summary:

--------

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The big question
hovering over [Olmert's] visit is whether Bush wishes and is able to
impose a military action against Iran on his defense establishment,
on the majority in Congress and on public opinion. It is doubtful
whether there is any precedent in American history for such a
decision in such circumstances."

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

"The Last Chance"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/4): "When George Duck
and Ehud Duck meet this evening, there will be one topic on the
table: Iran. All the other issues do not justify a trip to
Washington by the Prime Minister less than a month after he hosted
the President in Jerusalem. The big question hovering over the
visit is whether Bush wishes and is able to impose a military action
against Iran on his defense establishment, on the majority in
Congress and on public opinion. It is doubtful whether there is any
precedent in American history for such a decision in such
circumstances. Almost everything is working against it. The
Iranians are not threatening the United States. They are taking
care not to cause an incident which would give the Americans a
pretext for attacking them. For such an attack there is no
international support, not at least in public, and the main thing is
that after the entanglement in Iraq, a majority of Americans are
opposed to opening another front in the Middle East and regard any
military initiative by Bush with suspicion.... Bush and Olmert will
have no difficulty in reaching agreement on the gravity of the
Iranian threat and the need to block it. It is easy to agree on but
it is very difficult to prevent. According to the polls 75 percent
of Americans want the next president to meet Ahmadinejad, not to
fight him. Among Republican supporters the figure is 50 percent.
The Republican candidate John McCain, who addressed the AIPAC
conference yesterday, ruled out negotiations with the Iranian
president. The members of the Jewish lobby gave him a standing
ovation, but the political analysts warned McCain that the voters
would not like it."

------------
2. Mideast:

------------

Summary:
--------

Uri Elitzur, who was director of former prime minister Benjamin
Netanyahu's bureau, wrote in the editorial of the nationalist,
Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe: "The President of the U.S. knows that
he is facing a plucked chicken."

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Opponents of
the tahdiya [truce] must clarify how they intend to restore this
lost glory and stabilize the state's security."

Former Ambassador to the U.S., former Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens wrote in Ha'aretz: "Only
a decisive victory in the war against the terrorists in the South
will assure Israel's safety. A cease-fire will be a victory for the
terrorists and a defeat for the IDF."

Alon Liel, who was director-general of the Foreign Ministry and
ambassador to Turkey, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv: "Mr.
Prime Minister.... [Israeli-Syrian] talks cannot take off without
the Americans. You're the only one who can explain to Washington
what you've already understood."


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

I. "A Hollow Visit"

Uri Elitzur, who was director of former prime minister Benjamin
Netanyahu's bureau, wrote in the editorial of the nationalist,
Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (6/4): "The President of the U.S.
knows that he is facing a plucked chicken, and while Olmert is in
Washington, his party fellows and his coalition partners are busy
trying to reach an agreement for early elections, or the
establishment of an alternative government without elections....
However, we must be careful. In his distress, the Prime Minister
might be tempted to turn the spin and public relations into real
diplomatic moves.... Over the past few weeks we have already been

seared on the Syrian track. It is no accident that yesterday the
Syrian President dared declare that his goal is to achieve an
Israeli pullout up to Tiberias."

II. "Is War Preferable?"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (6/4): "Most
members of the security cabinet reject the tahdiya, the temporary
cease-fire that Israel and Hamas are negotiating indirectly via
Egypt. Their main explanation is that such a deal will allow Hamas
to arm itself in a way that could pose a strategic threat to
Israel.... Therefore, Israel is asking Egypt, and through it, Hamas,
for a commitment that there will be no transfer of arms to the Gaza
Strip.... But Israel has recently posed another condition: the
release of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit in return for opening the
Rafah crossing.... It is ... hard to be persuaded by the security
logic of the demand to link the two deals, and the move to make one
contingent on the other.... The government's reputation and the
state's security have already been damaged by Shalit's abduction,
and the government's failure to eliminate the Qassam threat or
protect the South's citizens. Opponents of the tahdiya must clarify
how they intend to restore this lost glory and stabilize the state's
security. Otherwise, it would be best if they let the original deal
move ahead, bring back Shalit and provide a little quiet to the
South."


III. "Another Defeat"

Former Ambassador to the U.S., former Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens wrote in Ha'aretz (6/4):
"If Israel's ability to defend itself should be called into
question, this would not only spell the end of any chance to widen
the circle of peace, but would also increase the probability of
another full-scale war. That is what hangs in the balance in the
confrontation with the terrorists in the South. They know -- and we
must relearn, if we have forgotten -- that the life expectancy of a
Middle Eastern country that shows it cannot defend itself is likely
to be very short. That is the challenge that faces the IDF and its
commander today. Only a decisive victory in the war against the
terrorists in the South will assure Israel's safety. A cease-fire
will be a victory for the terrorists and a defeat for the IDF. Of
course, it is the government, even in its present state, that will

have to make the decision. But it is the Chief of Staff who must
tell the government that he is capable of scoring a victory that
will leave no doubt over who won this war."

IV. "Talk to Bush, Ehud"

Alon Liel, who was director-general of the Foreign Ministry and
ambassador to Turkey, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (6/3):
"Mr. Prime Minister.... You have the opportunity to conclude the
conflict with Syria and through it, the Israeli-Arab conflict. You
have the opportunity to succeed where President Bush himself failed
-- to turn the countries bordering Israel into more moderate ones,
and to tip the Mideast scales in favor of the moderate camp. You
won't be able to do this without your friend President Bush. Even
he, at the end of his political days, is still able to make history.
Ask him to appoint an American envoy to the Israel-Syria talks in
Turkey.... You already went a long way until the beginning of the
official meetings with Assad. Those talks cannot take off without
the Americans. You're the only one who can explain to Washington
what you've already understood."


--------------------------------
3. Muslims in European Society:
--------------------------------

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Britain
appears, finally, to be recognizing the menace radical Islam
presents and willing to do something smart about it. The rest of
the free world has an immense stake in its success."

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

"Britain vs. Islamism"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (6/4):
"Some Britons, mobilized by a minority of academics, radical
Muslims, the hard Left and its gormless fellow-travelers, blame
British and foreign policy for Muslim 'discontent.' These elements
are also behind the renewed effort by the University and College
Union (UCU) to boycott Israeli academics. But others are beginning
to understand what they are up against, and what they must do to
preserve liberal society and the British way or life. Part of the
solution relates to security.... Equally important, however, is
empowering moderate Islam. Yesterday the Home Office announced a
GBP 12.5 million 'de-radicalization' program targeting Muslims who
have been co-opted by radical Islam -- people who have 'already
crossed the line' ion terms ideology, but not yet committed violent
acts. The program offers monitoring and a form of amnesty for
participants, British-born Muslim scholars would be called upon to
teach the Islamic path toward tolerance and non-violence to state
schools. The goal is not to have Muslims abandon their religion,
but to systematically offer them a more moderate interpretation. It
is not clear whether Gordon Brown's shaky government will be able to
implement these proposals, or even whether such brave and moderate
Muslim educators can be found. But on the 15th anniversary of
[Samuel P. Huntington's] 'Clash of Civilizations', Britain appears,
finally, to be recognizing the menace radical Islam presents and
willing to do something smart about it. The rest of the free world
has an immense stake in its success."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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