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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3947
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0583
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4241
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4753
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3962
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2255
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4712
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1582
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2028
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8571
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6057
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0961
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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7035
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9875
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001214

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. Iran

3. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

The media reported that PM Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are scheduled to meet today to discuss
a proposed Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with Gaza militant groups or
a military operation. Israel Radio says that if the three reach a
decision, it will be reviewed by senior military and intelligence
officials tomorrow. In its lead story, Maariv reported that Israel
is postponing its major ground operation in Gaza. Maariv reported
that fearing that the opportunity to release Shalit may be missed,
the defense establishment and PM Ehud Olmert are inclined to favor a
truce and the possibility of a limited operation in Gaza. Yediot
reported that the IDF is reducing its activity in Gaza and that it
would take two weeks to prepare a military operation there.

All media reported that yesterday, two years after Gilad Shalit was
kidnapped by Palestinian militants, his family was given a letter.
Yediot and Israel Radio cited assessments that it was dictated by
Hamas and that Hamas sent it through the office of the Carter Center
in Ramallah. Although the family has not released its content nor
said when it had been written, Ha'aretz reported that the abducted
soldier's father Noam told the newspaper on Monday that in the
letter Gilad begs for his life and requests that efforts be made to
secure his release as soon as possible. Ha'aretz reported that Noam
Shalit added that the new sign of life is not evidence of any
progress in talks to free his son. Yediot bannered an alleged
sentence in Gilad's letter: "I am in a bad condition; save me; don't
abandon me; I want to get home soon." Ha'aretz quoted a senior
Jerusalem source as saying that the letter is believed to be part of
Hamas efforts to achieve a cease-fire with Israel in Gaza. The
source added that Hamas is attempting to frame the move as a
goodwill gesture, and that the Islamic militant group hopes it will
lead Israel to drop its demand that negotiations for Shalit's
release be included in talks for a Gaza truce.

Yesterday Ha'aretz reported that the U.S. has proposed holding
trilateral talks with Israel and the Palestinians in order to
accelerate negotiations on the core issues. Both Israel and the
Palestinian Authority have expressed reservations about this idea,
in light of their commitment to the principle of direct bilateral
negotiations. Media quoted chief PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei as
saying over the weekend that the parties have started drafting
documents that could form the basis for a peace agreement. The
media reported that Qurei told Palestinian reporters: "The borders
[of the Palestinian state] will include East Jerusalem, the Jordan
Valley and the Dead Sea, as well as the no-manQs land that existed
before 1967, such as the area of Latrun.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel is expected to transfer some tax funds
to the PA today, after holding up the money for a week. The
transfer was stopped after Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad called on the
EU and OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)
not to upgrade their relations with Israel. Israel will deduct some
70 million shekels (around $20.7 million) from the PA's money to
cover debts and transfer some 180 million shekels (around $53.3
million) of the 250 million shekels (around $74 million) in taxes
that it collects for the PA. Ha'aretz reported that a senior
Israeli official blasted Fayyad, saying: "He stabbed Israel in the
back." Relations between Israel and the PA have been tense in the
last few days due to Israel's withholding the Palestinians' tax
money. Holding up the money has caused several days' delay in
paying wages to some 150,000 Palestinians employed by the PA.

Ha'aretz reported that Congress is moving forward with a new
military aid package to Israel a year after President Bush agreed to
a 25 percent increase. Ha'aretz reported that political and
defense sources in Israel had said that the main reason for the
delay stemmed from concerns among Democrats that the additional
defense aid would be credited to the Republicans during a major
election year. Ha'aretz reported that it had been hoped in Israel
that the increased assistance would begin flowing as early as
October 2008.

Israel Radio quoted Oslo Accords architect Dr. Ron Pundak as saying:
"There is a chance, perhaps for the first time, of reaching an
actual agreement on a declaration of principles, an [unofficial]
agreement with general details, with the Palestinians."

Leading media reported that a Palestinian woman, 57, was badly
injured and her husband and another relative were battered, in an
assault by masked Israeli settlers in the southern Hebron Hills
yesterday. Ha'aretz reported that the police are investigating
whether the Israeli attackers hailed from the West Bank settlement
of Susia, as the injured Palestinians claim.

The media reported on an initial hike in the world price of oil
following Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz's comment to Yediot
over the weekend that Israel must attack Iran. The media quoted
Iran's Defense Minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najar, as saying that
Iran's response would be painful. Media reported that officials in
the security establishment have sharply criticized Mofaz's warning.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the yesterday the PA appealed to
the U.S. to intervene to stop Israel from attacking Gaza in response
to the rocket attacks.

Yediot reported that Kadima is freezing its primaries. The
newspaper quoted Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak as saying privately
that Olmert must quit his job immediately.

Ha'aretz and other media quoted diplomatic sources in Ankara and
Jerusalem as saying that indirect negotiations between Israel and
Syria are expected to start on Thursday in Istanbul. Ha'aretz
quoted Olmert as saying during discussions in recent days with aides
and experts on Syria from academia and the defense establishment:
"We must present the Syrians with the alternative for peace, and not
only the possibility for war and international isolation." Ha'aretz
says that Olmert has decided that talks on the basis of the
principles of the 1991 Madrid Conference represent the best possible
scenario. Ha'aretz reported that Olmert is convinced it is possible
-- but also a must -- to decouple Syria from the radical axis led by
Iran. Ha'aretz reported that in talks with aides, Olmert reiterates
that "Syria must be faced with a different alternative." Olmert was
quoted as saying that during the past year no one has offered the
Syrians anything except international isolation, and that is why
they stayed close to Iran and Hizbullah. Ha'aretz reported that
Syrian State TV likened Olmert to Hitler.

All media reported that on Sunday a Palestinian youth was caught at
a West Bank checkpoint carrying six pipe bombs and a magazine. Over
the weekend media reported that on Friday the IAF attacked a Hamas
position in northern Gaza, injuring at least 15 Palestinians. In a
different incident, one gunman was killed and two were wounded
during a battle with Israeli ground troops in northern Gaza. Also
on Friday morning, an IDF soldier who was part of a team of military
engineers working near the Gaza border was injured when the force
came under fire from a Palestinian sniper.

Ha'aretz reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy will try to
promote a diplomatic resolution to the Sheba Farms issue.

Ha'aretz reported that today the Knesset's Constitution, Law, and
Justice Committee will move through the final stages of legislation
to amend the law of interrogation of suspects that would exempt
police from documenting security investigations by video. The
newspaper reported that human rights organizations are wondering
what law enforcers have to hide.

Ha'aretz reported that Israeli Arabs will distribute 20,000 booklets
on the Nakba outside of schools in Arab communities throughout the
country. A camera crew from the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television
network will cover the handing out of the booklets tomorrow at 11
A.M. (04:00 EDT). The booklets, which were written by 150
Palestinian children in Israel, the Palestinian territories, and
Syria and Lebanon, are part of an initiative by the Ibn Khaldoun
Center for Development Studies (ICDS) in the northern town of Tamra
to "reaffirm Palestinian consciousness, and maintain and reinforce
it among future generations." Dr. Asad Ghanem, the chairman of the
ICDS and a senior faculty member at the University of Haifa, told
Ha'aretz yesterday that the move carries a double message -- that
the Palestinians are one people with one Nakba, and that the
standing of the Palestinians in Israel supports the Palestinian
national movement. The booklets have been criticized by some
Israeli Arab educators for not providing an Israeli side of events.


Leading media quoted Ron Prosor, Israel' Ambassador to the UK, as
saying in an opinion piece in today's Daily Telegraph that "Britain
has become a hotbed for radical anti-Israeli views and a haven for
disingenuous calls for a one-state solution, a euphemistic name for
a movement advocating Israel's destruction." Singling out the
academia and the media, he was quoted as saying: "Israel's military
reaction to the attacks it faces is given in depth, microscopic
coverage. Yet the attacks to which Israel is responding are often
ignored. The average British citizen is painfully unaware that
since Hamas seized control of Gaza last year, 1,400 rockets and
1,500 mortar bombs have landed on Israeli soil."

The Jerusalem Post reported that Dr. Mordechai Paldiel, the former
director of the Department of the Righteous at Yad Vashem has
expressed his dissatisfaction with Yad Vashem for an "unreasonable"
delay in bestowing the title of Righteous among the Nations on the
fist Arab nominated for the award.

Ha'aretz reported that the Interior Ministry has set up a unit to
question and investigate refugees from Africa -- the GOI's first big
step to deal with the wave of migrants entering from the southern
border. The move comes after the state predicted that refugees will
continue to arrive in the next few years and nothing can be done to
stop them.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "A large-scale military operation in the
Gaza Strip, despite Olmert and Barak's statements last week, does
not appear to be likely in the immediate future."

Liberal columnist and anchor Ofer Shelach wrote in Maariv: "Those
who believe that the current talks [with the Palestinians] are a
flight to nowhere -- and those who think otherwise -- must ask
themselves how Israel prepares itself for the day when everything
explodes."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Israeli
policymakers need to enunciate a 'River-to-Sea Doctrine' declaring
that this country will not tolerate on territory between the
Mediterranean and the Jordan any foreign power that threatens the
security of the Jewish state."

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

I. "Collision Course"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (6/10): "Israel and Hamas are on an
inevitable collision course; a large-scale military operation at
present will only cause more damage than benefit; a large-scale
military operation at present is liable to scuttle a unique
opportunity to bring Gilad Shalit back home and could result in the
absolute termination of all contact with his captors. Those three
fundamental working assumptions are shared by most of the Israeli
decision-makers and most of the security officials.... There is no
majority in the security cabinet in favor of the truce proposal in
its current format.... [However], judging by the looks of things, a
large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip, despite Olmert and
Barak's statements last week, does not appear to be likely in the
immediate future."

II. "The Third Intifada Is Coming"

Liberal columnist and anchor Ofer Shelach wrote in Maariv (6/10):
"Most Israelis view current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as
something between an illusion and an exercise in insignificance....
What will happen on the day the talks blow up? After Netanyahu is
elected, after all cover-up attempts flounder, after even Abu-Ala
[Ahmed Qurei] and Livni give up? What will happen when the first
Palestinian throws a stone at a roadblock, followed by many
others?.... The face of the third Intifada will be different from
the second's. It can bring about Hamas's political takeover of the
West Bank, the enrollment of new publics in the armed struggle, and
many unpredictable developments. Those who believe that the current
talks are a flight to nowhere -- and those who think otherwise --
must ask themselves how Israel prepares itself for the day when
everything explodes."


III. "A Unifying Doctrine"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (6/10):
"Israeli policymakers need to enunciate a 'River-to-Sea Doctrine'
declaring that this country will not tolerate on territory between
the Mediterranean and the Jordan any foreign power that threatens
the security of the Jewish state. Once approved by the cabinet,
this principled national policy statement would be brought to the
Knesset for bipartisan ratification and enshrined not as the policy
of a particular prime minister, but as state policy. Fulfilling
this doctrine, the IDF could then be directed to topple the Hamas
regime by whatever stratagem works best. And an exit strategy?
Once the top echelon of the Islamist leadership is eliminated, its
forces decimated and the structures associated with it razed, the
way would be paved for the Palestinian Authority to resume control
over the area; for international aid to flow more smoothly and, with
any luck, for the process of rebuilding and rehabilitation to
begin.... In pursuit of war or peace, a doctrine like this would
harmonize the will of the people, the policies of the government and
the strategy of the military. And it would send an important
message to the international community about where Israel draws its
red lines."

---------
2. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

Former Ambassador to the U.S., former Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "There is probably no way of stopping our
politicians from exploiting [the Iranian nuclear threat], especially
any time that Ahmadinejad gives them an opening by uttering another
one of his threats against Israel. But keep America out of it."

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

"Superfluous and Harmful Talk"

Former Ambassador to the U.S., former Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/10): "Talk [about the Iranian nuclear
threat] is not going to avert this danger. Whatever needs to be
done is best done without publicity. But the subject is
irresistible to Israeli politicians. It is grist for their mills and
serves internal political purposes.... This kind of talk,
superfluous and useless, may be no more than the usual
scare-mongering the Israeli public has become used to. But the
declarations from our leadership about the urgent need for the
United States to act to avert the Iranian nuclear threat are
downright harmful, especially when they are made in the U.S. They
are harmful to the crucial U.S.-Israeli relationship, because they
create the impression that Israeli leaders are trying to drag the
U.S. into a military adventure in Iran.... What is more, the public
calls from Israeli leaders that it is high time for the U.S. to do
something about the Iranian nuclear project are less than useless.
The American leadership is well informed about what the Iranians are
doing, and while there may be some differences between Israeli and
U.S. intelligence on that subject, the comparisons are best made
secretly. It is true that nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran
constitutes a danger not only to Israel and the Middle East, but
also to the rest of the world, and therefore to America's interests.
But the Americans will do whatever they consider to be in the best
interest of the U.S. You can depend on that. No amount of urging
by Israeli politicians is going to change their decision.... There
is probably no way of stopping our politicians from exploiting this
subject, especially any time that Ahmadinejad gives them an opening
by uttering another one of his threats against Israel. But keep
America out of it."

--------------------------
3. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "Olmert is not an Israeli asset in Washington; he's an
albatross around its neck. The Bush administration awards him no
preferences."

Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker opined in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Obama's speech was ... simplistic ...
but nevertheless it is second to none in terms of its importance and
contribution to Israel in this time."

Editor-in-Chief Amnon Lord wrote in the editorial of the
nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe: "[Obama's] unguarded
friendship to Israel should not be doubted.... ]But] if he is
elected in November this will be a most negative development

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

I. "Not a Gift and Not a Farewell"

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (6/10): "Israelis were informed last week that Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert received a farewell gift from U.S. President
George W. Bush: the magnificent F-35 Lightning Strike Fighter.
Indeed, it was claimed as a huge gain by Olmert's army -- [his] team
of [public relations] advisers.... In any case, defensive and
economic considerations behind the sale of F-35s have no relation to
the identity of presidents in Washington or prime ministers in
Israel.... Olmert is not an Israeli asset in Washington; he's an
albatross around its neck. The Bush administration awards him no
preferences.... His situation can only worsen during the

investigations carried out in New York, which may produce more
evidence. In the coming weeks, the police will weigh the evidence
and release their recommendation on whether to submit an indictment.
If Olmert has not stepped down or been ousted by then, it will be
his cue to say goodbye."

II. "The Gift of the Speech"

Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker opined in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/10): "From any other candidate
[Obama's] statements [at the AIPAC Conference] would be received as
pandering for the Jewish vote, as proof of the imperious might of
the pro-Israeli lobby and as yet another particularly jarring
manifestation of the subordination of American politics to Israeli
interests. But those accusations cannot be made against Obama.
After all, he is the admired leader, the primary model of a
different kind of politics: clean, transparent, principled politics
that does not capitulate to pressure groups and big money. Obama,
after all, was elected as the Democratic Party's candidate for
president (even though to say he was 'elected' is an overstatement:
Obama received fewer votes than Hillary Clinton and lost to her in
all the major states), because he dared to say what he believed
without a second thought. One cannot, therefore, cast any doubt
about the sincerity of his love of Zionism and Israel, as it was
powerfully expressed in his speech to AIPAC, without casting doubt
on the man himself and his entire route to the Oval Office. And
that is something that must not be done. Obama's speech was
superficial, simplistic, one-sided, comprised of points that failed
to create a cogent argument, was rife with slogans, clichs and
exclamation marks -- but nevertheless it is second to none in terms
of its importance and contribution to Israel in this time -- a very
banal yet historic speech."

III. "President Obama -- a Negative Development"

Editor-in-Chief Amnon Lord wrote in the editorial of the
nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (6/10): "If Barak Obama
becomes president, this isn't just a symbolic affair.... His
unguarded friendship to Israel should not be doubted.... [But] if he
is elected in November this will be a most negative development....
This would at once lower pressure on Iran.... The pro-Iranian forces
in Europe view America as a threat against Europe and the world.
They apparently have a good cause to bless Obama's candidacy. They
will have a good cause to celebrate his accession to the
presidency."
JONES

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