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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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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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Ha'aretz reported that Israel is preserving maximum ambiguity about
its intentions regarding the possibilities of tahdiya (truce) or a
military operation in Gaza. Ha'aretz reported that Ahmed Yousef,
an adviser to Hamas's Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh, told the newspaper
yesterday that Hamas expects a gesture from Israel because it
delivered a letter from Gilad Shalit to his family. Yousef was
quoted as saying that as a gesture of goodwill, Israel could release
women prisoners or minors to prove it is serious about a prisoner
exchange. Last night Israel TV quoted excerpts of Shalit's letter
to his family. "Dear Dad, Mom, my brother and sister, grandma and
granddad and all the family. I am being treated well, although my
health is very bad. I feel weakness and shortness of breath ... I
ask you to do everything to return me home, otherwise it might end
in tragedy. Israel must release Palestinian prisoners, because they
also have families waiting for them at home, and then I will be able
to come home quickly," the letter said. Maariv reported that a
senior Hamas official told the newspaper that Hamas does not intend
to allow the Shalit family to pass on a reply to their son. Yediot
reported that residents of the "Gaza envelope" will demonstrate
today in Jerusalem to demand that the government make its mind up
about a truce with Hamas or a military operation in Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post reported that PM Ehud Olmert "is likely to
initiate the end of his political career" today when he is expected
to give the authorization necessary for a primary in Kadima to
replace him. Leading media reported that PM Ehud Olmert will hold a
"crucial" meeting today with Kadima MKs Tzachi Hanegbi and Eli
Aflalo to determine the framework and a possible date for a Kadima
party primary. The meeting follows an announcement by Likud
yesterday that next Wednesday it would bring a bill before the
plenum calling for the Knesset's dissolution in an effort to set a
date for new elections, as early as November. Also yesterday,
coalition partners Labor and Shas announced they would support a
proposal for the dissolution of the Knesset. Ha'aretz reported that
Labor faction head Eitan Cabel said that Kadima must replace Olmert
by July. In light of these developments, calls within Kadima have
intensified for a primary within the party, as a way of staving off
Labor's threat to support the dissolution of the Knesset. Israel
Radio reported that associates of FM Tzipi Livni stressed her
determination in the matter and expressed her belief that Kadima
will wilt if it does not hold primaries. Meretz announces Tuesday
that unless Kadima announced this month a date in the near future
for a primary, it will also support the call to dissolve the
Knesset. Shas chairman and Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai
reiterated his party's ultimatum yesterday that unless a decision is
made by Wednesday to increase stipends for children, Shas will vote
to dissolve the Knesset.

Maariv quoted defense sources as saying that over the past few weeks
Egypt's handling of weapons smuggling from Sinai to Gaza has
significantly improved. (Ha'aretz quoted Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz,
who heads IDF Intelligence's research division, as saying that there
has been some improvement in the matter. However, the newspaper
quoted him as saying at the cabinet meeting: "Activity is still a
drop in the sea, and the smuggling is continuing,") Ha'aretz
reported that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun training
Egyptian soldiers to locate and destroy tunnels, in an effort to
improve the Egyptian army's ability to cope with arms-smuggling from
Sinai to the Gaza Strip. A second, larger group of Egyptian
soldiers is also due to arrive shortly for training, which is taking
place at a U.S. Army base in Texas.

Electronic media quoted Palestinian sources as saying that a
9-year-old Gazan girl was killed by fire from an IDF tank east of
Khan Yunis, and that soldiers shot and killed a Hamas gunman.

Yediot and Maariv reported that at Tuesday's cabinet meeting, PM
Olmert expressed his concern that the next U.S. administration will
be less friendly to Israel. Yediot quoted Olmert as saying that the
negotiations with the Palestinians should therefore be promoted.

Ha'aretz reported that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon offered
during a meeting of the Quartet in London several weeks ago to send
a multinational force to Gaza to assist the security forces
answerable to Salam Fayyad's PA government to operate the Rafah,
Karni, and Sufa border crossings. That way, Ban explained, the
border crossings could be opened continually and fully. According
to a senior Israeli diplomatic source, the plan, known as "pockets
of access to Gaza," originated with Fayyad and was recently adopted
by the UN chief and presented to Secretary Rice and senior Russian
and EU officials. According to this plan, the multinational force
sent to Gaza would operate in the "triangle" between the Rafah,
Sufa, and Kerem Shalom crossings, and possibly also at Karni.

The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported on the visit to Israel
of American Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, the
authors of "The Israel Lobby," which claims that AIPAC has
manipulated American foreign policy. They were invited by Uri
Avnery's Gush Shalom movement and will speak at a Gush Shalom forum
in Tel Aviv and at the Hebrew University.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday the Association of Civil
Rights in Israel charged the army with barring West Bank
Palestinians from using beaches along the northern shore of the Dead
Sea. A petition filed with the High Court of Justice against the
IDF criticized the area's checkpoints as a means to keep
Palestinians out so as not to discourage Israelis from swimming
there and contributing to Jewish concessionaires.

Yediot reported that the U.S. Justice Department has not yet acceded
to Israel's request for a judicial inquiry to probe the path of
Morris Talansky's contributions to Olmert and Talansky's legal and
financial status. Yediot cited the concert of Israeli law
enforcement officers that American delays might obstruct the
judicial process.

Yediot reported that the Rafael Armament Development Authority will
conduct a test of the Iron Dome anti-missile system today in
southern Israel. Ha'aretz quoted an Israeli security source as
saying yesterday that the U.S. Defense Department is considering
participating with Rafael on the Tamir rocket interceptor -- a part
of the Iron Dome system. The source was quoted as saying that
Israel, which is now waiting for an answer from the Americans, would
like to see them cover two-thirds of the development costs. Defense
officials expect it to be tested against a simulated Qassam rocket
by the end of the year.

Leading media reported that yesterday Syria's Deputy FM, Faisal
Mekdad, played down chances of direct talks with Israel.

Media reported that the Knesset approved yesterday a bill in first
reading that exempts the state from responsibility for most damages
suffered by Palestinians during and after the Intifada. The bill,
dubbed Intifada Law II, is meant to circumvent a High Court of
Justice ruling that unanimously overturned a similar law two years
ago. The media also reported that yesterday the Knesset passed the
first reading of a bill stating that people who have visited an
enemy country cannot be elected to parliament. If the bill, which
has extensive backing in the Knesset, becomes law, the senior
members of all the Arab parties would be disqualified. Ha'aretz
noted that the widespread support for the bill, which passed by a
vote of 63-16, indicates that it has a good chance of becoming law
by the end of the summer session -- in time to apply to contenders
in the next general election. Ha'aretz quoted National Religious
Party Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev, who proposed the bill along with MK
Esterina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu), as saying: "The bill is
intended to stop Trojan horses from infiltrating the Israeli
Knesset." Arab MKs objected to the move. Ha'aretz quoted MK Wasal
Taha (Balad - National Democratic Assembly) as saying: "This is a
black day for the Knesset and for democracy. The proposal is
directed against the leadership of the Arab public."

Ha'aretz reported that the Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv has created
a web site in Hebrew, for the first time since the Hashemite Kingdom
signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1994. "The purpose of the
web site is to address Israeli public opinion directly, in an effort
to present the way Jordan sees the situation in the region,"
Ambassador Ali al-Ayid told Ha'aretz yesterday. This is the only
official Arab web site in Hebrew that is in regular operation. The
web site, www.jordanembassytelaviv.gov.jo, is administered by
embassy staff and contains a wide variety of information. Among the
documents available on the site is a full translation into Hebrew of
the Arab Peace Initiative as it was approved by the Arab League
Summit in Beirut in 2002. The site also contains the texts of all
agreements between the two countries, including the 1994 peace
treaty.

Leading media reported that American entertainer Madonna intends to
produce a documentary about the Arab-Israeli impasse. Ha'aretz
quoted her as saying that her film would focus on children.

Yediot reported that an increasing number of gay Israeli couples are
opting to avail themselves of American surrogate mothers to create a
family.

Major media cited an Israel Democracy Institute poll that found that
90% of the public believe that Israel's leadership is riddled with
corruption.. Public trust in the office of prime minister was only
17%. Public support for the Supreme Court fell from 61% approval in
2007 to 49% this year. The most favored institution was the IDF,
trusted by 71% of respondents.

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: " In the
twilight of his term, the Prime Minister should not attempt to take
the country into another military operation. The Egyptian-sponsored
cease-fire must not be delayed."

Meretz-Yahad Party Chairman Yossi Beilin wrote in Ha'aretz: "The
biggest idiot in Islamic Jihad understands that Israel can wipe Gaza
off the face of the earth. This realization does not require a
military operation in which victory over the militias will be, at
best, imperfect."

Nationalist writer Emuna Elon commented in the independent Israel
Hayom: "[Don't] let the U.S., and the world that supposedly wants to
help, neglect the real problems and abandon both the hungry,
despairing population of Gaza and the citizens of Israel to the
mercies of Hamas."

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

I. "No Good Reason for Gaza Op"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (6/11): "The
Prime Minister's skills as a military leader were tested in the
Second Lebanon War and documented in the Winograd Report. Israel
paid dearly for the decision to go to war against Hizbullah in July
2006, a price that is still difficult to gage in terms of loss of
deterrence.... Now on the agenda is a justified military action in
Gaza. The overabundance of talk about a major operation, one that
alternately approaches and recedes depending on the political
predicament of members of the government, broadcasts neither
strength nor deterrence, but rather indecision. There is no
persuasive reason for a military action, except the fact that we
cannot accept continued firing on Israel, and Hamas's continued
arming. In contrast, there are a number of reasons for a cease-fire,
however temporary. The main reason is that Hamas can no more be
eradicated than could Hizbullah..... Indifference to the firing on
the communities around the Gaza Strip is intolerable not only
because of the suffering of the people there, but also because the
country must not become accustomed to such blows to its sovereignty
and citizens. A border means a line of defense for a country's
inhabitants; otherwise it has no point..... The concern over a
cease-fire with Hamas is understandable: Egypt might not protect the
crossings, and Hamas will continue to grow stronger. However, Egypt
might also want to prolong the calm and try to ensure that the
agreement with Hamas -- which puts its prestige to the test -- will
be kept to the letter. In any case, calm should be tried and its
success judged with the passage of time, rather than trying war and
judging its outcome after hundreds of casualties. In the twilight
of his term, the Prime Minister should not attempt to take the
country into another military operation. The Egyptian-sponsored
cease-fire must not be delayed."

II. "A Moment before the Obvious"

Meretz-Yahad Party Chairman Yossi Beilin wrote in Ha'aretz (6/11):
"In a few more days, something will apparently happen that almost no
one wants, but no one has enough courage to prevent.... [After the
large-scale military operation], obviously, the decision-makers will
remember that they had completely forgotten to prepare an exit plan
from the Gaza Strip.... It is still possible to try to reach a
cease-fire instead of the war, and to overcome the primitive thought
that the cease-fire must be preceded by a major strike so as to
rehabilitate deterrence.' The biggest idiot in Islamic Jihad
understands that Israel can wipe Gaza off the face of the earth.
This realization does not require a military operation in which
victory over the militias will be, at best, imperfect."

III. "Forethought First"

Nationalist writer Emuna Elon commented in the independent Israel
Hayom (6/11): "Don't you dare bring our sons back into the accursed
Gaza Strip; donQt you dare risk their lives with another tough
military operation, with the terrible rules of engagement that you
succeeded in creating; donQt you dare use our children in order to
prove, supposedly, something to Hamas, to public opinion, or to
yourselves. Bring us back into Gaza only if you have a clear plan,
for a change. Demand that our sons sacrifice their lives only if
you know exactly what you will do after the cease-fire.... Don't you
dare go in and fight there only to leave the moment Hamas
'surrenders' and announces, via the Egyptians, its willingness to
accept IsraelQs conditions for a cease-fire. There is no sense in
gambling with Gilad ShalitQs life, there is no sense in giving Hamas
an excuse to intensify, in response to the IDFQs operation, the
rocket fire on our communities, and there is also no sense in taking
a barrage of international condemnations for harming the Palestinian
population if you let terrorism make the rules once again. If, once
again, you leave the majority of GazaQs residents in refugee camps,
which are an infrastructure of Palestinian terrorism. If, once
again, you let the U.S., and the world that supposedly wants to
help, neglect the real problems and abandon both the hungry,
despairing population of Gaza and the citizens of Israel to the
mercies of Hamas."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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