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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #1237/01 1640958
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P 120958Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7067
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3964
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0600
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4262
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4770
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3979
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2272
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4729
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1599
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2045
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8588
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6074
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0978
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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7052
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9892
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001237

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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The media reported that yesterday the diplomatic-security cabinet
decided to exhaust the possibility to reach a cease-fire with Hamas
pursuant to Israel's terms, thus putting a major military incursion
into Gaza on hold. Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that Amos
Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security
Bureau, will travel to Egypt today to advance the truce.

Major media reported that yesterday PM Ehud Olmert agreed to hold
primaries in Kadima, which Yediot said will take place in September.
Ynet, Yediot's news web site, and other media quoted Defense
Minister and Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak as saying this morning
that on July 25 his party will lead a move to dissolve the Knesset
if Kadima does not choose a new leadership.

Ha'aretz cited Israel's assessment that Hizbullah may be trying to
carry out a terrorist attack to "settle scores" with Israel in
revenge for the death of its top executive Imad Mughniyah.
Hizbullah blames Israel for Mughniyah's assassination. Ha'aretz
reported that in particular, Israel fears the assassination of a
senior defense official.

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that Rabbi Avi Gisser, the rabbi of the
settlement of Ofra, took the extraordinary step of allowing
construction work to go on seven days a week, irrespective of the
religious prohibition against labor on Shabbat. Ha'aretz reported
that not all Ofra residents agree with this ruling. Earlier this
month, Israeli human rights groups submitted a petition to the High
Court of Justice in which they claimed that homes in Ofra are being
built on private land owned by Palestinian villagers.

Israel Radio and Ynet reported that last night two settlers faked
their abduction to a Palestinian village near Nablus. They were
arrested.

Maariv reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy might cancel
his visit to Israel at the end of this month because of the


political situation here. Leading media reported that Olmert is
looking forward to a possible meeting with Syrian President Assad in
Paris at the founding session of the Mediterranean Union proposed by
Sarkozy.

Over the past few days the media reported that Justice Minister
Daniel Friedmann has asked the cabinet secretariat to put on the
agenda of the next cabinet meeting the possible creation of a state

committee to probe the use of wiretapping in the 2006 investigation
of Vice PM Haim Ramon. The media reported that yesterday police
sources suggested that cabinet approval of such a committee would be
a means of "terrorizing" the police.

Major media reported that opposition Knesset members accused Finance
Minister Roni Bar-On of "election economics" after he announced a
plan to cut some taxes while raising others at a press conference
yesterday.

The Jerusalem Post quoted the Popular Resistance Committees, one of
the groups responsible for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, as saying
yesterday that Israel could "forget" about him if the IDF launched a
military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Electronic media reported that IDF troops fired at Palestinians in
Beit Lahiya (northern Gaza Strip), possibly killing three of them.

Ha'aretz quoted diplomats at the UN as saying that the chronic delay
in appointing a new Israeli ambassador to the UN is causing
scandalous damage to the Israeli mission's ability to prepare for
the 63rd General Assembly meeting, where Israel is expected to face
greater criticism in debates on Middle Eastern issues, particularly
on relations with the Palestinians. Dan Gillerman will wrap up his
tenure as ambassador to the UN next month, which lasted five and a
half years, and has made it clear he will not postpone his return to
Israel.

Major media reported that Ha'aretz and Israel TV journalist Daniel
Ben Simon has joined the Labor Party, aspiring to become a Knesset
member and create social change.

Yediot reported that a Jewish woman from Baghdad who was forced to
convert to Islam 55 years ago fled Iraq through an Arab country and
contacted her brother in Israel, to which she will soon immigrate.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Sunday Nir Eliahu, a kibbutz
near Kfar Sava, accepted Amal Carmieh as a member, making her the
first Arab Muslim to become a member of the Kibbutz Movement.

The Jerusalem Post reported that next week the Standards Institute
of Israel will host an international conference on "Crisis
Management of Water Utilities" and offer solutions for water
security standards.

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

Summary:
--------

Conservative columnist Yaakov Amidror, a retired IDF major general,
wrote in the independent Israel Hayom: "The security cabinet
decision [to seek a truce with Hamas] is liable to produce a
situation in which Israel will be forced to pay the full price for
its consent to turn Hamas into a legitimate negotiating partner
while, in the end, it will also be forced to go to war."

Strategic issues researcher and former senior IDF officer Shmuel
Meir wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Israel can
apparently expect to face a new situation. On one side will be the
peace treaties with Syria, Lebanon and the entire Arab world, with a
dramatic decrease in the incentive for war on the part of distant
countries. On the other side of the scale will be Israel's policy
of [nuclear] ambiguity."

Labor Party Knesset Member and former interior minister Ophir
Pines-Paz wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv: "Ever since [I
heard Senator Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic Party
convention in Boston] I have followed his career with a great deal
of affection and empathy.... But one thing is certain: We need to be
very cautious with Obama and examine in depth his intentions towards
Israel and the Middle East."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Israeli
negotiators must learn that it is futile to assign Western political
attitudes to -- and demand democratic civility from -- our
neighbors, in the hope of resolving a conflict that would never have
arisen had these attitudes existed in the first place."

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

I. "No Illusions"


Conservative columnist Yaakov Amidror, a retired IDF major general,
wrote in the independent Israel Hayom (6/12): "The security cabinet
decision [to pursue a truce with Hamas] is not clear. It lacks a
clear definition of the goal, and it is vague about what is worth
fighting for, if need be. The security cabinet decision is liable
to produce a situation in which Israel will be forced to pay the
full price for its consent to turn Hamas into a legitimate
negotiating partner while, in the end, it will also be forced to go
to war. There are three things that ought to be clarified in order
to improve the public debate on this matter: 1) If a large-scale
military operation is proposed without the attendant willingness to
remain in the Gaza Strip for many years to come, then Israel must
not launch such an operation. Any operation that is concluded with
an IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip after a brief presence will be
catastrophic.... 2) A truce (tahdiya) will not advance the
negotiations over Gilad Shalit. The only influence it might have is
negative. During a truce Hamas will have no incentive to lower the
price that it is demanding in exchange for Shalit. On the
contraryQunder the umbrella of the truce it will be easier for Hamas
to negotiate since it will have no reason to fear any action against
it.... and 3) ShalitQs fate must not be a crucial factor when
deciding whether to launch a military operation. If a large-scale
operation in the Gaza Strip is justified in terms of the need to
address the problem of Gaza, then the needs of the state and of
thousands of citizens must take precedence over the fate of a lone
soldier. After all, thousands of soldiers are going to be putting
their lives on the line in the anticipated operation. Why is their
blood less important than Shalit's? If Israel had decent
intelligence, it would be appropriate to endanger the lives of a few
dozen soldiers in a rescue operation."

II. "On the Horns of Dilemma"

Strategic issues researcher and former senior IDF officer Shmuel
Meir wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/12): "Israel
can apparently expect to face a new situation. On one side will be
the peace treaties with Syria, Lebanon and the entire Arab world,
with a dramatic decrease in the incentive for war on the part of
distant countries. On the other side of the scale will be Israel's
policy of ambiguity. The Arab League's peace initiative likewise
created a connection between the nuclear potential and peace. The
doctrine of ambiguity succeeded in the peace with Egypt, but since
then Egypt has raised the threshold of its demands for nuclear
disarmament. The United States, which has supported Israel in
international forums, was not able to remove the Egyptian position
from the agenda.... Peace talks with Syria and the declaration on
the part of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter about Israel's
nuclear capabilities, indicate this future has already arrived.
Syria, with the diplomatic backing of other countries, is likely to
stick by its position and to demand nuclear symmetry: full
inspection of its facilities and possibly also those of Iran, in
return for full inspection on the Israeli side. A central layer in
the doctrine of ambiguity -- a declarative policy of
non-proliferation and inspection when comprehensive peace is
attained -- will have to stand the test. Nuclear potential and peace
are no longer separate worlds or worlds apart."

III. "Warily Respect Him"

Labor Party Knesset Member and former interior minister Ophir
Pines-Paz wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (6/12): "Ever since
[I heard Senator Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic Party
convention in Boston] I have followed his career with a great deal
of affection and empathy.... [His AIPAC] speech troubled me not only
because Obama's positions were more right wing than George Bush and
even [nationalist Israeli politician] Effi Eitam, but mainly because
I wondered how a leader who delivered such a pro-Israel, pro-Jewish
and pro-Zionist speech had never truly taken an active role in that
area -- neither in his work in Illinois nor in Washington.... What
bothered me principally about ObamaQs speech was his over-eagerness
to please his audience. As the saying in English goes, it was 'too
good to be true.' And that is what it was. My concern is that a
person who speaks with such alacrity when addressing the members of
AIPAC on the eve of the presidential elections might speak
differently at other venues. Therefore, there are two disturbing
alternatives: Either Obama tells his audience everything it wants to
hear, plus a bit more and, as such, could have said while addressing
our adversaries what they wanted to hear. Or, once he is elected,
Obama will persevere with the direction taken and will do
everything, just like the incumbent American president, to appease
the Israeli right wing, while imposing a moratorium on the political
process and destroying any chance of making peace. I found myself
worried that Obama is the kind of politician who wants to get
elected at any cost -- the kind of politician who on the day after
his election will use the tired old saying that 'things from here
look different that they do from there.' Maybe IQm wrong. Maybe
it's just over-sensitivity. Maybe we ought to enjoy and be
impressed by the unconditional support he voiced for us in that
speech. Maybe, but maybe not. Time will tell. But one thing is

certain: We need to be very cautious with Obama and examine in depth
his intentions towards Israel and the Middle East."

IV. "Bargaining with Assad"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (6/12):
"In principle, a well-negotiated agreement with Syria is in Israel's
strategic interest.... The first rule of negotiation: Know your
primary objective, and carry a realistic assessment of achieving
it.... Israel's main goal is to weaken the alliance between Syria
and Iran, and by extension improve the prospects of a strategic
normalization with Damascus and the rest of the Arab world. The
prospects of such a Syrian break with the Islamic Republic, never
likely, were made even less so at end of last month ... when Syria
and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding regarding defense
issues....This brings us to the second rule of negotiation: Be aware
of the adversaries of your adversary. Israeli officials, if they do
not wish to act as pawns in Syria's bid for international
respectability, ought to take stock of the reasons why even other
Arab states refuse to engage with Syria.... The third rule: Know
your position of relative strength. This means acknowledging that
Syria, unlike Israel, is in crucial respects a failed state.... In
short, the Syrian masses, now numbering almost 20 million, are no
better off than before independence; they merely serve different
despots. Their leaders, meanwhile, habitually deflect blame onto
'imperialism' and Israel. A final and most critical rule of
negotiation: Avoid the temptation to project your values or
assumptions onto the party sitting on the other side of the table.
Israeli negotiators must learn that it is futile to assign Western
political attitudes to -- and demand democratic civility from -- our
neighbors, in the hope of resolving a conflict that would never have
arisen had these attitudes existed in the first place."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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