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Cablegate: Special Israel Media Reaction

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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: SPECIAL ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, June 14-16, 2008

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

The media continued to key in on Secretary RiceQs criticism of
Israel going forward with housing projects in East Jerusalem. The
Jerusalem Post reported that her statements met with little panic
and no formal response, a sign -- one GOI source was quoted as
saying -- that less than five months to the U.S. elections, "it is
not important what she says anymore. "Comments that in the past
would have set everybody abuzz, are not making many waves today,"
the source was quoted as saying. He attributed this both to the
waning days of President Bush's administration, and a growing
realization that the chances of finalizing any "shelf agreement"
with the Palestinians by the end of 2008 are slim, largely because
of the political instability in Israel. The source was quoted as
saying that if the government could not make a decision on the
cease-fire because of political considerations, as Defense Minister
Ehud Barak has charged, then even less so would it be able to make
the even more complicated final-status agreement with the
Palestinians. The source was quoted as saying that Rice's comments
about the construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem were an
indication of frustration that she was facing the prospect of
leaving office in January without an agreement here. Several media
quoted Rice as saying that the blocs of settlements will not be part
of Israel in the final status.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Pot reported that the proposal by
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky to construct 40,000 residential
units in various Jewish neighborhoods of the capital was approved
yesterday by the District Planning and Building Committee. The plan
includes construction in neighborhoods over the Green Line.
Lupoliansky has said in recent weeks that the plan aimed to deal
with the serious shortage young couples face in finding affordable
housing. For the first time this will include housing for Arabs in
East Jerusalem, in the northern neighborhoods of A-Tur, Issawiyeh
and Shuafat. To date, Arabs in east Jerusalem experienced serious
housing problems forcing them to resort to building without permits.
The new plan is meant to legalize some of that illegal
construction.

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that yesterday top
defense officials and IDF officers slammed a recently-launched U.S.
initiative, under which Palestinian soldiers have deployed in Nablus
and Jenin. According to the officials, terrorist activity has
increased since some 600 Palestinian soldiers were allowed to deploy
in the West Bank city last month. Yesterday morning, a 20-kilogram
explosive device detonated next to an Israeli military force
operating in the city without causing any casualties. Sources in
the IDF Central Command were quoted as saying that the large bomb
was set off by an advanced detonation system. "The PA forces in the
city are not combating the terrorists," one source was quoted as
saying. "They are taking action to enforce law and order but they
are doing nothing about terror which has grown in the past month
since they deployed in Jenin."

Ha'aretz reported that Israel is awaiting Egypt's answer to the
remaining questions regarding the temporary cease-fire, the tahdiya,
between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza Strip. The Egyptian
reply is expected later this week. Israel and Egypt have yet to
finalize two issues: Defining the connection between the tahdiya and
a deal for the release of Gilad Shalit, and determining the degree
of Egypt's commitment to countering arms smuggling from Sinai into
Gaza. Ha'aretz quoted defense sources in Israel as saying last
night that "it is important to understand that the meaning of the
agreement with the Egyptians is that within several days after the
cease-fire goes into effect, intensive negotiations will begin over
Gilad Shalit's release. This will be a tough deal to complete --
therefore the government will be called upon to make tough decisions
to bring Gilad home." The sources hinted at the heavy price Hamas
will demand: releasing hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli
prisons, many of whom were convicted of murder for their involvement
in major terror attacks.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the Palestinians have demanded
the establishment of an army as part of the final-status agreement,
while Israel wants the Palestinian state to be demilitarized.

The media reported that the negotiations between Israel and Syria
through Turkish mediation resumed yesterday in Ankara. Israel is
represented in the talks by senior advisers to PM Ehud Olmert, Yoram
Turbowicz and Shalom Turgeman. Ha'aretz reported that the current
round of talks is expected to last until this evening. The two
senior Olmert aides will deliver a message to the Syrians that
Israel is interested in continuing the talks notwithstanding the
complex domestic political situation at home. The media reported
that the indirect talks may give way to direct ones next month.
Maariv reported that a possible meeting between Olmert and Syrian
President Bashar Assad would take place four days before Morris
Talansky's cross-examination, in which case the Labor Party would
find it hard to support the dissolution of the Knesset, and early
elections might be ruled out. Ha'aretz reported that during a
meeting yesterday with of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson,
Olmert said that "furthering talks with Syria is the right thing to
do, but it does not mean that Israel has relinquished anything. The
way ahead is still long." Yesterday on Channel 2-TV, Vice PM Haim
Ramon expressed his opposition to the way talks with Syria are being
conducted, arguing "this is a strategic mistake and a prize for
extremist Islam." The Jerusalem Post quoted diplomatic officials as
saying yesterday that the indirect negotiations are making it harder
for Israel to argue against high-level European contacts with
Damascus.

The Jerusalem Post reported that talks being held in Europe by Ofer
Dekel, PM Olmert's point man on the prisoner issue, could mean that
a prisoner swap with Hizbullah is closer.

Israel Radio quoted senior Lebanese officials as saying that the
U.S. has changed its mind regarding the Sheba Farms, which it now
reportedly says belong to Lebanon.

Maariv reported that most candidates for Kadima leadership prefer
September 3 as the date for holding the party primaries, but that
Olmert refuses to discuss the issue before Talansky's
cross-examination.

All media reported that the 12 suspects in the death of Eden
Natan-Zada will be charged, but none for murder, according to a
decision by the Haifa District Prosecutor's Office. Natan-Zada, 19,
a Jewish extremist who was AWOL from the Israel Defense Forces,
opened fire on Israeli Arabs in a bus in the Galilee town of Shfaram
in August 2005, killing four. He was subsequently lynched by an
Arab Israeli mob.

-----------------------------------
Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, June 14-16, 2008:
-----------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "Whatever the legacy of the policies she promoted
elsewhere, it is likely too late for Rice to reserve the
consequences of those policies she promoted in this corner of the
world."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The American public and its leaders are not
safely nestled in Israel's pocket. As the Iranian threat becomes
more concrete, Israel will need more of their understanding and
support."

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of Ha'aretz:
"Barring any major last-minute change, a cease-fire will go into
effect in the near future, but the Shalit situation will remain
unresolved."

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: " The army must continue to act against Hamas in its own
way, but more forcefully"

Former editor-in-chief Moshe Ishon wrote in the editorial of the
nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe: "To move the talks
forward, Israel needs a government that enjoys the support of the
majority of the people."


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

I. "Bitter Complaints from a Virtual Dead Duck"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (6/16): "[Condoleezza Rice] is not the first
secretary of state, even one from a U.S. administration in its final
year in power, that suddenly turned tough on Israel in regard to
settlement plans or other matters. But Henry Kissinger and James
Baker, to name two, had the advantage of neither the Israelis, nor
themselves, knowing at the time that they were, in fact, lame ducks.
It also helped that they had the full backing and interest of their
bosses when they tried to lay down the law on Jerusalem. But George
W. Bush has never strongly echoed Rice's rhetoric on the settlement


construction, especially as regards Jerusalem.... [But] whatever the
legacy of the policies she promoted elsewhere, it is likely too late
for Rice to reserve the consequences of those policies she promoted
in this corner of the world. Nor, in pursuit of that aim, to
prevent Israel from pursuing the same construction policy in
Jerusalem that has guided all its governments, including this one,
since 1967."

II. "Getting Fed Up"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/16): "On the day after the election,
whether Obama is able to bring the Democrats back to power, or
whether John McCain is successful in retaining the White House in
the hands of the Republicans, the president-elect will be wearing a
suit of stars and stripes. The American public and its leaders are
not safely nestled in Israel's pocket. As the Iranian threat
becomes more concrete, Israel will need more of their understanding
and support. The Iranian nuclear program is too substantial a
threat for it to serve as a tool in the hands of cynical Israeli
politicians whose tongues wag too freely."

III. "Hizbullah First"

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of Ha'aretz
(6/16): "Compared to Goldwasser-Regev [the Hizbullah abductees], the
situation with regard to a possible release of Gilad Shalit is
extremely complicated. The price is known: 450 Palestinian
prisoners. But Hamas insists on including in its wish list many
murderers, including those who were involved in large suicide
bombings beginning in the mid-1990s. Their release will stir
significant public debate, political confrontations and protests
that will include bereaved parents and those who were wounded in
these attacks. Olmert seems to have been capable of undertaking
such steps as recently as two to three months ago. Now, with the
story of the cash envelopes dogging him, it will be much more
difficult.... It is the same political paralysis that is to a large
extent dictating Israel's slow roll toward a tahdiya, a cease-fire
with Hamas. Defense Minister Ehud Barak no longer hides his
opposition to a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip.
There is no longer effective coordination between him and Olmert (it
ended in late May, the minute Barak called on the PM to step
down).... Throwing the issue of Shalit into the melee is more
figurative than practical, and in any case, it's clear that the
Egyptian promise to push an exchange through, as the tahdiya goes in
effect, was highly conditional. Barring any major last-minute

change, a cease-fire will go into effect in the near future, but the
Shalit situation will remain unresolved. It may be that the tahdiya
is already here: The past two days along the border with the Strip
have been the calmest in a long while."

IV. "A Better Alternative"

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (6/16): "The army must continue to act against Hamas in its
own way, but more forcefully ... and tighten the blockade but more
seriously than today.... Continuous, severe military activity,
combined with a diplomatic and economic siege, will lead Gaza
residents to the inevitable conclusion that they made an awful
mistake when they elected a gang of terrorists as their government.
Thus, the Gaza problem may be solved in a real and durable
fashion."

V. "A Government without a Mandate"

Former editor-in-chief Moshe Ishon wrote in the editorial of the
nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (6/16): " Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice, who has arrived in Israel, is trying to
promote the talks between Israel and the Palestinians, while efforts
are being made to advance Israeli-Syrian negotiations. All this is
being done without taking into account the status of the Israeli
government.... To move the talks forward, Israel needs a government
that enjoys the support of the majority of the people. As long as
the government is busy with primaries, not only does it not enjoy
the support of a majority, but it is also incapable of making
decisions that will express the will of the people."

JONES

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