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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 171026Z JUN 08
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0626
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4289
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4796
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4005
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2299
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4756
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1625
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2071
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8614
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6101
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1004
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5124
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7079
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9921
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001292

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

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

Ha'aretz reported that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ended her
sixth trip to the region this year, with no sign of progress on the
Israeli-Palestinian track The paper quoted Israeli and Palestinian
officials as saying that faced with the prospect of early elections
should Olmert fall, Israel's chief negotiator, FM Tzipi Livni, has
balked at producing a document that could spell out proposed
concessions on borders and other issues. Ha'aretz said that Israeli
officials were also cool to suggestions, backed by the Palestinians,
that Rice hold more intensive three-way meetings with Livni and her
Palestinian negotiating partner Ahmed Qurei. Israeli sources were
quoted as saying that instead Livni favored a joint announcement
that the negotiations will continue after Bush leaves office in
2009, though her position puts her at odds with Olmert who favors a
written agreement this year. Mark Regev, Olmert's spokesman, said
yesterday: "The goal is still to reach an agreement with the
Palestinians by the end of Bush's term."

Major media (except Maariv) reported that an exchange of prisoners
with Hizbullah is expected to take place in the near future.
Ha'aretz reported that Israeli security sources confirmed this
yesterday and that the deal is likely to take place late next week.
Leading media reported that Israel told Hizbullah that were it to
reject the deal, Israel would make known that abductees Eldad Regev
and Ehud Goldwasser are no longer alive. Yediot bannered the dread
of Regev and Goldwasser's parents of the moment they will be told
(that their sons may be dead).

The Jerusalem Post reported that PM Ehud Olmert's two top diplomatic
advisers -- chief of staff Yoram Turbowicz and chief foreign policy
adviser Shalom Turgeman -- finished two days of indirect talks with
Syria in Turkey on Monday, and headed for Paris, fueling speculation
that they were trying to arrange a meeting between Olmert and Syrian
President Bashar Assad at a regional conference in Paris next month.
The Jerusalem Post quoted sources in the Prime Minister's Office
as saying that Olmert's advisers were impressed "by the positive
atmosphere, and the constructive nature of the discussions." Yediot
reported that the Israeli and Syrian teams agreed yesterday that "PM
Olmert's political crisis will not negatively influence the
continuation of the dialogue." However, Yediot reported that the
Syrian team expressed its concern to the Turkish mediators that an
Israeli prime minister who would succeed Olmert might not honor
agreements and understandings reached during the current talks.
Ha'aretz reported that Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN Secretary-General's
special envoy for the implementation of Security Council Resolution
1559, is highly critical of the talks.

Ha'aretz quoted an American official involved in monitoring
Israel-PA relations as saying yesterday that the roadblocks and
other traffic impediments lifted by Israel in the West Bank in
recent months have not significantly altered the situation on the
ground for the Palestinian population, The same official noted that
the PA security forces have taken action to counter terrorist
activities, and carried out a major operation in Jenin where they
tried to arrest suspects who had been on Israel's wanted list. "The
security forces can do even more, but they have had some successes,"
he was quoted as saying. He added that the U.S. administration is
not providing the PA security forces with arms, and stressed that
according to information received by the Americans, weapons recently
transferred to the PA did not make their way to Islamic militants.
He explained that the central weakness of the PA security
establishment is in the Palestinian legal system, which makes it
impossible for the Palestinian authorities to prosecute suspects or
to remand them in custody. "The changes in this area [law] have not
been sufficient," the official was quoted as saying. The official
was quoted as saying that the Palestinian National Security force
that completed its basic training in Jordan has gone back for more
specialized training under U.S. guidance. He said that Israel has
still not made clear whether it would agree to the transfer of
protective equipment for the PA security forces, items like helmets
and protective vests.

Ha'aretz and other media quoted Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh as saying
yesterday that an agreement on a cease-fire with Israel is near.
Ha'aretz reported that Israeli security sources told the newspaper
that today, Israel expects to receive the clarifications about the
truce that it requested from Hamas via Egyptian mediators. But
Haniyeh announced yesterday that Hamas has already succeeded in
getting Israel to separate the truce talks from a deal to free
kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. "The truce must be mutual," Haniyeh
added, stressing that Hamas continues to insist that any such deal
include the reopening of the border crossings into Gaza. "It will
begin in Gaza, and then spread to the West Bank." The Jerusalem
Post reported that yesterday a U.S. military delegation arrived
along the Egypt-Gaza border and was assisting border police there in
setting up tunnel-detection equipment to counter smuggling under the
Philadelphi Corridor.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the number of Knesset members who
support the dissolution of the Knesset has risen to 69, as Shas
decided to back the move. Leading media reported that Defense
Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak is continuing to promote
the dissolution of the Knesset. However, Maariv reported that eight
Labor MKs have decided not to support the proposal, but to transfer
it to party institutions in which a majority will oppose it.

Yediot quoted sources in Senator Barack Obama's presidential
campaign team as saying that he will come to Israel and meet with
President Shimon Peres, PM Olmert, and possibly with the foreign and
defense ministers, as well as opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Leading media reported that fighting escalated along the Gaza border
yesterday, with the IDF killing four armed Palestinians and an
Israeli civilian wounded in a Palestinian rocket strike on Ashkelon.
The missile was an enhanced Qassam rocket with an 18-kilometer
range -- longer than that of an ordinary Qassam.

The Jerusalem Post reported that fears are mounting in the Israeli
defense establishment that comments by senior officials regarding an
imminent Israeli military strike against Iran will spur Russia to
complete controversial sales of anti-aircraft missile systems to the
Islamic Republic. There is also a fear that the comments will lead
Iran to take extra precautions in defending its nuclear
installations and begin to relocate and scatter some of them
throughout the country. The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday
the Washington Institute for Near East Policy called on the U.S. and
Israel should set up a high-level forum to coordinate strategy and
policy on ways to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons
capability. The think-tank issued the call to establish a new
presidential-prime ministerial forum on strategic issues as one of
the key recommendations of its Presidential Task Force on the Future
of U.S.-Israel Relations

Ha'aretz reported that secretariat of the settlement of Ofra told
the High Court of Justice on Friday that Ofra has connected nine
homes allegedly built on Palestinian land to water and electricity,
and that people have moved in. This being the case, the demand by
the human rights organizations Yesh Din and B'Tselem for an
injunction against occupying the homes was irrelevant, the
secretariat told the court. Ofra argued that the organizations
demanding the injunction "knew all along about the construction,
since the development and building work began in June 2007."
Ha'aretz quoted Yesh Din as saying that the settlement's claim that
"all the houses" are occupied is strange and constitutes a major
failure by the authorities.

Ha'aretz reported that Peace Now has called for the immediate
suspension of the Hebron district police Colonel Avshalom Peled, who
on Sunday suggested left-wing activists visiting the city caused
"dangerous" provocations. "Hebron police should focus on right-wing
rioters and not try to conceal the disgraceful reality it is
responsible for," Peace Now chairman Yariv Oppenheimer was quoted as
saying yesterday. Peled told the major Internet news site Ynet on
Sunday that civil disturbances are caused by both right-wing and
left-wing activists in order to shape public opinion. Israel Radio
reported that the police may have identified two masked settlers who
beat up Palestinians in the southern Hebron hills on June 9. The
media reported that the event was videotaped with a camera lent by
the human rights group B'Tselem to Palestinians.

Ha'aretz reported that a delegation of senior Fatah officials will
arrive in Gaza today, for the first time since Hamas seized control
of the Strip last year, to discuss the possibility of a
reconciliation between the two rival Palestinian factions. The
delegation will not actually meet with Hamas officials; rather, it
will meet with Fatah members who reside in Gaza. However, a Hamas
spokesman, Fawzi Barhum, said yesterday that his organization will
do everything possible to promote a resumption of the Hamas-Fatah
dialogue, implying that Hamas will make no effort to disrupt the
Fatah officials' meetings.

Leading media reported that yesterday, in a unanimous vote by its 27
country members, the EU decided to upgrade relations with Israel in
the field of trade, economy, academia, as well as an improvement in
the diplomatic dialogue between the sides.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday the new JStreetPAC
announced its first endorsements of candidates as part of its effort
to challenge the established pro-Israel Political Action Committees
in Washington.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that yesterday Israel Aerospace
Industries presented its Nimrod 3 missile at the Eurosatory defense
exhibition in Paris.

Major media reported that the leading Israeli pharmaceutical company
Teva is the first to develop a drug slowing the progress of the
Parkinson disease (Azilect), and that the firm gained 3% on the Tel
Aviv stock exchange yesterday.

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "It would be
better for Olmert to leave the stage -- and for his would-be
successors to improve their positions there -- against the
background of courageous acts of leadership. They must decide to
decide."

Yoav Limor, the military correspondent of Israel TV, wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom: "The open cases [of prisoner exchanges]
need to be closed, even if the price is exorbitant, but immediately
thereafter to declare: No more."

Political and parties columnist Sima Kadmon wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Israel cannot afford
to once again pay the price of a missed opportunity, of forgetting,
of abandonment."

Professor Eyal Zisser, the Chairman of the Department of Middle
Eastern History at Tel Aviv University, wrote on the Nana website
(www.nana10.co.il) (6/16): "Israel... is waking up to a reality in
which a hostile entity that is not interested in a peace process and
historic reconciliation with it has been formed on its southern
border."

Gershon Baskin, Co-Director of the Israel/Palestine Center for
Research and Information (IPCRI), wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "Are the basic national demands of both
sides reconcilable? I believe that they are.... It is now time to
begin to show the publics that progress is being made and that hope
is still alive."

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

I. "Deciding to Decide"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (6/16): "While
there is some basis for the impression [that politicians are partly
motivated by personal and party considerations], people who profess
to be leaders have an obligation to rise above such behavior and
make decisions, despite the difficulties and the political price.
This is especially true regarding two moves, one in the North and
one in the South, involving Israel's relations with Hizbullah and
Hamas, respectively: a deal to exchange Lebanese prisoners for
Israeli captives, and an agreement on a cease-fire in Gaza. In both
cases, the broad outline is fairly clear. Israel will receive
certain assets ... and for this, of course, there is massive support
among the Israeli public. The hesitation stems from the assets
Israel will have to cede to these extremist Islamic organizations in
exchange:... What is keeping Israel from implementing both of these
deals -- along with a deal to release hundreds of Palestinian
prisoners in exchange for Shalit, soon after the cease-fire is in
place -- is political will. In practice, this means a willingness
to risk the anger of the critics, both inside and outside the
Knesset, including relatives of the victims of terror attacks. And
that requires courage: If the deals turn out to be mistakes, their
opponents will be strengthened. That, however, is the true test of
leadership.... It would be better for Olmert to leave the stage --
and for his would-be successors to improve their positions there --
against the background of courageous acts of leadership. They must
decide to decide."

II. "Just One Last Deal"

Yoav Limor, the military correspondent of Israel TV, wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (6/16): "Irrespective of [the case of MIA
Ron] Arad, the question of the price still remains dangling in the
air. If [Hizbullah abductees] Goldwasser and Regev are dead, why is
Israel releasing live prisoners in exchange for them? Why not
adhere to the principle of life for life, bodies for bodies? An
excellent question that is all the more applicable in the argument
(which still hasn't heated up) over the Gilad Shalit deal. There we
are going to release 450 terrorists, including multiple murderers,
in exchange for a lone soldier. Without getting into the heart of
the argument -- everyone is entitled to his or her opinion -- Israel
ought to set for itself boundaries that are clear, but mainly ones
that are publicly declared. The open cases need to be closed, even
if the price is exorbitant, but immediately thereafter to declare:
No more. A string of former senior security and political officials
have come to support that point of view, and the time has come for
it to be Israel's official and clear position. Had we conducted
ourselves that way in the past, Ron Arad might have come home long
ago."

III. "With All the Pain"

Political and parties columnist Sima Kadmon wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/16): "The dilemma is
clear to all of us: What is Israel prepared to pay if it turns out
that [Hizbullah] will hand over corpses? This likely is the reason
why Hizbullah is in a haste to carry out the deal.... But the chance
shouldn't be wasted. There isn't going to be 'another time' or a
'next deal.' This is not for [Hizbullah abductees] Regev and
Goldwasser. Neither is it for Gilad Shalit. Israel cannot afford
to once again pay the price of a missed opportunity, of forgetting,
of abandonment. No more."

IV. "On the First Anniversary of Hamas's Regime"

Professor Eyal Zisser, the Chairman of the Department of Middle
Eastern History at Tel Aviv University, wrote on the Nana website
(www.nana10.co.il) (6/16): "This week marks the first anniversary of
Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip.... In the near future a truce
will be achieved that will allow Hamas to entrench itself further,
organize its troops, and advance its arsenal of rockets. It seems
that the people who turned a blind eye to the rocket fire... will
continue to turn a blind eye even if Hamas begins to fire rockets at
Ashdod and Kiryat Gat.... Israel, therefore, is waking up to a
reality in which a hostile entity that is not interested in a peace
process and historic reconciliation with it has been formed on its
southern border. This entity is prepared to have a truce with
Israel, but similar to the quiet (or should we say truce) that
exists on Israel's northern border with Hamas's twin sister,
Hizbullah, it seems that in this case we are talking about a
temporary state of calm that is not going to lead Israel and the
entire region in a positive direction."

V. "The Roadmap Can Work"

Gershon Baskin, Co-Director of the Israel/Palestine Center for
Research and Information (IPCRI), wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (6/16): "Are the basic national demands
of both sides reconcilable? I believe that they are. The major
Israeli demands and needs concern security. It seems to me that if
Israel is convinced that the Palestinians are truly committed to
removing the language of violence and armed struggle from their
side, and they see it actually happening on the ground (as Abbas is
proving daily), Israel would be much more forthcoming concerning
territorial issues.... As long as there is a government in Jerusalem
and in Ramallah there is a mandate to negotiate. Any agreement
reached will have to be brought back to the people on both sides.
If Olmert and Abbas fail to reach an agreement, I believe that
history will judge that failure as criminal. The time has come for
the leaders to begin to wrap up the negotiations. They've done a
very good job at keeping the negotiations secret. It is now time to
begin to show the publics that progress is being made and that hope
is still alive."

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

Summary:
--------

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "As he
considers the legacy he is about to leave behind, it will hopefully
occur to the President that the only way to leave the world more
secure is to match his policies towards Iran to his rhetoric."

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

"Bush's Rhetoric, Bush's Policies"

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (6/16): "Bush
tried to place a wedge between the Iranian regime and the Iranian
people by arguing -- correctly -- that the Iranian people are
suffering under the mullahocracy's jackboot. But he has also taken
toppling the Iranian regime off the table. So the oppressed Iranian
people have no reason to believe that were they to risk their lives
in an attempt to free themselves of their leaders, the U.S. would
support them.... Throughout much of his presidency, and especially
since 2006, what has been most notable about Bush's rhetoric is that
it has been completely disconnected from his policies. As he
considers the legacy he is about to leave behind, it will hopefully
occur to the President that the only way to leave the world more
secure is to match his policies towards Iran to his rhetoric."

JONES

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