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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1304/01 1701032
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181032Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7173
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEADWD/DA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 3999
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0635
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4298
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4805
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4015
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2308
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4766
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1634
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2080
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8623
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6110
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1013
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5133
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7088
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9932
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001304

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

--------------------------------
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Iran

3. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

All media reported that Egypt and Hamas announced on Tuesday that a
cease-fire (tahdiya) between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza
Strip will go into effect at 6 A.M. tomorrow. Media reported that
negotiations over the release of Gilad Shalit will resume on Sunday.
Israel may reopen the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza.
(Some media reported that this is a done deal.) Israel Radio
reported that while PM Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak
approved the agreement, senior ministers and the IDF were skeptical
that it would hold up. Defense Ministry official Major General
(res.) Amos Gilad left yesterday for Cairo to conclude the final
agreement. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe and Israel Radio quoted Vice PM
Haim Ramon as saying that the accord constitutes a victory for
radical Islam. Right-wing politicians were quoted as saying that
the accord represents a legitimization of Hamas. Israel Radio
reported that Syrian FM Walid Muallem commended the truce.

Israel Radio reported that White House and State Department
spokespeople expressed doubts about the tahdiya. The radio said
that State Department Spokesman Tom Casey was more optimistic than
his White House counterpart.

Major media reported that at least seven Palestinians were killed
yesterday in three IAF strikes in Gaza that seemed to target the
radical Army of Islam organization, which was involved in Shalit's
kidnapping. Eight Qassam rockets landed in the western Negev this
morning.

Ha'aretz reported that the U.S. has begun mediating between Israel
and Lebanon in an effort to resolve their dispute over Sheba Farms
in the hope that they would then start peace talks. Ha'aretz
reported that President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
informed PM Olmert of this during his visit to Washington two weeks
ago, and that Rice repeated it during her visit here earlier this
week. Ha'aretz quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that Rice
gave Lebanon a message from Olmert on this issue on Monday.
Ha'aretz quoted the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat as saying
yesterday that during her brief visit to Beirut on Monday, Rice told
Lebanese officials that the U.S. was working to obtain an Israeli
withdrawal from Sheba. "Our efforts are continuing, and will be
stepped up in the coming weeks," Al-Hayat quoted Rice as saying.
The Jerusalem Post reported that a senior IDF Intelligence officer
told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday
that since the end of the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah has amassed
an underground military infrastructure under the noses of UNIFIL.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Fatah officials as saying that PA
President Mahmoud Abbas is planning to visit Gaza for the first time
since Hamas's violent takeover of the area.

The Jerusalem Post reported: "U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones is
scheduled to leave his post on July 11, even though it is not yet
clear when -- and even if -- his announced replacement, James
Cunningham, will arrive."

The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior IDF commander as saying yesterday
that the Civil Administration in the West Bank has negotiated a deal
with a number of Palestinian villages in the Qalqilya region in
which dirt roadblocks cutting off their access to nearby cities and
roads would be lifted in exchange for the cessation of local terror
activity.

Ha'aretz reported that two senior officials in the Civil
Administration allegedly illegally collaborated with Jewish land
dealers to take over land in the West Bank, according to an
indictment issued yesterday in the Jerusalem District Court. Lt.
Col. Yair Blumenthal and Maj. Ehud Brosh have been charged with
taking bribes and favors from the dealers, brothers Yosef and Yaakov
Amram. Blumenthal, who headed of the Civil Administration's
infrastructure department, is charged with helping the brothers
further fraudulent business deals by providing them with internal
documents and equipment belonging to the Civil Administration in
exchange for over $40,000. The land is said to have been used to
expand settlements in the Jericho and Hebron areas.

Various media reported that President Shimon Peres left for Petra
today for a meeting of Nobel Prizewinners and a meeting with King
Abdullah II. The radio quoted the King as saying that Israel is
delaying the two-state vision.

The Jerusalem Post reported that "in a surprising show of right-wing
strength," 42 Knesset members -- including coalition members --
signed onto a bill Tuesday that would allow settlers to return to
the sites of the four northern West Bank settlements evacuated
during the 2005 disengagement. The bill is unlikely to pass.

All media reported that Bank Leumi Britain CEO Menachem "Miki"
Friedman was arrested yesterday morning on suspicion of fraud and
bribery of involving loans worth 25 million shekels (around $ 7.5
million) during his tenure as the bank's central branch manager.
Thirteen other prominent businessmen suspected of involvement in the
bribery, including the CEO of a furniture company, a former soccer
player, owners of well-known Tel Aviv restaurants, and the CEO of an
airline, were arrested along with Friedman. Suspicions concerning
bribery and irregularities in the granting of bank loans relate to
just a few months during 2007, toward the end of Friedman's
five-year tenure as branch manager.

Ha'aretz reported that yesterday visiting Los Angeles Mayor Antonio
Villaraigosa and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai signed a cooperation
agreement for the rehabilitation of rivers.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Hamas has ... succeeded in
using the truce to create an internal political front -- and even
more importantly, to gain the Arab world's recognition of its
status."

Security and intelligence affairs commsentator Amit Cohen wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv: "Hamas, which has exclusive control
of Gaza, stands to gain significantly from the implementation of the
cease-fire, but may also pay the price for its violation."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Both weak governments
on either side of the fence in Gaza have an interest in [the
truce's] success. Only one party has an interest in sabotaging this
story: the Iranians."

Uri Elitzur, who was director of former prime minister Benjamin
Netanyahu's bureau, wrote in the editorial of the nationalist,
Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe: "It is clear that this isn't a
cease-fire in exchange for a cease-fire, but capitulation to violent
extortion -- of the 'offer you can't refuse' kind from gangster
stories."

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

I. "Hamas in Charge"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/18): "The main points of a
cease-fire between Israel and Hamas grant the Islamic organization a
political and diplomatic achievement that will also give it a lever
in its reconciliation talks with Fatah, which are slated to begin at
the end of this week.... Israel will receive quiet in the south,
along with an Egyptian pledge to monitor the border closely, but
Hamas will be the main party in control of the Rafah crossing.
Palestinian Authority officials and European observers will be
present, but both will have limited authority. Moreover, the truce
gives Hamas, rather than PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the power to
force a cease-fire in the West Bank: If quiet is maintained in the
south, Israel will have to extend the truce to the West Bank in
another six months.... Hamas has also succeeded in using the truce
to create an internal political front -- and even more importantly,
to gain the Arab world's recognition of its status."

II. "Relative Calm"

Security and intelligence affairs commentator Amit Cohen wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv (6/18): "Hamas, which has exclusive
control of Gaza, stands to gain significantly from the
implementation of the cease-fire, but may also pay the price for its
violation. Hamas figures are optimistic about their chances of
breaking the siege on the Gaza Strip. This step is of immense
significance, not only economically, but mainly for morale. If the
crossings open, Hamas will be able to tell its supporters: Our
persistence has paid off, we didn't yield and made Israel back down.
Conversely, if the agreement collapses, the chances of a
large-scale military operation increase. Hamas has prepared for
such an operation and believes that it will be able to survive it,
but it is not interested in such a development. This is the reason
that Hamas will try to the best of its ability to rein in the other
organizations, but without appearing as if it is infringing upon
their right to act against Israel. Unsurprisingly, the Palestinian
Authority was the most worried party yesterday.... [PA officials]
know that a cease-fire, if it is implemented seriously, will reduce
even further the chances of collapsing the Hamas regime in Gaza.
This is the reason that Palestinian security officials repeatedly
warn that Hamas intends to take advantage of the cease-fire to arm
itself, strengthen its abilities even further and prepare for the
next round."

III. "Alliance of the Weak"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/18): "Starting on
Thursday at 6:00 A.M., Israel is giving Hamas recognition as a
legitimate player in Palestinian and regional politics. In
exchange, it is receiving calm for a certain period of time for the
residents of the Gaza perimeter. This, in essence, is the deal that
we have made with the Egyptians. Everyone complains about this
arrangement. They say that it's bad, that it won't last, and that
it is fragile. But this arrangement is taking form for one reason:
Both weak governments on either side of the fence in Gaza have an
interest in its success. Only one party has an interest in
sabotaging this story: the Iranians. They will make an effort to
dismantle the package by means of Islamic Jihad. Here Hamas will be
put to the test: Is it indeed an Iranian extension, or is it only
using Iran for its own needs? Until then, what happened and will
happen in the 24 hours prior to the truce is a game: Who will come
out more of a man, who will give the last blow and who will fight
until the last moment for his terms. This is how Hamas is behaving,
this is how we too are behaving."

IV. "An Agreement with Gangsters"

Uri Elitzur, who was director of former prime minister Benjamin
Netanyahu's bureau, wrote in the editorial of the nationalist,
Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (6/18): "The price that Israel has
agreed to pay Hamas for the cease-fire is still unknown. Perhaps it
is turning a blind eye to smuggling of heavy weaponry into the
Strip; perhaps it is money; perhaps it the opening of crossings from
Gaza to Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank]. Anyway, it is clear
that this isn't a cease-fire in exchange for a cease-fire, but
capitulation to violent extortion -- of the 'offer you can't refuse'
kind from gangster stories. Giving in to blackmail will never bring
durable peace, because it is absolutely obvious that the blackmailer
will try his luck again. As the Romans said, 'If you want peace,
prepare for war.' It was possible to reach a simple, mutual, and
durable cease-fire, had Israel shown determination to fight the
Qassam rocket fire until it was overcome."

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

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Even
the U.S., with the best of intentions, has not found it easy to
impose a comprehensive sanctions regime [on Iran]. Which is why we
applaud U.S. Senator Max Baucus for his efforts to plug existing
loopholes in American law."

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

"Prodding the Glacier"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (6/18):
"The glacial pace at which Europe has been working to get Iran to
end its enrichment of uranium and give up its nuclear weapons
program is slowly picking up. Britain and Europe are expected to
freeze the assets of Bank Melli, the Islamic Republic's main
financial conduit to the world and its channel for cash transfers to
Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The EU is also weighing sanctions against
companies that invest in Iran's energy industry. For its part, Iran
has reportedly begun shifting cash out of European banks -- $75
billion so far.... [But] Europe is thus still instrumental in
keeping Teheran's economy afloat, yet it is doing precious little to
explicitly isolate Iran. Regular international flights to the
Islamic Republic still take off from most major European airports,
and European countries maintain active embassies in Tehran.... Even

the U.S., with the best of intentions, has not found it easy to
impose a comprehensive sanctions regime. Which is why we applaud
U.S. Senator Max Baucus for his efforts to plug existing loopholes
in American law."

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

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: "No one has been as blatant as Olmert when he
declared that the next [U.S.] administration would not be as
friendly to Israel as the present one.... If at all, the contrary
should have been said: We expect the relationship with the next
administration, regardless of who is elected president of the United
States, to be even better."

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

"Apres Moi le Deluge"

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 (6/18): "The U.S.-Israeli relationship is
based on firm foundations of common values, ideals and strategic
interests that do not depend on whether the administration in
Washington is Republican or Democratic. The relationship is a major
part of Israel's strategic posture and should not be impaired by
Israeli politicians under any circumstances. Although some Israeli
prime ministers have in the past made the unfortunate mistake of
indicating their preference for one of the candidates in the
American presidential elections, until now, no one has been as
blatant as Olmert when he declared that the next administration
would not be as friendly to Israel as the present one. That
statement is certainly not likely to advance our country's
relationship with the next administration. If at all, the contrary
should have been said: We expect the relationship with the next
administration, regardless of who is elected president of the United
States, to be even better."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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