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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1346/01 1761011
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241011Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7258
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
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 4028
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0662
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4326
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4833
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4044
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2340
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4794
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1661
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2108
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8650
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6137
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1047
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5160
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7117
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9970
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001346

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

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

All media reported (lead stories in the three main Hebrew-language
stories) that the chief military rabbi, Brig. Gen. Avihai Ronsky,
began deliberations yesterday on whether the soldiers kidnapped at
the onset of the Second Lebanon War, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad
Regev, can be declared killed in action. He will make a decision
based on intelligence information and Jewish law. Ha'aretz quoted
sources close to the talks with Hizbullah over a deal to release the
two soldiers as saying that this move means the deal is off. The
soldiers' families lashed out against the move and demanded that PM
Ehud Olmert quickly bring the prisoner exchange deal to a cabinet
vote.

Israel Radio cited remarks made by Olmert to the London-based
Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat: He said that he has not yet decided whether to
submit his candidature if an early election is held. Olmert noted
that his predecessors as prime minister, Sharon, Barak and
Netanyahu, were also investigated on suspicion of corruption, and he
did not rule out the possibility that he was being targeted as a
result of his activity on the diplomatic front. On the tahdiya
agreement, Olmert said that if the smuggling of arms into the Gaza
Strip continues, this will be regarded as a violation and Israel
will have to renew strikes against the terrorist organizations.
Olmert said that concentrated negotiations are being conducted now
for the release of Gilad Shalit, and that more time is needed for
the negotiations on the issue of Regev and Goldwasser, which has not
yet reached its conclusion. On the IAF exercise in Greece, Olmert
said there are preparations by the IDF to meet the challenges facing
Israel. He stressed that Israel cannot be inactive when a country
that threatens to destroy it is arming itself with nuclear weapons.
Olmert stressed, however, that Israel is doing everything in its
power to persuade western countries to do everything possible to
convince Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

The media reported that the government coalition is expected to
collapse tomorrow if the Labor Party votes to disband the Knesset,
as it announced yesterday. PM Olmert has vowed to fire Labor
ministers immediately after the vote, ending the ruling partnership
between Kadima and Labor. Olmert's associates alleged that Labor
leader and Defense Minister Ehud Barak is sabotaging moves of
national importance (the truce deal with Hamas and Shalit's release)
because of his own political interests. The media reported that
yesterday Shas rejected Olmert's offer of benefits totaling 1.5
billion shekels (around $445 million) in exchange for not voting in
favor of the bill to disperse the Knesset. Ha'aretz reported that
the balance of power indicates that the bill could pass by a
majority of 70 MKs -- according to other dailies, 63 to 69 MKs --
making Shas the decisive vote.

All media reported that yesterday the High Court of Justice rejected
the petition of Noam and Aviva Shalit against Olmert, the
diplomatic-security cabinet, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and FM
Tzipi Livni. At the same time, the justices noted they felt the
cabinet needs to discuss again the issues surrounding the captivity
of the Shalits' son, Gilad. Major media quoted former IDF chief of
general staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon as saying yesterday in
a comment that immediately elicited protests, in particular from
Noam Shalit, that "in some situations we need to agree to make
sacrifices in the face of what is demanded of us, because the price
we would have to pay is far heavier than the price of losing a
kidnapped soldier." He was referring to tentative prisoner exchange
plans with Hizbullah and Hamas. The Jerusalem Post reported that
Shalit's release is expected to be high on Olmert's agenda of talks
with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh today.

The Jerusalem Post reported that top defense officials told the
paper on Monday that "in a visit likely to fuel speculation about
possible Israeli military action against Iran," Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen will touch down briefly
in Israel at the end of the week for talks with IDF Chief of Staff
Gabi Ashkenazi. A few weeks after Mullen's visit, Ashkenazi will
fly to Washington for several days on his first visit to the U.S. as
chief of staff. The Jerusalem Post reported that U.S. Chief of
Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead, who is currently in Israel
on an official visit, told the daily yesterday that the U.S.
military knew about the reported massive aerial exercise, and that
questions about the reported exercise's intent should be directed to
the IAF. Roughead was quoted as saying that Iran's naval conduct in
the Persian Gulf is irresponsible and provocative.

The media quoted French President Nicolas Sarkozy as saying
yesterday that there could be no Mideast peace unless Israel drops
its refusal to cede sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem claimed by
the Palestinians. Speaking to a packed Knesset plenum at a special
session in his honor, Sarkozy called on Israel to put an end to West
Bank settlement. But he tempered his address by assuring Israel
that it could count on France's support in halting Iran's nuclear
program. Ha'aretz reported that Israel is following with interest
the closer nuclear ties France is forging with the Arab world. The
Foreign Ministry has declined to go on the record on the issue, but
ministry officials say that though they are concerned about the
matter, they do not oppose it. They say it is better for Israel
that France is supplying nuclear technology to Arab countries and
not less friendly nations such as Russia or China.

Electronic media reported that Islamic Jihad has proclaimed its
intention to retaliate for the killing of an activist by the IDF in
Nablus last night. A Hamas militant was also killed. Ha'aretz's
web site reported that in the first such strike since a cease-fire
went into effect in the Gaza Strip last week, Palestinian militants
fired a mortar shell at the western Negev late last night. No
injuries or damage were caused.

The Jerusalem Post reported that three years after Maj. Gen. (res.)
Doron Almog was almost arrested in England for war crimes, the IDF
has returned to sending senior officers to the UK for military
studies.

Ha'aretz reported that French diplomats recently told their Israeli
counterparts that the U.S. and France have agreed to try to lessen
Syria's political isolation in the hope that this will undermine its
ties with Iran. However, the daily quoted French sources as saying
that the West's relations with Damascus are expected to remain
strained as long as George Bush is U.S. president.

The Jerusalem Post printed a lengthy interview with Rep. Howard
Berman, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, a
"Zionist at heart," quoting him as saying: "Israel's security and
the U.S.-Israeli relationship is for me an issue that shapes my
whole agenda [in] Congress, and guides it."

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The time has
come to decide. Let the Prime Minister not turn Gilad Shalit into a
sacrifice in vain."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "How can [the
government] not be ashamed to continue even at present to release
spin after spin, packaged in a sanctimonious aura of phony
patriotism?"

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

I. "A Moral Obligation"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (6/24): "Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert should have one issue at the front of his mind
when he meets today with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak: to bring
kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit home. True, this is a difficult and
frustrating negotiation. It is the country's prestige, not just
that of the government and army, that hangs in the balance. The
decision is being guided by considerations concerning Israel's
security and the war against terror, the punishment of terrorists
who murdered Israelis, and our attitude toward a terror group that
stops at nothing to achieve its goals. The concern over letting
prisoners go free who might return to terror is not a marginal one.
However, from the moment the Israeli government decided to conduct
indirect talks with Hamas and determined that it was willing to
adopt criteria for swapping prisoners for Shalit, it understood
there would be a price, and a high one, for his release.... It is
best to realize now that any agreement Olmert reaches will not allay
the feeling of anger that has welled up against the kidnappers and
the groups in whose name they acted. No clause can represent Israel
as the victor in this arm-wrestling match. But we can recall
painfully that even the major war Israel embarked on to liberate its
two soldiers abducted to Lebanon led to no better an outcome. So
the Prime Minister heads for Egypt to discharge the government's
moral obligation to its civilians and soldiers -- to bring back a
living captive before it is too late. The reasons for and against
have already been fully discussed and the logic of the war against
terror needs no more proof. The time has come to decide. Let the
Prime Minister not turn Gilad Shalit into a sacrifice in vain."

II. "Merciless, Shameless"
Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/24): "How can they
not be ashamed of themselves to let the families of the kidnapped
soldiers wait like impoverished souls at the entrance to the
corridors of power, begging them, the lords of the land, the
deciders of fates, to please do something to put an end to our
suffering? How can they not be ashamed to continue even at present
to release spin after spin, packaged in a sanctimonious aura of
phony patriotism? The day before yesterday they released the story
about the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners that Israel is supposed
to release as part of the Goldwasser and Regev deal. They tried to
create the impression that Nasrallah had backed away from the
agreements. That is completely false -- merely tricks in order to
derail the deal. When that didn't work they moved on to Plan B
yesterday and launched the 'rabbi campaign.' Now they are using the
chief military chaplain to bury this story beneath the seal of
'presumed dead,' so that it is stricken from the public agenda....
The elections have driven these people mad.... No information that
comes from the political echelon about the captives and MIAs is
credible. It is all skewed by interests.... After two years the
[abducted soldiers'] parents realized that the problem did not lie
solely on Nasrallah and Mashal's side of the divide, but that it lay
first and foremost on our side. They realized that their acceptance
of the promises made by members of the 'establishment' was total and
naive.... In order for us to understand just how much faith we can
put in these people, yesterday the Prime Minister charged that his
Defense Minister pressed to agree to the 'tahdiya' for political
reasons (!!!). Now go figure: Is that information or spin? If it's
information, the Defense Minister needs to be prosecuted for breach
of duty. If it's all spin from the Prime MinisterQs Bureau then
we're dealing with someone who has completely lost his bearings. So
enough, stop. We deserve a more serious administration."

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

Summary:
--------

The ultra-Orthodox Yated Ne'eman editorialized: "All the debates
[about a possible Israeli attack on Iran] and the headlines they are
making constitute a 'self-fulfilling prophesy' and discuss 'war,'
which their arrogance might provoke."

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

"Playing with Fire"

The ultra-Orthodox Yated Ne'eman editorialized (6/24): "It can be
assumed that those behind the deliberate leak to the U.S. newspaper
The New York Times regarding large-scale military maneuvers
conducted by Israel as part of preparations for an attack on Iran,
meant to convey a deterrent message and show the seriousness of
Israel's intentions concerning the prevention of the development of
nuclear weapons in Iran.... 'Wars of words' and 'offensives of
messages' elicit question-marks. Indeed, all the ways to thwart the
danger must be taken, but publications, provocative shows of force,
and statements to that effect, are useless. From the diplomatic and
security points of view, those publications conceal potential and
covert risks.... All the debates and the headlines they are making
constitute a 'self-fulfilling prophesy' and discuss 'war,' which
their arrogance might provoke."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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