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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1383/01 1791036
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271036Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7308
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 4046
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0680
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4344
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4851
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4062
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2358
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4812
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1679
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2126
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8668
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6155
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1065
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5178
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7135
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 9988
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001383

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 two Qassam rockets hit Sderot yesterday.
Fatah' Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the
attack. (Electronic media reported that two shells landed in the
area this morning). Leading media reported that FM Tzipi Livni
issued an uncharacteristically sharp demand for an immediate
military response. Leading media reported that Vice PM Haim Ramon
demanded that the cabinet reconsider the 'tahdiya.' Major media
reported that in a statement carried by the official Palestinian
news agency Maan, Hamas warned the militant factions against
violating the cease-fire, saying that such actions harm the
Palestinian national interest. Hamas also threatened to take
measures against the violators.

In its lead story, Ha'aretz reported that Shin Bet chief Yuval
Diskin has somewhat softened his position regarding the prisoners
who could be released in return for Gilad Shalit. Diskin is now
prepared to release some prisoners "who have the blood of Israelis
on their hands," so long as the risk they pose is lessened. The
Jerusalem Post quoted Egyptian sources as saying yesterday that it
was unlikely that the latest Qassam rocket attack on Sderot, or
Israel's continuing closure of the crossing into Gaza, would impinge
on talks for Shalit's release. The Jerusalem Post quoted an
Egyptian source as saying: "Progress on the Shalit issue is now
Egypt's top foreign policy priority," indicating that Cairo would
now focus on the Shalit matter in the same way it focused
intensively for months on brokering the cease-fire. Yediot quoted a
senior Egyptian military official as saying that if Israel does not
show flexibility in the number of Palestinian prisoners it is
willing to release, Shalit's fate is likely to be like that of IAF
navigator Ron Arad, who has been MIA for over 20 years.

Maariv quoted PM Ehud Olmert as saying that he is not sure that the
deal to release the two IDF soldiers abducted by Hizbullah will go
through. Although a majority of cabinet ministers are expected to
approve the prisoner swap on Sunday, Maariv reported that Olmert is
concerned about the way defense officials who will be attending
Sunday's session will present the agreement.

Ha'aretz reported that Foreign Ministry Director General Aharon
Abramovitch secretly visited the headquarters of the International
Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Wednesday and briefed a group of
ambassadors from countries involved in the agency's efforts to stop
Iran's nuclear project. Abramovitch emphasized that the IAEA must
act more quickly and efficiently to block Iranian nuclear ambitions.
The Jerusalem Post reported that President Shimon Peres, who was
addressing an IAF pilots' graduation ceremony yesterday, boasted
that Israel has carried out military strikes against two nuclear
sites, saying "this is the only air force in the world that has such
an achievement." Peres was quoted as saying: "According to foreign
reports, the air force took out two nuclear plants" -- an apparent
reference to the strike against a Syrian site last September that
Israel has not publicly acknowledged, and the Iraqi reactor at
Osirak in 1981.

Leading media reported that Wednesday an American tourist was
lightly injured after stones were thrown at his car swhen he
accidentally drove into the Qalandiya refugee camp, west of
Ramallah. Palestinian police protected and returned him to Israel.

Yediot reported that for the fist time an Ethiopian-Israeli officer
was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

Yediot reported that Aljazeera-TV devoted one hour of its programs
to contemporary Israeli singer Idan Raichel and his songs. The
Jerusalem Post reported that transsexual Israeli singer Aderet tops
the Lebanese song chart.

Ha'aretz reported on an Israeli-Palestinian startup, G.ho.s.t, which
its developer, Israeli businessman Zvi Schreiber, claims will "tone
down the conflict."

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

Summary:
--------

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Israel is continuing to delude itself
that someone else will do the work for it in Gaza: Hamas, the
Egyptians, or the devil knows who -- until the alarm sounds for a
real emergency."

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Now is the time to tell the
politicians: Stop being heroes at the expense of our captive
soldiers and their parents. Bring them home without delay, no
matter how much it costs. Yes, at any price."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "[Ofer Dekel, Olmert's point man on
prisoner exchanges] has no idea how it happened that after he
brought a reasonable, cheap and logical deal, judging by all
parameters, it got so complicated."

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

I. "Illusion of Calm"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/27):"The good news is that the Qassam
rocket that was fired at Israel yesterday -- like those that were
fired on Tuesday -- does not mean the end of the cease-fire. The
bad news: there never was a cease-fire. It was and still is a
fagade, a mirage, and you canQt stop something that has not yet
begun.. In the meantime, the residents of Gaza are paying a very
heavy price for this fire.... Since the Qassam rocket fire on
Wednesday, the passage of fuel to the Gaza Strip has been stopped
completely, so that a shortage of millions of liters of gasoline
along with certain foodstuffs has accumulated.... But apparently,
HamasQs control over the small terror organizations in the Gaza
Strip is not as good as Israel believed prior to the tahdiya. This
fact is definitely a surprise that bodes ill for the continuation of
the tahdiya.... However, behind the scenes Hamas is greatly trying
to influence Islamic Jihad and the others to observe the truce....
But just as Hamas does not have the power to prevent the continuing
warnings of terror attacks against the crossings and the continued
preparations by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and others to plan
tangible terror attacks against Israel, the organization finds it
difficult to rein in Islamic Jihad.... Israel is continuing to
delude itself that someone else will do the work for it in Gaza:
Hamas, the Egyptians, or the devil knows who -- until the alarm
sounds for a real emergency."

II. "Yes, at any Price"
Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/27): "The way our government
is handling the business of bringing home the abducted soldiers is
nothing short of disgraceful.... The current deal is reasonable, and
we have a supreme obligation to bring [Hizbullah abductees] Regev
and Goldwasser home. When the security services oppose letting
[Lebanese terrorist Samir] Kuntar go after more than 30 years in
jail, the question is where they were when we freed Lebanese
militant leaders Dirani and Obeid, who were considered 'bargaining
chips.' Allowing the issue to become fodder for media discussions
and political debates not only causes suffering to the families, but
affects soldiers who may be sent tomorrow on missions in which they
could be killed, taken prisoner or kidnapped.... Now is the time to
tell the politicians: Stop being heroes at the expense of our
captive soldiers and their parents. Bring them home without delay,
no matter how much it costs. Yes, at any price."

III. "The Dilemma"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (6/27): "'ItQs crazy to release him. It's
simply insanity to release Samir Kuntar. A country that releases
such a loathsome murderer, a man who smashed a little girl's skull,
who killed her father right in front of her, a guy like this should
be killed, or left to rot in jail his whole life. There is no
country in the world that would release a man like this, and in
return for dead soldiers' bodies yet. Look what the Americans are
doing to Pollard, who didn't kill anyone. What message are we
giving to terror? To all the young Arabs who are now thinking of
joining terror organizations? What does this tell them, that the
Jews are stupid? That in the end, even if you kill them and murder
their babies, that theyQll be released?' The above was said by one
of the Prime Minister's close associates. Someone who has no
official position, but one of the people with the most influence on
the Prime Minister. And there are others.... The cabinet meeting on
Sunday will consist of an unbearable human drama. All the heads of
the security branches will appear and give the ministers their
professional opinion. They will divide as follows: the Shin Bet
Director and the Mossad Director against the deal. The Chief of
Staff and (apparently) the director of IDF Intelligence in favor.
Ofer Dekel [the PM's point man on prisoner exchanges], of course,
will be in favor. And then someone surprising will speak. Maj. Gen.
(res.) Ilan Biran. He is responsible for POWs and MIAs. Biran, say
informed sources, will be against.... [Dekel] has no idea how it
happened that after he brought a reasonable, cheap and logical deal,
judging by all parameters, it got so complicated. The story, the


whole story, according to Dekel, is Samir Kuntar. That is the
dilemma....[As opposed to public opinion in the Arab world], Dekel
thinks that Kuntar is not a symbol of anything.... [And as regards
the Palestinian track:] is [Olmert] on the way to reaching
'Olmert-Abu Mazen understandings?' An excellent question. We will
have the answer in the coming days. A meeting is scheduled for them
very soon, and it could be that that is where the agreement that
Olmert is talking about will be reached -- the agreement that will
lead to a political explosion."

JONES

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