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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #1413/01 1841010
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021010Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7351
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4063
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0697
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4365
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4868
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4082
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2379
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4832
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1696
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2143
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8685
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6173
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1082
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5195
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001413

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. Iran

2. Mideast

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

The electronic media reported that at noon today, a bulldozer driver
went on a rampage in Jerusalem traffic and plowed his vehicle into
cars and a crowded public bus near the old Central Bus Station and
the headquarters of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Three
persons were killed and an estimated 66 were wounded. The
bulldozer's Arab driver was shot dead.

Media quoted a "senior American official" as saying that Israel is
unlikely to feel the need to stage a military strike on Iran in
2008. His remarks came shortly after Pentagon officials were quoted
as saying that Israel was likely to attack Iran by the end of the
year. Israel Radio quoted Deputy State Department Spokesman Tom
Casey as saying yesterday: QItQs always amazing that there are lots
of anonymous sources out there who profess to know the inner will of
officials in other countries, Israel or otherwise. I have
absolutely no information that would substantiate that." Yediot
quoted a senior Western diplomat as saying that there is no
consensus within the Israeli government in favor of an attack on
Iran. The official provided the example of Transportation Minister
Shaul Mofaz's recent recommendation to take on Iran, which was
criticized in the government. He was quoted as saying that the gap
between the U.S. and Israel regarding the time when Iran's nuclear
policy will reach a no-return point, has greatly shrunk. Maariv
quoted a senior Israeli defense source as saying that Israel's
offensive plans toward Iran are critically set back. Various
journalists and experts assessed that the home front is not prepared
for Iranian conventional or non-conventional attacks.

Major media reported that the Cairo-based weekly Al-Ahram Al-Arabi
reported that Hamas has agreed to an Egyptian request to transfer a
video tape and a letter from Gilad Shalit. The weekly, affiliated
with the government mouthpiece Al-Ahram, said that Hamas had agreed
to the move to provide a sign of life in order to move the talks
ahead. Media reported that Israel denied the story.

Major media reported that Israel reopened the Gaza crossings today.
Yediot and Ha'aretz reported that arms smuggling into Gaza is
increasing. Ha'aretz reported that yesterday Deputy Defense
Minister Matan Vilnai accused Egypt of not doing enough in the
matter.

Israel Radio quoted the Turkish Foreign Ministry as saying that the
last round of indirect talks between Israel and Syria will take
place in two weeks at the latest, after which direct talks will
begin. The radio quoted Ankara as saying that the results of Syrian
President Bashar Assad's visit to Paris will determine the calendar
of the talks and the level of representation of the parties.
Ha'aretz reported that yesterday Syria's Deputy FM Faisal Mekdad
referred to Druze residents of the Golan as Syrians, saying in an
interview on Syrian TV that Israel will have to release all the
Syrian prisoners it is holding if it is to reach a peace agreement
with Syria. The comment can refer only to Druze from the Golan,
since there are no Syrian nationals in Israeli prisons. In the
interview, Mekdad described the prisoner exchange deal between
Israel and Hezbollah as a "victory for the Arab people." Major
media reported that Syrian commentator Mustafa al-Hajj told Iranian
television station Al-Alam that the Knesset's approval this week of
a law mandating a national referendum or two-thirds parliamentary
majority prior to a withdrawal from territory under Israeli control
means that Israel is not interested in peace with Syria. Leading
media reported that initial examinations of human remains discovered
on Monday in the Golan Heights indicate that they do not belong to
missing soldiers Guy Hever or Majdi Halabi, or to missing Tiberias
teen Dana Bennet. There is speculation that one of more of the three
may have been kidnapped to Syria.

All media reported that on the sidelines of the 23rd Socialist
International Congress in Athens yesterday, Defense Minster Ehud
Barak shook hands and spoke briefly with Iraqi President Jalal
Talabani in what is believed to be to be the first public handshake
between high ranking Israeli and Iraqi officials. The two leaders
were photographed in the company of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Barak was quoted as telling Talabani jokingly in Arabic that when he
was prime minister he had five ministers of Iraqi origin. The
gesture was immediately downplayed in both Iraq and Israel. Some
media reported that Talabani's offices issued a statement that said
it was a "civilized social act" without special significance.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon submitted the quarterly report on the implementation of UNSC
Resolution 1701. According to reports, the document does not accuse
Hizbullah of violating the terms of the ceasefire, despite Israeli
allegations that the Shi'ite militia has retaken its border
positions and continues to amass rockets and other arms banned under
1701. Diplomatic sources quoted by IDF Radio assessed that the
conciliatory tone of the report stemmed from the UN's desire to
maintain political stability in Lebanon. The report also states
that both Israel and Syria have yet to address maps of the contested
Sheba Farms area drawn up by a UN representative and submitted to
the two countries over six months ago.

Leading media reported that State Attorney Moshe Lador and Maj. Gen.
Yohanan Danino, head of the police's Investigations and Intelligence
Department decided not to reopen the criminal investigation into
nonprofit organizations' funding of Ehud Barak's 1999 election
campaign. Channel 10-TV reported that Olmert PR consultant Tal
Zilberstein, previously a close aide to Barak, backed Shmuel Levi
financially for years. Levi initiated the current probe into
Barak's affairs.

Ha'aretz quoted senior officials in the State Prosecutor's Office
and the Israel Police as saying that inquiries made over the past
week in the U.S. by Israeli law enforcement representatives are
strengthening suspicions of fraud and other crimes against Olmert.

The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior American official as saying that
President Bush is unlikely to pardon convicted spy Jonathan Pollard
before he leaves office.

The Jerusalem Post reported that U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones is to
leave his post on July 11, some three years after taking up the
position, and will be replaced by James Cunningham, whose
appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week. Cunningham
is scheduled to arrive in Israel in mid-August. The Jerusalem Post
quoted American officials as saying that the fact that Cunningham
was approved by a Democratic-controlled Senate indicated he would
likely stay on for some time even if Barack Obama is elected
president. The newspaper reported that Ambassador Jones will host
his last Independence Day, as he leaves the Foreign Service.

The Jerusalem Post reported that in an effort to create more
effective defense expenditure, the Defense Ministry has awarded the
New York City-headquartered consulting firm McKinsey & Co. with a
three-year multimillion dollar contract to create a 10-year
streamlining plan for the IDF.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Google Earth now highlights
locations linked to "Nakba - the Palestinian catastrophe." The
newspaper quoted Gerald Steinberg, political science professor at
Bar-Ilan University and the head of NGO Monitor, as saying: "[Google
Earth] is part of propaganda war, which [Israel] is losing." The
newspaper quoted Google as saying that "debate is healthy."

Leading media reported that yesterday IDF Colonel Hasson Hasson
became the first Druze appointed aide-de-camp to an Israeli
president.

Major media reported that yesterday in Kiryat Gat PM Olmert
inaugurated Intel's largest plant in the world. The factory, in
which the American computer chip firm invested $3.5 billion, is
expect to employ 2,000 direct-hire employees and 1,500 workers under
contract. Intel will eventually employ 6,800 people in Israel.

The Jerusalem Post cited the results of a poll conducted by
WorldPublicOpinion.org, managed by the Program on International
Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland between January and
May: 71% of Americans said that they wanted their country to take a
neutral stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

---------
1. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "In contrast with the more
distant nuclear threat, Iran has proven ballistic capabilities to
hit strategic and civilian targets in Israel, causing huge
casualties and enormous damage."

Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom: "Had Israel led a tearful [Iran] policy in
the world ... it might have tried to produce greater involvement in
the West."

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

I. "Saber Rattling Could Backfire"
Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/2): "The belief that Israel
will attack Iran before the year is out, and the major military
drill over the Mediterranean last month, may indicate Israel's
determination -- even if it has to act alone -- to defend against
the strategic threat Iran has laid at its doorstep. However this
message, along with the threats Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz
has made against Iran, must also be analyzed in light of Iran's
abilities to respond to such an attack with a preemptive strike
against Israel.... In contrast with the more distant nuclear threat,
Iran has proven ballistic capabilities to hit strategic and civilian
targets in Israel, causing huge casualties and enormous damage....
It is believed in Iran that continued threats, not to mention a
direct attack, might only strengthen Ahmadinejad as the man who is
standing strong against the West and Israel, and increase the
feeling that nuclear armament is necessary.... Israel, which had to
extricate itself from accusations that it dragged the U.S. into war
in Iraq, will find it difficult to withstand pressure that it, and
not Iran, is responsible for another rise in oil prices, perhaps the
most dramatic to date, and the subsequent damage to global economy.
The hike in oil prices following Mofaz's statements may be proof of
this scenario. Iran's nuclear threat has created an interesting
anti-Iranian coalition that includes Arab countries along with the
U.S. and Israel. For the first time, Arab statesmen are saying that
the Iranian nuclear threat against Arab countries is more concrete
than the Israeli threat on them. However, this coalition will have
difficulty tolerating an Israeli attack on Iran, especially if that
attack brings about an Iranian attack on nearby Arab countries."

II. "We Pushed Ourselves into a Corner"

Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom (7/2): "Alongside the advantages inherent
in Israel flexing its muscles, there are costs, too. The first one
is that Iran is entering a state of intense alert.... The second
detriment is that boisterous Israeli public relations are causing
damage to relations with enlightened Western nations. Had Israel
led a tearful policy in the world ... it might have tried to produce
greater involvement in the West..... But now, if the Jews can defend
themselves and prevent a new Holocaust ... they had better do so by
themselves, and Israel's friends will be glad to watch
sympathetically from the side."

------------
2. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The
assurance that from now on ... candidates will be ineligible for a
Knesset seat if they conduct themselves precisely as [self-exiled
former Knesset member] Azmi Bishara did strikes us as eminently
sensible... and regrettably necessary."

Contributor Prof. Carlo Strenger, a philosopher and psychoanalyst
who teaches at Tel Aviv University and is a member of the World
Federation of Scientists' permanent monitoring panel on terrorism,
wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Deep down, we all
know that causing suffering to millions of Palestinians in the West
Bank because of the settlements that are deep inside the territories
is morally indefensible. And yet we let it happen."

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

I. "Bishara's Legacy"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (7/2):
"What if, on the night of May 10-11, 1941, even as the Luftwaffe was
blitzing London's Westminster Palace, a British MP was off in Berlin
advising German leaders about how best to confront Winston
Churchill? Now fast-forward to another war, another time and
another place: the summer of 2006. Hizbullah gunners are bombarding
northern Israel from Lebanon; soldiers have been killed, soldiers
have been kidnapped. Tens of thousands of Israelis are sweltering
in shelters. The country is at war. [Then] Knesset Member Azmi
Bishara, however, is off in Beirut, where, authorities suspect, he
is helping Hizbullah evaluate Jerusalem's political and military
strategy. We say 'suspect' because Bishara fled Israel before he
could be brought to trial. It is thus altogether fitting that the
law passed on Sunday by the Knesset -- that henceforth bars anyone
visiting an enemy state for illegal purposes from running for the
Knesset -- has been dubbed the 'Bishara Law'.... The assurance that
from now on -- the law does not apply retroactively -- candidates
will be ineligible for a Knesset seat if they conduct themselves
precisely as Azmi Bishara did strikes us as eminently sensible...
and regrettably necessary."
II. "Israel's Split Psyche"

Contributor Prof. Carlo Strenger, a philosopher and psychoanalyst
who teaches at Tel Aviv University and is a member of the World
Federation of Scientists' permanent monitoring panel on terrorism,
wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/2): "Israel, as a
society and as a country, accepts and respects the moral principle
of universal human rights. Deep down, we all know that causing
suffering to millions of Palestinians in the West Bank because of
the settlements that are deep inside the territories is morally
indefensible. And yet we let it happen: We go about our business
trying to numb our conscience by saying, 'There is no partner' or
'The roadblocks are needed to prevent terror attacks' or 'Look what
happened when we left Gaza! We left, and all we get is Qassam
attacks!' While the latter point has some validity, all polls show
that most Israelis believe the settlements deep inside the West Bank
jeopardize Israel's security rather than increasing it -- and the
military experts agree.... There is only one way to stop the general
malaise and curb the fear that Israel is built on quicksand.... I
predict the paralysis will end once Israel gathers the political
will to tell the settlers: 'We understand your pain and rage, but we
made a terrible mistake in sending you into the West Bank. Israel's
moral and political survival depends on your coming back home.'
Only when we wake up in the morning knowing that there are no more
indefensible horrors to repress, no more young soldiers sent to do a
job that will harm them for life, and no more Palestinian women
losing babies because they cannot arrive at a hospital will we be
able to tackle the huge problems inside our society. The Israeli
psyche needs to be liberated from unbearable guilt if we are to
recover our resilience and our belief in our right to be here."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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