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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1456/01 1901019
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081019Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7413
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
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 4087
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0716
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4389
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4887
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4101
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2402
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4855
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1715
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2162
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8704
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6192
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1101
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5214
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7171
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0032
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001456

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

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

Ha'aretz and other media reported that Israel has signed a prisoner
exchange agreement with Hizbullah, according to a statement released
yesterday by the Prime Minster's Bureau. The media reported that
IDF soldiers have begun digging up the bodies of Lebanese combatants
to be exchanged in the deal. Israel Radio quoted senior GOI sources
as saying that the deal with Hizbullah is ready, conditional on
exchanging files on MIA Ron Arad and four Iranian diplomats who
disappeared in Lebanon in 1982. Aspects of those issues are
commented in all media.

Ha'aretz quoted an Israeli government source as saying that Turkey
is pressing Syria to move swiftly into direct talks with Israel.
However, Ha'aretz and Israel Radio quoted Syrian President Bashar
Assad as saying in an interview with the French paper Le Figaro that
his country will apparently not engage in direct negotiations with
Israel during the Bush administration.

Ha'aretz and Maariv quoted visiting Professor Anthony Cordesman of
the Center for Strategic and International Studies as saying that
the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael
Mullen, sent Israel an unequivocal message stating that Israel does
not have a "green light" from the U.S. to attack Iranian nuclear
facilities.

The online service nana10.co.il reported that Defense Minister Ehud
Barak decided last night to close the Gaza border crossing in the
wake of mortar shell fire on the Karni crossing yesterday. This
comes just two days after crossings were reopened following a break
in the fire on Israel. Israel Radio reported that Barak eventually
acceded to Egyptian intelligence head Omar Suleiman's request to
reopen the crossing.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a high-level Hamas delegation is
scheduled to arrive in Cairo on Tuesday for talks with Egyptian
government officials on the possibility of reaching a prisoner
exchange agreement with Israel and to preserve the cease-fire in
Gaza. A top Hamas official said that the movement's representatives
in Cairo would ask Egypt to reopen the border a few days a week, and
linked Gilad Shalit's release with the opening of the crossings.
Yediot quoted the London-based Al-Hayat as saying that the Hamas
team negotiating a prisoner swap with Israel has suspended its
participation in the talks because of a new Israeli precondition set
by Ofer Dekel, PM Ehud Olmert's point man on prisoner exchange:
Israel is demanding that Hamas transfer Gilad Shalit, and only later
will Egypt open the Rafah crossing to goods traffic and allow the
return to Gaza of hundreds of Palestinians stranded in El Arish.
The report also states that Dekel demands that only after Shalit is
returned will the Gaza-Egypt passage be open to Gaza residents.

Ha'aretz reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently signed
an order declaring 36 international charities illegal in Israel, on
the grounds that they funnel money to Hamas.

The media reported that yesterday the police rejected criticism over
its handling of the bulldozer attack last Wednesday. The media
quoted a victim's relative as saying that officers were paralyzed by
the fear of legal repercussions.

The Jerusalem Post quoted diplomatic officials as saying yesterday
that Israel and Italy are expected to announce the establishment of
a "strategic dialogue" during the visit of Italian FM Franco
Frattini. The officials pointed out that the only countries Israel
has this dialogue with are the U.S., France, and Britain. The
Jerusalem Post noted that Frattini's visit come a day after the Fiat
Group announced that it will begin manufacturing a sedan car in
Iran.

Israel Radio reported that the police will again question PM Olmert
on Friday -- ahead of Morris Talansky's cross-examination. Yediot
reported that FM Tzipi Livni will ask PM Olmert to resign after
Kadima's primaries.

Among recent media reports that his finances are ebbing, billionaire
politician Arkady Gaidamak pointed out in an interview with Channel
2-TV on Sunday that he hasn't lost any money because he hasn't sold
any assets that have shrunken in theoretical value. He also said
that his fortune still amounts to about $2 billion. On Sunday the
Second Television and Radio Authority -- which operates Channel 2-TV
-- also announced that Gaidamak will have to sell his shares in the
FM99 radio station, due to his political activity.

Leading media reported that 60 families that were harmed by Katyusha
rockets during the Second Lebanon War are suing in a federal court
in New York five Lebanese banks that were active in the U.S. on
behalf of Hizbullah.

Ha'aretz reported that the ultra-Orthodox rabbinical consensus on
banning the entry of Jews to the Temple Mount is showing cracks.
This comes in the wake of a decision by religious Zionist rabbis to
lift the ban and the increase of religious Zionist visitors to the
site.

The Jerusalem Post reported that in Jerusalem on Sunday Canadian MP
and former justice minister Irwin Cotler called for criminal charges
to be filed against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

All media reported that today the Water Authority plans to reveal an
emergency plan. The level of the Lake of Galilee is at its lowest
in five years -- 213 meters below sea level.

Yediot reported that the share of the major Israeli pharmaceutical
company Teva on NASDAQ dropped yesterday by 10%, because of a failed
test on its star drug Copaxone..


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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Israel, which
has decided to suspend the military option to give the cease-fire a
shot, will decide when the trial period is over. It does seem,
though, that this stage has not yet arrived."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "While
Fatah-Hamas reconciliation appears inevitable, the chances of it
contributing to Jewish and Palestinian states living side by side in
peace and security seem ever more remote."

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "The IDF, which is busy learning the lessons from [the
Second Lebanon] War, must find a way to frighten again. Fear will
return -- even partly -- to Israel some of its honor and security."

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

I. "Maintaining the Cease-Fire"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (7/8): "The
Qassam rockets that have continued to land in Israel since the
cease-fire agreement have given rise to the feeling that the
cease-fire is about to collapse.... There is no doubt that Hamas,
like the other organizations, and like Israel, has a great interest
in maintaining the current cease-fire. At the same time, there is
no doubt that organizations, gangs and even Fatah elements are
interested in torpedoing the agreement or are claiming the right to
veto decisions by Hamas. Ostensibly Israel could turn its back on
the internal Palestinian disputes and say it is none of its business
to examine who is breaking or observing the cease-fire. As far as
Israel is concerned, Hamas and the other organizations are
responsible for the agreement and any violation of it constitutes
its revocation. However, the reality in Gaza was not invisible to
Israel when it adopted the agreement. Israel knew it would take
some time before Israeli airspace would be hermetically sealed to
the Qassam rockets.... Israel, which has decided to suspend the
military option to give the cease-fire a shot, will decide when the
trial period is over. It does seem, though, that this stage has not
yet arrived."

II. "Palestinian Reconciliation"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (7/8):
"It may yet take months, but there is every likelihood that
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will ultimately
reconcile his Fatah movement with Hamas, an interim government of
'technocrats' will be formed, and new Palestinian elections will be
held.... Could Abbas enhance his popularity by reaching a 'shelf
agreement' with Israel by the December 2008 deadline? It's hard to
see how, given that his 'moderate' negotiating stance demands
Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 Armistice Lines as well as the
Palestinian 'right of return' -- signaling the demographic
destruction of Israel and unacceptable even to the most pliant of
Israeli governments. If Palestinian negotiators are quietly making
far-reaching concessions on borders and refugees to pave the way
toward a shelf agreement -- without preparing their people for the
idea of compromise -- Abbas's popularity will plummet further.
Conversely, if no deal is achieved, Abbas's leadership will be
undermined and Hamas emerge ascendant. So while Fatah-Hamas
reconciliation appears inevitable, the chances of it contributing to
Jewish and Palestinian states living side by side in peace and
security seem ever more remote. Does Livni have a Plan B?"

III. ""'They Are Not Afraid' (After Benjamin Netanyahu)"

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (7/8): "Nasrallah may have good reason to be satisfied....
Hamas, too, understands that it is dealing with current Israel [as
opposed to that of the country's founding fathers].... Despite their
wretchedness and humility, Hamas's people talk to Israel as
equals.... The Second Lebanon War is the best evidence about the
importance of appearance in the Middle East. Hizbullah's
fortifications and ... its neighborhoods in Beirut were reduced to
ashes, but it celebrates its victory. The IDF, which is busy
learning the lessons from that war, must find a way to frighten
again. Fear will return -- even partly -- to Israel some of its
honor and security."

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

Summary:
--------

Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini responded in the popular,
pluralist Maariv to Kobi Niv, who yesterday praised the benefit to
Israel of an Iranian atomic bomb: "As opposed to what we believed,
the fans of conciliation do not favor a world clean of atom bombs.
They favor a world in which only 'rational' factors such as Iran
have such weapons."

Block Quotes:
-------------
"A Bomb of Anti-Semitic Propaganda"

Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini responded in the popular,
pluralist Maariv to Kobi Niv, who yesterday praised the benefit to
Israel of an Iranian atomic bomb (7/8): "In the age of anti-Zionism,
we hear the old refrain: Israel is a danger to world peace. How
lucky, part of the progressive world says to itself, that someone
puts Israel in its place. It will stop jeopardizing world
peace..... Many inanities have been appearing for many years in
books and articles, in praise of Iran and in condemnation of
dangerous Israel. Not all criticism of Israel is void. Not all
opposition to attacking Iran is demonic... [But] as opposed to what
we believed, the fans of conciliation do not favor a world clean of
atom bombs. They favor a world in which only 'rational' factors
such as Iran have such weapons. The problem is that the propaganda
of horror creates admirers in Israel, too."

JONES

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