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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1512/01 1961015
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141015Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7504
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 4123
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0738
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4426
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4909
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4123
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2425
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4880
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1737
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2184
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8726
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6214
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1123
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5236
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7194
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0059
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001512

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. PM Olmert's Legal Entanglement

2. Mideast

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

Over the weekend all media reported on new police accusations
against PM Ehud Olmert that 12 of his trips received multiple
funding -- one trip was allegedly funded by four different
instructions. One of those organizations reportedly was Yad Vashem.
The media reported that Olmert called the suspicions against him
"despicable." Some media quoted Olmert associates as saying that
"this is an attempt to oust a governing prime minister." Yediot
reported that last Thursday at a consultation with the PM, Prof. Ron
Shapira, one of Olmert's lawyers, raised the idea of a plea bargain.
Leading media reported that last night at a gathering of the Israel
Democracy Institute Attorney General Menachem Mazuz was asked
whether the Prime Minister could be forced to take a leave of
absence. "This question is not subject to a legal ruling at this
stage, and certainly not to the ruling of the Attorney General. This
question should be presented to the Prime Minister himself," Mazuz
replied. He added that "it is not the attorney general's job to
appoint prime ministers or remove them from office. It's also
different from the question on whether a government worker or a
minister should stay in office. At this stage, it's the political
system's job."

All media quoted Olmert as saying in Paris yesterday, at a press
conference prior to his meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas,
that "there are obstacles and disagreements but we have never been
closer to an agreement [with the Palestinians] than we are now."
Ha'aretz reported that Abbas has asked Olmert to release dozens of
Palestinians imprisoned in Israel since before the Oslo Accords of
1993. "I have asked this on a number of occasions and for the time
being only prisoners of Hizbullah are being released," Abbas was
quoted as telling Olmert. The Palestinians said during the meeting
with the Israeli delegation that there is a bad feeling in their
ranks over the deals Israel has reached with Hizbullah and Hamas.
"The fact that elements who are involved in terrorism are being
released does not bolster the standing of Abu Mazen [Abbas]," the
Palestinian sources were quoted as saying. An Israeli political
source noted that Olmert promised to look favorably on the request.
"It will not be part of any deal with Hizbullah or Hamas," the
Israeli source said. "We will carry out another release as a
gesture [of goodwill] to the Palestinian Authority, but we did not
commit to a time or a number of prisoners to be released." Maariv
cited the Palestinians' hope that Fatah/Tanzim activist Marwan
Barghouti will be released as part of this deal.

The media reported that the family of MIA Ron Arad received two
previously unseen photographs of the missing IAF navigator as well
as sections from his diary. Media reported that the cabinet is
scheduled to meet tomorrow to vote on the prisoner swap with
Hizbullah, of which the Arad report is part. The Jerusalem Post
quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying yesterday that the
exchange will proceed even though the report does not solve the
mystery surrounding Arad's fate. The Jerusalem Post and Maariv
reported that fears have mounted in Israel that Hizbullah may try to
carry out an attack along the northern border following the upcoming
prisoner swap. Yediot reported that IDF officials fear that after
the deal with Hizbullah is carried out on Wednesday, there will be
greater chances of a revenge terror attack for senior Hizbullah
operative Imad MughniyahQs assassination. Maariv wrote that the
IDF's deployment for the prisoner exchange deal indicates that the
army is preparing for the possibility that Hizbullah abductees Eldad
Regev and Ehud Goldwasser will return to Israel in caskets.

All media reported that yesterday in Paris Syrian President Bashar
Assad ignored PM Olmert. The Jerusalem Post reported that Olmert
sent feelers to Assad through Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
saying it would be a mistake for Assad to wait until after the
inauguration of a new U.S. president in January to begin direct
negotiations. The Jerusalem Post quoted Assad as saying on Saturday
after a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy that direct
talks would have to wait until after a new U.S. president was voted
in. Assad told France 2-TV that a peace agreement with Israel is
possible within six months to two years. Ha'aretz quoted a Syrian
official as saying: "The indirect negotiations will continue so long
as there is no American partner. Assad will also not make, at this
stage, any gesture of good will to the Israeli Prime Minister, not
even a handshake, because there is no reason to grant such a gesture
to a weak prime minister."

The media reported that in an interviewed aired yesterday by CNN,
Barack Obama recanted the statement he made at last month's AIPAC
Conference: "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it
must remain undivided," calling it "poor phrasing."

The media reported that terrorists shot and wounded two border
policemen Saturday night in Jerusalem.

Media quoted London's Sunday Times as saying that President Bush has
given Israel an "amber light" to attack Iran if diplomacy fails.

Ha'aretz reported that two years after the planning authorities
rejected the construction plan for West Jerusalem known as the
Safdie plan, the Prime Minister's Office has begun to resurrect it.
The municipality declined to comment on the government's project but
noted that influential Mayor Uri Lupoliansky is opposed to the
Safdie plan. Environmental organizations under the umbrella of a
group called the Sustainable Jerusalem Coalition fought hard against
the plan, arguing that it would seriously reduce the open spaces
around Jerusalem and would weaken the center of the city by keeping
the better-off population in the new, outlying neighborhoods. The
environmental groups prepared documents to show there was enough
other land available elsewhere in Jerusalem on which to build.
However, a large amount of the available land located by the
environmental groups is in neighborhoods in which the U.S. is
pressuring Israel not to build.

The Jerusalem Post (and Yediot yesterday) reported that Gilad
Herman, a student from a yeshiva in the northern West Bank
settlement of Yitzhar, was arrested over the weekend in connection
with a rocket attack on the nearby Palestinian village of Burin,
which fell on an open area. The attack was originally reported on
June 20. If confirmed, this would be the first instance of an
Israeli firing a homemade rocket at a Palestinian target. The
Jerusalem Post quoted Yitzhar community spokesman Yigal Amitai as
saying that Herman is not connected to Yitzhar. Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the prosecution has submitted an
indictment against three residents of Mitzpe Asael in the southern
Hebron hills who a week ago tied the hands of a Palestinian and beat
him and attacked the Border Policeman who came to untie him.
Attorney Yossi Lin, who belongs to the Hinenu organization and is
representing the accused, told Makor Rishon-Hatzofe the "indictment
distorts reality.... It was a premeditated provocation to which
left-wing journalists were invited."

Yediot reported that yesterday 15 pilots from the Hatzor IAF base
inhaled noxious hydrozin (phon.) fumes emanating from F-16 planes.
They were rushed to the hospital.
Yesterday The Jerusalem Post reported that Italian Jewish architect
David Fisher, who was born and raised in Israel and who is building
an ambitious, twirling Dynamic Tower in Dubai, told the newspaper
this his work will herald an architectural revolution.

-----------------------------------
1. PM Olmert's Legal Entanglement:
-----------------------------------

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The impending
end of the Ehud Olmert era is now unavoidable.... For this cloud to
have a silver lining, it is necessary to learn the Olmert lesson and
make sure that such a case never recurs."

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

I. "Prevent the Next Disgrace"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (7/14): "The
impending end of the Ehud Olmert era is now unavoidable. Across the
political spectrum, and even within Olmert's Kadima Party, the
consensus is that public disgust over the revelations about his
conduct should be translated into a thorough cleaning of the
political stables.... The serious decisions facing Israel's
leadership justify a hard-line approach. The Israeli public is
liable to be asked to make sacrifices and concessions, and only a
leadership that sets a good example, by acting ethically and in good
faith, can make such demands. Olmert has dealt public confidence in
state institutions a double blow: via his behavior, which has
spurred half a dozen criminal investigations, and via his attacks on
the Police, Prosecution and Attorney General, whom he accused of
plotting to pursue him until he is ousted. These attacks are no
less worthy of condemnation than the alleged offenses whose
investigation sparked them. The filtering mechanisms of Israeli
politics failed in Olmert's case, and this is not the first time.
The holes in the sieve were too large. For this cloud to have a
silver lining, it is necessary to learn the Olmert lesson and make
sure that such a case never recurs."

II. "A Yellow Scorpion"

Political commentator Shalom Yerushalmi wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (7/13): "Ehud Olmert needs to do a simple thing:
get up and leave.... We have never had such a problematic prime
minister here whose name was linked with so many corruption cases.
The picture that is now forming once again, and that is not
surprising, is of a man with a character flaw, who deals mainly with
money, power and the pleasures of life. Before our eyes appears the
frightening picture of a man who lowered the relationship between
money and power to a personal practice, and perhaps to the lowest
and most contemptible level, and made them subordinate to his
personal benefit.... Olmert must get up and leave because he has
nothing behind him. The public is fed up with him. The Knesset
yearns for his dismissal. Kadima officials are holding, before his
eyes, a party primary that is intended to replace him. His best
supporters and friends are turning their backs on him. He has no
mandate or power to do a thing. The talk about a political legacy
that he will leave behind and the agreements that he promises with
the Syrians and the Palestinians are sleight of hand. In his
current situation, Olmert has no power to lift the pen to sign even
a contract of sale for a banana popsicle -- which means that
everything here is stuck. Olmert must go because he is casting
great shame upon the country and upon himself."


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

Summary:
--------

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "When the conference in Paris is
over, Israel will not return to agreements over fishing in the
Mediterranean or joint marine rescue drills. Gaza, Ramallah, the
Golan Heights, Hizbullah and Hamas will not disappear, and they, of
course, were not invited to Sarkozy's presidential palace."

Very liberal columnist Kobi Niv wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "Perhaps the time has come, after 26 years, to owe up to the
truth -- that Israel, our state, committed 'that' massacre in the
camps of Sabra and Shatila."

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

I. "Gaza Was Not Invited to Paris"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/13): "'We Arabs have not been
able to unite. How can we have a union with Scotland or Scandinavia
or Israel?' You have to admit that Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi,
who made this statement last week, is a perceptive man. His remarks
were aimed directly at the Union for the Mediterranean, which
convenes today with great pomp and circumstance in Paris.... France
is perceived as a friend of the Arabs because America is a friend of
Israel. France's colonial history has been put into storage because
American colonialism has come to the region.... Israel may be able
to say with satisfaction that it succeeded in joining yet another
framework with Arab members, that France is once again a close
friend and that its position in the world has never been better.
But when the conference in Paris is over, Israel will not return to
agreements over fishing in the Mediterranean or joint marine rescue
drills. Gaza, Ramallah, the Golan Heights, Hizbullah and Hamas will
not disappear, and they, of course, were not invited to Sarkozy's
presidential palace."

II. "When Will We Finally Admit the Truth?"

Very liberal columnist Kobi Niv wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (7/14): "Perhaps the time has come, after 26 years, to owe up
to the truth -- that Israel, our state, committed 'that' massacre in
the camps of Sabra and Shatila. First, the facts: Those who carried
out the massacre in practice indeed were the Christian Phalanges,
not Hebrew-speaking IDF units.... From the strategic point of view,
as Nahik Navot, then deputy head of the Mossad and contact person
with the Phalanges, wrote in Yediot Aharonot last week, the war was
waged 'in full cooperation with the Lebanese Christians';
tactically speaking, the Phalanges served as an IDF unit in all
aspects, except for their spoken language being Arabic. They wore
IDF uniforms and carried IDF equipment. They acted in cooperation
with, with the support of, and under the control and command of the
IDF. And so it was during the perpetration of the massacre."

MORENO

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