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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1585/01 2051028
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231028Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7645
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 4177
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0784
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4489
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4955
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4169
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2488
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4927
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1783
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2230
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8780
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6260
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1169
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5282
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7240
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0139
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001585

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 that a Palestinian terrorist from East Jerusalem,
Ghassan Abu-Tir, went on a rampage with a bulldozer in central
Jerusalem. One of his relatives is senior Hamas member Mohammed
Abu-Tir. Twenty four Israeli civilians were injured, one seriously,
before the driver was shot and killed by a Border Police officer and
a civilian. The attack occurred close to 2 P.M., near the King
David Hotel, where Barack Obama stayed Tuesday night. The media
reported that Israeli authorities are keen to expedite procedures
that would authorize the resumption of punitive measures, such as
the razing of terrorists' homes. Leading media reported that a
group of yeshiva students assaulted two East Jerusalem
Palestinians.

Major media reported that speaking at a gathering of activists at
the Kadima branch in Hadera, FM Tzipi Livni declared yesterday that
after winning the race for Kadima chair, she will immediately work
to form a national unity government with Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu
and Labor's Ehud Barak. She promised there would be room for
members from Meretz to Yisrael Beiteinu.

Maariv reported that Israel is considering releasing Fatah/Tanzim
leader Marwan Barghouti before the release of Gilad Shalit. The
newspaper reported that the freeing of Barghouti would be presented
as a gesture to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in order to strengthen
the PA and moderate Palestinian elements, and thwart Hamas's
intention to claim Barghouti's release as its own.

Ha'aretz reported that this morning the diplomatic-security cabinet
will discuss the threat of global jihad on Israel, the first time
the Olmert cabinet has debated this issue thoroughly. The ministers
will hear reports from Mossad, Shin Bet, and IDF Intelligence
focusing on Al-Qaida and affiliated cells operating against Israeli
targets and Jewish targets around the world.

Maariv reported that at his meting with President Shimon Peres
yesterday, President Abbas conveyed a message of peace, agreeing
that Shalit should be released. Peres was quoted as saying that
Abbas is a "man of peace." The Jerusalem Post quoted Abbas as
saying that the Palestinians were troubled by Israeli activity in
the territories, and that it was time to complete negotiations on
Jerusalem, settlements, water, and the refugee situation.

Israel Radio reported that yesterday UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon released details of a letter he received from Hizbullah
leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who outlined his group's conditions
for further prisoner deals with Israel. Israel is due to release
Palestinian prisoners in the future, at its own discretion, as a
gesture to Ban. The radio quoted Nasrallah as saying that he is
willing to provide information and humanitarian "aid" connected with
Israeli soldiers who have been missing since the 1980s. Israel
Radio said that Nasrallah demanded that Israel release the highest
possible number of minors, women and elderly Palestinians from
Israeli jails in the framework of the exchange deal with his
organization.

Yediot disclosed transcripts of the main police probe of Attorney
Uri Messer, a former associate of PM Ehud Olmert. Messer reportedly
said that Olmert knew that he was keeping money for him and that the
funds were not meant for election purposes. Media reported that
yesterday a video recording of Talansky's police investigation
screened during his cross-examination showed that he claimed to have
given money to the late PM Yitzhak Rabin.

The Jerusalem Post reported that for the second time this year,
Israel has decided to act against Aljazeera-TV, after Al-Jazeera-TV
held a party for released Lebanese child-killer Samir Kuntar, the
Government Press Office said it would impose sanctions and demand an
explanation from the station.

All media reported that a rally to support Shalit's release, which
was attended by thousands, was held in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv last
night. Shalit's comrades-in-arms initiated the event.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a bill that could force the
Interior Ministry to continue evaluating the rights of some 10,000
Falash Mura -- Ethiopians whose Jewish ancestors converted to
Christianity -- to immigrate to Israel will be presented to the
Knesset plenum for a preliminary reading today. Lawmakers and
advocates hope the move will prompt the government to reverse its
policy on the matter.

Major media reported that today Likud MK Gilad Erdan will introduce
a bill forcing judges to ban publications in the media. Prominent
journalists and legal experts protested against the proposed
legislation.

All media reported that Israel's most comprehensive environmental
legislation to day, the Clean Air Act, passed into law yesterday.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Israelis don't interest McCain
and Obama. Rather, it is their Jewish voters and contributors at
home."

Former Labor Knesset Member and former cabinet minister Uzi Baram
wrote in the independent Israel Hayom: "We need a [U.S.] president
who will combat the settlements, which endanger any solution, but
who would also show a deep commitment to an Israel that is marching
towards an agreement with its neighbors."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "A new Intifada breaks out without anyone
planning it. Afterwards, with hindsight, people will characterize
it and find motives and historical processes for it.... [But] things
should be called by their name: There is weakness of will here and
weakness of government."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "What
[the Israeli government] must not do is cave in to populist
sentiment, throw open the prison gates, and let legions of
terrorists out to wreak more bloody havoc."

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

I. "Just a Sideshow"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/23): "Israelis don't interest
McCain and Obama. Rather, it is their Jewish voters and
contributors at home.... [But] to the Israeli establishment, McCain
seems like the natural choice. With his white hair, expression
lines and combat experience, he embodies the Israeli concept of
leadership -- a kind of American version of Yitzhak Rabin or Ariel
Sharon. If McCain continues Bush's policies, Israel will benefit
from the term of another U.S. president who understands its needs.
Obama represents an exciting option, albeit a more dangerous one: If
he manages to rehabilitate America's international stature, reduce
its dependence on oil and push through peace between Israel and the
Arabs, Israel's strategic situation will improve dramatically. But
on the way, he might have to pressure Israel. If he fails, Israel
will have to pay the price without reaping any returns.... An even
more worrisome clause on Obama's agenda is his embracing the
initiative for global nuclear disarmament.... Those worried might
see the budding of a deal: Natanz for Dimona. Israel will certainly
bring all its influence to bear in the U.S. to thwart it."

II. "No Need to Fear Obama"

Former Labor Knesset Member and former cabinet minister Uzi Baram
wrote in the independent Israel Hayom (7/23): "It is Obama who is
likely to form a unified front against Islamic fundamentalist
extremism, by continuous dialogue with different countries in Europe
and the Middle East.... As for Israel, Obama will be a friend,
simply because no American president can behave otherwise.... We
need a president who can create a different atmosphere which will
grant, together with its ally Europe, economic guarantees, and a
policy favoring the axis of states which would prefer peace with
Israel. We need a president who will combat the settlements, which
endanger any solution, but who would also show a deep commitment to
an Israel that is marching towards an agreement with its
neighbors..... And what about the planes, that according to all the
news media, are on their future way to Iran? In all probability
they will never make the trip. A different American
commander-in-chief will know how to extinguish the torches in
another way, before the planes set out for their targets.

III. "Signs of an Intifada"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/23): "The first Intifada, in the late
1980s, also started this way, in a series of unexplained incidents,
unconnected to terror organizations, phenomena of 'spontaneous
violence'.... 'Atmospheric terror attacks,' it was called on our
side, and officials insisted that these were people with
psychological problems, incited, influenced by religious
extremism.... There is a link between all the 'atmospheric terror
attacks' that have been taking place right before our eyes, between
all the Qmad bulldozer operators.Q This link has a name: Weakness
of government. From here, the deterioration is inevitable, because
weakness of government and inability to enforce [the law] lead to
lack of deterrence, criminal activity and anarchy.... Today one no
longer has to go to the mosque in order to inject the poison into
one's veins. The mosque arrives at the person's home -- via the
Internet.... One isolated incident after another create a sequence
and an atmosphere, particularly in Jerusalem. For Jewish extremists
this is grounds for acts of revenge, and so a new Intifada breaks
out without anyone planning it. Afterwards, with hindsight, people
will characterize it and find motives and historical processes for
it. But there is no new historical process here. Things should be
called by their name: There is weakness of will here and weakness of
government."

IV. "Not at Any Price"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (7/23):
"The emotional blackmail, media frenzy, and leadership vacuum that
set Samir Kuntar free now threaten to unleash an even greater
'prison escape.' Hamas is demanding 1,000 terrorists, including the
masterminds and facilitators of some of the most heinous bloodbaths
of the second Intifada -- including the Dolphinarium, Sbarro, and
Netanya Seder massacres. The expertise these luminaries of the
Palestinian 'resistance' could provide in a third Intifada is too
frightening to contemplate.... The strategic challenge the
government of Israel faces is not Hamas's custody of Cpl. Shalit,
but its suzerainty over Gaza. Of course Israel must strive to bring
Shalit home, but not at any cost. For instance, Israel could
reasonably offer to trade for its IDF captive the Hamas
'parliamentarians' it took into custody within days of Shalit's
capture. The government could also debate Knesset Member Avigdor
Lieberman's proposal to capture the most senior Hamas leaders in
Gaza to use as fresh bargaining chips. Or it could weigh a rescue
attempt. What it must not do is cave in to populist sentiment,
throw open the prison gates, and let legions of terrorists out to
wreak more bloody havoc."

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

Summary:
--------

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz "addressed" Barack Obama in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "As someone who was born
and spent his childhood in Iran, I know the Iranian people very
well. I can tell you that they are a people who support peace.
Their problem is their leadership, which misuses Islam and turns it
into an extreme message of hate."

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

"An Open Letter to Senator Obama"

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz "addressed" Barack Obama in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (7/23): "The consistent
language of the Iranian President and the arrogant words of
Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah prove that today, as
before, there are those who wish for the total annihilation of the
Jewish people, and work day and night to achieve that goal. To us
this is very clear, and we hope the rest of the world sees it with
the same clarity. As someone who was born and spent his childhood
in Iran, I know the Iranian people very well. I can tell you that
they are a people who support peace. Their problem is their
leadership, which misuses Islam and turns it into an extreme message
of hate and violence, assisting every worthless, negative player in
the region. Having dedicated the past 40 years of my life to
Israel's security and defense, and as someone who is very well
acquainted with the regional system, I can tell you that the only
language that can be used in this case is the language of strength.
"

MORENO

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