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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1607/01 2071024
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251024Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7689
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 4188
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0795
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4503
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4966
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4180
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2502
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4938
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1794
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0006
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8791
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6271
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1180
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5293
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7251
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0154
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001607

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 Jerusalem Post quoted the Prime Minister's Office as saying
yesterday that it has not signed off a Jordan Valley project that
would create a new settlement in Maskiot, even though the Defense
Ministry approved plans this week for a 20-home building project
there. The newspaper quoted an IDF source as saying that approval
could now be retroactively granted for the modular homes illegally
place there in November 2007 by families evacuated from the former
Gaza settlement of Shirat Hayam. Israel Radio quoted UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as, urging Israel to heed the
Quartet's call to "freeze all settlement activity, including natural
growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001."

Ha'aretz reported that this week the U.S. filed an official protest
with Israel for harming Palestinians, including the eviction of the
Palestinian Khurd (or al-Kurd) family from the Shimon Hatzadik
complex in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
Ha'aretz quoted a diplomatic source as saying that that the Foreign
Ministry responded that the decision to evict the al-Kurd family was
made under civilian jurisdiction, so the state has no standing to
intervene in a matter still being heard by the Supreme Court.
Regarding harassment of Palestinians, Israel replied that the state
regards this seriously and that law-enforcement officials are taking
all necessary steps to prevent it and bring the perpetrators to
trial. The source was quoted as saying that Washington expressed
surprise at criticism from Jerusalem that the U.S. administration is
dealing with "localized incidents" such as the case of the al-Kurd
family and students could not leave Gaza for studies abroad. The
daily reported that the U.S. administration recently received
detailed reports of increased activity by a settler organization in
East Jerusalem working to increase the Jewish presence in Arab
neighborhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah, Jebel Mukaber, Silwan, and the
Mount of Olives. Ha'aretz said that the U.S. Consulate-General in
Jerusalem has been tracking new construction plans in those
neighborhoods for the Jewish population and reporting on them to
Washington.
Leading media reported that yesterday settlers clashed with IDF
troops and Palestinians in the aftermath of the evacuation of a
structure at the unauthorized Adei Ad outpost in the northern West
Bank. The media quoted settlers as saying that this was part of a
new policy to react harshly to any attempts by security forces to
remove Jewish structures in the West Bank.

Israel Radio quoted Deputy National Security Advisor for Global
Democracy Strategy Elliott Abrams as saying on Wednesday at a
private meeting with Jewish-American leaders that PM Ehud Olmert
does not at this time have the political weight to bring about an
agreement with the Palestinians and that Olmert and PA President
Mahmoud Abbas will not accept any accord reached between the teams
of FM Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei. The radio
noted that conversely Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has faith
in the Livni-Qurei talks. Israel Radio reported that in view of the
stalled negotiations with Israel, the PA envisions three options: a)
stopping the talks; b) proclaiming Palestinian statehood; or c)
removing all PA institutions from West Bank cities.

Israel Radio cited UNRWA as saying in a report issued yesterday that
IsraelQs blockade of Gaza is a major factor in the increase in
poverty there. UNRWA said that aid granted to Gaza has failed to
stop more than half of the population in the territory from sliding
below the poverty line. UNRWA was quoted as saying that conditions
in the occupied West Bank, however, have improved, where the poverty
level in 2007 dropped by nearly five per cent from the previous
year, to 19.1 per cent. UNRWA cited movement restrictions by Israel
in the West Bank.

Ha'aretz reported that yesterday Attorney General Menachem Mazuz
criticized PM Ehud Olmert saying that he was deliberately
obstructing the corruption investigation currently underway against
him. The media reported that the police made similar accusations.
Major media reported that Olmert attacked the State Prosecutor's
Office and the police, claiming they were out to topple him. Media
reported that Olmert will again be probed next Friday. In another
development, the media reported that Justice Minister Daniel
Friedmann intends to split the attorney generalQs government and
prosecution functions.

Outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman was quoted as
saying in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that UNIFIL soldiers
assigned to maintain the cease-fire that ended the Second Lebanon
War in the summer of 2006 are not carrying out their mandate and are
potentially laying the groundwork for another round of violence
between Israel and Hizbullah. The Jerusalem Post also quoted a
Beirut-based Western journalist as saying that Hizbullah is
recruiting members for "resistance battalions" in southern Lebanese
Sunni villages opposite the Sheba Farms.

Ha'aretz reported that the U.S. is preparing a new intelligence
report on Iran's nuclear program, which is to be published in
November. A GOI source was quoted as saying that the U.S. now
believes that Iran is trying to produce a nuclear weapon, contrary
to the National Intelligence Estimate's assessment that Iran had
halted its military nuclear effort in 2003. Ha'aretz reported that
Israel is trying to alert the American intelligence community to
Iran's nuclear ability and to have an impact on the report's
contents. Ha'aretz reported that IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Gabi
Ashkenazi warned yesterday in Washington that Israel would not rule
out any course of action regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions, "We are
all united in the view that Iran needs to be prevented from
obtaining a nuclear weapon. There is no doubt that diplomatic
activity and sanctions are preferable, but we all understand -- we
and the Americans -- that we need to prepare all options." Ha'aretz
reported that Barack Obama told Olmert that Iran should be given a
chance to modify its nuclear program.

The Jerusalem Post cited reports that Israel and Syria's next round
of talks will deal with issues such as borders, water rights,
security, and the normalization of ties.

Leading media reported that yesterday Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen awarded the Legion of Merit to Lt. Gen
Gabi Ashkenazi for his contribution to the war on terror, his work
for Israel's security ,and his contribution to improving the
security dialogue between the U.S. and Israel.

Major media reported that yesterday, for the first time since he
became defense minister, Ehud Barak updated opposition leader
Benjamin Netanyahu on security issues.

The Jerusalem Post reported that "taking the protest against the
Gaza blockade to a new level," two boats packed with foreign
left-wing activists will attempt to sail from Cyprus to the sealed
Gaza harbor in two weeks' time.

Ha'aretz reported that the inspection that the Federal Aviation
Administration conducted this week in Israel exposed malfunctions in
flight safety supervision. The newspaper cited Israel's concern
that the U.S. will restrict the activity of Israeli airlines.

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that yesterday the relatives of terror
victims filed a 450-million shekel (around $129.1 million)
class-action lawsuit against the PA, the PLO, and jailed Fatah
leader Marwan Barghouti. The plaintiffs, who filed the suit in the
Jerusalem District Court, are the families of two Givat Zeev
residents, who were killed some four years ago in two separate
shooting attacks near their home.

Ha'aretz reported that Olmert will ask the government to approve
the cessation of the immigration of Falash Mura -- Ethiopians whose
Jewish ancestors converted to Christianity.

Ha'aretz reported that El Al has canceled several flights to the
U.S. in July due to high fuel costs, and that Israir will end its
New York flights in the winter for the same reason.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli combat veterans are
preparing to train a Jewish paramilitary group ("Konenut") in rural
New York.

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

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "While
Obama promises to dedicate himself, from the 'first minute' of his
presidency, to solving the conflict, his apparent sanguinity over an
Israel shrunk into the 1949 Armistice Lines is troubling."

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "The
embrace of the Democratic candidate does not reflect the longing for
a different America, but a mood of surrender to totalitarian
forces."

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

I. "Obama's Whirlwind Visit"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (7/25):
"While Obama promises to dedicate himself, from the 'first minute'
of his presidency, to solving the conflict, his apparent sanguinity
over an Israel shrunk into the 1949 Armistice Lines is troubling.
Half the Palestinian polity is today in the clutches of the Islamist
rejectionists in Gaza. If the IDF precipitously withdrew, the other
half, ruled by the 'moderate' Ramallah-based leadership, would
quickly fall under Islamist control. And that is something no
American president would desire. But he sounded definitive in his
outlook on this immensely sensitive issue -- more so, indeed, that
did McCain when we interviewed him in March -- even though he was
making only his second visit to Israel. He owes it to Israelis and
Palestinians -- and to himself -- to return here for a deeper
look."

II. "The Danger in the Adulation of Obama"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (7/25):
"At best, Obama reminds one of John Kennedy, but without Kennedy's
definite values and the ideological resolve.... The embrace of the
Democratic candidate does not reflect the longing for a different
America, but a mood of surrender to totalitarian forces. It means
giving up the principled, resolute stance in defense of human rights
and freedom. Those yearning for an Obama-style presidency are the
same as those enthusiastic about the prominent, insulting presence
of Bashar Assad in Paris on the day of 'liberty, equality, and
fraternity.'"

MORENO

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