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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1635/01 2121101
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301101Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7740
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 4204
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0811
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4521
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4982
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4196
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2521
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4954
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1810
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0022
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8807
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6287
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1196
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5309
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7267
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0180
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001635

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. Muslim-Jewish Interfaith Dialogue

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

All major media covered Defense Minister Ehud Barak's visit to the
U.S. Barak was quoted as saying that Defense Secretary Robert Gates
promised that the U.S. would supply Israel with real-time warnings
on missiles launchings at Israel. Yediot and Israel Radio reported
that Gates promised that the U.S. would provide Israel with advanced
radar systems. The Jerusalem Post reported that Barak spoke of a
"shared outlook" with the U.S. that emphasizes diplomacy and seeks
stronger sanctions to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear
weapon.

The Jerusalem Post reported that PM Ehud Olmert has less than a
month to decide to join the Kadima leadership race or become a "lame
duck," after the party's election committee decided yesterday to set
an August 24 deadline to join the race, which is scheduled for
September 17. The Jerusalem Post quoted sources close to Olmert as
saying that he would announce his decision very soon and well ahead
of the deadline, because it would be clear that he was not running
if he did not announce his intentions in the near future.
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, a leading candidate in the
Kadima primaries, was quoted as saying in an interview with Ha'aretz
that Olmert and Livni must not be allowed to reach an agreement with
the PA before the party primaries.

Ha'aretz reported that PA President Mahmoud Abbas warned Israel last
week that if Israel releases Hamas members of the Palestinian
parliament as part of a deal for Gilad Shalit's return, he will
dismantle the PA. Ha'aretz says that Abbas evidently fears that the
release of senior Hamas politicians in exchange for Shalit would
strengthen the Islamic organization's civilian infrastructure in the
West Bank. The newspaper quoted an Israeli source well-versed in
what is happening in the PA as saying that publication of Abbas's
threat is liable to discredit him massively in the eyes of many
Palestinians. In addition, the source noted, this threat creates
another obstacle to Israel's efforts to reach an agreement for
Shalit's release. Israel Radio reported that Hamas has threatened
that if Israel did not accede to its demand to release 450 prisoners
in return for Shalit, it would further step up its demands and would
again demand 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. This threat was made by
the Hamas representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, in an interview
to the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

Leading media reported that an investigation has been ordered into
claims that a 10-year-old boy was shot dead by officers in the West
Bank village of Na'alin in the aftermath of the security fence.
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the defense establishment has no
funds until next year to resume work on the fence.

Israel Radio reported that Minister Shaul Mofaz, who heads the
Israeli team for the strategic dialogue with the U.S., set out last
night for Washington. The talks with the administration will focus
on the Iranian threat, the situation in Lebanon, and Hizbullah's
growing strength. Mofaz told Israel Radio that he was convinced
that whoever is elected president of the U.S. would not allow Iran
to acquire nuclear weapons, because that would be a threat to the
entire world. Ha'aretz quoted Mofaz as saying that if elected
Kadima chairman, he will handle the peace talks.

Israel Radio reported that FM Tzipi Livni also left for Washington
last night. She will have a joint meeting with Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei.
Livni will also meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Jerusalem Post quoted a variety of USG officials on issues such
as the problem posed by continued settlement activity (State
Department Spokesman Sean McCormack), the United States' strong
commitment to Israel's security (Defense Department Press Secretary
Geoff Morrell), and U.S. efforts to coerce Iran to give up nuclear
technology that could be used to build a nuclear bomb (Secretary
Rice).

Major media reported that in an address he delivered to graduates of
the National Security program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem,
Olmert defended his decision to hold negotiations with Syria.
Olmert was quoted as saying that the talks have a good chance of
success and that soon, "Syria will have to make a strategic choice
between peace and isolation," referring to Damascus' close relations
with Tehran and Hizbullah. The media reported that Livni has
expressed reservations about Olmert's outline of orders with Syria.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday, for the first time in
Israel's history, a cross-party parliamentary caucus dealing with
the rehabilitation of Palestinian refugees (the Caucus for the
Rehabilitation of the Palestinian Refugees) was launched in the
Knesset. The newspaper quoted Kadima MK Amira Dotan as saying: "I
am not trying to change the Palestinian narrative, but to alter the
state of mind of the refugees and their descendants. She added: "We
have to see how we can work with UNRWA -- not against UNRWA on this
issue."

All media reported that after failing a polygraph test, the
commander of Armored Battalion 71, Lt. Col. Omri Fruberg, was
suspended from his post yesterday. The battalion commander, who was
photographed holding a bound Palestinian demonstrator while a
soldier fired a rubber bullet at him from close range, was suspended
for ten days after a hearing held for him by OC Northern Command
Maj. Gen. Eizenkot.

Hamas and Popular Resistance Committees troop and rocket training
was shown on all three TV stations last night. Commentators
wondered whether how this met the stipulations of a "truce."

All media reported that yesterday the Jerusalem District Court
convicted Majdi Rahima Rimawi, the man who planned, ordered, and
organized the assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi in
2001, on five separate charges for his part in the assassination and
four other terrorist attacks in the month leading up to it.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Peace Now petitioned the
High Court of Justice, demanding that the IDF remove civilians
living in the former central bus station in Hebron, which has been
used as an army base since 1983.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that yesterday five senior professors
asked the High Court of Justice to add their names to the petition
of the Gisha non-profit organization against the Defense Ministry
for its restrictions on Palestinian students who wish to enter
Israel to study at its universities.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israel's Islamic Movement spokesman Zahi
Nujidat as saying yesterday that a brief course offered by the
Chabad Hassidim about the Second Temple endangers the Al-Aqsa
Mosque. Chabad spokesman Rabbi Menachem Brod was quoted as saying:
"This is a pure provocation by an organization that is exploiting
any opportunity to incite the Arab public to violence against
Israel."
Yediot reported that yesterday in a first reading the Knesset voted
to grant a pardon to disengagement opponents against whom criminal
cases were opened. Likud MK Reuven Rivlin drafted the bill.

The Jerusalem Post and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that a
code-share agreement between El Al and American Airlines will become
effective in September.

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

Summary:
--------

Former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "[American] policy in
the Middle East, as defined since President BushQs 'axis of evil'
speech in January 2002, is in the midst of a radical change."

Liberal op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "[Tzipi] Livni's glory will ... be ... her
ability to form an independent worldview for Israel's future, and to
find within herself the leadership and the determination to
translate her vision into an action plan."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The
government owes it to Israelis to publicly and explicitly delineate
which parts of the city the Jewish state claims.....[Anyway],
however the diplomatic process plays out, the Arab and Jewish
sections of Jerusalem must receive equal treatment -- not to buy
loyalty or affection, but a concrete manifestation of Jewish
sovereignty."

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

I. "Victory of the Extremists"

Former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/30): "[American]
policy in the Middle East, as defined since President BushQs 'axis
of evil' speech in January 2002, is in the midst of a radical
change. The paradigm of creating an alliance of 'moderates' to
defeat the 'extremists' -- which was welcomed enthusiastically by
Israel and a coalition of Arab states headed by Egypt and Saudi
Arabia -- has collapsed. The 'extremists,' who were supposed to
have been defeated by economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation and
military operations, have managed to survive. Now it is the turn of
the 'moderates' to adapt their policies to reality.... Now, when it
is clear that his foreign policy has failed miserably, Bush has
decided not to ignore the advantages of co-opting Syria and Iran.
These two countries are the key to stability in the Middle East.
They are vital in Lebanon, they play a role in Iraq, and they can
effect a change in the approach of organizations such as Hamas and
Hizbullah, which play an important part in the regionQs instability.
Moreover, including Iran [in an alliance], is the only way to
shatter the nuclear apocalypse in the region. The fact that the
general atmosphere tends towards a political calm is partly due to
the collapse of another misguided perception of the Bush
administration: The idea that the 'axis of evil' is a coalition of
mad countries, whose sole interest is in spreading evil around them.
The use of radical tactics does not necessarily mean madness.
Syria and Iran have no interest in adopting the role of the pariahs
of the international community. More than wanting to spread terror
and revolution, their policy advocates the promotion of goals that
can be placed on the negotiating table. They are well aware of the
limitations of encouraging instability, and they look forward to a
friendlier U.S. administration, which will be willing to engage them
in dialogue."

II. "The PR Advisers' PR"

Liberal op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/30): "It is ... not surprising that when
the Farm Forum, Sharon's inner circle of advisers, agreed to offer
its public relations services to Tzipi Livni, that headline competed
Monday with other political headlines.... This is what happens when
craftsmen, who are supposed to serve politicians, become important
national personalities and compete with their clients over the
public's attention, to the point where it is not quite clear who was
serving whom on Monday: [the forum members] serving Livni -- or she
serving them.... The blurring between reality and image is possible
when ideology has increasingly given way, where basic societal
values have been undermined, where there is no leadership, and where
the rules of the game are being constantly changed. Such a diffuse
reality lets the opinion thieves fill the void, where authenticity
is lacking, and all that remains is masks, and content gives way to
form. Language loses its original meaning: A lie is a 'spin,' a
commercial is a 'news item,' and a public relations stratagem is a
'political program.' Livni's glory will not be in hiring the Farm
Forum team, but her ability to form an independent worldview for
Israel's future, and to find within herself the leadership and the
determination to translate her vision into an action plan."

III. "Where's Our Jerusalem?"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (7/30):
"The image of municipal markets, backed by armed Border Police,
demolishing a practically new residential dwelling in East Jerusalem
makes for bad publicity. It also exposes an underlying incoherence
in Israel's approach to the capital's Arab neighborhoods.... Does
Olmert honestly think the residents of [the Jewish neighborhood of
Talpiot and its environs will be better off if [the bordering Arab
neighborhood of] Sur Bahir is turned over to the Palestinians? The
government owes it to Israelis to publicly and explicitly delineate
which parts of the city the Jewish state claims. Why not tell us
what Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qurei presumably already know? And
once it does, Arab neighborhoods that are to remain under permanent
Israeli control should reap the full benefits of Jewish sovereignty
-- regardless of whether an agreement with the Palestinians is
achieved.... However the diplomatic process plays out, the Arab and
Jewish sections of Jerusalem must receive equal treatment -- not to
buy loyalty or affection, but a concrete manifestation of Jewish
sovereignty."

--------------------------------------
2. Muslim-Jewish Interfaith Dialogue:
--------------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs
for the American Jewish Committee and interfaith adviser for
Israel's Chief Rabbinate, wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "The [Saudi-sponsored interfaith] encounter ignited
a humanizing flame that began to burn away the demonized image of
the other."

Conservative international Jewish leader Isi Leibler wrote in The
Jerusalem Post: "How could Jewish leaders participate in such an
evet [the Saudi-sponsored interfaith dialogue] withou even
relating to the obscene, state-sanctioned eligious anti-Semitic
incitement openly promoted by the country sponsoring the event?"

Block Quotes:
-------------
Arabia -- has collapsed. The 'extremists,' who were supposed to
have been defeated by economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation and
military operations, have managed to survive. Now it is the turn of
the 'moderates' to adapt their policies to reality.... Now, when it
is clear that his foreign policy has failed miserably, Bush has
decided not to ignore the advantages of co-opting Syria and Iran.
These two countries are the key to stability in the Middle East.
They are vital in Lebanon, they play a role in Iraq, and they can
effect a change in the approach of organizations such as Hamas and
Hizbullah, which play an important part in the regionQs instability.
Moreover, including Iran [in an alliance], is the only way to
shatter the nuclear apocalypse in the region. The fact that the
general atmosphere tends towards a political calm is partly due to
the collapse of another misguided perception of the Bush
administration: The idea that the 'axis of evil' is a coalition of
mad countries, whose sole interest is in spreading evil around them.
The use of radical tactics does not necessarily mean madness.
Syria and Iran have no interest in adopting the role of the pariahs
of the international community. More than wanting to spread terror
and revolution, their policy advocates the promotion of goals that
can be placed on the negotiating table. They are well aware of the
limitations of encouraging instability, and they look forward to a
friendlier U.S. administration, which will be willing to engage them
in dialogue."

II. "The PR Advisers' PR"

Liberal op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/30): "It is ... not surprising that when
the Farm Forum, Sharon's inner circle of advisers, agreed to offer
its public relations services to Tzipi Livni, that headline competed
Monday with other political headlines.... This is what happens when
craftsmen, who are supposed to serve politicians, become important
national personalities and compete with their clients over the
public's attention, to the point where it is not quite clear who was
serving whom on Monday: [the forum members] serving Livni -- or she
serving them.... The blurring between reality and image is possible
when ideology has increasingly given way, where basic societal
values have been undermined, where there is no leadership, and where
the rules of the game are being constantly changed. Such a diffuse
reality lets the opinion thieves fill the void, where authenticity
is lacking, and all that remains is masks, and content gives way to
form. Language loses its original meaning: A lie is a 'spin,' a
commercial is a 'news item,' and a public relations stratagem is a
'political program.' Livni's glory will not be in hiring the Farm
Forum team, but her ability to form an independent worldview for

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