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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1657/01 2140950
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 010950Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7787
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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:
-------------------------

Ha'aretz's poll found that Kadima, led by Tzipi Livni, would beat
Likud. A Maariv survey indicates that Kadima voters are "fleeing"
to Likud. A Yediot poll shows Livni well ahead of Shaul Mofaz in
the Kadima primaries. (Main poll findings: See below.) The
Jerusalem Post reported that it now seems unlikely that whoever wins
the Kadima race will be able to form a new coalition. Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe believes that the Knesset will dissolve itself after
the Kadima primaries.

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that after his speech on Wednesday, PM
Ehud Olmert is actually convinced that public approval for him to
move forward on the peace process has increased. Maariv reported
that Olmert's emissaries to the talks with Syria have reached the
conclusion that a "historic" agreement between Jerusalem and
Damascus is at hand. According to Maariv, an outline exists and the
sides are prepared to pay the price of an accord: Syria reportedly
agrees to disconnect from Iran.

Maariv and Israel Radio reported that Minister Shaul Mofaz told Vice
President Dick Cheney in Washington that Iran is getting
increasingly closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon. Maariv reported
that the U.S. is expected to publish in a few months a new National
Intelligence Estimate on Iran following data supplied by Israel.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Olmert's resignation overshadows
the U.S.-Israel strategic dialogue, which is led by Mofaz on the
Israeli side. Maariv quoted senior intelligence sources as saying
that Britain, France, and Germany share Israel's assessment, while
the U.S. position remains the same. Maariv quoted Defense Minister
Ehud Barak as saying that Israel has no window of opportunity to
attack Iran.

All media reported that Olmert's Chief of Staff, Yoram Turbowicz,
has announced his resignation.

Major media reported that yesterday the Foreign Ministry expressed
its disappointment at reports that on Wednesday Germany's Export

Control Office approved the signing of a 100-million Euro deal
between a German firm and Iran's national oil company -- including
the construction in Iran of three plants to liquefy natural gas.
The media reported that Jerusalem would demand clarifications from
Berlin.

The Jerusalem Post quoted PA officials as saying yesterday that
Olmert's decision to step down after the Kadima primaries in
September means that the chances of reaching an agreement between
Israel and the Palestinians before the end of the year are
non-existent. The newspaper also quoted PA officials in Ramallah as
saying on Wednesday that Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad has asked the
World Bank for emergency funding so that he can pay salaries to PA
employees.

Maariv and The Jerusalem Post reported that the ultra-Orthodox
candidate for JerusalemQs upcoming mayoral race may be Rabbi Meir
Porush instead of current mayor Uri Lupoliansky.

Ha'aretz quoted the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is considered
sympathetic to the Shi'ite group, as saying yesterday that Hizbullah
is planning to take "practical measures" to counter IAF overflights
of Lebanon. Al-Akhbar quoted a source who said that Hizbullah is
"close to adopting practical measures that will force Israel to
cease the overflights." Ha'aretz says that the report is in line
with Israeli intelligence assessments that predicted that following
the completion of the Israel-Hizbullah prisoner swap, Hizbullah
would seek excuses to resume its struggle against Israel in order to
justify its refusal to disarm. Hizbullah has cultivated an image as
Lebanon's "protector" against what it describes as Israeli
aggression.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the High Court of Justice is due to
hear a petition filed recently by Palestinian residents of the
village of Bil'in charging that the government and the army are in
contempt of court for failing to reroute the barrier separating the
village from Modi'in Illit in keeping with a High Court ruling from
September 2007.

Maariv reported that the Israel Navy is expected to announce within
a month which company will secure a bid for its most expensive
defense project over the past decade. Lockheed Martin, Northrop
Grumman, and an Italian shipyard are mentioned as possible suppliers
for the $400 million contract to build the two largest missile boats
in the Israeli navy.
Ha'aretz reported that following domestic and international
protests, the Planning and Construction Committee of the Interior
Ministry's Jerusalem District has limited the building plan at the
Old City's Mugrabi Gate.

All media reported that yesterday the State Prosecutor's Office
informed billionaire politician Arkady Gaidamak that it intended to
indict him for aggravated fraud and money laundering. Gaidamak was
quoted as saying in an interview with Kull Al Arab that he supports
the idea of negotiations with Hamas, Hizbullah, and Iran, and does
not consider that Mahmoud Abbas represents all the Palestinians. He
was quoted as saying that he is against the division of Jerusalem
and that he wants it to be an open developed city and a symbol for
coexistence and peace.

Ha'aretz ran a feature about Masab Yousef, son of a West Bank Hamas
leader, who has forsaken his father's ideology, converted to
Christianity, and is now seeking political asylum in the U.S.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) quoted Attorney Michele Coven, an expert in
American immigration and naturalization law, as saying that in
recent years it has become increasingly complicated to attain U.S.
citizenship for children and grandchildren born abroad.

Ha'aretz presented the results of a Dialogue poll:

After the Kadima primaries, would you want a new government formed
or general elections?
Elections: 61%; new government: 24%; 14% were undecided.
If Livni heads Kadima, who would you vote for?
Kadima: 26%; Likud: 25%; Labor: 14%.

Maariv presented the results of a TNS/Teleseker poll:
If Knesset elections were to be held today and Livni to head Kadima
with the following parties running, for which party would you vote?
Results in Knesset seats. (In brackets: Maariv's May 30 poll):
Likud: 33 (30); Kadima: 30 (25); Labor Party: 17 (18): Yisrael
Beiteinu: 12 (10); Shas:9 ( 9); Arab parties: 10 (9); National Union
Party and National-Religious Party:6 ( 7); Meretz:4 (4); United
Torah Judaism: 4 (4); Social Justice -- new party headed by Arkady
Gaidamak: 5 (4); Pensioners Party: 0; Yisrael Hazaka (A Strong
Israel) -- a new party founded by former Labor politician Ephraim
Sneh: 0.

Yediot presented the results of a Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute)
poll:
(Among registered Kadima voters) If only Mofaz and Livni compete
(for Kadima chairmanship), for whom will you vote? (In brackets:
previous survey).
Tzipi Livni: 51%; (47%) Shaul Mofaz: 43% (45%).

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

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "There
are two things Israel cannot afford. The first is a lengthy vacuum
in the conduct of our security, political, and diplomatic affairs.
The second is a bad diplomatic deal that could be seen as binding on
Olmert's successor."

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "It does not matter who the
winner is -- Mofaz or Livni. What matters is moving forward in the
spirit of Sharon's vision, to the government of continuity and
change that the country so desperately needs."

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "
someone who plans to quit within one-and-a-half months does not
conduct an intensive diplomatic campaign to reach an agreement with
Abu Mazen."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Someone must explain to the Syrians the
meaning of cooperation with Hizbullah.... This can't wait for the
next government."


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

I. "A Long Good-Bye"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (8/1): "
There are two things Israel cannot afford. The first is a lengthy
vacuum in the conduct of our security, political, and diplomatic
affairs. The second is a bad diplomatic deal that could be seen as
binding on Olmert's successor..... Were [Mahmoud] Abbas cast more in
the mold of an Anwar Sadat or a King Hussein, a breakthrough would

be more likely. And seven years of Hamas bombardment of Israeli
territory from Gaza hasn't helped matters.... Across the Atlantic,
George Bush's term as president expires in six months. Time flies,
and we are mindful that there may be opportunities Israel can best
take while this unusually empathetic president remains in power.
Whether it is talks with Abbas, managing the security situation
along our northern border and with Gaza or pursuing efforts to free
Gilad Shalit, the country's foreign and security predicament cannot
be put on hold.... Olmert must, as he has promised, coordinate with
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, as
well as with Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz in his capacity as
minister in charge of strategic dialogue with the U.S. on Iran. He
should also solicit input from opposition leader Benjamin
Netanyahu."

II. "Housecleaning First"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/1): "Assuming that Livni and
Mofaz are the front-runners, and knowing that they do not exactly
see eye to eye on how to solve the problems of war and peace in this
region, it is important for them to agree ahead of time on certain
basic principles if they want Kadima to go on being a major centrist
party and the one that leads the state.... If I were Mofaz, I would
not write Livni off so quickly. She has served in the Knesset for
10 years, headed seven government ministries, sat in the defense
cabinet, and been a party to a series of important decisions. Livni
has plans to move forward with peace accords, while Mofaz, an old
warhorse, may lead the country into a major offensive in Gaza of the
sort we know how to start but not to end.... Livni and Mofaz have
inherited the 'Sharon legacy' from the founders of Kadima. This is
a legacy we remember fondly for the Sharonic principle that the time
has come to wake up from the dream of a Greater Israel and gradually
work out permanent borders, in collaboration with President George
Bush, based on the concept of two states for two peoples. In
practice, however, Sharon erred twice: (a) in carrying out the
disengagement from Gaza unilaterally, without an agreement, thereby
leaving southern Israel at the mercy of Hamas, an ally of Hizbullah
and Iran, and b) in making Olmert his deputy, to compensate him for
being passed over as finance minister. Tough guys like Sharon never
dream of themselves slipping into a coma one day.... It does not
matter who the winner is -- Mofaz or Livni. What matters is moving
forward in the spirit of Sharon's vision, to the government of
continuity and change that the country so desperately needs."

III. "Olmert Doesn't Really Want to Quit"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (8/1):
"Olmert's speech [on Wednesday] was well though of and didn't
deviate from the way he usually behaves.... Olmert doesn't abandon
his habits. His announcement was devoid of meaning. It was
political" it was intended for the legal establishment, but not to
Kadima's inner organization.... Olmert himself knows why he
continues to move on a track of fateful diplomatic projects.
Because someone who plans to quit within one-and-a-half months does
not conduct an intensive diplomatic campaign to reach an agreement
with Abu Mazen.... The only thing he should deal with is current
governmental maintenance until he is replaced."

IV. "Hizbullah Is Taking Hold of the Skies"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (8/1): "We are talking about a real
ticking bomb -- a decision that cannot wait for a new leader or
another government. There is no vacuum in security matters. The
crash of the Olmert government, the waiting for the primaries, for a
national unity government, or new elections are a failsafe recipe
for putting off decisions that mean -- without exaggerating -- a
peace-or-war, life-or-death issue for long months.... This matter is
most urgent.... According to foreign media reports, this is a threat
to Israel's air safety over Lebanon.... In 1970, Israel decided to
ignore the movement of Egyptian anti-aircraft batteries and paid
heavily for this in the Yom Kippur War.... Someone must explain to
the Syrians the meaning of cooperation with Hizbullah. Iran has
nothing to lose. Syria actually does. The government must at once
take care of this. This can't wait for the next government."

MORENO

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