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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #1690/01 2170950
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 040950Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7829
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4222
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0829
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4543
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5000
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4214
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2542
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4972
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1828
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0040
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8825
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6305
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1222
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5327
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7285
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0205
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001690

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 major media reported that Israel admitted 188 Fatah-aligned
Palestinians who fled Gaza after intense fighting with Hamas. The
media reported that PA President Mahmoud Abbas refused to admit some
of them. Leading media reported that by Sunday evening close to 35
members of the group had been transferred back to Gaza where some of
them were immediately arrested by security forces. Maariv wrote:
"What started as a gesture ended in an entanglement." Leading media
reported that yesterday Association of Civil Rights in Israel
petitioned the High Court of Justice not to allow the return to Gaza
of those who fled the Strip. This morning electronic media reported
that the remainder of the group will eventually arrive in Ramallah.

Israel Radio reported that last night Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the mentor
of the Shas party, which still belongs to the government coalition,
blessed Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu.

Over the weekend the media reported that Transportation Minister
Shaul Mofaz warned on Friday in Washington that Iran is on the verge
of a "major breakthrough" in its quest to produce nuclear weapons
and that he assessed that Tehran would be able to enrich uranium to
military levels as early as the end of 2009. Yesterday The
Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli diplomatic officials dismissed
as "Syrian spin" intended for Western ears reports that Syrian
President Bashar Assad was in Tehran over the weekend trying to
persuade Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to provide proof that
his country is not pursuing nuclear weapons.

The Jerusalem Post reported that today the Lebanese council of
ministers is expected to make a draft policy statement that could
secure Hizbullah's existence as an armed organization and guarantee
its right to "liberate or recover occupied lands.Q The draft will
be presented to the parliament in the coming days.

The media quoted Arab media that Mohammed Suleiman, a top military
aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad whom Israel believes was in
charge of arms transfers from Syria to Hizbullah, was killed by a
sniper on Friday. Yediot reported that Suleiman was "in charge of
the Syrian atom." The media speculated that Israel or Syria, among
others, could be behind the assassination.

Ha'aretz reported that police arrested a border policeman on
suspicion of shooting and killing a 10-year-old boy last week during
clashes at Na'alin, west of Ramallah. Electronic media reported
that a 17-year-old Palestinian died of wounds sustained last week in
Na'alin.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday the High
Court of Justice severely criticized the fact that the state has
ignored a last yearQs ruling regarding the route of the security
fence on lands of the village of Bil'in.

Maariv cited the belief of officials involved in the negotiations
between Israel and Hamas for the release of Gilad Shalit that
Shalit's kidnappers will demand from Israel a "life insurance
policy" to ensure that they will not become targets for
assassination after Shalit is released.

Ha'aretz and Yediot (lead story in Ha'aretz) reported that Israel
has received a specific warning of Hizbullah's intent to attack
Israeli citizens in West Africa.

All media reported that yesterday the cabinet voted to support a
bill proposing a biometric database containing information about all
its citizens. Ha'aretz reported that the Association of Civil
Rights in Israel wrote to Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann that Qno
Western democracy would dare establish such a dangerous database."

Yediot reported that PM Ehud Olmert has removed FM Tzipi Livni from
the circle of ministers advising about criteria for the release of
Palestinian prisoners "with blood on their hands.

Ha'aretz reported that the Jerusalem Municipality is working to
prevent the evacuation of a seven-story building in an East
Jerusalem neighborhood, which was built by settlers without
authorization.

Media reported that yesterday the cabinet approved the release of
five Palestinian prisoners as part of the final stage of a prisoner
swap with Hizbullah.
Major media reported that yesterday the NGO Physicians for Human
Rights charged that the Shin Bet is the arbiter of life and death
for gravely ill Gazan Palestinians. The media quoted the Shi Bet as
saying that the evaluation process was aimed at eliminating a
potential threat or danger posed by the applicant.

Yesterday The Jerusalem Post reported that the Pentagon notified
Congress over the weekend of a possible $1.9 billion sale of nine
brand new C-130 J model Hercules transport aircraft to Israel.

Leading media reported that John McCain is considering placing
Jewish Congressman Eric Cantor (VA) on his ticket. Maariv noted
that his cousin Daniel Cantor Wultz was killed in a terrorist attack
in Israel.

The media reported that yesterday the cabinet approved a sweeping
plan to cut government spending in 2008 by 6 percent, except for
defense, education, and local authorities, to free up 740 million
shekels (around $243 million).

Maariv reported that convicted spy Jonathan Pollard has requested
the Tel Aviv District Court to declare that since his arrest and to
date, he and his wife have not received any financial help from
Israel.

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

Summary:
--------

Professor Eyal Zisser, the Chairman of the Department of Middle
Eastern History at Tel Aviv University, wrote in the independent
Israel Hayom: "Israel is liable, as usual, to pay the price of this
internal Palestinian conflict."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Lifting
international sanctions on Hamas would be a flagrant reward for
Islamist violence and tyranny. At the same time, Hamas is a
permanent fixture in Palestinian politics. Rather than closing its
eyes to this reality, Israel must more thoroughly integrate

awareness of it into its security and diplomatic strategy."

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Suleiman,
Siniora and Nasrallah play with fire in their display of belligerent
arrogance. Perhaps this can be attributed to the twilight of the
Bush and Olmert administrations. Lebanon must know that these
provocations are dangerous, and that it will bear the cost of an
unfortunate renewal of violence."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz: "It's hard to
find an Israeli public figure who damages the country's crucial
strategic interests more than candidate Mofaz."

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

I. "They're Fighting; We're Going to Pay the Price"

Professor Eyal Zisser, the Chairman of the Department of Middle
Eastern History at Tel Aviv University, wrote in the independent
Israel Hayom (8/3): "The truce agreement that was reached between
Israel and Hamas has evidently not produced quiet and tranquility
for the residents of the Gaza Strip.... Israel is liable, as usual,
to pay the price of this internal Palestinian conflict. When
everyone's eyes are turned toward intra-Palestinian fighting, it is
difficult to imagine that Hamas will have either the time or energy
to invest in promoting a deal for Gilad Shalit's release....
Hamas's assumption is, apparently, that as long as they have the
Israeli soldier, Israel will refrain from attacking the Hamas
leadership, not to mention staging a comprehensive offensive whose
purpose would be to bring about the collapse of HamasQs regime in
the Gaza Strip.... The recent turn of events in the Gaza Strip
exposed once again FatahQs weakness. This weakness is preventing it
from reaching any real agreement with Israel, an agreement that
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would like to complete in the last weeks
that remain of his tenure. In any event, any such agreement will
have only limited validity. Either way, the vision of a two-state
solution, of Israel and Palestine, is fading away; instead, we are
probably going to have to begin to accustom ourselves to a new
vision of a three-state solution: Israel alongside of two
Palestinian states -- a hostile state under Hamas's leadership in
the Gaza Strip and a state led by the Palestinian Authority in the
West Bank that is dependent on an Israeli military presence
defending it for the time being against Hamas."

II. "Weekend in Hamastan"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (8/4):
"Israel and the West would do well to internalize, given this
internecine Palestinian violence, that Hamas's rule in Gaza is the
best indicator to date of how Palestinians would run their affairs
in a fully independent Palestine. We need also to recognize the
failure of institution-building and due process in the Abbas
component of the PA thus far, as illuminated by the torture of Hamas
functionaries, on Fatah's behalf, by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Dismally, despite the brutal nature of its Gaza rule, Hamas remains
more popular in the West Bank and Gaza than Abbas. This ongoing
triumph of bellicosity and intransigence over relative moderation is
greatly assisted by Abbas's abject failure to root out corruption
from Fatah. In such a climate, there arn't enough checkpoints in
the West Bank Israel ca dismantle to 'help' Abbas. Indeed, IDF
pullbacs and eased security conditions in the West Bank wuld
simply set the stage for a Hamas takeover an leave Israel more
vulnerable to terrorism. Planly, lifting international sanctions
on Hamas would be a flagrant reward for Islamist violence andtyranny. At the same time, Hamas is a permanent fxture in
Palestinian politics. Rather than closing its eyes to this reality,
Israel must more thoroughly integrate awareness of it into its
security and diplomatic strategy."

III. "Provocation and Responsibility"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (8/3): "In July
2006, [the] Bush administration denied Olmert the chance to follow
through on then-IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz's reasonable proposal
to respond to Hizbullah's aggression by striking at Lebanese
government targets, thus challenging the Siniora government to
restrain Hizbullah and move forward in implementing signed
agreements calling for the decommissioning of all armed militias in
Lebanon. All groups abided by those agreements, with the exception
of Hizbullah. Israel thus surrendered to the facade of the good
Lebanon headed by Siniora alongside the bad one manipulated by
Hassan Nasrallah and his patrons in Tehran. The result was a tie
that was depicted as a victory for Hizbullah. Israel should only
deal with one address in Lebanon: the government. Siniora's survival
was of no benefit to Israel. He has made common cause with
Hizbullah. Suleiman, Siniora and Nasrallah play with fire in their
display of belligerent arrogance. Perhaps this can be attributed to
the twilight of the Bush and Olmert administrations. Lebanon must
know that these provocations are dangerous, and that it will bear
the cost of an unfortunate renewal of violence."
IV. "The Gospel According to Mofaz"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz (8/4): "As the
United States tries to reach an agreement with Iran via diplomatic
channels, Mofaz is announcing that Israel must be prepared to use
all options to defend itself. He rejected criticism regarding his
statement's influence on the oil market with the crushing argument
that Israel's existence is more important than oil prices.... As
chief of staff and defense minister, Mofaz did more than Netanyahu
to contribute to the fall of the centrist-secular rule in the
territories and the strengthening of the settlers' hold on it....
Early last week, Mofaz expressed his vehement opposition to
negotiations with the Palestinians over a final-status agreement....
None of the candidates vying to succeed Ehud Olmert has major news
to share. They did not initiate a single important project or
achieve anything exceptional as ministers or cabinet members. They
have all reached the top because they jumped from the Likud to Ariel
Sharon's party at the right time. Each is responsible, to some
degree, for the failures of the Second Lebanon War, the trampling of
the peace process and the spread of the settlements. Middling
politicians like them come and go by the dozens without leaving a
mark on history, for better or for worse. But it's hard to find an
Israeli public figure who damages the country's crucial strategic
interests more than candidate Mofaz."


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

Summary:
--------

Prof. Uzi Arad, the Director of the Institute for Policy and
Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, who was a senior advisor
to former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, wrote in
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The most urgent of
efforts must be directed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear
weapons. The investment of diplomatic time on the Palestinian or
Syrian channel at the expense of time devoted to the diplomatic
effort toward Iran could make us miss all three."

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

"A Waste of Time"

Prof. Uzi Arad, the Director of the Institute for Policy and
Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, who was a senior advisor
to former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, wrote in
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (8/3): "The approaching
end of the Bush administration is what gave rise to the Annapolis
process, in which a year was allocated for accomplishing an
Israeli-Palestinian final status arrangement. At the same time,
Israel opened a channel of dialogue with the Syrians. In both cases,
some people among us hoped for quick progress, since after all Qthe
prices are already obviousQ and Qthe final result is known in
advance.Q All that remains is to pack up recycled formulae from Taba
or Geneva, return the deposits to the Syrians and as for the restQgo
and learn it.... It turns out that the American administration whose
authority is expiring, in cooperation with the Israeli government
whose authority is in doubt, with problematic partners, all continue
in a limping process that appears divorced from all reality.... It
looks like the present exercise in endism is the result of that same
naove optimism that led in its time to the Oslo process, at the same
time that others announced the end of history.... The most urgent of
efforts must be directed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear
weapons. The investment of diplomatic time on the Palestinian or
Syrian channel at the expense of time devoted to the diplomatic
effort toward Iran could make us miss all three. Until the
radicalizing and oppressive element of Iranian nuclear weapons is
removed, we must regulate diplomatic activity. If nothing is
accomplished, it is a waste of time."

MORENO

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