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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1696/01 2181048
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051048Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7854
RHMFUU/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEADWD/DA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4229
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0836
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4550
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5007
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4221
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2549
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4979
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1835
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0047
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8832
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6312
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1229
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5334
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7292
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0212
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001696

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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All media reported that IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi
told a group of new armored and engineering corps recruits at the
army's induction center yesterday that Israel is "making every
effort at all levels to return Gilad Shalit. We know he is alive,
and we know where he is being held and by whom, and I hope we will
bring about an end to this affair." Maariv noted that Israel has a
detailed list of men involved in the abduction. The media wondered
if Ashkenazi's remark might jeopardize an IDF operation in Gaza.
Israel Radio quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying that those
who long for a military operation in Gaza will be satisfied -- it
will come. The radio cited the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan as saying
that the PA is demanding the release of high-profile prisoners such
as Marwan Barghouti and PFLP leader Ahmad Saadat, unconnected with
Shalit's release.

Israel Radio and the leading news web site Ynet reported that the
U.S. has cancelled the entry visas of four Palestinians who had won
stipends to study in the U.S., apparently on security grounds, even
though Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice personally interceded on
their behalf. According to Israel Radio, at first Israel refused to
allow these students and three others to leave the Gaza Strip for
interviews at the U.S. Consulate-General in Jerusalem. However in
response to Rice's pressure a few of them were allowed to go to
Jerusalem, and American diplomats went to the Gaza Strip to
interview the others. Two months ago the four students received
their entry visas to the U.S. But in the past few days the State
Department in Washington intimated that a decision had been made to
reject the visas, because new information on their cases had been
received. A senior official involved in the affair was quoted as
saying that the information was concerned with security, and was
connected with IsraelQs refusal to allow them to leave Gaza.

Ha'aretz quoted senior GOI officials as saying yesterday in
Jerusalem that the question of whether the U.S. will open an
interests section in Tehran will be decided by President Bush
himself in the coming month. The newspaper quoted a GOI source in
Jerusalem as saying: "Israel is surprised at the need to open an
interests section and about the timing of the American move." The
newspaper quoted another GOI source, who is close to the Iranian
question, as saying: "We don't really know what the Americans are
planning. We receive reassuring messages from the Americans, but on
the other hand questions arise in light of the intention to open an
interests section."

Israel Radio quoted senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat as
saying that PM Ehud Olmert and PA President Mahmoud Abbas will meet
tomorrow in Olmert's Jerusalem residence.

Major media reported that yesterday the High Court of Justice left
open the possibility that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz might be
able to declare PM Olmert incapable of fulfilling his duties should
the PM obstruct the criminal investigations against him.

The media reported that yesterday Kadima Knesset members decided
that FM Tzipi Livni will not be required to declare her loyalty to
Kadima if she loses in the party primaries.

Leading media quoted Col. (res.) Ilan Katz, the lawyer of the
soldier suspected of firing a rubber bullet at a handcuffed
Palestinian in the northern West Bank village of Na'alin, as saying
yesterday: "If only the soldier is indicted and not his battalion
commander, we will petition the High Court of Justice.

Ha'aretz quoted an Israeli defense source as saying that Israel has
offered to help Egypt build a technologically advanced wall along
the Gaza border.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Ministry of Defense backed down
from submitting a $400 million bid to develop and manufacture a new
tank for the Turkish Armed Forces due to concerns that competing
with American-backed defense industries would endanger Israel-U.S.
relations.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Brig. Gen Yoav Mordechai, head of the
Civil Administration as saying yesterday that Israel does not fear
amajor terror escalation with the transfer of the Hlles clan from
Gaza to Jericho. Talking to Isral Radio, Fatah leader Hussein
Al-Sheikh thanked Israel in the name of Mahmoud Abbas and
Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad for letting the men out of Gaza.
However, the radio noted that Al-Sheikh was critical of Israel in
the Arab media.
Ha'aretz reported that the Homesh First Movement is expected to
announce today that settlement groups are planning to return to
settlements in Gush Katif evacuated during the August 2005
disengagement from Gaza. Boaz Haetzni, one of the leaders of the
movement, explained to Ha'aretz that the core settlement groups hope
to return the minute it is acceptable from a security standpoint
(i.e. when the IDF enters Gaza).

Ha'aretz quoted Sky News-TV as saying that contrary to various
speculations, Israel denied any involvement in the assassination of
Brig. Gen. Mohammed Suleiman, Syrian President Bashar Assad's right
hand man. Israel Radio quoted the London-based Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat
as saying that Syrian authorities have arrested several suspects in
the affair.

Ha'aretz's web site reported that the Pentagon has admitted in an
internal report that it wrongly accused an army engineer from
Michigan of spying for Israel because he was a Jew. David Tenenbaum
of Southfield is an Orthodox Jew and fluent in Hebrew. The Defense
Department put him on paid leave in 1997 while it and the FBI
investigated his ties to Israel.

Leading media quoted former Soviet dissident and former Israeli
cabinet minister Natan Sharansky as saying Monday that accusations
of anti-Semitism ought not overshadow the fact that Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, who passed away on Sunday, had "changed the lives of
millions of people."

Leading media reported that the last immigrants from Ethiopia
(Falash Mura -- Ethiopians whose Jewish ancestors converted to
Christianity) will land today in Israel. Altogether 120,000
Ethiopian Jews have immigrated to the country.

The media reported that the Environmental Protection Ministry warned
in a special report released yesterday that Israel is unprepared for
the coming climate crisis, and could fail to meet the country's
water needs. Maariv reported that yesterday the "social cabinet"
approved a proposal that was put forward jointly by the Industry,
Trade and Labor Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Environmental
Protection Ministry, and the National Infrastructure Ministry
regarding the research and development of technologies for producing
electricity with renewable energies (solar, wind and so forth). The
program set as its goal an overall investment of at least 350
million shekels (almost $100 million) over the years.

--------

Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Conservative Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "This murderous regime [Hamas] is becoming the
darling of the 'forces of progress.'"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Now
that Lebanon stands poised to adopt Hizbullah's anti-Israel crusade
as national policy, it would be ludicrous to treat Lebanese airspace
as sacrosanct."

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

I. "The Hate Ship"

Conservative Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (8/5): "The Hamas regime in Gaza decided over the
weekend to show the world what it knows how to do. Not that we did
not know, but the timing was astonishing. During their seizure of
the Gaza Strip they forced their prisoners to lie down and massacred
them. If someone raised his head they shot him again to make sure
he was dead. The leading television channels in the world did not
screen these pictures. It is interesting to speculate why.... This
murderous regime is becoming the darling of the 'forces of
progress'.... The alliance between the forces of progress with mass
murderers has now found another expression. They will not support
the Palestinian side which is perceived as supporting reconciliation
and agreement. They are with Hamas. They are partners on the ship
of hatred which is due to set out today from Nicosia in Cyprus for
the Hamas kingdom in Gaza.... If we were talking about the tiniest
extremist fringe, it might not matter so much. But at a certain
stage it was reported on a Palestinian website that the Jimmy Carter
Center supports the ship that supports the murderous regime."

II. "Lebanon Tipping-Point?"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (8/5):
"Israel is sounding the alarm: The fragile balance of force in
Lebanon is unraveling. And the world is playing deaf. The
Israeli-Lebanese relationship is reaching another critical
turning-point; and not just over how Lebanon and Hizbullah are
melding into a single new entity, with Beirut set to formally confer
upon Hizbullah the right to 'liberate or recover occupied lands' --
meaning any territory it defines as 'occupied,' whether Mount Dov
(the Sheba Farms) or Galilee. Lebanon is metamorphosing from
hapless bystander to willing Hizbullah enabler, a transformation
certain to have devastating consequences. The even more immediate
crisis is that unless Hizbullah's runaway arms-struggling is
checked, the Islamists may soon possess weapons that could force
Israel into preemptive military action to protect this country's
deterrence.... While Resolution 1701 demanded the 'disarmament of
all armed groups in Lebanon,' Hizbullah has never been better armed.
While it called on Lebanon to support the cease-fire, Beirut now
explicitly threatens. And while it demanded that 'no sales or
supply of arms and related material' reach Lebanon -- Syria, Iran
(and, less brazenly, Russia) are systematically flouting 1701.....
Now that Lebanon stands poised to adopt Hizbullah's anti-Israel
crusade as national policy, it would be ludicrous to treat Lebanese
airspace as sacrosanct.... Responsible actors in the international
community need to take Israel's warnings with the utmost seriousness
and act to close the spigot spewing weapons into Lebanon."

MORENO

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