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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1700/01 2191437
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061437Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7862
RHMFUU/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 4234
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0841
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4555
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5012
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4226
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2555
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4985

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1840
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0052
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8837
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6317
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1234
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5339
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7297
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0218
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001700

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. Iran

2. Mideast

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

Ha'aretz quoted senior PA officials as saying that a victory by
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz in next month's Kadima Party
leadership race would be a disaster for the peace process. The
officials were quoted as saying that an American-Palestinian plan
for the continuation of the process is based on FM Tzipi Livni
winning the primary. A Mofaz victory, in contrast, would send the
talks into a deep freeze, given his hawkish views on them. Ha'aretz
reported that Mofaz told his first formal campaign rally yesterday
that as prime minister, he would "preserve united Jerusalem as
Israel's eternal capital." To that, a senior PA official responded:
"God have mercy" on the final-status talks if Mofaz wins the
primary. Ha'aretz reported that Mofaz told the newspaper that as
prime minister, he will handle the talks with the Palestinians.
Media reported that Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef received Mofaz
yesterday. Media reported that Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister
Eli Yishai told Mofaz that child subsidies are the condition for his
party joining any future government. Maariv quoted Mofaz as saying
that Livni has a team that is "out to get him," which Livni denied.

Ha'aretz quoted Palestinian sources as saying that today PA
President Mahmoud Abbas wants to hear PM Ehud Olmert's views on
continuing the talks, given his declared intention of resigning
after the primary. The PA would like the talks to continue during
the transition period, especially because of the likelihood that
Olmert will remain in power for some time after the September 17
primary, possibly even until new elections in early 2009. Ha'aretz
quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that Olmert intends to
continue the talks in their current format, but "we are growing
reconciled to the fact that there will be no breakthrough. Mainly,
we want to see how we can pass a live diplomatic process on to the
next U.S. administration and the next Israeli government." Ha'aretz
reported that Olmert himself has indicated that he wants to make
progress in the talks, but that Livni has some reservations. At a
meeting in New York with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week,
she even hinted that given his political situation, Olmert has lost
the legitimacy to make far-reaching concessions. However, she
added, "The Israeli public can continue to support the process as
long as it gives expression to the state's interests." The PA would
also like Olmert to promise at today's meeting that in his remaining
months, he will prevent Israeli construction in the West Bank and
East Jerusalem.

Ha'aretz reported that a senior IAF officer told the newspaper
yesterday that if Hizbullah installs advanced anti-aircraft
batteries in Lebanon, the IAF will have to alter its overflights of
Lebanon significantly. However, the officer added that the IAF has
successfully coped with similar threats elsewhere, and could do so
in Lebanon as well. Ha'aretz reported that senior government and
army officials have recently held feverish discussions on this
scenario. Some of those involved have termed the installation of
anti-aircraft batteries a "red line" to which Israel would have to
respond with a "violent signal." Senior General Staff officers
opined recently that while Hizbullah clearly wants such missiles
eventually, they doubt it is interested in heating up its conflict
with Israel just now. Leading media reported that the
diplomatic-security cabinet met today to discuss the situation in
Lebanon, and especially Hizbullah's rampant arms-smuggling via
Syria. Israel Radio reported that defense experts told the forum
that Hizbullah is more dangerous than Iran. The Foreign Ministry
plans to recommend that Israel seek to increase international
pressure on Syria to halt this smuggling. Israel Radio reported
that three weeks ago an Israeli Arab studying medicine in Germany
was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport under suspicion of spying for
Hizbullah, to which he supplied the names of Israeli Arabs studying
abroad so that they can be recruited into the organization.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel expects that a fourth round
of UN sanctions against Iran likely won't be in place until the
beginning of 2009, but that further unilateral U.S. and EU measures
could be imposed as early as next month. The assessment comes as
the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany
threatened further sanctions against Iran.

Major media reported that the IAF's Air Defense Forces have acquired
a new optical system -- "Sniper" -- capable of spotting aircraft
from over 70 kilometers away. Ha'aretz reported that yesterday the
IAF unveiled prototypes of the missile that will form the basis of
two planned rocket interception systems -- Iron Dome and David's
Sling. Israel Hayom reported that two additional Arrow missile
defense systems will soon be installed in southern Israel. Leading
media quoted the commander of the IAF's Air Defense Forces, Brig.
Gen. Daniel Milo, as saying yesterday that Israel has an effective
response to all of the ballistic missile threat it faces in the
Middle East.

All media reported that Olmert will be questioned by police, under
caution, at his official residence in Jerusalem on Friday, for the
fifth time in recent weeks. The questions are expected to center
around the "Olmert tours" and the Morris Talansky cash envelopes
affair.

Writing about the revocation of U.S. visas for four students from
Gaza, Ha'aretz reported on delays at the border crossings and cited
misunderstandings between Israeli and U.S. authorities. The
Jerusalem Post reported that neither the Prime Minister's Office nor
the Foreign Ministry had any official comment on the U.S. reversal.


The Jerusalem Post reported that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
is expected to visit the region in two weeks.

Ha'aretz reported that the IDF and the police will increase their
presence on several traffic arteries in the West Bank in the coming
days in the wake of alleged incidents perpetrated by right-wing
Israeli activists against local Palestinians. The Jerusalem Post
quoted left-wing activists as saying yesterday that security forces
are trying to ban them from the West Bank.

Ha'aretz cited the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi as saying that
recent meetings between Jordanian and Hamas officials have opened
the door to restoring relations that have been strained for two
years.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel has successfully completed
the first stage of the accession procedure for becoming a member of
the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

---------
1. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

Intelligence affairs correspondent Yossi Melman wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Iran evidently understands that
the threat of the military option that the United States and Israel
keep bandying about cannot actually, at least in the present
reality, be implemented."

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

"Transparent Endgame"

Intelligence affairs correspondent Yossi Melman wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/6): "Iran's evasive reply to
the yes/no question posed to it shows once again that Tehran's
entire purpose is to buy time. Iran does not want -- or is
incapable because of conflicts among its power brokers -- to respond
in the affirmative and enter talks with the international community
even over the compromising, soft pedaled, mollifying offer Javier
Solana made them.... Iran's game is transparent, and its entire
purpose is to fend off and delay any move that smacks of
international consensus. It wants to use the time to go on
developing its nuclear program -- to continue enriching uranium,
manufacturing and installing more centrifuges -- and approach the
moment when it will possess enough fissionable material, equipment,
expertise, and technology to build its first nuclear bomb, or come
within shouting distance of that goal. Iran evidently understands
that the threat of the military option that the United States and
Israel keep bandying about cannot actually, at least in the present
reality, be implemented."

------------
2. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Shlomo Avineri, Hebrew University Professor of Political Science and
former director-general of the Foreign Ministry, wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "For Syria, [the international
border with Israel] is imperialist and completely illegitimate.
This is not a fine distinction of international law, but a
cornerstone of Syria's historical narrative."

Arab affairs correspondent Smadar Perry wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "This will be a peace
treaty with a travel warning attached: Who will guarantee the
Israelis' safety?"

Conservative columnist Menachem Ben wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "Netanyahu does not have the moral right to declare that he
will not join a Mofaz-led coalition, if and when he is elected
leader of Kadima. This would mean abandoning Israel, no less, to
the good will of withdrawal fans on the Left."

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

I. "Only the June 4 Lines"

Shlomo Avineri, Hebrew University Professor of Political Science and
former director-general of the Foreign Ministry, wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/6): "Periodically, Israelis
can be heard saying that the difference between the Israeli and
Syrian positions on the territorial issue boils down to 'a few
kilometers.' That is admittedly true, but it misses the point.....
Syria is insisting on the 'June 4 lines': It is not just a
territorial issue. Israel's willingness to withdraw to the
international border is based on its view that the Mandatory border
between Syria and the Land of Israel was legitimate. But for Syria,
this is an imperialist border and completely illegitimate. This is
not a fine distinction of international law, but a cornerstone of
Syria's historical narrative. It may be possible to overcome these
two sets of difficulties. But this possibility depends on Syria's
willingness both to significantly expand the range of issues it
deems legitimate for discussion in the bilateral negotiations, and
to deviate from a fundamental principle of its core ideological
worldview. Clearly, these are not marginal issues, and anyone who
presents them as such to the public is mistaken and misleading --
whether wittingly or unwittingly."

II. "A Heavy Syrian Hint"

Arab affairs correspondent Smadar Perry wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (8/6): "There is one
lesson that Israel can learn from the [recent] assassinations [in
Syria]: Let's assume the Prime Minister Olmert succeeds in
completing his terms with a 'historic' peace accord with Syria.
Let's assume that the secret negations pick up momentum and Syria
pledges to make peace, including normalization. The ceremony will
be impressive -- peace not so. Let's also assume that Israeli
pressure works and Syria opens an embassy in Tel Aviv, that Israeli
diplomats sit in Damascus, and that the business community rushes
into finding opportunities (there are many!) in Syria. This will be
a peace treaty with a travel warning attached: Who will guarantee
the Israelis' safety? Who will be able to sleep in a Damascus hotel
with being shot in the head at night. Beware of glowing embers in
Damascus, one of my Beirut friends said, after he lost his two best
friends to Syrian intelligence sharpshooters' fire."

III. "Mofaz Will Do Netanyahu's Job"

Conservative columnist Menachem Ben wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (8/6): "Given the threats of war, Israel must build a
deterrent iron wall -- clear military and diplomatic preparedness to
withstand all of its enemies.... [With all the concessions] that
Olmert was apparently planning, we'll find ourselves constantly
threatened by Arab war signals. This is the basic notion that both
Mofaz and Netanyahu understand. Thus, Netanyahu does not have the
moral right to declare that he will not join a Mofaz-led coalition,
if and when he is elected leader of Kadima. This would mean
abandoning Israel, no less, to the good will of withdrawal fans on
the Left, from Tzipi Livni to Yossi Beilin.... Even if Netanyahu
finds it hard to give up the premiership dream right now, he must do
so and join Mofaz, if and when the latter is elected Kadima chairman
-- which all polls and reports from the field view as entirely
feasible."

MORENO

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