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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1755/01 2241206
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111206Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7939
RHMFUU/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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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 4250
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0857
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4584
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5039
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4242
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2583
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5002
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1866
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0078
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8853
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6333
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1250
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5355
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7313
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0251
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001755

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. Fighting in Georgia

2. Mideast

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

Over the weekend almost all media led with the fighting in Georgia.
Today Yediot bannered: "Russia's Iron Fist." Ha'aretz quoted
Foreign Ministry officials as saying that Israel is hoping to
maintain a low profile with regard to the war in Georgia. One
source noted that currently, neither side of the conflict is pleased
with Israel's position, since Russia has been irked by
Israeli-Georgian weapons deals for some time, and Tbilisi is now
frustrated by Israel's decision to halt arms exports. Ha'aretz
reported that in a move which drew heavy criticism from defense
officials, Israel's Foreign Ministry over the weekend recommended
complete cessation of the sale of weapons and security-related
equipment to Georgia in light of the fighting between its troops and
the Russian Army. Several media quoted the Foreign Ministry as
saying yesterday that it "recognizes the territorial integrity of
Georgia," "The Foreign Ministry's approach demonstrates a naively
simplistic view and a lack of understanding of the complex world of
the security deals which Israel is conducting with foreign
partners," a defense official told Ha'aretz on condition of
anonymity. The Jerusalem Post reported that Tbilisi wants Israel to
place diplomatic pressure on Russia, whereas Israel is consulting
Russia to fend off bilateral tension. Speaking on Israel Radio
yesterday Georgian Minister Temur Yakobshvili praised Israel for its
role in training Georgian troops and was quoted as saying that
Israel should be proud of its military might.

Speaking about the situation in the Gaza Strip, Barak admitted in an
interview with Channel 10-TV yesterday that even a large-scale IDF
invasion would not stop militant attacks on Israel, adding that he
would prefer to see the current cease fire between Israel and Hamas
remain in place. He was quoted as saying that a seven-week-old
Egyptian-mediated truce is effectively halting the Qassam rocket
barrages. Referring to FM Tzipi Livni's bid to gain the
premiership, Barak was also quoted as saying: "It is possible to
have a prime minister without a security background. The question
is what would be wise to do," adding that the country had "seen this
deficiency at work two years ago" referring to PM Ehud Olmert's lack
of military experience, and how that disadvantage manifested itself
in what is widely held as Olmert's faulty handling of the Second
Lebanon War in 2006. Barak was also quoted as saying that in his
mind the right thing to do now, in the face of security threats and
the impending economic recession, would be to form a national unity
government. Barring this, Barak was quoted as saying that general
elections should be held.

Ha'aretz quoted a Defense Ministry official as saying yesterday that
the Egyptian mediators brokering a deal for the release of Gilad
Shalit have made no progress in their talks with Hamas. Israel
Radio and other media quoted a senior Hamas source who told the
London-based Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat that Egypt was not interested in
expediting the deal for Shalit's release because it did not want
Hamas to receive credit for it. The source was quoted as saying
that Egypt was not eager to invest efforts and persuade Israel to
agree to the terms for concluding the deal. Ha'aretz also reported
that Egypt has recently sealed dozens of tunnels that were used to
smuggle goods and weapons from the Sinai to Gaza.

Yesterday Israel Radio cited London's Sunday Times as saying that
the Syrian general who was assassinated last week, Mohammed
Suleiman, supplied Hizbullah with advanced anti-aircraft missiles.
The British newspaper quoted Israeli sources as saying that last
month PM Olmert asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy to give
Syrian President Assad a message that as far as Israel is concerned,
he has crossed a red line by supplying Hizbullah with arms.

Yesterday Maariv reported that last Wednesday the High Court of
Justice ruled that the PA does not enjoy full sovereign status and
that lawsuits may be brought against it in Israeli courts, which
could lead to dozens of damage suits against the PA.

Leading media reported that veteran journalist Shalom Kital, who
enjoyed a special affinity with the late PM Menachem Begin, will
soon sign on as a special adviser to Defense Minister Barak.

Leading media reported on the death on Saturday in Austin, Texas, of
the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish. He will be buried in
Ramallah tomorrow, despite calls by Arab intellectuals to inter him
in the Galilee, where he was born.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that last week left-wing Ha'aretz
columnist Gideon Levy granted an interview to the German newspaper
National-Zeitung, which is considered a mouthpiece for neo-Nazi
groups. Levy said in the interview that conditions in Israel are
worse that those that prevailed during South Africa's apartheid
period.

Maariv reported that the Finance Ministry has banned the import of
books printed in Syria and Lebanon -- mostly translations of popular
children's books.

------------------------
1. FiQting in Georgia:
------------------------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Israel wants to help
Georgia -- up to a point. And that point is where that help begins
to hurt Israel's own strategic interests with the Russians."

Visiting Professor of Political Science at the University of Haifa
Avraham (Avi) Ben-Zvi wrote in the independent Israel Hayom: "A call
for a Russian withdrawal from Georgian territory is still missing
from official U.S. rhetoric, to say nothing about sanctions ahead of
a possible war."


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

I. "Israel Tiptoes around the Georgian Conflict"

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (8/11): "Israel wants to
help Georgia -- up to a point. And that point is where that help
begins to hurt Israel's own strategic interests with the Russians.
Israel wants to keep the Russians from Tehran, and to try to somehow
get them on board as far as sanctions are concerned. Israel needs
Russia on the Iranian issue, and is not going to get that help by
selling too much to Georgia. At the same time, the Russian-Georgian
conflict does give Israel some newfound leverage with the Russians.
Because if the Russians do show signs of selling offensive arms to
our neighbors, Israel could respond in kind by selling offensive
arms to Russia's neighbors, such as Georgia."

II. "Groveling Stuttering"

Visiting Professor of Political Science at the University of Haifa
Avraham (Avi) Ben-Zvi wrote in the independent Israel Hayom (8/11):
"Even if his diplomatic options are limited, there is no
justification for the fact that Bush is entrusting the negotiating
to other mediators, including France and even Finland. Even if the
U.S. administration's warnings against disproportional actions
against Georgia can be viewed as a toughening of positions, a call
for a Russian withdrawal from Georgian territory is still missing
from official U.S. rhetoric, to say nothing about sanctions ahead of
a possible war."

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

Summary:
--------

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "While Lebanon has no
centrifuges or enriched uranium, it has turned into a genuine
threat, having dragged Israel into a number of wars and perpetually
high levels of tension."

Prominent liberal author A. B. Yehoshua wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "I had always hoped for another meeting in the
future, but here he has died -- [Mahmoud Darwish], the poet who was
both our adversary and our friend."

Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom: "[The just deceased Palestinian national
poet Mahmoud] Darwish advocated the expulsion of a people, and if
he were Jewish and had written in Hebrew, he would have been
declared a war criminal, a racist and a fascist."

Very liberal columnist Gideon Levy wrote in Ha'aretz: "[Shaul
Mofaz's] hands have a great deal more blood on them than this scary
Netanyahu has."

Block Quotes:
-------------
I. "A Single Precondition"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/10): "Israel is justly
demanding that Syria stops the arms exports to Lebanon, just as it
has asked Egypt to stop the arms smuggling from its territory to the
Gaza Strip. The U.S. also maintains that Syria can prevent the
transfer of terrorists and arms from its territory into Iraq.
However, there is a difference between Egypt, which is trying to
block the transfer of arms and is even combating the terrorist
groups in Sinai, and Syria. Because Syria ... views Hizbullah as a
strategic asset and not a threatening rival, like Egypt views
Hamas..... While Lebanon has no centrifuges or enriched uranium, it
has turned into a genuine threat, having dragged Israel into a
number of wars and perpetually high levels of tension. Israel,
which is threatening to forcefully put an end to the flow of arms to
Hizbullah, cannot simultaneously toy with polite negotiations with
Syria. It is difficult to expect Syria to continue negotiating with
Israel if it attacks Hizbullah's arms depots, or if it targets the
Syrian arms storage facilities that ship to Lebanon. But this is
the same Syria that, following American threats and sanctions, knew
how to put an end to terrorists and arms entering Iraq and
recognized that it must take a step back when Turkey threatened war
after accusing Damascus of supporting Kurdish separatist
organizations. Syria can and should block the border with Lebanon.
This is not a gesture of goodwill toward Israel, but a precondition
for continuing negotiations."

II. "A Poet, a Friend, and an Adversary"

Prominent liberal author A. B. Yehoshua wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (8/10): "First of all, Mahmoud Darwish was a great
poet who possessed true poetic power.... Mahmoud voluntarily exiled
himself from Israel, and I always regretted that..... He seemed to
me to be a worthy partner -- difficult and critical, but worthy.
Very quickly he became the Palestinians' national poet, the poet of
exile, and the poet of the refugee condition.... DarwishQs figure
was so enticing to me that I created a shadow of it in [my novel]
The Liberated Bride.... He came a year and a half ago to visit
Haifa, and Jews and Arabs here prepared a wonderful welcome for
him..... I had always hoped for another meeting in the future, but
here he has died -- the poet who was both our adversary and our
friend."

III. "Adulation of a Racist"

Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom (8/11): "More than bemoaning the
destruction of its national sovereignty on Tisha B'Av [the day of
mourning for the Jews' First and Second Temple], the people residing
in Zion pranced yesterday before the coffin of Palestinian poet
Mahmoud Darwish in a kind of adulation of someone who called in his
works to expel the Jews from the Land of Israel, and to give them
the bones of their forefathers to carry as they go into exile. A
kind of judenrein that includes the cemeteries as well. A kind of
Ahmadinejad in poetry. A kind of Nakba intended for Jews....
Darwish advocated the expulsion of a people, and if he were Jewish
and had written in Hebrew, he would have been declared a war
criminal, a racist and a fascist."

IV. "Netanyahu the Devil"

Very liberal columnist Gideon Levy wrote in Ha'aretz (8/10):
"They're playing that old tune again: Anybody but Benjamin
('they're-afffraid') Netanyahu. Shaul Mofaz loves peace; Tzipi
Livni will end the occupation; and Ehud Barak will treat the
Palestinians like human beings. Only Netanyahu will bring disaster.
Once again, the political fashion is to discuss how to stop the
king of the opinion polls and the prince of disaster.... Mofaz, for
example, should frighten us much more: His hands have a great deal
more blood on them than this scary Netanyahu has. While Netanyahu
dispatched a representative to the Syrian president and sent out
feelers about an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan, Mofaz pledges
'peace for peace,' insults our intelligence, and actually promises
another war in the north. The father of assassinations, he turned
the Israel Defense Forces into a vengeful gang in the occupied
territories.... Barak's current term as defense minister does not
give us reason to fear him any less than Netanyahu: This was a
period of disproportionate and unbridled killing in Gaza. This is
the man who invented the false no-partner theory and smashed the
remnants of the Israeli peace camp.... And what about Livni? She is
certainly not as fearsome as Netanyahu. But she, too, thinks that
talks with Syria and the Palestinians are moving too fast. After 40
years of occupation and bloodshed, Olmert's turtle-like pace is too
fast for his 'moderate' foreign minister. That is the choice....
The media embraces Livni, accepts Mofaz as legitimate, sometimes
supports Barak, but is terrified only by Netanyahu. Why?"

MORENO

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