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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1831/01 2321023
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191023Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8047
RHEHAAA/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 4284
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0891
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4622
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5075
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4278
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2622
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5040
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1902
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0115
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8887
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6367
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1286
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5389
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7350
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0298
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001831

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:
-------------------------

The media reported that PM Ehud Olmert is considering firing Defense
Minister Ehud Barak for opposing the budget draft. Ha'aretz
reported that clashes over the budget could bring down the
government. The Jerusalem Post quoted sources close to Barak as
saying that Barak will try to make the failures of the Kadima
government during the Second Lebanon War the main issue of his
general election campaign. Israel Radio reported that Labor MK
Avishay Braverman, Chairman of the Knesset's Finance Committee, is
demanding that 2 billion shekels (around $560 million) be added to
the budget for welfare purposes. Yediot reported that yesterday
Barak called for the establishment of an emergency national
government -- together with Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu --
because of the security threat posed by Iran.

Leading media reported that a Palestinian responsible for at least
one terror attack and a second who killed a yeshiva student are
among the 199 prisoners that a small ministerial committee agreed to
release when it met yesterday. The Jerusalem Post reported that
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz gave a sole dissenting vote,
saying that he does not believe in useless gestures. Ha'aretz
reported that Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin told the cabinet yesterday
that the release of the prisoners to PA President Mahmoud Abbas
"creates pressure on Hamas and is likely to accelerate the
negotiations over Gilad Shalit.Q However, Diskin added that the
gesture will not make Hamas more flexible about their demands.

The Jerusalem Post quoted PA officials in Ramallah as saying
yesterday that the PA is concerned about the apparent rapprochement
between Hamas and Jordan. Israel Radio cited reports in the Arab
media that Egypt is prepared to send a 3,000-strong Arab force to
Gaza as part of peacemaking efforts between Fatah and Hamas. The
radio reported that Hamas has rejected the Egyptian initiative.

All media reported on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's

surprise resignation on Monday. Yediot headlined: "The Islamic Bomb
Changes Hands." The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli sources as saying
that his resignation has quelled any faint hopes of improving
relations between Pakistan and Israel in the near future. The
Jerusalem Post reported that President Shimon Peres has
categorically denied reports that he was using his influence to try
to help beleaguered Musharraf leave Pakistan safely and avoid
impeachment.

Major media cited assessments in Israel that Iran failed in their
recent satellite test-launch. The Jerusalem Post quoted a former
senior Israeli defense industry official and missile expert as
saying that Iran's announcement does not signify an increased threat
to Israel.

Last night Channel 2-TV reported that Syria has recently
test-launched a series of surface-to-surface missiles and rockets.

The Jerusalem Post quoted visiting former presidential hopeful Mike
Huckabee as saying that Palestinians do not have to settle in
Jerusalem. He also touted John McCain's ability to defend Israel
against Iran. Ha'aretz quoted Huckabee as saying hat it is
unthinkable to divide Jerusalem.

Maariv cited a forecast by Israeli diplomatic sources that following
the war in Georgia, Israel-Russia relations will deteriorate, mostly
because Russia views Israel as a manifest ally of the U.S. Maariv
reported that four important bilateral Israeli-Russian projects are
in danger of being canceled because of American pressure.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "If Israel is dragged into a
war, God forbid, it is liable to find itself very much alone."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Either
the Iranian regime must be made to go, or a strategy needs to be
developed to ensure that Iran does not attain the military
capability to achieve its imperial aspirations. There really are no
other options."

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

I. "Caution: a New Reality"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/19): "If Israel is dragged
into a war, God forbid, it is liable to find itself very much alone.
Israel cannot rely on the automatic involvement of America, which
did not lift a finger to stop the brutal Russian offensive.
President George W. Bush, in no rush to give up his summer vacation,
made do with sending Condoleezza Rice to Georgia on a mission that
was ultimately a condolence visit. The summer of 2008 has brought
Israel face to face with a new reality: Russia is back to its old
Cold War tricks.... I wouldn't be so sure Russia is overjoyed by
Iran's nuclear aspirations -- the number one danger now facing
Israel -- but it hasn't said a bad word about Iran yet.... The
president who succeeds Bush has two options: He can keep fighting
the axis of evil, or he can focus on the serious problems that now
face America -- the colossal credit crisis, the mortgage crisis, the
public's mistrust of the economy, and the rising cost of gas. To
that, he can add a new problem: a possible resumption of the Cold
War."

II. "Mullahs in Space"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (8/19):
"Saturday's launching may ... have been intended to dissuade Israel
from attacking Iran's nuclear facilities as well as announcing that
Iran is already a regional power to be reckoned with.... Iran is
explicitly committed to the destruction of Israel -- so Jerusalem
must worry day and night about Tehran's nuclear program. At the
same time, the Iranian military industrial complex is so vast,
advanced and diversified as to make incredibly complex any last
resort to military action. Europe and the international community,
meanwhile, dawdle rather than apply the kinds of meaningful
sanctions that could conceivably force the mullahs to reconsider
their bellicose posture. Thus by avoiding a confrontation with Iran
today, the international community is setting the stage for a far
more perilous future -- and not just for Israel. Is it not clear
how emboldened, empowered and belligerent the mullahs already are?
The threat to world peace grows exponentially with each week, each
month. Either the Iranian regime must be made to go, or a strategy
needs to be developed to ensure that Iran does not attain the
military capability to achieve its imperial aspirations. There
really are no other options."

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

Summary:
--------

Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "[Many] Palestinians see
the decision [to release prisoners] as an attempt on the part of
Israel to improve its image on the international arena and extract
political concessions from Abbas and his colleagues in Ramallah."

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

"Prisoner Release Does Nothing for Abbas"

Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (8/19): "Today, Israel is
hoping that the release of the 200 security prisoners, almost all of
whom belong to Fatah, would again strengthen Abbas and Fatah at the
expense of Hamas. However, it's highly unlikely that Abbas would
benefit from the release of the prisoners because many Palestinians
don't give him credit for the move. Rather, these Palestinians see
the decision as an attempt on the part of Israel to improve its
image on the international arena and extract political concessions
from Abbas and his colleagues in Ramallah.... Moreover, the decision
is seen by Hamas and its supporters as an Israeli attempt to drive a
wedge between Fatah and Hamas and deepen divisions among the
Palestinians. Similarly, Israel should not expect to make any
significant gains as a result of its decision. Even the
"'moderates' in Ramallah who welcomed the decision were quick to
emphasize that it was insufficient and that Israel must now free all
the security prisoners. Or, as a prominent academic in Ramallah put
it, 'Israel is today releasing 200 prisoners to make room in its
prisons for the hundreds of Palestinians who were arrested by the
Israeli army in the past few weeks.'"

CUNNINGHAM

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