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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1870/01 2351010
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221010Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8099
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4300
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0905
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4640
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5089
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4294
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2639
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5056
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1916
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0131
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8901
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6381
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1300
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5403
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7364
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0318
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001870

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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Iran

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

All media highlighted Syrian President Bashar Assad's visit to
Moscow. Israel Radio cited an official communique on Syrian TV
denying the possibility that Russia will place missiles in Syria to
counter Western weapons. The Jerusalem Post reported that acting
Russian Ambassador in Tel Aviv Anatoly Yurkov told the daily that
Russia has no intention of placing the advanced, short-range
Iskander missile system in Syria. The Jerusalem Post quoted Russian
FM Sergei Lavrov as saying, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency,
that any weapons sold to Syria would be defensive and would "not in
any way interfere with the strategic balance in the region."
Ha'aretz cited Israel's belief that despite the tensions between
Russia and the West, there is no crisis in relations between
Jerusalem and Moscow. Yediot reported that FM Ehud Olmert is
leaving on an urgent visit to Moscow, and reported that Olmert told
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a telephone call on Wednesday
that it would be better for Syria to focus on the dialogue channel
with Israel than wasting billions of dollars on weapons that Israel
will eventually destroy. Olmert reportedly said that the ball is in
Assad's court, who will find in Israel a partner willing to reach an
agreement. This morning Israel Radio quoted the UAE newspaper
Al-Bayan as saying that the U.S. has demanded that Israel and Turkey
immediately desist from talks with Syria.

Maariv reported on the role of Jewish-American businessman Daniel
Abrams as facilitator in Olmert's negotiations with PA Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas. Ha'aretz also featured Abrams.

Leading media reported that yesterday FM Tzipi Livni met with the
foreign press in Israel and called for a national unity government
that would be able to pursue the creation of Palestinian state
living peacefully alongside Israel. But she also sounded a warning
note, saying that a Palestinian uprising could reignite if the
international community piled too much pressure on the sides to
paper over differences and rush into an agreement on statehood. In
her remarks, Livni played down Washington's timeline for a deal this
year. "What is more important is the content and the nature of the
understanding," she said. She was quoted as saying that she and her
Palestinian counterpart in the negotiations, former PM Ahmed Qurei,
were going beyond "vague ideas" about the percentage of West Bank
land that Israel would yield. "We need to line the borders on the
map," she was quoted as saying. Leading media reported that
yesterday Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz came out against the
government and Livni in particular, saying that Israel needs
"resolute leadership."

Ha'aretz reported that Labor Party chief and Defense Minister Ehud
Barak told several party veterans yesterday that he is not worried
about being removed or replaced before the next Knesset elections.
According to Ha'aretz, Barak told senior party members in a series
of phone calls that the Labor Party does not depose its leaders.
Nonetheless, Barak admitted that the party is going through tough
times after opinion polls forecast a big defeat if general elections
were held today.

Major media cited the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily as saying
that Egypt has warned Hamas of possible attempts by Israel to
assassinate the group's leaders over their lack of progress in
negotiations to free Gilad Shalit. The report says the rift between
Egypt and Hamas officials has deepened in recent weeks due to the
group's inflexibility over a deal to release Shalit Yediot quoted
Israeli defense sources as saying that after the truce with Hamas,
Israel will be faced with the threat of 100 Qassam rockets a day.

Ha'aretz, The Jerusalem Post, and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that
Olmert and DM Barak have decided to reroute the West Bank separation
fence in an area near Jerusalem, to minimize how much the barrier
encroaches on Palestinian land. Yesterday the State Prosecutor
notified the High Court of Justice of a state decision to move the
fence near Ma'aleh Adumim westward, allowing 4,000 dunams (around
990 acres) of Palestinian land to remain untouched.

Israel Radio reported that the Jordanian Foreign Ministry has
summoned Israeli Ambassador to Amman Jacob Rosen, saying that Israel
must desist from any steps that would harm the holy sites in
Jerusalem. Various media reported on a squabble between Jews and
Christians over construction at the site of the Last Supper
monastery in Jerusalem.

Israel Radio reported that a 23-year-old student from the Bedouin
town of Tel Sheva was arrested on suspicion of intending to set up
an Al-Qaida cell. Senior Al-Qaida operative Omar Bakri was quoted
as saying in an interview with Makor Rishon-Hatzofe that Hamas PM
Ismail Haniyeh is a heretic whose government makes use of Shi'ite
money.

The Jerusalem Post and Maariv reported on the plea of an Israeli
Bedouin for the return of his son, who has been detained in Egypt
for eight years.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Saudi trade officials are warning
against what they claim to be cancerous products made in Israel and
other countries that are allegedly being smuggled into the kingdom.

Yediot and The Jerusalem Post reported that the organization
www.10million.org, which is interested in information about MIA Ron
Arad, has arranged to have phone messages and SMS messages sent to
Lebanese citizens.

Israel Radio quoted a senior Hizbullah official as saying that his
organization's "shocking" revenge for the death of its chief
operative Imad Mughniyah will take place soon. Maariv quoted the
Italian daily Corriere Della Sera as saying that Russia has sold
Hizbullah anti-aircraft missiles.

Ha'aretz reported that U.S. Maj. Gen. Paul J. Selva will soon
succeed Lt. Gen. William Fraser as Roadmap implementation
supervisor.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the IDF shut down BBC radio
transmitters in Hebron on Wednesday, acting on orders of the
Communications Ministry and citing interference with communications
at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that human rights activists are
planning to break Israel's blockade on Gaza by sailing this morning
from Cyprus to Gaza in two yachts. Israel plans to block the ships
from reaching Gaza. The activists were quoted as saying that they
want to break the blockade, but even if they are stopped they will
view it as an achievement, because they will have showed Israel is
enforcing the blockade on civilians, too.

Leading media cited an AP story that over 100 victims of terrorism
in Israel filed a lawsuit yesterday against Bank of China Ltd.,
China's largest bank, accusing the institution of transferring money
to terrorist groups. The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior
Court claims that the bank transferred millions of dollars to Hamas
and Islamic Jihad, ignoring demands by Israeli counterterrorism
officials to halt the practice. The suit alleges that the money
helped fund attacks between 2004 and 2007.

Major media reported that the State Prosecutor's Office intends to
ask U.S. authorities for a declaration that any further testimony by
Morris Talansky in Israel would not be used as evidence against him
in U.S. court.

Yediot reported that shortly before his death this week Benjamin
Gibli, who headed IDF Intelligence at the time of the so-called
Lavon Affair -- the scandal over a failed Israeli covert operation
in Egypt, in which Israeli military intelligence planted bombs in
Egyptian, American, and British-owned targets in Egypt in the summer
of 1954 -- admitted to "giving the order" for that operation.

-----
Iran:
-----

Summary:
--------

Daniel Levy, the lead Israeli drafter of the Geneva Initiative,
wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Don't expect
preventive diplomacy to be swift or simple -- but Israel would be
making a terrible, even fatal, mistake if it attacked Iran."

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

"There Are Better Options"

Daniel Levy, the lead Israeli drafter of the Geneva Initiative,
wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/22): "The good
news [about responses to the Iranian nuclear program] is that there
are better options. For one, Israel should be leading, or at least
contributing to, rather than retarding, a policy re-think on Iran.
Instead, when the U.S. sends Under-Secretary of State William Burns
to sit in on talks with Iran in Geneva or considers opening an
interest section in Tehran, Israel takes umbrage. The same is true
when our back-channel mediators with Syria, the Turks, host Iran's
leaders. Israel needs to encourage this direct hard-headed
diplomatic engagement between its friends and Iran -- contributing
talking points of its own and suggesting the dialogue address a
broad range of issues of concern to Israel. Israel might even
wrong-foot its adversaries and advance a constructive regional
dynamic by developing an offer occasionally hinted at by President
Shimon Peres -- that Israel will support a Middle East free of
weapons of mass destruction in the context of regional peace, mutual
recognition and security guarantees. Beyond that, Israel should
de-emphasize its unilateral military options and stress confidence
in its own deterrence capacity vis-a-vis Iran.... Don't expect
preventive diplomacy to be swift or simple -- but Israel would be
making a terrible, even fatal, mistake if it attacked Iran. It does
no one, least of all itself, any favors with the parrot-like
repetition of the 'threatener-in-chief' mantra."

CUNNINGHAM

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