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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

--------------------------------
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Iran

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

Ha'aretz cited a Reuters report of a Russian diplomat as saying that
the Russian navy will make more use of Syrian ports as part of an
increased military presence in the Mediterranean. The Jerusalem Post
reported that Israel is continuing its cautious policy regarding the
conflict in Georgia, with Israeli plans to send humanitarian aid not
only to Georgia, but also to North Ossetia. The Jerusalem Post
reported that Anatoly Yurkov, the charge d'affaires at Russia's
embassy in Tel Aviv, told the newspaper that Moscow appreciated the
balanced position Israel had taken throughout the crisis, as well as
its "low profile."

Citing the East Jerusalem newspaper Al-Quds, Israel Radio quoted a
senior official in the PA Chairman's bureau as saying that Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice had informed Israel and the Palestinians
that the U.S. administration would aim to establish an international
mechanism to compensate the Palestinian refugees. The senior
official added that Secretary Rice had urged the parties to reach
understandings about the holy sites in Jerusalem, and about
arrangements, both administrative and security, for ties between
both parts of the city. He was quoted as saying that Secretary Rice
spoke for the first time about a Palestinian state within the 1967
lines, with border revisions. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe cited the
London-based Al-Hayat as saying that Ahmed Qurei, the head of the
Palestinian negotiating team, told Rice on Tuesday that the
Palestinians would demand the dissolution of the settlements Ma'aleh
Adumim and Ariel. The reason for the Palestinian demand is that
those two settlements disrupt Palestinian territorial contiguity.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary of the PLO Executive Committee,
told Aljazeera-TV that he demanded that Rice compose a document that
would clarify the achievements of the negotiations to date. The goal
is to submit this document to the next U.S. administration so as not
to be forced to begin the talks once again from scratch.

Maariv reported that Livni is increasing the margin between her and
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz in the Kadima primary polls (see
under: Polls).

Despite earlier reports that Israel will open the border crossings
with Gaza this morning, Israel Radio reported that they will remain
closed following rocket fire on Israel.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel is not expected to prevent 12
Palestinian students, who have been accepted by foreign
universities, to sail from Gaza to Cyprus on the boats that brought
peace activists to Gaza. Ha'aretz quoted activists as saying that
they will not be passing through Israel's territorial waters.
Israel Radio quoted an IDF officer as saying that Israel will not
let people involved in terror leave Gaza. Maariv cited the defense
establishment's concern about such a development. The Jerusalem
Post reported that the Israel Navy may detain the boats today.

Maariv reported that Labor Party veterans and senior ministers are
considering deposing Ehud Barak from the post of party chairman.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that in a religious publication Rabbi
David Rosen (the rabbi of the Zemach Institute) called Peace Now
activists "mosers" -- a Talmudic term denoting Jews informing on
other Jews to non-Jews. The notion was popular among right-wing
Jews before Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe
reported that Peace Now has complained to the Attorney General about
the Rabbi.

All major media reported that "peace fighter" Abie Nathan passed
away yesterday in Tel Aviv at the age of 81. Nathan flew a solo
peace flight to Egypt in 1966, for which he was arrested in Israel.
His "Voice of Peace," a radio station transmitted from a ship in the
Mediterranean, started regular broadcasts in 1973. Nathan was one
of the first Israelis who met with Yasser Arafat, when this was
against the law.

All media reported that an Israeli construction manager was
kidnapped outside his home in Nigeria on Tuesday night.

All media reported that yesterday State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss presented a special report on alleged wrongdoings by
PM Ehud Olmert (as Industry, Trade, and Labor minister) when he
pushed the $300 million Aquaria resort project near Eilat, despite
reports that proved the project's lack of economic viability.
Maariv reported that the State Prosecutor' Office insists on Moshe
Talansky testifying. Maariv reported that Jerusalem District
Prosecutor Eli Abravanel told the court that the Prosecutor's Office
will facilitate Talansky's appearance at the cross-examination.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel welcomed the UN Security
Council's decision yesterday to renew UNIFIL's mandate in southern
Lebanon, even though Jerusalem would have liked -- and has indeed
raised the matter in numerous capitals over the past few months --
to see the peacekeepers' rule of engagement strengthened.

Ha'aretz reported that African border infiltrators arrested by the
IDF while crossing into Israel from Sinai are now being immediately
returned to Egyptian territory. Dozens of illegal immigrants were
returned to Egypt this past week, leading human rights groups to
petition the High Court of Justice for a temporary injunction
against the expulsions. On Tuesday, Ha'aretz learned of the
"immediate return" policy from soldiers serving on the Egyptian
border, and the army confirmed the news yesterday. The same army
sources said that the policy of immediate expulsion was dictated by
senior political officials, and is being carried out with Egyptian
cooperation.

Maariv presented the results of a TNS/Teleseker poll taken among
registered Kadima voters
In a first round, Livni would beat Mofaz, 49 to 28%; Internal
Security Minister Avi Dichter would garner 8.1 of the vote, and
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit 7.6%
In a run-off, Livni would win over Mofaz, 53 to 34%.


------------
1. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "[Tzipi Livni] must understand that she can not do all
things better than others."

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot: "Russia is drawing near to Israel nowadays no less
than it is to Syria, and perhaps even more so."

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

I. "The Livni Paradox"

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(8/28): "[Tzipi Livni's] report card is complex. The daughter of
the operations officer of the Etzel -- the right-wing, pre-State
paramilitary organization, commonly known as the Irgun -- she is an
ethical and clearheaded Israeli woman, but she lacks experience and
is weak on agenda. In a sense her candidacy for the premiership
comes too early. This is a promising and interesting candidacy that
ripened before its time -- a half-baked candidacy. Livni's chances
are good to very good.... Being fed up with arrogant, wealthy and
aggressive men has created a true desire for a different leadership.
At the end of the summer of 2008, Livni is the different
leadership.... The obvious solution is a Livni-Barak-Netanyahu
government. Israel is already facing a dramatic security challenge.
Within months Israel is liable to face a severe economic challenge
as well. Tzipi Livni does not have the necessary abilities to deal
with the two challenges on her own. However, if she rises above
herself, she can be quite a good team leader.... In order to do the
right thing Livni must demonstrate a degree of realism and a degree
of modesty. She should admit that her meteoric rise has turned her
head. She must understand that she can not do all things better
than others. And she should once again become the devoted and
concerned patriot that she was only a few years ago. The paradox
remains a paradox: Only if Tzipi Livni understands that she is not
yet worthy of being prime minister will she have a chance of being a
worthy one."

II. "A Slap in Assad's Face "

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (8/28): "The Syrian President went off to Moscow
with a package of proposals from which his generals assumed both
sides stood to gain. The proposal included the following
components: 1. Syria agrees that the Russians will deploy on its
soil advanced surface-to-surface missiles to counter the American
missile deployment in Poland that so enraged the Russians. 2. Syria
agrees that Russian Air Force jets will use its airspace and soil.
3. The sea port in Tartus will be reopened. 4. Russia will gain a
friendly military stronghold in the eastern part of the
Mediterranean Sea, at the gates to Europe, and with that will revert
to being a regional super power. In return, Assad had hoped to ask
for RussiaQs new surface-to-surface missiles, Iskander SS-26, as
well as other weaponry.... How stunned he was when the Russians
gave him a stinging slap on the cheek. Putin and Medvedev replied
to his offer: Not interested. They don't want to begin another Cold
War. The slap on the cheek was so stinging that the Russians
refused to sell the Syrians the advanced missiles and added a number
of additional conditions: first of all, they would not sell Syria
any offensive weaponry, only defensive. Second, Syria would not be
sold any weaponry that would violate the status quo of IsraelQs
superiority over Syria. Third, everything needs to be paid for in
cash, up front.... Russia is drawing near to Israel nowadays no less
than it is to Syria, and perhaps even more so, against the backdrop
of the million and a half former Russians who live in Israel and
because of the high-tech industry that is very important for the
Russian economy. The world in this era of globalization isn't going
to revert to being black and white, and Assad isnQt going to find
any Russian babushka with a magic solution waiting for him."


---------
2. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

Intelligence affairs correspondent Yossi Melman wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "[Senator Joseph Biden's]
positions regarding Iran ... cannot be encouraging to the policy
makers in Jerusalem.... [But] it could be that Biden, an experienced
and canny politician, will change his approach and suddenly take a
tougher line on Iran."

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in Ha'aretz: "A U.S. radar
system in the Negev ... will bolster Israel's defense against
Iranian or Syrian surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. The radar
deployment will have historical significance: the first American
base on Israeli territory."

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

I. "Joseph Biden Has Shown Softness toward Iran"

Intelligence affairs correspondent Yossi Melman wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/28): "[Senator Joseph Biden]
is ... considered to be in the very middle of the mainstream of
traditional support for Israel, though in the distant past, in 1981,
he supported a tougher stance toward Israel. However, his positions
regarding Iran, whose acquisition of nuclear weaponry tops Israel's
list of security concerns, cannot be encouraging to the policy
makers in Jerusalem. This is especially so in the context of the
danger that in 2009, when Biden could well be vice president, Iran
is liable to reach or even to go beyond the 'technological
threshold' -- i.e., to achieve the capability that will enable it to
develop nuclear weapons.... After the [2007 Senate] vote [on
declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization]
Biden explained that he had opposed the proposal because 'I don't
trust this administration.' Thanks to his position, Biden won
praise from Press TV, which broadcasts in English and is considered
the major propaganda arm of the Islamic government for shaping
positive public opinion beyond the borders of Iran.... It could be
that Biden, an experienced and canny politician, will change his
approach and suddenly take a tougher line on Iran."

II. "A Casually Deployed Radar System"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in Ha'aretz (8/28):
"Significant strategic changes often occur surprisingly quietly,
without drawing the deserved attention. A clear example of this is
the agreement last month for the deployment of a U.S. radar system
in the Negev, which will bolster Israel's defense against Iranian or
Syrian surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. The radar deployment
will have historical significance: the first American base on
Israeli territory. Israel has always had reservations about such a
possibility and preferred to 'defend itself by itself' and retain
maximum freedom of action. This time the deployment will be for the
long term. The radar will be operated by civilians employed by the
company that builds the system, contracted by the Pentagon, and by
two U.S. soldiers. Military sources say that in the future the
system will be handed over to the IDF. Until then, if it happens,
an American flag will fly in the Negev."
CUNNINGHAM

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