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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #2002/01 2471029
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0947
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4684
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5130
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4337
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2692
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5100
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1960
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0181
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8943
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6423
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1343
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5445
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7406
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0373
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002002

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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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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Leading media quoted Syrian President Bashar Assad as saying
yesterday in an interview with France 3-TV that indirect
negotiations with Israel have brought the "possibility of peace,"
although the two countries still have quite a way to go toward that
goal. Assad was also quoted as saying that he believed that Israel
"could try to launch different attacks, maybe against Iran, and
maybe also against Lebanon, and of course it could launch an attack
on Syria." He warned that such attacks would have "catastrophic
results." Israel Radio reported that indirect talks with Syria will
be possible when Yoram Turbowicz returns to conduct them even after
his resignation from the post of PM Ehud Olmert's chief of staff.
The radio later quoted the London-based Al-Hayat as saying that the
talks will resume on Sunday.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli officials as saying that a story
reporting that Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal has left
Damascus at Syria's request was simply "not true."

The Jerusalem Post reported that Olmert met yesterday with FM Tzipi
Livni and DM Ehud Barak to discuss the negotiations with the PA, but
that diplomatic officials downplayed the significance, saying that
such meetings are routine and do not presage any breakthrough.

Ha'aretz reported that Egypt opposes an Israeli-Palestinian partial
agreement because Cairo doesn't think such a deal would end the
conflict in the region, and Jordan fears that such an agreement
would force it to take in hundreds of thousands of Palestinian
refugees. The Egyptian and Jordanian position is encouraging to the
PA, which also opposes an "agreement in principle." Ha'aretz quoted
former Lebanese PM Omar Karameh and a Hizbullah-associated daily as
saying yesterday that for the first time Egypt has invited Hizbullah
leaders for talks. Israel Radio quoted the Kuwaiti newspaper
Al-Qabas as saying that Egypt has decided to open the Rafah crossing
more often.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli officials as saying that no
decisions have been made regarding withdrawal from the northern side
of the village of Ghajar, despite unconfirmed media reports
indicating that Israel has expressed willingness to do so.

Ha'aretz and other media quoted DM Barak as saying yesterday that
there have been quite a few alerts about Hizbullah attacks abroad in
the last few weeks, and that there were "several very important
deflections of planned attacks."

Leading media cited a Reuters story as saying that the Nation's
Army, an extremist Palestinian group affiliated with Al-Qaida, is
training in Gaza with the aim of fighting against Israel. The
report said that Hamas is allowing the group to train in Gaza
provided it does not interfere with Palestinian politics and it does
not impose its ideology on the Palestinians.

The media reported that yesterday the High Court of Justice issued a
temporary injunction against plans to demolish parts of the home of
Palestinian terrorist Ala Abu Dhaim, who killed eight people at the
Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem last March.

The Jerusalem Post quoted freed Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar as
saying yesterday that PA President Mahmoud Abbas had asked for the
recent meeting between the two that has angered Israel.

Ha'aretz and Maariv reported that yesterday two border policemen
were convicted of manslaughter for their part in the 2002 kidnapping
and wrongful death of a Hebron teen.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel is still likely to boycott
the so-called "Durban II" conference set for 2009 in spite of a plea
made by the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay,
that it reconsider.

Maariv reported that a UNESCO resolution granting the title of
"capital of Arab culture" to Jerusalem for 2009 might turn into an
anti-Israel campaign in the eastern part of the city.

Yediot reported that on Sunday Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann
will propose a bill that will define when the High Court of Justice
is entitled to overturn laws and how the Knesset can circumvent the
Court.

The Jerusalem Post and other media quoted Attorney General Menachem
Mazuz as saying yesterday that the Justice Ministry's party
registrar will compile a list of people who are members of both
Likud and Kadima after the two parties asked for their lists to be
examined.

Major media reported that former Shas leader Aryeh Deri is
considering running for mayor of Jerusalem. Ha'aretz reported that
Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has promised to support his
ex-protege. (Israel Radio quoted Deri as saying that he and the
Rabbi have not spoken about the issue.) Deri was convicted in the
past of accepting bribes, fraud, and breach of trust, offenses for
which he spent two years in prison. His criminal record may make
him ineligible to run in the elections, since his offenses were
deemed as having involved moral turpitude, and by law that bars him
from running for public office for a defined period of time.

The Jerusalem Post reported that President Shimon Peres and DM Barak
broke Israel's boycott of Aljazeera-TV when they each granted
interviews to the network. However, Foreign Ministry officials were
quoted as saying that no agreement has been reached in negotiations
taking place between the ministry and the network.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that the supply of natural gas
from Egypt to Israel was halted on Friday and has yet to be resumed.
Concern is mounting in Jerusalem, where sources believe that Egypt
is struggling to supply all its clients and has chosen to cut back
supplies to its neighbors, including Israel, some of which pay
especially low prices for the fuel. Israel receives Egyptian gas
through the Egyptian-Israeli consortium EMG.

Yediot reported that yesterday Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense
Systems Ltd. signed a one-billion shekel (around $275 million) deal
with the Indian Defense Ministry. The newspaper says that this may
reduce expenses for two missile defense systems -- the Iron Dome and
the missile protection from Hizbullah missiles. The Jerusalem Post
reported that, implementing the lessons of the Second Lebanon War,
Israeli Military Industries has designed a mortar shell that uses a
satellite guidance system to accurately hit its target.

Ha'aretz reported that thousands of African refugees in Israel are
not vaccinated against tuberculosis, although regulations obligate
them to undergo testing after their release from detention centers.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Conservative Jewish affairs correspondent Nadav Shragai wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "[Prime Minister Olmert's]
willingness to bring the members of the Quartet into the
negotiations over Jerusalem (even as 'advisors') opens the door to
internationalizing the conflict over the city, and that is
tantamount to public suicide."

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "The
public, media-oriented, and fashionable campaign to release Gilad
Shalit does not bring his freedom closer but rather removes it
further."

Gershon Baskin, Co-Director of the Israel/Palestine Center for
Research and Information, wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "Just as the Palestinians will have to acknowledge
the Jewishness of Israel, Israel will have to acknowledge its part
in the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem."

Liberal columnist Avirama Golan wrote in Ha'aretz: "Livni has a
chance to be elected as the head of a 'faux centrist' right-wing
party. And when this happens, and Labor is finally swallowed up
into Kadima, it will finally make room for a real leftist
movement."

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

I. "False Oaths of Allegiance"

Conservative Jewish affairs correspondent Nadav Shragai wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/3): "Ehud Olmert lacks any
legitimacy to negotiate over Jerusalem, not only because of the
heavy cloud of criminal suspicions that hangs over him and because
his days in office are numbered, but mainly because no one ever
authorized him to hand over the treasure of the Jewish people and
smash one of the foundation stones of the Zionist movement. [The
key Israeli cabinet ministers] understand that Mahmoud Abbas is not
the sole custodian of Jerusalem on the Arab side, and that Jordan,
Egypt, Morocco and perhaps Saudi Arabia also need to be brought into
the picture. However, they do not understand that it is not the
sole custodian of Jerusalem for the Jewish people. This group is
'democratic' when it comes to Arab countries, but would never dream
of bringing representatives of the Jewish people and the Jewish
religion into the talks, not to mention taking the most elementary
step -- a referendum that would make clear the significance of
dividing the city. The implications of such a move are completely
lacking from the discourse over the historic snatch Olmert is now
trying to bring about. His willingness to bring the members of the
Quartet into the negotiations over Jerusalem (even as 'advisors')
opens the door to internationalizing the conflict over the city, and
that is tantamount to public suicide.... [Incidentally], Dore Gold,
Israel's former ambassador to the UN, recently noted that the more
Israel concedes in Jerusalem, the more the American position
regarding our status in the city erodes. He still remembers how the
U.S. used its veto power in the Security Council to reject
Palestinian initiatives to condemn Israeli construction in
neighborhoods like Har Homa. Today, not only is it difficult to
conceive of such a veto, but the Americans are those who initiate
complaints over Israeli construction in Jerusalem."

II. "A Campaign against Shalit's Interests"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (9/3):
"The public, media-oriented, and fashionable campaign to release
Gilad Shalit does not bring his freedom closer but rather removes it
further; it doesn't serve Shalit's interests, but Hamas's....
Hamas's regime in Gaza pretends that it can afford to drag its feet
forever, but this is not true. It is not only in Israel that time
is vanishing.... A cruel war of nerves is raging between the sides,
as both are pressed and eager to reach an achievement, and each of
them knows that it can't show its impatience or its keenness. This
war of nerves, the civilian pressure on the Israeli government to
hasten and surrender, encourages a stiffening of Hamas's positions,
increases its demands, and brings us further from an agreement."

III. "Peace: From Concepts to Realities"

Gershon Baskin, Co-Director of the Israel/Palestine Center for
Research and Information, wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (9/3): "To reach a package agreement, both sides will
have to make substantive concessions. Just as the Palestinians will
have to acknowledge the Jewishness of Israel, Israel will have to
acknowledge its part in the creation of the Palestinian refugee
problem. Israel does not bear full responsibility for that issue,
but it certainly does have partial and even significant
responsibility. Acknowledging Israel's partial responsibility is
necessary for the Palestinians to accept the principle that the
'right of return' will be implemented primarily to the state of
Palestine and not to Israel. Acknowledgement by both sides of these
fundamentals is what is required to reach an agreement that could
enable real and lasting reconciliation. Both sides will also have
to recognize that Jerusalem will be the capital of both states with
the requisite division of sovereignty, including the division of
control or sovereignty over the holy places. Both sides could also
implement substantive steps immediately that would provide a
stronger foundation for the statements of acknowledgement listed
above.... There is no reason to wait for a final agreement and its
ratification by the people to begin to implement steps that will
build peace on the ground while implementing specific clauses that
will become central themes of the peace treaty. Peace is not built
solely by reaching agreements on paper -- this is necessary, but not
enough. Peace must be built on the ground -- from the bottom up. We
must begin to transform words and concepts into new realities."

IV. "Neither Left nor Right"

Liberal columnist Avirama Golan wrote in Ha'aretz (9/3): "If Livni
is elected, forms the next government, and manages to rule wisely --
a task she appears capable of -- it will mark the final victory of
the new politics, the apolitical politics. Like Angela Merkel and
Nicolas Sarkozy, who attracted many voters from the left, Livni has
a chance to be elected as the head of a 'faux centrist' right-wing
party. And when this happens, and Labor is finally swallowed up
into Kadima, it will finally make room for a real leftist movement,
a social democratic party whose economic, social and cultural views
would naturally compliment a dovish diplomatic stance. One may hope
that Labor, whose fingerprints are historically on the settlement
enterprise, and Meretz, which has turned into a sectarian
mini-faction, will exit the stage. The forces that seek to shackle
Livni from the right (economically and diplomatically) will be
balanced by a new political force that is genuinely left-wing."

CUNNINGHAM

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