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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #2007/01 2481020
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002007

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

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

The Jerusalem Post reported that PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki
told the Israel Council on Foreign Relations in Jerusalem yesterday
that not a single word has been set on paper and that there is no
real agreement on the smaller points, let alone the core issues, of
a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Major media quoted the Prime Minister's Office as saying that, in
what is seen as a sign of significant progress toward resolving the
issue of settlement expansion, the cabinet is set to discuss, but
not yet vote on, an evacuation-compensation plan for settlers in the
West Bank on Sunday. The initiative, first proposed by Labor and
Meretz politicians years ago and being handled at the cabinet level
by Vice Premier Haim Ramon, would compensate settlers who move
within the Green Line. The plan was praised by left-wing
politicians and vilified by right-wing ones. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe
and Israel Radio reported that Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz
is opposed to the plan, sayng that it would weaken Israel. The
radio quoted FM Tzipi Livni as saying that the plan would be carried
out after the borders are defined. The Jerusalem Post quoted
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz as saying yesterday that Olmert's
government must be careful about using its powers -- particularly in
negotiations -- since it is about to resign.

Leading media quoted DM Ehud Barak as saying yesterday that, while
Jerusalem would remain the capital of Israel, heavily populated Arab
neighborhoods could become part of the future Palestinian state as
part of a peace agreement. Israel Radio quoted PA sources in
Ramallah as saying that Barak's offer does not include the holy
sites and is unacceptable to the Palestinians.

Major media reported that on Sunday the police will recommend that
PM Ehud Olmert be indicted on three counts.

This morning Israel Radio quoted Al Arabiya-TV as saying that Syria
has decided to cancel the fifth round of talks with Israel. The
radio later quoted President Bashar Assad as saying that the cause
of the delay in the talks is the resignation of Olmert's chief of
staff Yoram Turbowicz, who headed the indirect talks with Syria in
Turkey. Assad was also quoted as saying that he is looking forward
to the time when Olmert's successors withdraw from all occupied
territories. Media reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy,
who is visiting Damascus, offered to support direct Israel-Syria
talks. Maariv reported that PM Olmert's visit to Russia in ten
days' time will focus on pushing forward the negotiations with
Syria.

Ha'aretz reported that, with less than two weeks until the Kadima
primary, a new poll puts FM Livni 20 percentage points ahead of
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz (see below). Yediot quoted
Livni as saying in reference to Mofaz that generals naturally belong
in the army. The Jerusalem Post quoted insiders close to Mofaz as
saying that the coalition he would put together if he was chosen to
replace Olmert as Kadima chairman would almost certainly include the
Labor Party, and possibly the National Religious Party.

Last night Channel 2-TV reported that a terror cell was following
and carrying out surveillance on El Al crews staying in a hotel in
Toronto. The cell was arrested and El Al changed the guidelines
issued to its employees. Media quoted the security establishment as
saying that the cell appeared to be planning an attack on the
Israelis and that the terrorists apparently belonged to Hizbullah.

Major media reported that yesterday, in a conference call,
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden talked to
representatives of the Israeli/Jewish media. Ha'aretz reported that
Biden told the daily that he and Barack Obama share support for
Israel, and that they will act as catalysts of the peace process.
Biden was quoted as saying that John McCain's solution of the
Israeli-Palestinian problem passes through Baghdad. The Jerusalem
Post quoted Biden as saying that Israel should be able to take
whatever action it feels necessary to defend itself from Iran,
pressing his Israel credentials even as he lashed out at AIPAC and
those who have criticized his record toward Israel. Leading media
wrote that, during a meeting with AIPAC officials, Republican
vice-presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin expressed her support
for Israel's security

Ha'aretz reported that the Defense Ministry's Civil Administration
has admitted that issuing an order to build two new homes at the
outpost of Jabel Artis, north of the settlement of Beit El, was
wrong, and that it was issued for the wrong plot, which according to
the registry is private Palestinian land. Ha'aretz noted that this
admission makes little difference to the owners of the property, now
that the construction is completed. Ha'aretz reported that settlers
trying to make a case against the decision of former DM Amir Peretz
to evacuate a home they acquired on the outskirts of Hebron nearly
two years ago, are seeking approval from the Civil Administration's
Military Appeals Committee to have him testify.

Ha'aretz reported that Arkady Gaidamak has decided to cease his
business activity in Israel and concentrate all his efforts on a
political career, which includes a candidacy in the upcoming mayoral
race in Jerusalem. The controversial billionaire was quoted as
saying that he intends to sell all his businesses in Israel in order
to turn his attention to politics. Gaidamak's associates were
quoted as saying that the tycoon has reached the conclusion that his
business activities are undermining his political work. Meanwhile,
Gaidamak held a clandestine, night-time meeting with the grand mufti
of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein,
with the hope of harnessing the votes of residents of East
Jerusalem. Although Arab residents generally do not participate in
Jerusalem's municipal elections (though they are entitled to),
Gaidamak is hoping to reverse that tendency, and hopes the mufti
will encourage them to cast ballots this fall. His election
committee estimates that if 30,000 of the 130,000 residents of East
Jerusalem eligible to vote in the municipal elections were to
support Gaidamak, he might be in a position to secure victory.
Gaidamak was quoted as saying in conversations with aides, said that
"there is no point in discussing the Al-Aqsa question when residents
have no running water in their homes." Ha'aretz quoted Meir Porush,
the ultra-Orthodox candidate running for Jerusalem mayor, as saying
that Aryeh Deri will not compete for the post, as he would not want
to split the ultra-Orthodox vote. A Yediot/Mina Zemach/Dahaf
Institute poll found that secular candidate Nir Barkat would beat
all other candidates.

Yediot reported that Facebook profiles of applicants for U.S. visas
might hamper their chances of getting accepted. The newspaper
quoted a consular official at the American Embassy as saying that
applicants have could be questioned about discrepancies between
applicants' visa applications and data they listed on the social
networking program.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a collaborative network of
hospitals in Israel, the U.S., the PA and apparently, in Jordan and
Kuwait is being established to coordinate efforts to reduce medical
errors.
The Jerusalem Post quoted the Israel Antiquities Authority as saying
yesterday that the remains of the southern wall of Jerusalem that
was built by the Hasmonean kings during the time of the Second
Temple have been uncovered on Mount Zion.

Ha'aretz presented the results of a Dialogue poll taken among
registered Kadima voters:
Who would you vote for?
Tzipi Livni: 40%; Shaul Mofaz: 20%; Avi Dichter: 6%; Meir Sheetrit:
5%; 29% are undecided.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The best chance for an Israeli-Palestinian
agreement now lies with the Gulf states."

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz:
"Israel would not be able to refuse a direct meeting [with the
Syrians], even if Washington decided not to take part."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Could
it be that Assad is once again dangling the possibility of peace
with Israel as a way to renew contacts with Washington and Paris and
end his international isolation? Then again, he may be sincere."

Adi Mintz wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe:
"An illegitimate government, run by an illegitimate Prime Minister
and an illegitimate Vice Prime Minister [Haim Ramon, who was
convicted of a sexual offense], is also fit to discuss illegitimate
topics."

Prof. Yehiam Weitz, historian, a faculty member of the department of
Land of Israel studies at Haifa University, wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Those who wave this rusty slogan, '[Livni] will
partition Jerusalem,' ignore the cityQs situation."

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

I. "Troublesome New World"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/4): "Olmert's heirs will have to find their
way in a reality in which America is still the strongest power, but
is not alone.... From Israel's perspective, the change in the world
is troublesome. Due to its dependence on the United States, Israel
cannot play the powers against each other, as Syria and Iran do.
Israel must therefore hope that America recovers from its crisis,
and fast. But the new world also holds opportunities for Israel....
The best chance for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement now lies with
the Gulf states, where an international economic and financial
center is being developed. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar are giving
Israel an economic opportunity it would be a shame to miss, and only
a two-hour flight from Ben-Gurion International Airport. But they
are demanding a price: the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict.... Israel's new leadership will have to decide if the
financial temptation is worth the emotional difficulty and internal
conflict involved in a withdrawal from the West Bank, or whether it
is more pleasant and convenient to hold on to the problematic status
quo."


II. "France Elbows U.S. Aside"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz
(9/4): "A senior diplomatic source close to the Turkish-mediated
talks between Israel and Syria said the United States ha been
persuaded that it should take part in the talks, but that France has
'pushed itself' into Syria; and French President Nicolas Sarkozy's
participation in talks in Damascus have led the U.S. to cancel its
decision for now. The source said that U.S. Assistant Secretary of
State David Welch was to have participated as an observer in the
coming Israeli-Syrian meeting in Turkey, but that Washington was not
prepared to be a 'tail' to the French and so Welch's participation
was called off. The source also said Welch's participation was to
have kicked off direct talks between the Israelis and the Syrians
and it is not clear now when such talks will begin... In any case,
Israel would not be able to refuse a direct meeting, even if
Washington decided not to take part."

III. "Assad's Charm Offensive"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/4):
"It is in Israel's long-term interest to have a peace treaty with
Syria -- but not at any price. The extent of any withdrawal must
parallel the depth of the peace offered. Yet we can't help but
ponder why Assad's rhetoric veers so unsteadily between belligerence
and conciliation. Israel must be clear-eyed, first of all, on the
nature of the Syrian regime, which happens to be engaged in brisk
military build-up and procurement.... Most significant of all ...
are the increased political pressures on Syria's Alawite ruling
clique. After suffering the great embarrassments of Israel's
bombing of an alleged North Korean-supplied nuclear facility in
September 2007 and the assassination -- five months later, and still
unexplained -- in Damascus of Hizbullah operations chief Imad
Mughniyah, Assad's regime now fears the international tribunal
tasked with prosecuting Hariri's murderers. Could it be that Assad
is once again dangling the possibility of peace with Israel as a way
to renew contacts with Washington and Paris and end his
international isolation? Then again, he may be sincere. If so, he
should come to Jerusalem, or invite our premier to Damascus, and lay
out his peace vision."

IV. "Evacuation-Temptation Bill"

Adi Mintz wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe
(9/4): "The idea of bringing the evacuation-temptation bill before
the cabinet this coming Sunday is a really 'good idea.' An
illegitimate government, run by an illegitimate Prime Minister and
an illegitimate Vice Prime Minister [Haim Ramon, who was convicted
of a sexual offense], is also fit to discuss illegitimate topics....
The real test of the issue is not whether [the bill] has a chance of
passing in the cabinet and the Knesset, it is the 'test of
awareness' -- what will be left in public awareness, who will win
the long-term battle.... All the left wing's plans until today have
brought only terror: The Oslo Accords brought the exploding buses;
the flight from Lebanon and the Camp David conference brought the
second Intifada; the disengagement brought the Lebanon war. What
will the new plan bring? The Palestinians have realized that the
more terror they employ, the more Israel will continue to fold. How
will the Palestinians view the continued capitulation? The answers
we should give at this time are that one does not engage in
profiteering with the soil of the Land of Israel, and someone who
has devoted his life to receiving payments and benefits will not get
dividends from the sale of the land of our homeland. Whoever thinks
that by these methods he will weaken the strength of our hold on the

Land of Israel, will soon discover how determined we are to deepen
and expand this hold. Giving the correct answers will only
strengthen our stand and our hold."

V. "Saving Jerusalem"

Prof. Yehiam Weitz, historian, a faculty member of the department of
Land of Israel studies at Haifa University, wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (4/9): "Those who wave this rusty slogan, '[Livni]
will partition Jerusalem,' ignore the cityQs situation. For many
years, Jerusalem has been in a process of deterioration: It is poor
and unclean; the strong population is fleeing it; the younger
generation does not even think of living there; the center of town
is neglected and looks in some parts like a slum. Those who have
lived there for many years, feel as if they are accompanying the
city in its dying stages. This process stems, to a large degree,
from the unification of the city. The decision on the unification
was made in the days of the euphoria after the Six-Day War. Today,
the decision from June 1967 appears as a long-term disaster, which
inflicted a severe blow on the city and its natural development.
Since then, Jerusalem has become a mixed city, which is forced to
balance the fragile status quo, which draws all the cityQs energies
and emasculates its character. Whoever loves Jerusalem must think
of a proper arrangement for its future, in order to save the beloved
and unfortunate Jerusalem."

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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