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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4360
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0966
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4706
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5149
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4358
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2713
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5121
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1982
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0203
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8962
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6442
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1364
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5464
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RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0292
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002040

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

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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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All media led with the police's unanimous recommendation to Attorney
General Menachem Mazuz yesterday, to indict PM Ehud Olmert in two
corruption cases: the Rishon Tours double billing affair and the
Talansky affair. The police are expected to reach a decision
regarding a third case, the Investment Center affair, in the near
future. Ha'aretz and other media reported that yesterday Olmert
played down the police recommendation. His lawyers and media
adviser put out the message that the "police's recommendation is
insignificant." Nonetheless, Olmert decided to cancel a planned
trip to Moscow, and is expected to call off his scheduled appearance
at the UN General Assembly in New York at the end of the month. The
police also recommended indicting Shula Zaken, who was Olmert's
right hand. The media reported that police have recommended that
Attorney and former Olmert confidant Uri Messer, considered a key
witness in the Talansky affair, also be indicted. The media
recalled that in the past the police recommended indicting Benjamin
Netanyahu and that the then attorney general closed his case.
Similar processes were started against former PMs Ehud Barak and
Ariel Sharon, but did not result in indictments.

The Jerusalem Post quoted top Israeli defense officials as saying
that Iran is consolidating its grip on Hizbullah and that it has
instituted a number of changes to the Lebanese group, under which
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah no longer enjoys excusive commands of its
military wing.

Yesterday leading media reported that on Saturday Transportation
Minister issued a harsh attack on his main rival for the Kadima
leadership, Tzipi Livni, accusing her of misusing funds for
Holocaust survivors.

Yesterday Ha'aretz quoted Israeli security officials as saying that
the PA's security forces have recently shown marked improvement in
their campaigns against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. A particularly
dramatic change has taken place over the past month in an area in
which the PA had not been previously active -- dealing with the
Islamic charity and civilian associations considered to constitute
Hamas's civilian infrastructure.

The Jerusalem Post's web site reported that Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas pledged on Friday to try to reach a final
status peace agreement with Israel by the end of the year -- but he
admitted that the goal set by U.S. President George W. Bush might
not be achieved.

Ha'aretz reported that yesterday one of Hamas's spokesmen officially
denied reports that Hamas intends to stop Egyptian mediation between
the organization and Israel regarding Gilad Shalit. Yesterday Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe quoted the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi as saying
that Hamas's security forces in Gaza arrested a man known as Abu
Hafez, a high-ranking official with the extremist group, Army of the
Nation, which is loyal to Al-Qaida. Hamas's Interior Ministry,
however, issued no statement about the arrest.

Yesterday Ha'aretz quoted French officials as saying on Saturday
that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is convinced that Syrian
President Bashar Assad is serious about pursuing peace talks with
Israel in the coming months. Yesterday The Jerusalem Post quoted a
U.S. Government official as saying on Saturday that the U.S. is not
sending an envoy to take part in the next round of indirect
Israeli-Syrian talks in Turkey.

The media reported that yesterday the cabinet narrowly approved a
controversial bill yesterday that would curtail judicial review of
legislation while enabling the Knesset to reinstate laws that the
High Court of Justice deemed unconstitutional. However, Ha'aretz
reported that its future remains uncertain due to the current
political situation. Media reported that yesterday, at a cabinet
discussion of the bill, Olmert lashed out at his defense minister,
Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak, calling him a saboteur, a leaker,
brazen and a serial breaker of agreements. Ha'aretz said that his
outburst -- the culmination of weeks of accumulated grievances
against Barak -- raises serious questions about how the two men can
continue to work together to address crucial security concerns.

Media reported that a bill requiring a national referendum, general
elections, or a two-thirds majority vote by Knesset members for
approval of the concession of any Israeli land is ready for the next
two rounds of Knesset voting, which will decide whether it turns
into law. The Jerusalem Post quoted Olmert as saying that there is
a need to begin discussions about evacuating some of the settlers
from isolated areas of the West Bank. Yesterday The Jerusalem Post
reported that on Saturday the Prime Minister's Office denied that
the cabinet debate was based on diplomatic considerations. Maariv
quoted Finance Ministry officials as saying that the plan will cost
the Israeli economy 15 billion shekels (about $4.183 billion).

The Jerusalem Post quoted Tal Inbar, a senior researcher at the
Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, as saying that
a satellite launched by Iran yesterday has no military applications
and cannot collect intelligence on IDF installations. The newspaper
also quoted London's Sunday Times as saying that Russia may use
nuclear aid to Iran as a method of responding to increased tension
between Moscow and Washington over the conflict in Georgia.
Yesterday leading media reported that Vice President Dick Cheney
told President Shimon Peres on Saturday in Como, Italy, that Russia
is selling arms to Syria and Iran with the clear knowledge that they
are being channeled to Hizbullah and terror groups in Iraq. The
Jerusalem Post's web site quoted Peres as saying on Friday in Como:
"I do not support military action against Iran, but the world must
become a united front and impose harsh economic sanctions on Iran."


The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel and the U.S. will hold their
first joint High Technology Forum this week in Arlington, Va.

Ha'aretz reported that Amos Oz's autobiographical novel, "A Tale of
Love and Darkness," has been translated into Arabic thanks to a
contribution by the family of an Arab man killed in a terror attack
in 2004. Two of his other books have been translated into Arabic,
one of which, "My Michael," received favorable reviews in Egypt.

The Jerusalem Post wrote that the Israeli hi-tech stocks are feeling
the pinch of the slow U.S. market.

Ha'aretz reported that Catherine Griffin, who serves on the U.S.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, visited Israel last week.

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

Summary:
--------
Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "[The Americans] want to promote [some
kind of agreement with the Palestinians] with the Israeli
government, but where is the Israeli government? There is no
Israeli government."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The most impressive
charge in the police's recommendation is bribery.... Olmert can be
accused of miserly conduct and ingratitude, but bribery?"

Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom: "When the police get [to the more severe
clauses] -- if necessary -- the plea bargain agreement that will be
signed with Olmert will not be able to circumvent a prison
sentence."

Giora Eiland, the former head of Israel's National Security Council,
wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "If an
American president comes to power who is interested in promoting
peace between Israel and Syria, if we have already agreed to make
concessions to the Syrians on various issues, we will not be able to
make these concessions conditional on American compensation."


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

I. "The Country Comes Last"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (9/8): "This coming Wednesday, U.S.
[envoy] General Jones is supposed to come to Israel, in an attempt
to organize [a basic understanding] in advance of the end of George
Bush's term, with regard to the negotiations between Israel and the
Palestinians. The Americans very much want to make a dramatic
statement at the UN General Assembly session towards the end of
September, they are talking about a presidential address, a joint
document, a declaration of one kind or another, various formats and
ideas. They want to promote this with the Israeli government, but
where is the Israeli government? There is no Israeli government.
There is only Armageddon, investigations, leaks, reports, clashes,
passions, envy, hatred and conflicting interests of candidates for
the primary and just plain candidates. There is no law and no
judge. A retired Supreme Court justice recommends on television
that cabinet ministers receive psychological therapy, and a prime
minister all but strangles his defense minister before his astounded
ministers, and his defense minister, the same evening, at a
gathering of the Labor Party (there is such a thing) in Haifa,
reminds us: 'Don't forget, we're all brothers.' As if we had
forgotten."

II. "CYA"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/8): "The problem with
the police's recommendation is the very existence of the procedure
that is nicknamed the 'police recommendation.' In the past, the
police recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon be
prosecuted. The publication of the recommendations placed unfair
pressure on the attorneys general: When they decided against the
police's recommendation, they were accused of being lenient towards
high-placed figures suspected of criminal acts. The police looked
good publicly as fearless fighters against corruption. The attorney
general looked bad, cowardly, and weak.... In practice, the police's
recommendation is a kind of CYA. It gets them a lot of public
relations -- with zero responsibility. When the state attorney, the
attorney general and their assistants discuss whether to indict,
they examine all the investigation material. The only paper that
they can afford to skip is the paper known as the 'police
recommendation.' The most impressive charge in the police's
recommendation is bribery.... Olmert can be accused of miserly
conduct and ingratitude, but bribery?"

III. "Habitual Offender"

Veteran journalist and anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page one of the
independent Israel Hayom (9/8): "About two years ago, I began to
fear that Ehud Olmert was not just an ostentatious hedonist, but an
offender -- then a habitual offender. Bribe-taking. Receiving
funds fraudulently. Breach of trust. A suspicion that increased
with every additional investigation, until becoming certainty, that
Olmert's place was on the defendant's bench. The investigations
have not yet ended. There will be an indictment in the Investments
Center affair. Bank Leumi, the house on [Jerusalem's] Cremieux
Street, and the political appointments are awaiting a decision. The
great secret of his alleged offenses lies in the loans he took and
failed to return. When the police get there -- if necessary -- the
plea bargain agreement that will be signed with Olmert will not be
able to circumvent a prison sentence."

IV. "What Are We Actually Talking About?"

Giora Eiland, the former head of Israel's National Security Council,
wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/8):
"Every few weeks, the possibility of reaching a peace agreement with
Syria returns to the headlines. Beyond the legitimate question of
whether such a peace agreement is good or bad, it is difficult not
to be troubled by the way we are conducting matters. The three
troubling issues are: The order of actions on our side, the lack of
real clarification on the security issue and the fact that we are
ignoring the United States.... It is no secret that the current
administration is not enthusiastic about conducting Israeli-Syrian
negotiations. In the past, when the U.S. administration was
enthusiastic (Clinton), Israel could demand compensation from the
Americans for the 'painful concessions.' Today, this dimension is
missing, but in two months there will be elections in the U.S. If
an American president comes to power who is interested in promoting
peace between Israel and Syria, if we have already agreed to make
concessions to the Syrians on various issues, we will not be able to
make these concessions conditional on American compensation. The
timing of accelerated talks now, if so, is very peculiar. The way
the negotiations with Syria are being carried out is reminiscent of
the beginning of the Oslo process, as well as the negotiations with
the Americans on the issue of disengagement. There is a secret team
that conducts negotiations, and only after it has reached a detailed
agreement with the other side, is the document brought to the
government for a decision. At this stage, it is no longer possible
to hold a principled discussion, or to back down, because 'we have
already promised.' This is a dangerous and undemocratic approach.
One can only wonder why the ministers do not demand to discuss the
questions of principle, which have been presented here only in part,
before representatives are sent to negotiate. Even if they do not
reach an agreement, things that official Israeli representatives say
become binding commitments for the future."

CUNNINGHAM

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