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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4406
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1012
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4759
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5196
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4408
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2769
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5169
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2030
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0252
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002132

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:
-------------------------

This morning Maariv and the electronic media reported that FM Tzipi
Livni defeated Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz by 431 votes in
the Kadima primaries (43.1% - 16963 votes to 42% - 16555 votes).
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit got 8.5% of the votes; and 6.5% went
to Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter. Last night exit polls by
TV stations had forecast that Livni would win by 10-12%.
Commentators called this discrepancy the "Yom Kippur of the polls"
(after the Yom Kippur War). The media reported that Livni would
have to choose between forming a coalition -- she has up to 42 days
to do so -- and calling for new elections. Shas and Labor Party
officials cast doubt on her ability to form a government. IDF Radio
reported that Labor prefers to remain in the coalition, in an
attempt to avoid general elections.

Israel Radio quoted Livni as saying after the publication of the
results that she will begin her meetings with Knesset faction
members to establish a coalition as soon as possible, and that she
would take action to unite Kadima. Livni was quoted as saying that
her rivals were rivals of the moment, and that now they would set
out on the road together. She stressed that the national mission
she faces is to promote government stability and eliminate
uncertainty. She thanked her supporters and said that the hope that
they had placed in her will enable her to treat the post of Kadima
chairman and prime minister of Israel as sacred. Livni said that
Kadima proved today that there is another type of politics.

Ha'aretz reported that PM Ehud Olmert will inform the cabinet of his
resignation on Sunday.

Yediot reported that yesterday the new ambassadors of Egypt and the
U.S. presented their credentials to President Shimon Peres.

Leading media reported that the PM's point man on prisoner
exchanges, Ofer Dekel, left yesterday for Egypt, and that he
expected to present the Egyptian government with new, more flexible
ideas on negotiations with Hamas. Yediot reported that yesterday,
despite objections by Gilad Shalit's family, the GOI transferred 50
million shekels (around $24 million) to the PA in Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a fifth round of indirect
Israeli-Syrian talks in Turkey that were expected to take place
tomorrow and Friday have been postponed, but neither Israeli nor
Turkish sources confirmed remarks made yesterday by Syrian FM Walid
Muallem that Israel asked for the delay.

Major media reported that in two days of trading, Israel's five
biggest banks lost 7 billion shekels (around $1.972 billion) in
value. Since the start of the year the banks have lost 24 billion
shekels (around $6.76 billion) from their combined market
capitalization on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange -- 40% of their value.
Ha'aretz reported that yesterday, in a meeting with Bank of Israel
Governor Stanley Fischer and Banks Supervisor Rony Hizkiyahu, the
managing directors of the seven largest banks in Israel reported
that exposure of commercial banks to the collapse of U.S. investment
banking giant Lehman Brothers is limited. The banking system has
taken steps to protect itself from the effects of the financial
crisis in the U.S., they said. Ha'aretz reported that from the
start of 2008 the index of Israeli shares on NASDAQ has lost around
24%, dropping to its lowest level since its launch on November 17,
2006. The Jerusalem Post reported that the local property market is
expected to take a hit from the American meltdown.

The Jerusalem Post reported that in an interview with the Iranian
Press-TV, Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of Tony Blair, called Gaza
a "concentration camp" and a "humanitarian crisis on the scale of
Darfur."

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that yesterday for the first time a
group of Neturei Karta ultra-Orthodox took part in an anti-security
fence demonstration in Na'alin.

Citing a Reuters report, Ha'aretz quoted CIA Director Gen. Michael
Hayden as saying on Tuesday that the destruction of a suspected
Syrian nuclear reactor in September 2007 was the result of an
intelligence collaboration that included a "foreign partner" who
first identified the facility's purpose.

All media reported on yesterday's attack against the U.S. Embassy in
Sanaa, which was purportedly carried out by Al-Qaida.
Maariv reported that an Israeli businessman residing in New York, a
former IDF officer, sold a computer defense program used by the
Israel Police to an Arab state.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the 26th Conference of Mayors is
underway in the city this week with more that 40 mayors and
governors from around the globe. The newspaper said that previous
conferences were the "quintessential mix of tourism and socializing,
with a little international municipal comparison and discussion
mixed in." Starting this year, the U.S. mayors in attendance were
provided with business-development meetings so that they could bring
something tangible back to their communities.

The Jerusalem Post reported that all visa requirements for Israeli
and Russian nationals traveling between their countries will be
canceled as of Saturday.

Maariv "new journalism" columnist Ron Maiberg wrote that although he
used to hold a Green Card and he loves Americans, they unnerve him
and he would never take an American passport.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Whoever succeeds Olmert will ... have to
choose among less than stellar options.... There is no reason to be
jealous of the winner."

Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote on page one of the independent
Israel Hayom: "Livni needs to be careful not to squander the credit
she has built up and the momentum she has gained from her victory by
engaging in cynical and enervating coalition negotiations."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The real battle begins now. Livni still
hasn't put together a political team that can help her meet the
challenges that lie ahead."

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "The fate of the
Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process will be determined more by
whom the Palestinians select as their leader ... than on whom the
40,000 or so Kadima voters ... decided should succeed Olmert."

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

I. "Don't Envy the Winner"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/18): "On what will Olmert's heir be able to
focus?.... Serious negotiations with the Palestinian Authority will
endanger the coalition because of Shas, and in any case, the public
doesn't believe that such a deal is possible.... Getting the talks
[with Syria] to the next level ahead of a deal requires American
intervention; the outgoing administration isn't interested, and the
incoming one will need some time to formulate a policy. Preparing
the country to face the Iranian threat will ... take away
Netanyahu's best card in the general election. But the risk here is
great. The public will start expecting a preemptive war against
Iran to keep it from developing nuclear weapons. This would require
American support, which does not currently exist, but failing to
follow through would turn the prime minister into a pathetic figure.
If the new prime minister initiates a conflict with the settlers,
as Ariel Sharon did, that would strengthen Kadima in the eyes of
centrist voters but would create a deep internal rift, and it's
doubtful that Olmert's successor will have the public standing or
political ability to make such a move. Going to elections hastily,
before the leadership of Olmert's heir gets imprinted onto the
public consciousness, would be political suicide.... Whoever
succeeds Olmert will therefore have to choose among less than
stellar options, putting the new leader to a complex test at a time
when the public wants to find its way out of the doldrums of the
past two years, but does not believe in the political system. One
can only conclude that there is no reason to be jealous of the
winner."

II. "The Golda-Palin Effect"

Veteran journalist Hemmi Shalev wrote on page one of the independent
Israel Hayom (9/18): "The good news is that Livni's victory last
night will hasten the end of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's failed
term in office and will expedite purging politics of the ills that
he ushered in. At the very least, it will kindle hope of a calmer
public discourse and of cleaner governmental politics. There are
some people who question Livni's moral right to form an alternative
coalition government, but one cannot deny her legal right to try.
The potential partners all seem to be talking about their desire to
hold elections quickly, but experience has taught us that we can be
skeptical about those statements, some of which are made more as a
means of establishing a bargaining position than as an matter of
principle. With that having been said, after weeks of campaigning
that wasn't terribly pleasing aesthetically, Livni needs to be
careful not to squander the credit she has built up and the momentum
she has gained from her victory by engaging in cynical and
enervating coalition negotiations. A few weeks of wholesale give
and take with the sly Shas foxes will be enough to crack her Mother
Theresa image and send Livni, beaten, tarred, and feathered, in the
event of failure, into general elections."

III. "Yes to Livni"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/18): "Livni's victory ... did not stem
from an organizational feat or political alliances. It stemmed from
the yearning within the general public for a new, fresh, and mainly
clean leadership. Livni succeeded at being, at least for now, both
a princess and Cinderella. She is a princess because she was born
into a political household and entered the political establishment
under the wing of the [Likud] party elders, who were fonder of her
parents than they were of her. She is Cinderella because her rise
to the top was so swift. Her prince was Ariel Sharon. Politicians
and the other party leaders were right to say last night that
Livni's election was still a far cry from ensuring her the
premiership. She is going to have to engage in exhausting
negotiations that will oblige her to be more cunning and
manipulative than she has ever had to be before. That does not mean
that her chances of forming a new coalition government are
negligible.... The real battle begins now. Livni still hasn't put
together a political team that can help her meet the challenges that
lie ahead."

IV. "Palestinian Internal Politics Are Even More Important than
Kadima Primary"

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/18): "The fate of the
Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process will be determined more by
whom the Palestinians select as their leader in January -- if indeed
elections in the Palestinian Authority are held -- than on whom the
40,000 or so Kadima voters who troubled themselves to go to the
polls Wednesday decided should succeed Olmert. We Israelis like to
think we're in control, that we dictate the pace and outcome of
events. But we don't. There is another side, and what is happening
over there domestically is equally important, if not more important,
to the fate of the diplomatic process than what is happening over
here. The question of whether Hamas manages to wrangle control of
the PA from Fatah or whether Fatah succeeds in wresting back control
in Gaza is more important in the long run for the peace process than
whether Tzipi Livni or Shaul Mofaz becomes Kadima's leader and --
possibly -- the prime minister for a few months.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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