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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5208
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4420
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2781
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5181
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2042
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0264
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002153

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

1. Mideast

2. Iran

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

All media reported that yesterday PM Ehud Olmert tendered his
resignation to President Shimon Peres. Ha'aretz reported that in
private conversations yesterday, FM Tzipi Livni said that if Labor
Party leader Ehud Barak agrees to join a government under her
leadership, he will be made a "full partner." Maariv reported that
Barak demanded that Livni commit herself to a two-year partnership
-- until the 2010 elections. Other media reported on the good
atmosphere during the meeting between them. Peres is expected to
formally entrust Livni tonight with forming a government, after he
consults with the heads of the Knesset's 13 factions. However, only
38 Knesset members (29 from Kadima, 5 from Meretz, and 4 from Gil -
the Pensioners' Party) have so far recommended to Peres that Livni
form a government. The media cited Likud's efforts to bring about
earlier general elections.

Major media reported that Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, the head of IDF
Intelligence's research department, told the cabinet on Sunday that
"Iran is developing a command of uranium-enrichment technology and
is galloping toward a nuclear bomb." He was quoted as saying that
there is an increasing gap between Iran's progress in developing the
bomb and the global pressure to halt that progress, and added that
Israel's assessment that the Islamic Republic is focusing on
improving uranium enrichment is consistent with the latest IAEA
report on the matter. Baidatz was also quoted as saying that Hamas
was not rushing into a deal for the release of captive soldier Gilad
Shalit: "There is obstinacy in Hamas regarding the Shalit matter,
and they see him as an asset whose value just rises."

Ha'aretz and other media reported that Kadima Party members who
supported Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz's failed bid for the
party leadership have legal challenges to last week's primary.
However, Israel Hayom said that yesterday Judge Dan Arbel, the
Chairman of Kadima's Elections Committee, accused Mofaz of
presenting false claims of irregularities at the ballot box. Arbel
added that Mofaz's people were responsible for most irregularities.
Media reported that Mofaz could again join political life. The
Jerusalem Post cited a lack of interest by Likud members in Mofaz's
return.

Leading media quoted former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon as
saying yesterday that Israel will not be able to avoid a military
confrontation with Iran. He called on the international community
to stand up to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as it did
against Nazi Germany. Speaking at a military parade yesterday,
Ahmadinejad said that the sanctions have not worked. "Iran is not
in a position to show even the smallest flexibility against the
bullying of the enemies. Those who wish ill for Iran will gain
nothing but regret," he was quoted as saying. "The enemies of
humanity ... had imagined that by military attack, and economic and
scientific sanctions, they could break down our revolution and our
nation." Maariv cited the fear of the defense establishment that
Hizbullah could avenge the death of its top operative Imad Mughniyah
during the interim government in Israel.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as
saying in an interview with The Wall Street Journal: "Israel's
continued settlement expansion and land confiscation in the West
Bank makes physical separation of our two peoples increasingly
impossible." Yesterday Ha'aretz reported that in the interview
Abbas reiterated his support for a two-state solution. The
Jerusalem Post cited other expressions of support for a binational
state by Palestinian leaders.

Leading media reported that Palestinian sources accused Border
Police officers of causing the death of a 60-year-old Palestinian
woman by shoving her during a raid in the West Bank town of Abu Dis
yesterday -- a charge the IDF vehemently denied.

Electronic media reported that yesterday the Jerusalem District
Court sentenced Majdi Rahima Rimawi to life and an extra 80 years in
jail. Rimawi was convicted of dispatching the murderers of tourism
minister Rehavam Zeevi in February 202.

Yesterday leading media reported that on Friday Mahmoud Zahar, a
Hamas leader in Gaza, accused Israel of reneging on offers made in
the negotiations for the return of Gilad Shalit. Major media
reported that yesterday hundreds of Israelis and British Jews
rallied in London to show solidarity with Shalit. Gilad's parents

attended the event. Leading media reported that last week Hollywood
celebrities attended an event at Paramount Studios, entitled From
Vision to Reality, that celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel.


Maariv reported that Iraqi MP Mithal Al-Aloussi eventually received
an enthusiastic welcome in Baghdad following his return from
Israel.

Yediot reported that the Waqf in Jerusalem forced a Muslim
government minister from the Ivory Coast, who wanted to pray on the
Temple Mount, to recite the Koran to prove that he is a Muslim.

Maariv reported that Maj. Gen. (res.) Oren Shahor, former
coordinator of government activities in the territories, is joining
the race for the post of Tel Aviv mayor.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Arnold Eisen, the chancellor of the
(Conservative) Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan, told the
newspaper that Zionism needs to do more to integrate Israeli Arabs
into the Jewish state.

Maariv reported on the complaint of an Egyptian father whose son,
who is ill with cystic fibrosis, cannot receive a drug because it is
made in Israel. The father wrote a letter about his predicament to
the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram.

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that on Sunday shares on
the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange posted their biggest gains in more that
four years in joining the rally on world markets following the
announcement of plans by the U.S.G. to bolster banks and restore
stability to the financial system.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The question now is no longer
whether Livni is capable of making ... decisions [on regional
affairs] -- she has no choice. The real question is whether she
will adopt a policy that Olmert has already decided for her, or if
she will suddenly prove herself to be a real leader, the kind not
afraid of innovations."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "[Olmert] wraps up his tenure with Israel no
closer to peace, on any front, than it was prior to his taking
office. His greatest failure, though, is what now seems like a
chain of alleged crimes."

Political and parties columnist Sima Kadmon wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Barak currently is the
dominant figure preventing the establishment of a Livni-led
coalition."

Political commentator Shalom Yerushalmi wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Everything now hinges on Barak's whims, and it is
highly doubtful that even he knows what he truly wants.... even if
[Livni] finally does form a coalition government, the general
feeling is that it will be built on splinter interests and not on an
enthusiastic partnership or, heaven forbid, envisioned goals."

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

I. "Will She Be a Real Leader?"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/21): "Olmert is leaving Livni
a very crowded desk that does not allow her to set priorities.
Everything is urgent.... If Mubarak succeeds in reconciling Hamas
and Fatah, and a national unity government is formed in the PA,
Israel will have to decide whether to cooperate with such a
government even if it includes Hamas.... Israel needs to present the
new U.S. president with a road map of its own for negotiations with
Syria, and not wait for months until his advisers are appointed and
a policy formulated on Israel.... Those who read the International
Atomic Energy Agency chairman's reports on his efforts in Iran can
and should assume that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons.... The
question now is no longer whether Livni is capable of making such
decisions -- she has no choice. The real question is whether she
will adopt a policy that Olmert has already decided for her, or if
she will suddenly prove herself to be a real leader, the kind not
afraid of innovations."

II. "Olmert's Term"
Ha'aretz editorialized (9/22): "The biggest disappointment [of
Olmert's term] lies in the diplomatic and security realm.... The
Prime Minister clung to his chair and refused to acknowledge his
responsibility for the failures, even after the resignations of
Peretz and IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz. On the Palestinian front,
the government's talks with Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) were hesitant
and futile. Despite Olmert's proclamations of progress toward a
'shelf agreement,' it soon became clear that this, too, was a case
of empty words, nothing more. In the Gaza Strip, on the other hand,
Olmert was forced to accept a truce with Hamas on controversial
terms. Even on the Syrian track, where there are some signs of
progress, Olmert struggled to advance the talks to the negotiation
stage.... He wraps up his tenure with Israel no closer to peace, on
any front, than it was prior to his taking office. His greatest
failure, though, is what now seems like a chain of alleged crimes,
and it is these that brought his term to an early end."

III. "Look Who's Talking"

Political and parties columnist Sima Kadmon wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/22): "Known
Barakologists, who have spent a good number of hours with the enigma
known as Ehud Barak, are convinced that he is looking for a way not
to sit in the same government with Livni. He simply holds her in
low esteem, they explain. It is hard for him to reconcile himself
to the fact that a woman who in his opinion is no smarter than he,
no more of an intellectual than he, who hasn't done more than he has
in her life -- should be his superior. If that is the case and a
lack of esteem for the new Kadima chairperson is what is motivating
him, why didn't Barak opt immediately to act for early elections?
What was the purpose of all those statements about governmental
stability? Others suggest that Barak, like always, doesn't know
what he wants, and that he simply is buying time. Either way, Barak
currently is the dominant figure preventing the establishment of a
Livni-led coalition.... The Labor Party had better hope that Barak
doesn't push himself once again into a position he should have
eschewed: Instead of letting Shas do the dirty work for him and
letting them be the ones to sabotage a Livni-led coalition
government, it will be the Labor Party that is going to drag Israel
to general elections. And instead of being a central partner in a
left wing government, the Labor Party is going to work to find a way
to be a partner in a right wing government headed by Netanyahu."

IV. "Livni's Accidents"
Political commentator Shalom Yerushalmi wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (9/22): "Barak isn't a magician, and that's why he
has invented all sorts of hopeless alternatives, ranging from an
emergency government with Netanyahu to a change in legislation that
would permit the Labor Party to recommend him as prime minister. All
of those are delusions. Last night at their meeting, Barak
apparently asked Livni to commit to a long-term partnership and
governmental stability. He doesn't really want general elections,
as noted. Everything now hinges on Barak's whims, and it is highly
doubtful that even he knows what he truly wants. In general, Livni
is beginning to feel the heat of political game-playing. Even if
she emerges in one piece from all of these road accidents, the road
ahead remains hazardous. Only Kadima, Meretz, and a splinter of the
Pensioners Party have recommended to President Shimon Peres that
Livni should form the next coalition government. Shas and the Labor
Party recommended Olmert in 2006, because his victory was clearer.
This time they've taken different directions. And even if she
finally does form a coalition government, the general feeling is
that it will be built on splinter interests and not on an
enthusiastic partnership or, heaven forbid, envisioned goals."

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

Summary:
--------

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote on page one of the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (9/22): "While the Iranian nuclear threat
may have created an exceptional spirit of political consensus in
Israel, that certainly hasn't been the case in the U.S."

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

"How Partisan Politics Is Dirtying the U.S. Consensus on Tehran"


Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote on page one of the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (9/22): "While the Iranian nuclear threat
may have created an exceptional spirit of political consensus in
Israel, that certainly hasn't been the case in the U.S. The debate
over American policy toward Teheran has become just another
polarizing issue in the U.S. presidential campaign. Or perhaps it's
more accurate to say that whatever real basis exists for consensus
between Republicans and Democrats on the subject has for now been
sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, as both sides
largely use it as another piece of ammunition in the dirty campaign
war.... It is instructive, though, to compare this matter with how
Washington is dealing with the current Wall Street meltdown. In
addressing the collapse of the financial markets, we see how
Democrats and Republicans can still work together in a constructive
fashion when they perceive a genuine pressing crisis is at hand.
That this isn't the case with the Iran issue is a sign that the
majority of Americans, and their political representatives, still
don't perceive Tehran's nuclear ambitions as being anywhere near as
much as a threat to the well-being of the U.S. as is the economic
crisis."

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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