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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2175/01 2681041
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241041Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8542
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEADWD/DA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4429
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1035
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4784
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5219
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4431
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2792
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5192
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2055
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0277
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9031
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6512
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1436
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5533
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7495
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0361
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0500
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002175

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

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

All media quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying yesterday
that the Labor Party will make every effort to form a national unity
government with Kadima leader Tzipi Livn. Ha'aretz quoted Shas
sources as saying yesterday that Livni is likely to compromise on
Shas's demand for an increase in child allowances, thereby enabling
the ultra-Orthodox party to join her government. All media reported
that yesterday Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Livni's
call for an emergency unity government, and reiterated his call for
general elections. The Jerusalem Post reported that Foreign
Ministry Director General Aharon Abramovitch is likely to lead
Livni's inner circle.

Major media explicitly said that Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's speech before the UN General Assembly yesterday was
"anti-Semitic." The media quoted Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad as saying: "A few bullying powers have sought to put
hurdles in the path of Iran's peaceful development of nuclear
power." He was also quoted as saying that Israel was doomed like
"an airplane that has lost its engine" and reiterated his refusal to
accept the Holocaust as historical truth, asserting that the
Palestinians should not be made to "pay for" events that "may have
occurred during World War II." The Jerusalem Post quoted President
Shimon Peres as saying before Ahmadinejad's address that he "calls
the world to return to the age of darkness, hatred, threats,
impatience, and arrogance, [and] doesn't respect human life. He
thinks he's the supreme judge of the world." Peres also told
reporters that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were unlikely to
reach a peace deal in 2008. Peres will address the UN General
Assembly today.

The media cited the police's belief that the motivation of Qassem
el-Mughrabi, who plowed his car into a crowd of pedestrians at a
busy intersection in Jerusalem on Monday night, was nationalistic,
though they admit that so far, no evidence linking him to any
terrorist organization has been found. The media reported that
Mughrabi's family rejected the terror claim, saying that what
happened was "just a fatal accident." Leading media quoted Israeli
defense officials as saying that vehicle attacks in Jerusalem may be
impossible to stop. Leading media quoted PM Ehud Olmert as saying
that isolating Arab neighborhoods is the only way to prevent attacks
by Jerusalem Arabs.

Ha'aretz quoted sources close to Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz
as saying that he will decide on his political future by October 2.
Yediot quoted Mofaz supporters as saying that he will join the
government by that date.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Livni held talks with
chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei. Maariv and other media
reported that yesterday Qurei sent a message to Israel that if the
peace talks fail, the Palestinians will return to violence.

Israel Radio reported that five Palestinians were killed in the
explosion of a smuggling tunnel at the Egypt-Gaza border.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad -
National Democratic Assembly) plans to sail to Gaza today on a trip
organized by the left-wing Free Gaza group, marking the first
violation by an Israeli Knesset member of the ban on Israeli travel
to Gaza. The Jerusalem Post quoted the organizers of the voyage as
saying that 1976 Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, who
has been involved in the protests at Na'alin, and Palestinian
Legislative Council member Mustafa Barghouti will be among those on
board. The Jerusalem Post reported that the GOI is mulling over
whether to stop the boat. The Jerusalem Post quoted an EU official
as saying yesterday that border policemen had fired tear gas
canisters at him while he was touring the area around Na'alin.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland,
former head of the National Security Council, warned in a new report
that the current formulation of the two-state solution is
untenable.

Ha'aretz quoted former Shas leader Aryeh Deri as saying yesterday
that if he is legally barred from submitting his candidacy in the
Jerusalem mayoral race, he will drop out without seeking to overturn
the ruling.
The Jerusalem Post reported that PADICO, a leading private
Palestinian company, is planning to pump hundreds of millions of
dollars into the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Ha'aretz reported that few Israeli diplomats are interested in
representing their country in Cairo.

Leading media reported that Israel was ranked 33rd on a list of 180
nations in Transparency International's 2008 Corruption Perceptions
Index, published yesterday. On the index, the country with the
highest ranking (lowest number) is considered the least corrupt. In
2007, Israel was ranked 30th with a score of 6.1 out of 10, whereas
in 2006 Israel ranked 34th with a score of 5.9.

Ha'aretz quoted State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss as saying that
the government acted properly when it decided to limit the number of
Falash Mura (descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to
Christianity) entering Israel, and stop bringing members of the
community here. At the same time, Lindenstrauss proposed to the
government that, for humanitarian reasons, it should examine the
eligibility for immigration of some 3,200 additional Falash Mura who
have yet to be scrutinized. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that
Lindenstrauss found that the government had made contradictory
decisions about the Falash Mura.

Ha'aretz reported that last week the dollar weakened by 2.4% against
the shekel. The newspaper quoted Israel's economic leaders as
saying yesterday that Washington's plan for the American financial
sector has not ended the danger, and that Israelis should think
carefully before taking any drastic measures.

The media reported that yesterday "Waltz with Basher," an animated
documentary about the first Lebanon War, won the Ophir Award of the
Israeli Film Academy -- the highest prize in Israeli cinema. It
will represent Israel at the Academy Awards in the best foreign film
category.

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

Summary:
--------

Security and intelligence affairs commentator Amit Cohen wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv: "The greatest fear in the PA, based
on years of experience, is that the new [Israeli] government will
try to start the negotiations all over again."

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: Even a
caretaker government is authorized to make practical decisions that
affect the daily life of civilians in the territories and create an
atmosphere that will lead to a more positive direction.

Liberal columnist Prof. Aviad Kleinberg wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "At the head of Kadima
and of the Labor Party are two leaders in whom the public has not
expressed its confidence. That is not a healthy situation."

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

I. "Scared to Lose Their Achievements"

Security and intelligence affairs commentator Amit Cohen wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv (9/24): "The greatest fear in the PA,
based on years of experience, is that the new [Israeli] government
will try to start the negotiations all over again. Added to this
fear is the belief that the new government will try to veer right,
to appeal to the Israeli public, at the expense of the peace
process. That was the case, say top Palestinians, every time the
government in Israel changed. But this time, despite the
difficulties, despite the disagreements, the Palestinians are not
willing to give up on the progress that was made and to go back,
once again, to the starting point. The fact that Livni was involved
in the details of the negotiations does not particularly impress the
Palestinian side. In contrast perhaps to her image in Israeli
public opinion, Palestinian politicians who have met with her do not
consider her a political dove. More than anything, they note her
unwillingness to compromise on the issue of refugees.... Palestinian
officials opted to ignore the fact that Abu Ala [Ahmed Qurei]
explicitly said: 'Resistance in all its forms is legitimate,' and
claimed that there were many ways to overcome an impasse. Abu AlaQs
remark yesterday is not a dramatic novelty: it also appeared in Abu
Mazen's platform before elections for the presidency. The
Palestinians, officially, have never given up on resistance."

II. "Shooting from the Hip DoesnQt Help"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/24):
"Attacks that are attributed to individuals rather than
organizations and thus become more difficult to pinpoint in advance,
are a reminder of the explosive situation in which Jerusalem in
particular and Israel in general find themselves.... [It is an
illusion to think that] harsh and immediate punitive measures,
including the destruction of the terrorists' homes, would ... put an
end to [attacks]. This is an illusion.... Has razing the homes of
terrorists' families prevented terror attacks in the past? Has
collective punishment quelled the outbreak of the Intifada? Even
the security services eventually understood that harsh punishments
are no cure. At most, they can provide a sense of revenge. This
dangerous and fragile situation does not call for shoot-from-the-hip
statements or a political shrug of the shoulders. Even a caretaker
government is authorized to make practical decisions that affect the
daily life of civilians in the territories and create an atmosphere
that will lead to a more positive direction. This way, the
government can aid the Palestinian security services in their
ongoing efforts against terrorism and perhaps weaken, if not
dissolve, the population's support for those lone terrorists ready
to carry out attacks.

III. "Let the Nation Decide"

Liberal columnist Prof. Aviad Kleinberg wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/24): "I quite like
Tzipi Livni. The problem is, I canQt take my eyes off the crowd that
is with her and the sticks, which outnumber the grapes or carrots
many times over, in the hands of the friends of Mrs. Clean. Who
will really run the country, Tzipi Livni or the farm forum? Tzipi
Livni or the coalition parties, which havenQt done much good for
anyone, but are impressive in their power to do harm? Even if there
are good intentions, Livni will find it difficult to govern, partly
because she has not received a mandate from the people. She got
where she is thanks to an accident.... At the head of Kadima and
of the Labor Party are two leaders in whom the public has not
expressed its confidence. That is not a healthy situation. The
political stability in the name of which these leaders are trying to
put off the election is a dangerous illusion. Instead of a
government with the public behind it, we will have a cabal which
will always have an eye on the upcoming election, trying incessantly
to get in front of the cameras in order to win an advantage. It
would be better to drop this farce and turn to the voter. The scare
tactics about another Netanyahu government ('Any stench is better
than handing over power to Netanyahu') constitute not just
demonization of the opposition leader. They show contempt for
democracy."

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

Summary:
--------

Intelligence affairs correspondent Yossi Melman wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Should Israel accept that its
era of nuclear monopoly in the Middle East has ended, and assume a
new role as passive witness to a regional nuclear arms race?"

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

"The Era of Sanctions Has Ended"

Intelligence affairs correspondent Yossi Melman wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/24): "Russia is strengthening
the Iranian regime and signaling to it that the basic, though
superficial, international consensus against it has ceased to exist.
This new development could not have come at a worse time. Though
the former sanctions were weak, their impact has only now begun to
yield results and raise concern among Tehran's ayatollahs....
Because there is great doubt if the new U.S. presidential
administration, whether Republican or Democrat, will okay a military
strike against Iran, Israel -- which is itself in a deep political
crisis -- faces a huge dilemma. Should it launch a military strike,
limited as it may be, on Iran's nuclear facilities in order to set
its nuclear program back a few years and risk Iranian retribution;
or should Israel accept that its era of nuclear monopoly in the
Middle East has ended, and assume a new role as passive witness to a
regional nuclear arms race?"

CUNNINGHAM

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