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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 301342Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8933
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4548
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1151
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4927
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5350
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4567
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2940
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5330
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2186
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0411
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9146
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6635
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1562
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5648
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7623
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0476
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002419

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:
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Leading media quoted officials in Jerusalem as saying yesterday that
PM Ehud Olmert will meet President Bush in the U.S. before Bush
leaves the White House in January. HaQaretz also quoted a senior
Palestinian official as saying yesterday that the Quartet of Middle
East peacemakers will meet November 6 at Sharm el-Sheikh to assess
progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

All media quoted Yisrael Beiteinu leader, MK Avigdor Lieberman, as
saying yesterday before the Knesset plenum that Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak should Qgo to hell.Q President Shimon Peres and PM
Ehud Olmert apologized to Mubarak. In another development, Mubarak
was quoted as saying in an interview with Yediot that Israel will
receive a letter from Gilad Shalit. He said that the Palestinians
will not harm Shalit.

The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior Shas source as saying yesterday
that it would be a mistake for Shas to forge close ties with
Benjamin NetanyahuQs Likud. The newspaper commented that the remark
doused rumors of a Shas-Likud alliance heading into the election
season. The Jerusalem Post further quoted the source as saying that
Shas should stay away from a man who generates a lot of antagonism.
The media quoted Netanyahu as saying that he will not give the
education portfolio to Shas but keep it for the Likud. Maariv
reported that Netanyahu intends to hire an adviser to Barack Obama
or John McCain for his campaign. Maariv and other media reported
that, in an effort to woo the Russian immigrant vote, Kadima
chairwoman Tzipi Livni is distancing herself from the ultra-Orthodox
and trying to promote alternative marriages. Israel Radio reported
that today Livni offered Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz the No.
2 slot on KadimaQs list and the management of the partyQs elections
campaign. The radio quoted Labor Chairman Ehud Barak assaying that
his party will hold primaries.

HaQaretz reported that the McCain campaign has started airing a clip
purportedly accusing Barack Obama of not taking the Iranian threat
seriously. Leading media reported that the McCain campaign is using
ObamaQs link to Palestinian advocate and former University of
Chicago professor Rashid Khalidi to hammer away at Obama, and that
it demanded yesterday that The Los Angeles Times release a video in
its possession showing Obama giving a toast at a goodbye party for
his Chicago colleague. HaQaretz cited a Reuters report that
yesterday in Florida, Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen.
Joe Biden sought to reassure Jewish voters of his and Barack ObamaQs
commitment to Israel.

Israel Radio reported that DM Ehud Barak closed all crossings to
Gaza following Qassam rocket fire on the western Negev.

Leading media reported that the U.S. announced yesterday that it
closed its embassy in Damascus for security reasons.


The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday the High Court of Justice
made it clear to the 20 Jewish families occupying a disputed
building on QWorshipersQ WayQ in Hebron that they would not be
allowed to continue living there, and urged them to withdraw a
petition filed on their behalf and leave the building voluntarily.
If not, it seems certain that the police will forcibly evict them
from what they call Beit Shalom.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Islamic Movement in Israel
vowed to fight a ruling handed down by the High Court of Justice
yesterday that the Simon Wiesenthal Center-affiliated Museum of
Tolerance could be built on its planned site in central Jerusalem
even though it was part of the old, deconsecrated Mamila Muslim
cemetery.

All media reported on an academic strike that threatens to paralyze
IsraelQs universities, with HaQaretz demanding extensive reforms and
streamlining in academia. Hundreds of students and lecturers
demonstrated in front of the Knesset yesterday.

HaQaretz and Israel Radio cited the belief of Dr. Eilat Mazar, an
archeologist excavating the City of David, the most ancient part of
Jerusalem, that the "gutter," or water system mentioned in the Bible
as the way King David's men conquered Jerusalem, may have been
found.

Leading media reported that the government decided on Wednesday
during a meeting headed by DM Barak and attended by the country's
top military and legal brass that Israel will reduce government
services to illegal outposts in the West Bank in a bid to combat
settler violence. Major media reported that yesterday the High
Court of Justice agreed to allow far- Right activists Itamar
Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel to lead a mid-November march through the
Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm. While the Association for Civil
Rights welcomed the decision, the Israeli Arab leadership was
appalled. Leading media reported that yesterday a synagogue in the
mixed city of Lod was set on fire.

Leading media reported that the second Free Gaza protest boat docked
off the coastal strip amid stormy weather early yesterday morning,
despite earlier Israeli declarations that it would not let the SS
Dignity enter the Hamas-controlled territory. HaQaretz quoted a
Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that the GOI changed its mind
at the last minute. Israeli left-wing activist Gideon Spiro was
among the boatQs 27 passengers from 13 countries.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Turkish officials as saying that Turkish
DM Vecdi Gonul is in Israel for a two-day visit, the focus of which
is to examine a batch of unmanned aerial vehicles that Turkey is
slated to acquire.

HaQaretz reported that Vatican officials are furious over Minister
Isaac Herzog's statement in HaQaretz last Thursday that the planned
beatification of Pope Pius XII, who headed the Catholic Church
during the Holocaust, is "unacceptable."

The Jerusalem Post ran a feature story on Chicago Rabbi Caper Funnye
Jr., ObamaQs cousin-in-law.

Israel Radio reported that the Israeli businessman who was abducted
in Ghana managed to escape.

In its lead story, HaQaretz cited the results of a Dialogue poll
according to which, if elections were held today, the right-wing
camp would garner 61 Knesset seats while 58 would go to the
center-left. The numbers are close, but the political difference
between the blocs is much greater, and favors the right. Asked who
is best equipped to deal with IsraelQs security problems, the
respondents replied: Benjamin Netanyahu: 33%; Ehud Barak: 26%; and
Tzipi Livni: 14%.

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Mideast:
--------

Summary:
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Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: QThe next Israeli government will not be the government of
peace with Palestine.

Contributor Jonathan S. Tobin, executive editor of the Jewish
Exponent in Philadelphia, wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: QThe idea that Bush could have prevented [the Second
Intifada] or lessened its impact is ridiculous, since it started on
Clinton's watch, not his.

Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: QKeeping [foreign sympathizers] out of
Gaza has nothing to do with security and everything to do with
punishment -- punishment of Gazan society as a whole. Not just the
terrorists, not just Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but every man, woman
and child.

Far-left columnist Meron Benvenisti wrote in Ha'aretz: QEfforts are
being made [in the Peres Center for Peace] to train the Palestinian
population to accept its inferiority.

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

I. "In the Name of Peace"

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(10/30): QThe next Israeli government will not be the government of
peace with Palestine. In order to achieve an Israel-Palestine peace
we will have to divide Jerusalem, and the next government will not
divide Jerusalem. In order to achieve an Israel-Palestine peace we
will have to let refugees enter Israel, and the next government will
not be able to let refugees enter Israel.... The government to be
established in February or March 2009 will be far better than its
predecessors. It will not lead to peace with Palestine, but perhaps
it will lead to peace with Syria. The chances are good that it will
seriously confront the challenge of security, the challenge of
education and the challenge of law and governance. However, in
order for the government to be a worthy one it must be elected in a
worthy manner. If Tzipi Livni believes that she is the honest
person who is worthy of becoming the prime minister in the next 100
days, she must prove it.

II. "Was He Wrong about Everything?"

Contributor Jonathan S. Tobin, executive editor of the Jewish
Exponent in Philadelphia, wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (10/30): QThe idea that Bush could have prevented
[the Second Intifada] or lessened its impact is ridiculous, since it
started on Clinton's watch, not his. More to the point, it was
Bush, acting against the advice of Secretary of State Colin Powell,
whose actions directly contributed to squelching the Intifada....
Though Democrats now claim the 2007 Annapolis conference, which Rice
and Bush hosted, was too little, too late, it was just as foolish as
Clinton's Camp David debacle. All it accomplished was to ratchet up
the pressure on Israel again, while doing nothing to force the
Palestinians to face reality and make peace. As Israel prepares to
elect new leadership and faces apocalyptic threats from Iran, with
no assurance that the international community will act responsibly,
the next president must avoid falling into the trap of believing
that every Bush precedent is to be overturned. It isn't really
important whether Bush gets credit for doing the right thing about
Arafat and backing Sharon's tough policies, which defeated
Palestinian terror. What is important is to learn the lessons not
only from Bush's mistakes, but also from those of his predecessor.
If the next administration is staffed by people who embrace the
Clinton Administration's delusions about Palestinian intentions,
then we can expect the same results that we got the last time: more
bloodshed.


III. "Doctors ArenQt Terrorists"

Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (10/30): QIf Israel has nothing against
Gaza's civilians, why does it want to blockade Gaza by land and sea
to keep these foreigners from going about their business? Because
they're going to protest, because they're going to make us look bad?
I thought we were the only democracy in the Middle East. I thought
we believed in freedom of speech. Seems I was misinformed. It's
stunts like these that give credence to the claim that Israel has
turned Gaza into the world's biggest prison.... We say it's for
security, to keep terrorists and weaponry from reaching the Strip.
But medicine? Doctors from Harvard Medical School? Mairead
Corrigan McGuire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize? Keeping them out
of Gaza has nothing to do with security and everything to do with
punishment -- punishment of Gazan society as a whole. Not just the
terrorists, not just Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but every man, woman
and child.

IV. "A Monument to a Lost Time and Lost Hopes"

Far-left columnist Meron Benvenisti wrote in Ha'aretz (10/30): QOnly
in hindsight are we able to see the fatal damage done by the Oslo
Accords, which inspired Peres to establish the center: The accords,
instead of bringing about a change in the status quo, have become
the pillar of a de facto binational regime (called the
QoccupationQ), which has become institutionalized as a permanent
regime.... In the activity of the Peres Center for Peace there is no
evident effort being made to change the political and socioeconomic
status quo in the occupied territories, but just the opposite:
Efforts are being made to train the Palestinian population to accept
its inferiority and prepare it to survive under the arbitrary
constraints imposed by Israel, to guarantee the ethnic superiority
of the Jews.... The Peres Center for Peace does not publish reports
about the catastrophic economic situation of the Palestinians and
does not warn about Israel's responsibility for this situation.

CUNNINGHAM

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