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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2446/01 3081141
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031141Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8982
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4560
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1163
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4939
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5362
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4579
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2953
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5342
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2198
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0423
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9158
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6647
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1574
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5660
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7635
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0488
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0706
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002446

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

--------------------------------
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Iran

3. U.S. Elections

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

Leading media reported that Shin Bet security service chief Yuval
Diskin warned at yesterday's cabinet meeting that a government
decision to evacuate more territory may lead to a large-scale
violent conflict with settlers, complete with live fire. Diskin
hinted that another political assassination could take place. The
meeting ended with the ministers voting to end all government
support, both direct and indirect, for illegal outposts.

Yesterday major media quoted the Lebanese Army as saying that
LebanonQs military intelligence has captured two members of a spy
network suspected of working for the Mossad since the 1980s. The
military also said that the men were involved in intelligence
gathering ahead of the assassination of HizbullahQs
second-in-command, Imad Mughniyah

All mainstream media led with the U.S. elections. Maariv quoted
official Israeli sources as saying privately that they are concerned
about Barack Obama conducting too conciliatory a policy towards
Iran. The ultra-Orthodox Yated NeQeman reported that young Jews are
rushing to old-age homes to convince their grandparents to vote for
Obama. Mideast advisor Dennis Ross was quoted as saying in an
interview with The Jerusalem Post that the reason why he is working
to get Obama elected is that the U.S. needs a comprehensive
strategy, not just a military approach.

All media reported that former cabinet minister and Likud Knesset
member Benny Begin is set to announce his return to politics and to
Likud, and his intention to run in the party primary for the next
Knesset list. Former IDF Spokeswoman Brigadier-General (Res.) Miri
Regev already announced yesterday that she is joining Likud. Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe reported that former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen.
(res.) Moshe YaQalon will soon join Likud. Major media reported
that Knesset Member Effi Eitam announced yesterday that he is
ditching the merging National Union-National Religious Party for
Likud. The media also reported that Meretz MK Ran Cohen, who has
served in parliament for 24 years and is a former Industry and Trade
Minister, is leaving the Knesset The Jerusalem Post reported that
ultra-Orthodox left-wing activist Zvia Greenfeld will be a new MK
for Meretz. The Jerusalem Post reported that Kadima seeks to enlist
Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski to its Knesset List in the
upcoming elections.

HaQaretz reported that defense lawyers told a federal appeals court
last week that the defense of former pro-Israel lobbyists Steven
Rosen and Keith Weissman, who are accused of illegally obtaining and
disclosing American national security secrets, will argue that some
of the data the men allegedly conspired to reveal came directly from
the Israeli government and was not truly secret.

Leading media reported that Jerusalem mayoral candidate MK Meir
Porush of United Torah Judaism said over the weekend that within 10
years no city in Israel will have a secular mayor. He later said
that he meant areas with an ultra-Orthodox population trend.

Yesterday The Jerusalem Post quoted Kadima leader Tzipi Livni as
saying that her transition government should not talk with Syria.
The media quoted DM Ehud Barak as saying that this was the Qlast
opportunity to talk with Syria.Q Yesterday HaQaretz quoted a GOI
source in Jerusalem as saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad
transmitted a message to Israel that he wants to renew indirect
talks through Turkey. Leading media reported that yesterday
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ruled that there were no legal
obstacles preventing Israel from proceeding with negotiations with
Syria even as the government approaches the end of its term. The
Jerusalem Post quoted Western diplomatic sources as saying that PM
Ehud OlmertQs intention to push forward indirect talks with Syria
three months before the country goes to the polls is motivated by a
desire to keep the heat on Iran.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Egyptian government officials and
political experts dismissed comments made over the weekend Q in an
interview broadcast on Saturday on Channel 2-TV -- by Yisrael
Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman suggesting that Cairo is merely
waiting for an opportunity to start a war with Israel. However, the
sources acknowledged that LiebermanQs comments have raised ire among
government officials.

HaQaretz and Yediot reported that Livni and Ahmed Qurei are
scheduled to give a rare joint Israeli-Palestinian briefing on the
state of peace talks at a Mideast summit in Egypt next week.

Yesterday The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that
Palestinians fired two anti-tank missiles at IDF soldiers at the
Kissufim crossing on Friday.

HaQaretz quoted the East Jerusalem daily Al-Quds as saying yesterday
that Ofer Dekel, the chief negotiator for Gilad Shalit, met recently
with senior Hamas figures incarcerated at the Hadarim prison.

HaQaretz and other media reported that Israelis placed in a witness
protection program will be able to have cosmetic surgery to change
their appearance but will not be allowed to claim that they have a
new religious identity or to undergo a sex change, according to a
bill to be brought before the Knesset plenum for its second and
third readings this week.

Leading media reported that on Thursday international credit ratings
agency Standard & PoorQs changed IsraelQs outlook to Stable from
Positive, disappointing Israeli economic and banking officials.

Yesterday The Jerusalem Post reported that US Airways will start
commercial flights on the Philadelphia-Tel Aviv route in July 2009.

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

Summary:
--------

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning HaQaretz: QThe distance from hitting and
kicking soldiers and policemen to a political assassination is
shorter than it seems.

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
QTogether, [Labor and Meretz] could present a center-Left
alternative favoring religious tolerance, pluralism, civil liberties
and a passionate concern for the downtrodden.

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

I. "Dire Possibilities"

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning HaQaretz (11/3): QThe Shin Bet confirms
that a political assassination is one of three main possibilities
that [its head Avraham] Diskin foresees. The others are attacks on
Arabs and attacks on members of the security services.... What has
changed since [the Annapolis Summit, when Shin Bet assessments of
settler violence were low]? Primarily, the Qprice tagQ policy
launched by extremist settlers has become a major factor in
developments in the West Bank. The policy's roots lie in the August
2005 disengagement from Gaza and the subsequent destruction of nine
houses in the West Bank outpost of Amona about six months later.
Ever since then, the extreme right has sought to establish a
Qbalance of terror,Q in which every state action aimed at them --
from demolishing a caravan in an outpost to restricting the
movements of those suspected of harassing Palestinian olive
harvesters -- generates an immediate, violent reaction. Even if
this reaction cannot stop an evacuation, the theory goes, the damage
it causes -- whether the victims are Palestinians or IDF soldiers --
will cause the government to think twice before ordering additional
evacuations.... Even though settlers still see no great likelihood
of settlements being evacuated in the near future, the fact that
senior government officials such as outgoing prime minister Ehud
Olmert, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and Labor leader and Defense
Minister Ehud Barak all speak constantly of the need for such an
evacuation increases the sense of being under pressure. And the
distance from hitting and kicking soldiers and policemen to a
political assassination is shorter than it seems. Moreover,
elections are coming up in February, and campaigns always lead to
verbal escalation -- on both sides. And sometimes, verbal
escalation can lead to violence as well.

II. "A Place for Meretz"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/3):
QSome see the distinctions nowadays between the major parties and
Meretz as merely ones of rhetoric. Yet Likud and Kadima arrived at
their yet-to-be-explicitly-defined land-for-peace positions as a
result of changes on the ground. These were wrought by Oslo and the
second intifada. Labor is moving toward the Likud and Kadima by
shedding some of its illusions about the nature of a Palestinian
polity, and in a common determination to nail-down details of any
deal with the Palestinians rather than rely on mutual good-will. So
Meretz's inability to internalize the lessons of the second intifada
sets it apart from the Zionist mainstream. Whatever its internal
machinations, we believe that Israel's body-politic would be best
served with fewer, and less ideologically strident, parties. Were
Meretz to join forces with Labor, the smaller party could
reinvigorate the latter's social-democratic credentials while Labor
could rein in Meretz's more immoderate security positions.
Together, they could present a center-Left alternative favoring
religious tolerance, pluralism, civil liberties and a passionate
concern for the downtrodden.

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

Summary:
--------

Former Mossad director Ephraim Halevy wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: QWe must hope and believe that this will
be the finest hour of Israeli diplomacy, and that it will know how
to use the specific status that the Iranian leadership has granted
Israel to turn a bad situation into a good one.


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

"Tehran: The Key Is in Our Hands"

Former Mossad director Ephraim Halevy wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/3): QIt appears that the more the
debates between the United States and Iran ... discuss not only the
United StatesQ demand of Iran but also IranQs demands of the new
president in the White House, [the more] both sizes will realize
that the road from Washington to Tehran (and vice-versa) goes
through Jerusalem.... The coming and last (?) year before the
implementation of TehranQs nuclear program, will also significantly
see a rapprochement between the entire world and the Iranian regime.
We must hope and believe that this will be the finest hour of
Israeli diplomacy, and that it will know how to use the specific
status that the Iranian leadership has granted Israel to turn a bad
situation into a good one.

-------------------
3. U.S. Elections:
-------------------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: QNeither [Israeli right- or left-wing]
fantasy will materialize. The new U.S. president will pay the
required lip service -Q he will announce his support for the
Qtwo-state solutionQ and criticize the Iranian nuclear drive.

Former Consul-General in New York Alon Pinkas wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: QAny ignoring that is due to despair and to the
recognition of the uselessness of the Israeli-Palestinian process is
not serious. But this could happen if the Obama administration is
persuaded that Israel is not serious, that the Palestinians are
incapable, and that everything together does not help the
president.

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

I. "The Next President WonQt Fulfill Our Fantasies"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/2): QItQs the ultimate leftist fantasy.
After being elected president of the United States on Tuesday,
Barack Obama places the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at the top of
his agenda.... The rightQs fantasy would have John McCain elected.
He then places the annihilation of the Iranian nuclear program ...
at the top of his agenda.... Neither fantasy will materialize. The
new U.S. president will pay the required lip service -Q he will
announce his support for the Qtwo-state solutionQ and criticize the
Iranian nuclear drive.... If Obama is elected, he will become part
of the Israeli election campaign. Tzipi Livni will try to convince
voters that Benjamin Netanyahu is bound to get into a serious
confrontation with the American administration because of his
resistance to the peace process and his support for striking
Iran.... A win for McCain would have less impact over here.

II. "So WhoQs Better for the Jews?"

Former Consul-General in New York Alon Pinkas wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (11/3): QUnlike [IsraelQs recent leaders] who ...
improved IsraelQs situation a thousand fold, Barack Obama is still a
question mark. Israel needs a strong America. Israel needs the
U.S. to be a superpower. A United States that radiates power,
ability and deterrence, economic intellect, military might,
ideological self-confidence. Israel needs a US different from the
one from 2003-2008. There is a political-ideological basis to the
contention that Bush wanted IsraelQs good and believed that Israel
and the U.S. stood side by side on the same side of the historical
divide. At the same time, there is political-ideological proof that
Bush was perhaps not all that good for Israel. Does this sound
heretical? Reverse logic? Not really. Who was a bigger threat to
Israel, Iraq or Iran? What is a bigger threat to Israel, one state
for two peoples or American recognition of the cosmic guilt of the
Palestinians for the failure of the negotiations? LetQs be
practical. The best thing or the worst -- in the eyes of the
observer -- is America ignoring Israel. To the best of my judgment,
this would be a negative and destructive development, but let the
reader judge. This cannot happen in a blatant way because the
United StatesQ commitment to Israel is genuine, supported by
Congress and by public opinion, and its ideological opponents,
despite their arguments that are gaining acceptance and credibility,
are still far from the mainstream. Beyond this, the American
interest in the Middle East is still substantial and real, so that
any ignoring that is due to despair and to the recognition of the
uselessness of the Israeli-Palestinian process is not serious. But
this could happen if the Obama administration is persuaded that
Israel is not serious, that the Palestinians are incapable, and that
everything together does not help the president.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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