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Cablegate: Special Israel Media Reaction

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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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HQ USAF FOR XOXX
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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: SPECIAL ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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

Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, November 6-7, 2008

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

Yediot, HaQaretz, and Israel Radio cited a statement issued by PM
Ehud Olmert after a phone conversation between him and
President-elect Barack Obama that the two "agreed on the need to
continue to advance the peace process, and this, while safeguarding
the security of Israel". The statement said that Obama and Olmert
also "spoke about the long friendship between the United States and
Israel and the need to preserve and strengthen this friendship."
HaQaretz reported that a message from Obama will be delivered
tomorrow at the 13th central commemoration for Yitzhak Rabin in Tel
Aviv. The Jerusalem Post reported that QIsraeli-linkedQ Rep. Rahm
Emanuel has accepted the position of White House chief-of-staff.

HaQaretz reported that Israel and the PA are to announce on Sunday
their commitment to continuing talks on the core issues in 2009
after President-elect Barack Obama takes office. The parties have
agreed to negotiate based on the principles determined at last
November's Annapolis conference. HaQaretz quoted outgoing Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice as saying yesterday during her visit to
Israel that the U.S. would remain a true friend of Israel. Leading
media quoted Rice as saying that the Bush administration will not
reach an agreement.

HaQaretz reported that Iran has congratulated Obama over his
election. The newspaper hinted that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is sending
the U.S. the message that Iran expects change in U.S. policy.
HaQaretz and The Jerusalem Post quoted FM Livni as saying yesterday
that that Obama should not talk to Iran just yet, warning that such
dialogue could project weakness- - a first sign of disagreement with
the incoming American administration.

Leading media reported that yesterday the IDF Northern Command
concluded a large-scale exercise that simulated a double
conflagration with Syria and Lebanon. The Jerusalem Post quoted GOI
sources as saying that, in any future conflict with Hizbullah,
Israel will likely cite the ShiQite groupQs increasing influence
within the Lebanese cabinet as a legitimate reason to target
LebanonQs entire infrastructure.

Yediot reported that President Shimon Peres and Saudi King Abdullah
may meet at next weekQs interreligious conference in New York.

HaQaretz reported that the IDF has asked the Shin Bet security
service and the police to provide it with information on left-wing
figures active in the West Bank so it will be easier to issue
restraining orders against them. Since the IDF does not gather
intelligence on Israeli citizens, the GOC Central Command depends on
evaluations by the Shin Bet prior to signing restraining orders. So
far, such orders have only been issued against extreme right-wing
activists suspected of subversive activities. This time, the army
has focused on a number of activists protesting the security fence,
those who help Palestinians harvest their olives, and others. This
is apparently the first time left-wing activists have been the
possible target of such orders.

Maariv cited the concern of senior Likud officials that Netanyahu
may be eclipsed by LikudQs Qnew start.Q Makor Rishon-Hatzofe
reported that Kadima Knesset Member Zeev Elkin has moved to the new
right-wing party.

Maariv devoted an entire section to the sufferings and ascension of
the African-American community.


------------------------
Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, November 6-7, 2008:
------------------------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: Q[Tzipi Livni] people's main argument is that
Netanyahu's stances at his campaign opening, like refusing to
negotiate over Jerusalem, place him on a collision course with the
new Democratic administration in Washington.

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
QWhatever his game plan, if [Obama] wants to help foster the
normalized relations Israel seeks with its Arab neighbors his
administration will first have to sideline the region's number-one
obstacle to peace [Iran].

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: QA new
government should arise in Israel, which will also allow the U.S.
President and the new [Israeli] prime minister, in particular if
this is Benjamin Netanyahu, to embark on a new course.

HaQaretz editorialized: QOur trigger finger should relax. It
endangers the people of Sderot.

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

I QThe Obama Effect

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/7): QBarack Obama won't be much occupied
with the Israeli elections, but his image will influence the
campaigns of the prime ministerial candidates. Each will try to
spin the mood of the American upheaval to his or her advantage and
try to tap into some QObama effectQ. Livni has the advantage of
being fresh and unique, as a woman and the youngest contender. But
as number two in Ehud Olmert's cabinet, she can hardly represent
Qchange.Q She has the same problem John McCain had -- everyone
knows she was Olmert's rival, as McCain was George W. Bush's, but
they still represent the same party and the same way. The Foreign
Minister believes that her support for a Palestinian state and the
continued negotiations for a final-status agreement will ensure good
working relations with Obama. QI've talked to Obama twice ... and
he seemed to accept Israel's principals [vis-a-vis the peace
process]," she said on the radio yesterday. A Livni aide adds:
QBibi [Benjamin Netanyahu] may talk with an American accent, but
it's the outgoing Republican administration's accent.Q Her people's
main argument is that Netanyahu's stances at his campaign opening,
like refusing to negotiate over Jerusalem, place him on a collision
course with the new Democratic administration in Washington.

II. QObamaQs Agenda

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/7):
QBut we think Obama can be smarter than his predecessors by homing
in on this harsh Middle East peacemaking reality: As long as the
Islamic Republic of Iran remains on the ascendant, there will be no
peace between Israel and the Palestinians, no way to bolster
Palestinian moderates by chipping away at the rejectionists, no
treaty with Syria, and no prospect of saving Lebanon. So rather
than going down the fruitless path taken by many of his
predecessors, Obama might want to begin with a different set of
assumptions. Since 1979, the chief obstacle to peace in the Middle
East has been Iran. Break its stranglehold, and you pave the way
toward progress on all peace-making fronts. No one need convince
Israel that peace with the Palestinians is in its interest. Yet a
deal that does not allow Israel to retain strategic settlement blocs
will come back to haunt the friends of peace. The Obama
administration thus needs to embrace President George W. Bush's 2004
letter to premier Ariel Sharon acknowledging that changes on the
ground have made returning to the pre-1967 armistice lines
unrealistic. Yet this is not an argument against talking to Iran.
What matters is what America talks to Iran about and the environment
in which QunconditionalQ talks take place.... Clearly, Barack Obama
is too smart, too pragmatic to genuinely expect that talk alone will
convince a bellicose, fanatical, and messianic regime with imperial
ambitions beyond our region to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
Whatever his game plan, if he wants to help foster the normalized
relations Israel seeks with its Arab neighbors his administration
will first have to sideline the region's number-one obstacle to
peace.

III. QNew Goals for the New President

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (11/7):
QObama will certainly be ambitious on the issue of the Middle East,
and Israel must prepare for the new age. The correct way to do this
is to disconnect from the line of diplomatic contiguity, disconnect
from Ehud Olmert and Tzipi LivniQs Annapolis policy. A new
government should arise in Israel, which will also allow the U.S.
President and the new [Israeli] prime minister, in particular if
this is Benjamin Netanyahu, to embark on a new course.

IV. QRelax the Trigger Finger

HaQaretz editorialized (11/7): QThe Egyptian-mediated cease-fire
between Israel and Hamas faced one of its most serious challenges
this week:. Ostensibly, it can be argued that Hamas is the side
that broke the cease-fire by digging the tunnel and intending to
abduct soldiers. But was there a clear and immediate danger
here?.... The cease-fire is an essential Israeli interest, no less
than for Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Continuing it has its
price and is not without risks, but at the moment there is no
practical alternative. Periodic attacks are not a solution to the
risks, certainly not for the long term. Our trigger finger should
relax. It endangers the people of Sderot.

CUNNINGHAM

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