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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #2553/01 3221124
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171124Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9177
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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4619
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1226
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 5006
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5421
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4642
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 3033
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5407
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2257
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0482
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9217
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6706
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1640
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002553

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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The media highlighted the continued Israel-Hamas confrontation along
the Gaza border: an air strike killed four members of a mortar crew;
a Sderot resident was wounded by a Qassam rocket. Israel Radio
reported that today the crossings with Gaza are closed following the
rocket attacks. Leading media reported that Ashdod is prepared to
endure rocket attacks. HaQaretz reported that yesterday senior IDF
officers criticized certain cabinet ministers for beating the drum
for military action in Gaza. Yesterday The Jerusalem Post quoted PM
Ehud Olmert as saying that the GOI would continue to step up
pressure on Hamas by keeping Gaza border crossings closed and taking
unsuspected measures. Yesterday Yediot reported that Egyptian
authorities secured HamasQs consent to renew the truce agreement
with Israel. The newspaper also reported that Olmert will meet with
PA President Mahmoud Abbas today (Monday).

Leading media reported that yesterday the High Court of Justice
instructed settlers occupying a house in Hebron to evacuate it
within three days, but that a coalition of right-wing organizations,
Knesset members, and West Bank rabbis said that they plan to oppose
the move firmly. HaQaretz quoted a participant as saying during the
meeting: QIf the house is evacuated, there will be Amona part two
here,Q referring to the February 2006 clashes between settlers and
security forces during the evacuation of a West Bank outpost.

All media (banner in The Jerusalem Post) reported that Water
Authority head Prof. Uri Shani warned the cabinet yesterday that
water rationing for household use would be introduced this spring if
this winter is a dry one. He added that recent forecasts for the
region are not optimistic.

Yesterday The Jerusalem Post reported that New York Sen. Hillary
Clinton has leaped to the top of the list of candidates to become
secretary of state. The newspaper quoted Doug Bloomfield, a former
AIPAC legislative director, as saying: QFor Israel, I think this
would be win-win.

Yediot reported that Stuart Levey, the Treasury DepartmentQs Under
Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, arrived in
Israel yesterday. Levey, who is in charge of economic sanctions
against Iran, met with the Mossad leadership and FM Tzipi Livni.

Leading media reported that cabinet minister Ami Ayalon is not
likely to join Meretz. Some media reported that he will head
Meimad, the moderate religious party that has been an ally of Labor.
The media highlighted LikudQs renaissance at a central committee
meeting last night. Newcomers there, in particular Benny Begin,
were warmly applauded there. Israel Radio reported that influential
former Likud MK Uzi Landau has switched to Yisrael Beiteinu. Maariv
reported that Shlomo Deri, the brother of former Shas leader Aryeh
Deri, is establishing a party that Aryeh would lead from the
outside.

Leading media reported that British FM David Miliband arrived in
Israel yesterday for a two-day visit. HaQaretz reported that he is
expected to express strong opposition to West Bank settlements. The
newspaper reported that FM Tzipi Livni told Miliband that the
supervision over goods from the West Bank is exaggerated. Miliband
told The Jerusalem Post that Iran is feeling the impact of
sanctions. Yesterday HaQaretz reported that the Institute for
Science and International Security recently released a report
urging U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to take a number of
measures to avoid nuclear proliferation in the Middle East,
including convincing Israel to halt production of nuclear weapons.

Yesterday HaQaretz reported that John Ging, the director of the UN
Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees in Gaza,
told the newspaper last week that IsraelQs policies are
strengthening the stance of extremists there.

HaQaretz reported that Hamas has dramatically reduced its money
transfers to various charitable organization in the West Bank
formerly linked to the group, as the PA continues to assert its
control over those organizations.

Yesterday HaQaretz reported that last week an important U.S. web
site revealed the name of one of the candidates for the next head of
Shin Bet. According to the Shin Bet Law, the names of organization
employees, with the exception of the head, are prohibited from
publication in Israel.
Yediot reported that billionaire Arkady GaidamakQs party will take
part in the Knesset elections.

Over the weekend The Jerusalem Post, Maariv, and HaQaretz reported
that Russia is considering purchasing Israeli unmanned aerial
vehicles. Yesterday Yediot reported that Israel will refurbish
Boeing 767-300 aircraft for the Japanese company Mitsui and that it
may sell advanced security systems to the UN Procurement Branch.

Citing the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, The Jerusalem Post quoted the
King of Bahrain as saying in New York that he would facilitate the
return of Jewish expatriates through restored citizenship and land
offers.

Maariv reported that senior Israeli public figures from all
political persuasions have written PM Ehud Olmert asking that he
raise the issue of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard in his last
meeting with President Bush.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: QWe can only hope that America's first black
president will remind the Israelis of what happened to the
Bantustans.... To ensure that the Jews do not get carried away in
their rejoicing, it is important for Obama to point this out even
before the polls in divided Jerusalem kick off, and to reveal his
peace plan.

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: QIn the first stage, the IDF would take
over Gaza. In the next stage, it would turn it over to a pan-Arab
force. In the third stage, the pan-Arab force would turn it over to
the soldiers of the Palestinian Authority.

Intelligence affairs correspondent Yossi Melman wrote in Ha'aretz:
QThe discovery of enriched uranium at the Syrian military site that
Israel bombed last year may be the first step toward revealing
SyriaQs smoking gun.
The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: QIt's
good ... that the Saudis say they're self-conscious about what
Islamist violence has done to the image of the Muslim faith. How
sad that these moves come at a pace so glacially slow. But, of
course, better late than never.

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

I. "Hamas Is Waiting for Netanyahu"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/17): QIn an article in the East Jerusalem
newspaper Al-Ayyam, [veteran Palestinian columnist Hani al-]Masri
analyzed the reasons for the failure of the Egyptian-mediated
reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah. He claimed that
Hamas, which has not succeeded in ending the rule of PA President
Mahmoud Abbas before the end of his term in January 2009, has
decided to wait for Netanyahu's second term, to start a month later.
Why should Hamas pay a high price, such as recognizing Israel,
wrote Masri, when in a few months from now Netanyahu will be sending
Abbas to drink the Dead Sea? Obama's reaction to Netanyahu's ideas
for an Qoverall peaceQ was not available at the time of this
writing. We can only hope that America's first black president will
remind the Israelis of what happened to the Bantustans -- the black
enclaves invented by the white apartheid regime in South Africa. To
ensure that the Jews do not get carried away in their rejoicing, it
is important for Obama to point this out even before the polls in
divided Jerusalem kick off, and to reveal his peace plan.


II. "Gaza in Three Stages"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/17): QNo matter how you look at the
story of the agreement with Hamas ... Hamas has to be removed. The
question is whether we can find a responsible body to fill the
vacuum that it will leave behind. This returns us to the two-stage
or three-stage idea [proposed to me by a senior minister over six
months ago]. In the first stage, the IDF would take over Gaza. In
the next stage, it would turn it over to a pan-Arab force. In the
third stage, the pan-Arab force would turn it over to the soldiers
of the Palestinian Authority. This idea, which sounded surreal only
six months ago, sounds a bit more reasonable today, when the PA
soldiers who were trained by the Americans in Jordan control Jenin
well, and are successfully wiping out the Hamas nests in the
southern Hebron hills. The chances are not great, but the
alternative, of sending the IDF into Gaza in order to stay, is less
attractive. Patience, Ehud Barak says to his colleagues. Remember
July 12, 2006. Don't engage in hard-line rhetoric. Perhaps this
time he is right.

III. "Syria and the Iranian Path"

Intelligence affairs correspondent Yossi Melman wrote in Ha'aretz
(11/16): QThe discovery of enriched uranium at the Syrian military
site that Israel bombed last year may be the first step toward
revealing SyriaQs smoking gun.... Pushing Syria into the corner is
reminiscent of what happened to Iran. Tehran also denied at first
that it had built hidden nuclear facilities.... When the truth
finally emerged, Iran was forced to admit the existence of the
sites, but continued to deny that they were being used for nuclear
activity. As it was confronted with ever more facts, it continued
weaving its web of lies, until the IAEA finally labeled it a
non-compliant country that had violated its obligations under the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the UN Security Council
imposed sanctions on it. Syria is still far from that point, but
the discovery of uranium at the bombed site could be a turning
point. It could be the first step toward finding the smoking gun
that incriminates Damascus in the international community, and
strengthens IsraelQs claim that its own operation was necessary and
justified to prevent Syria from developing a nuclear weapon.


IV. "The King & Peres"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/17):
QThe [interfaith] conference [in New York], like similar Saudi
gestures of late, must fundamentally be understood in the context of
the country's efforts to raise its regional profile. This involves
actively seeking a role as peacemaker. It involves, too, a
well-orchestrated bid for political influence by a country worried
by waning economic influence. As the world's largest oil exporter,
after all, the Saudi government is understandably anxious about
falling oil prices, and the consequent diminishment of political
clout. That said, the symbolism of King Abdullah sitting through a
speech by President Peres last Wednesday and later dining in the
same hall together sends an encouraging message. It's good, too,
that the Saudis say they're self-conscious about what Islamist
violence has done to the image of the Muslim faith. How sad that
these moves come at a pace so glacially slow. But, of course,
better late than never.

CUNNINGHAM

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