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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2568/01 3231107
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181107Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9201
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 4625
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1232
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 5012
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5427
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4648
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 3041
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5414
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2263
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0488
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9223
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6712
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1646
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5725
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7700
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0553
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0809
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002568

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. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

HaQaretz reported that senior American officials fear that opening a
U.S. interests section in Tehran could strengthen President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad and help him win the presidential elections next June.
Continuing controversy over whether or not to open a Tehran mission
means the final decision will rest with the incoming Barack Obama
administration. HaQaretz reported that Under Secretary of State for
Political Affairs William Burns met a group of Israeli diplomats in
Washington last week and told them of the argument over the
interests section. Burns, who is likely to stay in his post in the
Obama administration, is coordinating the changeover with Obama's
people in the State Department.

Major media (banner in HaQaretz) quoted IDF Intelligence head Amos
Yadlin as saying yesterday that Barack Obama's election and the
world financial crisis present an opportunity to halt the Iranian
nuclear drive through diplomacy. He stressed that he is not opposed
to direct talks between the United States and Iran, saying that
"dialogue is not appeasement." Yadlin was quoted as saying that the
probability of a war between Israel and its enemies over the next
year was low.

In an interview held yesterday with HaQaretz, Palestinian PM and
Finance Minister Salam Fayyad called on the international community
to up the pressure on Israel to suspend all construction in the
settlements and implied that the PA could apply to the International
Court of Justice in this regard, adopting the example of the
separation fence. Israel Radio reported that Israel has allowed
UNRWA to bring 33 truckloads of goods into Gaza, although UNRWA says
it is not enough.

The media reported that former IDF chief of staff Moshe YaQalon
announced yesterday that he would be running for the Knesset on
Benjamin NetanyahuQs list. The media quoted him as saying yesterday
that a military option against Iran still exists.

Media reported that police have arrested four senior and 23 lesser
officials at the Israel Lands Administration on charges of financial
and sexual bribery. The media also reported on a possible case of
double voting in 2003 by Finance Minister Roni Bar-On -Q then a
simple MK.

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that yesterday DM Ehud
Barak told visiting British FM David Miliband during a tour of
Sderot: QWe will act when the conditions are ripe and when there is
a need. And we will act with force.

HaQaretz and The Jerusalem Post quoted IAEA Director Mohamed
ElBaradei as saying yesterday that traces of uranium found at a
Syrian site bombed by Israel last year were not sufficient evidence
of nuclear activity there.

Leading media reported that an Israeli was shot and moderately
wounded on a West Bank road yesterday.

Yediot and The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel will release 250
Palestinian prisoners by December. Israel Radio quoted Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erekat as saying that that yesterday, at his meeting
with PM Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested the
release by the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) of
Fatah/Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti, FPLP leader Ahmed Saadat, and
Palestinian parliament speaker Aziz Dweik.

Media reported that during his current visit to the UK, President
Shimon Peres will address both Houses of Parliament.

Israel Radio reported that the policy of New ZealandQs PM-elect John
Key is expected to be more Israel-friendly than that of his
predecessor Helen Clark.

The Jerusalem Post reported that human rights groups told the High
Court of Justice yesterday that half of the 200 foreign workers
currently awaiting deportation are being expelled because they left
their original employers and failed to find a new one. In 2006, the
court abolished the QchainingQ of foreign workers to their
employees.

Yediot reported that 75% of foreign investors in Georgia are
Israelis.

Most media led with the assassination of crime kingpin YaQakov
Alperon in a car bomb explosion in Tel Aviv yesterday.

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: QThe chorus of
people encouraging war [in Gaza] provides no reasonable alternative
except political sloganeering. They had better listen carefully to
the residents of the western Negev, because they know better than
anyone what the truce is good for.

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: QIt may
well be unreasonable to expect this caretaker government to solve
the Gaza conundrum. It is not unreasonable to ask ministers who
will not cooperate in the security cabinet to stop babbling away in
public.

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in The
Jerusalem Post: QGetting others to like us is important, Obama said.
Fine, they will now present their bill for smiling at America.


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

I. "Stop Beating the Drums of War"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (11/18): QThose
seeking to occupy Gaza should be reminded that Israel agreed to the
truce because it recognized that the price of a large military
operation in Gaza would be intolerably high. The Israel Defense
Forces and the defense minister continue to object to such an
operation, and their arguments have not changed since before the
truce.... The policy breakdown is not that Israel is avoiding war
in Gaza, but that it has failed to recognize the need for dialogue
with a united Palestinian leadership. In the current situation
between Israel and Hamas, there is no choice but to adopt the lesser
of two evils and mend the shattered truce. Israel must open the
border crossings and keep them open, and allow Gaza's residents to
lead a normal existence. The chorus of people encouraging war
provides no reasonable alternative except political sloganeering.
They had better listen carefully to the residents of the western
Negev, because they know better than anyone what the truce is good
for.

II. "Tower of Babel"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/18):
QPity the Hamas leadership as it tries to fathom how Israel will
respond to the organization's repeated violations of the
cease-fire.... Trouble is the bluster and contradictory
pronouncements emanating from Israel's top echelon haven't been made
to confuse the enemy -- they are sadly indicative of our
disarray.... Now, nothing is more disheartening to Israel's
citizenry than to witness such disunity when the country is under
attack.... It may well be unreasonable to expect this caretaker
government to solve the Gaza conundrum. It is not unreasonable to
ask ministers who will not cooperate in the security cabinet to stop
babbling away in public.

III. "Radical Regimes Rethink Obama"

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in The
Jerusalem Post (11/18): QEverybody in the Middle East faces the
challenge of how to deal with President Barack Obama, a decision
with huge implications for the next four years. The radicals
praised Obama during the campaign and some even tried to help him.
On the eve of the vote, however, they reconsidered their enthusiasm
.... The alternative is to welcome Obama, negotiate with him, and
get concessions from an American president eager to please. Getting
others to like us is important, Obama said. Fine, they will now
present their bill for smiling at America. This technique of
pretending to be conciliatory and moaning, QI'm a poor misunderstood
moderateQ was developed brilliantly by Yasser Arafat. Indeed, if he
had not received the Nobel Prize for Peace, Arafat should have
received one for acting. Even Hamas is catching on, though its
performance is probably too little, too late.... The biggest dilemma
is faced by the more moderate Arab states which will have the
horrible experience of getting what they said they wanted. Or, to
paraphrase William Shakespeare's great opening speech for QRichard
IIIQ -- you won and now's the time to be discontented. Unhappy with
the American presence in Iraq? QGood news,Q the Americans are
leaving. Publicly proclaiming you don't see Iran's nuclear weapons
drive as a threat? No worries, the United States will ease up.
Angry at the previous president's Qsaber-rattlingQ? Great, Obama
doesn't want ever to use force, even to protect you. Oh, it is all
going to be very interesting. One can only hope that it isn't going
to be very bloody.

--------------------------
2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Former Consul-General in New York Alon Pinkas wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: Q[Senator Hillary] ClintonQs appointment [as
secretary of state] will conclude the debate in Israel regarding the
question whether Qwe are a first priority for the Obama
administration.Q The answer is positive.

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

"The Clinton Outline"

Former Consul-General in New York Alon Pinkas wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (11/18): QWhat is Hillary Clinton bringing with her
to the State Department? 1) Some of President ClintonQs people.
(The time has come to refresh those in Israel who worry about the
Clinton outlines on the Palestinian and Syrian track. They are
coming back.) 2) ClintonQs approach to international relations and
the need for active American intervention in conflict resolution.
ClintonQs appointment will conclude the debate in Israel regarding
the question whether Qwe are a first priority for the Obama
administration.Q The answer is positive -Q if not Barack Obama,
certainly the QObama administration.Q The appointment of Hillary
Clinton -Q with Bill in the background -Q can be considered good
news for Tzipi Livni Q- and much less so for Benjamin Netanyahu.

CUNNINGHAM

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