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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2582/01 3261339
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211339Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9237
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 4642
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1249
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 5038
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5446
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4667
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 3070
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5437
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2286
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0511
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9240
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6729
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1668
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5742
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7719
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0570
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0835
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002582

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:
--------------------------------

Mideast

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

The Jerusalem Post reported that PM Ehud Olmert will leave for
Washington on Saturday for meetings with President Bush.

Leading media reported that the security forces are gearing up for
trouble this weekend when 20,000 -25,000 Jews are expected to
descend upon Hebron for an annual pilgrimage. Officials fear the
combination of the crowd and tensions over the planned evacuation of
the so-called House of Contention could prove to be an explosive
mix. The media reported that yesterday angry setters attacked IDF
soldiers, vandalized Palestinian property, and scrawled QMohammed is
a pigQ on a local mosque.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Jordanian sources told the
newspaper yesterday that PM Olmert assured JordanQs King Abdullah
this week that Israel does not intend to launch a major offensive to
bring down the Hamas regime in Gaza in the near future. The two
Israeli leaders did not rule out a range of less dramatic military
operations against Hamas and other operatives in Gaza. HaQaretz
reported: QFor now, both Israel and Hamas seek to maintain quiet in
the region.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Prime MinisterQs Office
declared that Israel is willing to talk with Qall of its Arab
neighborsQ on the basis of the 2002 Arab peace initiative, and that
it welcomes PA President Mahmoud AbbasQs appeals to the Israeli
public to support the plan by publishing a copy of the initiative in
four Israeli dailies. However, the newspaper reported that FM Tzipi
Livni slammed the Qall or nothingQ ultimatum of the initiativeQs
proponents.

HaQaretz reported that 250 million shekels (around $62,990,000) have
been wasted on uncompleted West Bank roads.

Maariv reported that Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit plans to revoke
the citizenship of self-exiled Arab politician Azmi Bishara.

Yediot reported that Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu has hired the
services of two of President-elect Barack ObamaQs consultants Q Bill
Knapp and Josh Icey (phon.).

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Ephraim Asculai, a former
top official in the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, told the
newspaper that Iran will have enough highly enriched uranium by the
end of 2009 to produce its first nuclear weapon. Asculai was
refuting a New York Times article that claimed that Iran already had
sufficient nuclear material to create a weapon.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday the human rights
organization Gisha charged that the refusal of the army to allow
fuel, cooking gas, and other commodities into Gaza constituted
collective punishment of 1.5 million civilians. Yediot quoted
intelligence sources as saying that Shin Bet torture procedures are
still being applied, in contravention of a High Court ruling.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday the Jerusalem
Municipality announced that it demolished a tent set up by an
elderly Arab couple in East Jerusalem whose illegally built home had
been razed earlier this month. The newspaper reported that a
Bedouin army reservist is waiting for the state to raze a mosque he
built in an unrecognized village.

HaQaretz reported that Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Yael Dayan has proposed
the establishment of a municipal human rights commission.

All media reported that yesterday the stock market tumbled as the
economic growth outlook is worsening. The media reported on
political pressure on the treasury to spread a safety net for
pension funds and mutual funds.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Intel Israel and Numonyx
dedicated an 80-millon shekel (about $20,156,000) membrane bio
reactor (MBR) waste treatment facility, the largest and most
advanced in Israel, which will serve their factories in Kiryat Gat.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Strauss Group Ltd., IsraelQs biggest food
company, as saying yesterday that its U.S. unit Sabra will send as
much as much as $68 million to open a factory in the state of
Virginia scheduled to start production in 2010.

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

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/20):
QThe Muslim and Arab world -- presumably excluding Iran, Hamas and
Hizbullah -- have just made an unprecedented overture to the people
of Israel.... We implore the Arab and Muslim world: Let us not make
propaganda. Let us not wait another 60 years. Let us make peace.

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: Q[The
government] must, once and for all, make it clear to the public in
Israel -- not the settlements -- that there is one law for all, and
no one is above it.

Political parties correspondent Yossi Verter wrote in Ha'aretz: QIn
private conversations, Netanyahu expresses his concern about Labor
and BarakQs electoral fate in unambiguous terms.

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

I. "Yes to QSalamQ"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/20):
QThe Muslim and Arab world -- presumably excluding Iran, Hamas and
Hizbullah -- have just made an unprecedented overture to the people
of Israel. By coincidence, it comes just as al-Qaida reached out
to the American people with their reaction to the election of Barack
Obama.... In contrast, the Arab world's effort to appeal directly to
the Israeli people is welcome and arguably constructive. The PA
purchased space in this and other Israeli newspapers ... seeking
support for the 2002 Saudi-inspired Arab League peace initiative.
The ad also ran, in Arabic, in several Palestinian papers....
Neither the ad nor the Saudi plan itself acknowledge the inalienable
right of the Jewish people to a national homeland within agreed
borders. So Israelis -- across the political spectrum -- will find
the Arab Peace Initiative deficient. Still, most of us, though
disappointed that an offer which falls so short of Israel's minimal
needs comes so late, will find themselves agreeing with President
Shimon Peres: This is an overture worth exploring. After so much
bloodshed and suffering on both sides, we implore the Arab and
Muslim world: Let us not make propaganda. Let us not wait another
60 years. Let us make peace.

II. "No More Tolerance"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (11/20): QBoth
the assaults by Hebron's Jewish thugs on Israel Defense Forces
soldiers, which included throwing turpentine at a soldier's face,
and the graffiti proclaiming QMohammed is a pigQ follow directly
from rabbis' words. Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, for instance, told a
conference in Hebron this week that the QState of Israel in its
current format is the enemy of the Jewish people.... We will defeat
the domestic enemy, which at the moment is the State of Israel.
All this was in response to a High Court of Justice ruling requiring
the settlers to vacate the so-called House of Contention in Hebron
until a district court decides who really owns it. This criminal
aggression by settlers in Hebron and elsewhere has long been a
tolerated routine. Ostensibly, Israel currently lacks a government
capable of dealing with these lawbreakers.... This situation cannot
be tolerated because a government that weakly allows the settlers to
scoff at High Court decisions grants the rest of the country's
citizens license to do the same. If you can spit in a soldier's
face in Hebron, you can squat in houses in Jaffa [inside the Green
Line]. The government must remove the settlers from the House of
Contention immediately, indict everyone who attacked soldiers, and
investigate everyone who threatened action against the state. It
must, once and for all, make it clear to the public in Israel -- not
the settlements -- that there is one law for all, and no one is
above it.

III. "Vote for Barak, Because Israel Needs a Strong Likud"

Political parties correspondent Yossi Verter wrote in Ha'aretz
(11/20): QNo less than Ehud Barak, maybe more than Amir Peretz,
Benjamin Netanyahu wishes for the Labor Party to maintain its
strength in the elections. Yes, yes, Netanyahu needs a Labor Party
with 17-18 Knesset seats. If he could, he would have made an
emotional appeal to the citizens: Vote Labor Party and Barak! Barak
and the Labor Party! Netanyahu wants Barak as defense minister in
his government. He values him, counts on him, and he knows that he
will need him and his chilly spirit during the harsh, tense days
ahead.... In private conversations, Netanyahu expresses his concern
about Labor and BarakQs electoral fate in unambiguous terms. In his
speech at the commencement of the KnessetQs winter term, he declared
that he would call on Tzipi Livni and Barak to serve in a broad
unity government he would head. But NetanyahuQs close entourage
describes a different scenario according to which if the Likud-Right
wing-ultra-Orthodox gains a majority, Netanyahu will prefer to form
a coalition will Labor, the ultra-Orthodox, and Yisrael Beiteinu,
and to leave Kadima in the opposition, assuming that around half of
that faction -Q mostly Likud renegades -Q will hasten to splinter
from it and join his coalition.

CUNNINGHAM

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