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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2598/01 3291203
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241203Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9269
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1254
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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5451
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4672
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 3081
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002598

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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Leading media reported that PM Ehud Olmert and his wife Aliza will
dine this evening with President Bush and his wife Laura. Yediot
quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as saying yesterday that
the political situation in Israel does not allow for the achievement
of a peace treaty with the Palestinians by the end of BushQs term.
The Jerusalem Post highlighted OlmertQs meeting with Deputy National
Security Advisor Elliott Abrams and reported that Olmert is seeking
a Qfinal tailwind for the Syrian track.

The global/local financial crisis dominated the weekendQs headlines.
HaQaretz reported that the Finance MinistryQs budgets division
wrote in a position paper at the beginning of November that the
global crisis is the worst since 1929 and surmised that the impact
of the world economic recession will be felt in a global and
export-based economy like IsraelQs. All media reported that the
Finance Ministry is leaning toward laying out a safety net for
pension and provident fund participants over age 60 who earn less
than double the minimum wage,3,850 shekels (about $960) a month.

Yesterday HaQaretz reported on Israeli defense establishment
recommendations to make contingency plans to attack Iran, to reach
an agreement with Syria that includes leaving the Golan and to
prevent new elections in the PA, even if this means a confrontation
with the U.S.

Leading media reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
threatened to announce new elections if Hamas does not compromise
with Fatah. HaQaretz quoted AP as saying that yesterday Hamas
denounced Hebrew-language newspaper ads outlining an Arab peace deal
that Abbas published in Israeli papers.

HaQaretz quoted the IDF as saying that reoccupation of part of Gaza,
should the government agree to it, will cost 17 million shekels
(about $4.225 million) per day.
Maariv reported that the Israeli defense establishment fears the
appointment of Gen. James Jones to national security adviser, but
hopes that Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, will balance the
U.S. administrationQs position. The newspaper reported that Arabs,
in particular the Palestinians, are uncomfortable about Clinton.
Yesterday HaQaretz reported that Jones wants a NATO force to operate
in the West Bank.

HaQaretz and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted former IDF chief of staff
Moshe Ya'alon as saying in an interview with The Sydney Morning
Herald this week that the West must consider all options necessary
to stop Tehran's nuclear program, including assassinating Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. HaQaretzQs web site quoted an
associate of Ya'alon as saying that his comments were taken out of
context.

Yesterday The Jerusalem Post cited IsraelQs concern that the U.S.
will supply tanks to Lebanon.

The media reported that over the weekend three Qassam rockets landed
near Ashkelon.

Yediot and The Jerusalem Post reported that several political
consultants involved in Barak ObamaQs election campaign are coming
to Israeli to work for Meretz and Likud.

Over the weekend the media reported on the execution by hanging of
QIsraeli spyQ Ali Ashtari in Tehran, which The Jerusalem Post views
as a warning to Iranian citizens.

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

Summary:
--------

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: QObama or Bibi [Netanyahu] -- that is what Scowcroft and
Brzezinski are indirectly asking, in calling on Obama to immediately
act in challenging the Israeli public to take a position. They are
right: It is still not too late to restore what Olmert has
destroyed.

Zalman Shoval, a senior Likud member and former ambassador to the
U.S., wrote in the independent Israel Hayom: QThe new president
might open ... to new ideas, such as Qeconomic peaceQ with the
Palestinians, which Netanyahu mentioned to him.

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: QThe mitigating circumstances that existed [at the time of
disengagement] are no longer in force. It is difficult to believe
that the new administration in Washington will be more patient and
considerate than its predecessor.

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: QWhat does make ... sense is to get
recognition now -Q at a time when Iran is marching with
determination toward the nuclear threshold Q- of a U.S. commitment
to back IsraelQs right to defend itself Qby itself against any
threat or possible combination of threats.

Oslo Accords architect Dr. Ron Pundak wrote in Yediot Aharonot:
QTime is running out and that is why we need to promote as quickly
as possible a double initiative to advance an agreement between
Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and Syria....
Achieving a Middle East of that kind is a clear American interest.


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

I. "Obama or Bibi?"

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (11/24): QOlmert's visit with George W. Bush this week has
no significance from a diplomatic and security standpoint. Both
leaders are tasked solely with overseeing a smooth transition
without any authority to obligate the next administrations to do
anything. Bush's sway over Barack Obama's administration and
Congress is next to zero.... [Conversely], The Scowcroft-Brzezinski]
plan is an updated version of UN Security Council Resolution 242,
which offers land for peace.... This is a realistic, even superb,
plan because it is QAmericanQ and not QArab.Q It is acceptable to
an overwhelming majority in Israel, save for the settlers and their
supporters (and, on the other side, Hamas). If a Livni-Barak
government were to arise, it would have the strength to cooperate
with an Obama-Clinton administration so as to move in this
direction. Kadima, Labor, and Meretz could adopt the four-point
plan, which the Likud, in its current composition of
Bibi-Benny-Bogey (Netanyahu, Begin and Ya'alon) cannot do. Obama or
Bibi [Netanyahu] -- that is what Scowcroft and Brzezinski are
indirectly asking, in calling on Obama to immediately act in
challenging the Israeli public to take a position. They are right:
It is still not too late to restore what Olmert has destroyed.

II. "Chemistry between the Israeli PM and the President"

Zalman Shoval, a senior Likud member and former ambassador to the
U.S., wrote in the independent Israel Hayom (11/24): QJudging from
messages emanating from ObamaQs entourage, his natural preference
will be to with the economy, and, regarding foreign relations, Iraq,
Iran, and Afghanistan.... The new president might open ... to new
ideas, such as Qeconomic peaceQ with the Palestinians, which
Netanyahu mentioned to him at a meeting in Jerusalem (figures around
Obama have testified that he was impressed by them).

III. "America against the Settlements"

Dov Weisglass, who was former prime minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (11/24): QThe American recognition of the Israeli demand
for control of the large blocs and their continued development was
accompanied by a demand that Israel refrain from any settlement
activity in the areas outside the blocs. In the administration's
opinion, Israel would leave [these areas] as part of the final
status arrangements with the Palestinians, and it is forbidden to
build there and change the land reality. It was the disengagement
plan that prevented a public, severe crisis on the matter. The
administration was impressed by the Israeli initiative, its leaders
placed their trust in Sharon, believed his statement that in the
final status arrangements Israel would withdraw from the territories
that had been occupied, and deeply appreciated his ability to keep
his word. The mitigating circumstances that existed then are no
longer in force. It is difficult to believe that the new
administration in Washington will be more patient and considerate
than its predecessor. Israel will be called upon to uphold its
commitments immediately, and if it continues to drag its feet, this

will lead to a severe diplomatic entanglement.

IV. "Looking for Meaning in OlmertQs Last U.S. Trip"

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (11/24): QIt makes little sense that
Olmert went to the U.S. now in the midst of an economic meltdown of
humongous proportions to talk about the $30 million in military aid.
It also makes little sense that he went to get Bush to sign on once
again on the [2004] letter, especially after Olmert may have diluted
the content of the letter by his declaration of a willingness to
return almost fully to the 1967 lines. But what does make more than
a little more than sense is to get recognition now -Q at a time when
Iran is marching with determination toward the nuclear threshold Q-
of a U.S. commitment to back IsraelQs right to defend itself Qby
itself against any threat or possible combination of threats.

V. QMr. President

Oslo Accords architect Dr. Ron Pundak wrote in Yediot Aharonot
(11/23): QAmerican friends of mine tell me that the chance that the
new administration will do anything to promote the peace process in
the Middle East is small given that it has so many other urgent
problems to deal with. But we can only
say: Yes you can.... Perhaps it would be best were you to begin by
pushing an initiative with Syria. There will be those who say to
you, among the Israeli leadership as well, that it would be best to
wait with the Syrians, whose interests are not clear and who will
not forego their dangerous relationship with Iran. But in the
existing regional reality there can be no peace without Syria. And
the formula for peace has been waiting merely to be signed since
2000. Syria can be a constructive force or a destructive force and,
therefore, it must not be left isolated and threatened. Having it
join the circle of peace is likely to weaken the Iranians' ability
to meddle in Lebanon and Gaza.... Time is running out and that is
why we need to promote as quickly as possible a double initiative to
advance an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and between
Israel and Syria.... A double agreement of that sort would
constitute, for all intents and purposes, the realization of
Israel's historic aspiration, which is anchored in the Arab League
initiative: an end of the Israeli-Arab conflict and the
establishment of Qnormal relationsQ between all 22 members of the
Arab League and Israel. Achieving a Middle East of that kind is a
clear American interest. The dangerous tension between Iran and
Israel can also be reduced by means of promoting a regional peace
process.... A majority of the Israeli public wants peace and is
prepared to pay the price that is known to all. The problem is a
lack of trust and the dreadful sense of being under permanent
threat, both as individuals and as a collective. There will be no
Israeli willingness to make concessions to the Palestinians and the
Syrians without the sense that the world is standing by our side.
That is a matter of public opinion, but who better than you knows
that without supportive public opinion it is very hard to take the
lead on change.

MORENO

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