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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2634/01 3311221
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261221Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9325
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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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 4660
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1265
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 5060
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5462
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4683
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 3092
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5454
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2302
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0527
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9256
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6745
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1684
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5758
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7739
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0587
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0861
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002634

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 Jerusalem Post and other media reported that PM Ehud Olmert said
yesterday in Washington that it will soon be possible to reach a
peace agreement with the Palestinians. HaQaretz reported that
Israel is asking President Bush to outline to Barack Obama the
reasons for the U.S. commitment to ensure that IsraelQs strategic
deterrence is not compromised. "I discussed with the president and
his most senior staff issues connected to the core of the special
relationship between Israel and the U.S., strategic matters of the
utmost importance, and the ability to preserve those ties in the
coming years," Olmert told reporters yesterday. According to
HaQaretz, top administration officials told Olmert there was no
point in a presidential letter from Bush, since it would not bind
Obama. The sides decided instead on a list, compiled by the White
House and delivered to Obama's transition team, that reviews all
understandings and agreements. In addition to the Iranian nuclear
issue, Israel is also hoping to receive promised military aid and
advanced weapons systems, and to restrict the U.S. supply of
advanced weapons to Arab states.

HaQaretz reported that the IDF has assassinated wanted men in
apparent defiance of High Court of Justice guidelines for such
operations. The documents reveal that the IDF approved
assassinations in the West Bank even when it could have been
possible to arrest the targets and that top-ranking army officers
authorized the killings in advance, in writing, even if innocent
bystanders would be killed as well. Moreover, the assassination of
at least one individual was postponed due to an impending visit by a
senior U.S. official. Finally, HaQaretz discovered that contrary to
what the state told the High Court, assassinations were subject to
only minimal restrictions prior to the court's ruling.

All media reported that an undercover investigation led by Israeli
authorities, in cooperation with police from Peru and Spain, has led
to the breakup of an international cocaine ring and the largest
seizure of drugs in Israeli history. Over a ton and a half of
cocaine, estimated to be worth 2 billion shekels (around $504
million), was seized in three raids around the world. In a separate
development, all media reported that yesterday a Thai court
sentenced two Israelis to death after convincing them of smuggling
23,000 Ecstasy pills. Yediot cited the DEAQs suspicion that the two
are linked to crime kingpin Yitzhak AbergilQs organization. The
Foreign Ministry has said it will intervene in their behalf.

All media reported that today Olmert may present his own plan to
secure Israelis pension savings, just a day after the Finance
Ministry unveiled its financial bailout package. HaQaretz quoted
sources in the Prime MinisterQs Office as saying that Olmert was
dissatisfied with the treasury plan.

Leading media reported that UN General Assembly President Miguel
d'Escoto Brockmann has called for "concrete action" against Israel
over the country's treatment of Palestinians. He was quoted as
saying that the international community should consider sanctions
against Israel including "boycott, divestment and sanctions" similar
to those enacted against South Africa two decades ago.

Major media reported that the Labor PartyQs petitions arbitration
court has ordered the cancellation of all reserved spots on the
partyQs Knesset candidates list. This means that Infrastructure
Minister Benjamin Ben-EliezerQs position is no longer safe.

HaQaretz reported that PM Olmert hinted yesterday that the
government will not forcibly evacuate settlers from the so-called
"House of Contention" in Hebron, but that it will instead settle for
preventing settler attacks on their Palestinian neighbors. Yediot
reported that yesterday DM Ehud Barak decided that policemen, not
soldiers, will evacuate the house. Israel Radio reported that last
night dozens of young Jewish settlers vandalized Palestinian
property near the house.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday the issue of Amona
returned to the High Court of Justice, when 10 Palestinian farmers
who own land on the site of the illegal outpost filed a petition,
demanding that the government evict the 40 families living on the
outskirts of the settlement of Ofra.

Major media cited the state-run Iranian Students News Agency that
quoted an Iranian prosecutor as saying that he will request the
death sentence for three suspects accusing of spying for Israel.
The Jerusalem Post reported that U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham
hosted a concert at his residence in tribute to slain Wall Street
Journal journalist Daniel Pearl.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the four American citizens running
for Knesset in the December 8 Likud primary told a party-related
audience yesterday that Israel can learn a lot from the U.S. about
how to improve the country.

Israel TV published the results of a Geocartographia poll according
to which the Labor Party would shrink from its current 19 seats to 7
seats -Q one seat less than the new Meretz. The poll found that
Likud would rise to 37 seats. Kadima, which all polls had credited
with 30 seats, dropped to 25.

Makor Rishon cited the results of a special poll conducted by the
Center for Ideas and Education at the Berl Katznelson Foundation,
through the Market Watch institute: 77 percent of Israelis no longer
believe that there is a chance of peace with the Palestinians over
the next five years. The lack of belief was prevalent mostly among
young people aged 18 to 24 and religious. The poll also found that
more than 70 percent of the Israeli public does not believe that
there is currently a partner for talks with the Palestinians.
Approximately a quarter of the respondents answered that there was a
partner for peace. These respondents were mostly secular,
traditional, over 65, and with an above-average income. But a
surprising number of almost 40 percent of the respondents said that
they supported holding peace talks with Hamas. The percentage of
those who opposed peace talks with Hamas among slightly more than
half of the public is higher among men, the ultra-Orthodox and
religious population and those who live in the Jerusalem region.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: QAfter the [Israeli] elections the [U.S.]
administration will have to work with the winner; [ObamaQs]
challenge will be to persuade Netanyahu to act pragmatically and not
get into a pointless ideological wrangle with him. And this
challenge pales beside the challenge of finding a Palestinian leader
reliable and strong enough to sign an agreement and implement it.

Liberal columnist Gadi Taub wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot: QThere is no way to unilaterally withdraw at the
moment. But there is a lot to do in order to prevent ourselves from
sinking into the binational mire.

Former Ambassador to the U.S. and former chief negotiator with Syria
Prof. Itamar Rabinovich wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: QIf the Israeli-Syrian conflict is to be resolved,
and if Damascus is to build a new relationship with Washington as
part of the same process, it would take leadership and statesmanship
to make it happen.

Gerald M. Steinberg, Executive Director of www.ngo-monitor.org and
chair of the Political Science Department at Bar-Ilan University,
wrote in The Jerusalem Post: QIf the Arab states and the Europeans
are seriously committed to a peace initiative based on mutual
acceptance and an end to conflict, they will need to actively
disassociate themselves from ... virulent anti-Israel campaigning.

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

I. "Peace within Reach, Redux"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/26): QObama should learn two lessons from
this way of doing things (the missed opportunity of 2000]. The
first is that plans aren't enough: The public proposal for an
Israeli-Palestinian peace published by his close associates is
absolutely identical to Bush's positions and the positions of
previous presidents. The question is how to turn it into a reality,
and no one has found an answer. The second lesson is that leaders'
terms of office are short and they must not wait. The expectation
that in the three weeks between his inauguration and the Israeli
elections Obama will present a peace plan that will convince the
Israelis to vote for QTzipi and not BibiQ [Netanyahu] seems
unrealistic and contrary to the way he has conducted himself until
now. Obama wants peace, but he also reads public opinion polls. If
the trend of the strengthening of the right and the rise of Benjamin
Netanyahu continues in Israel, he will not risk public support for a
loser. After the elections the administration will have to work
with the winner; his challenge will be to persuade Netanyahu to act
pragmatically and not get into a pointless ideological wrangle with
him. And this challenge pales beside the challenge of finding a
Palestinian leader reliable and strong enough to sign an agreement
and implement it.

II. "Negotiations Going Nowhere"

Liberal columnist Gadi Taub wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (11/26): QThe three large [Israeli] parties have ...
returned to the same tune: They will boldly strive to achieve an
agreement that will ensure peace with security. The parties differ
in the price they are willing to pay, but it does not really matter.
We are debating among ourselves over the price of merchandise that
the Palestinians do not want to buy. It appeared as if we had
awoken from our slumber and understood this after Camp David 2000.
It appeared as if we understood that our entire conceptual system
was fundamentally flawed -- both on the Right and on the Left. And
then we stopped talking about QconcessionsQ that have to be done Qin
exchange for peace.Q We slowly but surely understood that things
were the reverse of what we thought: It is not that we want a
greater Israel and they want partition. Just the opposite: We need
partition and the Palestinians want to prevent it. They aspire to
an Arab majority throughout the land, and partition will rob them of
this.... True, there is no way to unilaterally withdraw at the
moment. But there is a lot to do in order to prevent ourselves from
sinking into the binational mire. We can complete the construction
of the fence already, start bringing back the settlers and leave the
army on the other side until a way is found to prevent rocket
terror. Zionism is a serious matter. This movement knew how to
make decisions. A real leadership would not let a handful of
settlers and several tin rockets crash the Zionist vessel into
binational shoals.

III. "How Not to Negotiate with Syria"

Former Ambassador to the U.S. and former chief negotiator with Syria
Prof. Itamar Rabinovich wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (11/26): QWith Syria, early public discussion of an
idea to be raised in the negotiation is likely to undermine it.... A
second lesson, hardly an earthshaking discovery, was that you must
not appear too eager for the deal. This immediately raises the
price. From this perspective, whoever leaked the [defense
establishmentQs] document [this week] to HaQaretz has weakened
Israel's hand in the negotiation with Syria. This does not mean
that a negotiation of this importance can or should be conducted in
total secrecy, and that a signed and sealed deal should be delivered
to a stunned public. Public diplomacy is an essential part of any
negotiation and conflict resolution. But so is secret diplomacy.
If the Israeli-Syrian conflict is to be resolved, and if Damascus is
to build a new relationship with Washington as part of the same
process, it would take leadership and statesmanship to make it
happen. Secret diplomacy (for the parties to establish the
fundamentals of the deal) and public diplomacy (to prepare the
ground for painful concessions and anticipated gains) would have to
be sequenced carefully if the process is to succeed against many
odds.

IV. "Arab Peace or Durban War?"

Gerald M. Steinberg, Executive Director of www.ngo-monitor.org and
chair of the Political Science Department at Bar-Ilan University,
wrote in The Jerusalem Post (11/26): QAs the Annapolis negotiations
end without apparent progress, hopes for peace are refocusing around
the revived 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. But while the promoters of
this effort highlight the breakthrough in accepting the legitimacy
of Israel and an end of conflict, many of our potential Arab
partners are promoting demonization through another round of the
Durban process. The use of terms like Qapartheid,Q anti-Semitism
both new and old, and efforts to promote academic and other boycotts
are the exact opposite of the peace arrangements proclaimed in the
Arab initiative.... In declaring the failure of efforts to prevent
the second Durban conference from emulating the first, the Israeli
government has set down a clear marker. If the Arab states and the
Europeans are seriously committed to a peace initiative based on
mutual acceptance and an end to conflict, they will need to actively
disassociate themselves from such virulent anti-Israel
campaigning.

MORENO

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