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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2663/01 3361139
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011139Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9370
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
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 4674
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1278
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 5073
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5475
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4696
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 3107
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5467
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2315
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0540
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9269
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6758
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1697
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5771
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7752
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0600
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0886
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002663

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. Aftermath of Mumbai Terror Attacks

2. Mideast

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

The media reported that an IDF soldier lost a leg on Friday in a
mortar attack from Gaza on his base. The Jerusalem Post reported
that he is no longer at risk of losing the other leg. Israel Radio
reported that Egypt has asked Hamas to stop the mortar fire in order
to keep the Gaza-Israel crossings open.

Maariv reported that associates of Labor Chairman Ehud Barak and
other political figures are trying to convince him to offer Kadima a
union before the party primaries. However, Barak declined the
proposal, believing that Labor will gain 13 Knesset seats in the
general elections. Yesterday The Jerusalem Post reported that on
Saturday Vice PM Haim Ramon called on PM Olmert to suspend himself.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the head of a ZAKA -- humanitarian
voluntary organization responding to tragic incidents in Israel --
team in Mumbai told the daily yesterday that the Indian commando
raid launched to save the lives of Jewish and Israeli hostages at
the cityQs Chabad House may have inadvertently ended the lives of
one or more of the hostages.

Major media reported that President-elect Barack Obama is set to
name Sen. Hillary Clinton secretary of state today.

Major media reported that yesterday the cabinet approved the release
of 250 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture toward
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Yediot and Maariv quoted Gilad
ShalitQs family as saying that any release of Palestinian prisoners
that is not part of a deal harms efforts to release Gilad.

The leading Internet news service Ynet reported that this morning
the Israel Navy prevented a Libyan boat from reaching Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, in an unusual development, the
military commander of Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] has
petitioned the High Court of Justice, asking it to reject a decision
by a military appeals court that Jews who had spent 10 years
cultivating land owned by Palestinians were legally entitled to
possess it.

HaQaretz reported that Israeli officials are deeply concerned over
an internal European Union document outlining the EU's plans for
advancing an Israeli-Palestinian deal in 2009. It calls for
increased pressure on Israel to reopen Palestinian institutions in
Jerusalem, including the Orient House, which formerly served as the
PAQs headquarters in the city. The document, a copy of which was
obtained by HaQaretz, was written by the French Foreign Ministry, as
France currently occupies the EU's rotating presidency. It is
slated to be discussed next week at a meeting of the EU's foreign
ministers, and Israel is trying to get various elements changed
before then. Titled "The EU Action Strategy for Peace in the Middle
East: The Way Forward," the document proposes various steps the EU
should take in 2009 on both the Palestinian and the Syrian tracks,
with emphasis on the former. However, its proposals are liable to
result in a clash with whatever new government Israelis elect in
February, whether headed by Tzipi Livni or Benjamin Netanyahu.

All media reported that the Finance Ministry is at odds with PM Ehud
Olmert regarding the emergency economic plan. HaQaretz reported
that yesterday four top treasury officials accused two top advisers
to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of acting illegally by trying to
circumvent Finance Ministry authority and creating their own
emergency economic plan, which goes further than the treasury's
proposed plan. HaQaretz views this as a strike by Finance Minister
Roni Bar-On at Olmert, who for many years was considered a close
friend.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the governments of Israel and the
U.S. will announce four joint projects in the field of an
alternative energy at the Eilat-Elot international renewable energy
conference in February. The projects will be financed under the
auspices of the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act.

Yediot reported that a report issued by an international energy
company recommends building a nuclear power station in Israel as the
cheapest and best solution for the country.

Israel Hayom cited the results of a poll conducted yesterday by New
Wave Research, showing the Israeli voter intentions (in Knesset
seats; figures in brackets show the current Knesset seats):
Likud: 35 (12); Kadima: 26 (29); Shas: 10 (12); Arab parties: 10
(10); Yisrael Beiteinu: 10 (11); Labor Party: 7 (19): Meretz: 7 (5);
the Jewish Home 5 (6); United Torah Judaism: 5 (6); Green Party: 2
(0).
The right-wing bloc would garner 65 Knesset seats and the leftwing
bloc 55.

---------------------------------------
1. Aftermath of Mumbai Terror Attacks:
---------------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Columnist and former intelligence officer Amos Gilboa wrote in the
popular, pluralist Maariv: Qthe Obama administration will have to
adapt its plans to reality, not the other way around.

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning HaQaretz: QThe interest shown by global
jihad organizations in Israelis and Jews as targets is not new. Now
it is also clear that even when the background to their attacks is
apparently a regional conflict with no connection to us (India and
Pakistan), the Islamic element turns Israelis and Jews into
secondary targets for terrorists.

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

I. "ObamaQs Reception"

Columnist and former intelligence officer Amos Gilboa wrote in the
popular, pluralist Maariv (12/1): QThe Mumbai terror has nothing to
do with the U.S. elections, because it was planned many months
before the elections and before the outbreak of the global economic
crisis. But it does have a direct implication on the Obama
administration at various levels, one of which is the threat of
radical Islamic terror.... Obama and his entourage will understand
very fast that Bush wasnQt totally ignorant and that America is
still in the midst of a war against Islamic global terrorism. In
other words, the Obama administration will have to adapt its plans
to reality, not the other way around. Who knows what surprise
global Jihad is preparing for Obama as he enters office.

II. "Israel Is on the Map"

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning HaQaretz (12/1): QIt's hard to judge
whether Hizbullah, Hamas, or the global jihad groups (Al-Qaida
derivatives) are capable of carrying out something similar to the
Mumbai attacks] within Israel, which currently seems slightly better
prepared than India to combat such an attack. Still, from now on,
that is the extreme scenario that must be taken into
consideration.... Anti-terror experts say that just securing one
floor of a hotel where terrorists are holding hostages would take an
entire unit. Even Israel does not have enough units capable of
handling a few hostage-taking and other attacks simultaneously....
The interest shown by global jihad organizations in Israelis and
Jews as targets is not new. Now it is also clear that even when the
background to their attacks is apparently a regional conflict with
no connection to us (India and Pakistan), the Islamic element turns
Israelis and Jews into secondary targets for terrorists. Israel's
anti-terrorism headquarters is already thinking about increasing
security at hundreds of Jewish institutions around the world.

------------
2. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Former Meretz leader Dr. Yossi Beilin wrote in the independent
Israel Hayom: QLeaving all these settlements in place and
disregarding the Israeli Roadmap commitment constitutes the harshest
damage to Abbas and his supporters. This week's prisoner release
will not make up for it.

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: QThe Labor Party and its agenda are still
important for Israeli society.... Tomorrow, the Labor Party is
holding its primary.... Give it another chance. Give us another
chance too.

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

I. "Releasing Prisoners Is Not Enough"

Former Meretz leader Dr. Yossi Beilin wrote in the independent
Israel Hayom (12/1): QThe release of prisoners is a very central
topic on the Palestinian agenda, and there is significance even to
the release of 250 from over 10,000 prisoners, but it is far from
being dramatic. Olmert's government, which is limping toward the
end of its term, promised from its first day to implement the Sasson
report, and evacuate-at the very least-the unauthorized settlement
outposts, those established by deceit, those that even the right
wing announces repeatedly that their existence should not be
supported, because unlawful construction should not be accepted.
Nothing has happened. Leaving all these settlements in place and
disregarding the Israeli Roadmap commitment constitutes the harshest
damage to Abbas and his supporters. This week's prisoner release
will not make up for it.

II. "It Deserves another Chance"

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (12/1): QSince the polls have shown that [the Labor
Party] is sinking fast, the dam has burst.... Barak and the Labor
Party have earned some of this treatment fair and square, and they
can only criticize themselves.... The Labor Party and its agenda are
still important for Israeli society....
It is true that Ehud Barak elicits antagonism, he is a man who
projects a certain detachment from reality, but he is still the
person who stands between us and a large invasion of Gaza, which
will cause many casualties on both sides, and only produce more
salvos of Qassam rockets and Katyusha rockets. And this is only one
example. Tomorrow, the Labor Party is holding its primary. If it
comes out of it with a fresh list, with all the good people it has,
it can certainly be considered a legitimate and important
social-democratic party, and not a battered and bleeding body. Give
it another chance. Give us another chance too.

MORENO

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