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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2696/01 3381238
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031238Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9421
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 4685
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1289
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 5092
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5488
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4709
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 3128
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5481
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2328
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0553
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9280
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6769
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1710
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5782
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7764
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0611
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0909
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002696

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

-------------------------
Key stories in the media:
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All media reported on a violent day in Hebron yesterday, leading to
the injury of 18 Israeli security personnel and settlers, including
a 15-year-old boy whose skull was fractures after he was hit in the
head by a rock. HaQaretz quoted the PA as saying that 20
Palestinians have been hurt in the clashes since Monday. The
settlers have inflicted significant damages to Palestinian property
and vandalized mosques and tombstones. The area surrounding what
has been dubbed the House of Contention, which the settlers are
calling the House of Peace, was declared a closed military zone
yesterday. HaQaretz reported that security forces are expected to
carry out an evacuation of the house by the end of the week. Israel
Radio and the leading Internet news service Ynet reported that this
morning four Jews stabbed an Arab in Jerusalem.

All media reported that the Labor Party has postponed its primary
election until tomorrow, after a series of technical malfunctions
shut down its new touch-screen voting system yesterday. When party
members return to vote again, they will use the old system --
placing paper voting slips in envelopes and dropping them into
cardboard ballot boxes, to be counted by hand. The media reported
that the glitch could have implications for Likud and Kadima, as
both parties are also planning computerized primaries.

The Jerusalem Post reported that PA officials in Ramallah told the
newspaper yesterday that the PA is planning to replace all the
Hamas-controlled municipalities and village councils in the West
Bank in the coming weeks. The officials were quoted as saying that
the decision was aimed at undermining HamasQs influence in the West
Bank and paving the way for the extension of PA President Mahmoud
AbbasQs term after it ends on January 9, 2009.
Major media reported that Martin Indyk, Director of the Saban Center
at Brookings, and Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign
Relations, proposed yesterday that President-elect Barack Obama
should shift the main U.S. foreign policy focus in the Middle East
from Iraq to curtailing Iran's nuclear program and promoting peace
agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors, including Syria.
Israel Radio cited the concern of Israeli officials about the
reportQs chapter on Iran.
Media reported that yesterday the Israel Air Force killed two Gazans
in the Rafah area, in an air strike the army said targeted a
Palestinian cell launching mortar shells at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom,
which borders southern Gaza. Palestinians fired at least two Qassam
rockets and five mortar shells at the western Negev yesterday,
causing no injuries. HaQaretz and other media quoted Palestinian
sources as saying that the fatalities were brothers, and that four
others were hurt in the air strike, adding that the brothers and
three of the other casualties were "youths." It appears they may
have been sent by the organization that fired the rockets in order
to dismantle the launcher.
HaQaretz reported that yesterday in Brussels FM Tzipi Livni spoke
before the European Parliament and a meeting of NATO foreign
ministers. The newspaper reported that following the meeting,
Israel and NATO will deepen their relations. The Jerusalem Post
reported that Israel is calling on the EU not to rush headlong into
normalizing relations with an un-reformed Damascus.

Maariv reported that during his recent visit to New York, President
Shimon Peres met with Sheikh Al-Azhar Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, the
highest-ranking Muslim cleric in Egypt. However, in an official
announcement released yesterday, Tantawi claimed: QI did not know
whose hand I was shaking.

Media reported that businessman Nir Barkat will take over today from
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky, who served six years in the post.

Citing yesterdayQs Wall Street Journal, The Jerusalem Post reported
that Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer may be a dark-horse
candidate for the presidency of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
-- to replace Timothy Geithner.

The Jerusalem Post reported on QACRI Q Eyes,Q a 30-second public
announcement that is a public service announcement created by ACRI,
he Association for Civil Rights in Israel, as part of a three-week
workshop sponsored by the State DepartmentQs Middle East Partnership
Initiative (MEPI). The aim is to encourage non-government
organizations (NGOs) to use the visual media to spread their
messages. In addition to ACRI, six other Israeli organizations
participated in the workshop, which ended this week. A U.S. Embassy
official was quoted as saying that the workshop, which was
facilitated by the nonprofit, New York-based production company
Barefoot, was aimed at furthering social causes in the Middle East.

---------
1. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: QThe
best place to hit-the-ground-running is on the Iranian issue.... If
Iran gets the bomb, Hamas and Hizbullah will be emboldened and
Muslim moderates throughout the world will be marginalized. So,
too, will the idea of taking risks for peace.

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

QTeam Obama

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/3):
Q[ObamaQs] appointments sent a message that was, by and large,
reassuring.... [Nonetheless,] the Obama administration can be
expected to pursue the same fundamental U.S. Mideast policy that has
been in place since 1967: finding the right modality to exchange
land for peace.... As the Obama team takes over on January 20,
neither Palestinians nor Israelis will be in a position to make
substantive negotiating progress. Israel will be in post-election
diplomatic limbo, while the Palestinian polity will still be
physically divided and politically fragmented. So the best place to
hit-the-ground-running is on the Iranian issue.... If Obama shows
himself truly committed to preventing the apocalypse-seeking Tehran
regime from going nuclear, if he rejects the notion that the mullahs
can be managed via deterrence, he will lead his team in pressing for
full bore sanctions, backed by the threat of force as a last resort.
This does not preclude talking to Iran. It only means he'd have
their full attention. If Iran gets the bomb, Hamas and Hizbullah
will be emboldened and Muslim moderates throughout the world will be
marginalized. So, too, will the idea of taking risks for peace.

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: QIsrael has
many QassetsQ in its hands -- more than 11,000 prisoners, some of
whom could certainly be exchanged for Gilad Shalit.

Former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: QObamaQs election is a
revolutionary landmark in the history of America, which cannot be
allowed to dissipate due to excessive expectations.

American-born historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg wrote in
Ha'aretz: Q[The late Moshe] Dayan didn't learn from the experience
of other nations. Netanyahu wants to recycle the failure of his own
nation.

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

I. "The Folly of the Detentions"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (12/3):
QAbducting people solely for bargaining, whether in Lebanon or the
territories, cannot be accepted as a legitimate part of the struggle
being led by the government. That is the way of terror
organizations. Israel has many QassetsQ in its hands -- more than
11,000 prisoners, some of whom could certainly be exchanged for
Gilad Shalit. The stalled negotiations for his release must be
revived quickly and sincerely, with Israel knowing full well the
price of his welfare. The state must immediately speed up the
negotiations, offer the necessary price, and stop the superfluous
nickel-and-diming. Shalit must come home.

II. QHot Potato for the President

Former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/3): QBarack ObamaQs
plans for the Middle East represent a welcome shift away from the
idea that the ills of regions suffering from dysfunction should be
treated by Qconstructive chaos.Q But it is very possible that the
far-reaching promises of the new U.S. president will also prove to
be unrealistic. ObamaQs agenda is breathtaking.... The magnitude
of the task should be examined versus the depressing legacy of the
Middle East, which is fraught with confrontations. The entire
region is undergoing a dangerous process of extremism, while a
growing chain of organizations, mainly radical Muslim groups, are
opposed to the very existence of an orderly state.... Obama may
understand fairly quickly that his schedule for a withdrawal from
Iraq is simply unrealistic. A quick U.S. disengagement could end in
a disintegration of the country into fragments of political
entities, one of which could certainly be a Muslim republic
controlled by Iran.... As for Iran, the new U.S. president may
return to a strategy of military pressure much sooner than he wants:
Iran has no intention of deviating from its progress towards nuclear
status. The Middle East poses an almost impossible task to Obama:
To deal with historical and political ills while the United States
he inherited no longer enjoys a status of unquestioned hegemony,
while it and its allies are immersed in the most severe economic
crisis since 1929.... ObamaQs election is a revolutionary landmark
in the history of America, which cannot be allowed to dissipate due
to excessive expectations. His idealistic urge will have to be
moderated in light of the United StatesQ limited power at present.
The challenge that faces his foreign policy is not to change the
Middle East but rather to repair it, and by the good old diplomatic
means. If the goal is thus defined, the fulcrum for achieving it is
resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict in general and the Palestinian
issue in particular. Obama will have to start keeping his promise
to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Qfrom the moment I am
sworn inQ without wasting time.... There is no need to reinvent the
wheel.


III. "Dayan as Tragedy, Bibi as Farce"

American-born historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg wrote in
Ha'aretz (12/3): QStraightforwardly, [the late Moshe] Dayan sought
to establish a colonial regime, supposedly benevolent. Israel would
rule; the natives would work, study and be happy with their lot....
But his proposal treated the Palestinians practically as different
species: They would be satisfied with economic improvements and
wouldn't seek political expression as individuals or a
collective.... Netanyahu's platform is a con game twice over.
Palestinians will not abandon their demand for independence because
of economic growth. And given the absolute lack of free movement in
the territories, even a colonial economy can't grow there. The
question is what will happen first: a new violent confrontation or
an international economic boycott.... Still, there's a difference
between Dayan and Netanyahu: Dayan didn't learn from the experience
of other nations. Netanyahu wants to recycle the failure of his own
nation. Perhaps that's the difference between tragedy and farce.

MORENO

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