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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2733/01 3431153
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081153Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9481
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 4702
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1306
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 5117
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5510
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4731
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 3153
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5503
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2345
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0570
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9297
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6786
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1732
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5799
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7782
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0628
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0948
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002733

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. Mideast

2. Iran

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

The headlines of major media (lead story in HaQaretz) quoted
President-elect Barack Obama as saying yesterday on NBCQs QMeet the
PressQ program that the West must engage in "tough but direct
diplomacy" with Iran, but emphasized that TehranQs vocalized threats
against Israel stand "contrary to everything" the United States
believes in. He also said that he was prepared to offer Iran
economic incentives to stop its nuclear program, but warned that
sanctions could be toughened if it refused. Yesterday Yediot quoted
prospective Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying in a round
of telephone conversations she held over the weekend with the senior
Israeli political leadership -- PM Olmert, FM Tzipi Livni, and DM
Ehud Barak -- that she will continue to act to bring peace and
stability to the Middle East.

All media highlighted todayQs Likud primaries, in which 99,000
registered party voters will cast their ballots and 144 candidates
will vie for places in the Knesset. HaQaretz reported that several
senior Likud officials urged yesterday that when Likud members cast
their votes in Monday's primary they should ignore Chairman Benjamin
Netanyahu's list of recommended candidates. The Jerusalem Post
reported that the race could alter NetanyahuQs fate.

HaQaretz reported that the pre-election political rivalry between
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak
ratcheted up a notch yesterday, after the Kadima leader accused her
Labor counterpart of harming the security of residents in the south
and Barak rejected a Livni-brokered deal that would have allowed a
Qatari ship to unload humanitarian aid for Gazans at the Ashdod
port. (The ship also carried Arab Knesset members.) Meanwhile, as
Palestinians repeatedly fired on the Negev yesterday, media reported
that the cabinet approved Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's proposal to
allocate NIS 600 million for the protection of communities located
within 4.5 kilometers of the seurity fence surrounding the Gaza
Strip. Yediot reported that the legal advisor to the defense
establishment has ruled that the IDF can resume artillery fire Q but
only into open spaces.

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that yesterday at the
weekly cabinet meeting, PM Ehud Olmert called Hebron setter violence
a Qpogrom.Q HaQaretz reported that a senior Israeli security source
told the daily this weekend that recent confrontations between
hard-line West Bank settlers and Palestinians, regarding the
evacuation of Hebron's so-called House of Contention are likely to
entangle Israel in a religious confrontation with Muslim communities
the world over. The violence included the desecration of Muslim
cemeteries in Hebron and anti-Muslim graffiti on mosque walls in the
city, as well as around Qalqilya and Ramallah.

The online news service Nana10 reported that DM Barak told
Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad yesterday that Israel is considering
allowing Palestinian police in Bethlehem.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a local Indian policeman warned
that the Indian resort of Goa, a major destination for Israeli
backpackers and holidaymaker, is at risk of being struck by
Al-Qaida.

HaQaretz reported that green groups are accusing the Jewish National
Fund of planting in the Negev to prevent Bedouin construction and
grazing.

Yesterday HaQaretz reported that Shin Bet has confirmed for the
first time that it regularly interferes in the appointment in the
appointment of Muslim clergymen to public office.

Leading media reported that President Bush attended the Saban Forum
2008.


HaQaretz reported that yesterday the ministerial committee
overseeing the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails
approved the release of 230 prisoners as a gesture of goodwill to
the Palestinian Authority ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid
al-Adha. The cabinet approved a list of 250 prisoners last week.
Some 20 names were removed from the list following objections by
several ministers, who were opposed to releasing prisoners into the
Gaza Strip.
Yesterday HaQaretz quoted diplomats in Jerusalem as saying that
Israel has provided NATO with substantial intelligence about the
Iranian nuclear program and the long-range missiles used by the
Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

HaQaretz quoted senior Jerusalem sources as saying that Israel and
Morocco are quietly discussing a visit by FM Tzipi Livni to the
North African kingdom in the coming weeks. This would be the first
visit to Morocco by an Israeli foreign minister since Silvan Shalom
went in 2003.

The media reported that a judge from the Jerusalem MagistrateQs
Court ordered a Kiryat Arba resident who shot two Palestinians last
week remanded for four days, but released another Kiryat Arba man
whom police also wanted to keep in jail.

------------
1. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: QThe Obama administration will try to
correct what is now considered an error of the Clinton and Bush
administrations: The administration's absolute support for the
policies of Israeli governments.

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: QLikud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu cannot be
permitted to hide behind general condemnations of a handful of
lawbreakers.

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

I. "QYes, We Can (Speak with Iran)Q"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/8): QAfter three days of fascinating
discussions in the Saban Forum in Washington, the foreign policy
guidelines of President-elect Obama and designated secretary of
state Hillary Clinton are becoming clear.... Contrary to the Bush
administration, the Obama administration intends to launch talks

with Iran immediately after being inaugurated, in order to reach a
deal in which Iran will willingly halt the nuclear program....
Several figures who will advise the Obama administration are
convinced that the United States will have to provide guarantees for
Israel's security and the security of the Palestinian state in order
for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to be possible.
The Obama administration will try to correct what is now considered
an error of the Clinton and Bush administrations: The
administration's absolute support for the policies of Israeli
governments. The lesson that was learned is that absolute support
for Israel must not be confused with absolute support for its
government's policy. As for Syria, the chances of an agreement with
Israel are greater due to the need for Israel and the U.S. to shift
Syria from Iranian sponsorship to Western sponsorship. On this
matter, the Obama administration will have to wait until the
elections in Israel, but the assumption of the experts on Israel
affairs in Washington is that a government headed by Netanyahu will
display a willingness for a full withdrawal from the Golan as part
of a peace agreement with Syria. In their view, negotiations with
Syria must not delay the negotiations with the Palestinians.
Everything will be done simultaneously. The assumption of the Obama
administration is that the demographic consideration will cause
Israel to be flexible in the negotiations with the Palestinians.

II. "This ElectionQs Real Meaning"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/8): QThe realization of a Jewish right of
return to the area some refer to as Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West
Bank], or to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Nahalat Shimon,
invites a reopening of the 1948 file. There is no better recipe for
an end to political negotiations based on the borders of June 4,
1967. Like the eviction of the al-Kurd family from its East
Jerusalem home so Jewish settlers could live there, the real story
of the House of Contention is not one of a private dispute
concerning property rights; in both cases, the main test is not
about the rule of law or even about law enforcement. This is a
political-ideological conflict between segments of Israeli and
Palestinian society.... Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will not meet
her obligation simply by promising voters she won't allow any
refugees to return to Israel. She has to explain how she thinks the
Hebron settlers should be treated if she is elected prime
minister.... Defense Minister Ehud Barak cannot allow himself to
rest on the laurels of the commando operation in Hebron.... He must
promise he will continue to evacuate all illegal outposts and
completely halt settlement expansion. The lightning evacuation
showed that a stated fear of civil war is nothing but a hollow
excuse for cowardly politicians. Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu
cannot be permitted to hide behind general condemnations of a
handful of lawbreakers.... The Palestinian neighbors of right-winger
Baruch Marzel in Hebron and the East Jerusalem neighbors of the
widow al-Kurd can tell Netanyahu just what an Qeconomic peaceQ looks
like.

---------
2. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: QWhat's
left? Trusting the mullahs that if the international community goes
along with their hegemonic demands and never mentions Qregime
change," Teheran will stop -- just short of constructing a bomb?
Cynics might think that Mr. ElBaradei and the Euro-libs want to
paint Jerusalem into a corner.

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

"ElBaradeiQs QGrand BargainQ"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/8):
QThe IAEA/Euro-liberal consensus is that Iran should certainly not
acquire nuclear weapons. But at the same time, nothing tangible is
recommended that would thwart Teheran's extremist Shi'ite ideology,
Holocaust-denial or sponsorship of terror.... The EU has been
negotiating with Iran for years to no avail, and even the Bush
administration has held dozens of meetings with Teheran. Still,
Euro-Liberals envision the mullahs swooning once they're Qengaged
by the Obama administration.... So it's no to sanctions, no to
force, and no to opposing dual-use centrifuge technology. What's
left? Trusting the mullahs that if the international community goes
along with their hegemonic demands and never mentions Qregime
change,Q Teheran will stop -- just short of constructing a bomb?
Cynics might think that Mr. ElBaradei and the Euro-libs want to
paint Jerusalem into a corner.

SIEVERS

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