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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2854/01 3541158
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191158Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9693
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 4757
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1356
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 5178
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5561
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4784
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 3211
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5557
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2398
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0623
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9347
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6840
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1784
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5849
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7838
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0678
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 1040
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002854

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:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Iran

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

Leading media quoted PM Olmert as saying yesterday in London that he
hopes for peace with Syria. Media reported that on Monday he will
travel to Ankara for a meeting with Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan
to -- according to Yediot Q pave the way for direct Israel-Syria
talks that will obligate the future government to continue them.
Media quoted Olmert as at a conference of the Institute for
Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv as saying that Syrian President Bashar
Assad is Qriper than ever for a peace deal with Israel.Q Likud
Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said in Paris the he is not committed to
concessions on the Golan.

HaQaretz reported that Vice PM Haim Ramon, one of the founders of
Kadima, was demoted yesterday to the 17th slot on the partyQs list.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Idan Ofer, chairman of the Israeli
Better Place company, told the newspaper that the incoming Obama
adinistration is Qclosely monitoringQ the innovative electric car
project being developed by the company and that it may adopt it.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted FM Tzipi Livni as saying that the UN
Security Council Resolution to recognize Annapolis is a significant
achievement for Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a Russian defense official, who was
quoted this week as saying that arms sales to Iran created regional
stability, told the newspaper yesterday that he had not been
referring to the sale of the advanced S-3000 anti-aircraft missile
system.

The Jerusalem Post reported that visiting former CENTCOM commander
Adm. (ret.) William Fallon told the newspaper that Israel is one of
the strongest countries in the Middle East and needs to stop giving
into a Qfear factorQ with regard to the prospect of a nuclear Iran.

HaQaretz reported that a new report from the U.S. Army College warns
that the American military must learn the lessons of the Second
Lebanon War, in which Hizbullah operated more like a conventional
army than a guerrilla organization. The newspaper also reported
that conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in the IDF received
an Qunprecedented shot in the armQ from North American Jewry, when
demonstrators protested again their detention by presenting 20,000
letters demanding their release.

The media reported that journalist Nitzan Horovitz was placed in the
third spot of the new Meretz Knesset list. The media reported that
yesterday the newly formed rightist party, Habayit Hayehudi (the
QJewish Home), lost two of its founding factions Moledet and Achi.
Maariv and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that United Torah Judaism
might split. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the Arab parties
might split as well.

Maariv reported that Prof. Uzi Arad is NetanyahuQs candidate for the
post of head of the National Security Council.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that part of the security fence in the
Judean Desert area was moved into the Green Line

The Jerusalem Post and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that a coin
from the Antiochus period Q the time of the great revolt against the
Romans -- was found in the Temple MountQs rubble

Maariv reported that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman are among the
contributors to the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Yediot reported that yesterday QJewishQ former DCM at American
Embassy Tel Aviv Gene Cretz was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Libya.

Maariv presented the results of a TNS/Teleseker poll on voting
intentions for the Knesset elections, which show a tie between Likud
and Kadima:
Likud:30; Kadima 30; Labor Party: 12: Yisrael Beiteinu: 12; Arab
parties: 10; Shas:9; Meretz:7; National-Religious Party/Jewish Home
5; United Torah Judaism and assimilated: 5.

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

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: QInstead of military action, Israel has opted
to pressure Hamas via an economic blockade. But its freedom to do
so is liable to decrease once Barack Obama assumes the U.S.
presidency.

Intelligence affairs commentator Amit Cohen wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: QAt such moments, HamasQs unity is revealed. Once
a decision has been made, no one will deviate from it.... None of
the opponents would dare say that the decision that has been made is
incorrect.

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: QEven if it
were to sign a peace deal with Israel -Q and really meant to keep it
-Q the deal would be a dead letter because he Palestinian people
themselves want neither peace with Israel nor Fatah.

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

I. "BarakQs Gamble"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/18): QInstead of military action, Israel
has opted to pressure Hamas via an economic blockade. But its
freedom to do so is liable to decrease once Barack Obama assumes the
U.S. presidency. Already, international patience with the blockade
is wearing thin, and Israel has been under increasing pressure to
allow more goods into Gaza. Just last week, with George Bush still
in office, America joined the other members of the Middle East
Quartet.... in demanding that Israel completely lift the blockade
with regard to humanitarian goods (food, fuel, medicine, etc.). And
if even the Bush administration, which has largely supported Israeli
measures against Hamas, takes such an approach, Obama's
administration can be expected to take an even harder line, arguing
that it is wrong to punish 1.5 million Palestinians over a few
rockets.... However, this approach is liable to strengthen those in
Israel who favor a large-scale military operation.

II. "No Leader, No Need for Truce"
Intelligence affairs commentator Amit Cohen wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (12/18): QWe should remember that in the past
months, the military wing has gained in strength, and this includes
building bunkers and acquiring arms. They appear to believe, more
than in the past, that they have the ability to protect the senior
leaders against a renewal of the targeted killings. This is the
Hizbullah model.... At such moments, HamasQs unity is revealed.
Once a decision has been made, no one will deviate from it. As
opposed to Fatah, we will never see a deviation from the
organizationQs official line. All the spokespersons, all the senior
figures, adopt the decision, memorize the message sheet, and
aggressively convey it to Arab and Palestinian public opinion. This
unity is also maintained in off-the-record conversations, where all
that can be heard is that the status quo will be maintained. None
of the opponents would dare say that the decision that has been made
is incorrect.

III. "Betting on a Dead Horse"

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (12/18):
QFatah is a dead horse. Even if it were to sign a peace deal with
Israel -Q and really meant to keep it -Q the deal would be a dead
letter because the Palestinian people themselves want neither peace
with Israel nor Fatah.... To date, IsraelQs strategy for contending
with FatahQs demise has been to deny it. After Hamas renewed its
war against Israel this week, Prime Minster Ehud Olmert, Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni, and Barak have all threatened to take action
against Hamas. But at the same time, they have sent emissaries to
Egypt to beg Hamas to reconsider its decision.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: QIf [Obama] fails [in his arms-control bid],
and the nightmare of a nuclear Iran comes true, no one will be able
to pressure Israel.

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

"Is Obama on the Way to Dimona?"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/18): QIn their campaigns, Obama and
[Hillary] Clinton promised that arms control would once again play a
central role in American diplomacy. Their associates and
supporters, some of whom are candidates for positions in the new
administration, have repeated this message relentlessly to Israeli
colleagues and acquaintances.... In Israel there is a public
consensus that nuclear capability is important for the country's
survival and shouldn't be tampered with. There is not a single
Israeli among the signatories of Global Zero. The initiatives are
not directed against Israel, but as the Obama administration takes
shape and establishes its objectives, Israel will have to decide how
to act. Ten years ago, Bill Clinton's administration demanded that
Israel not raise any obstacles with respect to this treaty. The
prime minister at the time, Benjamin Netanyahu, acquiesced
unenthusiastically to the pressures. A few months later, when he
signed the Wye agreement with the Palestinians, Netanyahu asked for
and received from Clinton a written commitment that American moves
toward weapons control would not harm Israel's deterrent
capability.... During the Bush years, Israel enjoyed relative quiet
in this realm.... Now Israeli officials are expecting that Obama
will return to the Qfreeze treaty,Q even if not immediately.... The
prevailing view in the Israeli establishment is that everything
depends on what Obama achieves vis-a-vis the Iranians. If he stops
them before they have built a bomb, and maintains the world order
with regard to nuclear armament, there will be more legitimacy for
making demands of Israel. But if he fails, and the nightmare of a
nuclear Iran comes true, no one will be able to pressure Israel. In
that case, the discussion will revolve around ways to strengthen
Israel -- not about good intentions and arms-control treaties.

CUNNINGHAM

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