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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2882/01 3581134
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231134Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9754
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 4768
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1367
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 5193
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5572
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4798
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 3222
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5571
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2409
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0634
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 9358
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6851
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1795
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5860
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7849
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 0689
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 1060
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002882

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. FAA Downgrading of Israeli Aviation Status

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

All media quoted Syrian President Bashar Assad as saying yesterday,
following PM Ehud OlmertQs talks in Ankara, that he believes direct
peace talks with Israel are possible and that they will eventually
take place. Assad said that direct talks were necessary. The media
reported that Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Golan
and stated that Israel would stay on the Golan regardless of what
Olmert signs.

The media reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called FM
Tzipi Livni to Cairo to discuss renewing a cease-fire in Gaza. She
will travel there on Thursday. The media quoted Hamas leaders as
saying that a 24-hour cease-fire would go into effect. A senior
militant of HamasQs military branch told Maariv that this truce was
over. The Jerusalem Post quoted senior Israeli defense officials as
saying that an operation will be launched against Hamas in Gaza even
if the terrorist group heeds an Egyptian request and reduces its
rocket attacks against Israel. Maariv reported that DM Ehud Barak
is considering responding with artillery fire at the areas from
where Qassam rockets and mortar shells are launched. HaQaretz
quoted senior government sources in Jerusalem as saying that an
international player they would not name is attempting to renew
talks between Israel and Hamas about the cease-fire in the Gaza
Strip. The sources were quoted as saying that the contacts were
currently at the level of initial feelers.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Bush administration appears to
be using its final weeks to crack down on Iranian business interests
in the U.S., freezing assets of a company suspected of indirectly
supporting TehranQs nuclear program, and arresting Farshid Jahedi,
the executive of a related charity.

HaQaretz and The Jrusalem Post cited an AP report quoting RussiaQsstate arms export agency as saying yesterday that it is supplying
Iran with defensive weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, but
that they did not say whether they include sophisticated long-range
S-300 missiles.

Media reported that yesterday the Meretz central committee approved
joining the new leftist party.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the UN Relief and Works Agency
(UNRWA) in Gaza warned yesterday that more violence and the
continued blockade are a Qrecipe for disasterQ in Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post quoted National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin
Ben-Eliezer as saying in Jordan, at the latest Euro-Med conference,
that Israel is a willing partner in signing a water management
cooperation agreement.

Israel Radio reported that British tax authorities have stepped up
their examinations of goods from Israel to ensure that goods that
originate in the settlements not be given a customs exemption. The
British envoy to the Middle East said in Jerusalem that Britain was
also working in the EU to promote criteria for marking goods from
the settlements. Britain is about to change its travel advisory to
its citizens visiting the territories and to recommend that they not
buy property in the settlements. The London government said that if
a peace agreement were reached with the Palestinians or Syria, this
was liable to cause losses to people buying such property. The
Jerusalem Post reported that Israel will not fight an advisory by
the British against buying property over the Green Line.

The media reported that the Kadima primaries my have been tainted
with corruption,

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi
Yona Metzger sent a letter to President Bush asking that he pardon
convicted spy Jonathan Pollard before leaving office.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: QAnyone who thinks it is
possible to topple the Hamas regime -- if this is at all possible
without occupying Gaza -- either does not want to listen to the
IDF's assessments or is deluding himself.

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: QSenior security officials underscored
yesterday that the Egyptians were not engaged in mediating between
Israel and Hamas in hope of renewing the tahdiya. They said that
the Egyptians were deeply insulted by Hamas.

Security and intelligence affairs commentator Amit Cohen wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv: QZahar must know that the terms that
he is talking about aren't plausible at present.... That might be
the reason why Hamas's official and declared policy contradicts
Zahar's demands. No one is seriously talking about renewing the
agreement at present.

Arab affairs correspondent Smadar Perry wrote in Yediot Aharonot:
Q[Assad] is in a hurry, in words dripping with sweetness, to extract
the QdepositQ from Olmert and get on the highway to office of the
new president in the White House.

Gilad Sharon, the son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, wrote
in Yediot Aharonot: QWhat [Olmert] has achieved is shackle his
successor.... He knows exactly how the public will remember him.

Palestinian columnist Daoud Kuttab wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: QWhether or not the activities of
regional leaders will ensure that the peace process is irreversible
is hard to tell.


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

I. "Lightning and Thunder"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/23): QIf there is a solution
to the Gaza problem, it is not going to come from hysteria and
pressure, but through brainpower and deliberation. With respect to
these, no one can compete with Barak and his cold, razor-sharp
judgment.... It is also important that Israel have international
support for any action it decides on -- experience, after all, shows
that an operation in the midst of a civilian population can bring
the world's wrath down on us if women and children are killed.
Anyone who thinks it is possible to topple the Hamas regime -- if
this is at all possible without occupying Gaza -- either does not
want to listen to the IDF's assessments or is deluding himself.
Have the Americans already succeeded in uprooting the Taliban?
Anyone who believes that going into Gaza for a limited operation is
a trivial matter is deceiving himself and the public. Especially in
light of Hamas' long-range rockets, which are capable of reaching
... the outskirts of Beersheva. However, there are many degrees on
Israel's scale of responses, and in my opinion the decision to act
has already been taken.

II. "The Clock Is Ticking"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/23): QQAll of the preparations leading
up to military activity in the Gaza Strip are moving ahead as
planned,Q said yesterday a high-ranking security official against
the backdrop of what was cast by the Palestinians as a 24-hour lull.
QAs far as we are concerned, the clock of military preparations has
continued to tick as planned. If Hamas truly maintains full quiet
for at least 24 hours, only then will it be possible to begin to
think about stopping that ticking clock.Q QAs far as Israel is
concerned,Q said the high-ranking source, Qno state of Qtahdiya
[calm] was recorded yesterday. Hamas failed even to meet its own
conditions in order to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. That is
why the border crossings have remained closed and we won't allow the
passage of the humanitarian convoy that was sent by the Egyptians.
The Egyptian aid convoy was supposed to enter the Gaza Strip via the
Kerem Shalom crossing, but a Qassam rocket landed near that border
crossing yesterday, prompting an Israeli decision not to permit the
border crossings to be opened. The border crossings are not planned
to be opened today either. Senior security officials underscored
yesterday that the Egyptians were not engaged in mediating between
Israel and Hamas in hope of renewing the tahdiya. They said that
the Egyptians were deeply insulted by Hamas.

III. "The Zahar Show"

Security and intelligence affairs commentator Amit Cohen wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv (12/23): QThe terms [senior Hamas
official Mahmoud] Zahar was talking about [yesterday] were never
agreed to. Hamas demanded that the blockade on the Gaza Strip be
lifted.... The second issue cited by Zahar, to extend the truce
agreement to Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] as well, was
something that Israel never agreed to.... Zahar must know that the
terms that he is talking about aren't plausible at present. He has
already conceded publicly that the tension between Hamas and Egypt
has reached new heights, and Israel has no intention of meeting its
demands. That might be the reason why Hamas's official and declared
policy contradicts Zahar's demands. No one is seriously talking
about renewing the agreement at present.

IV. "The Goal: To Shackle the Next Prime Minister"

Arab affairs correspondent Smadar Perry wrote in Yediot Aharonot
(12/23): QThe goal is clear: the Prime Minister is soon leaving
office and Assad is trying to extract from him something that will
go down in the history of the negotiations as the QOlmert deposit.
Such a formulation would obligate, so he hopes, the next prime
ministerQNetanyahu or Livni. But the Golan is not AssadQs only
interest: in the immediate short-term, his most burning interest is
in ridding himself of the hump that has been on his back for three
years now in the form of the international tribunal investigating
the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri....
Assad did not become a peace-seeker yesterday. The Turkish
steamroller pressured him to release a statement that would sound
good to the ears of the new U.S. administration and get Olmert, upon
his return from Ankara, to paint a positive picture of the Syrian
presidentQs determination and tenacity. And yet, nobody forgets for
a moment that the Hamas leadership lives with him in Damascus and
dictates reality in Gaza. Assad does not intend to quell Hamas or
to stop encouraging Hizbullah. But he is in a hurry, in words
dripping with sweetness, to extract the QdepositQ from Olmert and
get on the highway to the office of the new President in the White
House.

V. QDifferent Dreams

Gilad Sharon, the son of former PM Ariel Sharon, wrote in Yediot
Aharonot (12/23): QIt is unpleasant to attack someone whoQs already
irrelevant, but there is no limit to OlmertQs cynicism. What is
this trip to Turkey and his pathetic attempts to get by force an
agreement with Syria? There wonQt be such an agreement. But what he
has achieved is shackle his successor.... He knows exactly how the
public will remember him.... Peace with Israel and the Golan do not
really interest [Assad]. Olmert and AssadQs dreams are different,
The former wants an embrace from Assad -- a picture that would
erase an embarrassing term. What the latter wants is survive with
his small Alawite sect as the head of their minority dictatorship in
Syria.

VI. QIs the Peace Process Irreversible?

Palestinian columnist Daoud Kuttab wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (12/22): QThe efforts of the Americans,
Israelis, and Palestinians come as a way of ensuring that whatever
government is elected by Israelis in February will not attempt to
reverse the accomplishments already made.... For Palestinians and to
a lesser degree Israelis, [last weekQs] Security Council Resolution
was not very reassuring. While important, statements by Qurei and
even Olmert did little to provide hope and optimism for people who
are fed up with words and public declarations. The status of
Palestinians, especially in regards to Gaza, is a much higher source
of concern than any public statements.... Whether or not the
activities of regional leaders will ensure that the peace process is
irreversible is hard to tell.

--------------------------------------------- --
2. FAA Downgrading of Israeli Aviation Status:
--------------------------------------------- --

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: QA failure of
this magnitude entails ministerial responsibility, and it falls
entirely on one man -- the current transportation minister, Shaul
Mofaz.


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

"Mofaz Is to Blame"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (12/23): QThe
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's decision to downgrade
Israel's flight safety rating came as no surprise.... Successive
Israeli transportation ministers, from Yisrael Kessar [in the 1990s]
to Shaul Mofaz, have all treated the Civil Aviation Administration
[CAA] and the Israel Airports Authority as convenient places to make
political appointments, and have allowed the criminal neglect to
continue. They all heard the professionals' warnings about the
CAA's haplessness, about the inefficacy of turning it into an agency
with lots of money but very little power, and about the dangers this
entailed.... The next transportation and finance ministers will have
to quickly enact a thorough reform of the Civil Aviation
Administration to rescue Israel from the developing-world
classification into which it has cornered itself. But a failure of
this magnitude entails ministerial responsibility, and it falls
entirely on one man -- the current transportation minister, Shaul
Mofaz.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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