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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2928/01 3661132
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 311132Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4794
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 1393
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 5224
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5600
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4826
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 3255
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 5599
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2437
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0662
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RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6876
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002928

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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Gaza Operation

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Key stories in the media:
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The media reported that DM Ehud Barak is inclined to accept a French
proposal for a 48-hour suspension of the IDF offensive against Hamas
to allow Paris the opportunity to mediate a cease-fire. (Yediot and
Israel Radio reported that Israel rejected the proposal.) PM Ehud
Olmert is opposed to the move and appears to Qstay the course.
Israel Hayom reported that FM Tzipi Livni is faltering. At the
same time the media reported on efforts by the Quartet to broker a
cease-fire. Media reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy
and his FM Bernard Kouchner are expected to visit Israel on Monday
on their way to Lebanon. Media also reported that Turkey, France,
and the UN all urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to use his
influence with Hamas chief Khaled Mashal to agree to a truce.
HaQaretz reported that so far, Assad has refused, saying that Israel
must first halt its operation in Gaza. HaQaretz also reported that
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to visit Arab countries.

The media reported that last night Hamas fired two rockets at
Beersheva. One of the Katyusha rockets struck a kindergarten,
causing damage. Israel Radio reported that five Grad rockets landed
in Beersheva this morning, one on a school. The media reported that
yesterday the government approved the call-up of 2,500 further
reservists.

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that Egypt has offered
to mediate a cease-fire with Hamas if Israel halts all military
operations in Gaza. The media reported that yesterday Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak insisted that he would not open the Rafah
crossing between Sinai and Gaza unless it was controlled the PA, and
European monitors under a2005 agreement were president.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Hamas accused the PA of
planning to return to Gaza with the help of Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reported that some Israel diplomats have
overstepped the governmentQs statements on the aims of the
operation. For instance, Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev was
quoted as saying on Monday that the aim of the operation was to
Qcompletely destroyQ Hamas.

Akin to other media stories, HaQaretz quoted a resident of GazaQs
Jabalya refugee camp as saying that there are calls in Fatah for
Israel to take out the Hamas leadership.

Yediot reported that Qal-QaidaQ is adopting Hamas: The global
Islamic organization is targeting Israeli embassies around the
world.

The Jerusalem Post reported that candidates of Hatnua Hahadasha (The
New Movement)-Meretz will begin a new campaign today calling for a
cease-fire and opposing a ground incursion. Citing the Jewish
Telegraphic Agency, the daily also reported that four left-wing
pro-Israel groups -- J Street, Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek
v'Shalom, and the Israel Policy Forum -- all defended IsraelQs right
to strike Hamas installations in Gaza, but said that such actions
would be counterproductive and damage IsraelQs security in the long
run. They also called for intervention by the U.S. and the
international community to restore a cease-fire between Israel and
Hamas.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the High Court of Justice is
expected to rule today on a petition against a recent government
decision barring foreign correspondents from entering Gaza.

HaQaretz reported that Deputy Attorney General Shai Nitzan decided
yesterday that a criminal investigation for incitement to racism
will be opened against 29 rabbis who signed two advertisements
urging people not to hire Arabs. Both advertisements were issued
following terror attacks in Jerusalem carried out by East Jerusalem
residents:

Leading media reported that Ben-ami Kadish, an 85-year-old former
U.S. Army engineer, has admitted he passed classified documents to
the Israelis in the 1970s and '80s, entering the plea yesterday in
federal court in Manhattan. Kadish said he believes he was promised
that the government will not seek imprisonment at his February
sentencing. Kadish was accused of taking home classified documents
dealing with nuclear weapons.

A poll commissioned by the Channel 2-TV-affilated Mako web site
found that if elections were held today, Likud would win 29 seats,
as would the Livni-led Kadima party. In the previous poll, Likud
won 28 seats as opposed to KadimaQs 29. Ranking third in the
current poll is the Labor Party, with 14 seats. In the previous
poll the Labor Party was projected to receive only 10 Knesset seats,
exactly as many as Shas and the Arab parties. Yisrael Beiteinu also
made gains in the current poll, rising to 13 seats, while Shas
dropped to eight seats followed by Meretz with seven. The right
wing parties, United Torah Judaism (UTJ) and Jewish Home, receive
four seats each. The current poll also asked the respondents whom
they thought would be able to deal better with Gaza: Benjamin
Netanyahu, Tzipi Livni, or Ehud Barak. Among respondents 41% said
that Netanyahu would deal best with Gaza, leaving Livni (19%) and
Barak (18%) trailing far behind. Summary: Likud: 29; Kadima: 29;
Labor Party: 14; Yisrael Beiteinu: 13; Shas: 8; Meretz: 7; Hadash:
5; UTJ: 4 Jewish Home: 3; Hatikva (right-wing list): 3; United Arab
List: 3; Balad (Arab party): 2.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: QHamas can rack up its first
victory, as several European countries are already talking about a
QhumanitarianQ cease-fire, and Egypt has been fixed in the public
eye as a collaborator with Israel.

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote on page one of Ha'aretz: QDuring
the two-day truce, the IDF will arm itself with a new target bank,
fresh intelligence, refreshed troops and domestic and international
understanding of the need for a ground operation.

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: QIf Hamas accepts those
conditions, which incidentally appeared in the tahdiya agreement
from six months ago as well, then the war is over. But Hamas hasnQt
agreed to accept them.

Conservative columnist Nadav Haetzni wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: QThe great Arab nation that is now protesting wants Hamas.

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: QThere
should be no talk of a cease-fire until the declared goal of
achieving long-term normality in the South has been attained.

Prominent liberal author Amos Oz wrote in Yediot Aharonot: QHamas is
to blame for the deterioration in Gaza.... But this operation must
be limited in its goals: Israel has no other goal but to obtain as
soon as possible a complete and absolute cease-fire, which will
ensure quiet and calm on our border.

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

I. "Hamas Enjoys a Diplomatic Victory"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/31): QHamas can rack up its
first victory, as several European countries are already talking
about a QhumanitarianQ cease-fire, and Egypt has been fixed in the
public eye as a collaborator with Israel. This will make it hard for
Egypt to act as a mediator between Hamas and Israel, and the war in
Gaza will require international involvement and certainly active
Syrian involvement to end the hostilities. In that way Gaza goes
from being a local dispute between Israel and Hamas to the status of
half a state with the same status as Israel, so hopes Hamas. Such a
step could never have come off through regular diplomatic channels,
where Hamas would have appealed to Egypt or some other mediator, but
only by enlisting the masses in the region and by bypassing the
Palestinian Authority, which is not functioning during this
crisis.

II. "Timing his Political Entrance"

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote on page one of Ha'aretz (12/31):
QDefense minister Ehud Barak, whose performance during the first
days of Operation Cast Lead increased his public support, spoiled
his image yesterday with his very own words. His ambiguous
statements, from behind the transparent veil of an Qoff-the-record
conversation,Q once again lowered him from the rank of commander to
that of politician.... At a meeting with his aides] he did not
explain the connection between the stable, long-term cease-fire
whose achievement -- and nothing else -- would justify ending the
operation, and a limited cease-fire called solely to enable
negotiations on the larger cease-fire. The opposition he aroused
from his colleagues in the government and senior defense officials
managed to put the weaknesses of the group that will decide the
operation's future at the top of the agenda.... Barak is willing to
serve Gaza a two-course meal -- first the humanitarian course, then
a double portion. This will not be a French kiss, but an Israeli
version of what the American army, hit by a paralyzing sandstorm on
its way to Baghdad in March 2003, termed an Qoperational halt
before resuming its advance. During the two-day truce, the IDF will
arm itself with a new target bank, fresh intelligence, refreshed
troops and domestic and international understanding of the need for
a ground operation.

III. "Waiting for the Rain to End"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/31): QThe only
practical-feasible idea at present is the Egyptian-Turkish
initiative.... Hamas needs a consensus for its decisions not only in
Gaza but in Damascus as well. In that case, this might require
sending messengers, and they might have to leave for Egypt to hear
the Egyptian proposal. The bottom line is that that will require at
least four or five days of a lull in fighting. That isnQt going to
happen simply because Hamas isnQt going to stop firing missiles and
Israel isnQt going to stop seeking its leaders.... Israel has set
Hamas five conditions from the first day for ending the warfare: 1.
An end to all high trajectory fire by all organizations; 2. The
establishment of a security corridor along the border in which Hamas
will not be permitted to have military forces; 3. The cease-fire
will have no time limit; 4. All the border crossings will remain
under Israeli control (the agreement over the Rafah border crossing
that was reached in 2005 will remain valid); 5. Everyone will take
drastic measures to reduce the volume of smuggling. If Hamas
accepts those conditions, which incidentally appeared in the tahdiya
agreement from six months ago as well, then the war is over. But
Hamas hasnQt agreed to accept them.

IV. "Understanding of the Last Grain"

Conservative columnist Nadav Haetzni wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (12/31): QThe great Arab nation that is now protesting wants
Hamas. It again turns out that there is no peace process, no
reconciliation, and no willingness to recognize our very existence,
even if we flee to the last grain of sand.... It would be worthwhile
if this time we do not refuse to internalize this.

V. QCease Terror, Not Cease-Fire
The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/31):
QOn day four of Operation Cast Lead, international demands
notwithstanding, it is way too premature for Jerusalem to be
entertaining thoughts of a cease-fire. It is Hamas that needs an
exit strategy to extricate it from a devastating situation of its
own making. They locked themselves into the old Arab mantra of Qno
recognition, no negotiation and no peace.Q They refused to honor
agreements the PLO signed with Israel. They oppose the creation of
a Palestinian state alongside Israel. And they've kept Gaza an
impoverished basket-case.... Let us keep our eyes on the prize. The
government has belatedly but rightly declared the imperative to
change the security environment in the south and stop Hamas from
attacking our population. No country -- not Germany, Britain,
France, or Russia; not Turkey, Greece, Korea or the United States --
would tolerate missile attacks on its homeland. Neither can
Israel. Hamas must not get what it most wants. Hamas wants
Israel's home front to be demoralized, to feel under siege. It
wants to stampede our government into sending ground forces into
Gaza's camps and alleyways, to ensnare our fighters in ambushes it
has spent long months setting.... There should be no talk of a
cease-fire until the declared goal of achieving long-term normality
in the South has been attained.

VI. QCease-Fire Now

Prominent liberal author Amos Oz wrote in Yediot Aharonot (12/31):
QA ground offensive on the Gaza Strip could lead to entanglement and
sinking into the Gaza mire, compared to which the Lebanese mud is no
more than a puddle.... Hamas is to blame for the deterioration in
Gaza. And if not for its provocations and shelling, there would
have been no need for the Israeli operation. But this operation
must be limited in its goals: Israel has no other goal but to obtain
as soon as possible a complete and absolute cease-fire, which will
ensure quiet and calm on our border. Such a cease-fire will be
reached in exchange for alleviating the siege and the closure on
Gaza. The sooner Israel issues a call for a complete cease-fire on
both sides of the border, with the support and mediation of Arab
states that do not support Hamas, the better it will be for us. The
operation in Gaza should end as soon as possible and without a
ground invasion, along with the shelling of IsraelQs communities.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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