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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 TEL AVIV 002676

SIPDIS

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 FOR ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IS KMDR MEDIA REACTION REPORT
SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


--------------------------------
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

Mideast

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

All media led with the launching of a Qassam rocket
into Ashkelon last night. This was the first time the
city was struck. The improved, 12-km range rocket hit
and damaged a high school but caused no casualties.
Hamas's military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam
Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack. All
media (banners in Ha'aretz and Yediot) quoted PM Ehud
Olmert as saying during the US Independence Day Party
at the residence of US Ambassador to Israel Richard
Jones: "This attack, this criminal attempt that was
aimed at harming Israeli civilians living inside
Israel's borders, will have unparalleled and far-
reaching consequences. Olmert added: "And the Hamas
organization will be the first to feel them." Israel
Radio reported that the security cabinet decided this
morning to take consequential steps against Hamas in
the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Major media reported that Palestinian PM Ismail Haniyeh
has told the kidnappers of Cpl. Gilad Shalit to keep
him alive. Leading media reported that his abductors
do not intend to kill him. Leading media reported that
on Tuesday, Hamas and the Egyptian team mediating talks
regarding Shalit cut off contacts between them. The
Jerusalem Post reported that Qatar and Turkey are
involved in efforts to free Shalit. Yediot quoted Arab
sources as saying that seven guards are keeping Shalit
in a secret underground bunker. Israel Radio reported
that civilians who believe that Israel should negotiate
with Shalit's captors set up a petition on the
Internet. The radio later reported that unknown people
damaged that website. Israel Radio cited a
confidential IDF document that the Israeli defense

SIPDIS
establishment had been aware two months ago of a
warning of a terror attack to be perpetrated via a
tunnel in the Sufa-Kerem Shalom area. On Tuesday,
major media had reported that the IDF stepped up its
offensive on Monday against the Hamas infrastructure
and that it sent ground forces into the northern Gaza
Strip and troops into Hamas's charity offices in the
West Bank in moves aimed at escalating the pressure on
the kidnappers of Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
Major media reported on events surrounding the 230th US
Independence Day. The Jerusalem Post reported that
Olmert told Ambassador Jones last night: "Jews have the
longest memories in history. We never forget those who
brought evil to our people, but we will never forget
the friendship, care, and involvement in the life of
our people by the US, for which we will be forever
grateful." The Jerusalem Post reported at last night's
celebration, Israeli President Moshe Katsav expressed
the appreciation of the people of Israel to a series of
presidents of the US for their consistent and
continuing support of Israel in good times and bad
during its 58 years of statehood. On Tuesday, Ha'aretz
(English Ed.) published a special "USA-Israel Business
Outlook" supplement.

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that the
IDF has raised the level of alert along the northern
border with Syria out of fear that President Bashar
Assad would launch a strike against Israel in response
to a recent IAF buzz of his palace.

All media reported that on Tuesday morning, three
Palestinian suspects in the murder of the youth Eliyahu
Asheri surrendered without opposition to IDF forces in
Ramallah. Maariv highlighted the fact that the
suspects were PA policemen. Israel Radio and other
electronic media reported that this morning at the
Barkan industrial zone in the West Bank, IDF forces
caught a Palestinian with an explosives belt strapped
around his waist and ready for use, thus apparently
thwarting a major terrorist attack that was to be
carried out in central Israel.

Ha'aretz cited the Defense Ministry as saying Tuesday
for the first time that the GOI maintains a "blacklist"
of Palestinians who left the territories during the Six-
Day War, lest they sue for the return of their land.
The property has been used to establish settlements and
military bases in the Jordan Valley.

Leading media reported that a new bill that would
suspend Knesset members who support or identify with
terror organizations was given a push forward by the
Knesset's House Committee Tuesday, sparking outrage
among Arab Knesset members.
Major media (highlighting in Yediot) reported that on
Tuesday, North Korea sent a defiant signal to its
neighbors and the US when it test-fired a volley of
missiles. Hatzofe quoted South Korea's incoming
Ambassador to Israel Shin Kak Soo (phon.) as saying
that his country is interested in expanding trade ties
with Israel.

Ha'aretz reported that residents of the Negev city of
Mitzpe Ramon hope to persuade the GOI to take up a
private initiative to set up a branch of the Guggenheim
Museum in their town.

Leading media reported that the CIA has closed the unit
responsible for hunting down Osama bin Ladin.

Maariv highlighted the fact that on Tuesday, the US
dollar reached its lowest rate in 14 months -- 4.39
shekels.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote on page one of independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "The firing of a rocket ... to Ashkelon's
center on Tuesday constitutes an unequivocal invitation
by Hamas to war."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman opined on page one
of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "It is
time to take off the gloves. It is time to admit that
Hamas has declared war on us."

Editor-in-Chief Amnon Dankner wrote on page one of
popular, pluralist Maariv: "After years of unnecessary
and shameful capitulation by generations of Israeli
governments to the extortionist demands of those
holding Israeli hostages, Olmert is sharply turning the
helm and establishing new rules of the game."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one
of Maariv: "One of [Ehud] Olmert's salient
characteristics is his obduracy. Sometimes this is
good, but more often it is bad. This time it is
excellent."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"The Palestinian leadership must learn that neither
guerrilla attacks nor terrorism will achieve anything
for them. A Palestinian decision to formally and
universally end all such attacks, by contrast, should
and would achieve positive results."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "The Qassam launches'
infringement on Israeli sovereignty is intolerable, and
Israel must cause it to end. But this problem, grave
as it is, is essentially tactical."

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in
Ha'aretz: "Israel's resoluteness was called for, but
for all that the PA is run by morons and fanatics --
the punishment should be meted out carefully. Sooner
or later, they will be the neighbors we will have to
live with."

Meretz-Yahad Party Chairman, Knesset Member Yossi
Beilin wrote in Ha'aretz: "The worsening violent
conflict in the Middle East is a blatant reflection of
the weakness of the American partner."

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

I. "An Invitation to War"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote on page one of independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (7/5): "The firing of a rocket from the Gaza
Strip to Ashkelon's center on Tuesday constitutes an
unequivocal invitation by Hamas to war. The
Palestinians who launched the rocket apparently are
members of the Hamas military wing, but it's quite
possible that either an Iranian or Syrian element
interested in intensifying the military conflict with
Israel spurred the move.... The significance of
Tuesday's rocket attack for Israel is that the current
round of war -- in which Hamas maintains control of the
street, especially in the Gaza Strip -- will be a tough
one, because over time, the Palestinians have armed
themselves with many weapons and rockets. Another
difficulty for Israel is the existence of multiple
Palestinian groups, including 'pirate' groups that
aren't always in contact with each other, and the
existence of competing leaders within Hamas itself."

II. "Hamas Has Declared War"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman opined on page one
of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/5):
"It is time to take off the gloves. It is time to
admit that Hamas has declared war on us. Israel should
begin to defend itself effectively.... Taking off the
gloves means making a decision today: To lift the
restrictions from the targeted killings.... Israel
currently faces three main security dilemmas in the
Gaza Strip. The first -- the issue of the Qassam
rockets from the northern Gaza Strip. The second --
the issue of the soldier's kidnapping. The third --
the strategic equation, meaning Hamas's desire to
create a balance of terror against Israel, like in
Lebanon. The three dilemmas are intertwined. The
military solutions for each of them are different, but
do not necessarily contradict each other. Therefore,
dealing with the Qassam rockets should not interfere
with the attempts to rescue the kidnapped soldier."

III. "New Rules of the Game"

Editor-in-Chief Amnon Dankner wrote on page one of
popular, pluralist Maariv (7/5): "The Prime Minister
deserves support for the important move that he is now
leading: After years of unnecessary and shameful
capitulation by generations of Israeli governments to
the extortionist demands of those holding Israeli
hostages, Olmert is sharply turning the helm and
establishing new rules of the game. The gist of these
is that we do not yield to kidnappers and do not
release large numbers of prisoners in return for
information about them or for their return. This is
certainly how things should be, when Israel has means
of pressure, threats and violence at its disposal that
can instill fear in the hearts of the kidnappers and
their dispatchers. This determined stance deserves
support because it shatters an improper approach that
expressed, more than anything else, the weakness of
[previous] prime ministers and their inability to hold
firm to principles, not just for the sake of principle,
but because this adherence could save much trouble
later on.... There is no complete confidence that this
will succeed, but as far as the overall national
interest is concerned, it is much more effective. It
also prevents misunderstandings on the part of the
Palestinians, who believe that they have identified a
weakness in the Israeli sensitivity to human life, and
at times, unfortunately, [identify] a true
understanding of the real weakness, which is expressed
in huge deals with a painfully high price that cause
long-term damage."

IV. "The Isolation of the Leader"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one
of Maariv (7/4): "One of [Ehud] Olmert's salient
characteristics is his obduracy. Sometimes this is
good, but more often it is bad. This time it is
excellent. Olmert is fired with a burning conviction
that the importance of his opposition in principle to
wholesale release of terrorists in return for the
kidnapped soldier greatly outweighs the risk which it
entails.... The paradox is that Olmert, of all people,
is making a stand on this principle, while the lions of
defense, such as Sharon and Rabin, usually bent under
the weight of it. It is that perverted Israeli logic
which enables only the right wing to make peace, while
the left wing just grumbles and writes protest poems.
According to that principle, Shimon Peres could have
killed Arafat if he had wanted to, but Ariel Sharon
could not. According to that line of thinking, Sharon
could uproot settlements, but Yossi Beilin could not.
So it is Ehud Olmert, who was described by American
journalists as a 'rich, polished lawyer,' who will try
to rewrite the rules of the game against the murderous
terrorist organizations with whom he is faced. For he
alone is capable of doing so. But is he?"
V. "No Vindication for Terror Groups"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(7/5): "Releasing prisoners to Hamas now, after Hamas
boasted during its election campaign that it would
succeed in freeing Palestinian terrorists by kidnapping
Israelis, would vindicate the path of terror and
violence over negotiations. Those who believe that
Fatah should be preferred over Hamas should be the
first to oppose an Israeli prisoner release that would
markedly weaken the former and strengthen the latter.
The Palestinian leadership must learn that neither
guerrilla attacks nor terrorism will achieve anything
for them. A Palestinian decision to formally and
universally end all such attacks, by contrast, should
and would achieve positive results."

VI. "The Only Option"

Ha'aretz editorialized (7/5): "At this time, it must be
reiterated -- and it would be appropriate for the Prime
Minister to find the time and the strength of will to
do so -- that Israel has no option in the long run
other than withdrawing from the territories and from
the occupation. The Qassam launches' infringement on
Israeli sovereignty is intolerable, and Israel must
cause it to end. But this problem, grave as it is, is
essentially tactical.... Ending the occupation is still
the goal to which any tactic employed during the
current crisis must lead. Instead of the 'blood and
guts' rhetoric being heard from all the cabinet
ministers, as well as from the opposition, our
leadership must send the message that it knows where it
is going."

VII. "Beware of the Traps of the Past"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in
Ha'aretz (7/4): "There is no doubt that Hamas is behind
[IDF Corporal Gilad] Shalit's abduction.... It is
counting on Israel's lack of fortitude to face
families, and it believes Israel will cave in to
wholesale extortion. This time, however, it found
Israel not trembling but stubborn, an Israel that
settles scores and is no hurry to give in. Hamas erred
in its calculations. It outraged the entire world, not
to mention the destruction the IDF wreaked in
retaliation. Who would have believed that PA Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas himself would say there is no one to talk
to, in reference to his own government?.... Israel's
resoluteness was called for, but for all that the PA is
run by morons and fanatics -- the punishment should be
meted out carefully. Sooner or later, they will be the
neighbors we will have to live with."

VIII. "America's Weakness"

Meretz-Yahad Party Chairman, Knesset Member Yossi
Beilin wrote in Ha'aretz (7/5): "The United States is
cut off from a number of Muslim countries.... When the
latest crisis broke out, as the firing of Qassam
rockets increased and the violence intensified, Israel,
naturally, turned to the same agent that enabled it to
withdraw from the Gaza Strip -- Egypt.... The US was
not even mentioned as an option.... The worsening
violent conflict in the Middle East is a blatant
reflection of the weakness of the American partner. At
the moment of truth, when Israel needs a powerful third
party capable of moving things in the area, it turns
out that little beyond the repetitive recitation of
Bush's vision and of the dust-covered road map can be
expected, which neither side intends to actually
implement."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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