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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 002750

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

The Jerusalem Post quoted American officials as saying
that the US is attempting to renew talks between the
Israeli and Palestinian leadership despite the crisis
in Gaza. The Jerusalem Post reported that a senior US
administration official told the newspaper Monday: "The
Israeli Prime Minister met briefly with Abu Mazen in
Amman and spoke about opening a bilateral process. We
would like to see such a process moving forward." The
official reportedly stressed that the main immediate
objective concerning the situation in the Gaza Strip is
"to get Shalit released" referring to Cpl. Gilad Shalit
who was kidnapped by Palestinians over two weeks ago.

Reporting on the United States' criticism of a comment
by Khaled Mashal, the head of Hamas's political bureau
comment, that Cpl. Shalit will not be released without
Israel giving something in exchange, Israel Radio
quoted State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack as
saying Monday: "The root cause of this current
situation is the fact that a group of terrorists
tunneled into Israeli territory, killed two soldiers,
and took this individual hostage." The radio also
quoted McCormack as saying: "It might be easy for him
to dictate from Damascus and to speak on behalf of the
Palestinian people, but it is really the Palestinian
people themselves who suffer as a result of the fact
that Khaled Mashal and Hamas are now head of the PA
that is not a negotiating partner for the Israeli
government or the rest of the world."

All media reported that Mashal stressed at a press
conference in Damascus Monday the Cpl. Shalit would be
freed only as part of a prisoner-release deal. Mashal
was quoted as saying that all mediation initiatives had
failed because Israel was prepared only to promise to
release prisoners, but not to fully commit to it.
Leading media said that Mashal focused on the unity of
the Palestinian people. Maariv reported that the IDF
knows that Palestinian FM Mahmoud Zahar was aware of
Shalit's planned abduction before it happened, which
Maariv says turns him into an assassination target.
Israel Radio reported that Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak demands that Syrian President Bashar Assad
expel Mashal from Damascus because of Mashal's refusal
to release Shalit. Israel Radio quoted Arab sources as
saying that Mubarak sent a message to Assad, saying
that Hamas and Mashal will ruin the entire Middle East,
including the Damascus regime. Israel Radio reported
that Arab League Secretary-General met with Mashal
Monday and tried to soften his views. The radio quoted
Arab sources as saying that Mashal demanded guarantees
that Israel would free thousands of Palestinian
prisoners in exchange for Shalit's release. Israel
Radio cited the Saudi newspaper Okaz as saying that
Israel sent Mashal a message, saying that it would
release all senior Hamas officials it detained in
exchange for Shalit's release. Ha'aretz and The
Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday in London, a
delegation of the British Jewish community, including
MPs, met with the Syrian Ambassador to the UK,
presenting him with a letter to Assad in which he was
urged to press Hamas representatives in Damascus to act
in favor of Shalit's release. Ha'aretz and The
Jerusalem Post reported that demonstrations calling for
Shalit's release took place Monday next to Syrian
embassies in various Western capitals under the
auspices of the Zionist Organization and the Jewish
Agency.

In its lead story, Yediot reported that the IDF
operation might fail because of a humanitarian crisis
in the Gaza Strip. The newspaper, which bannered:
"They Have No More Food." Yediot cited the assessments
of Israel's intelligence agencies that the supply of
food and basic necessities in Gaza is adequate only for
a few days. Ha'aretz and other media reported that on
Monday, eight Palestinians were killed in IDF offensive
in the Gaza Strip. Ha'aretz reported that in addition,
an 18-month-old baby who was wounded in the IDF's
bombing of Khan Yunis last month, died at a Gaza
hospital Monday.

Ha'aretz, Maariv, and Hatzofe reported on disagreement
among the leaders of PM Ehud Olmert's Kadima party over
the feasibility of a unilateral withdrawal in the West
Bank. "The chances of implementing the convergence
plan at the moment are very slight," Housing and
Construction Minister Meir Sheetrit told the Knesset-TV
channel yesterday. "There are many doubts, my own
among them. I do not believe in unilateral
disengagement." FM Tzipi Livni, who responded on
behalf of the government on Monday to no-confidence
motions, told the Knesset that Israel needs to protect
its security interests during the convergence, and
warned against a hasty unilateral move. Ha'aretz
reported that Avi Dichter, a former Shin Bet chief and
current Internal Security Minister, told the newspaper
over the weekend that the IDF must stay "everywhere" in
the West Bank even after dismantling settlements there,
"until a Palestinian entity is found that can take
responsibility."

Leading media reported that Palestinian groups Al Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades of Fatah and the Jerusalem Brigades of
Islamic Jihad announced jointly on Monday night that
they had successfully launched a Qassam rocket from
Jenin in the northern West Bank toward the community of
Ram-On in northern Israel. The Jerusalem Post cited
the Palestinian groups as saying that the rocket landed
in the Palestinian autonomous area. In its lead story,
The Jerusalem Post reported that IDF sources rejected
the Palestinian report, saying that not only had the
rocket not landed in the Palestinian autonomous area,
but that it had never even been fired. Ha'aretz,
Yediot, and Maariv filed similar reports.

All media reported that on Monday, Maj. Gen (res.)
Giora Eiland presented to Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Dan
Halutz the findings from his investigation into the
circumstances surrounding the Kerem Shalom terrorist
attack two weeks ago, in which Cpl. Gilad Shalit was
abducted. The committee described the attack as an
"operational failure," as opposed to the thwarting of
61 infiltration attempts for Gaza into Israel since the
disengagement. The media reported that the committee
refrained from recommending sanctions against officers
in the Gaza Division.

The Jerusalem Post quoted a spokeswoman of the Al Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades, who identified herself as Um-al-Abed,
as saying Monday in Gaza that the group had recruited
100 Palestinian suicide bombers to launch suicide
attacks against Israel.

Ha'aretz, Maariv, and Israel Radio reported that
outgoing Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi will arrive in
Israel this evening on his first visit to Israel and
the PA. He is scheduled to meet with the principal
Israeli leaders on Wednesday and with PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday. Ha'aretz wrote
that Koizumi "wishes to increase his country's
involvement in the Middle East. As the biggest donor
to the PA after the EU, Japan feels it is time to cash
in on its investment by becoming a mediator between the
two sides."

Ha'aretz reported that academic degrees awarded by
Yeshiva University are recognized by Harvard and Yale
Universities, but not by the Israeli Education
Ministry, which claims that they do not meet Israeli
criteria. Ha'aretz noted that it first raised this
issue one-and-a-half years ago, but that nothing has
changed since then.

All media continued to report on developments related
to the alleged extortion of Israeli President Moshe
Katsav by a former employee of the President's
Residence who threatened to file a criminal complaint
of sexual harassment against Katsav.

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

Summary:
--------

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the
late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "The determination of the Prime Minister ...
promises Israel, the Palestinians, and the regional
states more long days of talks behind the scenes in
order to eventually reach a formula that would satisfy
the wolf and leave the sheep intact."

Senior Middle ast affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in
Ha'aretz: " What moved Khaled Meshal to hold a press
conference yesterday, of all days, without saying
anything new? The answer is that after the recent flood
of statements, Meshal wanted to make it very clear that
he was Hamas' sole political architect. Such public
displays usually take place after the failure of secret
negotiations or when someone wants to take credit for
an expected success..."

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The fiercer the
attacks on the rocket-launchers and their bosses in
Gaza, the more the captured soldier has gone from being
an asset to a liability for Hamas. It is no coincidence
that Ismail Haniyeh proposed a cease-fire and offered
to release Shalit in exchange for Israel's release of
thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Olmert was right to
turn down that offer. Israel should not grant this
murderous terror organization recognition and
legitimacy..."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Tehran's inclusion in this equation,
i.e. solving of the mystery of Ron Arad after so very
many years, could shuffle the cards and change the
rules that the Prime Minister declares three times a
day."


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

I. "The Wolf and the Sheep"

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the
late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (7/11): "At this stage it important that Hamas
take great care of the abducted soldier, since he
constitutes the major asset it has had over the past
few years. The IDF should take care not to put Gilad
[Shalit's] life at risk in a random operation. On the
Israeli side, the determination of the Prime Minister,
who on Monday reiterated his declaration that Israel
will not negotiate or release prisoners, promises
Israel, the Palestinians, and the regional states more
long days of talks behind the scenes in order to
eventually reach a formula that would satisfy the wolf
and leave the sheep intact."

II. "Arm-wrestling within Hamas"
Senior Arab affairs writer Zvi Bar'el opined in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/11): " What moved
Khaled Meshal to hold a press conference yesterday, of
all days, without saying anything new? ...The answer is
that after the recent flood of statements, Meshal
wanted to make it very clear that he was Hamas' sole
political architect. Such public displays usually take
place after the failure of secret negotiations or when
someone wants to take credit for an expected
success..... Meshal is apparently guided by the fear
that the Hamas leadership in the territories could take
initiative, with regard to the terms for Shalit's
release, and deprive him of control over the political
event. ...This theory is supported by the fact that in
the two weeks that Abbas spent in the Gaza Strip, he
managed to create a political liaison body with Hamas,
which hammered out the final details of the new and
improved prisoners' document in preparation of its
implementation.....Meshal believes he still has enough
time to force Israel into a prisoner exchange. In the
meantime, however, the Saudi-Egyptian initiative is
developing. This is a comprehensive proposal to be
submitted to Washington that is to include a full cease-
fire, the release of Shalit and the Palestinian
prisoners and the adoption of the national document in
order to remove the boycott of Hamas. If this is
adopted - and that depends mainly on Israel - it will
take the ball out of Meshal's court and return it to
the PA under broader Arab patronage


III. "With A Billy-club in hand"

Senior columnist Yoel Marcus opined in independent ,
left-leaning Haaretz 7/11: "Ehud Olmert did good ....
when he got a grip on himself and provided
encouragement and backing for Summer Rains. Summer
Rains is a "rolling operation," without a completion
date but with two clearly defined objectives - to put
an end to the Qassam attacks on towns and cities in
Israel, and bring about the release of Corporal Shalit.
...It is wrong to stand over the army with a stopwatch
in hand when a multi-task operation is in process.
Complex operations like Summer Rains in which all
branches of the military work together - going in,
striking, retreating and then starting over again, so
as not to become sitting ducks a la Lebanon - do not
end overnight.... The fiercer the attacks on the rocket-
launchers and their bosses in Gaza, the more the
captured soldier has gone from being an asset to a
liability for Hamas. It is no coincidence that Ismail
Haniyeh proposed a cease-fire and offered to release
Shalit in exchange for Israel's release of thousands of
Palestinian prisoners. Olmert was right to turn down
that offer. Israel should not grant this murderous
terror organization recognition and
legitimacy....Firstly, because it is impossible to
trust an organization with so many branches, each doing
whatever it likes. Secondly, we cannot negotiate with a
prime minister who is not prepared to recognize
Israel's existence. Thirdly, we cannot strengthen Hamas
at the expense of Abbas, the only reasonable partner we
have, even if he is a weak one. And most importantly,
Hamas cannot be allowed to emerge from Summer Rains
claiming any kind of strategic victory. ...Israel
cannot refuse to negotiate for the release of the
kidnapped soldier, but there can be no formal talks
with governments that grant recognition to Hamas. Those
who fire rockets day after day at civilian populations
deserve to watch their houses go up in smoke and their
supporters bleed. The purpose of Israel's military
actions is to force them to end the rocket fire and
return the abducted soldier. ...If Haniyeh says he is
prepared for a hudna and negotiations, one can only
assume that Summer Rains is starting to put pressure on
him. At the same time, Israel should not be turning
away those who have expressed goodwill, like Hosni
Mubarak, who are doing what they can to mediate
secretly for Shalit's release and an end to the Qassam

SIPDIS
attacks. In war, dialogue is also an option - provided
we keep a billy-club in hand."


IV. "Between Gilad and Ron Arad"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (7/11): "What we saw on Monday from
Khaled Mashal in Damascus was another stage in the
negotiations that Hamas is conducting, through
mediators, with Israel. A battle of nerves is going on
here, psychological warfare, deception and obfuscation,
and all the maneuvers that have been written in, or
erased from, the book of dirty tricks. Israel is being
careful not to touch the talks with a ten-foot pole.
Therefore, Olmert can continue to deny their existence,
on the one hand, while receiving detailed reports about
their progress (or setbacks) on the other, and
survive.... The inclusive circular deal that the
parties are now discussing (and denying) is branching
out. Jerusalem officials are now talking about
continuing the Sisyphean effort to solve the case of
navigator Ron Arad. It is likely that an effort is
under way to introduce this factor into the deal.
Tehran's inclusion in this equation, i.e. solving of
the mystery of Ron Arad after so very many years, could
shuffle the cards and change the rules that the Prime
Minister declares three times a day. As noted, this is
a shot in the dark, but diplomatic sources in Jerusalem
said this week: "The effort in the case of Ron Arad is
continuing all the time, and more intensively."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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