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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 002789

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

Israel-Lebanon Crisis

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

Major media quoted President Bush as saying Thursday:
"Israel has the right to defend herself. Secondly,
whatever Israel does should not weaken ... the
government of Lebanon. The President was speaking at a
news conference after a meeting with German Chancellor
Angela Merkel. Israel Radio and other media reported
that on Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
urged Israel to exercise restraint in its attacks
against Lebanese targets and demanded Syria press
Hizbullah guerrillas to stop attacking Israel. Israel
Radio reported that Israel's leaders exposed the GOI's
position to visiting Deputy National Security Advisor
Elliott Abrams and Assistant Secretary of State David
Welch. The radio said that Israel expected Washington
to use levers such as Syria to resolve the crisis.

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All media led with the intensive Katyusha rocket attack
on northern Israel and Israel's vigorous response.
Yediot bannered: "The Target: Nasrallah" and Maariv:
"Crushing Hizbullah." Besides the woman killed in
Nahariya, as reported here on Thursday, a man was
killed in Safed and up to 115 other Israelis were
wounded. Last night, a Katyusha rocket struck Haifa.
In response, the IAF set alight fuel storage tankers at
Beirut International Airport and targeted the Shi'ite
neighborhood of Dahiya, which houses Hizbullah's HQ and
the residence of the movement's Secretary-General,
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. The Jerusalem Post reported
that Justice Minister Haim Ramon suggested Thursday
that Nasrallah was a target for assassination. The
media also reported that Israel hit around 100 targets,
bombarding major roads, including the Beirut-Damascus
highway. Major media reported that at least 58
Lebanese were killed in Israeli attacks. Leading media
quoted Defense Minister Amir Peretz as saying Thursday
that Hizbullah will not be allowed to return to the
Israeli border and that Israel "is changing the rules
of the game entirely." Ha'aretz quoted Israeli
political sources as saying that Israel will demand
that all Hizbullah forces withdraw from the Israeli
border and that a buffer zone is created in southern
Lebanon as a condition for any cease-fire agreement.
Major media reported that Lebanon has announced that it
is interested in a cease-fire. Leading media reported
that some Lebanese cabinet ministers have strongly
criticized Hizbullah and Syria for their role in the
current developments.

Leading media reported that the UN Security Council
scheduled an urgent meeting for today. Israel Radio
quoted US Representative to the UN Ambassador John
Bolton as saying that the draft resolution presented to
the Council was "unbalanced." Major media quoted UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan as saying Thursday that a

SIPDIS
UN team will come to the Middle East in the coming days
to try to defuse the conflict with Hizbullah and Hamas.

Leading media reported that on Thursday, the EU accused
Israel of using "disproportionate" force in response to
Wednesday's raid by Hizbullah. Yediot and other media
quoted senior Israeli political sources as saying that
the international window of opportunity that opened to
an Israeli military action has started to close
following the positions expressed by world countries
regarding the escalation in the region.

Israel Radio and other media quoted Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying Thursday in a telephone
conversation with Syrian President Bashar Assad that an
Israeli strike on Syria would be considered an attack
on the whole Islamic world that would bring a "fierce
response." Israel Radio reported that in an
announcement released Thursday, Saudi Arabia placed
indirect responsibility for the events on Hizbullah.
Today at midday, Israel Radio quoted Syria's Ambassador
to the UK as saying that Hizbullah must desist from its
rocket fire against Israel.

Maariv and other media quoted Deputy Foreign Ministry
DG Gideon Meir as saying Thursday that Israel knows
that Hizbullah intends to move the two captured
soldiers to Iran so that they cannot be rescued by the
IDF. Israel Radio cited Iran's denial that the two
soldiers were moved to its territory.

Ha'aretz cited Israel's belief that Hizbullah has
missiles that can hit most of Israel, and which could
even strike Beersheva under optimum conditions. Yediot
cited Israel's concern that the IDF actions in Lebanon
might lead to retaliatory attacks against Israeli
tourists and Israeli embassies abroad.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Thursday, PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas expressed fears that
the latest tensions along the Israel-Lebanon border
could deteriorate into a regional war. Abbas vowed to
do his utmost to ease tensions between Israel on the
one hand and Hamas and Hizbullah on the other. Abbas
was speaking to reporters after meeting with visiting
Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi. Israel Radio cited Arab
sources that Shin Bet head Avraham Diskin met with
Abbas in Amman last week.

Major media reported that early Thursday morning, the
IAF bombarded the Palestinian Foreign Ministry in Gaza
City, seriously damaging the building and wounding 10
Palestinians. Yediot and Maariv cited the IDF's belief
that Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif, who was
wounded in an IAF bombardment in Gaza City on
Wednesday, is paralyzed and in a critical condition.
This morning, Israel Radio reported that the IAF
continued its strikes on infrastructure targets in the
Gaza Strip.

Leading media reported that the IDF will not appoint an
external committee of inquiry into Hizbullah's attack
along the northern border on Wednesday, in which eight
soldiers were killed and two others were kidnapped.
Instead, Chief of Staff Dan Halutz has decided to make
do for now with an in-house review by Northern Command
officers.

Leading media reported that on Thursday, the Beersheva
District Court indicted two young Palestinians from the
Gaza Strip. They are accused of being members of Hamas
and of having infiltrated Israel in order to kidnap and
murder a soldier or a civilian.

Ha'aretz reported that major Jewish-American
organizations and several US Christian organizations
have voiced their support for the IDF's actions in
Lebanon.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that an increasing
number of American immigrants in Israel are working for
US firms by "telecommuting" with them through the
Internet.

Hatzofe cited the results of a poll conducted by Maagar
Mohot, an institute directed by Prof. Yitzhak Katz, on
behalf of the newspapers Makor Rishon, Yisraeli, and
Hatzofe, which found that 73 percent of respondents
support PM Ehud Olmert's realignment plan, and that 27
percent are opposed to it. The poll also found that 87
percent of respondents believe that Israelis have no
knowledge of the plan, whereas 13 percent believe that
Israelis know about the plan. [The three newspapers,
including Yisraeli, a free daily distributed in the
streets of Israeli cities, belong to one single group
with a strong right-wing orientation].

----------------------
Israel-Lebanon Crisis:
----------------------

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "The US will
think twice before acting on its own, and will pay
extra attention to what is said in Europe and the rest
of the world before taking any steps."

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "If
it is possible to achieve our security goals through
diplomacy, a temporary cease-fire should be declared --
and hopefully, these aims can be achieved without
inflaming the entire region."

Foreign News Editor Arik Bachar wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "The [world's] feeble behavior during
the nuclear crises in Iran and North Korea, and the
American entanglement in Iran, must make clear that can
Israel solve its own problems only by itself."

Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The Shi'ite
leader erred in his reading of the Israeli political
map and his analysis of Olmert, Peretz, and Halutz."

Senior columnist Dan Margalit wrote in Maariv:
"[Israel's response to Hizbullah] stems from Israel
acting in its interest."

Former Ambassador to the US Prof. Itamar Rabinovich
wrote in Yediot Aharonot: "The dividing line between
the Lebanese and Syrian arenas is a virtual one."

Arab affairs correspondent Smadar Perry wrote in Yediot
Aharonot: "Today, Nasrallah is the nightmare of the
Lebanese. No one will shed a tear the minute he
disappears."

The Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The international
community cannot expect Iran to take its brinkmanship
seriously when, at the same moment it threatens
sanctions, it refuses to clearly take Israel's side
against Iran's blatant act of proxy aggression."

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

I. "Backing Off"

Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (7/14): "Why
is the US staying on the sidelines of this crisis? One
reason may be bad timing.... As a lead-in to the summit
in Russia, President Bush is trying to project a new US
image to replace that of 'cowboy diplomacy,' as Time
Magazine labeled it in this week's cover story -- one
that embrace multilateralism, diplomacy, and
negotiations.... What it means for the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict is that the US will think twice
before acting on its own, and will pay extra attention
to what is said in Europe and the rest of the world
before taking any steps. The US, to be sure, remains
the world leader of the anti-Hamas approach. It is
also the country setting the tone on the issue of not
legitimizing terrorist groups -- even democratically
elected ones. But as far as executing concrete
measures is concerned, the process will be long and
subtle. The other reason the US is having difficulty
with the current situation in Israel is its lack of
effective channels of communication with Hamas,
Hizbullah, and Syria."

II. "Time Out In the Fighting"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(7/14): "The launching of Qassam and Katyusha rockets
at Israeli citizens in Sderot and the Galilee is
unacceptable; the sole question is, what it the best
way of stopping them?.... Israel has a very powerful
military and everyone in the region understands this.
But even when there are grounds for employing force,
the military's full power should not be used, no matter
how justified the action may be. If it is possible to
achieve our security goals through diplomacy, a
temporary cease-fire should be declared -- and
hopefully, these aims can be achieved without inflaming
the entire region."

III. "Let Them Not Preach"

Foreign News Editor Arik Bachar wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (7/14): "Proportion is a question of
geography, or at least of perspective. The IDF has
hardly begun to pound Lebanon, and many important
people have started talking to us about proportion.
They say that what the Israel Air Force is doing in
Lebanon is not proportionate to what Hizbullah did to
us. This is what Russia said on Thursday. That
country left its proportion on every building that is
still standing in Grozny, the Chechnyan capital.... The
[world's] feeble behavior during the nuclear crises in
Iran and North Korea, and the American entanglement in
Iran, must make clear that can Israel solve its own
problems only by itself."

IV. "Nasrallah's Mistake"

Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/14): "The
strategic mistake belongs to Nasrallah. The Shi'ite
leader erred in his reading of the Israeli political
map and his analysis of Olmert, Peretz, and Halutz.
That trio is demonstrating serenity and is prepared to
fight back in dimensions hitherto unknown in this
region. This is not the first time in Israel that a
government composed of 'peace lovers' and not of right-
wing 'warmongers' has no compunction about making
extreme moves, which involve harming 'innocents.'"

V. "The Time of Fire Has Come"

Senior columnist Dan Margalit wrote in Maariv (7/14):
"No less that the killing and abduction of IDF soldiers
... Hassan Nasrallah's speech left the government in
Jerusalem no choice but to strike forcefully and
immediately.... This was not done because of a whim
frustration, and anger.... Neither was it done as to
punish Hizbullah, although it would be legitimate; the
reason was not the honor of the Jewish state, although
this is legitimate too. It stems from Israel acting in
its interest. [Nasrallah] acted as if Olmert, Amir
Peretz, and Dan Halutz are no more than Neville
Chamberlains. The must prove through their operation
that ... they are built like scions of Winston Spencer
Churchill."

VI. "On the Way to a Confrontation With Syria"

Former Ambassador to the US Prof. Itamar Rabinovich
wrote in Yediot Aharonot (7/14): "At this stage, Israel
focuses its responses on the deterioration along its
northern border and in Lebanon -- both in its offensive
and public relations. But the dividing line between
the Lebanese and Syrian arenas is a virtual one, and
the chances of the conflict developing into a
tripartite Israeli-Lebanese-Syria one-- and even in a
quadripartite one with Iran -- are high."


VII. "Nasrallah Has Become Lebanon's Nightmare"

Arab affairs correspondent Smadar Perry wrote in Yediot
Aharonot (7/14): "Over the past two days it came clear
to Nasrallah that his removal from the arena and the
disarming of Hizbullah are not only Israel's dream, but
also the dream of many Lebanese who are sick of paying
the price of his whimsy.... There is no doubt that
Nasrallah has gotten Lebanon into trouble. There is no
doubt that he did not guess to what extent the pictures
from Gaza terrify the ordinary citizen in Lebanon.
After the murder of Hariri, Lebanon had learned not to
fear and to get out into the streets in order to dispel
the nightmares. Today, Nasrallah is the nightmare of
the Lebanese. No one will shed a tear the minute he
disappears."

VIII. "Fighting Seamless Jihad"

The Jerusalem Post editorialized (7/14): "It is
inconceivable that Hizbullah attacked Israel without
the knowledge and blessing of Iran, on which it is
wholly dependent. The international community cannot
expect Iran to take its brinkmanship seriously when, at
the same moment it threatens sanctions, it refuses to
clearly take Israel's side against Iran's blatant act
of proxy aggression. We cannot even say we have
reached the end of the beginning before free nations
show something of the solidarity and clarity of purpose
that the jihadis -- in Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Al Qaida
-- show against us."

JONES

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