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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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Carol X Weakley 11/09/2006 02:54:02 PM From DB/Inbox: Carol X Weakley

Cable
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 04473

SIPDIS
CXTelA:
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INFO: POL DAO DCM AMB

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CHARGE: PROG

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CLEARED: AIO:GANISMAN

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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 8815
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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IS KMDR

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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

1. US Midterm Elections

2. Beit Hanun Attack

3. Mideast

4. Syria

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

Please note: block quotes only, Thursday, November 9, 2006.

-----------------------------
1. US Post Midterm Elections:
-----------------------------

Summary:
--------

Senior military analyst Ze'ev Schiff wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "It is quite doubtful that the Democrats
would have decided on an immediate withdrawal from Iraq had the
decision been up to them. They, too, understand that a rushed
pullout could end up having the U.S. lose the entire Middle East.
The Democrats will continue to make it difficult for Bush and
criticize him for the war in Iraq, but they will find a way to
finance the army's continued presence there without humiliating the
U.S."
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The
Democrats must resist the temptation to dedicate their new found
power to the sole purpose of bringing down their nemesis, George
Bush. They will be more successful politically if they do what is
best for their country and the world, and join together to confront
the terrorist tyrants that threaten us all."
Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "U.S. Won't Quit Iraq Just Yet"

Senior military analyst Ze'ev Schiff wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/9): "Does the resignation of Donald
Rumsfeld as U.S. Secretary of Defense, who led the war in Iraq,
signal an immediate beginning of the American army's withdrawal from
Iraq? The answer is no. It is more reasonable to conclude that the
appointment of Robert Gates to the position will represent the start
of changes in the way American forces are deployed in Iraq and the
establishment of a plan with the Iraqi government for taking on
greater military responsibility. It is more reasonable that
following its loss in Congress and a call by many voters for a
change in military policy in Iraq, the Republican Party will now
focus on an effort to save the White House for U.S. President George
W. Bush's political heir. In other words, the party wants to show
that it will be making changes in Iraq, while taking national
security responsibility for the United States' position as a world
power. It is quite doubtful that the Democrats would have decided
on an immediate withdrawal from Iraq had the decision been up to
them. They, too, understand that a rushed pullout could end up
having the U.S. lose the entire Middle East. The Democrats will
continue to make it difficult for Bush and criticize him for the war
in Iraq, but they will find a way to finance the army's continued
presence there without humiliating the U.S."

II. "Confront Iran Together"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/9): "The
call for unity and cooperation just after a hard-fought election is
as American as motherhood and apple pie. For all our sakes,
however, this pledge had better not be mere boilerplate. Speaking
from a particularly precarious part of the world, we simply cannot
afford a United States that, in the midst of global war, becomes
paralyzed by partisan bickering. Though there is a long history of
midterm elections of second-term presidents being treacherous for
the party in power, it is clear that President George Bush and, in
particular, the war in Iraq, cost the Republicans dearly.... The
real problem ... is not the shallow and unconstructive debate over
Iraq, but that Democrats and Republicans have allowed Iraq to become
a distraction from the main threat looming, that of a nuclear
Iran.... What the US needs, instead, is a bipartisan strategy for
victory.... As it happens, a successful policy toward Iran is
critical to winning in Iraq, since it is almost impossible to
imagine democracy prevailing in Iraq so long as Iran is increasingly
able to support terrorism there, eventually under the protection of
a nuclear umbrella.... The best way for Democrats to prove that they
should be given the chance to govern is for them to work
shoulder-to-shoulder with Bush on foreign policy in the two critical
years ahead. The sight of Bush and Pelosi reaching agreement on
Iran policy would itself send a powerful message to Europe that
America is not willing to live with a nuclear Iran, and would
embolden these nations to toughen their own policies. As unlikely
as this positive scenario may seem to be, the alternative to it is
frightening, and would be disastrous for America and the world. A
divided America following a feckless Europe is a recipe for
deterioration across the board, including defeat in Iraq and the
emboldening of the radical axis that emerged in the recent Lebanon
war: Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas. The Democrats must resist
the temptation to dedicate their new found power to the sole purpose
of bringing down their nemesis, George Bush. They will be more
successful politically if they do what is best for their country and
the world, and join together to confront the terrorist tyrants that
threaten us all."
---------------------
2. Beit Hanun Attack:
---------------------

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The cannons must
be replaced with calls for dialogue, the economic boycott must be
replaced with an opening of the taps, and the cruel siege of Gaza
must be replaced with a supervised opening of the border crossings.
Only in this way can we perhaps change the dangerous atmosphere that
now prevails, and even more so following the bloodbath in Beit
Hanun. The responsibility for this rests entirely on the prime
minister's shoulders."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular, pluralist
Maariv: "They [the Palestinians] are not attacking the 1967 borders;
they are attacking the 1948 lines. They are not challenging the
occupation, and they are not arguing with the oppression. They want
to uproot us from here, wipe us from the face of the earth.... All
they have to do to get quiet is to stop shooting. Until then, there
will be no quiet, and sometimes, there will be mishaps."

Political affairs correspondent Sima Kadmon wrote in
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "This is indeed, a
calibration problem. But this is a problem not just of the artillery
battery, but of us, all of us. Of a government that for such a long
time has found no way to talk to the other side. Of the IDF, that
time after time manages to get us into trouble in mishaps that
should not happen. Of a state that closes its eyes and seals its
heart to what is happening a few dozen kilometers away. Of the
Palestinians, who display negligence and have not managed to vomit
from their midst the radical elements. And of an indifferent world
that does nothing to stop what is happening."

Middle East affairs commentator, Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot: "Despite the promised disengagement, Gaza still
remains an Israeli matter, and the world is watching from the
bleachers, on the television screens. It's time that weary Israel
should sit on the bleachers and watch as the world takes charge over
Gaza. Those who criticize Israel in the Western world should also
be prepared to act, and the moment has come."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "For our own sake, we must know what
really happened yesterday in Beit Hanoun. We must, because our
hearts have become inured. Ten killed here, 60 killed there,
yesterday another 18, some of them innocent civilians. For us, this
passes as if it were nothing. We have to ask ourselves: does this
truly have to be?"

Senior op-ed columnist Eitan Haber wrote in the lead editorial of
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "It is terrible [What
happened in Beit Hanun]. And we have to try not to use the excuse,
'but we are at war.' Because if, God forbid, such sights continue,
we will perhaps beat Hamas, but we will lose the world's support."

Senior military analyst Ze'ev Schiff wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Instead of talking, Israel has become an
observer that deploys artillery. For months, Israel has avoided
negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas. By doing so, Israeli is
strengthening Palestinian extremists, and what is happening in the
Gaza Strip is adding fuel to the bonfire."

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

I. "A Cease-Fire in Gaza (2)"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (11/9): "Yesterday,
we wrote here that 'Israel should declare a complete cease-fire in
the Gaza Strip for a predetermined period, during which it will not
engage in any violent actions, neither assassinations nor
incursions. Simultaneously, it should call on the Palestinians to
hold their fire as well.' What we feared has come to pass -- and for
the Palestinians, even worse: At least 19 Palestinians were killed
yesterday during a sustained Israel Defense Forces artillery attack
on the town of Beit Hanun.... No excuse can justify this
atrocity.... It is no longer enough to express regret; it is also
necessary to draw conclusions. It has now become conclusively clear
that the campaign against the Qassam rocket launchers in Gaza can no
longer be entrusted solely to the IDF.... That operation [Autumn
Clouds] sowed only death and destruction, without bringing an end to
the Qassam fire. On the contrary, it only increased it.... The
prime minister, as the person who bears overall responsibility, must
order the IDF to halt the fire on Gaza -- immediately, in all cases
and with every type of weapon. If Israel does not want to find
itself embroiled soon in a new bloodbath, including suicide bombings
in its cities, it must launch a dramatic, unequivocal move, as only
such a move might prevent the outbreak of a new intifada.... The
cannons must be replaced with calls for dialogue, the economic
boycott must be replaced with an opening of the taps, and the cruel
siege of Gaza must be replaced with a supervised opening of the
border crossings. Only in this way can we perhaps change the
dangerous atmosphere that now prevails, and even more so following
the bloodbath in Beit Hanun. The responsibility for this rests
entirely on the prime minister's shoulders."

II. "The Price of the Kassam Rockets"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular, pluralist
Maariv (11/9): "Somebody needs to tell the truth, to the inhabitants
of Beit Hanoun, to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, to the Arabs
of the territories, to the whole world. It is a simple, harsh and
single truth: those who fire thousands of Kassam rockets upon a
civilian population for years, those who accumulate tons of
explosive materials, arms and Katyusha rockets for months, those who
impose terrorism and fear upon an entire region for no apparent
reason need to understand that they cannot hide behind women and
children. Such behavior carries a price tag. Every country in the
world has an obligation to protect its citizens. Israel's behavior
in Gaza has been much more moderate, humane and moral than the way
American, British or Russian armies would respond to terrorists who
consistently fired on Texas, Coventry or Moscow.... The truth is
that until they stop firing Kassam rockets upon Israel, Israel must
keep firing back. Yes, firing back. They shoot to kill women and
children. We do not. Never. But when they shoot at us from inside
inhabited areas, it is very difficult to prevent mishaps or terrible
incidents.... Every other method has been tried, and failed. With
scoundrels you behave like a scoundrel, and with murderous,
bloodthirsty terrorism that wants to wipe you off the map, you have
to respond accordingly: wipe it out.... We expected that they would
sit quietly after we left Gaza.... Yes, in our naivet we expected
that now, at least in Gaza, 'they would sit quietly.' Instead of
that, we got intensified barrages of upgraded Kassam rockets, tons
of explosives and Hamas in power.... They [the Palestinians] could
have proven to the world that when Israel leaves, withdraws and
recognizes the international border, a solution is accomplished and
calm achieved. They could have given us a reason to leave the West
Bank as well. But instead, they fell upon us with wild rage. They
are not attacking the 1967 borders; they are attacking the 1948
lines. They are not challenging the occupation, and they are not
arguing with the oppression. They want to uproot us from here, wipe
us from the face of the earth.... All they have to do to get quiet
is to stop shooting. Until then, there will be no quiet, and
sometimes, there will be mishaps."

III. "Not Calibrated"

Political affairs correspondent Sima Kadmon wrote in
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/9): "A calibration
problem, the OC Southern Command yesterday explained the killing in
Beit Hanoun. Indeed, a calibration problem. But not just of the
artillery battery. But of us, all of us. Of a government that for
such a long time has found no way to talk to the other side. Of the
IDF, that time after time manages to get us into trouble in mishaps
that should not happen. Of a state that closes its eyes and seals
its heart to what is happening a few dozen kilometers away. Of the
Palestinians, who display negligence and have not managed to vomit
from their midst the radical elements. And of an indifferent world
that does nothing to stop what is happening.... A regrettable
mistake, politicians and army people in the past and present said
yesterday. This was not a mistake. This was a disaster. It's a
regrettable mistake when you step on someone's toe, not when you
kill 11 members of one family.... This is not even one stray shell
that was mistakenly discharged. More than ten shells were fired
from this artillery battery.... Somebody has to stop this madness.
Somebody has to stop for a moment and think.... The Kassam rocket
fire will not stop, every child in Sderot knows this. Just as every
child in Beit Hanoun knows that we will never go away. The question
is when we will begin to talk. Because ... there must be consensus
on one thing: that there is nothing -- neither for us nor for them
-- to lose by this."

IV. "A Moment before the Next War"

Middle East affairs commentator, Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (11/9): "Yesterday's tragedy in Gaza, and in recent
years in Sderot, makes it clear that the Israelis and the
Palestinians can no longer be left on their own. The rise of
fanatic political Islam in the territories has made any political
solution, or even a partition, impossible. It has already been
proven that every time Israel evacuates territory, whether in
Lebanon or in the Palestinian Authority, the territory is
immediately seized by terror. This is violent, destructive terror
that has no limits, that will not hesitate to do all it can to
attack us. From this aspect, there is no choice but to admit that
even an orderly handover of the area to the Palestinians, such as in
the Oslo process, or even abandoning it, such as in disengagement,
have not proven themselves.... It seems that the Palestinians
themselves are planning a large-scale military action against
Israeli cities, and this can be expected in about half a year, after
the tons of ammunition that they are storing in the Gaza Strip turn
into a critical mass of rockets, which are smuggled from Egypt....
After this war, the world will enter the picture, just as it did in
southern Lebanon, and will send a strong enforcement force to Gaza,
like UNIFIL.... On second thought, and in light of yesterday's
serious incident, why should such an international force not go in
now already, and so prevent the war that assessments say can be
expected in the spring?.... The Gaza Strip will be given over to the
world's responsibility, military and humanitarily.... The
Palestinians themselves will become an international problem, and
will thereby be very limited in continuing to fire at Israel....
What happens inside the Gaza Strip -- whether its residents achieve
independence one day and how it will be run -- will be under the
responsibility of the world, which now condemns Israel.... Despite
the promised disengagement, Gaza still remains an Israeli matter,
and the world is watching from the bleachers, on the television
screens. It's time that weary Israel should sit on the bleachers
and watch as the world takes charge over Gaza. Those who criticize
Israel in the Western world should also be prepared to act, and the
moment has come."

V. "The Mystery of the Shells"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/9): "Anyone who couldn't sleep
yesterday because they were worried about the damage to the State of
Israel's good reputation can stop worrying. It has been a long time
since we had such a reputation. Israel is viewed by the world as
having a light trigger finger when it comes to civilians. Whether
this is true or not -- this is a fact.... For our own sake, we must
know what really happened yesterday in Beit Hanoun. We must,
because our hearts have become inured. Ten killed here, 60 killed
there, yesterday another 18, some of them innocent civilians. For
us, this passes as if it were nothing. We have to ask ourselves:
does this truly have to be? Does this really serve our national
interests? We deserve to know if it is really just bad luck that
pursues us, or if this bad luck is, in fact, inherent in the system.
Those who play with artillery near a dense urban area -- even if
they take into account all the safety ranges, orders and procedures
-- should expect disasters. Something unexpected and unplanned is
always liable to happen. That is inherent in this game."

VI. "Blood and Tears"

Senior op-ed columnist Eitan Haber wrote in the lead editorial of
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/9): "The IDF made a
serious mistake yesterday, and not for the first time. The sights
from Gaza were harsh and bitter and it is impossible and we must not
remain indifferent to the ripped bodies of children. The IDF must
-- damn it, how is this done -- be careful and cautious and strict
so that such blood curling mistakes do not happen, but it is
important to remember that only the clumsiness of the Hamas in Gaza
-- thank God -- prevents us from seeing similar sights, almost every
day, in Sderot, for example. It is terrible. And we have to try
not to use the excuse, 'but we are at war.' Because if, God forbid,
such sights continue, we will perhaps beat Hamas, but we will lose
the world's support."


VII. "A Military Failure and Strategic Vacuum"

Senior military analyst Ze'ev Schiff wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/9): "The severe incident in Beit Hanun in
the Gaza Strip has again dragged the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to
a gloomy crossroad from both a tactical and strategic
perspective.... In principle, it is correct to argue that the Beit
Hanun affair did not begin there; it was preceded by four Qassam
rockets that landed in the heart of Ashkelon the previous day. Two
other rockets were fired at Sderot yesterday morning. No country
would remain indifferent to rocket fire on its cities. The only
problem is the lack of proportionality regarding Israel's
response.... Indeed, even in a clear case of self-defense, the
killing of many innocent civilians, and especially children, is
intolerable. Israel is not engaged in all-out war with the
Palestinians.... Just as Israel is not placing a total blockade on
the Gaza Strip, it should also refrain from expanding the number of
civilians injured while confronting Palestinian terror.... From a
military perspective, it must be acknowledged that the IDF has in
fact failed in its war against the Qassam rockets.... Sadly, the IDF
today is not providing the requisite security to Israel's
citizens.... Israel finds itself in a dire strategic situation, but
there are some openings. The bad thing is that Israel has been
thrust into a dangerous political-strategic vacuum. It faces four
extremist entities: Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. With regard
to two of them, Iran and Hezbollah, there is not even a tiny opening
for negotiations and an accord. Israel itself placed the other two,
Syria and Hamas, in a political-strategic vacuum. Syria, which is
ready to recognize Israel, is being told that there's nothing to
talk about. Hamas, which does not want to recognize Israel and
previous agreements with Israel, has been isolated by the
international community. Instead of talking, Israel has become an
observer that deploys artillery. For months, Israel has avoided
negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas. By doing so, Israeli is
strengthening Palestinian extremists, and what is happening in the
Gaza Strip is adding fuel to the bonfire."

-----------
3. Mideast:
-----------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Next week, Olmert will hear from George Bush
about the American administration's aspirations for the two
remaining years of the president's term, and whether he will invest
efforts in Middle East diplomacy. An understanding of the American
position is vital for the prime minister's situation assessment; but
upon his return from Washington, Olmert will have to explain to the
public where we go from here."

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

"Olmert in Autumn"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/9): "The results of Friday's Haaretz
survey indicate a growing and worrisome rift between Israel's
citizens and the political system that is supposed to represent
them. The prime minister and defense minister have lost the
public's confidence.... One can say that the distaste for the
government of Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz stems not only from the
results of the war in Lebanon, but also from a lack of hope for the
future. In the autumn of his rule, Olmert is fulfilling what he
promised: 'to manage the country without an agenda.'.... He [Olmert]
still believes in evacuating settlements from the West Bank and
demarcating a new border on the hills. But his hasty abandonment of
the convergence plan left him without anything. The diplomatic
channels are blocked.... Now the time has come for Olmert to find
himself a direction.... In his recent speeches, Olmert has raised
several banners: establishing a constitution, revising the system of
government, rehabilitating the North, signing an accord with the
Palestinians, exercising deployment vis-a-vis Iran, making peace
with Lebanon, confronting the struggle against Hamas, tackling
poverty. All of them are fine and worthy objectives, but now he
must choose. A prime minister generally has one opportunity in each
term to set a central goal and work to advance it. It is impossible
to march on five parallel paths. Next week, Olmert will hear from
George Bush about the American administration's aspirations for the
two remaining years of the president's term, and whether he will
invest efforts in Middle East diplomacy. An understanding of the
American position is vital for the prime minister's situation
assessment; but upon his return from Washington, Olmert will have to
explain to the public where we go from here."

---------
4. Syria:
---------

Summary:
--------

Columnist Larry Derfner wrote in conservative, independent Jerusalem
Post: "The Syrian regime is secular; its alliances with Hizbullah
and Iran grow out of political convenience, not ideology; it has
kept the cease-fire on the Golan for three decades; it has talked to
Israel before and is seemingly eager to do so again. Maybe it's a
bluff. Maybe negotiations would fail like they did the first time.
But with the IDF predicting war with Syria next summer, what do we
have to lose? Nothing but our despair."
Block Quotes:
-------------

"Talk to Syria"
Columnist Larry Derfner wrote in conservative, independent Jerusalem
Post (11/9): "If for no other reason than the Israeli people's
psychological well-being, the Olmert government has to accept
Syria's offer to begin peace negotiations. Since the summer war in
Lebanon, Israelis have gone into a serious, dangerous depression,
and it's only getting deeper.... Israelis have resigned themselves
to a life of war and a future of war.... The only options left, most
Israelis are now convinced, is fight or flight, and since very few
of us are about to flee the country, that leaves only fight -- here,
there, wherever.... NOW HERE comes Syrian President Bashar Assad
and, only a few days ago, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem to urge
Israel to talk peace -- and Ehud Olmert says no.... The real reason
Olmert won't talk is because the Bush administration won't let him,
something the administration hasn't even tried to hide. As far as
Bush is concerned, Syria is an auxiliary member of the axis of evil,
and you don't talk to them.... This strategy has worked about as
well with Syria as it has with Iran and North Korea, and about as
well as the crusade for democracy has worked in Iraq. It may be
about to change. Between the congressional election results and the
exit strategy from Iraq being devised by the forceful diplomat James
Baker, Bush could decide that on second thought, maybe Israel and
Syria ought to sit down and try to settle their differences.... WHAT
WOULD Olmert say to that? He'd say, 'Yes, sir.'.... And then masses
of Israelis who once hoped for such an agreement, but who have since
soured on the possibility of peace with Syria or anybody else in the
Middle East, would start to hope again.... The Syrian regime is
secular; its alliances with Hizbullah and Iran grow out of political
convenience, not ideology; it has kept the cease-fire on the Golan
for three decades; it has talked to Israel before and is seemingly
eager to do so again. Maybe it's a bluff. Maybe negotiations would
fail like they did the first time. But with the IDF predicting war
with Syria next summer, what do we have to lose? Nothing but our
despair."
JONES

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