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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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Carol X Weakley 11/14/2006 02:06:48 PM From DB/Inbox: Carol X Weakley

Cable
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 04508

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CXTelA:
ACTION: PD
INFO: POL AMB DAO DCM

DISSEMINATION: PD
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: PAO:HKFINN
DRAFTED: PD:MKONSTANTYN
CLEARED: IO:SDTUTTLE

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PP RUEHC RHEHAAA RHEHNSC RUEAIIA RUEKJCS RUEAHQA
RUEADWD RUENAAA RHEFDIA RUEKJCS RUEHAD RUEHAS RUEHAM RUEHAK
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RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 1196
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 7966
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 1047
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 1961
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 1182
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 8851
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 1903
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 8827
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 9271
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 5948
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 3323
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 8202
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 2440
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 TEL AVIV 004508

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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

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

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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

1. Mideast

2. Global War on Terror

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

Major media (lead story in Ha'aretz) reported that President Bush,
speaking after a meeting at that White House with PM Ehud Olmert,
called Monday for the world to unite in isolating Iran until it
"gives up its nuclear ambitions." In addition, Olmert publicly
praised the American operation in Iraq, which he said brought
stability to the Middle East. Ha'aretz quoted politicians from the
Democratic Party as saying they wanted to speak to Olmert about his
comments on the Iraq war before responding publicly, but that they
were uncomfortable with the comments. If Olmert planned his remarks
and intended them to come out as they did, a Democratic official
said, then they are not acceptable and can be seen as an attempt to
influence the American political arena. Maariv and Israel Radio
reported that the two leaders agreed that Syria could become a
partner in the peace process if it renounced sponsorship of
terrorism. Leading media noted that both leaders' countries enjoyed
economic prosperity but that the men's domestic public image was
negative.

While, akin to other leading media, The Jerusalem Post cited
President Bush's call on Monday for worldwide isolation of Iran
until it "gives up its nuclear ambitions," the newspaper, as well as
other media, said he gave no hint of a willingness to stop the
Iranian nuclear march. Yediot reported that Olmert told the
influential Baker/Hamilton committee in Washington on Monday that
the US should talk with Iran and Syria. Leading media reported
that, in an interview with NBC-TV, which was recorded in Israel on
Friday and broadcast Monday, when asked if he would accept direct
negotiations between Washington and Tehran, Olmert said any
compromise preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons would be
acceptable to Israel. Israel Radio quoted US Permanent
Representative to the UN Ambassador John Bolton as saying Monday
that Russian changes to a draft U.N. resolution on Iran's nuclear
program would "cut back substantially" on restrictions the US and
its allies are seeking.

Israel Radio quoted State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack as
saying Monday: "We would call upon the Arab states as well as other
states to continue with their adherence to the principles and the
spirit that were outlined in the Quartet statement [on conditioning
aid to the PA upon recognition of Israel and the end of violence]."
The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior PA official in Ramallah as saying
that PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas, who arrived in Amman
Monday, is scheduled to hold secret talks with Israeli, Egyptian,
and Jordanian security officials on ways to resolve the case of
resolving the case of kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Maariv
quoted Olmert as telling Al-Quds that he will keep his promise to
release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit's release.
Israel Radio quoted the London-based Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat as saying
that the composition of the new Palestinian government will be made
public only after a breakthrough in negotiations over Shalit's
release. Yediot reported that the Israeli defense establishment and
the Justice Ministry are considering withholding information from
families of Palestinian prisoners to put pressure on Hamas to
accelerate the deal for Shalit's release.

Ha'aretz quoted Olmert as saying Monday in an interview with the
East Jerusalem daily Al-Quds that he would be willing to meet with
Hamas cabinet ministers. This would become possible if the new
Palestinian government adopted the Quartet's principles. Ha'aretz,
The Jerusalem Post, and other media reported that a Hamas official
told AP Monday that Dr. Mohammed Shabir, the US-educated university
professor favored to be the next Palestinian PM, has accepted the
offer. Shabir was quoted as saying in remarks to Ha'aretz that he
has no problem with any party, including the US, and that that he
maintains "sound relations with all." However, he was quoted as
saying he would only be willing to address his views on Israel after
he was officially named to the post. Shabir told Ha'aretz that he
was not affiliated with any organization and is an independent.
However, Ha'aretz quoted an Israeli source who claims to know Shabir
that he is identified with Hamas.

Israel Radio quoted Palestinian sources as saying that an armed PFLP
militant was killed by IDF fire in Nablus. Ha'aretz and Yediot
reported that the IDF denied claims by the human rights organization
B'Tselem that last week's shooting deaths of two Palestinian
militants in the West Bank village of Kafr al-Yamin was an
"execution."

Jerusalem Post correspondent Jacey Herman, who recently visited
Beirut, said that support for Hizbullah in Lebanon is stronger than
ever.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Haifa University communications expert
Prof. Gabriel Weimann as saying that Wednesday's launch of
Qatar-based Al Jazeera International, a 24/7 English-language
satellite network, will make the "information war" harder for
Israel. The Jerusalem Post quoted Foreign Ministry Director of
Public Affairs Amir Gissin as saying that Israel lost the media war
this summer because it sent spokesmen with sound bites to combat
photographs of destruction and despair that dominated TV and
newspapers.

Yediot reported that, because of Robert Gates' alleged unfriendly
attitude toward Israel, American Jewish leaders are concerned about
his appointment as defense secretary. The Jerusalem Post reported
that FM Tzipi Livni told the United Jewish Communities General
Assembly in Los Angeles on Sunday that Israel thanks US Jews for
their support during the war in Lebanon. The Jerusalem Post cited
criticism by several leading Jewish American leaders that Jewish
Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski's comments that US Jews have no
future.

Ha'aretz reported that Israeli President Moshe Katsav will not be
charged with rape but that he will face charges for other sexual
offenses. Charges against Katsav will be brought to court no later
than March 2007.

Yediot reported that on Monday, Olmert introduced President Bush to
Sallai Meridor, Israeli nominee as ambassador to the US.

Leading media reported that settler leader Bentzi Lieberman
announced on Monday that he plans to resign from his post as the
head of the Council of Jewish Settlements in the Territories as of
January. Ha'aretz wrote that it is likely that Lieberman will try
to finalize the question of illegal settler outposts with the
government before leaving his post, and that he will agree to the
evacuation of outposts set up on private lands in return for having
others recognized.

The Jerusalem Post quoted UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as saying
in Istanbul on Monday that any effort to stop growing violence
between Islamic and Western societies must include an end to the
Arab-Israeli conflict.

Ha'aretz cited the "vicious legacy" in Lebanon of the IDF's
"budget-saving, American-made cluster bombs."

Both Yediot and Maariv bannered the debate on the continuation of
Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz's service as IDF Chief of Staff. Yediot
reported that Olmert has declined to back Halutz. Maariv reported
that Halutz has conveyed a message to the IDF's top brass that he is
not resigning.

The Jerusalem Post cited AP as saying that former New York Times
reporter Judith Miller told a federal court jury on Monday that she
secretly witnessed the 1993 interrogation by Israeli agents of a

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Palestinian-American grocer charged with providing money and
recruits to a terrorist group.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday the High Court of Justice rejected
a petition by convicted spy Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther
which asked the court to force Pensioner Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan
to resign. The couple had argued that the appointment of Eitan, who
was Pollard's control officer in the 1980s, eliminated any chance
Pollard will be released from prison in the US.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday El Al
canceled options to buy eight to 10 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in a deal
that was worth as much as USD 1.5 billion.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Now Olmert heads the list of
the opponents of an American withdrawal from Iraq."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "[One-on-one meetings}
oblige the listener far more than they do the speaker."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "If Olmert should want to say in the
future that the President promised him something, what is he going
to use to prove that?"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz: "Like [former
Secretary of State James] Baker, [Robert Gates] believes that ending

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the Israeli occupation and the Arab-Israeli conflict are vital to
the United States' Middle East agenda."
Journalist and far-Left peace activist Uri Avnery wrote in NRG,
Maariv's Internet site: "More important than Bush was the fact that
the exciting news out of the United States pushed to the sidelines
the awful reports about the incident in Beit Hanun."

Palestinian columnist Daoud Kuttab wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "Historically, progress on the
Arab-Israeli conflict has often been made during the last years of a
two-term president."

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

I. "45 Minutes of Smile"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/14): "The only headline
[regarding the Bush-Olmert meeting] was Olmert's declaration the war
in Iraq had brought stability to the region and made a 'dramatic
positive contribution' to the strategic position of Israel and
moderate Arab states. His public thanks to Bush for invading Iraq
joins Olmert's public call of a few days ago for the Americans not
to withdraw from there in haste. Thus Olmert broke the taboo
imposed by his predecessor, Ariel Sharon, on Israeli statements
about Iraq.... Now Olmert heads the list of the opponents of an
American withdrawal from Iraq. His position is not without reason.
From the point of view of Israel and the 'axis of the moderate' Arab
states -- Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- it is better to have an
American army in Iraq, albeit beaten and wounded, than an extremist
Shi'ite state operating under the influence of Iran and exporting
experienced terrorists to the entire region. But by coming out
publicly on the matter, Olmert has taken Bush's side in the internal
American debate, and has placed himself in opposition to the new
Democratic leaders in Congress, who last week won the midterm
elections because of their opposition to the war in Iraq. How to
block the Iranian threat was at the top of the agenda in the
Bush-Olmert meeting, and the Prime Minister said, as he is wont, he
was very satisfied with this part of their discussion. It is not
clear from what exactly.... Olmert can be satisfied with the public
promises he heard from Bush, which strengthen the Israeli stand on
the road map and the demands on the Palestinian government; reject
the Syrian overtures for peace talks before Damascus changes its
ways; and make a dialogue with Iran conditional on its stopping
uranium enrichment."
II. "The Blind and the Lame"
Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/14): "At the end of
their orchestrated performance before the journalists, the two men
rose from their seats. Olmert embraced Bush at the shoulder. Bush
returned the embrace.... I do not know exactly what Olmert and Bush
decided on with respect to the Iranian issue. The two held a
one-on-one discussion, which, on the one hand, lends a certain
dramatic effect to the conversation between them but, on the other,
leaves the task of interpretation to each party on its own.
Experience with those kinds of conversations has not been good.
They oblige the listener far more than they do the speaker....
Everything else is on hold: The Palestinian issue is on hold,
pending the replacement of the Palestinian government. The Iraqi
issue is on hold, pending the crystallization of a new, bipartisan
policy in the United States. The Syrian issue is on hold, pending
good will gestures that Assad is to make. Currently none of the
above is visible on the horizon."

III. "One-on-One With President Bush"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (11/14): "Olmert's visit to Washington can
be recorded as a strange event. The meeting with the President was
held almost entirely one-on-one. That is an irregular,
unconventional way of handling meetings of this type that are held
about subjects of this type. If Olmert should want to say in the
future that the President promised him something, what is he going
to use to prove that?.... In summary? On the one hand, a meeting
that was hardly crucial. On the other, it could be that it will
prove to have been fruitful. The first buds of a new initiative on
the Palestinian front, the agreements about Syria, the coordination
with regard to Iran. The Prime Minister was received warmly,
enjoyed every minute and can commend himself for not having wasted
his time on his way to Los Angeles."

IV. "An Iraq Withdrawal, Via Palestine"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz (11/14):
"Robert Gates, the CIA chief in the early 1990s, is now a candidate
to replace Rumsfeld. He belongs to the school that believes that if
something cannot be obtained by force, more force will not help.
Gates is willing to offer carrots to even the Iranian monster. Like
[former Secretary of State James] Baker, he believes that ending the
Israeli occupation and the Arab-Israeli conflict are vital to the
United States' Middle East agenda. This is not just mere
speculation regarding Gates. All this appears in a report by an
independent task force on Iran, sponsored by the Council on Foreign
Relations in New York. Gates and Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter
administration's national security adviser, chaired the task force,
which also included the Jewish-American activist and media baron
Mort Zuckerman. One of the first recommendations of the report,
which was published in June 2004 under the title 'Iran: Time for a
New Approach,' was that the US resume active involvement in the
Middle East peace process and press Arab countries to support it."

V. "It's Called a Massacre"

Journalist and far-Left peace activist Uri Avnery wrote in NRG,
Maariv's Internet site (11/14): "'Thank God for the elections in
America,' said [Israel's] ministers and generals last week with a
sigh of relief. It wasn't the kick the American people gave George
Bush's behind that they were so pleased with because, after all,
they like Bush. More important than Bush was the fact that the
exciting news out of the United States pushed to the sidelines the
awful reports about the incident in Beit Hanun. Those reports,
instead of receiving the top headlines, made their way to the bottom
of the page.... Olmert can continue to do that, he said, because the
governments of the world are silent. The US imposed a veto on a
gentle condemnation resolution by the UN Security Council against
Israel in the wake of the artillery fire. Does that mean that the
governments of the world -- America, Europe and the Arab world, are
party to the crime of Beit Hanun? That is a question that the
citizens of those countries are going to have to answer."

VI. "Lame-Duck Potential"

Palestinian columnist Daoud Kuttab wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (11/14): "With US mid-term elections
behind us and President George W. Bush not able to run for another
term, American foreign policy (which is the responsibility of the
White House) in the region may become more invigorated. The fact
that Bush boasts that he publicly supports the idea of a Palestinian
state may incline him to pay closer attention to how history will
record his government. In his last two years in government, and
with so many failures in the region (read Iraq), the Bush
administration will likely try to make a last-ditch effort to solve
the Palestinian problem. Historically, progress on the Arab-Israeli
conflict has often been made during the last years of a two-term
president.... Palestinian suffering continues to poison the air in
the entire region. It is high time that the Palestinians and other
Arabs were given a reason for optimism and hope."
-------------------------
2. Global War on Terror:
-------------------------

Summary:
--------

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Reasonably,
the world is now assessing the US through the prism of its
non-action against Iran and North Korea rather than through the
prism of Iraq."

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

"The Second-Worst Option"

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (11/14):
"Iran, North Korea and al-Qaida have all been quick to interpret the
Democratic victory in last Tuesday's Congressional elections as a
sign that the US has chosen to turn its back on the threat they pose
to America. By firing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and
replacing him with Robert Gates, who supports appeasing the mullahs
in Teheran and finding a fig-leaf excuse to vacate Iraq, Bush has
done everything to prove America's enemies right. Moreover, Bush
administration officials' statements ahead of the president's trip
to Asia this week indicate that Bush will seek to contend with North
Korea by ratcheting up US engagement with Pyongyang in the six-party
talks.... Reasonably, the world is now assessing the US through the
prism of its non-action against Iran and North Korea rather than
through the prism of Iraq. And the consequence of the view that
Iraq was a deviation from a norm of US passivity is nothing less
than the complete breakdown of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty."

CRETZ

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