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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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Carol X Weakley 11/16/2006 03:24:17 PM From DB/Inbox: Carol X Weakley

Cable
Text:


UNCLAS TEL AVIV 04521

SIPDIS
CXTelA:
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INFO: POL DAO DCM AMB

DISSEMINATION: PD
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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
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 1207
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 7974
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 1058
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 1969
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RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 8859
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 1911
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 8835
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 9279
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 5956
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 3331
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 8210
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 2448
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4352
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 5057
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 TEL AVIV 004521

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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. Iran

2. Lebanon

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

Israel Radio quoted PM Ehud Olmert as saying last night in Los
Angeles that the moment of truth has arrived regarding Iran's
nuclear program. Olmert was quoted as saying that "no longer can
the international community afford to hesitate, contemplate, or
waver in its dealings with this defiant state." Appearing before
the largest annual gathering of Jewish community leaders in North
America -- the United Jewish Communities' General Assembly -- he
called on moderate Arab states to "unite their common interest in
preventing Iran from undermining stability in the Middle East."
Likud Chairman MK Binyamin Netanyahu, who also addressed the
Assembly on Monday, was quoted as hinting on IDF Radio on Tuesday
that Israel possesses the capabilities necessary for curbing the
Iranian nuclear threat, declining to specify what these entail.
Maariv bannered an interview with Israeli Ambassador to the US Danny
Ayalon in which he said that President Bush, who cannot accept a
nuclear Iran, will not hesitate to attack that country. Major media
quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying on Tuesday
that Tehran would talk to the US if it behaves correctly, provoking
the White House to respond that it is Iran that needs to change.
Leading media quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that Iran will soon
celebrate its becoming a nuclear power.

Maariv (Ben Caspit) quoted Israeli and American diplomatic sources
as saying that Olmert presented Bush with a "bold and original"
"consensual realignment" plan, involving negotiations with PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas, withdrawal from West Bank land,
and retention of settlement blocs. The newspaper quoted several
sources as saying that the plan may be based on a new political
outline devised by FM Tzipi Livni. Maariv cited the Prime
Minister's Office's denial.

The electronic media reported that this morning an Israeli woman was
killed and an Israeli man seriously wounded in a direct Qassam
rocket hit in Sderot.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, exactly three months after a
UN-brokered cease-fire ended Israel's war in Lebanon, IDF officers
told the newspaper on Tuesday that Hizbullah gunmen disguised as
civilians were back on the border and collecting intelligence on IDF
positions. Israel Radio cited a UN report as saying that more than
700 Islamic militants from Somalia traveled to Lebanon during the
summer to fight alongside Hizbullah in its war against Israel. The
report, which will be discussed at the UN Security Council, also
says that Iran sought to trade arms for uranium from Somalia to
further its nuclear ambitions.

The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior Western diplomatic official as
saying on Tuesday that high-level Israeli, Palestinian, US, and
Egyptian officials met in Jerusalem on Tuesday for the first time in
a year to discuss opening the Rafah Crossing on a full-time basis.
Among those who attended the meeting were Amos Gilad, head of the
Political-Security Bureau at Israel's Defense Ministry, PA
negotiator Saeb Erekat, US Security Coordinator Lt. Gen. Keith W.
Dayton, Egyptian diplomatic officials, and the head of the EU
mission at Rafah, Lt. Gen. Pietro Pistolese. The Jerusalem Post
reported that Dayton is working on a plan to expand the opening of
the crossing, and that work began some two weeks ago on building a
series of walls near the crossing to protect it. The Jerusalem Post
also reported that Dayton's tenure has recently been extended by a
year.

Major media reported that Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin told the
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that
enormous amounts of munitions and armaments are being brought into
the Gaza Strip via the Sinai, thereby creating a very troubling
situation. Diskin was quoted as saying: "The situation in the Gaza
Strip is akin to a series of red lights" and that the IDF may need
to launch another operation in the Strip.

Hamas's spokesman in Gaza, Ismail Radwan, was quoted as saying
Tuesday in an interview with Ha'aretz that Abbas has given Hamas
guarantees that Arab countries and other members of the
international community will end the economic boycott of the PA once
a new government of technocrats is formed, even if the new
government still refuses to recognize Israel. The guarantees,
Radwan added, were conditioned on the new ministers not being
affiliated with any political movement. "The new government has not
been asked to recognize the Zionist enemy," Radwan was quoted as
saying. Ha'aretz also quoted Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy chair
of Hamas's political bureau, as saying that the new government "has
not been asked to recognize Israel, and therefore will not recognize
it." Other media mentioned similar statements by Hamas leaders.
Ha'aretz wrote that, in response to these statements, senior
officials of Abbas's Fatah movement said they fear that Hamas's
leadership, which resides in Damascus, is once again trying to
torpedo the emerging agreement on a unity government.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio quoted Egyptian border officials as saying
that Palestinian legislator Mushir Al-Masri, trying to bypass a
financial boycott on the Palestinians, attempted to cross into the
Gaza Strip from Egypt on Tuesday carrying 2 million euros. The
media reported that the sum was collected on a trip to Saudi Arabia.
The Jerusalem Post reported that in an attempt to prevent criminal
and terrorist infiltrations into southern Israel, the IDF opened two
new bases along the border with Egypt this week.

Both Ha'aretz and Yediot led with, and other leading media reported
on, the likelihood of IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Dan Halutz's
resignation if either of the two in-house committees investigating
the second Lebanon War concludes that he is responsible for failures
surrounding the conflict. The newspapers were echoing a revelation
on Channel 2-TV last night. Leading media reported that Olmert
called Halutz from the US on Tuesday to tell him that, contrary to
reports in the Israeli media, he enjoys his support. Yediot and
other newspapers quoted doubts by Halutz associates about Olmert's
sincerity. Media also reported that Defense Minister Amir Peretz
expressed his backing for Halutz.

Israel Radio quoted West Bank police commander Yisrael Yitzhak as
confirming that there is a plan to evacuate illegal settler
outposts. The radio said that the police and army are awaiting
orders from the government.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Association of Civil Rights in
Israel (ACRI) has charged in a letter to senior IDF officers that
the army has been using the roof of a Palestinian home in Hebron and
that it has commandeered the top floor of the building without
authorization from the military commander for the past five years.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the cabinet will meet on Sunday to
approve the creation of a new Department of Strategic Affairs in the
Prime Minister's Office, to be headed by Deputy Prime Minister
Avigdor Lieberman. The newspaper reported that outgoing Ambassador
to the US Danny Ayalon and former Consul General in New York Alon
Pinkas are being considered for positions in the new department.

The Jerusalem Post reported that New Generations, an offshoot of the
progressive New Israel Fund, a Washington-based organization focused
on human rights in Israel, is trying to interest young Jewish
American activists to become involved in Israel. The daily quoted
New Generations Director Ariella Sidelsky as saying that efforts by
the organized Jewish community to "re-package" Israel -- presenting
the country's "other side" by highlighting its accomplishments in
science or its leisure opportunities -- as a way of attracting
American youth are misguided.

Maariv reported that in Los Angeles on Tuesday, FM Tzipi Livni and
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to cooperate on
homeland security issues and on ways to increase Evangelical
Christian tourism from California to Israel.

The Jerusalem Post cited figures released on Tuesday by the GOI's
Central Bureau of Statistics, according to which Israel's economy
contracted for the first time in more than three years in the first
quarter, as the Lebanon War brought much of Israel to a standstill
in July and part of August. GDP shrank an annualized 1.4 percent,
following growth of 5.8 percent in the first part of the year.

The Jerusalem Post cited the Federation of Israeli Chambers of
Commerce as saying Tuesday that Israeli companies lost approximately
half-a-billion US dollars as a result of IPR violations in 2005.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Nice Systems, an Israel-based
provider of digital recording and archiving systems, has received a
contract to provide a solution to capture, reconstruct, and analyze
voice communications for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
-- New York City Transit's new rail control center. The Jerusalem
Post reported that Israeli food producers will be looking to take a
bite out of the growing US kosher foods market at the largest
international kosher food exhibition, "KosherFest," that kicked off
in New York on Tuesday.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Illinois-based venture capitalists
are seeking attractive investment options in Israel, as too much
capital in the US limits the opportunities of the VCs to prosper at
home. Maariv reported that Kibbutz Afikim is increasingly exporting
light personal vehicles meant for overweight people to the American
market.

Yediot reported that the Israeli defense administration has used USD
30,000 in American aid to place "mezuzot" [doorpost parchments with
traditional Hebrew inscriptions] in GOI buildings.

Ha'aretz reported that Google has bought its first Israeli startup,
iRows, which has developed a browser-based spreadsheet service.

Yediot presented the results of a Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute)
poll:
"Should IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz put an end to his term?" Yes:
71 percent; no: 25 percent: 4 percent were undecided.
"Should Peretz leave his position?" Yes: 72 percent; no: 28
percent.
"Do you rely on the IDF to protect Israel?" Yes: 78 percent; no: 22
percent.
"Do you rely on the IDF today as you did before the [Lebanon] War?"
Rely less: 50 percent; equally: 39 percent; more: 11 percent.

---------
1. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner opined in the left-leaning,
independent Ha'aretz: "Without prior warning, the Israeli barometer
has soared to 10 on the panic scale.... Netanyahu is looking at an
American administration that now seems confused and to have lost its
way."

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

"They Sow Fear"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner opined in the left-leaning,
independent Ha'aretz (11/15): "Netanyahu's show [at the gathering of
Jewish American leaders in Los Angeles on Monday] was indeed
fascinating. And frightening. 'Now is 1938, Iran is Germany, and
it is about to arm itself with nuclear weapons.' Thus, without
prior warning, the Israeli barometer has soared to 10 on the panic
scale. Ten out of 10.... Such anxiety is a double-edged sword.
Perhaps it will spur action, perhaps it will spur flight. Anyone
who reinforces it should consider carefully the benefits versus the
damage: Perhaps it will cause American statesmen to realize that if
they do not make more of an effort, they will force Israel to act,
but perhaps they will also convince the Iranian president that he is
getting close to achieving his aims without having to fire even one
deadly barrage.... In Netanyahu's case, it appears that the timing
is connected to his familiarity with the ins and outs of the
American arena.... Netanyahu is looking at an American
administration that now seems confused and to have lost its way. He
is seeing how the lines are being filled by new, calculating,
cautious people like the new defense secretary, Robert Gates. And
it is uncertain that it is possible to rely on them."


------------
2. Lebanon:
------------

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "[The
Lebanese Shi'ites'] aim is to replace the government most
independent of Syria in decades with a pawn that will confer
strategic control to the Iranian-Syrian-Hizbullah axis....
Pretending that all is well on the northern border and that
Hizbullah is being kept at bay is patently not the answer. "

Professor Eyal Zisser, the Chairman of the Department of Middle
Eastern History at Tel Aviv University and a senior expert on Syrian
and Lebanese affairs, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot: "Someone who threatens civil war inside Lebanon
will not be reluctant to renew his activity against Israel along the
border."

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

I. "Don't Forget Lebanon"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/15):
"All Israeli intelligence agencies ... agree that four months after
the recent war, Hizbullah is back at the border, albeit in civilian
garb and not quite with an in-your-face deployment. Not only did
Hizbullah recoup its losses but, according to some reports, it's now
extensively reinforced in comparison to its war-eve status....
Israel might find itself in a weaker position than last July....
Five Shi'ite ministers have already resigned from Siniora's
coalition, as has a pro-Syrian Christian. President Emile Lahoud,
solidly pro-Syrian, has branded the Siniora government
'illegitimate,' signaling the imminent unleashing of an offensive by
Hizbullah and other pro-Syrian and Iranian puppets in Lebanon.
Their aim is to replace the government most independent of Syria in
decades with a pawn that will confer strategic control to the
Iranian-Syrian-Hizbullah axis. This is not speculation. Hizbullah
spokesmen make no pretense to the contrary.... The question is what
to do about it. Pretending that all is well on the northern border
and that Hizbullah is being kept at bay is patently not the answer.
"

II. "Lebanese Poker"

Professor Eyal Zisser, the Chairman of the Department of Middle
Eastern History at Tel Aviv University and a senior expert on Syrian
and Lebanese affairs, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (11/15): "Now [Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah] is gambling
again, gambling that his rivals will ultimately give in to him. The
problem is that none of the Lebanese poker players have anything to
lose any more. After all, any capitulation to his demands means
handing the power over the country into his hands, and it is not for
this that Siniora and his colleagues have come this far. It is
possible that at the last moment a compromise will be found, and all
will continue on their way until the next crisis, but this could
also lead to a severe crisis in Lebanon and even a new civil war.
For Israel, the conclusions from this crisis are clear. First of
all, the latest war and UN Security Council Resolution 1701 have
created a fragile and tenuous reality. And those who took comfort
in the deployment of the Lebanese army and an international force
may find that after the first exchanges of fire in Beirut, these
forces will be the first to abandon the area. Secondly, Nasrallah's
willingness to challenge the stability of the Lebanese system shows
that he feels self-confident, and he may believe that he has
restored the strength and standing that he lost in the war. This
leads to the fear that sooner or later he will seek to restore the
situation along the Israeli border to its previous state, to the
reality on the eve of July 12, 2006. After all, someone who
threatens civil war inside Lebanon will not be reluctant to renew
his activity against Israel along the border."

CRETZ

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