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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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Carol X Weakley 11/16/2006 03:25:03 PM From DB/Inbox: Carol X Weakley

Cable
Text:


UNCLAS TEL AVIV 04534

SIPDIS
CXTelA:
ACTION: PD
INFO: POL DAO DCM AMB

DISSEMINATION: PD
CHARGE: PROG

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

VZCZCTVI755
PP RUEHC RHEHAAA RHEHNSC RUEAIIA RUEKJCS RUEAHQA
RUEADWD RUENAAA RHEFDIA RUEKJCS RUEHAD RUEHAS RUEHAM RUEHAK
RUEHLB RUEHEG RUEHDM RUEHLO RUEHFR RUEHRB RUEHRO RUEHRH
RUEHTU RUCNDT RUEHJM RHMFISS RHMFISS RHMFIUU
DE RUEHTV #4534/01 3201101
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161101Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7651
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEADWD/DA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 1215
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 7981
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 1066
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 1976
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 1197
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 8870
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 1919
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 8843
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 9287
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 5963
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 3338
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 8218
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 2455
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4359
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 5072
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 TEL AVIV 004534

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 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. Mideast

2. Global War on Terror

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

All media bannered the killing of a Muslim Israeli woman married to
a Jewish man and the serious wounding of two men -- one of them a
bodyguard for Defense Minister Amir Peretz -- in Sderot by Qassam
rocket fire on Wednesday. Hamas and Islamic Jihad both claimed
responsibility for the attack and promised to continue firing
rockets into Israel. The Jerusalem Post and other leading media
reported that the IDF promised a swift response to the Qassam rocket
barrage. Ha'aretz, which, like other media, said that Peretz
ordered the IDF to step up its operations against the Qassam rocket
launchers, quoted Israeli defense sources as saying that no major
ground operation would be launched in Gaza in response to the fatal
attack, and that the time was not right even for a smaller operation
focused on the area from which the rockets were launched. Leading
media reported that Peretz also decided against resuming artillery
fire on Gaza. Israel Radio reported that Peretz ordered the
resumption of targeted assassinations in the Gaza Strip. The
Jerusalem Post reported that Knesset members blamed the Qassam
rocket attacks on the governments of Israel and Egypt.

Ha'aretz reported that President Bush was informed on Tuesday of an
initiative to establish a center under his name in Israel, as a sign
of gratitude for his support for the country and its security.
According to Ha'aretz, outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.
Daniel Ayalon asked Bush for the go-ahead to establish such a center
during a farewell meeting with the president and Vice-President Dick
Cheney. Bush told Ayalon that "freedom" would be a worthy subject
for the center to focus on. Ayalon has yet to approach donors with
a request to finance the establishment of the "Bush Center" in
Israel, but does not expect to encounter difficulties when it comes
to raising the funds. The outgoing ambassador will continue to work
on the matter with White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten.

The Jerusalem Post quoted PM Ehud Olmert as saying in Los Angeles on
Wednesday that compromising with Hamas would be tantamount to
compromising with Iran. He called Hamas the "greatest enemy,"
representing extremism and the "Tehran spirit."

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that representatives of the
Quartet met in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss how to relaunch the
peace process. It was reported as the first gathering of the
Quartet since Hamas formed its government. Ha'aretz quoted the UN
envoy to the Middle East, Alvaro De Soto, as saying in an interview
with the newspaper that the Quartet maintained its September 20
position supporting the establishment of a PA unity government, in
the hope that it would reflect the Quartet's principles: recognition
of Israel and of previously signed agreements with it, and a
renunciation of violence. De Soto said he was "encouraged" by the
progress toward a new Palestinian government. Ha'aretz said that a
European diplomat revealed that there had been disagreement between
the US and the other members of the Quartet over the PA unity
government. The US is promoting a position that there will only be
cooperation with the new government if it meets the conditions,
while the diplomat said the principles are not pre-conditions as far
as Russia and some of the European Union countries are concerned.
The Jerusalem Post quoted EU officials as saying that the EU will
not change its policy on Hamas. The Jerusalem Post quoted an
Israeli official as saying that there is currently a tendency among
some in Europe to want to compromise on the Quartet's criteria, and
that the nomination of US-educated university professor Muhammad
Shbair to become the PA's next PM may provide the pretext for the EU
to show willngness to make these "compromises."

Israel Radio reported that Deputy State Department Spokesman Tom
Casey condemned the UN Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) decision to
send a fact-finding commission to Beit Hanun, where 19 Palestinians
were killed by an IDF artillery shell on November 8. Ha'aretz
quoted Ambassador Warren W. Tichenor, Permanent Representative of
the US to the UN and Other International Organizations in Geneva, as
saying that although the casualties in Beit Hanun were tragic, the
Council had no business talking about the Israeli operations, since
they "are clearly governed by the law of war."

Israel Radio reported that in a speech broadcast on Palestinian TV
on Wednesday on the occasion of Palestinian Independence Day, PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas called on Israel to not miss an
opportunity for peace and for Israelis and Palestinians to put an
end to the mutual bloodshed.

The Jerusalem Post quoted PA officials as saying Wednesday that
Egypt and Jordan have expressed their full backing of Abbas's
efforts to form a unity government with Hamas. Abbas returned to
Ramallah Wednesday after a two-day visit to Cairo and Amman, where
he met with President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah II.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, in an effort to create better
border security in northern Israel, the IDF is recommending
disengagement from the northern part of the village of Ghajar, which
straddles the border with Lebanon, and moving Israeli residents to
the southern part of the community.

Major media quoted IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz as denying
reports that he is considering resigning due to growing criticism,
within the army and outside it, of his conduct of the Lebanon War
and his subsequent refusal to accept responsibility for its
failures. Halutz's comments were made in interviews with Israeli
Internet sites on Wednesday. Maariv cited the belief of IDF sources
that Maj. Gen Gabi Ashkenazi will become the next chief of staff.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a London court has begun hearing a
legal challenge brought by Saleh Hassan, a Palestinian man claiming
that Britain is violating its military hardware export rules by
selling arms to Israel.

Yediot reported that senior State Department official David
Satterfield testified before a Congressional committee on Wednesday
that the US is prepared in principle to conduct negotiations with
Iran, for which a calendar is being examined.

Yediot reported that American aid money has funded three IDF Radio
mobile vehicles.

Yediot reported that Vice PM Shimon Peres was one of the first
interviewees on Al Jazeera International-TV on Wednesday.

Ha'aretz reported that on Wednesday Israel and Jordan conducted a
joint exercise in treating marine pollution in the Gulf of Israel.

Yediot reported that on Wednesday 25 influential German academics --
some of them known for their anti-Israeli views -- published a
petition in the daily Frankfurter Rundschau, saying that their
government should put an end to its warm embrace of Israel and its
"special treatment" of Israel.

Yediot ran a feature about Israeli speculators in the Iraqi dinar.

Maariv reported that hundreds of Cuban Jews immigrated to Israel
over the past few years. After they obtained Israeli passports,
they left for Mexico and later for the US. Those caught crossing
the US border illegally asked to receive refugee status.

The Jerusalem Post reported that ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" and
USA Today have jointly chosen the Old City of Jerusalem as one of
the seven new wonders of the world.

Yediot reported that Tourism Minister Yitzhak Herzog took part in
Los Angeles in an episode of the US reality show "American Idol."

Yediot published the results of a University of Haifa survey,
conducted in cooperation with a Ben Gurion University researcher: 74
percent of Israelis expressed low confidence in Olmert, while 8
percent expressed high confidence in him.


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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "It would ... be a shame to take unnecessary
risks while the Americans are still trying to figure out what they
want to do."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Olmert, who is already mourning his
realignment, must now invent something completely different."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote from Los Angeles on page one of
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Those hearing Ehud
Olmert in his public appearances here, receive the impression that
he has merged with the local atmosphere. The man lives in a
movie."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/16):
"The US and Israel should tell Egypt that if Cairo acts like
Damascus and allows Gaza to become southern Lebanon, then Egypt
risks being treated like Syria; the US has immense leverage here, in
terms of military assistance."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz: "Given the
cool attitude toward Syria of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
the statesman closest to the President, Olmert, need not be
concerned."

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

I. "'Sliding Doors' in Washington"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/16): "En route to Washington it became
clear to Olmert that ... the administration is looking for a way out
of the Iraqi quagmire and the diplomatic paralysis in the Middle
East. In the absence of a plan or agenda of his own, beyond
day-to-day survival in power, Olmert clung to conservative positions
and presented a long list of 'nos.' His flexibility boiled down to
a series of 'yes, buts'.... There is logic to this approach. Any
deviation or change of direction is liable to ignite a domestic
debate and undermine the delicate political structure keeping
Olmert's government alive. It would also be a shame to take
unnecessary risks while the Americans are still trying to figure out
what they want to do. Who knows what they will decide and when? In
the meantime, it is possible to gain time."

II. "Fresh Break Needed"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (11/16): "All of [Olmert's] talk [during
his visit to the US] will not change the situation. It will neither
break the cycle of Qassam rockets nor improve Israel's international
status. Olmert needs something else -- entirely different -- to
produce a new hope. His current situation is reminiscent of Ariel
Sharon's during his first term, on the eve of his well-known
'Czechoslovakian speech' -- in which, like a cheated spouse, he
turned on the United States and the entire world. Sharon invented
disengagement. Olmert, who is already mourning his realignment,
must now invent something completely different."

III. "Living in a Movie"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote from Los Angeles on page one of
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/16): "Dreams are
the livelihood of Los Angeles.... Those hearing Ehud Olmert in his
public appearances here, receive the impression that he has merged
with the local atmosphere. The man lives in a movie. Everything is
wonderful. The American war in Iraq has stabilized the region. The
Israeli war in Lebanon ended in victory. Iran threatens, but the
end of the threat is foretold. President Bush will destroy it in
good time. Israel will destroy him in time. This is the time to
sign up for a trip to Israel. I know that Olmert does not think so,
and that smugness is his rhetorical style, not necessarily his true
feeling. The audience, wealthy American Jews with diamond studded
wives, loves this self praise, and why not give these Jews, all of
them lovers of Israel, a pleasant hour. And yet, the growing gap
between rhetoric and reality is troubling.... If Iran is unable to
retaliate against Israel, it will take its revenge on Jewish centers
overseas.... When Qassam rockets continue to fall in Sderot and
Ashkelon despite and because of the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip,
the Prime Minister of Israel is in a frustrating situation....
Olmert's trip to the US bore all the signs of a good dream: respect
and honor, love and affection. A lot of people here like him
personally. Others admire him for the title he wears and for the
country he represents. As the day breaks, he will leave for his
trip home. He has to be told what the flight attendant will tell
him when the plane begins lowering altitude on the way to Tel Aviv:
Mr. Prime Minister, it is time to wake up."

IV. "Stop the Qassam Rockets Now"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/16):
"The US and Israel should tell Egypt that if Cairo acts like
Damascus and allows Gaza to become southern Lebanon, then Egypt
risks being treated like Syria; the US has immense leverage here, in
terms of military assistance.... Our military and civilian
leadership needs to prove that it has learned the most glaring
lesson of the recent Lebanon war: The longer we bury our heads in
the sand while terrorist enemies build massive arsenals on our
borders, the more likely war becomes and the more costly it will be.
Recent resignations and demands for more within the IDF are not
driven by spite or a public vendetta. The issue is not punishment
for the last war, but whether our current leadership is capable of
preventing and, if all else fails, fighting, the next war."

V. "Better to Milk Lebanon Than Drink Golan Wine"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz (11/16):
"Given the cool attitude toward Syria of Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, the statesman closest to the President, Olmert,
need not be concerned. A European diplomat said in a conversation
several days ago that even Europe is not pinning any exaggerated
hopes on Damascus. After several talks with government leaders
there, including President Bashar Assad, the senior diplomat
concluded that milking Lebanon, as he put it, interested the Syrian
regime much more than wine from the Golan Heights."

-------------------------
2. Global War on Terror:
-------------------------

Summary:
--------

Nationalist writer Uri Dan commented in the popular, pluralist
Maariv and on the Web site of the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "Bush just may succeed because in the United States
irresponsible politicians pay the price, at a time when Bush -- like
Sharon in the past -- is demonstrating responsibility."

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

"Apocalypse Now? Not For Bush"

Nationalist writer Uri Dan commented in the popular, pluralist
Maariv and on the Web site of the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (11/16): "It is indeed fortunate for democratic
society that, at the crisis points with all the various brands of
international fascism, it has had serious leaders willing to take
the steps needed to stand up against it -- Winston Churchill against
the Nazi fascism, Ariel Sharon against Palestinian terror, and
George W. Bush against the danger of Islamic fascism. What do these
three leaders have in common? The characteristic they share is
their single-mindedness of purpose. That is how it is now with the
daring, courageous President Bush, and how it was with Churchill and
Sharon. Bush is fighting the holy war of democracy and is not
afraid to continue -- using other means, with new ideas. But he is
locked on to the target.... Bush just may succeed because in the
United States irresponsible politicians pay the price, at a time
when Bush -- like Sharon in the past -- is demonstrating
responsibility."

CRETZ

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