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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #2090/01 1901040
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091040Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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HQ USAF FOR XOXX
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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The media reported that on Sunday the cabinet approved the release
of 250 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to PA Chairman [President]
Mahmoud Abbas. The prisoners will all be members of Fatah,
residents of the West Bank, and they will have no "blood on their
hands." Their release is not expected to go into effect before next
week. The cabinet also decided to set up a ministerial committee,
headed by PM Olmert that will determine the identities of the
prisoners that will be released. Vice Premier Haim Ramon was
appointed to head a task force that will coordinate the preparation
of the final list. The cabinet decision was opposed by seven
ministers: Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), the four Shas ministers, and the
two ministers of Yisrael Beiteinu. Ha'aretz quoted Olmert as saying
that he is convinced that Israel's gesture "may ... create the
atmosphere that will ease the release" of Israeli soldiers detained
by Hamas and Hizbullah. Maariv cited Sergio di Gregorio, the
Chairman of the Italian Senate's Defense Committee, as saying in an
affidavit that outgoing Italian intelligence chief Niccolo Pollari
has information about the abducted soldiers. Israel Radio quoted an
Egyptian source as saying in the London-based Al-Hayat that Olmert's
representative Ofer Dekel handed Egypt a list of Hamas activists to
be swapped for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit but that Hamas rejected it.
Israel Radio also quoted Egypt's intelligence head Omar Suleiman as
telling a delegation from the Meretz party to Cairo that efforts to
release Shalit are continuing. The radio reported that the Egyptian
delegation will not return to Gaza for the moment.

The media reported that on Sunday FM Tzipi Livni met with
Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad, who is also functioning as PA foreign
minister, to discuss "improving the lives of the Palestinian people,
without compromising Israel's security," as well as the ways in
which the Arab world could play a role in the political process.
Livni was quoted as saying after the meeting that she was impressed
with the Palestinian government's and Fayyad's personal "resolve to
change the reality." She was quoted as saying that she was
impressed that he is serious and ready to take action. Last week,
Fayyad met with Defense Minister Barak. Ha'aretz reported that early
next week, while US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is visiting
the Middle East, a meeting has been scheduled between Chairman Abbas
and PM Ehud Olmert. Ha'aretz quoted political sources in Jerusalem
as saying on Sunday that talks are being held in preparation for a
possible visit to Israel by Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ali Abu
al-Gheit and Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khatib. The two
will be visiting Israel as representatives of the Arab League and
will formally present the Arab peace initiative.

Ha'aretz reported that in Amman on Sunday Jordan's King Abdullah II
conferred with Mohammad al-Saqr, the Speaker of the Arab Parliament
-- a representative forum for Arab League member states based in
Damascus -- and voiced support for a move by Arab lawmakers to bring
about reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

On Sunday Maariv presented "accumulating signs" that Syria is
preparing for war with Israel, but also introduced
counter-arguments.

On Sunday Yediot reported on revelations supposedly made by Iranian
General Ali Reza Askari, who disappeared in Istanbul last February
and apparently defected to the West. This included exposing a
second Iranian uranium enrichment track based on relatively old
technology by using laser beams by adding various chemicals to make
the technology more advanced.

On Sunday Ha'aretz reported that an Arab-Israeli attorney was
appointed as a prosecutor to the International Criminal Tribunal for
the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is based in The Hague. Marwan
Dalal, an attorney with Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority
Rights in Israel, will begin his work at the international court
later this month. Dalal will be the first Arab Israeli to serve in
such an important international legal forum, in which only a few
Israelis have ever served.

Ha'aretz cited the belief of officials in PM Ehud Olmert's Bureau
that if Defense Minister and Labor Chairman Ehud Barak continues to
try to differentiate himself from Olmert and promote himself as a
candidate for premier, Olmert will have to "call him to order." The
officials were quoted as saying that Labor will have to support
across-the-board 600-million shekel (around USD 141.6 million)
budget cut that was approved on Sunday by the cabinet. Finance
Minister Roni Bar-On originally proposed a 1.3 billion shekel
(around USD 307 million) budget cut.

The Jerusalem Post cited the belief of refugees from Sudan that it
is only a matter of days before the government begins deporting them
to Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak has promised they will be
safe. The newspaper reported that Amnesty International and UN
representatives have advised PM Olmert against sending the
asylum-seekers back to Egypt, where local Arab and Nubian armed
groups have attacked the mostly Christian refugees. All media
covered the tribulations of the African refugees in Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel's Histadrut Labor Federation
will cut all ties with the Transport and General Workers Union, the
800,000-member British union that last week joined the growing
roster of British trade unions demanding boycotts of Israel.

Over the weekend the media reported that on Saturday Israel joined
Al Gore's Live Earth international music extravaganza with a concert
at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv sponsored by Channel 10-TV.

On Sunday major media reported that officials in Washington have
confirmed that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will arrive in
Israel and the PA on July 16 fro her fist visit to the region since
Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip.

Leading media quoted Palestinian security and hospital officials as
saying that late on Sunday IDF troops ambushed and killed Mohammed
Nazal, a Palestinian militant in the West Bank town of Jenin. An
Islamic Jihad spokesperson was quoted as saying that Nazal was one
of its leaders. Earlier Sunday, Palestinian militants fired five
Qassam rockets at the western Negev causing damage to a construction
site on the campus of the Sapir College near Sderot. Islamic Jihad
claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. On Saturday, three
Qassam rockets landed in the western Negev, causing no injuries or
damage.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel and the PA are
working together with the UN to increase the flow of goods into Gaza
by making improvements at the Kerem Shalom crossing into the
southern Strip.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post quoted US Democratic presidential
candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, as saying in a comment to a blog on
the newspaper's Web site: "The absence of US leadership has helped
open the door to extremism in the West Bank. Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton was quoted as saying on the same venue that there are not
many good options in Gaza, but the PA should be helped. In his
response to the Web site, Republican Senator Sam Brownback said that
UNRWA is the wrong agency to manage the crisis in Gaza.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that Hamas claimed on Thursday
that it had played an integral part in the release of BBC journalist
Alan Johnston and that it blamed Israel for the reporter's 114-day
ordeal and the international community for Gaza's plight.

Maariv reported that FM Livni hinted in an interview with The New
York Times that she aspires to become prime minister.

On Sunday Maariv reported that Israel officials have been trying to
come up with ways of encouraging tens of thousands of Iranian Jews
to move to Israel, despite their lack of desire to do so. To this
end, a group of Jews of Iranian extraction has created a special
fund to promote emigration from Iran, and will give each Jewish
family that immigrates to Israel approximately USD 60,000 in
addition to the absorption basket provided by the state.

Yediot and other media reported that the Attorney General and the
State Attorney intend to ask the police to investigate PM Olmert in
two weeks about irregularities in the sale of his home on Cremieux
Street in Jerusalem.

Leading electronic media quoted Likud Knesset Member and former FM
Silvan Shalom as saying this morning today that he is withdrawing
from his bid to compete against Binyamin Netanyahu for Likud Party
leadership. Shalom claimed that the Likud primaries are neither fair
nor egalitarian.

Ha'aretz reported that Dutch FM Maxime Verhagen recently warned
Riwal, a construction company from the Rotterdam area, to terminate
its involvement in work on the separation fence in the West Bank.

Yediot quoted experts as saying that Israel has for years drawn
water that would normally flow into Syria.

Yediot cited The New York Times as saying hat two years ago then
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called off an operation to capture
Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Pakistan.

Maariv reported that several European countries have recently
informed Israel that they will support Israel's bid for UN Security
Council membership. Maariv cited the conviction of political
sources in Israel that there are increasing chances of Israel
becoming a member of the council in 2019.

Ha'aretz cited an announcement by executives of the Israel
Broadcasting Authority (IBA) as saying on Sunday that the IBA will
fire 850 employees, 40 percent of the IBA's entire workforce.

The Jerusalem Post reported that last week Alon USA Energy Inc.
completed its acquisition of Skinny's Inc.'s 102 convenience stores,
in a deal valued at about USD 70 million. The newspaper quoted the
Israeli companies Tao Tsuot and Financial Levers Ltd/ as saying on
Sunday that they led a group that agreed to buy Manhattan's
"Lipstick" building for USD 648.5 million. The Jerusalem Post also
reported that Dorot, an Israeli producer of packaged garlic and
herbs, announced on Sunday that it has expended its overseas
business activities by opening a new subsidiary in the US, which
will import and market Dorot products there. Dorot products are
currently sold at 1,500 retail and wholesale locations throughout
the US.


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Mideast:
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Summary:
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Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "On paper [Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni is
Israel's most concerned citizen. But when it comes to results,
Livni is a paper tigress."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "To grant validity to its demand that the
Palestinian side honor agreements with it, even at the cost of
exacerbating the conflict with opponents, Israel must demonstrate
that 'painful concessions' are not an empty slogan."

Nationalist columnist Elyakim Haetzni wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot:"[In Israel] the conquest of the Gaza
Strip by Hamas was rejoined with a spin that cast this diplomatic
setback as if we had won the lottery."

Veteran writer Yoram Kaniuk wrote in the editorial of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "I feel and respect the
harsh justice of [exiled Palestinian poet Mahmoud] Darwish."

Ahmed Yousef, the political adviser to deposed Palestinian premier
Ismail Haniyeh, wrote in Ha'aretz: "When there are forces that
reflect the majority's will, their victory can lead to national
reconciliation and prosperity, as demonstrated in the decades
following the French Revolution and US Civil War."

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

I. "Paper Tigress"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/9): "On paper [Foreign Minister Tzipi]
Livni is Israel's most concerned citizen. But when it comes to
results, Livni is a paper tigress.... When Livni refers to Israel's
interests, she means the formation of an independent Palestinian
state. She regards the two-state solution as the only means to
preserve Israel's Jewish and democratic character. The Foreign
Minister believes that we must not shelve the option of a historic
compromise and turn to other solutions (or despair) before the
dialogue with the moderate Palestinian camp is exhausted.... As a
politician enjoying encouraging approval ratings who harbors
aspirations to become prime minister, Livni realizes that when her
country's vital interests are at stake, her leadership will be
examined for political courage, not scholarly essays."

II. "Talks Stalled, Settlements Expanding"

Ha'aretz editorialized (7/8): " At the summit meeting in Sharm
el-Sheikh two weeks ago, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced he
'has no intention of delaying talks on the establishment of a
Palestinian state'.... At worst, the government is being negligent
in thwarting the land theft in the West Bank, out of a failure to
grasp the ramifications of this scandal for the chance to implement
a two-state solution. At the absolute worst, the government is
exercising a deliberate policy, the purpose of which is to reduce
the living space of the Palestinian population in Area C (which is
under full Israeli control), transfer the land reserves to Israeli
citizens and foil the establishment of an independent and
sustainable Palestinian state.... To grant validity to its demand
that the Palestinian side honor agreements with it, even at the cost
of exacerbating the conflict with opponents, Israel must demonstrate
that 'painful concessions' are not an empty slogan."

III. "Hamas the 'Good'"

Nationalist columnist Elyakim Haetzni wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/9): "The Olmert government has no
policy. Instead, it has spin. The conquest of the Gaza Strip by
Hamas was rejoined with a spin that cast this diplomatic setback as
if we had won the lottery.... But the Arabs did not buy that spin.
Fatah refused to agree to partition 'Palestine,' has continued to
insist that Hamas prisoners be released and has continued to pay the
salaries of civil servants in Hamastan with funds that were released
by Israel. Saudi Arabia has refused to join the front against
Hamas, and Egypt speaks with a forked tongue.... Condoleezza Rice is
on her way over here to toe the line drawn by the 'moderate' Arab
Quartet, which has called for renewed Palestinian unity. That way,
all of those 'allies' of Israel, which tried to separate the
Palestinians into good and bad guys, will leave Israel with its
pants down. The spin has spun out of control... The new spin will
include compliments for Hamas: for it, and not the disorganized
Fatah, which cannot 'deliver.' HamasQs word is good as gold, and
instead of corruption and anarchy there will be order. Once again,
weQll have ourselves a partner, if not for 'peace' then at least for
ten years. What's wrong with that? By the same token there were
fools who were awed by the highways and the precision of the train
schedule under Mussolini and Hitler, by the 'order' under the
fascists and Nazis."

IV. "Who Is More Unfortunate"

Veteran writer Yoram Kaniuk wrote in the editorial of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/9): "In one of
Jean-Luc GodardQs latest films ['Notre Musique'], an interview is
given by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, who will be coming to his
homeland for the first time in years. Darwish speaks in depth and
wisely. He says in the interview (I am not quoting him, only
presenting the spirit of his words), that the Palestinians interest
the world only because of the Jews: You are actually the PR staff of
the Palestinian people, he argues, more or less. Darwish is an
excellent poet, bitter, sometimes hateful, humorous and intelligent.
He hints that the Palestinians are not of great concern to the
world. Those who interest the world are the 'bad' Jews and their
treatment of the Palestinians.... This is not a political article.
The political side of the conflict has been discussed enough. If
there is any chance of peace, I for one cannot see it. But when I
see Darwish, with whom I once entered into a dispute from afar over
some nonsense that appeared in a movie, I feel the stature of his
human and humane weight. Although I do not consider myself a moral
person and do not really believe that there is justice in history or
in politics, I feel and respect the harsh justice of Darwish.
Perhaps now, after so many years, he understands that the Jews have
not been particularly loved in the past 2000 years -- but because of
them, the Palestinians are now loved more. After all, what is seen
at the top of the news editions in the world is two Palestinians who
were shot by Israelis."

V. "Gaza Is Not Algeria"

Ahmed Yousef, the political adviser to deposed Palestinian premier
Ismail Haniyeh, wrote in Ha'aretz (7/9): "The Abbas leadership has
poorly calculated its political strategy, choosing to align itself
with the Israeli regime and its Washington patrons in a bid to
retain its hold on power. Yet it has compromised its legitimacy in
the eyes of a large swath of the Palestinian public, and it has
fallen into Israel's Machiavellian trap of sowing discord among
Palestinians to avoid dealing with the real issue: ending the
occupation, fairly and justly.... When there are forces that reflect
the majority's will, their victory can lead to national
reconciliation and prosperity, as demonstrated in the decades
following the French Revolution and US Civil War. Hamas would, by
any measure, be justified in defending itself given the
assassinations of Hamas officials and supporters, attempts on the
life of the elected prime minister, and kidnappings and bombings by
some members of Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's paramilitary groups. And
defend itself it shall."

JONES

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