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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

VZCZCXYZ0006
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2135/01 1930953
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 120953Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2230
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
RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 2448
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9167
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2502
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3253
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2476
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0429
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3210
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0085
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0553
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7150
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4563
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9479
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3649
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5587
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 7393
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002135

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

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

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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

Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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Israel Radio reported that an IDF soldier was killed and two others
lightly wounded in the Gaza Strip. The radio also reported that two
Islamic Jihad militants were severely wounded in a clash with IDF
troops in the El-Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

Israel Radio reported that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will
arrive in the region on Monday or Tuesday and that it is not certain
if she will participate in the talks between PM Ehud Olmert and PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas. The Jerusalem Post reported
that Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David
Welch met with Palestinian leaders on Tuesday, and will also hold
preparatory talks with Israeli leaders ahead of the Rice visit. The
Jerusalem Post quoted a local US official as saying that there was
no expectation that Washington would exert pressure on Israel at
this juncture to make additional concessions following the goodwill
gestures already taken to boost Abbas.

Leading media quoted Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinsky as
saying on Tuesday that the IDF does not anticipate war with Syria
this summer, although the IDF is prepared to counter any attack on
Israel -- from Syria, Hizbullah, Iran, or Hamas. In its lead story,
Ha'aretz quoted IDF reservists as saying that nothing has changed
along the northern border and that another kidnapping, like the one
that sparked last summer's war, is merely a matter of time.

All media reported on the anniversary of the outbreak of the Second
Lebanon War. Yediot and its Web site, Ynet, dispatched Rinat
Makhles, a journalist with the Brazilian daily O Globo, to report
from Lebanon ("An Israeli In Hizbullah-Land.")

Israel Radio reported that Amnesty International (AI) and Human
Rights Watch (HRW) have harshly criticized Israel and Lebanon over
their conduct during the Second Lebanon War. The radio reported
that in a statement released Thursday, AI charged that neither
Israel nor Lebanon has yet investigated allegations of war crimes.
The group called for a UN inquiry and the imposition of an arms
embargo on Israel and Hizbullah. In its reports since the war, AI
strongly criticized Hizbullah for firing nearly 4,000 rockets at
Israeli cities and towns, and Israel for bombing civilian areas and
using cluster bombs in south Lebanon. Israel Radio reported that
HRW has issued a similar report.

Ha'aretz reported that Egypt has reinforced its troops along the
Philadelphi Route between the Egyptian and Palestinian parts of
Rafah. The move comes in the aftermath of Egyptian intelligence
suggesting that Hamas would try to use force to open the border.
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Riyad al-Malki, the Palestinian
emergency government's Information Minister, as saying that 79
Palestinians who underwent military training in Iran, Syria, and
Qatar are waiting at Rafah to enter the Gaza Strip.

Israel Radio cited the US-run Radio Sawa as saying that President
Bush will appoint an ambassador to Libya 35 years after the rupture
of relations with that country. Radio Sawa said that the new
ambassador would be Gene Cretz, the current DCM at the US Embassy to
Israel.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe cited the London-based Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat as
saying on Thursday that Abbas associates have asked PM Olmert not to
release the Palestinian Parliament members from Hamas. They warned
that their release might harm Mahmoud Abbas's ability to act against
Hamas.

Ha'aretz quoted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as saying on
Wednesday that the discussion of ownership of the disputed Sheba
Farms area on the Lebanese border is premature. The UN chief spoke
in London, following a meeting with British PM Gordon Brown, in
response to a Ha'aretz report earlier on Wednesday saying the UN had
asked Israel to hand the land over to UN peacekeepers in Lebanon.
UN officials later denied the report, saying "the UN has not asked
the government of Israel to hand over the Shaba Farms to the UN."
Ha'aretz also cited the GOI's denial of the report.

The Jerusalem Post quoted visiting Slovakian FM Jan Kubis as saying
that his country supports Israel's efforts to stymie Iran's drive to
develop nuclear weapons.

The Jerusalem Post and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Likud Chairman
Binyamin Netanyahu as saying before the Jerusalem Conference on the
Future of the Jewish People that Iran represents an existential
threat to Israel, which must act during the time that remains. The
Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu as saying that a "Reverse Manhattan
Project" is needed against Iran. Ha'aretz reported that a number of
delegates attending the conference were surprised to find that
Jewish-Muslim peace was not even on the agenda for debate. Maariv
reported that after a long struggle, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo
Amar has decided to convert thousands of Russians from the Subbotnik
community -- one of the "Judaizing Christian sects." They will
eventually immigrate to Israel.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post cited economic forecasts for
2007-2008 published on Tuesday by the Finance Ministry: The economy
is set to grow 5 percent this year and 4.2 percent in 2008.
Inflation this year will reach 2.1 percent, and 2.0 percent next
year. Unemployment is also predicted to continue to drop.

Ha'aretz cited a World Bank report released on Tuesday, according to
which Israel and the UAE are the leading Middle Eastern countries in
the fight against corruption and enacting laws that benefit
business.

Yediot and other media reported that former Knesset member Naomi
Blumenthal, who was convicted in 2006 of corruption related to
Likud's primary elections, reached a plea-bargain deal with Justice
Minister Daniel Friedmann and will not have to serve a jail term.
The plea is subject to approval by Acting President Dalia Itzik or
president-elect Shimon Peres.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Eran Shayson, the analyst team leader at the Re'ut Institute, a
non-partisan advisory organization to the Government of Israel,
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Israel knows
that the only political alternative to the Hamas regime in Gaza is
al-Qaida. Therefore, if Israel wishes to stay relevant, it will
have to recognize Hamas as the true address in Gaza."

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "There is no argument about the political
results of last summer's war: It destroyed the 'big bang,' which
promised to redraw the map of Israel's political parties but ended

in a whimper."

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

I. "Hamas Won the Battle -- and It May Win the War, Too."

Eran Shayson, the analyst team leader at the Re'ut Institute, a
non-partisan advisory organization to the Government of Israel,
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (7/12): " A
month after its takeover of Gaza, it seems Hamas has begun to
translate its military achievements into political dividends, while
Fatah is wallowing in the mud and becoming even less relevant....
Most significantly, it was the cautious 'satisfaction' expressed in
Jerusalem and Washington regarding the split between a Hamas-led
Gaza and a Fatah-led West Bank, that created the impression that
Hamas's coup was in fact a hasty move. Israel and the US seemed to
have found the formula that would force Hamas to face the
responsibility towards Gaza's population, while making the Fatah
government a political partner. However, a month later, it seems
that Hamas had the political wisdom to overcome its drawbacks....
Israel's frustration with Hamas's buildup emanates mostly from its
failure to influence the Palestinians' internal balance of power....
Therefore, Israel's efforts to strengthen Abbas should be conducted
wisely. For example, Abbas should not receive free gifts....
Moreover, Israel should seek to transfer powers and authorities to
the PA. Only when the West Bank is ruled by a genuinely
self-governing Palestinian authority will there be a chance for the
creation of a partner. The true victory of Hamas is that it leaves
Israel with no political alternatives vis-a-vis Gaza; Israel knows
that the only political alternative to the Hamas regime in Gaza is
al-Qaida. Therefore, if Israel wishes to stay relevant, it will
have to recognize Hamas as the true address in Gaza."

II. "What Remains of the 'Big Bang'?"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/12): "One can argue about whether the
Second Lebanon War weakened Israel's regional status, which in the
past rested on its deterrent image as a ruffian, or actually brought
the country closer to an alliance with Arab regimes that fear Iran
and created new opportunities for peace. However, there is no
argument about the political results of last summer's war: It
destroyed the 'big bang,' which promised to redraw the map of
Israel's political parties but ended in a whimper. The choice of
Ehud Barak as chairman of the Labor Party and his entry into the
government as defense minister returns Israel to the two-headed,
two-party system. The race in the next elections will be between
Likud and Labor, between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barak. Kadima, the
'big bang' party, may survive as a secular kingmaker, but as last
Friday's Ha'aretz-Dialog poll showed, it will probably not be
running the country beyond its current term.... The immediate
political benefit was reaped by Likud, which, after the split in its
ranks and the establishment of Kadima, had looked like an ephemeral
right-wing party. Now, Barak will try to position Labor against
Likud, perhaps aided by an infusion of ex-Kadima members after the
elections.... Ironically, the reasons that led Ariel Sharon into the
'big bang' two years ago, with the encouragement of Haim Ramon and
Olmert, are just as relevant now as they were then. Israel still
needs a new eastern border to end the occupation of the West Bank
and ease demographic concerns. The state also needs a more stable
and functional political system, especially after the war exposed
the limits of the old 'trust me' system."

JONES

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