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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2183/01 1991154
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181154Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2320
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 2473
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9192
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2539
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3278
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2510
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0467
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3241
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0112
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0580
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7175
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4588
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9510
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3674
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5614
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 7433
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002183

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


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

1. Mideast

2. Iran

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

Israel Radio reported that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed
President Bush's announcement of a Middle East conference in the
fall. Saying that the White House lowered expectations for the
conference, Yediot and Israel Radio quoted White House Press
Secretary Tony Snow as saying on Tuesday: "I think a lot of people

SIPDIS
are inclined to try to treat this as a big peace conference. It's
not. This is a meeting." Yediot quoted State Department Spokesman
Sean McCormack as saying on Tuesday: "Secretary Rice is going to
host it here in the United States, but we still haven't decided
exactly where." McCormack added: "I think privately we have heard
from a number of different parties very positive responses to the
President's remarks [on Monday]." The Jerusalem Post reported that
despite President Bush's declaration of support for the
Palestinians, particularly financial help, the US administration has
acknowledged than no new funding requests have been made to Congress
as part of the program outlined in Bush's speech on Monday. The
Jerusalem Post reported that diplomacy has moved into high gear
following President Bush's speech.

Erratum: Part of a sentence in Tuesday's Media Reaction Report was
omitted. It should have read: "While citing the satisfaction of
Fatah/PLO spokesmen over the President's address, the media quoted
Hamas as saying that it was a 'crusade' against the Palestinian
people."

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli diplomatic officials as saying on
Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar Assad's demand that Israel
agree to a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights before
negotiations can begin, does not meet basic Israeli requirements.
The officials were responding to a speech that Assad gave to the
Syrian parliament on Tuesday after being sworn in for a second
seven-year term as president. Assad, in his speech, called on
Israel to respond publicly to peace overtures from Damascus. He was
quoted as sayng: "The Israelis should remember that the price of
peace is lower than the cost of war." The Jerusalem Post quoted an
Israeli official as saying: "We are listening carefully to what he
said, and waiting to get a full translation before responding
formally." The official added: "We have stated repeatedly that we
are more than willing, without prior conditions, to sit and talk.
But the first thing we heard from him was a very clear set of
preconditions." Yediot quoted senior diplomatic sources in
Jerusalem as saying that Israel will not publicly pledge to a full
withdrawal from the Golan. Assad demanded "minimum" evidence that
Israel was willing to formalize a peace agreement, citing the "Rabin
Pledge," a promise allegedly made by late prime minister Yitzhak
Rabin to Assad's father and predecessor, Hafez Assad, in which he
unofficially gave his word that Israel would withdraw from the Golan
Heights in return for complete peace with Syria. Although the
pledge was never documented, Syria still holds it as a platform for
potential talks. Assad also made reference to recent mediation
efforts by a third party, but did not mention the party by name.
Nevertheless, it is widely believed to be a reference to Turkey,
which in recent months has "tested the waters" in Damascus and
Jerusalem about a resumption of some sort of negotiations. Assad
also reiterated his support for Hizbullah and Hamas, without
specifically naming them. Maariv quoted Assad as saying that
American figures who had supported Israel during the Second Lebanon
War are now opposed to the official line of the US administration
and call for peace between Syria and Israel.

All media reported that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss will
publish a scathing report today on the state of the home front and
its functioning during the Second Lebanon War. The report is the
longest the State Comptroller's Office has ever published, and it is
also expected to be the harshest. Contrary to usual practice, it
will name names in discussing the performance of several current and
former senior officials: PM Ehud Olmert, former defense minister
Amir Peretz, former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz and commander of
the IDF Home Front Command Yitzhak Gershon. The media reported that
the Prime Minister's Office and the IDF are preparing, separately,
to wage a media war against Lindenstrauss' conclusions. In both
places, people have harshly criticized the comptroller's motives,
findings and recommendations, as well as the tone of his report, in
recent days.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Tuesday Kadima Knesset members
loyal to Olmert expressed hope that the prospects of a fall summit
and an impending diplomatic process could extend Olmert's tenure and
end threats from Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak to remove the party
from the government ahead of the final Winograd report's release in
September or October.

Ha'aretz quoted Palestinian sources as saying on Tuesday that after
Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud
Abbas and several of his associates asked Israel and Egypt not to
open the Rafah crossing to Egyptian residents. Maariv reported that
senior Al-Qaida activist Khaled Mustafa slipped by Egyptian border
guards and entered the Gaza Strip through a tunnel.

Media reported that on Tuesday Israel released two high-ranking
Hamas detainees, including former PA education minister and former
deputy PM Nasser Shaer.

Leading media reported that Israeli President Shimon Peres took a
hard line on Hamas in a meeting with Iceland's FM Ingibjorg Solrun
Gisladottir on Tuesday.

Ha'aretz quoted diplomatic sources as saying that UN cartographer
Miklos Pinter has determined that the Sheba Farms, an area on the
slopes of Mount Hermon claimed by Lebanon and under Israeli control,
spans 20 to 40 square kilometers. The area of Mount Hermon that is
under Israeli control extends to 70 square kilometers, and the
entire Golan Heights is 1,250 square kilometers.

Yediot reported that the wait time for most visa interview
appintments at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv is three months --
an unprecedented amount of time. The newspaper noted that besides
the USD-112 application fee, applicants can pay hundreds of dollars
to private agencies to help them through the process.

The Jerusalem Post reported that World Likud Chairman Danny Danon
widened the field of candidates in the August 14 Likud leadership
race to three on Tuesday as he challenged incumbent Binyamin
Netanyahu and far-right activist Moshe Feiglin. The newspaper noted
that Danon's views are just as hawkish as Feiglin's and they only
differ on religion.

Ha'aretz reported that for the first time in the history of academic
and musical life in Israel, dozens of musicians, scholars and
educators from the field of classical music have come out with a
joint call against the occupation and in favor of peace,
rapprochement and a two-state solution.

All media reported that on Tuesday Justices questioned the U-turn of
the prosecution in the sexual offense case allegedly involving
former Israeli president Moshe Katsav.

Israel Radio reported that the Education Ministry has instructed all
Israeli schools to screen during the upcoming academic year "An
Inconvenient Truth," a documentary on former Vice President Al
Gore's campaign to make the issue of global warming a recognized
problem worldwide.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Check Point Software Technologies
Ltd., a maker of security software, has been chosen as an approved
vendor in the US Department of Defense's data-at-rest initiative,
intended to protect sensitive information on government computers.

Ha'aretz cited the results of a poll released on Tuesday by the
Anti-Defamation League, according to which 50 percent of Europeans
in six countries believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to
their home country; 34.5 percent agree that Jews have too much
financial and business clout; and 43 percent said Jews talk too much
about the Holocaust. In Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and
the UK, respondents said they viewed Israel more favorably than in
2005. The favorable rating for Israel dropped, meanwhile, in
Austria and Hungary.


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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Israel cannot
allow itself to yawn at US President George W. Bush's speech calling
for an international peace conference in September."

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "Some
damage was caused [by President Bush's address]: For the sake of the
holy balance, Bush reawakened the issue of [settler] outposts."

Veteran journalist Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, Chairman of the Yad Vashem
Council, and former justice minister wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "The ingenuousness of President Bush and President Peres is
somewhat moving.... There will be no real peace here. It is
important to internalize this so that we do not take irreversible
paths."

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz: "It
appears that the work of the various mediators [between Israel and
Syria], especially the Turks, has born fruit, in the form of public
diplomacy that relies on new language."

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

I. "Israel Cannot Yawn"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (7/18): "Israel
cannot allow itself to yawn at US President George W. Bush's speech
calling for an international peace conference in September. It
cannot allow itself to give up on any chance to resolve the conflict
with the Palestinians, after the entire world and a large majority
of the Israeli public have recognized the need to withdraw from the
West Bank and end the occupation. The Qassam rocket fire from the
Gaza Strip is not proof that withdrawals from the territories are
not worthwhile for Israel, because the Gush Katif settlements were
not a line of defense for the communities of southern Israel....
Instead of goading Bush over Iraq, scorning Abbas and minimizing the
value of the new Palestinian government, Israel must do the minimum
required of it. Removing outposts is not a gesture to the
Palestinians, but to ourselves, and the same holds for every
reduction of settlers beyond the West Bank separation fence, which
was built precisely for that purpose.... Whoever wants the West Bank
to serve as a model for Gaza, and possibly to encourage the
Palestinians to choose the option of recognizing Israel and
cooperating with it, must make every effort to improve the lives of
the Palestinians in the West Bank. The government can also reduce
the amount of roadblocks to the minimum necessary and prove that
ending the violence pays off for the Palestinians and improves their
lives."

II. "A Non-Dramatic Speech at an Odd Time"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (7/18):
"Some damage was caused [by President Bush's address]: For the sake
of the holy balance, Bush reawakened the issue of [settler]
outposts. It is as if he was saying that by devoting my speech to
demands from the Palestinians, I had to raise some demands from the
Israelis. The administration long ago stopped pressuring [Israel]
on the matter, knowing that the current Israeli government, which
depends on Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu, is not strong enough
politically to go to another Amona [to fight over an outpost]....
There is a great amount of moral distortion in pitting [Jewish
homesteads] against Muslim terror and murderousness. In this
regard, Monday's speech was not much more than lip service; it would
be a great mistake if the Israeli government 'inhaled' it."

III. "Illusion Game"

Veteran journalist Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, Chairman of the Yad Vashem
Council, and former justice minister wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (7/18): "The ingenuousness of President Bush and President
Peres is somewhat moving. This week they outlined paths that are
meant to lead to the yearned-for peace in the Middle East. Perhaps
they really believe -- or at least hope -- that an arrangement can
be reached. Maybe they are only doing their duty, since politicians
must strive for peace and promise a rosier future, even if they know
in their hearts that there is no chance. There is no chance for
peace, because there will always be elements in the Palestinian
public, in the Arab countries, and the Muslim world, that will
thwart any attempt to reach an arrangement recognizing Israel's
right to exist as a Jewish state -- all the more an arrangement that
does not ensure the return of the [Palestinian] refugees.... We
should not deny that Israel has contributed to the creation of a
situation that cannot lead to peace. Is there any chance of an
Israel government that will be able to evacuate settlements? And
the Golan for peace with Syria? And in the North? The Lebanese
administration might fall into the hands of Hizbullah at any
time.... [Also, Iran] will sooner or later have lethal weapons....
After the Americans leave Iraq. Defeated and humiliated, Arab
nationalism and Islamic fanaticism will increase tremendously.... We
must talk, meet, make announcements, sign, threaten, hope, predict,
and promise. But that is valid and necessary as long as we
understand that this is a game of illusions. The harsh reality is
that there will be no real peace here. It is important to
internalize this so that we do not take irreversible paths."

IV. "Assad's Roadmap"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz
(7/18): "One of the regular conditions was missing from Syrian
President Bashar Assad's comments yesterday: the caveat that any
negotiations with Israel must pick up where they left off. Israel
has always seen this statement as an obstacle set up by Syria, since
it aims to prevent talks from expanding or from opening the door to
new Israeli demands.... The other condition that Assad refrained
from mentioning was his demand that the United States get involved
in the talks. This condition, which was raised recently by Syrian
spokesmen, was used by Israel as evidence that all Assad wants is to
get Washington off his back, and not to make progress on the
diplomatic front. With appropriate caution, Assad said the next
phase of negotiations would require the involvement of an impartial
mediator, without going into details. With the neutralization of
the first condition and the fact that Assad did not explicitly
mention Washington as an essential mediator, it appears that the
work of the various mediators, especially the Turks, has born fruit,
in the form of public diplomacy that relies on new language."

---------
2. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

Prof. Uzi Arad, the Director of the Institute for Policy and
Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, who was a senior advisor
to former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The main effort now
should be directed at the Iranian theater, not the Palestinian
front, and the focus should be on preventing Iran from going
nuclear."

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

"Iran as the Main Strategic Sector"

Prof. Uzi Arad, the Director of the Institute for Policy and
Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, who was a senior advisor
to former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/18): "The main effort
now should be directed at the Iranian theater, not the Palestinian
front, and the focus should be on preventing Iran from going
nuclear. The side that it is vital to strengthen is not Abu Mazen,
an unwieldy support for all intents and purposes, but rather Israel
itself.... In fact, [Israel] has already defined for itself several
of the necessary deterrent responses. Versus the low-intensity
threats posed by Palestinian terrorism, Israel has established a
considerable degree of deterrence thanks to the targeted killings...
A similar strategy may also be of use against the danger of
higher-intensity military actions, of the type that Syria is liable
to take. Versus the vulnerability of the Israeli home front to
missiles and rockets, there is a clear vulnerability of the Syrian
regime to forceful Israeli measures.... The main challenge, however,
lies in coping with the Iranian threat. This threat, if it matures
to the point of military nuclear capability, will require a complex
and comprehensive deterrent response.... But the most significant
component is the punitive component. We should note the 'Shimon
Peres formula' in this context. When Peres was asked recently for
his opinion on the threats of destruction arriving from Iran, he
replied laconically, 'Iran can also be destroyed.' This answer also
demonstrates the 'beheading' strategy. And if this formula is not
enough to deter the 'undeterred,' it may not be the highest level of
necessary deterrence.... If the current Israeli action on the
Palestinian front is supposed to pave the way to more effective
coping by the international community with the Iranian issue, it is
useful. But if this is not the purpose, it will divert efforts to a
secondary sector and lead to evasion from coping with the main
battle."

CRETZ

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