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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2250/01 2051345
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241345Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2430
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 2507
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9224
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2571
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3310
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2542
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0505
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3274
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0147
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0612
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7207
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4622
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9542
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3706
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5649
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 7496
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002250

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. Tony Blairs' Mission

2. Mideast

-------------------------
Key Stories in the Media:
-------------------------

Israel Radio quoted the Quartet's Special Envoy, Tony Blair, as
saying after his meeting with President Shimon Peres that: "I think
there is a sense of possibility, but whether that sense of
possibility can be translated into something, that is something that
needs to be worked at and thought about over time."

Leading media reported that Tony Blair met on Monday with Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Vice Prime
Minster Haim Ramon. According to the media, the main topic of
discussion was the regional conference planned for this fall. Blair
was quoted as saying that the conference should have substance and
not just be a photo opportunity. Following Blair's meeting with FM
Livni, the latter said that she told him that he is coming at a
critical moment and can help create a breakthrough. Blair is
scheduled to meet Palestinian officials and Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert on Tuesday.

In response to Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's statement
on Sunday that his organization is capable of hitting every part of
Israel, Ha'aretz quoted a senior military source as saying that
although Hizbullah managed to restore many capabilities, its
missiles cannot reach every part of Israel.

Yediot reported that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad used the
600 million dollars that was unfrozen by Israel to pay salaries to
all Palestinian state employees, including senior Hamas members.

Ha'aretz cited security officials in the Palestinian Authority as
saying that Hizbullah's influence on Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs'
Brigades has been checked in recent months.

Ha'aretz cited British Prime Minister Gordon Brown as saying in a
press conference on Monday that he does not rule out military action
against Iran. He also added that he believes that economic sanctions
are the best way to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear
aspirations.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the IDF is launching a campaign
asking Israelis who served in the IDF and live in the Diaspora to
volunteer at West Bank checkpoints.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the High Court of Justice ruled on
Monday that the state must change the route of the security fence
near Modiin Illit in order to cause less damage to Palestinian
villagers. The decision will result in 20 more hectares being left
on the Palestinian side.

Leading media reported that for the second time in two months, US
and Iranian representatives will meet in Iraq to discuss that
country's internal situation.

The media reported that a Qassam rocket hit a house in the Western
Negev on Monday. No injuries were reported.

------------------------
1. Tony Blairs' Mission:
------------------------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn opined in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "From Israel's point of view, Blair's mission
is a great opportunity. There are few with his standing, connections
and experience in the world.... If anyone is going to mediate, it
might as well be Blair and not someone who is less of a friend. The
possible alternatives, such as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice or the European Union's Javier Solana, are not as promising."


Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Israelis who have spoken with Blair got the
impression that he intends to become the principal player in the
international mediation effort in the region instead of Javier
Solana and others. His role model is former US President Bill
Clinton. We will probably see Blair muster all of his charm and
unique rhetorical abilities to promote the resolution he envisions
for this conflict."

Commentator Anshel Pfeffer wrote in the independent, conservative
Jerusalem Post: "What Rice didn't say, of course is that, no matter
how close an ally Blair has been to the Bush administration, the
real business of getting the two sides to talk to each other is
still an American monopoly.... Right now, it doesn't seem as if
those who are sending Blair have any real interest in his success."

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

I. "Bear-Hug Policy"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn opined in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (07/24): "In anticipation of Tony Blair's
visit in his new role as Quartet envoy, the Prime Minister's Bureau
has decided to adopt a 'bear-hug policy.' From Israel's point of
view, Blair's mission is a great opportunity. There are few with his
standing, connections and experience in the world.... If anyone is
going to mediate, it might as well be Blair and not someone who is
less of a friend. The possible alternatives, such as U.S. Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice or the European Union's Javier Solana, are
not as promising. Olmert will seek to use Blair's talents to
disseminate the following message: that Israel wants an agreement
with the Palestinians that it does not want to hold on to the
territories, and that it is honestly interested in bolstering
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Blair can also serve
as a useful conduit with the Saudis and others in the Arab world....
Blair's mission will officially begin during his next visit, in
mid-September, at which point a regional summit will be held. At
that meeting, he will present Israel and the Palestinians his
intentions and plans in greater detail. Among the possible
disagreements with Israel, Blair believes that the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the root of enormous
international problems, and he also believes it can be resolved. He
believes that the parties already know the solution and that all
that is necessary is a good mediator. In Israel, the view is that
things are a lot more complex, but they are willing to listen."

II. "Want to be Clinton"

Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (07/24): "Tony Blair arrived in Israel and the
region in order to assess where it would be best to begin to the
reconstruction work on the ruins of American-British policy.... For
years Blair has believed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is
the source of all the woes and troubles of the Middle East and that
resolving this conflict would radiate onto other conflicts and help
stabilize the region. Blair tried to persuade President Bush to
accept that premise from the beginning of Bush's term in office.
The problem was that Bush responded belatedly to Blair's entreaties
to show real involvement and to seize the reins in leading the
effort to reach a political arrangement. One can assume that
Blair's chances of success in the year and a half that Bush has left
in the White House are not particularly high.... Israelis who have
spoken with Blair got the impression that he intends to become the
principal player in the international mediation effort in the region
instead of Javier Solana and others. His role model is former US
President Bill Clinton. We will probably see Blair muster all of
his charm and unique rhetorical abilities to promote the resolution
he envisions for this conflict.

III. "The Believer"

Commentator Anshel Pfeffer wrote in the independent, conservative
Jerusalem Post (07/24): "You can accept what US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice said about how there's enough work to go around and
therefore Blair will be able to count himself lucky and probably
pick up a Nobel Prize in the process if he succeeds in his narrow
brief, developing the Palestinian economy and improving PA
governance. What Rice didn't say, of course is that, no matter how
close an ally Blair has been to the Bush administration, the real
business of getting the two sides to talk to each other is still an
American monopoly.... Right now, it doesn't seem as if those who are
sending Blair have any real interest in his success. It's not only
the smaller-than-hoped-for job description, or the lack of
enthusiasm shown by some of the Quartet's members. He has no fixed
office yet and it's still unclear what size staff he will have to
carry out his job. And so far, he hasn't been promised a budget
that he can use at his discretion to kick-start various programs.
But according to everyone who has met him, Blair has inordinate
faith in his personal powers of persuasion, and as incredible as it
sounds, really believes that he can pull off something of the scale
of the peace agreement his government brought about in Northern
Ireland

-----------
2. Mideast:
-----------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Olmert sees the road to his
political resurrection as strengthening Fatah leaders in the West
Bank.... Is he serious? Can he do it? Today, when there is no king
of Israel, when every mistake in the book has been made, when the
public is sick and tired of its leaders and pining for a political
upheaval, is it possible that the next king of Israel will be Ehud
Olmert -- this time with an agenda?"

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

"Olmert, King of Israel?"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (07/24): "Up until a few days
ago, most political commentators said that Olmert was living on
borrowed time and would soon be forced to resign.... But this
Sunday, Olmert invited 150 Kadima wheelers and dealers to a powwow
at his official residence. There ... he declared that the news of
his political death is premature. Olmert is convinced that he will
survive both the Lindenstrauss and Winograd reports.... Olmert's new
strategic goal is to guard the Palestinians in the West Bank from a
Hamas takeover. Just a few months ago, Israel was saying Mahmoud
Abbas was a weakling. Now Israel is feeding him spinach and padding
him with money, arms and good will gestures.... Israel, which has
never been eager for an international conference, is now pleased as
punch with the U.S. initiative. Olmert sees the road to his
political resurrection as strengthening Fatah leaders in the West
Bank with money, arms, compromises and releasing prisoners. He wants
Hamas supporters in Gaza to watch what is happening in Ramallah and
its environs with a sinking heart, and see that there are other
options. Is he serious? Can he do it? Today, when there is no king
of Israel, when every mistake in the book has been made, when the
public is sick and tired of its leaders and pining for a political
upheaval, is it possible that the next king of Israel will be Ehud
Olmert -- this time with an agenda?"
CRETZ

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