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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2513/01 2321041
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201041Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2833
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 2611
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9319
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2687
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3411
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2643
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0626
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3375
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0245
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0710
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7302
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4732
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9642
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3806
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5745
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 7693
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002513

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:
-------------------------

On Sunday Ha'aretz reported that two friendly Arab countries have
told Israel that Syria is not planning to attack in the coming
months. The messages were relayed by senior officials and are based
in part on talks with the officials' Syrian counterparts. Leading
media cited Syrian-Saudi tensions about Saudi Arabia's role in the
Middle East.

On Sunday leading media cited denial by sources in PM Olmert's
bureau that Israel plans to take 110 Palestinian militants in the
West Bank off its wanted list.

Maariv reported That PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas will
attend a business conference in Tel Aviv in October. Maariv
reported that President Shimon Peres has met with former Palestinian
PM Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala). Maariv reported that cabinet minister
Haim Ramon is PM Olmert's candidate to lead negotiations with the
Palestinians.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Sunday the cabinet agreed to
support the extension of UN Security Council Resolution 1701
governing UNIFIL's operations in southern Lebanon, even though it
was clear that the extended mandate will not include a mechanism for
the implementation of the arms embargo from Syria into Lebanon.

Over the weekend major media quoted Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad as saying on Saturday that Israel was the standard
bearer of Satan and that it would soon fall apart.

Over the weekend media quoted the IDF as saying that on Saturday
Israeli troops shot dead one Palestinian and detained two others for
questioning after the men allegedly tried to lay a bomb next to the
Gaza border fence.

Leading media reported that on Sunday Gaza's main power plant shut
down operations after it said it had depleted its fuel reserves,
despite a pledge from Israel to resume deliveries that had been
halted late last week.

The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior PA security official in Ramallah
as saying that the PA security forces have failed to thwart Hamas's
efforts to create new armed cells in the West Bank. Citing Reuters,
Ha'aretz quoted the State Department as saying on Sunday that US
security officials will soon begin training the Palestinian
presidential guard in an effort to support Abbas's government.

Ha'aretz reported that thousands of students in communities near the
Gaza Strip will begin the school year in another 12 days in
classrooms that are not fully protected against rocket attacks,
despite the High Court of Justice's order that the government
reinforce every classroom in rocket range of Gaza by September 1.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the IDF intends to import produce
from the Gaza Strip on a trial basis ahead of the upcoming "shmita"
(sabbatical) year, when Jewish farmers are forbidden by Jewish law
to harvest the land.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post quoted Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the
northern branch of Israel's Islamic Movement, as saying on Saturday
that those who disagree with Israeli policy risk being murdered.

On Sunday Maariv reported that on Saturday combat planes were
scrambled from IAF bases all over Israel following the hijacking of
a Turkish airplane. On Sunday, in another development, Yediot
reported that there has been a wave of negative reports in Turkey
about the security authorities' humiliating treatment of Turkish
tourists at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Maariv reported that the US Army has decided to resume the Nautilus
project and that it will sign contracts next week with Boeing and
Northrop-Grumman. The newspaper, which noted that the Nautilus is
supposed to offer protection against Qassam rockets, reported that
Israel is following up on the US announcement, but that it is
certain that Rafael, Israel's Armaments Development Authority, will
bring its Iron Dome Project to maturity in two years. The Jerusalem
Post reported that in order to intercept Syrian missiles, the IAF is
deliberating whether to buy an improved model of the US-made Patriot
missile defense system.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the cost of digging a tunnel
between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip is USD 200,000 and
that the passage of a terrorist through the border costs around USD
10,000. The figures were given by a group of smugglers.


Ha'aretz reported that in an effort to bolster Israeli hitchhikers'
security in the West Bank, the IDF has decided to install electronic
surveillance and other equipment at at least 10 major stops
frequented by settlers along Road 60, which links many of the major
settlements. The issue of securing Israelis in the territories is
one that has consistently troubled the security forces, which
recognize that civilians, lured into taking risks by the relative
calm in the West Bank, are "soft targets" for militants.

Ha'aretz reported that on Sunday Israel deported 50 Africans to
Egypt, for the first time since PM Ehud Olmert obtained Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak's consent to such a move last month.
According to the IDF, most of the deportees were from Sudan's
war-torn Darfur region. Israel Radio quoted senior officials in
Olmert's bureau as saying that on Sunday he held a phone
conversation with Mubarak in which the two agreed that Israel would
continue to return infiltrators to Egypt. The radio quoted Egyptian
FM Ahmed Ali Abu al-Gheit as saying that his country has agreed to
admit 48 refugees returned from Israel on humanitarian grounds.
However, Abu al-Gheit stressed that this would not change Egypt's
policy. Leading media reported that Israeli activists have
condemned the expulsion of the 48 refugees.

Major media (lead stories in Yediot and Maariv) reported that on
Sunday the cabinet voted unanimously to create a national service
program for youth who do not serve in the army. The resolution will
mainly affect Arabs, who are not drafted, and well as ultra-Orthodox
yeshiva students whose religious duties exempt them from military
service.

All media reported that on Sunday PM Olmert agreed, in his meeting
with representatives of Holocaust survivors, to allocate 100 million
shekels (around USD 23.6 million) next year for medical and
nursing-care benefits to survivors living in Israel. In addition, he
said they would enjoy municipal tax discounts, an exemption from the
television tax, and 30 million shekels in vacation and convalescence
benefits. However, Olmert refused to grant benefits to those who
were not in camps or ghettos.

All media reported that PM Ehud Olmert plans to reorganize the
institutions dealing with immigration. Leading media reported that
the state will grant more important budgets to independent
immigration organizations.

Leading media reported that today the inter-ministerial committee on
conversion will present its report to PM Olmert. The overall
process would come under the supervision of Sephardi Chief Rabbi
Shlomo Amar.

Yediot and other media reported that Bank of Israel Governor Stanley
Fischer is considering lowering interest rates on loans taken by
financial banks from the Bank of Israel. The media said that such a
move would follow US practice.

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

Summary:
--------

Columnist and former IDF Intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv: "Israel's steps [vis-a-vis Syria] are
determined more than anything by domestic politics, and in
particular by the Prime Minister's attempt to portray the Second
Lebanon [War] as an unequivocal strategic victory."

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "In
the present circumstances, neither side is prepared to pledge how
long [the cease-fire] will hold -- certainly not Syria, whose policy
is eventually determined in Tehran."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "It is
not the US that should fear jeopardizing its 'friendship' with
Russia, but Russia that should be concerned about losing the
benefits of its current membership in the West."

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The goal of
the national-religious NGOs in purchasing property in East Jerusalem
is ideological and political, but that does not justify breaking the
law or the standards of good government."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz: "Receiving
the prestigious keys to the holy site will bolster the pragmatists
among the Palestinians, and will make it easier for them to
relinquish their wish to use the keys to homes they left behind in
Jaffa."

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

I. "Danger of Unnecessary War"

Columnist and former IDF Intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv (8/20): "For the past year, since the
end of the Second Lebanon War, we are threatened by a new war that
could break out on the Lebanese border or the Golan Heights....
Indeed, Syria does not seek war. The regime in Damascus is well
aware of the balance of power and the great damage that Israel could
cause, particularly since such a war would break out with Damascus
isolated both in the inter-Arab and international arenas. However,
Syria is determined to regain the Golan Heights.... Israel's steps
are determined more than anything by domestic politics, and in
particular by the Prime Minister's attempt to portray the Second
Lebanon [War] as an unequivocal strategic victory. Israel is aware
of the price it will have to pay in exchange for a peace agreement
with Damascus, but is not willing to pay it. Deep down inside,
there is the hope that sooner or later Damascus will accept the loss
of the Golan, just as it accepted the loss of the Alexandretta
region to the Turks. And if this is the case, why hurry?.... So far
it has been a rational analysis. However, this cannot remove the
element of mutual suspicion, the gnawing fear on each side -- 'and
what if we are wrong in our assessment?' Here come 'reassuring'
declarations in Damascus and Jerusalem, but these not only do not
remove the suspicion, they even enhance it -- and perhaps they are
no more than a veil intended for concealment and deceit? Another
important point, of which it would appear that both sides are
insufficiently aware: the extremely different nature of the two
regimes and the two societies in Syria and Israel.... What is the
explanation for the Prime Minister's publicized tour of the border
line? How should one understand the Defense Minister's statement
that 'Israel does not seek war against Syria today' -- but does it
'tomorrow'? And when will this 'tomorrow' come? I believe that
both sides are sincere in what they are saying. Nevertheless, we
should remember that as the prophet said, 'out of the north the evil
shall break forth' [Jeremiah 1:14]."

II. "Damascus' Signals Are Not Soothing"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (8/20):
"The signals emanating from Damascus that Syria does not intend to
attack Israel are not reassuring. Continued tension in the region
has become a fact. The Syrian ruler has not backtracked from his
war threats.... It is well known that Russia is conducting a
two-faced policy. On the one hand, it allegedly rules out Russian
involvement in Syria; on the other hand, it does not prevent the
supply of arms ... thus causing a bellicose flare-up. Thus, it is

hard for Moscow to stop the war move, despite the Kremlin's peaceful
declarations. The war of statements is continuing without an end in
sight. Both signs depend on a temporary cease-fire whose length is
difficult to determine. In the present circumstances, neither side
is prepared to pledge how long it will hold -- certainly not Syria,
whose policy is eventually determined in Tehran."

III. "Pressure Russia"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (8/20):
"At the same moment when even Arab states are trying to reassure
Israel that Syria has no plans to attack, Damascus is taking
delivery of advanced Russian SA-22 E anti-aircraft missiles and
artillery. According to Arab press reports, this arms deal, which
cost some USD 900 million, is being financed by Iran.... While
President George W. Bush has often been accused of going it alone
diplomatically, this certainly has not been the pattern with Russia.
If anything, Bush is to be criticized for putting too much
confidence in his 'friendship' with President Vladimir Putin. This
sort of soft touch has evidently reached its limits, as Putin has
taken advantage of US reluctance to trim back its relations with
Russia in any way, even though the US could threaten to withhold
billions of dollars worth of space cooperation and other bilateral
benefits to Russia.... Western willingness to impose consequences on
Russia for its open support of rogue regimes will be a key litmus
test for all nations that are making judgments regarding which side
is serious enough to win. It is not the US that should fear
jeopardizing its 'friendship' with Russia, but Russia that should be
concerned about losing the benefits of its current membership in the
West."

IV. "Land Grab in East Jerusalem"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (8/20): "It is
difficult to escape the sense that the Israel Lands Administration
[ILA], a governmental body, worked hand in glove with the settlers'
non-profit organization Ateret Cohanim to take control of the
30-dunam (7.5-acre) plot in East Jerusalem known as Kerem
Hamufti..... Since the 1980s, a group of yeshiva students with
religious-nationalist views along the lines of Gush Emunim has
conducted a campaign to acquire houses and land for Jewish
settlement in the Arab neighborhoods of the eastern part of the
capital.... The goal of the national-religious NGOs in purchasing
property in East Jerusalem is ideological and political, but that
does not justify breaking the law or the standards of good
government. Even though many years have passed since the
publication of the [1992] Klugman Report [about the improper funding
received by NGOs], it would appear that little has been done to
right the wrongs it documented. Now, too, it seems that supposedly
law-abiding governmental bodies -- in this case the ILA -- continue
to operate like agents of these NGOs, waging for them the war of
taking over Arab property in an underhanded manner. In other words,
the practice of placing the settlers above the law, which has been
discussed at length in the context of the West Bank, has reached
east Jerusalem."

V. "Give Them the Temple Mount"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz (8/20): "The
international summit being organized by the Bush administration is
Abbas's last throw of the dice. In the zero-sum game between him and
Hamas, the loss of the bet will mean a victory for the camp that
rejects a two-state solution. The only way that Israel and the
United States can affect the struggle in the Palestinian camp is to
take away the main contentious elements preoccupying the religious
extremists -- the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and the problem of
the 1948 refugees -- and to hand them over to the moderate
secularists. If Abbas emerges from the negotiations without
sovereignty over the Temple Mount and without Israeli recognition of
the issue of the refugees as proposed by the Arab League (an agreed
solution on the basis of United Nations General Assembly Resolution
194) -- he might as well stay home.... The continued dispute over
the excavations the Palestinians are carrying out in the Temple
Mount complex suggests that transferring sovereignty to them is no
more than a virtual concession for Israel. An agreement that will
include UNESCO supervision over the excavations and free access to
the Israelis will improve the situation vis-a-vis this sensitive
area. Receiving the prestigious keys to the holy site will bolster
the pragmatists among the Palestinians, and will make it easier for
them to relinquish their wish to use the keys to homes they left
behind in Jaffa."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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