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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE FOR PAO/POLAD
COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019

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JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

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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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Major media reported on President Bush's surprise visit to the Al
Asad US base in Iraq on Monday.

On Sunday Ha'aretz reported that in recent conversations with
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and in a meeting last Monday

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with Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad, FM Tzipi Livni said that all of
the parties would serve to benefit from reasonable expectations for
the expected November summit.

All media reported that on Monday Palestinians fired seven rockets
at the western Negev. The rockets caused no casualties, but one
landed near a kindergarten while it was in use. Leading media
reported that PM Ehud Olmert and other senor GOI officials warned
that Islamic Jihad, which the officials said was responsible for the
attacks, would pay a hefty price. Israel Radio reported that
Ambassador to the UN Danny Gillerman filed an official complaint
with the UN over the continued rocket attacks. He was quoted as
saying that there was a limit to Israel's restraint, adding that he
would speak to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and demand that the
organization intervene. Yediot quoted Vice PM Haim Ramon as saying
that Israel should tell Hamas that it will cut off power and water
supply to the Gaza Strip for a couple of hours following every
attack.

On Sunday Ha'aretz reported that Egypt has decided, for now, to turn
down Israel's request to reprise its role in mediating the
negotiations for abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit's release.
Ha'aretz cited the belief of Egyptian officials that renewing talks
with Hamas would reverse the recent slippage in the group's standing
-- particularly if Israel releases Palestinian prisoners as part of
a deal.

The media reported that on Sunday an interministerial committee
discussed the issue of unauthorized settler outposts. On Monday
Ha'aretz cited an argument the occurred on Sunday between Strategic
Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman and FM Livni. While Lieberman
said that "there are no illegal outposts," Livni replied: "There is
a government commitment [to remove the outposts], so we have to
remove them."

Major media reported that on Monday Transportation Minister Shaul
Mofaz warned PM Olmert not to make "irreversible concessions" in the
peace plan being discussed with the Palestinians. Mofaz demanded a
debate in the Kadima party to set "red lines" before November's
international meeting in Washington. Internal Security Minister Avi
Dichter also urged holding a debate in the party about the peace
negotiations. "Our duty is to make sure the PA passes several stages
before we can conduct peace talks with it," Ha'aretz quoted him as
saying at a Kadima forum. Leading media reported that criticism of
Olmert on this matter among Kadima members is growing.

The Jerusalem Post reported that 80,000 illegal weapons are believed
to be in the hands of West Bank terrorists, according to the IDF's
latest assessments of the ongoing power struggle between Hamas and
Fatah. The newspaper quoted Israeli defense officials as saying
that Hamas could pose a genuine threat to PA Chairman [President]
Mahmoud Abbas's security forces.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted a senior Israeli defense source as
saying on Monday that Syria's budgetary investment in shoring up its
military is equal to its growth during the preceding eight to nine
years.

All media reported that on Monday female Israeli tennis player
Shahar Pe'er reached the quarterfinals of the US Open.

Major media reported that on Monday IDF Chief of Staff Gabi
Ashkenazi approved a multi-year, multi-dimensional procurement
program for the IDF. If the political leadership approves the
program, its implementation will begin early next year. The
procurement program, code-named Tefen, includes advanced systems for
all branches of the IDF but much of the emphasis is placed on
equipping the ground forces while sustaining the right mix "to
ensure that we are not preparing for the last war," as one senior
officer was quoted as saying in Ha'aretz.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that Tony Blair, the Quartet's
Mideast envoy, is returning to the region for the second time since
he was appointed.

Ha'aretz reported that a plan to reduce the number of internal
checkpoints by nearly 50 percent has been lying in the Defense
Ministry's inbox for almost a year. Ha'aretz quoted US defense
officials as saying that the program is in line with Israeli
promises to boost Chairman Abbas's status. The program was prepared
by a former Defense Ministry adviser on Palestinian Affairs, Haggai
Alon.

Ha'aretz quoted Jordan's King Abdullah II as saying in an interview
with the French daily Le Monde that Hamas takes orders from Iran.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday PM Olmert and visiting Austrian
Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer discussed the need to reduce tensions
between Israel and Syria. On Monday EU foreign policy chief Javier
Solana was quoted as saying on Sunday in an interview with Ha'aretz
that he saw no reason for any forthcoming military conflict between
Israel and Syria. On Sunday Maariv quoted an Israeli Foreign
Ministry official, whose task involves maintaining Israeli-Russian
relations, as saying: "Russia is definitely likely to profit from a
war here." The official was further quoted as saying: "This is not
the first time that the Russians have heated up the sector here in
an attempt to impose their influence"

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted jailed Fatah-Tanzim leader Marwan
Barghouti as saying in an interview with Arab media that Fatah is to
blame for Hamas's takeover of Gaza.

Ha'aretz ran a feature on Afif Safieh, the PLO's representative in
Washington, who "maneuvers between political forces in the Jewish
lobby, the PLO in the territories, and the PLO abroad to show
Americans that a 'moderate Palestinian' exists."

On Sunday Yediot reported on an Israeli Internet site called
"Israeli Terrorism" which gives advice on how to perpetrate acts of
error against Arabs.

Leading media reported that on Monday Finance Ministry
Accountant-General Yaron Zelekha asked State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss for protection against his four-year contract not
being extended. The state comptroller is empowered to do so in
cases when an employee has been harmed because he has complained
that his employer (in this case, PM Olmert) or a fellow employee was
guilty of corruption.

On Monday all media reported that on Sunday the police recommended
that former finance minister Abraham Hirchson be indicted on charges
of embezzlement.
On Monday Yediot reported that candidates from oligarch Arkady
Gaidamak's Social Justice party will run for mayor or for seats on
the municipal councils in the November 2008 local authority
elections.

Lenny Ben-David, who was Israel's deputy chief of mission in
Washington, wrote in Ha'aretz that convicted spy Jonathan Pollard
could have been released seven years ago, between the November 2000
presidential elections and President George Bush's inauguration in
January 2001, but that Israel failed to make the requisite moves.

On Monday Maariv reported that HRH Prince Edward will arrive on
Wednesday for a three-day visit to Israel, during which he will
attend a Jewish New Year banquet and place the last stone in the
Peace Mosaic in Jerusalem, which bears the symbol of the dove and
the inscription "ask for peace and pursue it." The prince will be
the guest of the Israel Youth Prize movement.

-------
Mideast
-------

Summary:
--------

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The Americans have not learned the bitter
lesson of the failure of the second Camp David summit and the
Intifada that followed it: Peace summits are not child's play. They
are like playing with fire."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "The
entire settlement debate must be put into its proper context. The
obstacle to peace is not those who advocate Greater Israel, who have
lost the debate here, but terrorism in the name of Greater
Palestine, meaning the destruction of Israel."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Olmert's fate is going to be sealed
soon.... Abu Mazen? He is in similar shape.... Everything is based
on Olmert's gut feeling ... [and] on an aggregate of coincidences
and circumstances."

Block Quotes:
-------------
I. "Expectations, Anyone?"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/3): "President Bush demanded that Israel
stop expanding settlements. He even demanded that it evacuate the
illegal outposts -- a relatively new contribution to the list of
euphemisms.... But mere statements are not enough. George W. Bush
also said that Israel 'must reduce its presence in the territories.'
Or, to use less watered-down language, Israel must finally carry
out its recycled promise to reduce the number of internal
checkpoints in the West Bank. So he said it. Big deal. During his
July 16 speech, Bush did not make do with general talk about a
'vision' and a 'political horizon.' He did not hesitate to relate
to the 'core issues.' The President said that negotiations on
borders, refugees, and Jerusalem must begin, and that the borders
should be based on both the lines of the past and the reality of the
present, with agreed changes. So he said it. What has happened
since?" Fall (the general time for holding the international, or
regional, conference or 'meeting') is nearing and there are still no
invitations, no hall, no date, no guest list, and no agenda. Were
it not for the fact that the US is the most powerful country in the
world, and that this summit is meant to alter the regional balance
of power between moderates and extremists, it would be possible to
laugh.... The Americans have not learned the bitter lesson of the
failure of the second Camp David summit and the Intifada that
followed it: Peace summits are not child's play. They are like
playing with fire."

II. "Line-Drawing for Peace"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/4):
"Why should not the US and Europe, which support the two-state
concept and oppose the maximalists, quietly rejoice at an internal
Israeli agreement that acts to solidify the consensus in favor of
retaining areas that no Israel government can concede and toward
parting from areas that most Israelis regard as rightfully theirs
but do not want to rule? Meanwhile, the entire settlement debate
must be put into its proper context. The obstacle to peace is not
those who advocate Greater Israel, who have lost the debate here,
but terrorism in the name of Greater Palestine, meaning the
destruction of Israel. It is on confronting the latter genocidal
mindset, which is far from defeated and openly regards all of Israel
as an illegal settlement, that the international community must
focus if the hopes for peace are to be advanced."
III. "For Your Eyes Only"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (9/2): "Imagine Rabin, or Netanyahu, or
Sharon or Barak sitting with the other side's elected leader for a
series of meetings in which they try to formulate together the 'core
principles' of resolution. What uproar would have broken out. How
extensive the coverage would have been. How many journalists would
have surrounded the event and how many cameras would have clicked
around it. And now? It is met with indifference. The talks are
secretive, barely make their way to the first pages of the

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newspaper, and sometimes fail to do even that.... The thing is that
nobody seems to be taking seriously are the talks between Olmert and
Abu Mazen. Both men's status is questionable. Two lame ducks
quacking together? Let them quack as much as they like. Olmert's
fate is going to be sealed soon. The High Court of Justice is to
hear petitions next week against the Winograd Commission. The
court's ruling will have tremendous impact on the Prime Minister's
political future. His public standing is shaky and, despite a
certain recovery, it is hard to envision any radical change in the
visible future. Abu Mazen? He is in similar shape. He has already
announced that he will not seek office again (even though this is a
reversible decision), he enjoys scant support, he lost Gaza, is
fighting for the West Bank, knows that he will not be able to secure
the support of his public on every aspect of the final status
arrangement, knows that he cannot enforce law and order, that his
chances of exterminating terrorism are about equal to George Bush's
chances of putting Iraq in order. And still, the talks are being
held. On various levels.... The problem is that these talks have no
formal father. They are not regulated. They are not planned.
Everything is based on Olmert's gut feeling, on his chemistry with
Vice Prime Minister Haim] Ramon, on an aggregate of coincidences
and circumstances."

JONES

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