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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3492
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2725
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0721
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3457
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0328
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0797
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7380
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4819
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RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3885
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5827
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002692

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:
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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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Major media (lead stories in Ha'aretz and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe)
reported that on Wednesday Defense Minister Ehud Barak told his
senior staff and the heads of the military industries that it was
very likely that the IDF was moving closer to an extensive ground
action in the Gaza Strip, "in order to halt the rocket fire and the
strengthening [of militant organizations]." Israel Radio cited
denial by senior political sources associated with PM Ehud Olmert
that the Security cabinet made such a decision. Barak's statement
came a few hours after the security cabinet decided not to
significantly alter the IDF's actions in the Gaza Strip. The
cabinet also decided to examine the legal implications of imposing
sanctions on the civilian population, such as disrupting the supply
of electricity. Ha'aretz reported that no troop buildup or other
preparations are being made in the Southern Command for immediate
action. Ha'aretz reported that senior Israeli military sources told
the newspaper that as long as the tension is high along the Syrian
border, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi objects to large-scale
action in Gaza because of the difficulty of operating on two fronts
without a massive call up of the reserves. The sources said Israel's
position might change if a large number of casualties resulted from
the Qassam fire.

The media reported that on Wednesday IDF troops discovered 11 Qassam
launchers aimed at Israel in the northern Gaza Strip. Leading media
reported that concrete cubicles capable of sheltering several people
have been placed on the streets of Sderot.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday Israel and the Arab
world "jostled" over the content and makeup of the international
meeting on the Middle East scheduled for the US later this year, as
FM Tzipi Livni strove to deflate expectations and Arab League
Secretary-General Amr Moussa warned against a "useless political

SIPDIS
demonstration."

Ha'aretz reported that Israel recently sent Hamas a new proposal in
its negotiations to secure the return of kidnapped IDF Cpl. soldier
Gilad Shalit. However, details of the proposal are not known and
Hamas has yet to respond. Ha'aretz further quoted a senior Hamas
official as saying on Wednesday that European officials recently
began mediating between Israel and Hamas over Shalit. He declined
to specify which countries, but said that he was not referring to
Norway, which recently announced that it was involved in the issue.
The Jerusalem Post cited denial by a delegation of the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to Israel and the Palestinian
territories of an AP report on Wednesday that Shalit's kidnappers
"may permit" ICRC representatives to visit him.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that Foreign Ministry officials are
currently putting together a basket of decisions with the goal to
radicalize the difference in Israel's approach to the Gaza Strip
versus the West Bank. The daily quoted a political official in
Jerusalem as saying that the fundamental purpose of this policy was
the desire to demonstrate to Palestinian society that there is a
price to pay for supporting Hamas.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe and Israel Radio reported that on Wednesday
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano told President Shimon Peres,
who is visiting Italy, that he will strive to obtain signs of life
from the IDF soldiers abducted by Hizbullah.

Kadima Knesset Member Otniel Schneller, a former settler leader, was
quoted as saying in an interview with Maariv that he will not
prevent PM Olmert from leaving the party. The newspaper reported
that he presented Olmert with a diplomatic plan setting strict
guidelines for negotiations with the Palestinians.

Ha'aretz quoted GOI sources in Jerusalem as saying that UN
cartographer Miklos Pinter is in Israel this week to move ahead on
the marking of the controversial boundaries of Sheba Farms.
Ha'aretz noted that although PM Olmert and other officials have
indicated that Israel may relinquish the Sheba Farms, Israel may not
agree in the near future to serious discussion of a pullout from the
Farms, due to national consensus, political, and
historical/religious reasons.

Ha'aretz reported that the High Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday
that even though the East Matityahu neighborhood of the settlement
of Modi'in Illit was set up illegally on Palestinian lands, the
houses that have already been built need not be dismantled. The
court therefore canceled the injunction preventing the houses from
being occupied that it issued in January 2006. Yediot reported that
on Wednesday the High Court ruled that Israel will retain some land
in the Palestinian village of Bil'in, in whose favor the court had
ruled on Tuesday.

Ha'aretz cited a party manifesto drafted by Yisrael Beiteinu
Chairman and Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying:
"The principle of land for peace is a mistaken and misleading
principle that is destined to fail."

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday Shraga Brosh, the
President of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, called on Tony
Blair to hold an economic regional summit parallel to the upcoming
to the US-sponsored meeting on the Middle East.

The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported that Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to meet with Damascus-based
Palestinian factions leaders in Tehran today.

The Jerusalem Post cited a report released today by Human Rights
Watch (HRW) that most of the Lebanese civilian casualties during
last summer's war came from "indiscriminate Israeli air strikes."
The newspaper said that his was HRW's harshest condemnation since
the war.

Ha'aretz quoted the family of Omar Masalma, a Palestinian prisoner
from the West Bank, as saying that he died in his cell in Ma'asiyahu
prison on August 25, due to medical negligence.

Maariv reported that the IDF plans to impose severe sanctions
against draft dodgers, such as not allowing them to obtain a
driver's license, become MDs or psychologists, or be employed in
government offices. Yediot reported that while the number of
Orthodox officers in elite IDF units is rising, an increasing number
of Orthodox high school students choose to be exempted of military
service for religious reasons.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Interior Ministry has prepared
a preliminary draft of citizenship criteria that would disqualify
some converts to Judaism -- Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform --
from automatically qualifying for citizenship under the Law of
Return. The Jerusalem Post reported that young non-Orthodox US Jews
are feeling increasingly alienated and disconnected from Israel. The
tendency was based on a study released on Thursday by Professors
Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman.

Ha'aretz reported that Yehiel Horev, the former head of security at
the Defense Ministry, is now working for a private company that
sells weapons to India.

Ha'aretz reported that Germany has issued a protest to Israel on the
activities of Nativ, a secret branch of the GOI, which is
facilitating the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union
but are currently in Germany.

Yehuda Avner, Israel's former ambassador to the UK, revealed in an
article for The Jerusalem Post today that Diana, Princess of Wales,
thought Israel to be a "plucky little country," and that she and her
then-husband Prince Charles accepted an invitation to visit "at the
appropriate time." Reporting on HRH Prince Edward's private visit
to Israel, media noted that British royals made numerous official
visits to most Arab countries, but none to Israel.

Maariv reported that FOX-TV is acquiring the rights of the concept
of the Channel 2-TV series "Mesudarim" (Settled in Life).

Maariv cited the results of a poll conducted among Israeli Arabs by
the Israeli Arab Mada el-Carmel Center:
-"Is it easier today to defeat Israel on the battlefield?" Yes:
49.1 percent; no: 17.2 percent; no change: 28 percent.
- "Has the [Second Lebanon] War harmed Israel's deterrence?" Yes:
52.4 percent; Israel's deterrence is greater: 20 percent; no change:
22.6 percent.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "If Olmert wants his political interest to be
translated into diplomatic advantage, he has to think carefully
about the day after the summit in Washington. He should ask Shimon
Peres and Ehud Barak what happens when the beautiful expectations
are destroyed."

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Will the world's superpower and the strongest
country in the region subordinate an international conference to the
whims or madness of a few murderers from Islamic Jihad, who find a
plot of land from which they launch Qassam rockets and then flee?
Yes."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "There is no proof that making the
Palestinian public suffer would cause Hamas to take pity on it and
embark on a cease-fire.... What is being presented as a way to avoid
war is counterproductive, immoral and illegal."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Among the reasons
cited for not launching an operation is the regional peace
conference in November.... Terror, like always, will be the one to
decide on a date least amenable to Israel."

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

I. "A Process for its Own Sake"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/6): "Olmert's problem is that neither his
decision to hold talks with Abbas, nor his agreement to discuss the
'core issues' -- permanent borders, Jerusalem, and the refugees,
which he once feared -- is sufficient. Even if he arrives at the
Washington summit without any additional terror attacks being
perpetrated until then and reaches a reasonable agreement of
principles with Abbas, and even if the Saudis come to the meeting
with their senior leadership, the path he has chosen leads through
dangerous minefields. The first minefield consists of the vague
definition of the negotiations' aims.... The second minefield is
Abbas's weakness.... The third minefield is the negotiators' total
lack of room to maneuver.... If Olmert wants his political interest
to be translated into diplomatic advantage, he has to think
carefully about the day after the summit in Washington. He should
ask Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak what happens when the beautiful
expectations are destroyed. A picture with the Saudi prince in a
white djellabah would be a nice diplomatic achievement for Olmert,
but the results of his policy will be decided in the West Bank and
in Gaza, and not on the lawn in Washington."

II. "Do Not Give in to Qassam Rockets"

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (9/6): "Will the world's superpower and the
strongest country in the region subordinate an international
conference to the whims or madness of a few murderers from Islamic
Jihad, who find a plot of land from which they launch Qassam rockets
and then flee? Yes. This is the situation, which has been
maintained for a long time. For many years we have not evacuated
illegal outposts so as not to reward the other side's violence. We
are not even considering any kind of meetings -- secret or overt --
with Hamas members over a discussion of a truce ... otherwise they
may understand that violence pays, and so on."

III. "Faced with Sderot and Gaza"

Ha'aretz editorialized (9/6): "The distress of Israel's government,
which is responsible for defending its citizens, periodically gives
rise -- and with greater force than usual this week -- to desperate
ideas. One such idea, which is being advocated by Minister Haim
Ramon and, more guardedly, by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, is
hitting Gaza's water and electricity networks. Stopping the flow of
water and electricity is a painful and punishing step, but
ostensibly not a fatal one. Its goal is to cause the Palestinian
public to pressure Hamas and Islamic Jihad to stop the fire. This
idea is complete nonsense. Factually speaking, cutting off water
and electricity can kill. Moreover, there is no proof that making
the Palestinian public suffer would cause Hamas to take pity on it
and embark on a cease-fire. On the contrary: Hamas consistently
sabotages the flow of essential goods through Gaza's border
terminals. What is being presented as a way to avoid war is
counterproductive, immoral and illegal."

IV. "Buying Time"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/6): "In the wonderful
world of euphemisms it is referred to as 'preserving the political
echelon's flexibility.' In plain Hebrew it means: to buy a little
more time. And if weQd like to be a bit more precise, what the
security cabinet decided on Wednesday was to try, as much as
possible, to get through the Jewish holidays safe and sound. That
is a legitimate decision for a government to make, provided it
doesnQt create, in tandem, the false impression that it is actually
doing something; provided it doesn't deceive the public and delude
it into believing that it is on the way to solving the problem
decisively.... Among the reasons cited for not launching an
operation is the regional peace conference in November. A military
operation is liable to derail the plan.... Everyone is right. The
government is right in seeking to buy time. The army is right in
saying that it doesnQt want to launch an operation that doesnQt go
all the way. The Shin Bet is right when it says that a price needs
to be exacted. The residents of Sderot are right when they demand
security now. Ehud Barak was also right when he said on Wednesday
that in the end there would be no choice but to operate in the Gaza
Strip. But all that energy that Israelis invest in being right,
logical and balanced is for naught. Because it isn't we who are
going to set the timetable for the military crisis in the Gaza
Strip. Terror, like always, will be the one to decide on a date
least amenable to Israel. The date will be set by the next Qassam
rocket and the next terror cell that crosses the fence."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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