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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 2702
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9406
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2790
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3500
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2732
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0728
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3464
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0335
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0804
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7387
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4826
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9736
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3892
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5834
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002702

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

1. Mideast

2. Iran

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

All media quoted Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal as saying
on Thursday afternoon that Syria is weighing its response to an
alleged violation of its airspace early on Thursday. Maariv
bannered: "On the Edge of a Flare-up." All media reported that the
GOI and IDF remained silent. However, The Jerusalem Post quoted
Israeli defense officials as saying that Israel is "fully prepared"
for the possibility of a conflict in the North. On Thursday
afternoon and evening Israeli electronic media continuously
broadcast news items and commentary related to the affair.
(Israeli-Arab) Minister of Science, Culture, and Sport Raleb
Majadele was quoted as saying in an interview with the
Arabic-language Assennara (his comments were also carried by Israel
Radio) that Israeli planes enter Syrian air space on a daily basis
and that they may have overflown Syria to either take photographs or
simply by mistake. Majadele added that this would not start a war
with Syria. In answer to a question by a Channel 2-TV's
correpondent, Syrian Vice-President Farouk Shara was quoted as
saying in Rome that the Israeli "attack" was meant to produce
tension and justify a future war. Media quoted Shara as saying that
Syria does not want to be dragged into war. Ha'aretz quoted the
Iranian news agency IRNA as saying that on Thursday Iran's
Ambassador to Syria, Mohammad Hassan Akhtari, called Syrian defense
officials, telling them that his country was prepared to give "any
kind of assistance" required by Syria.

All media reported that on Thursday nine Palestinian militants and a
civilian were killed in separate clashes with the IDF in the Gaza
Strip. An IAF missile killed six militants from Islamic Jihad and
the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who were heading
toward the border security fence in central Gaza, in what Israel
said was an attempt to storm an IDF outpost or abduct a soldier.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a group of Likud, Labor, and Kadima
Knesset members decided this week to join forces in support of
a proposal to change the electoral system to allow for direct regional
elections for a portion of the Knesset.

Leading media reported that on Thursday Hamas turned down a request
by the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit abducted
IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Ha'aretz quoted Osama Al-Mazini, a senior
Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, as saying that allowing a visit
might le Israel learn of Shalit's whereabouts.

Major media reported that on Thursday in the Vatican President of
Israel Shimon Peres discussed the issue of the abducted Israeli
soldiers with Pope Benedict XVI.

The Jerusalem Post reported that in recent days the Foreign Ministry
has exchanged "strong words" with the Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv
over a diplomatic document the embassy sent back to Oslo calling for
criticism of Israel for allegedly using torture in prisons.

Maariv reported that PM Olmert is endeavoring to show the Winograd
Commission that he is implementing its interim report.

The Arabic-language Kull Al-Arab reported that Professor Nadim
Rouhana will head the Balad party, succeeding former MK Azmi
Bishara, who fled Israel amidst allegations that he provided
intelligence to Hizbullah.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that British Israelis expect HRH
Prince Edward's private visit to Israel to act as a counterweight to
the academic boycott of Israel.

Yediot presented the results of a Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute) poll
conducted ahead of the Jewish New Year:
-"Which actions do you support in order to stop Qassam rocket fire
into Sderot and the communities around Gaza?" Immediately stop
supplying water and electricity following every attack: 72 percent;
initiate a military operation: 60 percent; request UN intervention:
37 percent; continue the restraint policy: 24 percent; invite Hamas
to negotiations: 23 percent.
-"Which problem facing Israel worries you most?" The Iranian
threat: 26 percent; traffic accidents: 23 percent; the condition of
education: 23 percent; the Qassam rockets: 12 percent; the economic
situation: 8 percent; Syria: 5 percent.
-"How do you assess the security situation in Israel?" Bad: 72
percent; good: 26 percent.
-"Are you certain that Israel will survive in the distant future?"
Certain: 74 percent; not certain: 25 percent. The rate of certainty
in Israel's survival has shrunk by one third over the past year.

A poll by the Tel Aviv local supplement of Yediot found that 46
percent of the city's residents prefer incumbent Mayor Ron Huldai to
former Meretz party chairman and cabinet minister Yossi Sarid --
with 40 percent of voting intentions -- an undeclared candidate for
the municipal elections due to take place next year.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "How did a situation come about in which
more and more people have stopped asking if war will break out and
are asking when?"

Professor Eyal Zisser, the Chairman of the Department of Middle
Eastern History at Tel Aviv University and a senior expert on Syrian
and Lebanese affairs, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot: "The status quo between [Israel and Syria] is
increasingly being breached. Both sides should make an increasing
effort in the future to avoid deterioration."

Arab affairs correspondent Jacky Hoogie wrote in Maariv: "Syria's
hands are tied.... Israel should thank Assad for this restraint with
a bouquet of flowers."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea and diplomatic correspondent Shimon
Shiffer wrote in Yediot Aharonot: "[Vice Prime Minister] Haim Ramon
is the dove that Ehud Olmert sends to the Palestinians with an olive
branch in his mouth."

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

I. "Why Was Olmert Silent?"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (9/7): "At this rate, Ehud Olmert is
liable to succeed where all his predecessors failed: to be the first
prime minister to match Ben-Gurion. Not in successes. In wars....
How did we reach this situation? Only a few years ago Assad was
willing to come to Jerusalem and relayed messages that he was
willing to renew negotiations without preconditions and sent
conciliatory and moderate messages to Jerusalem?.... How did a
situation come about in which more and more people have stopped
asking if war will break out and are asking when? And why does
Israel never learn lessons before [impending] traumas? Who will
head the next commission of inquiry?"

II. "Fragile Reality"

Professor Eyal Zisser, the Chairman of the Department of Middle
Eastern History at Tel Aviv University and a senior expert on Syrian
and Lebanese affairs, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (9/7): "The announcement by the Syrian army on
Thursday aroused concerns about a military clash between the two
countries, concerns that seemed to be have been laid to rest in
recent weeks.... In its language and content, the Syrian
announcement was reminiscent of previous announcements issued by the
Syrians in the wake of similar incidents that in which the Syrians
warned that they would respond at the time and place that they find
appropriate, but in reality they prefer to stay quiet. However, one
should note that the reality prevailing today between Israel and
Syria is different from that which prevailed between the two
countries until the Second Lebanon War. One must hope, therefore,
that both countries will know how to contain the incident, if it
actually took place, and it looks like that is indeed the case.
However, the status quo between the two countries is increasingly
being breached. Both sides should make an increasing effort in the
future to avoid deterioration."

III. "Syria's Hands Are Tied"

Arab affairs correspondent Jacky Hoogie wrote in Maariv (9/7):
"Damascus knows well how to deny its responsibility for the
assassination of a Lebanese leader, but it is not a country that
would invent allegations of an Israeli operation in its territory.
The reason for this is simple: such an action represents a threat to
Syria's ego and it has no use in exposing it, to which one must add
the firm belief that Syria is not interested in a confrontation with
Israel. Thus it will not seek unwarranted provocations.... Damascus
has declared that it reserves the right to respond to Israel. This
was lip service to the Arab public in Syria and outside it, which
has for years demanded its leaders to extract a hefty price from
Israel. But because of the nature of the operation -- just an
overflight of Syria, without casualties on the ground -- Syria's
hands are tied.... Israel should thank Assad for this restraint with

a bouquet of flowers."

IV. "Ramon Draws a Map"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea and diplomatic correspondent Shimon
Shiffer wrote in Yediot Aharonot (9/7): "[Vice Prime Minister] Haim
Ramon is the dove that Ehud Olmert sends to the Palestinians with an
olive branch in his mouth. Ramon has a plan, whose details we will
bring below. He is convinced that he is acting with permission and
authorization. The Prime Minister's Bureau says he has permission,
but not authorization, and that everything he proposes is at his own
initiative. If it works, somehow, for Israel and the Palestinians,
the Ramon plan, retroactively, will become the Olmert plan. If it
doesnQt work, it will be Ramon's alone. This technique is known in
diplomatic language as deniability. Ramon is not just proposing, he
is proposing a lot.... Ramon tells the Palestinians that the moment
Israel built the separation fence, it determined its border in the
West Bank.... The Palestinians would be compensated for the
territories they lost with identical territory inside the Green
Line. Ramon talks to the Palestinians about a land corridor between
Gaza and Hebron.... In the document of principles, both sides would
promise, immediately after signing, to carry out the first stage of
the Roadmap.... Jerusalem: Ramon, in his talks, adopts the principle
that Clinton outlined in January 2001.... Refugees: This is the most
complicated subject, Ramon tells his interlocutors on the other
side. The document of principles will have to say that the right of
return will be realized in the Palestinian state. Israel will not
bring refugees inside its borders unless this is part of a quota and
is defined as a humanitarian gesture."

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

Summary:
--------

Arnon Gutfeld, a Professor of American History at Tel Aviv
University, wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: " All
measures being taken by Russia restrict the possibility of American
action against Iran, but this does not mean that any of the sides
can remain nonchalant."

Block Quotes:
-------------
"Will Bush Attack Or Won't He?"

Arnon Gutfeld, a Professor of American History at Tel Aviv
University, wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/6):
"Akin to President Ronald Reagan, President George Bush has an
agenda and a plan of action.... His agenda includes an attempt to
eradicate the enemies of the US in Iraq; a 'long-term war' on
terror; [and] the encouragement of democracy throughout the war....
However, since he was reelected in 2004, his efforts to promote his
agenda have utterly failed.... But Bush -- the most ideological
president to sit in the White House for the past half-century -- is
determined to be a proactive president through January 19, 2009.
This 'lame duck' has at his disposal a might unequalled among any
mortals.... In the short term Congress and public opinion will find
it hard to restrict his steps.... All measures being taken by Russia
restrict the possibility of American action against Iran, but this
does not mean that any of the sides can remain nonchalant. Only a
week ago President Bush declared in an address to the Veterans of
Foreign Wars Convention that an Iran that strives to acquire nuclear
weapons would threaten the Middle East with a nuclear Holocaust,
adding, " We will confront this danger before it is too late." Is
this a 'lame duck's' declaratory policy or a declaration of
intentions by the superpower?"

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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