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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3519
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2750
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0746
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3480
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0349
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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

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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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The electronic media and Maariv reported that at around 1:45 a.m.
last night (6:45 p.m. EDT) a rocket landed next to tents in the IDF
boot camp of Zikim, south of Ashkelon. Sixty-nine soldiers were
wounded, one of them critically and most of them lightly. Islamic
Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility
for the attack. Israel Radio quoted a senior GOI source as saying
that Israel should respond immediately and powerfully. Other GOI
sources were quoted as saying that Israel should carefully prepare
its response.

Major media (lead stories in Yediot and Ha'aretz) quoted Arab
sources as saying that last week Israel attacked targets in Syria.
The media quoted Syrian FM Walid Mualem as saying on Monday during
an official visit to Turkey that the Israeli warplanes that violated
Syria's airspace last week dropped live ammunition on Syrian soil.
Mualem added that Israel's decision not to comment was
"appropriate." Mualem was quoted as saying: "Israel used live
ammunition in a deliberate and hostile attack." His Turkish
counterpart, Ali Babacan, demanded a quick explanation from Israel
over fuel tanks found near the Syrian border in the incident last
Thursday, which he said involved violation of Turkish airspace by
Israeli jets. Yediot quoted the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar as
saying that the IAF apparently bombed predetermined strategic
defense targets. Israel is still not commenting on the incident.
Leading media quoted former MK Azmi Bishara as saying on a Syrian
Web site that Israel may have intended to prevent weapons from
reaching Hizbullah or to take out Syrian anti-aircraft of radar
installations in order to prepare air corridors for flights to Iran.
Last night Channel 2-TV reported that Hizbullah leaders made
similar remarks. Ha'aretz reported that Israel has thus far not
detected any Syrian preparations for war. Nonetheless, IDF units on
the Golan Heights are on high alert, and will remain that way
throughout the holiday period.

Maariv reported that a date has been proposed for the international
meeting in Washington: November 14-15. Maariv and The Jerusalem


Post reported that PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas is expected
to leave for Saudi Arabia and will try to convince Saudi Arabia to
take part in the meeting. The Jerusalem Post reported that on
Monday, fearing the outbreak of a new round of Palestinian violence,
senior Israeli defense officials warned against building up
expectations for the meeting. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted the
London-based Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat as saying that the Bush
administration has promised Abbas important achievements at the
meeting.

Ha'aretz reported that following their meeting in Jerusalem on
Monday, PM Ehud Olmert and Chairman Abbas announced that Israel and
the PA will establish working groups to begin drafting an agreement
of principles. The goal is to have the document ready to present at
a US-sponsored international meeting that will take place in
Washington later this fall. Ha'aretz reported that on Monday
Olmert's Bureau issued a statement saying that the working groups
will focus on furthering the "two-state vision." Chief PLO
negotiator Saeb Erekat and Abbas's chief of staff, Rafiq
al-Husseini, will head the Palestinian teams. Israel's teams will
be headed by senior Olmert aides Yoram Turbowicz and Shalom
Turgeman, with assistance from representatives of the Foreign and
Defense Ministries. Erekat and Husseini told reporters on Monday
that Abbas and Olmert agreed to hold another meeting on September
25. In addition, Israel will release additional Palestinian
prisoners during the first week of Ramadan, which begins on
Thursday, as a good-will gesture. Olmert also agreed to Abbas's
request that Israel transfer PA packages of food and cigarettes to
Palestinian prisoners during the holiday. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe
cited the optimism of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. Ha'aretz
reported that on Monday PM Ehud Olmert's Bureau requested a copy of
a 1995 paper formulated during secret meetings between Yossi Beilin
and Mahmoud Abbas. The document addressed a possible framework for
the permanent resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The
daily said that officials asked Beilin for a copy, possibly because
Olmert and his aides want to learn about the issues on which Abbas
expressed agreement in the past and make use of that knowledge in
the current effort. Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who succeeded the
assassinated Yitzhak Rabin, rejected Beilin's proposal to use the
document as a springboard to a conclusion on the settlement issue.
The document was not signed and Abbas denied its existence until
several years later when he told a senior US official of his support
for the paper.

Yediot reported that in Paris over the last weekend 20 Israeli and
Palestinian economists, headed by Vice PM Haim Ramon and PA Economy
Minister Kamel Hasuna, drafted an economic declaration of principles
within the framework of a final status agreement.

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that Egypt is still involved with
efforts to free three Israeli soldiers held by Hamas and Hizbullah.
The information came to light after a meeting on Monday between
Jerusalem's chief negotiator, Ofer Dekel, Omar Suleiman, in Cairo.
Ha'aretz reported that Dekel is refusing to comment on the meeting,
but quoted sources involved with the talks as saying that the
meeting was meant to prepare for the renewal of negotiations with
Hamas and Hizbullah through Egypt. Yediot quoted sources involved
in the negotiations as saying that there is agreement between Israel
and Hamas that Israel would release 450 prisoners in exchange for
Shalit, but that Israel has clarified that in no way will it release
detainees with "blood on their hands." Maariv reported that on
Monday PM Olmert promised Chairman Abbas that he will recommend a
release of Palestinian prisoners. Ha'aretz quoted Internal Security
Minister Avi Dichter as saying on Monday that the Hamas Executive
Force officer captured by Israel on Friday is a bargaining chip in
the effort to free Gilad Shalit.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday the head of Israel's
National Security Council, Ilan Mizrachi, announced that he will be
leaving on November 1, after holding the position for some 18
months. His deputy, Itamar Ya'ar, and the head of the country's
counterterrorism unit, Danny Arditti, will also be leaving their
posts.

Speaking on Israel Radio last night, State Prosecutor Eran Shendar
recommended opening criminal investigations against PM Olmert in two
additional cases. The PM is already under criminal investigation
over the privatization of Bank Leumi, Israel's second-largest bank,
and is to be questioned under caution in that case in the near
future. Both of the two new cases involve Olmert's conduct in his
previous role as industry, trade and employment minister. One
involves suspicions that Olmert gave special consideration to a
company represented by his friend and former law partner, Uri
Messer, in grant allocations by the ministry's Investment Center.
The other involves suspicions that he made political appointments at
the Small Business Authority. Both cases began with an investigation
and subsequent scathing report by State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday the national water
company Mekorot announced that "another dry winter will bring
Israeli water supplies to the red lines."

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday Gen. David Petraeus, the commander
of the Multi-National Force - Iraq, and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan
Crocker assured the US Congress that the situation in that country
was improving. Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that
Petraeus talked about a partial pullout of US forces from Iraq by
the middle of 2008.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Hy Brown, the chief engineer of New
York's World Trade Center, who is now a resident of Jerusalem, will
build solar houses in the Negev,

Leading media reported that OC Central Command Maj. Gen. Gadi Shammi
decided on Sunday that seven IDF soldiers who disobeyed orders and
refused to take part in evacuating settlers from Hebron's wholesale
market last month will be suspended from combat units.

Ha'aretz reported that on Monday a Palestinian youth who was shot in
the head during an IDF operation on Friday died of his wounds in
Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

Yediot reported that the "olive tree war" between Palestinians and
settlers is continuing.

Maariv reported that Egypt has raised the entrance fee it levies
from Israeli travelers crossing the border into the Sinai, from 46
Egyptian Pounds (EGP) -- around USD 10 -- to EGP 500 - around USD
100.

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that on Monday the Counter-Terrorism
Bureau in the PM's Office issued a travel advisory to Israelis
planning trips to Colombia, following reports in the Colombian media
of Israeli involvement in military training in Colombia. The
warning said the "threat has increased against Israelis connected
with the Colombian government, particularly assassination and
abduction."

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Mideast:
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Summary:
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Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Maybe what happened -- or didnQt happen

-- in Syria or elsewhere on one of the nights last week, will prove
itself to have been an act that did not hasten the advent of war
but, rather, somehow increased the chances of peace."

Current affairs correspondent Yoav Stern wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The three-way diplomatic liaison that binds
Ankara, Damascus, and Jerusalem is a very sensitive matter indeed."

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Turkey does not want to
be blamed for letting Israeli planes use its airspace [to attack
Iran]. And therefore, it may now just be building deniability."

Columnist Aviad Kleinberg wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot: "In almost every domain Israel has no national
goals.... Think about the way in which, without any plan or
diplomatic sense, Israel carried out a crawling annexation of the
territories."

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Once again, it seems that [the US] is
approaching a crossroads of decision: After all, the frustration of
an American president in the face of arrogance is nothing compared
to that of a president being faced by a regime [Syria's] that
embodies a concrete danger."


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

I. "Israeli Silence is Golden"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (9/11): "The pace of the drip is slow but
regular. On Monday a significant step up was recorded. Syria
announced, for the first time and in a clear voice, that the Israeli
operation in its territory was not merely a 'flight,' but an
offensive operation.... The current Israeli silence is golden. We
can be encouraged by what we see on the other side. The Syrians,
even though they are already aware of the fact that they were
attacked and admit as much, have not begun to go wild. Maybe the
opposite is true. The reports about a massive call-up of reserves
in Syria have gone nowhere; and the various Syrian spokesmen, after
warning Israel and promising a response, note that 'Syria is intent
on peace, not war.' Who knows, maybe what happened -- or didnQt
happen -- in Syria or elsewhere on one of the nights last week, will


prove itself to have been an act that did not hasten the advent of
war but, rather, somehow increased the chances of peace. That is
the way it works in the Middle East, everything is upside-down."

II. "Complicated Relations Among Ankara, Damascus, and Jerusalem"

Current affairs correspondent Yoav Stern wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/11): "The three-way diplomatic liaison that
binds Ankara, Damascus, and Jerusalem is a very sensitive matter
indeed. Last week's alleged aerial incursion by Israeli warplanes
that reportedly penetrated into Syria through Turkish airspace just
served to make things more complicated.... Dr. Alon Liel, the
Foreign Ministry's former director general, is an expert on Turkey.
He believes that while Ankara's relationship with Israel is subject
to increasing tensions, the Turks and Syrians are undergoing a
gradual rapprochement. According to Liel, the Anti-Defamation
League's recent announcement that it now regarded the events of 1915
-- in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were massacred -- as
genocide perpetrated by the Turks did not help matters. For the
Turks, the statement was cause for much anger and heated resentment.
Many in Israel, meanwhile, view Turkey's recent political
developments with concern.... The statements by Ankara's Foreign
Minister, Ali Babacan, who demanded an explanation from Israel over
it alleged use of Turkish airspace to strike in Syria, demonstrated
Turkey's resentment regarding the incident. Liel argues that Israel
should take extra care not to damage its relationship with
Turkey.... However, irrespective of the government's discontent with

Israeli actions, the Turkish army -- which is does not share any
aspiration of compounding Turkey's Islamic national identity --
maintains warm relations with Israel. The two armies undergo joint
training. Turkey's trade relations with Israel are also in good
shape. Additionally, Turkey has recently been reported mediating
between Syria in Israel in an attempt to jump-start negotiations
between Jerusalem and Damascus. Turkey's relationship with Syria,
meanwhile, has only improved in recent years, since Syria stopped
supporting the PKK.... 'Syria and Turkey have started mutual visits
by senior diplomats, and have begun cooperating on security-related
matters,' Liel said."

III. "Talking 'Turkish' with the Syrians"

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/11): "There is something
ironic in Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan's protest on Monday
over alleged flyover of Syrian territory last week.... Interesting
words from the foreign minister of a country that just nine years
ago amassed thousands of troops on its border with Syria and rattled
its sabers to get Syria to end is support for the separatist Kurdish
Workers' Party (PKK) and to cough up its leader, Abdullah Ocalan....
While some are suggesting that Turkey's tome is a manifestation of
its anger at the Anti-Defamation League's decision to reverse its
stand on the massacres of Armenians during World War I and refer to
them as genocide, the more plausible explanation has more to do with
Iran. According to this reasoning, Turkey needs to protest loudly
and clearly the possible violations of its airspace now because it
is thinking that at some point Israel might attack Iran's nuclear
facilities. In that eventuality, Turkey does not want to be blamed
for letting Israeli planes use its airspace. And therefore, it may
now just be building deniability."

IV. "We Don't Need Any Advice"

Columnist Aviad Kleinberg wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (9/11): "In almost every domain Israel has no
national goals.... Think about the way in which, without any plan or
diplomatic sense, Israel carried out a crawling annexation of the
territories. We pushed the Americans, the world, the UN, Israel's
High Court of Justice. We pushed yet another acre and deported
shepherd after shepherd. We succeeded very well. And now what? We
are stuck with an impossible map and an almost insoluble
demographic-social problem."

V. "Smoke on the Horizon"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/11): "North Korea announced several days
ago that in the context of its current negotiations about nuclear
disarmament, the US has agreed to remove it from the list of
terror-supporting countries -- a club whose other members include
Syria and Iran, Sudan and Cuba. In Iraq, which was dropped from
this exclusive list at the time when Saddam Hussein's regime was
dismantled, the Americans admitted their mistake when they failed in
their searches for vestiges of weapons of mass destruction. But in
Israel, official sources estimate that the announcement was nothing
more than a foolish attempt to amend a mistake with a mistake.
After the initial victory in Iraq, voices were heard here to bring
down the Syrian regime as well, but the prolonged entanglement on
the streets of Baghdad has limited American room for maneuver. The
Syrians have taken good advantage of this for small, irritating
stings, while skillfully avoiding a clear invitation to a
confrontation: by infiltrating into Iraq, arming Hizbullah,
undermining Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and supporting
Palestinian terror. And the less the US desires a confrontation,
the more frustrated it becomes. Now, once again, it seems that it
is approaching a crossroads of decision: After all, the frustration
of an American president in the face of arrogance is nothing
compared to that of a president being faced by a regime that
embodies a concrete danger."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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