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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2806/01 2630625
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 200625Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3339
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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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 2747
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9448
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2844
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3550
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2782
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0792
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3514
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0379
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0850
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7429
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4874
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9780
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 3934
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5879
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 7956
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002806

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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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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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Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, September 19-20, 2007

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Key stories in the media:
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Israel Radio reported that PM Ehud Olmert and Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice will meet again this afternoon following Secretary
Rice's visit to Ramallah. Ha'aretz reported that Secretary Rice
heard pessimistic messages from senior Israeli officials on the
chance of having more than "joint statements" at the planned
US-sponsored regional meeting. The newspaper reported that Vice PM
Haim Ramon told Rice that there are still wide gaps and that it
would be worthwhile to start with as general a declaration of
principles as possible, and not a detailed agreement, so that the
meeting succeeds. Ha'aretz reported that FM Tzipi Livni told Rice
that expectations should be lowered. Ha'aretz quoted associates of
PM Olmert as saying that he will deliver a "very important"
diplomatic speech today to the members of Kadima's Council. The
Jerusalem Post reported that PM Olmert is moving to keep Kadima
united over the future of Jerusalem, and that Kadima members blasted
Vice PM Haim Ramon's proposal for the city as "left of Meretz."

Yediot reported that jailed Fatah/Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti
actually controls the Palestinian side of the negotiations and that
the road to the Washington meeting "passes through his jail cell."

All media reported that on Wednesday the security cabinet voted
unanimously to increase sanctions against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip,
declaring the region "hostile territory." The media quoted
Secretary Rice as saying at a press conference following her meeting

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with FM Tzipi Livni that Hamas "is indeed a hostile entity to the US
as well. Secretary Rice added: "However, we will not abandon the
innocent Palestinians in Gaza and indeed will make every effort to
deal with their humanitarian needs." Livni said that the decision
meant that "except for humanitarian needs, Israel will supply
nothing further to the residents of Gaza." Hamas denounced the
security cabinet's decision and the sanctions as a "declaration of
war." Ha'aretz quoted Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum as saying: "We
must unite the ranks to come together in the conflict with the cruel
enemy. There will be implications in the long term. This is another
attempt to force us to surrender to agreements."

Ha'aretz quoted a senior GOI official as saying that two different
approaches were presented during the cabinet meeting. One was to
cut off electricity in response to every rocket fired. This
approach was found to be problematic in terms of international law
because it would constitute collective punishment. The second
approach, which the ministers accepted, was to compromise the
ability of Hamas to govern in Gaza as the quality of life
deteriorated. "We will reduce the amount of megawattage we provide
to the Strip, and Hamas will have to decide whether to provide
electricity to hospitals or weapons lathes," the official was quoted
as saying. The cabinet also authorized the closure of crossings in
response to rocket fire for up to 48 hours. PM Olmert was quoted as
saying during the meeting that "the price of a military operation in
Gaza is known to all, and in any case conditions are not ripe for
this." Defense Minister Ehud Barak echoed this sentiment, adding
"We will embark on action at the right time, not in order to let off
steam." However, Barak also said that "every day that passes brings
us closer to an operation in Gaza; we will decide on the means of an
operation and the goals when the time comes." The Jerusalem Post
and Israel Radio quoted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as saying
on Wednesday that it would be illegal for Israel to cut the supply
of fuel and electricity to the Gaza Strip.

Major media bannered a comment made last night on Israel-TV by
opposition leader Knesset Member Binyamin Netanyahu that he was
party to PM Ehud Olmert's decision to order an Israeli operation in
Syria two weeks ago. The media said that this appears to be the
first confirmation by a senior politician of foreign media reports
on the matter. Yediot quoted officials in Olmert's bureau as saying
that Netanyahu is a dangerous person who lacks judgment. Yediot
quoted Syrian President Bashar Assad as saying on Wednesday that
Syria is serious about returning to the peace process. Maariv
quoted Israeli experts as saying that the crisis with Syria will not
affect the negotiations.

Ha'aretz (Hebrew Ed.) led with comments made on Wednesday to the
annual General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency
by Gideon Frank, Director General of the Israel Atomic Energy
Commission that Israel will not tolerate the development of weapons
of mass destruction in the region. Media quoted Secretary Rice as
saying on Wednesday that a diplomatic push to halt Iran's nuclear
program could work, but that "it has to have teeth." Ha'aretz
reported that on Wednesday Danny Gillerman, Israel's Ambassador to
the UN, called on the US to prevent Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad from coming to the opening of the UN General Assembly
session next week.

Ha'aretz reported that the US has asked Israel to curtail its
activities in Lebanon until the presidential elections there,
scheduled to take place on September 25. US official conveyed to
their Israeli counterparts that Israel should avoid any steps that
may affect the domestic situation in Lebanon, referring specifically
to overflights of Lebanon. Ha'aretz reported that in talks with
senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem two weeks ago, Assistant
Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch stressed

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that the elections are a domestic Lebanese matter, and that it is
important to avoid any action that may influence the elections.
Ha'aretz quoted a senior Israeli official as saying on Wednesday
that "in any case, Israel had no intention of intervening in
Lebanon's elections. Ha'aretz quoted political sources in Jerusalem
as saying on Tuesday that that Lebanese media reported "supersonic
booms" over Sidon and Tyre, which they attributed to IAF jets.
Ha'aretz also reported that that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
for Near Eastern Affairs Robert Danin told his Israeli counterparts
in recent weeks that if Israel could provide the Lebanese government
with data from launch-control computers used in the firing of
cluster bombs in the summer of 2006, this would be considered a
major gain for the Siniora government. The data could be used to
locate areas over which the cluster bomb munitions were dispersed,
as part of demining operations in southern Lebanon. Ha'aretz said
that the US and Israel are not in agreement on whether any steps
they take can bolster Siniora. The leading Israeli news Web site
Ynet and Israel Radio reported that President Bush condemned the
assassination of anti-Syrian Lebanese lawmaker Antoine Ghanem on
Wednesday and said the US stood in solidarity with the Lebanese
people against what he called an attempt by Syria and Iran to
destabilize Lebanon.

Media reported that on Wednesday, for the second time in 24 hours, a
Palestinian was killed in the city of Nablus as Israeli forces
continued searching for a Hamas cell that is thought to be
attempting to dispatch a suicide bomber on a mission inside Israel.

Ha'aretz reported that on Tuesday Israel barred students from
leaving Gaza despite lengthy prior coordination. Ha'aretz said that
three Israeli defense agencies each insist it was the other's
decision.

Ha'aretz reported that the Federal Reserve Board's decision to slash
the American funds rate by a whole half-percent "did not pass over
Tel Aviv."

All media quoted police as saying on Wednesday that Jerusalem
businessman Nir Barkat commissioned surveillance of Maj. Gen. Mickey
Levy, the Israel Police representative in the US. Barkat denied any
knowledge of the affair. Barkat, a Kadima activist, is a potential
rival of Levy in next year's Jerusalem municipal elections.

-----------------------------------
Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, September 19-20, 2007:

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-----------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Rice's main message, which she
reiterated during her meetings in Jerusalem on Wednesday, is that
the summit cannot end without substantive achievements."

Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/20): "What is
currently happening is an Israeli attempt to bring down Condoleezza
Rice and [Olmert's] Palestinian partner Abu Mazen from a tall
tree."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Sometimes ... it seems as if Rice sees the Israeli-Palestinian
situation in a vacuum, unaffected by events swirling around it."

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

I. "Just Another Empty Threat"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/20): "Wednesday's decision [to
declare Gaza a 'hostile territory'] is an attempt by the government
to throw a bone to residents of Sderot and other members of the
public who are angry at the rocket attacks. But it does not contain
any operational elements, only declarations -- namely, the usual
threats against Hamas. The electricity supply will continue, at
least until a Qassam rocket claims casualties.... The interesting
aspect of the cabinet decision is its timing: It happened on the day
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in the region for
talks with Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Once, Israel preferred not to adopt aggressive resolutions when
senior American officials were visiting. But while Rice was not
enthusiastic about the threat to impose sanctions on Gaza's civilian
population, according to one Israeli official who met her, she chose
not to make a big deal out of it. She has a more important goal:
promoting the upcoming international peace summit in Washington as
much as possible. Rice's main message, which she reiterated during
her meetings in Jerusalem on Wednesday, is that the summit cannot
end without substantive achievements."

II. "Arm-Wrestling on the Way to the Summit"

Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/20): "What is
currently happening is an Israeli attempt to bring down Condoleezza
Rice and [Olmert's] Palestinian partner Abu Mazen from a tall tree.
A moment before he falls further into the honey trap of his intimate
talks with Abu Mazen, Olmert is trying to escape, uttering numerous,
varied pretexts.... Rice has her own agenda.... She will remain with
the disaster of US foreign policy of which she was a senior partner
in shaping.... Olmert's close associates assume that what is taking
place in the talks is just part of the 'arm-wrestling to improve
drafts that will appear in the joint statement.... The course
pursued by Olmert is a correct expression of a declaration that
negotiations over the final status between the sides will follow the
Washington meeting.... A senior [Israeli official] says that the
vision of two states living sided by side in peace will pass from
the hands of George Bush to those of the next president of the US."

III. "Cart and Horse"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/20):
"Sometimes ... it seems as if Rice sees the Israeli-Palestinian
situation in a vacuum, unaffected by events swirling around it....
The Israeli cabinet decision [on Gaza], coupled with the reports
operation in Syria two weeks ago, should serve as gentle reality
checks. Peace efforts continue, but they do so, unfortunately, in a
war context. What is more, it is impossible to rationally pursue
such peace efforts without acknowledging which is the cart and which
is the horse: negotiating peace or fighting the war.... Even if the
regional conference were successful beyond expectations, any
progress could only be considered a promissory note pending the
outcome of the confrontation with Iran and its proxies and allies.
By contrast, the moment a corner is turned in the conflict with Iran
and it becomes clear that the mullahs will be stopped, then the
possibilities for real peacemaking will be greatly enhanced."
JONES

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