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Cablegate: Special Israel Media Reaction

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P 150902Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9541
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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3646
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2880
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0925
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3610
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0475
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RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7522
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 4969
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9880
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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 5973
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002973

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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: SPECIAL ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION


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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, October 14-18, 2007

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

The media reported that on Sunday Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice met with PM Ehud Olmert, and that she is scheduled to meet with
PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today. The
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz quoted sources in the Prime
Minister's Bureau as saying that Secretary Rice has no intention of
imposing on Israel "anything that will not be acceptable to it."
Ha'aretz quoted Olmert as saying during his meeting with Rice: "I
would very much like for there to be a joint declaration at the
summit, but the Palestinians also know that this has never been a
precondition." Leading media reported that he also reiterated that
the diplomatic process must follow the Roadmap. Ha'aretz reported
that Palestinian sources expect Rice to raise in her meeting with
Chairman Abbas, coalition problems faced by Olmert's government and
that the mention of a timetable or core issues -- refugees,
Jerusalem, borders -- will result in the government's fall. The
same sources were quoted as saying that the Palestinians will ask
Rice to press Israel to agree on a detailed statement on core issues
for the Annapolis meeting. The Palestinians are also expected to
raise two other issues: IsraelQs decision to expropriate land for
E-1 development, and the decision to resume excavations near the
Temple Mount (it has been temporarily blocked by a parliamentary
maneuver).

Ha'aretz reported that on Sunday Rice met with Defense Minister Ehud
Barak, Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai, and Finance Minister
Roni Bar-On -- all of whom warned against focusing on the core
issues. "The Israeli public feels that the concessions are only
getting bigger from one summit to another," Yishai told Rice. "From
our point of view, any discussion on Jerusalem is out of the
question and any agreements on the core issues will mean the fall of
the government," he warned. However, leading media reported that
Secretary Rice was adamant in her position. "We have rejected this

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approach for decades," she was quoted as saying. "Decisions must be
made without running away from the issues. Only dealing with the
core issues will bolster the diplomatic process." The Secretary of
State also declared: "The time has come for a Palestinian state. I
agree that the partners are weak, but we must bolster them." Barak
informed Rice that a permanent roadblock on the road connecting
Bethlehem and Hebron will be dismantled. The Defense Minister also
told Rice that the PA has still not completed the deployment of 500
Palestinian police officers in Nablus, even though they received
permission to do so during her previous visit to the region. Barak
reiterated that the ability of Israel to operate freely in security
matters in the West Bank is a basic principle that must be
protected.

Speaking to the cabinet on Sunday, Olmert said that his decision to
appoint FM Tzipi Livni as the head of the negotiating team with the
Palestinians came after "I was convinced that it is necessary to
include a senior politician in the negotiations." Olmert was quoted
as saying that his chief of staff, Yoram Turbowicz, who had served
as the head of the negotiating team, had suggested Livni,
"emphasizing the fact that if the Palestinian head of negotiators is
Abu Ala [former prime minister Ahmed Qurei], then it is appropriate
that the Israeli side will also be represented by a senior
government figure." Olmert told the cabinet that "we are very much
interested in the basis of the declaration being approved by the
relevant persons in Israel and among the Palestinians, with
subsequent talks about the possibility of establishing a Palestinian
state next to Israel." The PM spoke out against a timetable for the
negotiations, adding that "I and others believe that such a
timetable causes more obstacles." Ha'aretz reported that for her
part, Livni is concerned that a crisis in the talks may develop in
the coming weeks as expectations on the part of both the
Palestinians and the international community are too high. The
popular, pluralist Maariv quoted Israeli political sources as saying
that Livni's appointment is a "honey trap."

Ha'aretz reported that senior Japanese diplomats told Ha'aretz last
week that Japan has recently requested Washington and Jerusalem to
allow it to participate in the Annapolis meeting. Ha'aretz quoted
sources at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem as saying they were
inclined to support Japan's request.

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post and other media
reported that last week settlers broke talks with Defense Minister
Barak's office over the possible voluntary evacuation of some
unauthorized outposts. The settlers are angered by their belief
that Barak has halted all new construction plans in the West Bank.

All media covered -- banners in all media outlets, except the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot -- an order given on
Sunday to the police by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to open a
third investigation against PM Ehud Olmert. The latest probe, which
covers four different affairs, relates to Olmert's tenure as
industry and trade minister in 2003-2005 under then PM Ariel Sharon.
On Sunday various politicians demanded that Olmert suspend himself
due to the plethora of criminal investigations against him. The
media reported that Olmert called the investigations "unnecessary."

Ha'aretz reported that sources in the defense establishment told the
newspaper that Israel has recently agreed to grant West Bank
resident status to some 5,000 people who seek family reunification.
The sources explained that the recipients had asked to be recognized
as West Bank residents in the past. The sources were quoted as
saying that the decision to approve their request was part of a
goodwill, however, the approval is a one-off incident and does not
represent a renewal of the family-reunification mechanism Israel
halted in 2001, following the outbreak of the second Intifada.

All media reported that on Sunday the GOI denied Ash-Sharq
Al-Awsat's report that the two IDF soldiers abducted by Hizbullah in
July 2006 were transferred to Iran. Leading media quoted Ali
Nourizadeh, the Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat journalist who published the
report, as saying that "Israelis will be surprised when the prisoner
swap is formed." Yediot Aharonot's lead story is about a trip by
MIA Ron Arad's daughter to Berlin to try to prevent the release of
the Iranian terrorist Kazem Darabi.

Maariv quoted IDF reserve officers involved in the preparation of a
possible war with Syria as saying that the IAF has no real answer to
the Syrian Army's medium- and long-rage missile batteries, and that
the Israeli home front is not prepared for a massive rocket attack.
The newspaper cited an official IDF response that this is the
unfounded view of one or two reserve officers.

The Jerusalem Post reported that PA officials told the newspaper on
Sunday that the Egyptian authorities have released Nahro Massoud, a
top Hamas operative wanted by the PA and Israel for his involvement
in terror attacks over the past few years.

Maariv ran a feature about Jewish-American NASA astronaut Geoffrey
Hoffman, who will soon visit Israel.

-----------------------------------
Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, October 14-18, 2007:

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-----------------------------------
Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Rice's mission in the region
this week is almost impossible. She must bridge the Palestinians'
rigid demands and has to defuse their call to draft a detailed
agreement before the Annapolis conference. Back in Jerusalem, she
has to be mindful of Olmert's threats to disband the coalition if he
is pressured into making concessions."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "[The President of the US] has a clear
interest in seeing the process succeed, and he is holding carrots
for the more flexible of the sides and a stick for the
recalcitrant."

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "This
time [Secretary Rice] is coming to reap achievements, despite the
fact that she outwardly reiterates that she does not expect a
breakthrough."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Any
candidate for leader of the free world has the duty to explain how
they would do so, not least to those members of their own party who
have become blind to the most urgent global threats to everything
they claim to believe in."

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

I. "A Shadow Negotiator"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (10/15): "The offer Olmert is
making to Livni is simple enough. Instead of warning against
pitfalls, she will now have to lead the troops and avoid them. That
way, Livni will be forced to remain committed to a future agreement
and share the blame in case the talks fail to produce that
agreement. The Premier gains from Livni's appointment in two
additional respects. It will help him both with the Palestinians
and with the Americans. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who
has so far had to deal with a reluctant Olmert and an eager Livni,
will now have to confront her good friend, and say: 'Tzipi, your
positions are non-starters and they will lead nowhere.' Rice's
mission in the region this week is almost impossible. She must
bridge the Palestinians' rigid demands and has to defuse their call
to draft a detailed agreement before the Annapolis conference. Back
in Jerusalem, she has to be mindful of Olmert's threats to disband
the coalition if he is pressured into making concessions.... The
only problem is that Olmert will never allow Livni to succeed and be
portrayed as the great peacemaker. This means he and Abbas will
have to engage in separate, secret talks. It is within this sort of
framework that the big decision will be made."

II. Only Bush Can"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz (10/15):
"Since the outbreak of the second Intifada seven years ago Israelis
and Palestinians have not been this close to a peace agreement. The
failure of violence and the disappointment with unilateralism have
brought the two sides back to the negotiating table. Yet ...
Israelis and Palestinians are in need of an active mediator. The
President of the United States is not only a counselor-mediator. He
has a clear interest in seeing the process succeed, and he is
holding carrots for the more flexible of the sides and a stick for
the recalcitrant.... Israeli and Arab leaders find it much easier to
agree to the proposals of the American mediator than to 'surrender'
to each other's demands.... In essence, Bush already formulated his
mediating document three years ago.... All that Bush must do now is
to add a short paragraph to the letter [he sent former Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon in April 2004]: 'Israel will give the
Palestinians a suitable territorial equivalent in return for the
settlement blocs; the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem will be part
of Palestine; the two sides will reach a detailed agreement on the
exchange of territories; a special regime will be established in
Jerusalem's Old City; a detailed agreement on all these issues,
including the question of the refugees, will be reached with the
help of the United States by the end of 2008.' He should wrap this
up nicely with an international aid package that includes economic
and security assurances and add a few words about the kind of
treatment that awaits the side that refuses to sign the
letter-document. If Bush is not willing to put such a document on
the table, then it is truly best that he not send out invitations to
Annapolis."

III. "Rice's Pressure"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized
(10/15): "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived in this
region to complete the preparations for the conference that will
take place next month in Annapolis. This time she is coming to reap
achievements, despite the fact that she outwardly reiterates that
she does not expect a breakthrough ... Prime Minister Olmert who is
willing to withdraw from Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] and
Jerusalem is not folding at the moment to Washington's pressure....
[Shas party leader and cabinet minister Eli] Yishai believes that
[by focusing on general issues] the diplomatic matters can be
bypassed in the agenda. But the Palestinians are still adhering to
diplomatic issues. The question is where the US Secretary of State
will position herself -- on the Palestinian or the Israeli side?
This is no simple matter."

IV. "Who's Naive Now?"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (10/15):
"As Democrats, it is hardly surprising that Clinton and Obama are
opposed to giving President George Bush a blank check on anything,
including a confrontation with Iran. But they seem to have nothing
to say to those many of their supporters who are much more concerned
about Bush than about Ahmadinejad. Whenever the two leading
Democratic candidate start down the road of sanctioning Tehran -- to
say nothing of military action or helping the Iranian people rid
themselves of a hated regime - they are yanked back into a
hyper-pacifist position by the ostrich wing of their party. Perhaps
all this can be dismissed as a function of the politics of
primaries, in which each party's more extreme wing tends to flex its
muscles. Yet, what is more difficult to shrug off is how Clinton
explained her latest position of supporting talks with Tehran....
However much Americans distrust Bush, they -- along with Europeans,
Israelis, and free peoples everywhere -- understand that the Iranian
regime is a menace that must be stopped. Any candidate for leader
of the free world has the duty to explain how they would do so, not
least to those members of their own party who have become blind to
the most urgent global threats to everything they claim to believe
in."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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