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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #3120/01 3021050
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P 291050Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3895
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9600
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3046
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RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0997
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3670
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003120

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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

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 reported that on Sunday Israel decreased fuel supplies
to the Gaza Strip in line with the sanctions approved last week by
Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The Jerusalem Post and other media
reported that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz plans to meet today
with Barak to review the legal basis for the decision. Israel Radio
reported that on Sunday the High Court of Justice rejected a
petition by human rights organizations to prevent cuts in the supply
of electricity and fuel to Gaza. However, the court will ask the
state to provide an explanation for the cuts within five days.
Leading media reported that Israel continues to allow money into the
Gaza Strip from the West Bank. Ha'aretz quoted Israeli security
forces as saying that the money was intended for salaries PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas has committed to paying.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post quoted senior officials in the Prime
Minister's Office as saying that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
is expected to issue invitations for Annapolis next week. On Sunday
Maariv reported that Israeli officials told the newspaper that
Olmert and FM Tzipi Livni had persuaded Abbas to drop demands that
core issues be discussed at the Annapolis conference. Maariv
quoted an unnamed "senior diplomatic official" as saying: QThe
Palestinians understand that Annapolis was originally conceived of
as a meeting to promote the process and they have climbed off of the
high limb of turning Annapolis into a summit for the final status
arrangement and peace.Q The Israeli source added that the parties
agreed that all progress toward Palestinian statehood would have to
be contingent upon the completion of the first stage of the road
map.

On Sunday Maariv reported that security establishment officials are
warning that "the money for building the separation fence has run
out and construction will cease within several days.Q The statement
was made in the wake of the Finance Ministry's announcement that it
is not certain that the half-billion shekels (around USD 125.25
million) that were taken from the projectQs budget in order to
purchase weaponry will be restored.

Israel Radio reported that an IDF solider was moderately wounded in
the Nablus refugee camp of Ein Beit Ilma.

The Jerusalem Post quoted UN officials as saying on Sunday that
Egypt has returned 48 refugees to Sudan. Israel deported them to
Egypt two months ago.

The Jerusalem Post reported that for the first time, Yad Vashem will
inaugurate on Sunday an exhibition on Muslims who saved Jews during
the Holocaust.

Leading media reported that the cabinet might move its weekly
sessions from Sundays to Tuesdays.

Major media reported that in the closest that Israel has come to
confirming the air raid last month on Syria, PM Ehud Olmert told the
cabinet Sunday that Turkish airspace might have been violated during
the operation. Olmert offered an ambiguous apology to Turkey, which
has complained of an airspace violation. "If Israeli planes indeed
penetrated Turkish airspace, then it was without prior intent or any
intent to infringe upon or undermine Turkish sovereignty, which we
respect," a statement from Olmert's office cited him as telling the
cabinet. The statement said that in a conversation with Turkish PM
Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, Olmert "expressed Israel's apologies
to the Turkish government and the Turkish people for any harm that
might have been caused." On Sunday Mohamed ElBaradei, director
general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), criticized
on CNN the US and Israel for failing to provide the UN watchdog with
intelligence about Syria's purported nuclear program. On Sunday
Yediot reported that a knowledgeable American source told the
newspaper that the American intelligence community ordered the
satellite photographs of the Syrian nuclear reactor that was
attacked, photographs that were taken by the Digital Globe company
approximately a month before the strike. Yediot said that the order
was intended to allow the media to publish "incriminating"
photographs of the Syrian compound after the attack.

Over the weekend all media quoted Raleb Majadele, Minister of
Sports, Culture and Science, as saying on Friday in an interview
with Israel Radio that Israel is willing to give up the Golan
Heights in exchange for comprehensive peace. GOI spokespersons
denied his comments.

Israel Radio cited criticism by GOI officials of ElBaradei's
statement that there is no evidence that Iran is developing nuclear
weapons. The radio quoted an Israeli official as saying that the
IAEA has no inspectors in Iran. Ha'aretz reported that Strategic
Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman has set up 12 working groups in
cooperation with the defense establishment to deal with different
aspects of the crisis over Iran's nuclear program. Their
conclusions and recommendations are expected to be included in a
document Lieberman will present to the cabinet later this year.
Ha'aretz reported that Lieberman's meetings with officials in the
defense establishment in recent months surrounding the Iranian
nuclear issue have resulted in a certain degree of dissatisfaction
in Defense Ministry circles. The media reported that on Saturday FM
Tzipi Livni left for China, where she will lobby for sanctions
against Iran.

Ha'aretz reported that on Sunday the head of the Palestinian
negotiating team for the Annapolis meeting, Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala),
warned of the "dangerous implications" of a failure during the
gathering. Speaking to the governing body of the Meretz party in
Tel Aviv, he also said the success of negotiations depended on
setting out a timetable for a diplomatic process. He added that the
PA was not weak, and that its forces could be deployed in Nablus
within weeks. Ha'aretz quoted Reuters as saying that on Sunday the
PA sent envoys to Damascus to urge Syria not to hold a gathering of
Hamas members and others opposed to the expected Annapolis meeting.

On Sunday Ha'aretz quoted author Amos Oz as saying in his acceptance
speech for the 2007 Prince of Asturias award for Letters in Oviedo,
Spain, that he does not trust Israel's current political leadership
and that it does not have to reach an agreement with the
Palestinians.

On Sunday Maariv reported that Defense Ministry and Air Force
representatives participated in the testing of the Lockheed
Martin-manufactured THAAD anti-ballistic missile, which was carried
out last Friday in Hawaii. Security officials have assessed that
there has been progress in the negotiations for the purchase of the
system by Israel, even though this could call into question the
further development of the Arrow 3 system.

Leading media reported that former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
and CNN founder Ted Turner arrived in Israel on Sunday for a visit
of the country and Jordan.

Palestinian academic Sari Nusseibeh was quoted as saying on Sunday
in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinians would
be prepared to forgo the right of return for millions of refugees in

return for a full Israel withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders,
including East Jerusalem and the Old City.

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that on Sunday Yisrael
Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman presented PM Ehud Olmert with new
demands: A final-status agreement with the Palestinians should be
based on a territorial exchange and mutual recognition of the need
for two separate states. The document demands that Olmert insist on
a "complete end" to all Palestinian activities. Lieberman suggested
that NATO forces could be deployed in the territories.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that the PA intends to fire
30,000 members of the West Bank security forces.

Major media reported that on Sunday Larissa Trimbovler, wife of
Yigal Amir, the jailed assassin of Yitzhak Rabin, gave birth to a
boy in Jerusalem. The brit milah (Jewish circumcision ceremony) will
take place next week, apparently on November 4, the civil-calendar
anniversary of Rabin's murder.

Maariv quoted the German weekly Focus as saying on Sunday that the
three arrested Muslims who had planned to attack US institutions in
Germany on September 11, also intended to blow up the Israeli
Embassy in Berlin.

Yediot reported that on Sunday the Knesset's Constitution, Law, and
Justice Committee endorsed a law proposal aimed at barring persons
who have made unauthorized trips to enemy countries from presenting
their candidacy to the Knesset. Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann
supports the bill, while Attorney General Menachem Mazuz is opposed
to it.

Ha'aretz reported that a ministerial committee on Greek Patriarchate
affairs is recommending that the GOI recognize Theofilos III as head
of the Greek Orthodox Church in the country. The decision, spurred
by American pressure and the personal involvement of Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice, is supposed to put an end to a convoluted
affair in the course of which various parties in Israel tried to
condition the patriarch's appointment on his selling real estate
properties to Jews.

Ha'aretz reported that Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko is
expected to ask Israel to recognize the genocide of the Ukrainian
people by the Soviet regime when he visits in a couple weeks.
Israel is not expected to accede to the request, which has won the
support of Jewish community leaders in Ukraine, so as not to damage
its relationship with Vladimir Putin's government.

Ha'aretz reported that FM Tzipi Livni will sign a tourism agreement
with China today.

All media reported that the Israel Police's national fraud squad
unit has for over two years been conducting a criminal investigation
of Gilad Sharon, son of former PM Ariel Sharon, on suspicion that he
served as a conduit for transferring to his father USD 1.8 million
from businessman Arie Genger. On Sunday Ha'aretz said that the
charge was included in a lawsuit brought last week in a New York
court by Genger's ex-wife Dalia Genger.

Major media reported that on Sunday the Histadrut Labor Federation
threatened to start a general strike if the secondary school
teachers' strike was not resolved.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "[Ehud Barak's] latest
decision, to cut off the power to Gaza, is an excellent example of
the difference between being wise and being a wiseacre.... It is an
idiotic decision."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Those
who berate Israel for alleged collective punishment are apparently
not incensed by the rocketing and routine terrorization of ordinary
Israelis."

Very liberal columnist Gideon Levy wrote in Ha'aretz: "Do not
belittle the Annapolis summit.... For the first time, it will become
crystal-clear who aspires toward peace and, more important, who
flees from it as if from fire. Israel is going to Annapolis as if
by force."

Former ambassador to the US Itamar Rabinovich wrote in Ha'aretz:
"The day after the elections will see an increase in the efforts to
convince the new president, whoever he or she may be, that there is
no better way to shake off Bush's legacy than by bringing about a
far-reaching change in the Middle East policy of the United
States."

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

I. "Let There be Darkness"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (10/29): "Something is
happening to Ehud Barak in his second term. He is so wise in his
own eyes, so mature and worthy and better than anyone else, that
being wise is no longer enough for him. Now he is a wiseacre. His
latest decision, to cut off the power to Gaza, is an excellent
example of the difference between being wise and being a
wiseacre.... It is an idiotic decision.... Firstly, it punishes not
the Qassam rocket cells but the Gazan population, and pushes into
the arms of Hamas and terrorism. Secondly, it is opposed to all
norms of morals and international law. Instead of severing Israel
from the occupation, at least as far as Gaza is concerned, it
exacerbates IsraelQs image as a cruel occupier. Thirdly, it does
not conform to the effort to reestablish a dialogue with the
Palestinian Authority and with the moderate Arab regimes. The
foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan or Saudi Arabia will not be able
to sit quietly in Annapolis while Barak is plunging Gaza into
darkness, not to mention Abu Mazen.... But why complain about Barak?
We have a prime minister who is willing to accept this folly
silently, just to keep from rocking the boat. We have a foreign
minister who is supposed to warn of the diplomatic damage, but she
too is silent. We have a president who is supposed to represent the
moral aspect of our life, but he too is silent. There are members
in the Labor PartyQs Knesset faction who will not keep still on any
issue, but have nothing to say on this topic."

II. "No Security, No Power"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (10/28):
"On Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave the go-ahead to
gradually reduce the provision of Israeli power and other supplies
to Gaza.... Yes the government bent over backwards to stress that
none of the above should be regarded as retaliatory, lest Israel be
accused of collective punishment.... Scandalously ... those who
berate Israel for alleged collective punishment are apparently not
incensed by the rocketing and routine terrorization of ordinary
Israelis.... Hence little purpose is served by hiding behind
'continuing disengagement' terminology. Equivocations and
euphemisms imply admission of guilt. Israel should not undercut its
own case with superfluous apologetics. It is much more effective to
tell it like it is and clearly affirm that this country's rights to
self-defense are not less legitimate or inferior to others'."

III. "The Importance of a Failed Summit"

Very liberal columnist Gideon Levy wrote in Ha'aretz (10/29): "Do
not belittle the Annapolis summit.... For the first time, it will
become crystal-clear who aspires toward peace and, more important,
who flees from it as if from fire. Israel is going to Annapolis as
if by force. The Prime Minister's hands are tied. If he were to
dare to raise the core issues, which are the only thing to be
discussed there, then his political fate would be sealed.... Israel
never had as few excuses for evading progress toward peace, the
ambient climate was never more conducive to progress. The terror
card cannot be played again, because the terror has abated.... There
is more. The security issue is much greater today on the
Palestinian side. Israel can no longer continue to mouth slogans
about security, after seven years in which it killed 4,267
Palestinians, 861 of them children and teens, in comparison to 467
Israelis who were killed, according to data from [the Israeli human
rights organization] B'Tselem. Another excuse that no longer washes
is the 'no partner' one. Israel has never had an easier peace
partner than Mahmoud Abbas.... The real role of the US will also be
exposed at the summit: No other agent is as capable of making as
great a contribution to advancing peace in the region as is
Washington, but in the absence of any pressure on Israel ...
Annapolis is shaping up as no more than a perfunctory gesture from
America. We tried, the Americans will say.... All the cards will be
shown at Annapolis, and that is no small thing. The world will see
and judge, Israelis will see and decide: Do we genuinely want
peace?"

IV. "What Will Happen After Busha[["

Former ambassador to the US Itamar Rabinovich wrote in Ha'aretz
(10/29): "In its latest issue, dated November 8, The New York Review
of Books published in a prominent -- if not screaming -- manner a
letter signed by eight famous individuals ... warning ... of the
grave dangers inherent in a possible failure of the Annapolis
conference.... The authors see the Annapolis conference as a
'genuine opportunity for progress toward a two-state solution'....
The chances that the 'letter of the eight' will influence the Bush
administration's policy are small.... The importance of this letter
must be sought in two other contexts. The first is the effort to
shape the American agenda on the 'day after' the presidential
elections.... The day after the elections will see an increase in
the efforts to convince the new president, whoever he or she may be,
that there is no better way to shake off Bush's legacy than by
bringing about a far-reaching change in the Middle East policy of
the United States. Another context is the continuing erosion of
Israel's standing in the United States. This does not manifest
itself in public opinion polls and in votes in Congress, but rather
in the loss of the 'moral horizon.'"

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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