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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9646
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3119
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3751
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 2995
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1071
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3718
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0584
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1050
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7627
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5079
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 9999
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4141
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6079
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8367
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003227

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. Iraq

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

Major media quoted PM Ehud Olmert as saying on Tuesday that the
Annapolis meeting will take place during the last week of November.
(Ha'aretz quoted chief PA negotiator Qurei as saying that the
meeting will convene on November 26. Ha'aretz reported that US
Consul-General in Jerusalem Jacob Walles told Palestinian reporters
that the US would send invitations to the meetings within a week to
ten days.) Ha'aretz reported that Olmert added it would be the
"right thing" for Syria to take part in the meeting. "I hope that
if the process with the Palestinians succeeds, it will encourage a
similar process with Syria," he was quoted as saying.

Leading media quoted Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying
on Tuesday before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee that while Israel is prepared to go "very far" at
Annapolis, it expects the Palestinian leadership to dismantle the
terrorist infrastructure in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Ha'aretz quoted Barak as saying before the committee that Israel
will not grant the Palestinians a direct territorial passage between
the two parts of the PA. Israel Radio quoted Barak as saying on
Tuesday at a meeting of veterans of the armed forces that as far as
Israel is concerned, diplomatic agreements can only be reached from
a position of strength, as Israel's left hand looks for peace and
its right hand is massaging a gun's trigger. Ha'aretz reported
that criticism is growing among senior Labor Party officials about
the failure of Barak, their party chairman, to take political
advantage of the upcoming summit in Annapolis. Former Labor Party
leader and defense minister Amir Peretz was quoted as saying in an
interview with Israel Radio that Barak has become a right-wing
politician.

Ha'aretz cited the belief of IDF Intelligence (MI) that if talks at
Annapolis fail, PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas might step
down. (Both Ha'aretz and Maariv said that MI views a failure at
Annapolis as a distinct possibility.) The newspaper quoted IDF
Intelligence officers as saying that the PA's main function has been
reduced to paying salaries to PA workers and security forces.
However, Ha'aretz said that the IDF also notes that security
cooperation between the Shin Bet and the PA's preventive security
forces and its general intelligence force has been renewed recently
and that ties are much closer. The PA security forces have been
transmitting important information to Israel and have frequently
thwarted terror attacks. Ha'aretz quoted former senior IDF officers
who took part in the 2000 Camp David talks as saying that they are
also concerned that over the lack of experience of Israeli
representatives to the Annapolis talks, especially in the face of
the years of experience the PA's negotiators have had in talks with
Israel. Citing the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Israel Radio
reported that differences have arisen in the Palestinian team, as
chief PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) is demonstrating rigid
positions, while Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad tends to be more
flexible. The Jerusalem Post quoted right-wing Knesset members as
saying on Tuesday that they would be mounting a renewed public
campaign against Annapolis.

The Jerusalem Post reported that several congressmen recently held a
closed-door meeting with a delegation of diplomatic officials from
countries expected to participate in the Annapolis conference,
including Jordan, Egypt, and Israel. The Jerusalem Post reported
that Congress has been urging greater Arab support for Palestinian
engagement in the peace process in order to give the effort broader
legitimacy.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli sources as saying on Tuesday that
while Palestinian prisoners might be released ahead of the upcoming
Annapolis meeting, it is unlikely that illegal outposts will be
removed. The Jerusalem Post quoted an Israeli official as saying
that other moves, such as reducing the number of roadblocks and
checkpoints, "can be done." Israel Radio quoted Peace Now as saying
that "do-it-yourself" construction in 88 West Bank settlements and
34 outposts is continuing.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Transportation Minister, former
defense minister, and former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz told the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in
New York on Tuesday that next year will be a critical one in efforts
to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities. Leading media
reported that on Tuesday IDF intelligence head Brig. Gen. Yossi
Baidatz told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
that if Iran's nuclear program goes unchecked Iran could have
nuclear weapons by the end of 2009. Leading media quoted Defense
Minister Ehud Barak as saying on Tuesday before the Knesset's
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the resolution of the
Iranian issue would be through actions and not words.

Citing a warning by US sources that there could be a coup in
Pakistan, Yediot reported that the West is concerned that al-Qaida
will take over Pakistan's nuclear facilities. Yediot cited the
belief of former senior US official Bruce Riedel, who recently
attended the Saban Forum in Israel, as saying that in that case
Israel would be al-Qaida first target.

Maariv reported that the Shin Bet is worried about increasing
threats to the life of PM Ehud Olmert.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Tuesday a visiting group of
Muslim, Jewish, and Christian clerics from Israel and the
Palestinian territories met with American Jewish leaders and urged
them to back the Annapolis process. It was seen as the first time a
prominent group of Holy Land clerics had publicly joined together to
promote peace, codified by a document expected to be released today.
The group, which will be meeting with high-level State Department
and White House officials, comprises around 20 people and includes
Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger and Sheikh Hamed Tamimi, who
heads the shari'a court system in the West Bank. Hamimi described
the Annapolis meeting as a "truly unique" opportunity for peace,
according to audience members, and, like many of the clerics, urged
the American Jewish community to support the process.

The Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, and Israel Radio reported that on
Tuesday, speaking before a UNGA forum, Ambassador to the UN Danny
Gillerman slammed the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for failing to
deal with human rights violations around the world, and for
disproportionately singling out Israel. He dubbed the HRC a
"horrendous monster."

Ha'aretz reported that on Tuesday diplomatic sources in Jerusalem
defined the Lisbon meeting between FM Tzipi Livni and her Egyptian
counterpart, which revolved around the issue of weapons smuggling
from the Sinai into Gaza, as "harsh."

Israel Radio quoted Syria's Deputy PM Abdullah Dardari as saying
that one of the reasons for Syria's lack of response to the Israeli
incursion was his country's desire to avoid war.

Ha'aretz reported that several government ministries have recently
decided that Egypt and Jordan should no longer be defined as
"dangerous countries" in the infiltration prevention law. Ha'aretz
reported that sources in the ministries have told the newspaper that
the law is due to be amended in the coming weeks. The infiltration
prevention law states that people entering Israel without
authorization from dangerous countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq,
and Iran risk a jail term of seven years instead of the five-year
maximum for infiltrators from non-dangerous countries. Ha'aretz
also reported that in the framework of the amendment the Justice
Ministry is promoting the establishment of a special court to
determine the state's responsibility toward infiltrators from Egypt,
the majority of whom are refugees escaping the genocide in Darfur in
western Sudan.

Yediot reported that ahead of the Annapolis meeting an increasing
number of Jerusalem Palestinians have been requesting Israeli
citizenship to ensure the future of their social and other rights.
Such a gesture was until recently considered an act of treason in
the eyes of the Palestinians.

Ha'aretz noted that President Shimon Peres is expected to address
the Turkish Parliament next week, which would be the first speech by
an Israeli president in a Muslim parliament. The Jerusalem Post
reported that Mahmoud Abbas will also address the Parliament in
Ankara next week.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that a new subcommittee of the
Knesset's Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, which will
deal with internal security, will be open to Arab legislators.
Conversely, The Jerusalem Post reported that there are no Arabs on
the panel.

Senior sources in Yisrael Beiteinu, Strategic Affairs Minister
Avigdor Lieberman's party, were quoted as saying to Maariv that the
far Right is trying to win the votes of Russian-Israelis. Their
comments came in the wake of the alleged wiretapping affair of
Lieberman.

Major media cited IDF statistics released on Tuesday that 28 percent
of Israelis born in 1989 did not enlist in the IDF, amplifying the
trend of recent years

Ha'aretz presented the results of Tel Aviv University's Peace Index
poll conducted among Jewish Israelis on October 29-30:
-A large minority -- 40 percent -- thinks the Annapolis meeting
could yield a basic clarification of the dispute between Israel and
the Palestinians, while a majority of 50 percent does not think so.
The rest do not know.
-Asked whether the meeting can significantly advance the chances of
reaching a permanent peace agreement, only 40 percent said yes,
while 51 percent said no. The pollsters noted that these findings
are very similar to those from September, and that time has not
increased expectations for Annapolis.

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

Summary:
--------

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "There is an
unsurprising similarity between statements by [outspoken Likud
Knesset Member Gideon] Sa'ar and Hamas political leader Khaled
Mashal. Each sees concessions to the other side as a trap. Each
prefers the status quo to a historic compromise."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv: "The tension between the Prime Minister
and the Defense Minister, who were by now supposed to have gone
marching, hand in hand, into the sunset, is getting worse than ever,
day by day."

Senior columnist Moshe Ishon wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe: "[Abbas] is delivering [Hamas's] goods to
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and through her to the

SIPDIS
government of Israel and all those involved in foreign policy."

Jeff Halper, the coordinator of the Israeli Committee against House
Demolitions, wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post:
"If it is true that Olmert intends that Israel permanently retain
the settlement blocs, an Israeli 'greater' Jerusalem, and effective
control of the entire country to the Jordan River, then we will
merely be substituting a sophisticated form of apartheid for
occupation."

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

I. "If Not Annapolis, Then What?"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (11/7): "Gideon
Sa'ar, Likud's most fluent spokesman, believes that after Hamas took

over Gaza, Israel should have understood the trap it had fallen into
and 'run for its life' instead of getting into another round of
talks in Annapolis. The question is, of course, where does Likud
want Israel to run to. Likud has no solution to the conflict with
the Palestinians and has made do for 40 years with taking the wind
out of the sails of every agreement. From this point of view there
is an unsurprising similarity between statements by Sa'ar and Hamas
political leader Khaled Mashal. Each sees concessions to the other
side as a trap. Each prefers the status quo to a historic
compromise.... At Annapolis, Israel has a partner. It may be weak,
it may represent only part of the Palestinian people, but finally
there is another side that sees eye to eye with most of the people
in Israel, a side that opposes using terror to achieve political
goals and is willing to give up some of its original aspirations to
reach an agreement. The refusal to negotiate with Palestinian
Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister, Salam
Fayyad, is like spitting in the faces of the moderates. If there is
any chance to strengthen the moderates in the Palestinian street, it
is only by presenting achievements. Those who do not make do with
Fatah will get more Hamas, and according to the US Secretary of
State, they will in the end get Al-Qaida in the West Bank.... The
Annapolis conference is an opportunity to forge an agreement with
people who are willing to sign it, while hoping that the entire
Palestinian people follows suit."

II. "Olmert and Barak on Collision Course"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (11/7): "Incredible as it sounds, Ehud
Olmert is beginning to miss Amir Peretz. That is how bad things
have gotten. The tension between the Prime Minister and the Defense
Minister, who were by now supposed to have gone marching, hand in
hand, into the sunset, is getting worse than ever, day by day. Now
the talk is about Barak's harsh criticism of Olmert for his remarks
at a closed session of the Saban Forum. According to these
accounts, Barak said that Olmert's conduct as the Annapolis
conference draws near is problematic, that Haim Ramon is pulling in
dangerous directions, that the proliferation of channels in the
talks with the Palestinians is causing damage, that raising
expectations of the Annapolis summit could cause a catastrophe, that
the entire business is not sufficiently prepared, that the
Palestinians are simply not prepared to recognize Israel a Jewish
state, and so on and so forth. These are tough statements, when
spoken by a defense minister to a prime minister who is trying to
move forward towards a decisive conference.... This political
romance, which was to have carried the government forward to new
horizons, has turned into a fight with long knives. Sources close
to Olmert express astonishment at the way things are going. They
say that Barak's plan was to join the government, to become 'Mr.
Defense,' to steal half of Kadima from Olmert before the elections,
to launch a blitz, and to defeat Bibi [Netanyahu]. Instead of that,
the exact opposite has happened. Olmert is stealing half of the
Labor Party from Barak."

III. "Creeping towards Annapolis"

Senior columnist Moshe Ishon wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (11/7): "It is very likely that Hamas is taking
direct actions against [Mahmoud Abbas], thus causing him to conduct
an extremist policy in his talks with Israel. This policy is
dictated by the Hamas leaders.... [Abbas] is delivering [Hamas's]
goods to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and through her to the
government of Israel and all those involved in foreign policy.... It
is very doubtful whether an end can be put to the debate [between
Israel and the Palestinians] by the end of next year. The debate is
too complex. One must admit that as of now there is nobody to talk
to. Abu Mazen is not a partner for a dialogue.... Unfortunately,
Israel's behavior has not been characterized by predicting the
future."

IV. "Whose Roadmap?"

Jeff Halper, the coordinator of the Israeli Committee against House
Demolitions, wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post
(11/7): "As did his pronouncements last August in Jericho, where
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert indicated a willingness to withdraw from
an area equivalent to 100 percent of the occupied territories, his
latest declarations to the Saban Forum, in the presence of
Condoleezza Rice and Tony Blair, sounded promising, even
stirring.... When ... Olmert speaks of 'conforming to the Roadmap,'
he speaks of withdrawal from all the occupied territory outside
those settlement blocs, since the Bush letter [to Sharon] de facto
annexes them to Israel..... In the end, the Palestinians may get
80-90 percent of the West Bank, but they do not get a viable
state.... The Palestine state is deprived of a viable economy.
Given that 60 percent of Palestinians are under the age of 18 and
that that mini-state must absorb hundreds of thousands of refugees,
its prospects for being a viable, stable, and truly independent
state are nil, given the unspoken parameters outlined in the Bush
letter. There will be a Palestinian state. Israel has an urgent
demographic need to get the almost four million Palestinians of the
occupied territories off its hands.... The crucial question is: Will
it be a viable state? If it is true that Olmert intends that Israel
permanently retain the settlement blocs, an Israeli 'greater'
Jerusalem, and effective control of the entire country to the Jordan
River, then we will merely be substituting a sophisticated form of
apartheid for occupation. The devil is in the details."

---------
2. Iraq:
---------

Summary:
--------

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin, opined in an editorial of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Over 3,800 US soldiers
have already paid with their lives for this idiocy, which was born
in the feverish mind of a dubious chemistry student who cannot make
out a bacteria from a bug."

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

"The Chemistry Student"

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin, opined in an editorial of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/7): "The recently
published story, according to which an Iraqi chemistry student was
behind the information conveyed by the United States about Iraq's
chemical and possibly nuclear capability, looks as if it was taken
from the adventures of Baron Munchausen. Good Lord, how can this
be?.... Is a colossal country such as the US, whose astronauts have
stepped on the moon ..., the great America, being led astray by a
half-eccentric young Iraqi? Over 3,800 US soldiers have already
paid with their lives for this idiocy, which was born in the
feverish mind of a dubious chemistry student who cannot make out a
bacteria from a bug.... God save us ... and also America!"

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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