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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #3630/01 3621129
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281129Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4768
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9849
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3373
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3957
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3212
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1350
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3950
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0798
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003630

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. Assassination of Benazir Bhutto

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

All media led with the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader
and former PM Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi on Thursday. Ha'aretz
headlined: "Grave Crisis in Muslim State that Has Nuclear Weapons."
Several media reported that Israeli leaders, including President
Shimon Peres, paid tribute to Bhutto, even though Israel and
Pakistan do not have diplomatic ties. PM Ehud Olmert told The
Jerusalem Post: "I saw her as someone who could have served as a
bridgehead to relations with that part of the Muslim world with who
our ties are naturally limited." He was quoted as saying that the
assassination was a "great tragedy" and that he received the news
"with deep sadness." Olmert was further quoted as saying that two
months ago Bhutto relayed a message that she would "in the future
like to strengthen the ties between Israel and Pakistan. Israel TV
and Israel Radio quoted Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny
Gillerman as saying that at a meeting with Bhutto two months ago,
she told him that she would take steps towards normalizing ties with
Israel if elected prime minister. Gillerman wrote an obituary for
her in Maariv. Maariv reported that shortly before returning from
exile, Bhutto had asked the Mossad to protect her -- a request that
Maariv says was considered but not put into action.

Leading media reported that on Thursday PM Olmert promised PA
President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting in Jerusalem that
Israel will not undermine negotiations toward a final-status
agreement. Ha'aretz and Maariv reported that on Wednesday Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice called the two leaders, urging them to end
the stalemate. Ha'aretz reported that Olmert and Abbas agreed to
put an end to the Har Homa crisis. The Jerusalem Post quoted a
senior Israeli official as saying that Ma'aleh Adumim and Har Homa
were already existing facts therefore adding to them does not
prejudice any possible agreement. Yediot cited Abbas's office as
saying that the meeting did not produce any result.

Major media reported that nine Islamic Jihad and Hamas operatives --
including senior Islamic Jihad militant Muhammad Abdullah Abu
Murshud, whom the Israeli media dub the "Qassam rockets' brain" --
were killed overnight in a series of IDF raids in the Gaza Strip.
Leading media quoted Palestinian sources as saying that IDF troops
killed a security guard of Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei (Abu
Ala). Leading media reported that an IAF helicopter was almost hit
by a Hamas missile.

Maariv reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad offered Ehud
Barak through Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak a channel to "bypass
Olmert." The newspaper quoted a senior GOI source as saying that
Assad's attempt to bypass Olmert is irrelevant and that Barak will
not play this game. Likud MK Yuval Steinitz was quoted as saying in
an interview with Makor Rishon-Hatzofe that Egypt's rapport with
Hamas in Gaza is similar to Syria's with Hizbullah in Lebanon.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Jordan has in recent months
rejected requests from the Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashal
to reestablish formal Jordan-Hamas relations and open Hamas offices
in its territory.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
(PHR) accused the IDF of deliberately delaying action on requests to
allow seriously ill Palestinians from Gaza to enter Israel for
life-saving or urgent hospital treatment.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe and The Jerusalem Post reported that Ha'aretz
editor David Landau told Secretary Rice at a recent private dinner
that Israel "wants to be raped by the U.S." and needed more vigorous
American intervention to resolve Middle East conflicts, according to
the New York Jewish Week. The Jerusalem Post reported that Landau
told the New York weekly that this description was "inaccurate" and
a "perversion of what I said," although he repeated his first
statement,

Leading media reported that on Thursday the Knesset approved the
2008 state budget (around 315 billion shekels -- approximately $81.3
billion) by a 64-to-31 majority. Forty-eight billion shekels will
go to defense -- and 27.5 billion shekels to education. The media
said that the passage of the budget was made possible when PM Olmert
agreed to allocate 50 million shekels in January for protecting
communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.

Major media reported that Shula Zaken, PM Olmert's former chief of
staff, who had been suspected in an alleged bribery affair involving
the Tax Authority, was allowed to return to another position in
Olmert's office.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Haifa's Rambam Medical Center has
diagnosed a girl in Kabul, Afghanistan, with a rare genetic disorder
found in only 90 people in the world.

All media reported that former FM David Levy, 70, is considering a
comeback to politics.

A Yediot investigative report found that opposition leader MK
Binyamin Netanyahu tried to promote the construction of a luxurious
hotel and apartment complex in Jerusalem in which his relatives and
associates are involved. Maariv reported that the police suspect
Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman of having received
money from a company he sold when he had become a minister.

Maariv reported that on Thursday the Israeli translation software
firm Babylon signed a cooperation agreement with Google.

Yediot presented the results of a Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute) poll
conducted ahead of the New Year:

Who will be prime minister at the end of 2008?
Binyamin Netanyahu: 41%; Ehud Olmert: 22%; Ehud Barak: 16%; Tzipi
Livni: 8%.
Will an agreement be reached with the Palestinians?
Unlikely: 89%; likely: 10%.
Will Israel attack Iran?
Unlikely: 69%; likely: 28%.
. Will negotiations with Syria start?
Unlikely: 70%; likely: 29%.
Are you optimistic about Israel's condition?
Pessimistic: 54%; optimistic: 46%.
Are you optimistic about your personal condition?
Optimistic: 85%; pessimistic: 14%.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe cited a poll conducted in Saudi Arabia by the
international organization Terror Free Tomorrow, which found that 89
% of Saudis hate the Jewish people.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The
Annapolis summit and the efforts to revive the peace process have
exacerbated the tension that already existed between Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice."

Columnist and former Meretz Party Chairman Yossi Sarid wrote in
Ha'aretz: "Who still believes that by the end of George Bush's
unfortunate term, a peace agreement will be attained and signed?....
Not much remains of the to-do at Annapolis."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Despite all the differences between
Israel and Egypt, an existential threat coming from Iran and its
allies is hovering over the heads of both nations."

Editorial Page Editor Saul Singer wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "The current U.S. approach is absurd,
given that it is almost the exact opposite of the approach that
America should take to achieve its own objectives."

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

I. "What's the Hurry?"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn and Washington correspondent
Shmuel Rosner wrote in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(12/28): "The Annapolis summit and the efforts to revive the peace
process have exacerbated the tension that already existed between
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice. Olmert's personal charm doesn't work on Rice, and the Prime
Minister's Office is anxious about her tendency to push ahead too
quickly with political contacts.... Rice's exasperation with Israel
stems primarily from the gap between expectations and results, and
from the fast-dwindling time she has left on the seventh floor of
the U.S. State Department. Rice thinks that Israel received a lot
and didn't give anything in return.... As long as we're only talking
with the Palestinians, everyone can sit comfortably in their cabinet
seats. But a forceful evacuation of settlers, or far-reaching
understandings with Abbas, could upset the partnership with


Lieberman and Shas. Olmert is well aware of this, and prefers to
maintain the coalition and the government over making any serious
moves in the territories. For Rice to understand this too, however,
she'll have to be convinced each time anew."

II. "The Little that Remains"

Columnist and former Meretz Party Chairman Yossi Sarid wrote in
Ha'aretz (12/28): "Who still believes that by the end of George
Bush's unfortunate term, a peace agreement will be attained and
signed? Like dogs returning to their vomit, they will cover
themselves with the Roadmap, which contains no road, barely a
direction. It was only last month, and already Annapolis seems so
distant, and an agreement more distant than ever.... The returnees
from Annapolis were welcomed by the construction in Har Homa. And
the river of excuses did not dry up, from 'municipal boundary' to
'state lands' to 'natural increase.' The whole world knows that no
one has the power to enforce the law on the settlers, and therefore
the state is enforcing it only on smokers.... Not much remains of
the to-do at Annapolis."

III. "The True Egyptian Interest"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/28): "Despite all the differences
between Israel and Egypt, an existential threat coming from Iran and
its allies is hovering over the heads of both nations. The
discussions conducted this week by Defense Minister Ehud Barak with
the Egyptian President and heads of the Egyptian security
establishment boil down to one question: How is the expansion of
Iranian influence in the region to be halted? Mubarak wants a
settlement in the Golan Heights in order to extract the Syrians from
Iran's embrace. On the Palestinian front, the Egyptians have come
to understand that reconciliation between the Palestinian factions
may halt Iranian influence and that the road to such reconciliation
must include a cease-fire with Israel. Therefore, the Egyptians
commenced on a dialogue with Hamas for a Palestinian reconciliation
and cease-fire with Israel immediately following the Annapolis
summit. In order to recruit Israel for this effort, the Egyptians
know that they must put more effort into halting ammunition
smuggling through the Philadelphi Road. So, after having bad
mouthed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, they are now sending a
military delegation ... to search for solutions which will be to
IsraelQs satisfaction. The Egyptians also understand that there
will be no reconciliation of any kind as long as the Gilad Shalit
affair is not put to end. They are going into this matter in full

throttle as well."

IV. "How to Pressure for Peace"

Editorial Page Editor Saul Singer wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (12/28): "It is absurd, of course, to
suggest that Condoleezza Rice wants the Annapolis process to stall
on take-off. But the current U.S. approach is absurd, given that it
is almost the exact opposite of the approach that America should
take to achieve its own objectives.... If Rice continues to squeeze
Israel into a total settlement freeze and dismantling outposts, the
Palestinians will continue to hide behind these demands rather than
fulfill their own part of the bargain. The opposite, however, is
not true. If Palestinians were to demonstrate meaningful movement
on ending incitement, accepting Israel's national rights, and
cracking down on terrorism, this would generate much more internal
political pressure for Israeli concessions than anything Rice could
do. The underlying reality is that Israelis want the two-state
solution more than the Palestinians. This means that the Israeli
political system will automatically enter into peace euphoria mode
of there are credible signs of Palestinian movement, while the
Palestinian side will use any U.S. claims of Israeli non-compliance
as an excuse to do nothing. Accordingly, if Rice wants the peace
process to go somewhere, she should do the opposite of what she is
doing now. She should spend more time on Iran than Annapolis, and
put more pressure on the Palestinians than on Israel. This is not a
matter of fairness (though it is also that), but a realistic
assessment of what has a chance to work."

------------------------------------
2. Assassination of Benazir Bhutto:
------------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Foreign News Editor Arik Bachar wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "After its fiasco in handling the Iranian nuclear ambitions,
the United States now faces the no less grave challenge of
maintaining stability in Pakistan without appearing as a party
opposing a greater amount of democracy in that country."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "If any
were needed, the Bhutto assassination is a reminder that the world
is facing a threat of unparalleled barbarity that will stop at
nothing unless it is thwarted."

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

I. "An American Task"

Foreign News Editor Arik Bachar wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (12/28): "The anxiety seizing the entire world upon the death
of Benazir Bhutto is fully justified. While Pakistan is improving
its nuclear and missile capability, it is a slippery slope leading
to increasing political instability.... It is with lack of fervor
that Pakistan is being dragged into the war against global terror,
following accusations that its intelligence services created
al-Qaida.... Two weeks are left until the general elections and it
is unclear whether they will be held in the prevailing chaos. In
any case, after its fiasco in handling the Iranian nuclear
ambitions, the United States now faces the no less grave challenge
of maintaining stability in Pakistan without appearing as a party
opposing a greater amount of democracy in that country. Another
failure of American intelligence might be very costly to the
world."

II. "Mourning Bhutto, and Heeding the Lesson"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/28):
"The assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto
illustrates the fragility of the current international order in the
face of the radical Islamist threat. Pakistan is an Islamic country
with nuclear weapons and security services that contain many
sympathizers with the Taliban and al-Qaida. It is hardly clear that
the massive U.S. investment in the Musharraf government as a bulwark
against these same jihadi groups will be sustainable.... Israelis,
of course, are familiar with the preferred jihadi weapon, the
suicide bomber. But the terrorism in Pakistan is a reminder that no
country is immune from such barbarism -- not even countries where
the bombers and all the victims are Muslims. Pakistan, moreover, is
thought of as a Western ally. Imagine a country were the jihadis
are in charge and openly extol the virtues of murder through
'martyrdom' and one has described neighboring Iran. It is in this
context that the eerie complacency characterizing the global
approach to the Iranian threat is difficult to understand. This
complacency can be most dramatically seen in the widespread
disinterest in Moscow's growing support for Tehran..... In his first
State of the Union address after 9/11, President George W. Bush
stated, 'The United States of America will not permit the world's
most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most
destructive weapons.' He repeated this pledge to the UN in 2003,
and again to his fellow Americans in 2006. If any were needed, the
Bhutto assassination is a reminder that the world is facing a threat
of unparalleled barbarity that will stop at nothing unless it is
thwarted."

MORENO

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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