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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #3639/01 3651108
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 311108Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4787
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
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 3196
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9857
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3384
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3965
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3220
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1361
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 3958
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0806
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1280
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 7840
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5306
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0224
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4352
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 6296
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 8730
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003639

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:
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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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Major media reported that on Sunday, during a special meeting with
cabinet ministers and security officials, Shin Bet head Yuval
Diskin warned against relaxing criteria for releasing Palestinian
prisoners in return for kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Diskin lashed
out against Ofer Dekel, Israel's chief negotiator for securing the
release of abducted soldiers, claiming Dekel backed criteria that
were too lenient. Ha'aretz and Maariv reported that IDF Chief of
Staff Gabi Ashkenazi favors flexibility in the matter. Ha'aretz
reported that the row erupted over a new proposal Israel had
received from Hamas for a possible swap. The Jerusalem Post
reported that PM Ehud Olmert told the cabinet that Israel will not
make any changes on the ground that could endanger its security as
long as the PA does not act against the terrorist organizations. On
Sunday The Jerusalem Post quoted sources close to Hamas as saying
that Hamas wants the release of Gilad Shalit to be part of a package
that would include, among other things, a mutual cease-fire with
Israel and guarantees that Israel will not target Hamas leaders.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, out of fear that Hamas forces in
Gaza have obtained anti-aircraft missiles, the IAF now operates only
helicopters equipped with antimissile defenses over the Strip.

On Sunday Ha'aretz quoted sources close to PM Olmert as saying that
he intends to refrain from further construction projects in East
Jerusalem, but that he will allow construction in the neighborhood
of Har Homa. The sources added that Olmert is seeking to introduce
stricter government supervision of construction plans in the region.
On Sunday Maariv reported that Olmert has implied that new tenders
for construction over the Green Line must have his approval. On
Sunday Yediot reported that after 40 years of massive marketing of
land with Israeli government sponsorship, the sale of land by the
GOI in the West Bank has come to an almost complete halt in 2007.

Ha'aretz, The Jerusalem Post, and Israel Radio quoted the Israeli
human rights organization B'Tselem as saying that the number of
Palestinians killed by the IDF decreased by 43% percent since last
year, to 373, but that the total number of Palestinians killed this
year reached a record high because of the 344 Palestinians killed in
the internecine conflict. B'Tselem's report also found a
siQficant drop in the proportion of civilians killed. Israel
Radio quoted Palestinian sources as saying that a Palestinian woman
was killed and four other Palestinians were injured by IDF fire at
the Erez Crossing. Over the weekend media quoted IDF officials as
saying that Muassem Rafiq Salah Sharif, the bodyguard of Palestinian
negotiator Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) who was killed in a gun battle with
IDF troops early Friday morning, had been party to shooting attacks
and roadside bombing attacks on behalf of the Fatah Tanzim. Major
media quoted the IDF as saying on Saturday that it seized 6.5 tons
of potassium nitrate in bags labeled as "EEC 2 sugar exported from
the E.U." aboard a Palestinian truck in the West Bank. The EU
denied any connection to the bags that were filled with the
chemical.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe cited an Al-Hayat report that Israel intends to
assassinate Hamas PM in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh. The
Jerusalem Post reported that on Sunday Fatah's armed wing, the
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, called for the murder of Palestinian PM
Slam Fayyad for "collaboration" with Israel and the U.S. On Sunday
The Jerusalem Post quoted PA security officials as saying that
Israel has managed to infiltrate Hamas's armed wing, Izz ad-Din
al-Qassam, by recruiting some of its members as "collaborators."

Yediot and other media reported that the defense establishment is
warning of possible attacks by Al-Qaida against Israeli and American
targets in Turkey. The Jerusalem Post reported that members of the
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee are taking seriously
a threat made by Usama bin Ladin in a new video released this
weekend.

The media quoted French President Nicolas Sarkozy as saying on
Sunday in Cairo that he had instructed his staff to suspend
diplomatic contacts with Syria until Damascus showed its willingness
to let Lebanon elect a new president. Ha'aretz reported that
Jerusalem is closely monitoring the political situation in Lebanon,
and that most of the work is being carried out by the Foreign
Ministry and the defense establishment. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
receives briefings, but the restricted cabinet has not been convened
to discuss the crisis. Ha'aretz said that there is no single,
agreed-upon Israeli approach for dealing with the events in Lebanon
at present: Some officials believe an independent Lebanon would
weaken Hizbullah and thereby help Israel, while others say Israel
should support more Syrian involvement in Lebanon. Ha'aretz cited
the Syrian Arab News Agency, quoting Syrian President Bashar Assad
as saying on Sunday that he views favorably actions that will lead
to peace.

Yediot reported that President Bush has asked to meet Ariel Sharon's
sons Omri and Gilad during his visit to Israel. Maariv reported
that 8,000 police and other staff will provide security for the
President. Maariv also reported that there will be heavy
disturbances in railway and road traffic during the visit.

Maariv reported that on Sunday the Israel Lands Administration
approved a plan to give free land to members of communities
surrounding the Gaza Strip as compensation for losses sustained in
rocket attacks. The offer will be valid for one year.

Yediot reported that Hamas announced on Sunday that it will not
accept any solution to the predicament of the Palestinian pilgrims
returning from the Hajj except passage through the Rafah Crossing,
which is not under Israeli control. Leading media reported that
Israel permitted some of the pilgrims to cross through the Allenby
Bridge.

On Sunday Yediot reported that FM Tzipi Livni is considering naming
veteran Mideast TV commentator Ehud Yaari to the position of
ambassador to Egypt.

Israel Radio reported that a report that the Knesset's Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee issued today on the Second Lebanon War
pointed at failures of the military and did not blame the political
echelon. Leading media reported that a petition signed by 50
Knesset members will force Olmert to address the Winograd Report in
the Knesset.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that Meretz might join the
government if Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu leaves it. The
Jerusalem Post and other media reported that American casino magnate
Sheldon Adelson met with the heads of Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu over
the weekend in an effort to convince them to quit the Olmert
government.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli diplomats are quietly
working to convince the U.S. and the EU to boycott -- and defund --
a possible follow-up to the 2001 World Conference Against Racism
that took place in Durban, South Africa.

Yediot cited a report by Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Beinhorn, the
comptroller of the defense establishment, as saying that IDF bases
are poorly guarded.

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

Summary:
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The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "How is
[Condoleezza] Rice encouraging the Palestinians to build rather than
destroy when she paints Israeli security measures as 'racist?'"

Former Mossad director Ephraim Halevy wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The assassination of Benazir Bhutto
illustrates that the solutions being concocted by the United States
for the problems of far-off countries, particularly Muslim ones, are
failing one after the other. Not much time is left for a change of
direction with Gaza. The challenge lies at our doorstep, here and
now. Is it not the first subject that should lead the agenda of
President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert during their upcoming
meeting?"

Columnist and French politics expert Daniel Ben Simon wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "To a large extent, Sarkozy was
expressing frustration over his country's enormous diplomatic
investment, which failed to bear fruit, and he was announcing a new
tack regarding Syria."

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

I. "No Sympathy for Terror"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/31):
"According to The Washington Post, [Condoleezza] Rice's
recollections as an African-American child in the South, being told
she could not use certain water fountains or eat in certain
restaurants, also made her understand the feelings and emotions of
the Palestinians..... Either the Palestinians are struggling to
eliminate Israel, or to build a state alongside Israel. How is Rice
encouraging the Palestinians to build rather than destroy when she
paints Israeli security measures as 'racist?' There is a way to
empathize with both sides without resorting to libel against Israel.
President George W. Bush did so constructively in his famous speech
calling for a new Palestinian leadership in June 2002: 'I can
understand the deep anger and despair of the Palestinian people,' he
said. 'For decades, you've been treated as pawns in the Middle East
conflict. Your interests have been held hostage to a comprehensive
peace agreement that never seems to come, as your lives get worse
year by year. You deserve democracy and the rule of law. You
deserve an open society and a thriving economy. You deserve a life
of hope for your children.' Israel is more than ready to do its
part to fulfill this vision. The international community has pledged
billions to pay for it. What is necessary is to stop helping the
Palestinian leadership make excuses for not doing its part."

II. "Pakistan Is Here"

Former Mossad director Ephraim Halevy wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/30): "In the arena of Pakistan and
that of nearby Afghanistan, Iran carries special weight. The United
States and Iran have very close interests in both those arenas, and
they will be tightening their cooperation in the future in order to
prevent the collapse of those countries. The death of Benazir
Bhutto will speed up this trend. Iran is making a significant and
ethical contribution in Iraq by reducing the level of violence.
American spokesmen say that publicly and praise Tehran.... In the
near future, the voices in Washington calling for direct dialogue
with Iran on all subjects will probably grow louder.... These
developments are not good news for Israel, and we should hope that
the countryQs leaders are examining the sense in continuing the
uncompromising conflict with Hamas. This is the last subject on
which the United States has erred in its situation assessment, and
just as it knew enough to change its policy on Iraq completely when
it realized its mistake, we should hope that it will know enough to
reexamine Hamas's case as well. If Hamas is ripe for a long-term
cease-fire, maybe it would be worthwhile to take advantage of this
option before we continue on the current path of unconditional war.
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto illustrates that the solutions
being concocted by the United States for the problems of far-off
countries, particularly Muslim ones, are failing one after the
other. Not much time is left for a change of direction with Gaza.
The challenge lies at our doorstep, here and now. Is it not the
first subject that should lead the agenda of President Bush and
Prime Minister Olmert during their upcoming meeting?"

III. "France's Lost Honor"

Columnist and French politics expert Daniel Ben Simon wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/31): "Poor Bernard Kouchner.
What hasn't France's charismatic, hyperactive foreign minister done
to demonstrate his country's influence over Lebanon? The moment he
was appointed to his post by President Nicolas Sarkozy, Kouchner
made Lebanon the touchstone of France's foreign policy. He went to
Beirut seven times to improve bilateral relations and prepare the
ground for the election of a successor to the pro-French president,
Emile Lahoud.... [On Sunday] Sarkozy planted his bomb. After
promising that his support for Israel would not affect France's
relations with Arab states, Sarkozy announced the suspension of
talks with Syria. To a large extent, Sarkozy was expressing
frustration over his country's enormous diplomatic investment, which
failed to bear fruit, and he was announcing a new tack regarding
Syria. As if to say -- you want force, we'll give you force. He
was left with no other way to save the lost honor of his country in
the eyes of its many supporters in Lebanon."

MORENO

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