Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction
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P 251039Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS
SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
Key stories in the media:
The media reported that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will
arrive in the country today and meet with Israel's principal
ministers and PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Yesterday the Jerusalem
Post reported that FM Tzipi Livni will urge the Secretary to
jettison plans for a joint Israeli-Palestinian document to be
presented at the UN General Assembly.
Over the weekend the media reported that Sen. Barack Obama chose
Sen. Joseph Biden as his running mate. Although most media
characterized Biden as "pro-Israel," Israel Hayom noted that this
has not always been the case. Ha'aretz features an article on key
Jewish movers and shakers at the Democratic National Convention.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Denver Jews told the newspaper that
Colorado is a battleground state.
Electronic media reported that last night the cabinet approved the
2009 budget, 13 to 12. Labor and Shas ministers, as well as
Kadima's Shaul Mofaz, voted against the budget. Kadima Minister
Haim Ramon abstained.
Ha'aretz reported that the head of the Palestinian negotiating team,
Ahmed Qurei, toured in recent weeks with senior Israeli officials
the area near Ariel and other settlements whose future is disputed.
Political sources in Jerusalem were quoted assaying that the tour of
these areas was meant to highlight the complexity for Israel in
talks on matters of borders and territory. The same sources were
quoted as saying that Qurei did not enter the settlements, and only
viewed them from a distance. Qurei's counterpart in the talks, FM
Tzipi Livni, did not participate in the tour.
The media reported over the weekend that in order to avoid a public
relations debacle, Israel did not respond to the arrival of two
boats bearing left-wing activists on their way to Gaza. Ha'aretz
reported that Israel is not currently planning to stop or inspect
the boats when they leave Gaza, because there is no intelligence
indicating that the activists plan to smuggle wanted terrorists out
of the Strip. The activists apparently plan to smuggle out two
students who received Fulbright scholarships in the U.S., but were
denied U.S. visas on security grounds (according to the newspaper).
The defense establishment's current thinking is that a clash over
this issue would simply play into the activists' hands by generating
Yesterday Ha'aretz reported that the U.S. will make use of missile
radars in armored trailers in Europe as shields against Iran.
The electronic media reported that this morning Israel released 198
Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank, as a gesture of good will to
President Abbas. Abbas was quoted as saying that there will be no
peace until Israel releases all Palestinian prisoners.
Yesterday Maariv reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak will fly
to Egypt on Tuesday in order to meet in Alexandria with Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian Intelligence head Omar Suleiman,
and Egyptian Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi. The officials will
discuss negotiations for the return of Gilad Shalit.
Citing Reuters, Ha'aretz quoted a senior Hizbullah official as
saying yesterday that Israel will be targeted by thousands of
rockets if it attacks Iran. The media quoted Hizbullah
Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah as saying yesterday that his
organization will respond "decisively" to any Israeli aggression.
Yesterday Ha'aretz reported that the defense establishment
recommended last week that Israel support extending the mandate of
the international force deployed in southern Lebanon.
Yesterday Ha'aretz cited Syria's denial on Friday that it was
considering hosting an advanced Russian missile system, a day after
President Bashar Assad held talks with Russian officials about
upgrading his country's military. Yesterday The Jerusalem Post
quoted a senior Israeli defense official as saying on Saturday as
saying that Syria is trying to press the U.S. to sponsor talks with
Yesterday Ha'aretz reported that Israel's leading ultra-Orthodox
rabbis are waging a new campaign to prevent Jews visiting
Jerusalem's Temple Mount.
Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday police and
security personnel closed down an office in the northern town of Umm
al-Fahm reputedly affiliated with the Islamic Movement and linked to
Islamic organizations abroad. The closure order, drafted by Defense
Minister Ehud Barak, described the organization operating there as
an "unrecognized association." Police in the Jezreel Valley
District were quoted as saying yesterday that they suspect the
Al-Aqsa Institute, founded in 2000 by movement leader Sheikh Raed
Salah, of having been operating from the location. The Defense
Ministry also issued instructions to freeze the organization's bank
accounts. Police sources were quoted a saying that the group was
operating in cooperation with the Hamas leadership in Jerusalem.
Its activity was allegedly funded in part by the "Charity
Coalition," an umbrella group of hard-line Islamic foundations from
around the world. Police also said that the coalition transferred
large sums of money to Hamas and Al-Aqsa without proper
documentation, through money changers, laundering, and bank
Leading media reported that security prisoners have complained that
their prison wardens have unleashed dogs on them.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli officials as saying yesterday that
Israel had not officially made a decision regarding the planned
Mideast conference in Moscow. The officials stressed, however, that
Jerusalem was continuing to send messages to the Kremlin that it did
not want the crisis in Georgia to damage Israeli-Russian ties. The
officials were quoted as saying that the Moscow conference would not
only be raised during Rice's visit but also at a meeting of the
Quartet in mid-September on the sidelines of the UN General
Assembly. The Jerusalem Post reported that Likud Chairman Benjamin
Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Moscow on September 11.
Yediot reported that an Iraqi court has sentenced to death the
assassin of the sons of senior Iraqi official Mithal Al-Aloussi, who
visited Israel in 2004.
All media reported that law enforcement authorities in the U.S. have
requested the extradition of Yitzhak Abergil, who is believed to
stand at the head of one of the largest crime families in Israel.
American authorities have also asked for the extradition of four
other persons (including Abergil's brother Meir) who are alleged to
be members of the same underworld organization. Yitzhak Abergil is
suspected of involvement in the 2003 murder of a drug dealer in the
U.S., as well as of money-laundering and extortion. The five were
indicted in the U.S. on July 23; the request for their extradition
was sent to Israel last Friday.
Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Wounded and eager for some sort of positive
legacy, Rice will arrive today on another frustrating mission in
Jerusalem and Ramallah."
Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz: "It is high
time for Olmert and those who wish to succeed him to inform [settler
leaders] that the rules of the game have changed."
Conservative Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "This is the strangest closure in the history of
conflicts. The Israeli side wants the border crossings open; Hamas
carries out terror attacks so as to make sure the border crossings
are closed. But that is of no interest to the peace saboteurs."
The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized: "The
Left has started a new line of propaganda as a true ally of Hamas."
I. "A Last-Ditch Attempt"
Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/25): "Before bridging the differences
between Israelis and Palestinians, Rice will have to pave the way
between the contradictory viewpoints of her hosts in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert believes that it is possible and
necessary to reach a 'shelf agreement' now.... Olmert faces
opposition from both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni. In their view, Israel must not rush. Livni
believes that detailed negotiations must continue on all issues, and
that Israel should avoid an unclear agreement. She also supports
deferring resolution of the Jerusalem quagmire. Barak has warned
against dangerous illusions, at a time when the gap between the two
sides remains substantial..... On one issue, all three agree: They
reject the idea put forth by Rice, to publish a document of partial
agreements detailing the positions of each side on different issues.
In their view, such a document would only harm Israel and would
serve as a basis for pressure in the future. Following a meeting in
Washington with Rice and Abbas in late July, Livni is of the opinion
that the idea will be dropped. However, Rice is keen on showing
gains, especially in light of the growing criticism directed against
her in the United States.... Thus, wounded and eager for some sort
of positive legacy, Rice will arrive today on another frustrating
mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah."
II. "Let Them Stay in Palestine"
Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz (8/25): "[The
question Kadima voters must ask themselves on the way to the polls
is] which candidate is capable of instructing the chief of staff, at
3 P.M., to evacuate 110 settlements in the West Bank. After all,
this was Kadima's major promise to its voters.... It is high time
for Olmert and those who wish to succeed him to inform [settler
leaders] that the rules of the game have changed. State lands in
the territories have never been, de jure, sovereign property of the
State of Israel. From now on, they are part of the state of
Palestine, and for every dunam of land that is annexed in the West
Bank, we will compensate with land from Israel proper.... Yasser
Arafat at one point agreed to grant Jewish settlers Palestinian
citizenship, in addition to Israeli citizenship, and to provide them
with full rights, including a fair apportionment of water and land
resources. We only need to make sure that the Jewish minority in
Palestine receives the same treatment accorded to the Arab minority
in Israel. No more, no less. Or perhaps that would be too cruel."
III. "Peace Saboteurs"
Conservative Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (8/24): "This time, for a change, the top tiers of
the Israeli leadership made a correct decision. The supporters of
Hamas's horrific regime wanted to show the world a clash. They
wanted pictures of Israeli war ships facing off against what they
described in their Orwellian terminology as 'peace ships,' or IDF
soldiers against 'human rights activists.' They didn't get what
they were looking for. There was no clash. The major networks
around the world ignored them. The low profile, on the verge of
ignoring them, paid off. Their purpose was to 'break the siege.'
Siege? Dozens of trucks in Israel cross every day and provide the
residents of the Gaza Strip with their every need. There is no lack
of money in the Gaza Strip. Iran has sent in hundreds of
millions.... In very simple words, this is the strangest closure in
the history of conflicts. The Israeli side wants the border
crossings open; Hamas carries out terror attacks so as to make sure
the border crossings are closed. But that is of no interest to the
peace saboteurs. Those war activists spoke at length about a
'humanitarian crisis.' That too is a joke.... Some of the media
around the world and in Israel referred to them as 'peace
activists.' But who are they really? One of the central figures
who raised funds for this campaign was Riad Hammad, an Arab-American
who declared his desire to see Israel destroyed and to have the Jews
deported en masse. He was questioned a number of times by the FBI
and committed suicide a number of months ago.... One of the
supporters is Claire Short, a former British cabinet minister, who
blamed Israel for global warming. And, like always, every time
there is a false show of peace, there are always Israelis who are
willing to join. That was the case this time as well. There is no
point discussing them. This time the supporters of the terrorist
regime met with failure. But we oughtn't be dismissive of them.
Usually, their industry of lies wins. They lost a battle. But the
war is still far from being over."
IV. "Ship of Fools"
The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (8/25):
"The Left has started a new line of propaganda as a true ally of
Hamas. It is good that Israeli and world public opinion see this
picture. The moral flaw of the Left has been exposed: left-wing
activists are celebrating with a happening that is all
entertainment, at the expense of the blood spilled in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.... The image of the cruise and the
fools adds up to that of the permanent political rioting at the
construction of the fence at Na'alin.... Israel will have no choice
at some point but to confront the old-new enemy -- first by curbing
the riots in Na'alin, then by arresting the activists of the
organizations encouraging violence."