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Cablegate: Media Reaction - Mideast - Gaza, Arab-Israeli Engagement;

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DE RUEHSO #0692 3651306
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301306Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8823
INFO RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 9980
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO PRIORITY 8964

UNCLAS SAO PAULO 000692

SIPDIS

STATE INR/R/MR; IIP/R/MR; WHA/PD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR OPRC OIIP XM XR XF BR
SUBJECT: Media Reaction - Mideast - Gaza, Arab-Israeli engagement;
Sco Paulo

A new year with the old conflicts in the Mideast

Editorial in business-oriented Valor Econtmico (12/30) says: "The
disproportionate response to the attacks [by Hamas]...should be
cause for great discomfort in the international community.... All
signs point to the fact that Israel is trying to take advantage of
the internal Palestinian divisions...and counts on the discontent of
the population, which has been suffocated by the embargo imposed by
Tel Aviv. More than that, [Israel] is keeping an eye on the
February 10th elections and on the polls that show former prime
minister Benjamin Netanyahu, from the right-wing Likud Party, in
clearly ascending. So far, the isolation imposed by Israel, the
U.S. and the European Union on Hamas has, indeed, strengthened those
nations' preferred partner in Palestine, the Fatah.... The
disproportionate military reaction and the ever more precarious
living conditions...have a great chance of causing among the
Palestinians something they themselves have not been able to
achieve: uniting internal adversaries.... The trend, by the way, is
that not only that the Palestinians unite, but that Arab countries
work together to deter the escalation of violence in the region."

Immediate cease-fire

Lead editorial in liberal Folha de S.Paulo (12/30) states: "The
attacks perpetrated by the Palestinian extremist group Hamas against
Israel merit repudiation. But the brutal reaction by Israel...has to
be condemned, as well.... The offensive against Hamas, in Gaza,
looks like an attempt by the ruling coalition to avoid the victory
of Benjamin Netanyahu in the February elections.... The rightward
leaning tendency on the part of Israeli voters also seems to be a
reaction to the Mideast policy announced by Barack Obama. The U.S.
President-elect has promised a broad diplomacy and does not rule out
negotiating with Iran, which Israel regards as the major strategic
threat to the Jewish State.... The hard-line platform that emerges
from the confluence of these factors brings well-known traps...[But]
Without a political solution that really grants autonomy and
economic feasibility to a Palestinian State in the Mideast, the
substratum that favors the spiral of hostilities will remain intact.
The most important issue right now, however, is to secure an
immediate cease-fire between Hamas and Israel."

Massacre in the Gaza Ghetto

Column by Clovis Rossi in Folha de S.Paulo (12/30) says: "The West
finds it enormously difficult to condemn Israel, even when it
deserves it. This can only be explained by a guilty conscience.
After all, the Holocaust, one of the most nefarious crimes in
History, was not the act of Arabs or religious fundamentalists, but
that of Aryan Europeans.... In truth, Israel has been committing
crimes against Palestinians for many, many years.... But it is in
the Gaza Strip that the violence reaches the peak. This year Israel
blocked access to Gaza, turning the area into a 362-square-kilometer
ghetto where 1.5 million people are piled up one on top of
another.... The risks Israel is subject to are not to be
minimized.... But adopting a collective form of punishment is
intolerable and ineffective.... There is no point in trying to
asfixiate Hamas..... Unless one believes that Hamas won [the
elections] because all the Palestinians from Gaza are terrorists.
Those who believe in this hypothesis will end up proposing a 'final
solution' to the Gaza ghetto."

Fire over Gaza

Main editorial in center-right O Estado de S.Paulo (12/30) states:
"Former Prime-Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, the main opponent of [current Israeli
Prime-Minister] Ehud Barak... in the February elections, has been
demanding a decisive military action from the government against
Hamas. So, the shower of Hamas rockets targeting Israel provided the
excuse.... For at least a week, Israeli diplomacy sought the support
of major powers and its main allies for the upcoming offensive. The
goal...was to create "an international umbrella...." The umbrella of
support for Israel did not open. From all sides, except from the
Bush admnistration, the offensive was harshly criticized, not
because Israel should be denied the right to defend itself, but
because its reaction was brutal and indiscriminate."

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