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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #1868/01 2381021
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P 261021Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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PARIS ALSO FOR POL
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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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Israel Radio quoted Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. Gabriela Shalev
as saying that a three-way meeting between President Obama, PM
Benjamin Netanyahu, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas is likely during
the gathering of the U.N. General Assembly in New York next month.
The radio later quoted Palestinian officials as saying that they
have not been invited to such talks.

All three major newspapers led with reported progress in the Gilad
Shalit affair. Particular emphasis is given to German mediation
efforts. Yediot quoted an Egyptian source as saying that senior
members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have met with Hamas
political leader Khaled Mashal in an attempt to thwart ShalitQs
release.

The media reported that PM Netanyahu will meet in London this
morning with U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace Senator George
Mitchell to discuss the resumption of Israeli-Palestinians talks and
the issue of construction freeze in the settlements. HaQaretz
reported that senior U.S. officials told the newspaper they felt the
talks were progressing. "We stated right from the outset what we
want regarding the settlements, and we are getting close to getting
this from Israel," one of them was quoted as saying. Maariv quoted
senior American officials as saying that the U.S. is close to
understandings with Israel on construction freeze in the
settlements. Israel Radio reported that Netanyahu plans to express
reservations about a construction freeze. Israel Hayom and Israel
Radio quoted the British newspaper The Guardian as saying that the
U.S. intends to promise to adopt a much tougher line with Iran over
its alleged nuclear weapons program. The U.S., along with Britain
and France, is planning to push the U.N. Security Council to expand
sanctions to include Iran's oil and gas industry, a move that could
cripple its economy. The Guardian reported that, in return, the
Israeli Government will be expected to agree to a partial freeze on
the construction of settlements.

All media quoted PM Netanyahu as saying yesterday at a press
conference at 10 Downing Street that the settlements are a
territorial issue that can be resolved in negotiations with the
Palestinians, but that the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel
as the national home of the Jewish people is the core problem
preventing a peace agreement. The Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu
as saying: QWhat we are trying to achieve with the U.S. is to find a
bridging formula to enable us to launch the process but enable those
[Jewish] residents [of the West Bank to] continue to lead normal
lives." Netanyahu added that there are 250,000 Jews beyond the
Green Line who "have children who go to school, they need
classrooms, kindergartens, they need a place to house families.
This is very different from grabbing land. I made clear that we are
not going to expropriate new land." Yediot quoted Netanyahu as
saying that it is not enough to have a partner, but that the partner
has to be brave. The media quoted British PM Gordon Brown as saying
that the settlements are an obstacle to peace. The Jerusalem Post
quoted Netanyahu as saying during the press conference that the
stronger the sanctions the international community applies against
Iran now, the less will be the need for using Qstrong forceQ later.

Electronic media reported on the passing of Democratic Massachusetts
Senator Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy, the brother of the late U.S.
President John F. Kennedy and the late Attorney General Robert F.
Kennedy. Israel Radio noted that Ted Kennedy was a great friend of
Israel. President Shimon Peres and PM Netanyahu expressed sorrow
over KennedyQs decease.

HaQaretz reported that the U.S. administration is said to be
studying President Shimon Peres's plan for the establishment in the
near future of a Palestinian state with temporary borders, with
guarantees and a timetable for a permanent agreement that will
include solutions on all core issues. Peres presented the plan to
U.S. envoy George Mitchell as well as senior Palestinian officials
and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He also discussed it with PM
Netanyahu and with opposition leader Knesset Member Tzipi Livni.
HaQaretz reported that sources close to Peres's initiative told the
daily that there is some skepticism both in Washington and in
NetanyahuQs Bureau as to the probability that both the Palestinians
and the Netanyahu government will embrace the plan. Sources close
to Netanyahu were quoted as saying that there was no chance he would
accept a plan which required withdrawal from most of the West Bank
as a first step. HaQaretz says that the Obama administration also
fears that the split between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West
Bank would make such an agreement impossible to implement. HaQaretz
says
that, due to Palestinian concerns that temporary borders could
become permanent, the U.S. will seek assurances from Israel that if
the borders function successfully, Israel will enter expedited
negotiations to solve the problems of Jerusalem and the Palestinian
refugees. According to HaQaretz, the U.S. administration has
recently discussed Peres's ideas in preparation for a return to
negotiations, assuming a solution to the settlements can be found.
The main obstacle is construction in East Jerusalem, which Netanyahu
says Israel will not freeze. HaQaretz presumes that the U.S. may
address this obstacle in the near future by announcing that there is
a disagreement with Israel on this issue and that it reserves the
right to comment on expanded Jewish construction in East Jerusalem
as it sees fit.

Leading media reported that yesterday Peace Now activists toured
unauthorized settler outposts as a response to last weekQs tour of
the outposts by four right-wing ministers. The 20 activists,
accompanied by three Knesset members, said that the trip was aimed
at reminding the government of its promise to dismantle the
outposts. HaQaretz reported that DM Ehud BarakQs office declined to
either confirm or deny Labor Knesset Member Daniel Ben-SimonQs claim
that Barak had promised to evacuate all the outposts within two
months.

The Jerusalem Post, Makor Rishon-Hatzofe, and the ultra-Orthodox
HamodiQa reported that yesterday Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef
asked visiting former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to intervene in
the campaign to free Gilad Shalit. The Jerusalem Post quoted Carter
as saying that he had been critical of both sides in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was quoted as saying: QIQm just
looking for peace.

HaQaretz reported that yesterday in London, PM Netanyahu lashed out
against Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization that collects
testimonies from IDF soldiers about alleged abuse of Palestinians in
the territories. The British Government had contributed funding for
the group. Netanyahu also addressed the lawsuits filed in Britain
against Israeli officials and senior officials for alleged war
crimes over their actions in the territories. Netanyahu was quoted
as saying that Israel was acting in self-defense, and that Israeli
officers should not be accused of crimes, just as British officers
should not be subject to lawsuits for their actions in Afghanistan
or Iraq.

Media reported that DM Barak has appointed his military secretary,
Brig.
Gen Eitan Dangut, as the Coordinator of Government Activities
in the Territories.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, after years of planning and delay,
New York University is set to open a study-abroad sit in Tel Aviv
starting this fall over the objections of some faculty members who
oppose the program on political grounds.

The media reported that the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange is QhotQ: the
blue chip TA-25 index rose more than 2% yesterday, to cross the
1,000-point barrier -- on the way up -- for the first time since the
financial crisis started, Qafter weeks of almost reaching, touching,
and retreating (according to HaQaretz).

Yediot ran a feature on the Israeli-Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass,
who stars in the forthcoming Hollywood production Miral. The
newspaper quoted her as saying that she backs the right of return
for Palestinian refugees, but that she will not come back to the
country herself.

Yediot quoted the U.S. technology magazine Wired as saying that last
week the Israeli hacker Ehud Tenenbaum,. a.k.a. The Analyzer,
confessed in a New York court that he was involved in a credit scam
in which $10 million were stolen from two U.S. banks.


--------
Mideast:
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Block Quotes:
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I. "Is Obama Forcing Israel to Halt Construction of the Security
Barrier?"

Correspondent Tovah Lazaroff wrote on page one of the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (8/26): QThe U.S. could demand Israel
stop work on the security barrier in the West Bank as part of its
call for a freeze in settlement activity, security expert Col.
(res.) Shaul Arieli speculated as he spoke with The Jerusalem Post
on Tuesday.
Sources in the Prime Minister's Office disagreed,
saying work on the barrier, which is designed to prevent terrorist
attacks, was not part of their talks with the U.S. But it is
immediately obvious to anyone looking at a map of the planned
805-km. barrier route that the 295 km. that have yet to be built are
largely made up of loops around the settlement blocs of Ma'aleh
Adumim, Gush Etzion and the Ariel/Kedumim area. There are no plans
at this time to complete the barrier in those blocs. Such
construction would, in a de facto, unilateral fashion, define the
size of these blocs.... The international community has argued that
if Israel wants to build a barrier to protect its citizens, it
should do so along the entire Green Line. According to figures
provided by the United Nations, 85% of the barrier's planned route
is inside the West Bank and only 15% is on the pre-1967 armistice
line. In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague
ruled that it was illegal for Israel to build the barrier in the
West Bank.... Both [Arieli] and security sources list three clear
reasons why the work has slowed down: petitions to the High Court,
lack of funds in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War, and the
lull in suicide bombings that has allowed the Israeli public to
forget that the barrier is a tool against terror. But Arieli and
[Shlomo] Lecker [an attorney who represents Palestinians in the
MaQaleh Adumim area] also believe American pressure has played a
clear role.... In the last year, security sources said, work has
focused on closing the holes in the barrier around Jerusalem. But
they hinted broadly that there has been a shift in planning and that
routes such as the Ma'aleh Adumim loop that appeared reasonable when
they were designed are no longer feasible in the current diplomatic
climate.

II. "Voluntary Evacuation Now"

Former Knesset Member Avshalom Vilan wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (8/26): QThe grace period of Netanyahu and
Barak has long ... ended. They should now initiate a plan for
voluntary evacuation-compensation. In other words, the evacuation
of all settlers in the West Bank who wish to leave the territories
and return to the Green Line boundaries, in exchange for a fair sum
of money that would enable them to buy a house within the State of
Israel and restart their lives.... The international community would
welcome such an initiative and shift the main burden of diplomatic
pressure towards the Palestinians and Arab states. From an internal
Israeli standpoint, the real decision on the issue of the
settlements and the settlers would be postponed, since the hard core
of ideological settlers would continue to live in these places until
the
final status arrangement (this refers to less than 40,000 people
of a population of over 80,000 in settlements outside the fence),
and therefore the plan would receive broad support in the public.
The Prime Minister would be able to pass such a plan without paying
too high a political price. The right-wing government could
continue to argue that it did not give up territory and did not back
down from its starting positions.... Ehud Barak, as defense minister
in OlmertQs government, supported such a move publicly. Benjamin
Netanyahu, who is trying to restore his relations with the Obama
administration and appear as a leader who is pragmatic on one hand,
but has also not given up his ideological dreams on the other, can
connect with this plan, and adapt it to fit perfectly his political
and diplomatic goals. The initiative will stand to IsraelQs credit,
and it will no longer remain in the dangerous corner of the worldQs
village leper, and will shift the burden of the response to the
Palestinian side. Netanyahu and Barak are people who can do
this.... The time has come for these two, whom in their twenties
knew how to be daring, to do so again in their sixties, when the
weight of national responsibility rests on their shoulders.


III. "The Americans Will Pressure -- and Obtain What They want"

Gilad Sharon, the son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, wrote
in Yediot Aharonot (8/26): QNo Netanyahu voter and no one who
recommended him to President [Shimon Peres] as their candidate for
the premiership could imagine he would continue the [settlement]
freeze. For this, they could have voted Meretz.... Why is Netanyahu
not thawing [construction]? There is no argument that he supports
building in [the settler town of] Ariel. He already knew that this
is part of the agreements with the Americans; he promised this to
his voters and wants to do so.... [But] he pretends to be
neutral.... The Americans respect a direct, reliable attitude and
can live with the fact that IsraelQs stance and theirs is not the
same on every issue, but they neither value nor respect those who
lack principles.... The Americans will not respect the Israeli
Government more than it will respect itself. Bibi, you lived in
America for so many years but you didnQt learn anything. When you
must build, build don't talk.

IV. "The Successful Netanyahu-Barak Axis"

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (8/26):
Today, with a perspective of almost five months, the successful
Netanyahu-Barak axis clearly seems a success. Their working
arrangements
in the diplomatic domain vis-a-vis the Americans, as
well as the handling of Hamastan-Gaza and Fatahstan-Judea and
Samaria [i.e. the West Bank], have yielded good results and both
leaders conduct points to surprising harmony between them....
Netanyahu is impeccably handling the controversy with the almost
hostile U.S. administration over the settlements. His success lies
in the fact that he deals with the argument in a way that doesn't
turn it into a confrontation.

V. Netanyahu, Get Rid of Him

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning HaQaretz (8/26): QThe damage that [Avigdor] Lieberman
is causing the country and its relations with foreign countries is
getting worse, and it is similar to the farce of Amir Peretz at the
Defense Ministry. Netanyahu must get a hold of himself and put an
end to this. During the hot August days, usually thin on news,
Lieberman is giving the media and Knesset members thirsty for
comments a daily show. He is bashing Sweden, thumping Norway,
clearing the Foreign Ministry of Arabs and ultra-Orthodox, making
the Prime Minister out to be a fool and wasting his time in a
pointless diplomatic effort -- threatening his envoys to align
themselves with the official line being dictated from above or wind
up on the outside. Who knows what he will announce next.... But the
problem is not Lieberman's freedom of expression, which is not in
question, but his conduct as foreign minister. It can be summed up
as an utter failure. Foreign ministers have a dual role: furthering
national interests through diplomatic exchanges with other
countries, and representing the views of the international community
in the domestic decision-making process. In the room where they
decide war and peace, the foreign minister must sound like a
statesman, just as a defense minister must present the military
possibilities. Lieberman is finding it difficult to fulfill his
role for a simple reason: the boycott and isolation that the world
has imposed on him.... Right before the peace process is resumed and
the Iranian issue comes to a head, he must immediately replace
Lieberman with a more appropriate foreign minister, irrespective of
the criminal investigation against the current one. It is by this
that the Prime Minister's leadership will be tested.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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