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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1893/01 2431040
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 311040Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3222
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 5885
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 2463
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 6469
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 6696
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 5941
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 4557
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 6782
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3563
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1778
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0453
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 7966
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 2969
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 6958
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 9010
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 1782
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 2682
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001893

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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1. Mideast

2. Iran

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Key stories in the media:
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On August 30, The Jerusalem Post reported that, following the
Jerusalem Post/Rafi Smith poll published on Friday, left-wing
parties have lamented President ObamaQs unpopularity.

Media quoted PM Netanyahu as saying at yesterdayQs cabinet meeting
that there has been no breakthrough in talks with Hamas to return
Gilad Shalit, and that people should not expect a deal to be
concluded in the coming days. Netanyahu was responding to a spate
of recent media reports claiming that a deal was near. The media
also reported that Hamas insisted yesterday that no quick agreement
over Shalit is in sight: Osama al-Mzainy, the Hamas official in
charge of the Shalit affair, was quoted as saying yesterday in an
interview with Al Jazeera-TV that Hamas had rejected every Israeli
request to exile some of the prisoners due to be released as part of
the deal. Israel Radio quoted PA President Mahmoud Abbas as saying
in an interview with Al Jazeera-TV that he will not meet with
Netanyahu if Israel does not freeze construction in the
settlements.

All media reported that yesterday Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz
filed an indictment against former PM Ehud Olmert, marking the first
time in the state's history that criminal charges have been brought
against anyone who has held that office. Olmert's close aide for
several decades, Shula Zaken, was also cited in the indictment,
which covers four separate investigations -- the so-called Rishon
Tours affair; Olmert's relations with his close friend, attorney Uri
Messer, and U.S. financial backer Moshe Talansky; his alleged
deceptions of the State Comptroller's Office; and Zaken's alleged
wiretapping of Olmert's conversations.

The Jerusalem Post cited assessments reaching Jerusalem in recent
days, according to which a spate of deadly bombs in Iraq this month
that killed dozens of people has also significantly hampered the
US-Syrian rapprochement. According to these assessments, the U.S.
believes that some of those responsible for the wave of attacks, as
well as some of the explosives that were used to carry them out,
came across the border from Syria, and that Washington wants to see
Syria take much stronger action to seal its border with Iraq.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted former Vice President Dick Cheney as
saying in an interview with FOX News that he had favored an attack
on IranQs nuclear installations, but that former President George
Bush vetoed the plan.

Electronic media reported that three weeks ago, Shin Bet arrested
Rawi Sultani, a 23-year-old Israeli Arab resident of the town of
Tira who was allegedly recruited by Hizbullah in Morocco to
assassinate IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and other
officials, in retaliation for the assassination of senior Hizbullah
operative Imad Mughniyah.

Leading media reported that yesterday at least two mortar shells
landed in the area surrounding Gaza.

Major media quoted Israeli government officials as saying yester,
following FridayQs release of an International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) report that was welcomed by Tehran as Qpositive,Q that Israel
wants the IAEA to release a classified report on IranQs alleged
nuclear weapons experiments.

On August 30, The Jerusalem Post, in preparation for a
non-conventional attack on Israel, the National Emergency Authority
will hold the largest-ever exercise to train security forces how to
respond to a city-wide biological attack. The drill will begin on
January 1.

HaQaretz reported that the Military Police still have not concluded
their investigation of the shooting to death of a handcuffed
Palestinian man by an IDF soldier on January 13, at the time of
Operation Cast Lead.

HaQaretz and The Jerusalem Post and reported that yesterday Hamas
condemned the U.N. over its apparent plan to teach Palestinian
children in Gaza about the Holocaust. Hamas branded the Nazi
genocide of the Jews a Qlie invented by the Zionists.

Major media reported that Fuad Shubaki, Yasser ArafatQs money man
and the brains behind the Karine A weapons ship, was sentenced by a
military court to 20 years in prison.

Major media quoted Africa Israel Investments Ltd., the real-estate
company owned by diamond mogul Lev Leviev, as saying that it is
seeking to restructure 21 billion shekels (around $ 5.25 billion) of
debt, sparking a 25% decline in its shares yesterday and pushing
local bank stocks lower as well.

HaQaretz quoted Italy's FM Franco Frattini saying in a telephone
conversation with the newspaper that he recently met with his
Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt, and that the two agreed that at a
meeting of EU foreign ministers later this week, they will work to
pass a resolution making it clear that the EU, under the Swedish
presidency, strongly condemns anti-Semitism and will take action
against any manifestation of it on the continent. Frattini said he
intends to demand that the meeting's summary statement explicitly
condemn the article published in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet,
which claimed that Israeli soldiers harvested the organs of dead
Palestinians. He said his proposed statement would declare articles
of this sort to be "acts of blatant anti-Semitism." "There are
limits to freedom of the press that stem from respect for the truth
and the duty of every journalist to prove his claims," Frattini
explained. The accusations in the Aftonbladet article are "terrible
conclusions, lying and hurtful, and they have the power to assist
all those who seek to incite against Jews or who oppose the
existence of the State of Israel," he added. However, Frattini
stressed, "The state cannot intervene in the work of the press. The
journalists are the ones who must set limits for themselves and must
find the right balance within the framework of the journalistic code
of behavior."

The Jerusalem Post reported that, in an effort to upgrade its attack
helicopter fleet, the IAF is conducting flight tests with a new
version of the Black Hawk utility helicopter that has been equipped
with offensive air-to-surface missile launchers.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Israeli Arab advocacy
groups reacted sternly to an announcement from Education Minister
Gideon SaQar (Likud) that the phrase QNakbaQ would be dropped from
textbooks for the next school year, which begins on September 1.

On August 30, Yediot reported that Beirut Mayor Abdel Mounim Ariss
denied having invited the Mayor of Haifa, Yona Yahav, to a congress
of Mediterranean mayors in Lyon. Ariss appeared on HizbullahQs
television channel in order to deny that such an invitation had been
sent.

All media reported that yesterday the Education Ministry decided to
immediately halt funding to the three private religious schools in
Petah Tikva that refuse to enroll children of Ethiopian descent as
the ministry instruction. Yesterday, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said in
a joint interview to Israel Radio and IDF Radio that refusing to
enroll the students is simply a Qmoral terror attack,Q something
counter to IsraelQs entire ethos. (In the same interview, the PM
defended Peace Now from the attack on in by his Vice Premier, Moshe
YaQalon, to weeks ago.)

Major media reported that, in an unprecedented bout of violence, six
policemen were hurt and an ultra-Orthodox man injured by a car in a
protest over the opening of a municipal parking lot in Jerusalem on
the Sabbath.

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

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

I. "Freeze in Jerusalem Too"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/31): QIf there is any truth in the reports
that came out of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trip to Europe
-- that the United States agreed Israel can go on building in East
Jerusalem -- the headlines should have read QObama has pulled out of
the Middle East peace processQ.... A substantive change of such
magnitude in the U.S. position regarding a national/religious issue
that is so explosive would cause the negotiations between Israel and
the Palestinians, among other efforts, to crash and burn. A
precedent of this sort may bury the Arab Peace Initiative and with
it normalization of ties with the Muslim world. We must hope that
the news that Obama has backtracked on East Jerusalem is merely the
wishful thinking of opponents to a compromise that come from the
western part of the city.

II. "A Deal that Is a Defeat"

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (8/31): QNetanyahu is a weak leader, although it is not yet
clear whether he is weak enough to give in all along the line, from
freezing settlements and evacuating outposts to the Shalit deal. On
the first two issues, retreat would at least jibe with Israel's
interests, though not with his ideology. But Netanyahu will not be
there alone: Going along with the surrender will be Ehud Barak and
Moshe Ya'alon and all of their cabinet colleagues who do not
resign.... Olmert, followed by Netanyahu, and their mutual defense
minister, Barak, never managed to create the intelligence and
operational conditions for freeing Shalit. Nor did they find a
lever with which to make it intolerable for Hamas to continue
holding him captive. QMake no mistake,Q a top-level Israeli source
familiar with the details of the talks on a prisoner exchange said
over the weekend. QIf there is a deal, its final scene will be a
victory for Hamas and a defeat for Israel.Q But despite the
expectations that have been built up, it is still not too late to
reexamine the slippery slope Israel is sliding down.

III. "A New Era in Japan: How Will It Affect Israel?"

Retired Hebrew University Professor Ben-Ami Shillony, an expert on
Japanese affairs, wrote in HaQaretz (8/31): QThe new [Japanese]
government will attempt to forge a more independent foreign policy,
involving closer ties with China and other Asian countries and more
independence from the United States.... Withdrawing from American
guardianship could also change Japanese policy toward Israel. Until
now, Japan limited its support for the Palestinians to aiding
economic projects, in keeping with American requests. The [Yukio]
Hatoyama government is likely to take a more pro-Arab stance, such
as by recognizing Hamas and making tougher demands of Israel, such
as calling for an end to construction in the settlements. Such a
position would be similar to the line taken by some European
governments, and will not necessarily lead to a confrontation with
the United States. The Obama administration may actually be
pleased.... Hatoyama called himself the Japanese Obama in his
election campaign, and said he would bring hoped-for change. When it
comes to Israel, Obama and Hatoyama may coordinate efforts in ways
Israel hasn't expected.

---------
2. Iran:
---------

Block Quotes:
-------------
I. "IAEA Omissions Speak Loudest"

Intelligence affairs correspondent Yossi Melman wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/30): QAccording to the [new
International Atomic Energy Agency] report [on IranQs nuclear
program], the military dimension of the Iranian nuclear program is
analyzed, and it discusses evidence that suggests that Iran has a
military nuclear program, or at least that it has taken steps that
imply that it is seeking nuclear weapons. But the report does not
say this clearly. It does not even hint at it. The report lacks
the bottom line, as is the case in every report of the IAEA on this
issue. It comes out quarterly. In theory the preparation of the
reports is the collective work of the organization's senior
officers, who write on the basis of the field work of the
organization's inspectors at the nuclear sites in Iran where they
are allowed access. However, in practice the report and its
ambiguous writing, is in the spirit of the outgoing head of the
organization, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei. Nonetheless, the IAEA reports
and the struggle over their wording are a tool toward a more
important goal. Israel, the U.S., and the European Union would like
Russia and China to recognize that Iran is in contravention of its
international obligations, and that it actions contradict its claims
that its nuclear program is solely for civilian purposes. There is
evidence that Iran has a military nuclear program, and the Western
states want Moscow and Beijing to join the West in imposing tough
sanctions on Iran, especially the kind that target its soft economic
underbelly -- its oil and gas industry.

II. "Iran without the Bomb"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (8/31):
QThe appointment as defense minister of Ahmad Vahidi -- the man most
likely responsible for the 1994 bombing of the Jewish center in
Buenos Aires in which 85 people were killed and 200 wounded --
supplies yet further proof that the [Iranian] ruling clique has
become more shameless, arrogant and unpredictable.... The generally
well-informed Jim Hoagland of The Washington Post predicts that
after much haggling, Iran will agree to stop short of building a
bomb, but will insist on retaining its capability to do so. That
would leave Iranian imperialism unchecked and perpetuate for
generations the threat of an Iranian bomb. On Wednesday, the five
permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany will meet
in Frankfurt. Berlin and Paris have announced that stiffer economic
penalties are in the offing if Iran does not end its quest for the
bomb. Meanwhile, a new poll tells us that 81 percent of Americans
feel Iran poses a serious threat to the United States; a survey last
month found 66% feeling that President Barack Obama is not tough
enough on Iran. Iran without the bomb is a certified menace.
Perhaps the nightmarish consequences for Europe and America of a
nuclear-armed Iran are, belatedly, starting to register.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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