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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

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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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Over the weekend, controversy over the GOIQs announcement that it
would build 455 housing units in the West Bank dominated the media.
The media reported that DM Ehud Barak approved the plan. Today
HaQaretz reported that most of the housing approved by PM Benjamin
Netanyahu was already under construction. On Sunday, Maariv and
other media reported that on September 6 Netanyahu announced that at
the three-way summit with President Obama and PA President Mahmoud
Abbas, which is due to take place at the end of this month, he does
not intend to announce a complete freeze, but rather only a
Qreduction in the scale of construction.Q Maariv quoted Abbas as
saying over the weekend that if construction continues, there will
be no summit.

The media reported that yesterday in MaQaleh Adumim and Hebron,
right-wing activists protested against the expected construction
freeze. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) was quoted as saying
at the official ceremony marking 80 years of the massacre of
67Jewish residents of Hebron: QThose who believe that Jerusalem will
rise from the Hebron disaster have learned nothing. Those who
believe that by drying up Ariel and MaQaleh Adumim we will build Tel
Aviv and Netanya may unfortunately eventually stumble where others
have.Q The media reported that around 20 Peace Now demonstrators
protested at the site of the MaQaleh Adumim rally.

The media quoted White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs as saying
on Friday that Qthe United States does not accept the legitimacy of
continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop.Q The media
reported that the EU also rebuked Israel on its new settlements
plans.

On September 7, HaQaretz quoted U.S. Government officials as saying
that they have succeeded in extracting "pledges" from a number of
Arab states to move toward normalization of relations with Israel.
The officials, who refused to name the states in question, said that
the promised gestures were offered in response to Israel's agreement
to initiate a construction freeze in West Bank settlements.

Speaking from Africa on Israel Radio this morning, FM Avigdor
Lieberman said that Israel should review with the U.S. the
assurances given by former President George W. Bush.

Israel Radio reported that PM Netanyahu will visit Egypt next week
to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Yesterday, The Jerusalem Post quoted senior officials as saying on
September 6 that the Defense Ministry is preparing for the
possibility that the U.S. will decide to leave missile defense
systems in Israel following a joint missile defense exercise the two
countries hold next month.

Yediot reported that next Wednesday, Gaza-based families of Hamas
prisoners detained in Israel will take part in a cross-border
protest coordinated with Gilad ShalitQs family.

Yesterday, Yediot reported that the Saudi Transport Minister
objected to oveflights of his country by Israeli civilian airliners,
saying that Qthe Israelis will defile the Islamic holy places.

Maariv reported that a Palestinian family testified before the
Military Police regarding Human Rights WatchQs claim that, during
Operation Cast Lead, IDF soldiers killed 11 Palestinians who were
holding white flags.

Media quoted PM Netanyahu as saying at SundayQs cabinet meeting that
the nearly one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union who
have come to Israel since 1989 QrescuedQ the country and should be
considered Qone of the greatest miracles that happened to the
state.

Yesterday, The Jerusalem Post reprinted a Jewish Telegraphic Agency
report analyzing the role of Qinaccurate media reportsQ in disputes
between the U.S. and Israel. Spats between the GOI and HaQaretz are
mentioned in the Post story.

Yediot reported that an anti-establishment Iranian cartoonist
calling himself Qthe IranianQ is exposing his works at a Haifa
exhibition.

Yesterday, The Jerusalem Post published the results of a poll for
The Israel Project that gathers Arab public opinion on a number of
key issues: Hamas's approval rating has sunk to significantly low
levels in the West Bank and even lower levels inside Gaza.

The survey, conducted by Stan Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
Research, included face-to-face interviews with hundreds of adults
in Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza, along with a series of
focus groups in Cairo and Ramallah. While the numbers indicate
ongoing, deep hostility toward Israel in the Arab world, the poll
also shows signs that powerful players in the region, such as Hamas,
are in deep trouble at home, and that the people living under their
direct rule are becomingly increasingly vocal in their criticism.

According to the poll, 58% of Gazans said they disapprove of the job
being done by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, while 42% of them said they
"disapprove strongly."

Fifty-seven percent of Palestinians in the West Bank also said they
disapprove of Hamas, but only 16% disapproved "strongly."

The poll also shows Fatah would beat Hamas by a solid 10 percentage
points in both the West Bank and Gaza, if Palestinians were to vote
in parliamentary elections today. While Fatah's popularity was much
higher than Hamas's in the West Bank, by a 45-28% margin, Fatah was
still able to edge Hamas by 3% in Gaza, where 33% of those polled
said they favored Fatah, compared to 30% for Hamas.

When asked who was responsible for the current crisis in Gaza,
Israel was overwhelmingly blamed by all the groups polled. But while
5% of Egyptians and Jordanians blamed Hamas for the current crisis,
35% of Palestinians in the West Bank said Hamas was to blame, while
16% of Gazans agreed.

Additionally, of all the places polled, Gazans made up the highest
percentage -- 38% -- of those who said they believed that both
Israel and Hamas, together, were responsible for the current Gaza
crisis.

Nonetheless, Gazans and Jordanians both showed a surprisingly high
level of support for direct negotiations with Israel. More than half
of those two groups -- 52% of those polled -- said they believed
Palestinians should negotiate directly with Israel, accep its right
to exist and honor past agreements. hirty-nine percent of
Egyptians said the same, compared to 36% of Palestinians in the West
Bank.
Also surprising, Greenberg said, was that while 35% of the other
groups polled stressed the importance of releasing Gilad Shalit, an
overwhelming two-thirds of Gazans said the same.

The poll also revealed that nearly a decade after the breakdown of
the Camp David Accords between Yasser Arafat, then-US president Bill
Clinton and then-prime minister Ehud Barak, a majority of those
polled in Egypt, Jordan and the West Bank expressed regret that
Arafat failed to accept the peace deal proposed there. Fifty-six
percent of West Bank Palestinians said that in retrospect, they
wished Arafat had accepted the agreement, while 50% of Jordanians
and 39% of Egyptians said the same. In Gaza, 57% of those polled
said they did not regret Arafat's rejection of the deal. Greenberg
said that these West Bank results show a change of heart since the
breakdown of the Camp David talks.

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Mideast:
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Block Quotes:
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I. "Bibi Shall Not Fall Again"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/8): QWhether Bibi's statements
were coordinated or not, he is playing with fire with his
construction games. The upcoming visit by U.S. Envoy George
Mitchell will give us a better picture of where we stand. In any
case, Obama has not been weakened to as great an extent as the
Israeli media claims. Almost every president suffers a certain loss
in popularity in public opinion polls at this stage of his term....
The question is, how long can Bibi satisfy the right wing while also
reaching an understanding on the American plan to establish a
Palestinian state as part of a pan-Arab arrangement? The Obama
administration has made its expectations of Israel clear. And
despite the threats of several right-wing politicians, it is
unlikely that a majority to topple this government can be found....
Netanyahu may be playing a flip-flopping game, but he will soon have
to make a decision. Not only because it is the majority's desire,
but first and foremost because he doesn't want to lose the
premiership yet again. And if any refrain is running through his
head, it is probably something along the lines of the heroic poem
about Masada: Bibi shall not fall again.

II. "Four Hundred and Fifty-Five Frogs"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz (9/8): QOn
Sunday evening, after signing some of the authorizations needed to
build 455 new housing units in West Bank settlements, Defense
Minister Ehud Barak rushed from his ministry in Tel Aviv to a
conference in Herzliya. There, the Labor Party Chairman declared
that Qit is our obligation to support, soberly but with an open
mind, the American initiative to bring about a comprehensive
regional agreement in the Middle East.Q The only explanation for
this is that Barak has reason to believe U.S. President Barack Obama
will swallow another 455 frogs.

III. "The Man Who Will Decide

Former Meretz leader, former Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, and
chief Israeli promoter of the Geneva Initiative, wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (9/7): QThe idea that the construction of
additional housing units must immediately be approved, beyond the
thousands of units whose construction has already begun, and only
then will construction be frozen -- though not in Jerusalem -- is
doomed to failure. The Americans cannot accept such a scorched
stew. The Palestinians cannot allow themselves to return to the
talks on the basis of this formula, whereas the keepers of the faith
in the Likud will not compromise on any freeze -- even if it is
wrapped in a temporary expansion of construction in the settlements.
In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is stuck, shortly after
his election, between a rock and a hard place. He has to calculate
who is with him and who is against him. He is trying, naturally
enough, to connect between his personal supporters, even if they are
on the hawkish side of the map, and the more moderate figures in his
camp, whom he joined following the Bar Ilan speech. This is
Netanyahu's moment. The ball is in his court, and the decision has
to be made in the period between the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur
[roughly September 19 through 28]. Netanyahu can expect a majority
in the Knesset for any decision that he makes. If he sticks to the
formula of a freeze following an expansion of construction, he will
enjoy the support of a majority of his current coalition; if he
agrees to a historic move of a real construction freeze and
launching serious negotiations with the PLO leadership on a final
status arrangement within six months, he will gain the support of
part of his faction's Knesset members, as well as the support of
those on the left of it].... However, it is reasonable to assume
that choosing the second option sends a chill through him. Every
prime minister in the history of the state -- both on the Right and
on the Left -- has preferred to act with a broad coalition, from the
center rightwards.... But the distance from being caught between a
rock and a hard place, to the uplifting situation he can reach
between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, could be shorter than a
stone's throw.

IV. QOne More Tug and the Rope Will Break

Conservative columnist Nadav Haetzni wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (9/6): QIn practice, Netanyahu is being led today by Shimon
Peres and Ehud Barak, and even though only half of the Labor Party's
Knesset members vote for him, he has become the Labor Party voters'
prime minister.... [Netanyahu] has got enough rope to maneuver
cleverly, in hopes that he would not take his eyes off the goal for
which he had promised to strive. But lately, it also has become
clear to the leaders of Netanyahu's camp that he is going back to
the old, disliked pattern of his first term, according to which,
when faced with pressure from the left wing, the press and
international elements, he changed his skin, signed the Hebron
Agreement, embraced Arafat, and gave his consent to the Wye
Memorandum.

V. "Plain Speaking"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/7):
QTime will tell if the Israelis are right about having changed
American minds [on settlement construction freeze]. To give
Netanyahu his due, at his Bar-Ilan speech in June, he tried speaking
plain about settlements and about the root causes of the conflict,
but much of what he said was lost on his American and European
audiences. The Premier urged the Palestinian leadership to
recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of its own.
Abbas said no. Netanyahu implored them to solve the Palestinian
refugee issue outside Israel's borders. Abbas ignored him. The
Premier urged them to negotiate the establishment of a
non-militarized Palestinian state. Abbas's advisers scorned the
notion. Netanyahu also tried some plain speaking to the settlers,
saying Israel did not want to rule over the Palestinians. Granted,
it would have been better had he stated unequivocally that even a
deal with the Palestinians he could live with would entail uprooting
communities outside the settlement blocs. Yet given the constraints
of our political system and the inhospitable political environment
in Europe and in Washington, there is just so much plain speaking
Netanyahu can usefully do. So maybe the real problem, in this
instance, is not that Netanyahu doesn't speak plainly, but that ears
attached to closed minds -- on the Israeli Right, at the EU and in
Washington -- have made it difficult for his words to strike a
chord.

VI. QAmerica Is Calling for Obama

Columnist Shmuel Rosner, who was HaQaretzQs correspondent in
Washington, wrote in Maariv (9/8): QObamaQs first year is slipping
between his fingers.... The legislators are edgy and jumpy.... In
April, the settlements were an Qobstacle to peaceQ; they have now
become an obstacle, a disturbance, in ObamaQs path as well. He has
many reasons to want to clinch a deal with Netanyahu -- one of them
is that he doesnQt have time to take care of trivia.

VII. QCarter, the Enemy Of Peace

Conservative Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in Maariv
(9/8): QThere are thousands of residents in [Jimmy] CarterQs home
state in Atlanta who were evicted from their homes because they
donQt have the money to make mortgage payments. The rights of the
Smith family, which was thrown into the street in Atlanta, are far
more substantiated than the rights of the [East Jerusalem] Hanoun
family. But Carter is not looking for justice. He is looking to
defame. The criticism over the eviction of the Hanoun family could
be justified.... The Palestinians underwent the experience of flight
and expulsion in the wake of a declaration of a war of destruction
against the fledgling Jewish state. The Jews in Arab states
underwent a similar experience -- flight, expulsion, and property
confiscation -- although they did not declare war on the Arab
states. Whose rights, therefore, are greater? Did Carter ever tell
the Palestinians this basic truth? We know the answer. Like other
Qpeace activists,Q he treats the Arabs in general, and the
Palestinians in particular, like retarded children. They mustnQt be
told the truth. They mustnQt be told that if there are rights to be
had -- then they are for both Jews and for Arabs. And if there are
no rights -- then neither the Jews nor the Arabs have them....
Israel can and should be criticized for the settlement enterprise.
Sometimes this criticism is justified. But Carter, like thousands
of other Qpeace activists,Q is not bringing peace any closer. Their
demonization of Israel strengthens the peace rejectionists....
Carter wrote an article [in the Washington Post] condemning Israel.
One of many. Instead of being an honest critic, Carter is becoming
part of the incitement mechanism against Israel. Carter is capable
of much more. He succeeded in other regions. For some reason, when
he deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he loses his
fairness and his balance.
This doesnQt help promote peace. Just the opposite. This is
CarterQs contribution to strengthening Palestinian rejectionism and
to distancing the chance of peace.

VIII. QAmericaQs Obsession with Dialogue

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/7): QSyria won't invade
Iraq, it will just keep welcoming, training, arming, financing,
transporting and helping the terrorists who do so. The Obama
administration has declared the war on terrorism to be over. But it
also said that the U.S. viewed al Qaida and those working with it as
enemies. The Syria-based Iraqi terrorists fall into that category.
America sacrificed hundreds of lives for Iraq's stability. Most of
those soldiers and civilian contractors were murdered by the very
terrorists harbored by Syria. How can the administration distance
itself from this conflict instead of supporting its ally and trying
to act against the very terrorists who have murdered Americans?....
how can any ally have confidence that the U.S. Government will
support it if menaced by terrorism or aggression? It can't. The
problem with treating enemies better than friends is that the
friends start wondering whether their interests are better served by
appeasing mutual enemies or mistreating an unfaithful ally which
ignores their needs.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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