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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001997

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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Major media reported that PM Benjamin Netanyahu has shortened his
planned visit to the U.N. from four days to two. Officials in
NetanyahuQs bureau are quoted as saying that the central reason for
that decision was the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad and the fact that the two are supposed to sit just two
seats away from one another. Israel Hayom quoted a high-ranking
Israeli diplomatic source as saying: QIn an historical perspective,
Netanyahu does not want to be in the same auditorium and certainly
not to have his picture taken with a Holocaust-denier, who openly
declares that he wants to destroy the State of Israel,Q The media
also quoted officials in the PMQs bureau as saying that despite the
tight schedule, the three-way meeting among President Barack Obama,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority
Chairman Abu Mazen is likely to be held. Netanyahu is not going to
be present when President Obama makes his introductory statements to
the U.N. Israel Hayom quoted a highly-placed official in the PMQs
bureau as saying: QWe have informed the Americans the reason for his
absence, and they showed understanding.Q Netanyahu is also
scheduled to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan.

The media reported that a QsmokescreenQ continues to surround PM
NetanyahuQs QmysteryQ trip on Monday. Media quoted his military
secretary Meir Kalifi as saying: QFor state security one may
sometimes not tell the whole truth.Q HaQaretz said that Netanyahu
aides are Qmired in anarchy, turf wars, and lies.

Yediot reported that the QLauder documentQ outlining a report on a
possible withdrawal from the Golan, which the daily says is being
published for the first time, exposes some of what was discussed
behind closed doors. The document, which Ron Lauder, a close
confidant of PM Netanyahu, gave to President Bill Clinton, contains
an Israeli commitment to withdraw from the Golan to the June 4, 1967
lines. In return, the Syrians reportedly undertook to permit an
American-French early-warning station to be established on Mt.
Hermon. Speaking on Israel Radio this morning, Danny Yatom, who was
head of Mossad during PM Netanyahu's first term, said that the
Premier then agreed to withdraw from the entire Golan in a future
peace deal with Syria. Yatom told the radio that although
Netanyahu's agreement didn't bind him now, "he has to admit" that he
did agree to withdraw from the territory. Environmental Protection
Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) denied Yatom's claim, but told the
radio that anyway, there was no reason to bring up the past. Yediot
reported that Netanyahu continues to deny at present that he agreed
to a complete withdrawal from the Golan.

Leading media quoted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as saying
yesterday that Israel's plans to continue building settlements in
the West Bank were "contrary to international law." According to
AFP, Ban "noted with deep concern" DM Ehud Barak's approval of 455
new housing units in West Bank settlements on Monday. The Jerusalem
Post reported that yesterday Education Minister Gideon SaQar (Likud)
told a group of visiting Conservative British parliamentarians that
Israel will continue to build schools, kindergartens, and class
rooms in West Bank settlements as they are needed. SaQar cited
Qnatural growth.

Leading media reported that yesterday Iran presented world powers
with a proposal for new talks with the West, although Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ruled out negotiations over
uranium enrichment. Israeli spokesmen were quoted as saying that
Ahmadinejad is only playing for time. Media quoted Glyn Davis, the
U.S. envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, as saying
yesterday that ongoing enrichment activity is moving Iran "closer to
a dangerous and destabilizing possible breakout capacity." Davis
spoke of "serious concerns" in Washington that Iran is now either
very near or already has enough low-enriched uranium to produce one
nuclear weapon. This could happen if Iran made a decision to
further enrich the material to weapons grade. The Jerusalem Post
reported that several hundred Jewish leaders and activists are
planning to arrive in Washington tomorrow to urge top Obama
administration officials and U.S. congressmen to take action on
Iran. They are pushing for Congress to quickly pass an Iran
sanctions bill sponsored by U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee
Chairman Howard Berman and otherwise take serious economic and
diplomatic steps to pressure Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear
capabilities that threaten Israel.

Leading media reported that yesterday only four QrebelQ Likud
Knesset members attended the protest meeting against PM NetanyahuQs
reported acceptance of a settlement freeze in the territories. The
media cited NetanyahuQs pressure in the matter.

The Jerusalem Post reported that for the first time, the High Court
of Justice yesterday ordered the state to demolish illegal
structures built by Palestinians in the West Bank. Until now, the
court had only ordered the state to implement demolition orders
against illegal construction by Jewish settlers, since these were
the only kinds of petitions that had been filed.

All media reported that yesterday former PM Ehud Olmert vindicated
the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, saying the disengagement was "the
right thing at the right time" and did not set back Israel's
security. Olmert blamed false hopes and officials for the failures
of disengagement and resettlement of Gaza evacuees. Olmert was
appearing before a state inquiry commission regarding how the
authorities handled the former Gaza settlers. Testifying for three
hours, Olmert dismissed the argument that the pullout led to
increased terror. Olmert reminded the commission that after the
unilateral evacuation, former U.S. President George W. Bush wrote a
letter to Israel stating that the Palestinian leaders were
responsible for solving the Palestinian refugee problem. He also
reportedly said that Israel's borders do not necessarily have to
return to the 1967 borders in order to reach an agreement. HaQaretz
reported that the Gush Katif council of Gaza settlers slammed
Olmert's comments, saying, "The former prime minister blamed
everyone but himself for the judicial failures preceding the
withdrawal."

Yediot reported that PM Netanyahu as decided to bring Shas Party
Chairman and Inteior Minister Eli Yishai into the QsextetQ forum of
ministers that makes the most sensitive decisions. Yediot reported
that senior members FM Avigdor LiebermanQs Yisrael Beiteinu
criticized the move, saying it is turning the forum into Qcoalition
gifts.

Yediot reported that yesterday the IDF held maneuvers simulating
fighting on both the Syrian and the Lebanese fronts. This is the
third large exercise conducted in the north this year.

Yediot quoted the BBC as saying yesterday that for the first time an
Israeli source -- a Qsenior figure close to Israeli intelligenceQ --
acknowledged his countryQs involvement in the affair of the Russian
ship QArctic Sea,Q which was allegedly transporting weapons destined
for Iran.

Yediot reported that some senior Israeli officials are trying to
thwart the appointment of Egyptian Culture Minister Farouq Hosni to
the post of secretary-general of UNESCO, despite NetanyahuQs promise
to President Hosni Mubarak that Israel will not disrupt HosniQs
nomination.

HaQaretz reported that earlier this week Jerusalem District Court
Judge Noam Sohlberg ordered the Jerusalem Municipality to stop work
on an infrastructure project that the city has undertaken in the
City of David area of the Silwan neighborhood, south of the Old
City. Sohlberg ordered the work halted in response to a petition
filed by Palestinian residents of Silwan with the support of two
non-profit groups, Bimkom and the Association for Civil Rights in
Israel. The petitioners contended the project was not designed to
benefit the 7,000 Palestinians who live in the neighborhood and were
not involved in the plans, but would instead benefit the right-wing
non-profit organization Elad and the tourists who visit the area.
Sohlberg rejected most of the petitioners' arguments but ruled that
some of the work was carried out illegally and without proper
permits.

The Jerusalem Post quoted the Environmental Protection Ministry as
saying yesterday that it has hired the international consulting
company McKinsey to map IsraelQs emissions sources and provide
technological and behavioral recommendations for reduction. The
report will form the basis of IsraelQs national emissions reduction
strategy.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Honest Reporting, the
Jerusalem-based media watchdog that campaigns on behalf of Israel,
has claimed success in its drive to force Facebook to allow users in
the Golan to list themselves as living in Israel.

Leading media reported that yesterday Israeli archeologists unveiled
historic artifacts from a cave in the Judean Hills believed to have
been used by Jewish refugees during the Bar Kochba rebellion
in132-135 CE. The discovery includes a large assortment of coins
from that era.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday FM Lieberman signed the
first agreement between Israel and the Economic Community of West
African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, Nigeria. ECOWAS is comprised of
fifteen West African states, and three member states -- Guinea, Mali
and Niger -- do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Jean de
Dieu Somda, Commission Vice President, signed the agreement on
behalf of ECOWAS. The agreement is for cooperation in the fields of
education, agriculture, culture, economic relations and other fields
to be agreed upon by the two sides. In addition, Lieberman and
Somda signed an agreement between ECOWAS and MASHAV-Israel Center
for Economic Cooperation, which states that the two sides will work
together to initiate projects, with an emphasis on reducing poverty
and preservation and protection of the environment. The Jerusalem
Post reported that yesterday Israeli Tourism Minister Stats
Misezhnikov and Mongolian Tourism Minister signed a tourism
cooperation agreement in Jerusalem. The accord focuses on desert
tourism.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli travel agency
Yambateva, which specializes in organized tours to exotic locations,
has announced a merger with Maroc Tours and that it will open local
offices in Marrakesh.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz as saying
that officials from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development criticized the countryQs policy of buying dollars to
weaken the shekel.

HaQaretz reported that yesterday Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
accused Israel of perpetrating genocide against the Palestinians.

HaQaretz quoted Dr. Matthew Tarosky, Deputy Director of the U.S.
Food and Drug AdministrationQs Division of Bioresearch Monitoring,
as saying that the FDA intends on opening a Middle East office, and
that it most likely will be located in Israel. Tarosky spoke
yesterday at a conference in Tel Aviv sponsored by the Israel Life
Science Industry and the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry on
"Regulatory Pathways to Medical Device Marketing in the U.S." The
conference was designed to help Israeli firms meet U.S. medical
equipment regulations.

Maariv reported that foreign workers in Israel are forming a union.

------------
1. Mideast:
------------
Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "Netanyahu DoesnQt Have to Say a Word"

Yitzhak Klein, Director of the Israel Policy Center, whose mission
includes reinforcing IsraelQs character as a Jewish, democratic
state, wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/10):
QFew Israelis now believe there are genuine prospects for peace, and
they blame the Palestinians. Washington doesn't share this Israeli
consensus, so shouting it from the rooftops would be unwise. But
Netanyahu doesn't need to lecture his people about anything. He,
his chief cabinet members from Ehud Barak to Benny Begin, and the
broad Israeli mainstream are all in tacit agreement. As long as
Barack Obama is in the White House they're all willing to pay lip
service to a Palestinian state, just so long as nobody seriously
contemplates creating one. If Israelis didn't share this view, they
would have elected Tzipi Livni in February.... [In a September 7
op-ed article, former Jerusalem Post managing editor] Jeff Barak
praised President Obama's posturing on peace and settlements. Alas
for the President, Obama's initial positions on this and other
foreign policy issues, such as Iran, aren't surviving in the real
world very well. Support for the President's foreign policy is
eroding within his own party. Obama's anti-settlement policy is
likely to fade out quietly before too long. That would be a good
thing. Israelis have a serious problem with the Palestinians, and
the kind of policy advocated by Jeff Barak and Barack Obama is not
going to solve it. The real obstacle to peace is Palestinian
intransigence on Israel's very right to exist. That's the issue
that's holding up progress, and nothing can happen until it's
resolved.

II. "BibiQs Semester Report"

Senior commentator Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (9/10): QWhile the U.S. President's wings melt, the Israeli
Prime Minister is slowly growing his own. Day by day and week by
week, Netanyahu is moving away from the demonic image that had been
attached to him and is fortifying his status as the legitimate
Israeli captain of this time.... Three months after being announced
to the world, the Bar-Ilan formula is clearly working. It unites
the Israelis in support of a sober, realistic two-state solution.
It is bringing many in the West to support recognizing Israel as a
Jewish state and demilitarizing the Palestinian state. It obliges
the Palestinians to decide whether they want real peace or a
step-by-step plan for the destruction of Israel. Within a very
short amount of time, Netanyahu has managed to redefine the peace
process. Now it is clear to all that the burden of proof and
contribution not only rests on Israel's shoulders, but also on the
Palestinians, the Arab states and the international community.
After Olmert and Livni gave everything without receiving anything,
Netanyahu is conducting a reasonable, mature policy. But these
achievements [including the political and economic ones] are not
enough. Netanyahu's government still lacks the main thing --
vision. It is still not clear where it is really heading.

III. "The Emotional Blackmail Returns"

Settler leader Israel Harel wrote in HaQaretz (9/10): QIf the
thousands who demonstrated in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv in favor of
releasing terrorists in exchange for Shalit would demonstrate in
favor of denying the rights of these imprisoned terrorists, and
would keep it up as they did with the demonstrations and rallies in
favor of closing the transaction at any price -- no government,
certainly not a right-wing government, would be able to withstand
the pressure. When family visits to the Hamas murderers are no
longer allowed and other perks are canceled, the Palestinian
families who miss their loved ones will go into action. The main
demonstrations for the release of Shalit would then move from Rabin
Square to Palestine Square in Gaza.


IV. "The Mother of All Missed Opportunities"

Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in The Jerusalem Post (9/10):
QThe Palestinians in the West Bank are doing what we've dreamed the
Palestinians would do for more than a century -- and we refuse to
see it. They've effectively stopped terrorism. They're building up
their economy. They're enforcing the law. They're being trained by
the Americans and they're cooperating with Israeli military and
intelligence. They're arresting Islamic militants by the thousands,
and they're not hesitating to shoot it out with them. This hasn't
been going on for a week or a month, either; it's been going on for
over two years.... [Salam] Fayyad was favored by the Bush crowd even
more than [Mahmoud] Abbas, possibly because he got his MBA and PhD
degrees at universities in the great state of Texas. These are the
people whom Israel ignores. These are the Palestinian leaders whom
Israel persists in considering hopeless, intransigent, utterly
undeserving of trust. Meanwhile, even Roni Daniel, the
gloom-and-doom military affairs reporter for Channel 2-TV, has been
talking about the Qnew atmosphereQ in the West Bank -- the safety,
the commerce, the sense of freedom that's come with the IDF's
removal of so many checkpoints and barriers -- a policy that began
under pressure from Bush.

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

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

"The Missile Crisis

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote on the online service Gplanet.co.il
(9/10): QThe worst part about the whole affair [of the hijacked
Russian ship] is the absolute absence of any international
coordination about the Iranian nuclear program. Israel is operating
almost alone, the United States is barely in the picture (with the
exception of rhetorical participation), France, Germany and England
are operating alone, Russia is operating alone, and China is
operating alone. The immediate and clear lesson to be learned from
this missile affair is that an international summit meeting is
needed so that the world might finally unite and form a firm and
joint policy against Iran, which has been playing the entire
international community. It is clear that Ahmadinejad is enjoying
this international isolation or, what might better be called the
pathetic international weakness.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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