Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction
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WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS
SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
3. Anniversary of 9/11
Key stories in the media:
The media quoted PM Benjamin Netanyahu as saying yesterday before an
audience of Likud members in Tel Aviv that Israelis were ready to
make concessions for peace, but that they will not be "suckers" in
peace negotiations. Media quoted him as saying that since his
Bar-Ilan University speech, "I have been working on getting
international recognition for two things: Israel as the Jewish
homeland and that any peace agreement must include security
arrangements. We will not allow for a 'Hamastan' among us.
Addressing the settlers, whom he called Qloyal and good citizens, he
said: QYou deserve to live normal lives. We will do two things at
the same time: advance the peace process and enable you to live
normal lives.Q YediotQs online service Ynet reported that Culture
and Sports Minister Limor Livnat joined the camp of the Likud
Qrebels.Q Some media reported that Minister Silvan Shalom also
joined up with the dissenting Likud members.
The Jerusalem Post reported that two senior U.S. officials told
Jewish leaders in Washington yesterday that the U.S. is laying the
groundwork for sanctions against Iran after having become
increasingly disenchanted with the strategy of engagement. Under
Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns was quoted as
saying that the Obama administration wants to prepare for sanctions
now, so that it will be ready to implement them at the end of the
year if it comes to that, and not have to start from scratch at that
point. Top White House Middle East adviser Dennis Ross, appearing
beside Burns at the panel discussion with the Jewish leaders,
explained that the administration's focus on diplomatic engagement
had shifted following the Iranian elections, and indicated that the
White House now had a more skeptical view of that approach which
could give way to sanctions.
HaQaretz reported that, less than two weeks before the U.N. General
Assembly is to meet, PA President Mahmoud Abbas remains adamant in
his refusal to meet with Netanyahu, potentially jeopardizing the
Obama administration's plans to hold a three-way meeting in New York
on September 23 or 24. Abbas insists there will be no meeting with
Netanyahu, nor a resumption of negotiations, unless Israel
completely freezes settlement construction in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem. HaQaretz says that the U.S. and Israel are still hoping
that an agreement on a temporary freeze in settlement construction,
along with an Israeli announcement to that effect, will convince
Abbas to change his mind. HaQaretz has learned that Abbas has
relayed messages in recent days to senior U.S. and European
officials, as well as Israeli officials, saying he did not intend to
participate in a tripartite meeting at the UN General Assembly and
that he was not willing to meet with Netanyahu. HaQaretz quoted a
diplomatic source in Jerusalem as saying that Israel's recent
announcement of 455 new building permits and the delay in declaring
a freeze in settlement construction are the reasons Abbas is
refusing to participate in the meeting.
The Jerusalem Post reported that PM Netanyahu's scheduled meeting
with U.S Special Envoy George Mitchell on Monday will deal not only
with the settlement issue, but also with a timeline and the
parameters of talks that are expected to be launched with the
Palestinians on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting
later this month. Although no formal announcement has yet been
made, Mitchell is expected to arrive in Israel either Saturday night
or Sunday for another round of talks. It is not clear whether he
will be going to other states in the region. The Jerusalem Post
quoted diplomatic officials in the U.S. as saying that President
Obama is keen on some kind of foreign policy success at what some --
because of the intense debate surrounding his health care reform --
are calling a "defining period" of his young presidency.
The Jerusalem Post quoted high-ranking Fatah official Jibril Rajoub
as saying yesterday that Fatah welcomes a new Egyptian proposal
aimed at solving its dispute with Hamas. The Egyptian proposal has
the support of Hamas as well.
HaQaretz reported that France called on Russia yesterday not to
complete the sale of advanced air defense missiles to Iran.
Sunday will mark the 16th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo
Accords in Washington. President Shimon Peres told HaQaretz that
the agreement is Qalive and kicking.Q HaQaretz (Akiva Eldar) brings
the reflections of, and a little breast-beating by, three of the
agreementQs architects on their lasting contributions. Yossi Beilin
is quoted as saying: QOslo changed the entire conceptual system of
Israeli society. It did to Israel what all the wars, including the
trauma of the Yom Kippur War, did not.Q Uri Savir, who is also
unsparingly critical of Yasser ArafatQs failure to create
institutions and fight extremist groups such as Hamas, states: QWe
were too heavy-handed with security and we were unaware of its
effect on poverty and terrorism in the territories.Q Yair
Hirschfeld comments that without a fundamental change in the
situation on the ground, a final-status arrangement is impossible.
The Jerusalem Post reported that this week the Jerusalem
MagistrateQs Court ordered a halt to a number of construction
projects in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, after
residents and two local NGOs filed a petition claiming the projects
The Jerusalem Post quoted the Israeli human rights organizations Kav
Laoved and Gisha as saying that when permits are issued for
Palestinians to work in construction, information on which
contractors have received the permits, and how many, should be made
public. Suspicions of black market trade have arisen following the
approval of 5,0000 new permits.
HaQaretz reported that FM Avigdor Lieberman is returning today from
a visit to five African states, where in addition to discussing
Africa's internal problems, he and his entourage laid the groundwork
for weapons deals. Among other matters, the daily reported that
Ethiopia, which has long had friendly relations with Israel, is
willing to allow Israeli military agents operate there.
The media believe that NetanyahuQs military secretary Maj. Gen. Meir
Kalifi is likely to become a scapegoat over his false explanation of
the PMQs clandestine trip to Russia on Monday. The Jerusalem PostQs
Herb Keinon speculated that the destination of NetanyahuQs travel
could have been a different one -- Saudi Arabia for instance.
The media quoted GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni as saying
yesterday that IDF soldiers were not authorized to attack
Palestinian civilians during arrest raids, adding that those who
cross the army's "red lines" must stand trial. Shamni said the IDF
never authorized the use of such aggression during questioning of
detainees. Shamni's comments came during the trial of First Lt.
Adam Malul who is accused of hitting a Palestinian during an arrest.
A difference of opinion has arisen with the IDF ranks between those
who justify such action and those who oppose it.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli and PA police forces
together with the IDFQs civil administration are increasing their
cooperation, and have implemented a series of confidence-building
measures over the past two years.
HaQaretz and Yediot reported that senior Israeli jurists are
recommending that the state fundamentally reform immigration policy
to naturalize long-time foreign workers, draft an immigration law,
and create an immigration ministry.
The media reported that the Ofer familyQs Israel Corporation hinted
yesterday that the Zim shipping firm may not be able to meet its
obligations. The corporation owns about 98.5% of ZimQs shares.
Major media reported that archeologists recently discovered the
earliest Jewish description of a Second Temple period candelabra (or
menorah) in a dig at the site of a synagogue on the shores of the
Sea of Galilee.
I. "Time for Business"
Columnist Shmuel Rosner, who was HaQaretzQs correspondent in
Washington, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (9/11): QWhen
Netanyahu returned from London, he had already agreed to a
moratorium on new building in the settlements. But the duration of
the moratorium has not been fixed. The full picture of the Arab
commitments has not entirely cleared up either. The Americans view
a split list: the commitments that have already been, and those in
the making. They gently hinted to the Israeli envoys that any
bombastic announcement about the construction of 400 housing units
in the territories, any governmental spin for domestic political
purposes, will carry an Arab price tag.... Mitchell has already
erased at least one item from the list of what he had apparently
managed to receive.
II. "Tactical Victories"
Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (9/11): QPublicly, the White House has
condemned the new-old building plans, but plainly Netanyahu's deft
build-then-freeze combination has not derailed the Obama
administrationQs plans to broker a formal resumption of substantive
Israeli-Palestinian talks in the next few weeks, possibly with a
launch that coincides with the U.N. General Assembly session.
According to some in Jerusalem, moreover, the months of talks on the
parameters of a freeze have also gradually yielded a softening of
the initial absolute American demand that all building come to a
halt everywhere beyond the Green Line. What hasnQt changed [since
the Oslo Accords], at least not for the better, is the Palestinian
position Q the same maximalist stances, the same relentless
anti-Israel incitement, and the same refusal by leaders to
acknowledge and convey to their people the legitimacy of Israel. If
Obama and Netanyahu have found a middle ground, there is sadly no
evidence that Abbas is traveling in the same direction. For the
hesitant Rabin of 1993, as a consequence, substitute a wary Israel
in 2009 -- an Israel backing a prime minister heading into
negotiations expecting rejection, deadlock, and worse. How
fervently we wish to be proved wrong.
III. "Preparing for the American Peace Plan"
Shaul Arieli, member of the Council for Peace and Security, wrote in
the independent, left-leaning HaQaretz (9/11): QOn the
Israeli-Palestinian track, the Americans will seek to create
circumstances on the ground which would enable the building of the
state-in-the-making. In addition, they will offer their own
bridging proposals which will be gradually presented to both sides
in the two years allotted for the negotiations. The American
proposals will be laid out on the negotiating table through a
variety of diplomatic means -- ranging from an international peace
conference based on the Madrid model, to an exchange of letters
based on the Oslo model, to the deposits based on the Syria model,
to the detailed parameters for a solution to the conflict based on
the Bill Clinton model. One should hope that the Americans, who
were smart enough to adopt the ... Qeither/orQ approach, will
refrain from meeting halfway on the key issues, be they a freeze in
settlement construction or the right of return. At Camp David and
Taba, we learned that halfway compromises of this nature on each
issue individually do not bring the two sides closer, but rather
creates a lose-lose situation. The compromise must be aimed at a
comprehensive package deal: Israel as the state of the Jewish nation
which enjoys security, recognition and peace; and an independent
Palestine alongside it.
IV. "Benjamin the Giver"
Haggai Segal, who was a member of the QJewish undergroundQ in the
1980s, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot
(9/11): QListen, complacent Likudniks: Netanyahu is mentally capable
of returning you to the Q67 lines Q yes, in Jerusalem too. Three
months ago he hummed Qtwo states for two peoplesQ according to
ObamaQs tune; he now even freezes MaQaleh Adumim; tomorrow he will
concede everything. If you donQt tell him QnoQ as soon as possible,
he will continue to say only Qyes.
I. "The PMQs Skewed Threat Perception"
Political/diplomatic correspondent Gil Hoffman wrote in
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/11): QThe tables have
turned and Netanyahu is doing much better in the polls than U.S.
President Barack Obama, ahead of an anticipated meeting of the two
men soon in New York. Ironically, this means it will now be harder
for Netanyahu to use political problems as a reason to say no to
anything Obama would want him to do. But if Netanyahu does talk
about imminent political threats against him, Obama should not
assume that the Prime Minister is being economical with the truth.
The President should instead understand that whether or not the
computer, the radio, and the television are on, Netanyahu sometimes
truly sees internal political threats that are not that serious.
Yet Netanyahu and Obama will not be getting together to discuss
internal politics but grave matters of war and peace. And when it
comes to the external threats facing Israel, one can only hope that
the Prime Minister correctly judges the scale of the threats, and
II. "Countdown to Takeoff"
Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/11): QFor an Israeli attack [on Iran] to be
considered, Israel would need the tacit approval of the Obama
administration, if only in the sense that it looks the other way.
This is due above all to the necessity of passing through the Iraqi
air corridor, as American soldiers will still be in Iraq in 2011.
No less important is strategic coordination for the day after: How
will the United States react to a prolonged aerial attack by Israel
on the nuclear sites and to the regional flare-up that might follow?
These are matters that would have to be agreed on directly between
Obama and Netanyahu. The disparity in their policy stances,
together with the total lack of personal chemistry between them, is
liable to prove a hindrance. Iran is likely to respond to an
Israeli attack by opening fronts nearby, via Hizbullah from Lebanon
and Hamas in Gaza. Three years after the Second Lebanon War and at
the end of a broad process of learning lessons from that conflict,
the IDF is quite confident of its ability to deal with Hizbullah.
At the same time, it's clear that Israel will be subjected to
extensive rocket attacks that can be expected to cover most of the
country. A key question would be Syria's behavior. Israel has a
salient interest in having Damascus be no more than a spectator in a
confrontation. If the attack on Iran is perceived to have been
successful, that is probably how the Syrians will respond. But an
attack on Iran will reopen a decades-old blood feud -- and the
Iranians have both a long memory and a great deal of patience. With
decisions like this looming within a year, it's no wonder that
Netanyahu wants to get the Gilad Shalit affair wrapped up.
3. Anniversary of 9/11:
"Until the Next Surprise"
Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/11): QIt's bad enough that
al-Qaida killed Americans. It has also continued to make a mockery
of them, which just goes to show that brains do not always go hand
in hand with brawn.... An American commission of inquiry headed by
Thomas Kean, the former Governor of New Jersey, blamed the Bush
administration for the 9/11 attacks. In response to Condoleezza
Rice's question, in which she wondered how we could have guessed
that they would hijack passenger airplanes with the goal of crashing
them into buildings, Kean replied that at least two intelligence
agencies possessed information which indicated that such an event
would take place. The information, however, was not passed onward,
and the available bits of information were not added together, thus
ensuring that the plot would not be exposed beforehand. As such,
the responsible agencies did not fulfill their tasks. Now we are
cognizant and ready, so such an event will not happen again. Until
the next lethal surprise.