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Cablegate: Special Israel Media Reaction

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COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019

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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: SPECIAL ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Visit of U.S. Special Envoy Sen. George Mitchell to Israel, PA

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Key stories in the media:
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The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli diplomatic officials as saying
yesterday that it was unlikely that todayQs meeting between PM
Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace
George Mitchell would lea to any declaration of a U.S.-Israel
agreement o the settlement issue, but rather to a further
"arrowing of the gaps" that might enable the resumpton of
diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinins. The officials
stressed, however, that whethr or not Netanyahu, PA President
Mahmoud Abbas, nd President Obama met on the sidelines of next
eek's U.N. General Assembly was not up to Israel, since Jerusalem
had already said it was willing to start talks immediately. Rather,
the officials said, the PA would have to decide whether it would
come to the negotiating table even though Israel would not agree to
a total settlement freeze. The Jerusalem Post reported that
yesterday the Prime Minister's Office issued a statement saying "a
meeting has not yet been set to launch the diplomatic process."
The bureau said that it was prepared for all eventualities,
including the possibility of traveling to New York earlier, in the
event that a meeting with Abbas was set. The Jerusalem Post quoted
an Israeli diplomatic official as saying that the search was still
on for a framework that would enable the resumption of talks. The
official made clear that complete agreement on all issues was
neither expected nor necessary, and said that what was needed for
the meeting to take place was "enough common ground." Mitchell,
following his talks with Netanyahu, is scheduled to meet directly
with Abbas and continue trying to forge that common ground. Abbas
has until now been adamant that he will not reenter negotiations
until there was a total settlement freeze.

The media reported that Netanyahu told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs
and Defense Committee yesterday that there would be no absolute
freeze, since the building already underway in the settlements --
some 2,500 housing units -- would continue, and that Israel would
keep on building public structures such as schools, health clinics,
kindergartens, and synagogues to enable normal life in the

settlements to continue.

HaQaretz reported that President Shimon Peres and lead Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erekat held a secret meeting last week in Jerusalem
in an effort to ease the way toward a three way
Netanyahu-Abbas-Obama meeting at the U.N. General Assembly on
September 23. Peres reportedly told Erekat to stop the PAQs boycot
of talks with PM Netanyahu. HaQaretz said that Erekat is AbbasQs
point man with Israel and the U.S., following Ahmed QureiQs removal
from the position of chief negotiator several months ago, due to
Fatah infighting..

Yediot reported that on October 1, U.S representatives, headed by
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, will
hold a QhistoricQ meeting with official representatives of Iran.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the talks will involve the five
permanent members of the Security Council, Germany, and Iran.
Yediot also reported that yesterday the IAEA named Japanese diplomat
Yukia Amano as its Director-General.
The Jerusalem Post quoted senior defense officials as saying
yesterday that increased intelligence-sharing among Israel, the
U.S., and European countries has succeeded in exposing cargo ships
carrying weaponry from Southeast Asia to Hamas in Gaza since the
IDFQs Operation Cast Lead earlier this year.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday a Justice Ministry
official told the KnessetQs Law Committee that Palestinians have
filed 500 lawsuits against the state for physical injuries or
property damage allegedly caused by IDF soldiers since the beginning
of the second Intifada, and that many more such suits are expected.

The media continued to highlight the death of Capt. Assaf Ramon and
his burial next to his father, first Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan
Ramon. HaQaretz quoted IsraelQs Ambassador the U.S. Michael Oren as
saying yesterday: "The heroism and tragedies of the Ramon family are
reminiscent of those of the Kennedys. The Ramon family, like the
Kennedys, demonstrated commitment to their state from birth, but all
too often, this ends in tragedy." The Israeli Embassy in the U.S.
is mourning the Ramon's family loss, said Oren. Media reported that
the State Department also extended its condolences to Israel and to
the family. "The Ramon family will always have a special connection
to the United States, because of what we endured together during the
Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy," said a State Department
spokesperson. Media quoted a State Department spokesperson as
saying: QWe offer our deepest sympathies to Rona Ramon, the Ramon
family, and the people of Israel on the loss of their son, brother,
and compatriot, Assaf. So as the Israeli people mourn this terrible
loss today, we in the United States mourn with them, and hope that
the memory of Assaf's dedicated and honorable service to his country
tempers their grief." NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston also
expressed its condolences, adding: "We will always consider Ilan,
Rona, Assaf, Tal, Yiftach, and Noa to be a part of our office and
the NASA family." HaQaretz and Maariv quoted Steve Lindsey, chief
of the Astronaut Office, as saying: "Many of us knew Assaf well. He
was a wonderful, mature young man who really stepped in to take care
of his family after the Columbia tragedy. He went on to follow in
his father's footsteps and selflessly served his nation. It was our
privilege to know him and we will miss him." The Jerusalem Post
quoted a U.S. Embassy spokesman as saying that Special Envoy George
Mitchell wanted to attend the funeral to express solidarity with the
family and with Israel.

Leading media reported that, in a newly released audiotape, al-Qaida
leader Usama bin Ladin warned the American people over their
government's close ties to Israel. Media quoted a militant group
claiming links to al-Qaida as saying yesterday that it was behind
the rockets fired into northern Israel last week. All media
reported that yesterday commando troops in Somalia -- reportedly
Americans -- killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan believed to be
involved in the 2002 bombing in Mombasa that claimed the lives of 15
people, including three Israelis, and in the attempted downing of an
Israeli airliner on the same day.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Qanti-Semitic blogosphere and
many Arab and Muslim media outlets are aflutterQ in recent days over
accusations of an international Jewish conspiracy to kidnap Algerian
children and harvest their organs. According to the story, first
reported by Algeria's Al-Khabar daily, bands of Moroccans and
Algerians have allegedly been roaming the streets of Algeria's
cities kidnapping young children, who are then transported across
the border into Morocco. From the Moroccan city of Oujda, the
children are then purportedly sold to Israelis and American Jews,
who then harvest their organs for sale in Israel and the U.S. The
organs are said to fetch anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000. The
source for the Al-Khabar report seems to be a Dr. Mustafa Khayatti,
head of the Algerian National Committee for the Development of
Health Research. Khayatti reportedly claimed that several Jews were
arrested in New York in connection with the trade. He claimed
Interpol knew of the situation and was leading the investigation
into the abductions. "The arrest of Jewish organ trafficking gangs
does not mean that the danger has gone; top officials and
specialists in this issue assert that there are other Jewish gangs
who remain active in several Arab countries," Khayatti was quoted as
saying. Picking up on the Algerian report, the official Iranian
news agency PressTV claimed that the Jewish group "is said to be
connected to Israeli Rabbi Levi Rosenbaum, who was recently arrested
in New Jersey for the direct involvement in importing human organs."
The report also ran without scrutiny on certain American news
outlets, including the Web site of the California-based American
Arab weekly Watan.

Maariv reported that yesterday the International Monetary Fund
published a report stating that the Palestinian economy is
blooming.

The Jerusalem Post reported that FM Avigdor Lieberman will leave on
Monday on a four-day trip to Serbia, Croatia, and Montenegro,
countries never before visited by an Israeli foreign minister.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Maya Wind and Netta Mishly, two
Israeli women who are refusing mandatory army duty, have kicked off
a North American tour and plan to take their story to more than a
dozen campuses in the next month. The daily cited the worry of
campus advocates that this will only fuel anti-Israel sentiment.

The media reported that last night QHachsharat Hayishuv,Q the
earliest Zionist economic enterprise (now owned by the Nimrodi
family), celebrated its centennial.

HaQaretz reported that Israel has dropped from 75th to 78th place in
the index of economic freedom for 2009, published by the Free the
World organization. The newspapers highlighted poverty in Israeli
society ahead of the Jewish High Holidays.

Visit of U.S. Special Envoy Sen. George Mitchell to Israel, PA

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

I. QTrying to Outsmart Obama

Former Ambassador to the U.S., former Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/15): QObama has decided to take his
position on Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West
Bank] public, and though many things will surely happen during the
next nine months, he is not likely to retract his position during
that period. In other words, even if Washington were to accept
Netanyahu's compromise position, the confrontation will not have
been avoided. That being the case, Netanyahu must consider whether
it is not wiser to face Washington on a matter of principle -- the
right of Jews to live and settle in the Land of Israel [Israel,
including the territories] -- rather than engage in a war of
attrition over a compromise formula. Anybody with experience
representing Israel in the U.S. will tell him that there, you are
better off fighting for a principle than trying to justify a
compromise deal.... We know that we can ride out the disagreements.
Israel's alliance with the U.S. is based not only on common ideals
and values, but also on mutual interests, and even recognition of
mutual benefits, despite the vast asymmetry in size between the two
countries. When it comes to our most basic rights -- the right of
Jews to live in the Land of Israel -- the U.S. will defer to Israel.
That is, if we stand up for our rights.

II. QA Reduction, Not a Freeze

The ultra-Orthodox HamodiQa editorialized (9/15): QIt is definitely
not simple to say QnoQ to an American president who plans to
establish a diplomatic agreement in the Middle East. Despite the
fact that his intentions are welcome, his actions are annoying. He
believes that [his demand that Israel freeze construction in
settlements] will benefit this country. The measly compensation in
the form of the construction of several hundred apartments is a poor
joke, which Abu Mazen and the U.S. President have brushed off with a
jeering smile.

III. QOn Secrets, Lies, and Panic

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in Ha'aretz
(6/15): QWinston Churchill once said that during wartime the truth
is so precious it is necessary to guard it with a wall of lies. But
no one has ever said that a person who is supposed to be working
toward peace has to surround the truth in a wall of lies. If
Netanyahu's trip was so secret, why did they reveal that he had
traveled at all? And to whom did they reveal that he had traveled
to Russia? If this is such an important secret, why has there been
such anguish at the Prime Minister's Office, instead of leaving the
secret for the history books?.... A person [Netanyahu] who panics at
the age of 50 is still a person who panics at the age of 60 -- even
when it is about peace.

IV. QThe Price of Survival

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/15):
QAssaf Ramon, following in the footsteps of his father but
remarkable in his own right, represented a tradition of service and
commitment that is vital to our very survival. Israel has told the
world: The Jews will not turn to others for their defense, and the
Jews are not defenseless. We have made that statement knowing there
is no alternative and knowing the price, which can come in battle as
in a training accident.... [His mother] Rona Ramon's pain is
personal and indescribable, but it is also shared in part with all
Israelis; her sacrifice was for all of us.

CUNNINGHAM

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