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Cablegate: Special Israel Media Reaction

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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
NSC FOR NEA STAFF

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HQ USAF FOR XOXX
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JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
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PARIS ALSO FOR POL
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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 media reported that yesterday U.S. Special Envoy Senator George
Mitchell was unable to bridge the gaps between the U.S., Israel, and
the PA in a way that would allow a three-party summit to be held at
the U.N. General Assembly next week. HaQaretz reported that
Mitchell asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to show flexibility
on the issue of freezing settlements, in order to allow Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to attend the meeting with
Netanyahu and President Obama. Media reported that last night the
forum of senior ministers in Netanyahu's inner circle met to discuss
whether they believe Israel has additional room to maneuver within
the administration's red lines. Israel Radio quoted Netanyahu
associates as saying that the PM is willing to resume negotiations
with the Palestinians but not at all cost. The radio quoted
ministers as saying that the Palestinians are playing a game of
brinkmanship. Media quoted Mitchell as saying before meeting with
Netanyahu that he hoped he would be able to reach an agreement with
the PM that would allow the three-way summit to take place. After
yesterday's meeting the Prime Minister's Office issued a laconic
statement that the meeting had been "good." HaQaretz quoted an
official as saying later that the two sides are continuing efforts
to narrow the differences between them. Following yesterday's
fruitless talks, Netanyahu is scheduled this morning to meet with
Mitchell again, after the envoy extended his stay in Israel by an
additional day. Today Mitchell and Netanyahu will try to reach a
compromise on a settlement freeze that would allow the renewal of
diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Jerusalem Post diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote: QThe fact
that Mitchell met with Netanyahu on Tuesday morning, went to Abbas
in Ramallah in the afternoon and will meet again on Wednesday
morning with Netanyahu in Jerusalem left the impression that he was
shuffling questions and answers back and forth.Q HaQaretz noted
that one of the outstanding issues between Washington and Jerusalem
is the length of the proposed freeze -- the U.S. is demanding that
settlement construction be suspended for a year, while Israel is
offering to do so for only six months. The timetable for talks is
also under dispute, as Washington is seeking to reach an
Israeli-Palestinian agreement within two years, a target the
Netanyahu government has rejected. In today's meeting, Mitchell is
expected to update Netanyahu on his meeting yesterday with Abbas,
during which he dined with the Palestinian leader to break the day's
Ramadan fast. Media quoted Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat as
saying after the meeting that Mitchell and Abbas did not even
discuss the possibility of a tripartite meeting. Erekat said all
settlement construction must completely stop, including in East
Jerusalem, before such a meeting could be arranged.

Yediot cites assessments in Israel, following the Mitchell-Netanyahu
meeting, that the three-way summit will take place next week.

PM Netanyahu was quoted as saying in a Jewish New Year interview
with Maariv that Mahmoud Abbas must declare that the conflict has
ended. Netanyahu was quoted as saying that Abbas would then put him
to a test.

Major news reports are about yesterdayQs release of the report from
the U.N. Human Rights Council-appointed fact-finding mission, headed
by Judge Richard Goldstone, to investigate international human
rights and humanitarian law violations related to Operation Cast
Lead, Although the document accuses both Israelis and the
Palestinians of actions amounting to war crimes, the media reported
that Israel began fighting the diplomatic battle yesterday to
prevent the report from being brought before the U.N. Security
Council and from there to the International Criminal Court in The
Hague, where charges could be brought against Israeli officials
involved in the military campaign. Major media quoted Israeli
sources as saying that the commission has Qdeclared war on Israel.
HaQaretz reported that on the diplomatic front, Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, President
Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will telephone many of
their counterparts around the world. They will stress that the
Goldstone report is one-sided, that it rewards terrorism, and that
it sets a precedent which will make it difficult for any country in
the world to defend itself against terror. Israel's diplomatic
efforts will focus on the five permanent members of the UN Security
Council but that they will also give priority to members of the EU,
because of their influence in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The senior Israeli leaders will ask their counterparts to express
disagreement with the report and to oppose any use of it as the
basis for anti-Israel resolutions at other international
institutions. HaQaretz quoted a senior Israeli staffer handling the
Goldstone report as saying: "It will be a long diplomatic and legal
campaign. We will involve our friends around the world, especially
the United States, to prevent Israel's isolation." Israel's
ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev was quoted as saying in an
interview with HaQaretz yesterday: "Exactly what we feared
occurred. The mandate of the Goldstone Commission," she said, "was
one-sided from the beginning and the initiative to establish the
commission came from the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is known
for regularly and routinely condemning Israel." QWe anticipated that
the contents of the report would be slanted and one-sided, but we
didn't imagine that it would be so harsh and blunt," she added. The
Jerusalem Post quoted Avi Bell, an expert in international law and
laws of war at Bar-Ilan University, as saying that the report will
cause Israel serious political damage, but that it is unlikely to
lead to any tangible consequences. HaQaretz reported that yesterday
Hamas ejected the report. A representative of the organization,
Ismail Radwan, told HaQaretz last night that the report was
unbalanced and completely misrepresented reality. Media quoted
Israeli human rights groups as saying that Israel cannot ignore the
report.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a report issued yesterday by
epidemiologist Elihu Richter and Dr. Yael Stein charged that a
recent document released by the Israeli human rights group BQTselem
on the number of Palestinian combatants and non-combatants killed in
Operation Cast Lead Qis flawed by major errors of commission and
omission and possibly major misclassification biases.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted DM Barak as saying yesterday that Israel
took too big a risk by removing roadblocks in the West Bank.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Geneva Initiative co-sponsor Yossi Beilin
as saying yesterday that talk about a settlement freeze distracts
negotiators from real issues -- such as Jerusalem and refugees --
that truly block the path to peace between Israelis and
Palestinians.

Israel Radio reported on Syrian President Bashar AssadQs visit to
Turkey and the likely discussion there of the Israeli-Syrian
negotiation track.

Leading media reported that U.S. astronauts came to Israel to
comfort the family of IAF Capt. Assaf Ramon, who was killed on
Sunday during a routine training flight. The media cited the close
friendship between the astronauts and the Ramon family.

HaQaretz reported that Israel has arrested Mohammed Harwish, a Hamas
militant wanted since 2004 for involvement in the suicide bombing
that killed 30 people at a Passover Seder in the Park Hotel in
2002.

HaQaretz reported that settler Rabbi Mordechai Geniram will go on
trial today for obstructing justice by refusing to give police the
names of students suspected of attacking and beating Palestinian
shepherds in March 2008. On what it described as unprecedented
settler violence, Israel TV reported that yesterday masked Jews
attacked border policemen Q notably with firebombs -- at the West
Bank outpost of Havat Gilad.

HaQaretz quoted the London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi as
saying that Syria plans to block Internet users from accessing
Facebook, because the site now allows residents of the Golan to
identify Israel as their country of origin.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz met
with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in Washington on Monday
in an effort to intensify ties and strengthen cooperation with the
U.S. The newspaper also reported that Industry, Trade, and Labor
Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer is scheduled to meet with New York
Governor David Paterson to sign an R&D cooperation agreement between
Israel and New York State. Ben-Eliezer is also scheduled to meet
with leading companies in Atlanta and Boston, including GE
Technology, AT&T, Coca Cola, and waste management firms to encourage
closer cooperation.

HaQaretz and Yediot reported that major Hollywood actors Q including
Jerry Seinfeld, Sasha Baron Cohen, Natalie Portman, Jason Alexander,
and Lisa Kudrow -- have voiced their opposition to a petition
calling for the boycott of Israeli movies at the Toronto Film
Festival. Yediot reported that Julie Christie, Danny Glover, and
Viggo Mortensen support the petition, while Jane Fonda is hesitant.
Leading media reported that American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino,
who is in Israel to promote his latest film, Inglourious Basterds,
faced tough questions from some critics regarding his treatment of
the Holocaust in the movie.

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Visit of U.S. Special Envoy Sen. George Mitchell to Israel, PA
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Block Quotes:
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I. QIsraelQs Mistakes

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of the
independent, left-leaning HaQaretz (9/16): QBut the ultimate
adjudicator on the fate of the report by [the U.N. Human Rights
Council- appointed commission on the Gaza war] will be Barack Obama,
who now has another whip with which to flay Benjamin Netanyahu -- if
you don't freeze the settlements and agree to concessions, legal
proceedings will commence against those responsible for Operation
Cast Lead. It is doubtful that Obama wishes to make such a threat,
which would set a precedent against other militaries fighting terror
in civilian areas, as is the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan....
Perhaps most important, the Goldstone report reinforces the most
serious strategic threat Israel brought upon itself with the Gaza
offensive, in that it saps international legitimacy for a similar
operation in the future. A country considering attacking the nuclear
reactor in Iran, and then endangering itself to rocket fire from
Lebanon and Gaza in response, will have to take into account whether
the world will give Israel another opportunity for a severe,
crushing response.

II. QHypocrisy and War

Defense commentator Amir Oren wrote on page one of Ha'aretz (9/16):
QIn the end, it is not about the law, but about power, military and
political. [Judge Richard] Goldstone is now free to go to Kunduz
[Afghanistan], but American might means there is no chance that he
will. When the smoke of Goldstone's report clears, the IDF and the
Government can emerge from the bunker to find that little damage has
been done. Israel's cooperation is needed in the diplomatic arena.
After Operation Defensive Shield, Israel succumbed to external
pressure and agreed to establish a committee of inquiry headed by
U.S. General William Nash on the massacre-that-never-was in Jenin.
Only after Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland and UN Envoy Terje Roed Larsen
intervened was the committee called off. Then-U.S. President George
W. Bush preferred to push his diplomatic initiative to establish a
Palestinian state. And that is what President Barack Obama will
probably do: He will curb the propagandistic trend of slamming
Israel for war crimes in order to extract tangible concessions from
it as a peace partner.

III. QFundamentally Flawed, or a Step toward Sanctions?

Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, head of NGO Monitor and member of the
political science faculty of Bar-Ilan University, wrote on page one
of the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/16): Q[Judge
Richard] Goldstone told his audience [yesterday] that they should
Qrejoice that we are living in a world today in which there is
accountability for war crimes.Q Sadly, the rejoicing will come from
exactly those quarters that fear true accountability. The Hamas
leadership and its supporters, including the Iranian regime, will
gladly accept the result, but few Israelis or fair-minded
individuals will view this mission, its report, or its
recommendations, as having provided accountability or restored the
morality of the United Nations.

IV. QWage War

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin, opined in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (9/16): QThe [IsraelisQ] immediate, natural, almost
instinctive response to the Goldstone report on the IDFQs war crimes
is -- more or less -- Qlet them go to hellQ.... It would be very
unwise to ignore the report. It would be very wise to come out
unscathed from this trouble. Israel would be well advised --
starting today -- to wage a diplomatic and public relations campaign
throughout the world. All good available forces in Israel should be
recruited.

V. QDonQt Disturb the Diplomats

HaQaretz editorialized (9/16): QIsrael has an interest in the
success of [the international communityQs] talks [with Iran] --
namely, in curbing the Iranian threat through diplomacy rather than
the use of force, which could drag the region into prolonged war and
severely harm both Israel's home front and its economy. It must
continue preparations for a rainy day. But at the same time, it must
not impair Obama's attempts to exhaust the diplomatic process.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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