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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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1. Goldstone Report

2. Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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The media reported that at the conclusion of their meetings
yesterday, U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell
and PM Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to meet again tomorrow in a last
attempt to arrive at a formula that would permit the three way
Israeli-PA-U.S. summit to take place. HaQaretz and other media
reported that the U.S. is applying heavy pressure on Israel and the
PA to bring about such a summit next week. Maariv reported that
Israel is unhappy with the Arab statesQ normalization gestures and
the PA is opposed to partial freezing of settlements. HaQaretz has
learned that Vice President Joseph Biden called PM Netanyahu a week
ago on the matter, asking that the PM soften his position and agree
to a yearlong construction freeze in West Bank settlements so that
PA President Mahmoud Abbas would agree to attend the summit meeting.
Yediot reported that the U.S. is losing its patience with Israel
behind the scenes, blaming Netanyahu for the crisis and claiming
that he exacerbated the situation by allowing the construction of
450 housing units in the territories, thus causing Arabs and
Palestinians to toughen their stances.

All media highlighted Israeli responses to the scathing Goldstone
Commission Report that accused Israel of having committed war crimes
during Operation Cast Lead. Media reported that yesterday PM
Netanyahu termed the report a Qprize for terroristsQ and a defeat
for democratic countries trying to combat them. The Jerusalem Post
reported that the PM will be speaking in the coming days to a list
of prime ministers of countries represented on the U.N.Qs Human
Rights Council, lobbying them to oppose any resolution adopting the
findings of the report. The newspaper said that IsraelQs diplomatic
efforts are now centered on convincing democratic countries not to
approve the report. Leading media quoted Netanyahu and FM Avigdor
Lieberman as saying that the commission, headed by South African
Constitutional Court Judge Richard Goldstone, was a "kangaroo court"
whose conclusions were drawn up before the hearings even started.
HaQaretz reported that yesterday Netanyahu raised the issue with
Special Envoy Mitchell. Yediot quoted Netanyahu as saying in
private talks that the Goldstone report Qreturns to dark days in
history.Q Media quoted President Shimon Peres as saying that the
report Qmade fun of history.Q HaQaretz bannered remarks made by IDF
Judge Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit in an interview
with the newspaper denouncing the report and saying that it
blatantly overstepped the commissionQs mandate. Israel Radio
reported that two months ago the Israeli Foreign Ministry
distributed 6,000 copies of the countryQs detailed investigative
report about Operation Cast Lead to foreign leaders and
opinion-makers, but that Goldstone ignored it. Goldstone was quoted
as saying in an interview with Israel TV that Israel dismissed his
report before reading it. Israel Radio reported that amidst signs of
dissatisfaction among the U.S. Congress and administration, as State
Department officials have expressed reservations about some clauses
of the report, President Obama Qdoes not hurry to respond, perhaps
as an oblique gesture against Israel.Q The radio reported that
yesterday in New York Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon met with U.S.
Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice.

PM Netanyahu was quoted as saying in a Jewish New Year interview
with Israel Hayom that Israel should patiently wait for a U.S.
decision regarding the conclusion of the dialogue with Iran.
Netanyahu was also quoted as saying that his mysterious
disappearance abroad [to Russia] represented a very important action
to Israel. DM Ehud Barak was quoted as saying in a pre-Jewish New
Year interview with Yediot that Iran does not constitute a vital
threat to Israel and that it is just a challenge that does not
endanger the countryQs existence. Barak was quoted as saying that
as long as North Korea has not been punished, the Iranians are
drawing conclusions.

The Jerusalem Post quoted former Deputy DM Ephraim Sneh as saying
yesterday, in an interview with Reuters, that Israel will be
compelled to attack IranQs nuclear activities if Western powers do
not impose serious sanctions against Tehran by the end of 2009.

Israel Radio reported that an unnamed Jordanian minister told Saudi
newspaper A-Riyadh that relations between Israel and the Jordan were
on the brink of crisis because of Israel's policy in the peace
process. Syrian President Bashar Assad also criticized Israel last
night and called it an imaginary partner. Israel Radio reported that
Jordan is very troubled by excavations that Israel is carrying out
in the Temple Mount area. The minister told the Saudi newspaper that
Jordan will take various diplomatic steps against Israel
particularly after King Abdullah, in his last meeting with
Netanyahu, warned Israel against making Jerusalem more Jewish.

Maariv reported that President Peres has embarked on a campaign to
combat hunger around the world. The newspaper reported that last
month Peres proposed to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
cooperation in developing advanced strains of cereals that will
increase agricultural production.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday the IDF began removing
100 dirt and stone roadblocks in the West Bank, in an effort to make
life easier for Palestinians. IDF sources were quoted as saying
that the roadblocks would be gone by the end of the week.

Yesterday Israel Radio reported that on Monday 10 former IDF
soldiers rescued a U.S. citizen and her two-and-a-half son from a
Palestinian village in the Tulkarm area where they had been held
captive for three years. The woman, who had married a young
Palestinian man she met in the U.S., was being held in his house.
Mother and son where taken to the U.S. Consulate-General in
Jerusalem and departed for Ohio on Tuesday. Major media echoed the
report.

All media quoted the GOIQs Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) as
saying yesterday that Israel's population stands at 7,465,500. Jews
number some 5,569,000, or 75.5% of the population; Arabs total
20.2%, or 1,488,000 people. The remainder, 4.3%, are classified as
"other," and are mostly immigrants from the former Soviet Union who
are not registered by the Interior Ministry as Jews. The population
continues to grow 1.8 percent each year, and the CBS statistics show
that Israel is still a fairly young nation, with nearly 30% of the
people under the age of 14, compared to 17% in most Western
countries. Only 9.7% of Israelis are older than 65, whereas in
other Western countries the average is closer to 15%.

Israel Hayom, Channel 2-TV, Channel 10-TV, the Russian-language
Channel 9-TV, and other media cited a U.S. Embassy-produced video
featuring the QconfessionsQ of young, Israeli visa offenders. The
recording, which appears on YouTube, focuses on the message: QThe
price youQll pay if youQre caught is too high.Q Interviewed on the
TV stations, an Embassy official said that the video is meant as a
deterrent for would-be infringers of visa regulations.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the High Court of Justice has
rejected a Peace Now petition demanding that the right-wing
non-profit organization Elad stop building at the QCity of David
site in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli defense officials as saying this
week that the Israeli Defense Ministry has told the Pentagon that
the IAF may only purchase 20 Joint Strike Fighters -- and not 25 as
planned -- if the price of the aircraft is significantly higher that
$100 million.

Media quoted IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi as saying
yesterday that witnesses brought to testify about IDF actions by the
NGO Breaking the Silence have no immunity.

Maariv and Israel Radio reported that the Egyptian Journalists
Association is calling to bring Hala Mustafa, a senior journalist of
the newspaper Al-Ahram, to justice, accusing her of a Qnormalization
contactQ with Israel -- hosting Israeli Ambassador Shalom Cohen in
her office.

Yediot and other media reported that 200 students of the Islamic
University of Constantine (Algeria) have enrolled in a new
Hebrew-language curriculum.

Israel Radio reported that a U.S. soldier who immigrated to Israel
as a child is imprisoned in Israel for desertion of Israeli army
service. He claims to have given up his Israeli citizenship, prior
to enlisting in the U.S. Army. The radio quoted a legal source in
the IDF as saying that the case might lead to a diplomatic crisis
between the two countries.

---------------------
1. Goldstone Report:
---------------------

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

I. "A Commission of Inquiry Is Needed"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (6/17): QThe
report by the commission headed by Judge Richard Goldstone on
Operation Cast Lead in Gaza is one of the most serious indictments
ever made against the government and the military in Israel. The
report states that during the operation Israel committed war crimes
and significant violations of international law.... The cloud of
Cast Lead will not dissipate on its own. Israel benefited from the
decision to appoint a commission of inquiry following the Sabra and
Chatila massacre that occurred during the first Lebanon war.
Instead of a futile attempt to reject the report and undermine the
legitimacy of the Goldstone Commission, the government would do
better to establish a state commission of inquiry to thoroughly
investigate the serious accusations that were placed this week on
Israel's doorstep. Such a step could prevent a more severe
entanglement.QII. "What More Should be Done to Resume the
Negotiations?"

Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (6/17): QNetanyahu is persevering with the
Qtwo states for two peoplesQ principle. He has clarified [in a
recent interview with Israel Hayom] that the Palestinians will be
neither Israeli citizens nor subordinates. What more should be done
to resume the dialogue?.... Lack of caution may make even one side
break the cord; such things have already happened. Abu Mazen fled
Jerusalem for Ramallah when he saw the map that Ehud Olmert showed
d
him Q including extreme concessions to the Palestinians, such as
willingness to take in the descendants of the 1948 refugees. It
was pathetic to see a former minister in his government demand
yesterday on television a return to the point where negotiations had
stopped. Ramallah already regrets the hasty rejection [of
negotiations with Israel]. What is making Palestinian awareness
harder is the report on Operation Cast Lead put out by the
subservient Jew Richard Goldstone. Because of its ... phony
contents, Israel will not give up beyond the outline presented in an
interview granted even before the U.N. reportQs publication.

III. "GoldstoneQs Double Standard"

Senior commentator Ari Shavit wrote in Ha'aretz (6/17): QIt is not
clear to this day if most of those who burned to death [next to two
bombed oil tankers in Afghanistan] were Taliban warriors, as NATO
first claimed, or innocent civilians who wanted to bring home a bit
of oil. One way or another, it's clear that the United States and
Germany are responsible for an extremely brutal attack.... If there
are is such a thing as an international community, international law
and universal ethics, they must seriously consider putting Obama on
trial for his responsibility for severe war crimes. Absurd? Yes,
it's absurd. No sane person in the world believes that the United
States, Russia, or China could be subjected to purist international
law. The U.S. has killed thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq
and Afghanistan and in the last few months encouraged Pakistan to
make an extremely brutal military move in its Swat Valley. The U.S.
was not required to account for it because everyone understands that
this is the price of the terrible War on Terror.... Only in matters
involving Israel, do international law and justice suddenly discover
that they have teeth. Only when Israel is involved is the judgment
administered out of context. Only Israel is required to uphold a
moral standard no superpower or Middle Eastern state is required to
uphold.

IV. "Goldstoned"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (6/17):
QNothing was impartial about the Goldstone panel.... Besides
obviously rewarding terror, demonizing Israel and seeking to
constrain Israel's capacity to protect itself, the Goldstone
Commission displays contempt for Israel's judiciary. U.N. human
rights frameworks were founded to combat abuses by rogue states and
dictatorships, where autonomous legal systems are nonexistent.
Israel's courts are renowned for their activism and independence,
often provoking government displeasure. Yet the Goldstone report,
while effectively giving Hamas a free pass, demands an Qindependent
inquiry to assess whether the treatment by Israeli judicial
authorities of Palestinian and Jewish Israelis expressing dissent in
connection with the offensive was discriminatory.Q Such wholesale
bias leaves no room for fair evaluation of the IDF's own probes....
Israel knows that its survival depends on it continuing to act in
the best interests of its own self-preservation, consistent with its
own profound moral obligations. But the Goldstone phenomenon is not
only a challenge to Israel. It underlines that any democracy, and
most pertinently the U.S., can find itself prosecuted and judged by
the cynical scales of the worst tyrannies.

V. "WhatQs Worse than Denial?"

Far-left Palestinian affairs correspondent Amira Hass wrote in
Ha'aretz (6/17): QThe Goldstone Commission's findings are in line
with what anyone who didn't shut his or her eyes and ears to witness
testimony already knows.... There is only thing worse than denial --
the admission that the IDF indeed acted as has been described, but
that these actions are both normal and appropriate.

VI. QObsession
Conservative Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (6/17): QThe Goldstone report requires Israel to
engage in soul-searching. It is not that the report reveals
something new. Everything was foreseeable. Israel, for the
millionth time, is being accused not only of war crimes, but now we
are talking about crimes against humanity. Since Hamas and their
supporters were the victims -- and they were indeed victims -- then
the human rights organizations think that Hamas is Qhumanity.Q Woe
is humanity if these are its representatives, because this is
humanity whose official charter is the closest thing to the Nazi
platform. This is humanity whose members declare that they will not
settle for Israel -- they want Paris, Rome and Madrid. It is
possible to refute most or all of the allegations appearing in the
report.... But all this will not help, because the Qenlightened
world has fallen in love with blaming Israel. The enlightened
world, just like in the past, tends to think that if Israel would
only be sacrificed, peace would be achieved. The enlightened world
has fallen in love with an illusion. [But] facts will not confuse
those who are seized by an obsession against the Jewish state....
After the first blow, for example, Israel could have declared a
unilateral cease-fire, and dictated terms of surrender to Hamas.
Hamas would have refused. Israel would have won legitimization.
But no. Israel chose to continue an operation that did not achieve
a thing. So yes, the Israeli government is to blame. We should
wake up, because Israel's delegitimization is becoming an
existential problem.

VII. QVenom and Destruction

Settler leader Israel Harel wrote in HaQaretz (6/17): QAs a result
of the destructive, toxic report of the United NationsQ Goldstone
Commission, from now on all of the haters of Israel will be
celebrating anti-Semites. And the UN -- he imposer of peace on the
world -- provided especially catchy, volatile, flammable fuel for
them to throw on the fire. Oppressive regimes and terrorist
organizations are again finding that no international charges will
ever be brought against them -- never against them.


------------
2. Mideast:
------------

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

I. "Make Use of Palestinian Obduracy"

The ultra-Orthodox HamodiQa editorialized (6/17): QWill the White
House publish a diplomatically formulated announcement pointing a
finger at the Palestinians for preventing any possibility of
resuming a dialogue with Israel? The U.S. is demonstrating a strong
position against Israel, and Barack Obama would not fight with the
Arab world and the Muslim religion in his first year in power. Abu
Mazen understands this, too, and demonstrates his professional
pride. He knows he enjoys a cover in his absolute refusal to meet
with Netanyahu Q in line with the U.S. PresidentQs wishes --as long
as there is no explicit Israeli commitment to totally cease all
construction in territory beyond the Green Line.

II. QIf Abu Mazen Wants"

Former Meretz Knesset Member Avshalom Vilan and Maurice Stroun, a
researcher in biochemistry at the University of Geneva, wrote in the
popular, pluralist Maariv (6/17): QThe cynical use made of the
refugee issue by Arab leaders over the generations continues to
obstruct attempts to reach a real peace. In light of the fact that
a window to peace has once again been opened in the form of a new
U.S. peace initiative -- which will presumably be based mainly on
the Clinton initiative from 2000, the Arab peace initiative and
additional proposals by the U.S. administration from 2000 until
today -- the two sides have to lower their flags, with their symbols
and declarations, to half mast. Despite the political difficulty
this entails, it is the only chance of reaching a political
arrangement that the two sides can live with, and not only die
for.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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