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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

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LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
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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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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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Leading media reported that the White House is making a last-minute
diplomatic effort to come up with some significant statement
signaling the revival of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to conclude
the tripartite summit in New York today. However, yesterday White
House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration has no
"grand expectations" for President Barack Obama's meeting with the
Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Israel Radio reported that PA
President Mahmoud Abbas met in New York with U.S. Special Envoy
Senator George Mitchell and also with representatives of Arab
states.

Electronic media reported that this morning, in comments made to
high-school students, President Shimon Peres dismissed the "low
expectations" attributed to the upcoming summit and declared hope
that the meeting could yield a resumption of stalled peace
negotiations.

HaQaretz quoted diplomatic sources in Jerusalem as saying that
President Obama may declare a temporary freeze of construction in
the settlements; another possibility would be a proclamation about
the resumption of the negotiations in mid-October; Obama may call
for the convening of an international peace conference in coming
months.


HaQaretz reported that PM Benjamin Netanyahu could not have hoped
for a more comfortable political atmosphere for his trip to New York
for the three-way summit. The vocal Likud rebels have been keeping
relatively quiet, and none of his "ideological" ministers have come
out and said anything against him. In general, the attitude on the
Right is that Netanyahu has managed to withstand President Abbas's
pressure and is heading to the summit without preconditions. The
only real exception to the quiet was from Minister without Portfolio
Benny Begin (Likud) and the people in the settlers' protest tent
outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, including settler
leader Danny Dayan. HaQaretz also reported that Yisrael Beiteinu
was silent. The Jerusalem Post emphasized division among Likud
over NetanyahuQs diplomatic effort, as one of its Knesset members,
Danny Dannon, is protesting in New York. Chief Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erekat was quoted as saying in an interview with
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe that the PalestiniansQ goal at the summit is to
obtain from Netanyahu an unequivocal decision regarding the freeze
of construction in the settlements and to inform the U.S. President
about the PalestiniansQ frustration over NetanyahuQs policy and
positions.

Major media reported that Israel is calling upon the U.N.Qs member
states to boycott Iranian President Mahmoud AhmadinejadQs speech at
the General Assembly. Yediot and Israel Radio cited the response
of most countries that their attitude will depend on the contents of
AhmadinejadQs remarks. The Jerusalem Post reported that Gabriela
Shalev, IsraelQs Ambassador to the U.N., told the newspaper, Q"Our
main goal at this crucial time is to show the world how dangerous
Iran is.Q She was further quoted as saying, "We stress and we
emphasize that Iran is not only a threat to Israel, it's a global
threat." The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday, in an
interview with Reuters, Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon insisted that the
military option against Tehran was still on the table, rejecting
comments to the contrary made by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
and published on Sunday.

HaQaretz reported on land clearing for 80 homes in a neighborhood in
the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit, which the newspaper says
were not included in DM Ehud BarakQs 455 retroactive approvals. In
an unrelated story, the electronic media reported that this morning
IDF troops shot dead an Israeli Arab who tried to force a barrage in
Beitar Illit.

Israel Radio quoted former U.S. President Bill Clinton as saying
that the settlements are the main obstacle to a peace agreement.

Yediot reported that President Shimon Peres, PM Netanyahu, FM
Avigdor Lieberman, DM Ehud Barak, and Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon have
made phone calls critical of the Goldstone report to major heads of
state and government including to Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton. Justice Richard Goldstone was quoted as saying in an
interview with Channel 2-TV that Israeli officers who gave orders
that can be construed as war crimes should be held responsible for
their acts.

Yesterday, HaQaretz and other media reported that, for the first
time in 18 years, the U.S. and other Western powers were
unsuccessful at preventing the passage of a resolution at the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) calling on Israel to sign
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The resolution also demands
that Israel open its nuclear reactor in Dimona to international
inspectors. Israel did, however, manage to thwart a proposal by
Iran to prohibit any member of the IAEA from attacking the nuclear
facilities of another member.

HaQaretz reported that the Israeli Education Ministry will be
reexamining a new Hebrew-language textbook that was approved for
11th and 12th-grade classes, which includes the concept of Qethnic
cleansingQ to describe what happened to the Palestinians in 1948.

HaQaretz quoted a World Bank report for a conference being held
today in New York that the PA is facing a $400 million financing gap
for 2009.

Maariv reported that a compromise has been reached in the affair of
Israeli mogul Lev LevievQs company Africa IsraelQs $711 million debt
to The New York Times: while the newspaperQs owners will give up on
$350 million, Africa Israel will immediately inject capital into The
Times. Leviev had bought the NYT building at the height of the
boom.

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Mideast:
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Block Quotes:
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I. "Taking It One Step at a Time"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning HaQaretz (9/22): QThe tripartite summit meeting to be
convened in New York Tuesday by U.S. President Barack Obama with his
Israeli and Palestinian counterparts underscores the discrepancies
between the mentalities of Jerusalem and Washington. Israelis
expected (some hopefully and others fearfully) that Obama would
reveal a peace plan, and push Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas
into working out the nitty-gritty.... But Americans work at a
different pace than Israelis. Obama didn't promise to present a
quick solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. He promised he would
be more involved than George W. Bush, and work toward reviving the
peace process. Obama has thus far made good on his promises: He
appointed George Mitchell special envoy to the Mideast, and Tuesday
will meet with leaders on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian
divide for the first time since Netanyahu returned to power.
Neither Netanyahu nor Abbas will be overawed by what Obama says, but
they also won't be able to refuse him.

II. "Wobbling Washington"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/22):
QForgive us our skepticism at this dawn of a new year, but lately
the Obama administration has come to seem like something other than
the clear-headed captain at the confident helm of the free world....
By ratcheting up his demands of Israel beyond the point of viable
agreement, and then failing to obtain any substantive concessions
from Arab leaders or the Palestinians in exchange, Obama actually
walked into the most basic of Middle East peacemaking traps --
encouraging the instinctive Arab resort to intransigence. After
all, how could the Palestinians now demand less of the Israelis than
the Americans? And with a full-blown diplomatic crisis apparently
under way between Israel and America, what interest could Arab
leaders have in ending the crisis through a diplomatic breakthrough?
We might well ask why the administration is convinced that peace is
being held up by settlements. Dozens of settlements have been
dismantled and tens of thousands of settlers have been resettled in
the Israeli withdrawals from Gaza and Sinai, while Palestinian
rejectin has only increased in response to apparent Israei
weakness. In a world that is wondering increaingly whether
Washington is willing and able to nforce its key values and
effectively promote its vital interests, Obama today plays host to
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas. And they will both be asking themselves a
question neither would have anticipated eight months ago: Can
America be relied upon and taken seriously? That uncertainty can
only further undermine the prospects for a substantive
Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough -- a breakthrough all three players
at today's summit profess to fervently desire.
III. QJust Not Another Meaningless Summit

Former Meretz leader, former Justice Minister, and chief Israeli
promoter of the Geneva Initiative, Yossi Beilin, wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (9/22): QAbu Mazen and Netanyahu have no
interest in looking as if they hurt Obama. Abu Mazen -- because
essentially, Obama is his life-saver; Netanyahu -- because despite
his preference for an American leader like Bush Jr., knows that
Obama will be in the White House for several more years and he
cannot succeed if they clash. It must be Obama's direct interest
and the indirect interest of Netanyahu and Abu Mazen to ensure that
when the summit finishes on Wednesday there is an agreement -- even
just procedural -- regarding next steps: the duration of
negotiations on permanent status arrangements, its location, the
level of the negotiators, and milestones. If this is accompanied by
a statement of principle by Obama in his speech at the U.N. General
Assembly along with a photograph of Israeli-Palestinian agreement,
this will be a pleasant end to a dark chapter that began exactly
nine years ago and which stopped, in practice, serious negotiations
for an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

IV. "The Obama Show"

Conservative columnist Amos Carmel wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/22): QAt this juncture there are no
indications that [President Obama] is succeeding better than his
predecessor, in putting North Korea in its place, in containing
IranQs nuclearization, or in disentangling from the Afghan quagmire.
Neither have we seen him until now extract gestures from the Saudis
or heard any tangible idea about how to reach, as he said in Cairo,
Qtwo states, where which Israelis and Palestinians each live in
peace and security.Q Meanwhile, unfortunately, todayQs Qphoto-op
suggestion looks like a part of his routine.

V. "He Knows Better Now"

Columnist Shmuel Rosner, who was HaQaretzQs correspondent in
Washington, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (9/22): QSince he
was elected, Obama made the same mistake as every president before
him -- in his great eagerness to prove that Qhe is not Bush,Q he
forgot to check what was worthwhile to learn from his predecessor --
for instance that there are no shortcuts. After all, Obama did not
even obtain a settlement freeze. Bush saw Israel fold dozens of
settlements. Of course what will happen today in New York cannot be
viewed as the funeral of the peace process. This will be a meeting
and more will come. The sides will eventually engage in a cycle of
talking or shooting or both. What will be interred at this funeral
will be the exaggerated confidence of a young, bright, and
charismatic president who somehow assumed that he knew better in
this domain, too. It must be hoped that he really knows better
now.

VI. QImpossible Deal

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in Yediot Aharonot (9/22): QBecause
it fears that a [prisoner-exchange] deal could go through, Hamas has
raised the price, knowing that no country in the world can agree to
its terms. Now Hamas is not only talking about freeing prisoners.
It wants national, security and political achievements from Israel,
which are completely opposed to Israel's interests. It has never
yet happened in the course of history that in exchange for one
person - important as he may be - that a state paid with its vital
and existential interests. What is Hamas asking for now, in
addition to the list of prisoners, some of them highly dangerous?
For all the crossings between Israel and Gaza to be permanently
opened; to remove the siege from the air, sea and land, i.e. the
Gaza Port would open so that Hamas would have a free port of its own
for smuggling; for Israel to provide food to Gaza like in the past,
in other words Israel would both feed this terrorist organization
and its population as if disengagement had never taken place (in
this regard, Hamas has an inherent contradiction: at its request,
the siege would be lifted, and it would be connected to the world,
then why should Israel continue to feed it? But who cares about the
subtleties); for there to be an international guarantee that Israel
will not launch any future strikes on Gaza. In other words, they
will shoot at Israel, but Israel will promise not to respond.
Moreover, the IDF would be forbidden to enter Gaza for any reason in
the future. With conditions such as those, there is not going to be
any deal. Israel cannot and does not want a deal of this sort.
Those exerting vocal street pressure on the government simply don't
understand what is at stake. The greater their pressure, the price
will only rise higher. The Egyptians don't want a deal either,
since their mediation in the affair grants them centrality and
importance.... In light of these assessments, the negotiations on
Gilad Shalit have become a political means to garnering
achievements, and it is liable to go on forever. Israel must stop
these shameful talks and begin to take action itself. It is
unthinkable that after so many years, the great IDF doesn't know
where Gilad is being held. It is simply unthinkable.

VII. QGetting behind Obama

David Newman, Professor of Political Geography at Ben-Gurion
University and Editor of the International Journal of Geopolitics,
wrote in The Jerusalem Post (9/22): QDespite the window of
opportunity that has presented itself for progressive Jewish
organizations in the US, they have largely remained silent. They
have the ear of the new American administration. They must not go
the way of the Israeli peace movement and tone down their rhetoric
because they mistakenly think the administration will carry out the
job on their behalf. Israel's peace movement always made this
mistake whenever a Labor government was in power.... Equally, it is
time for Israeli governments and embassies throughout the world to
work with the pro-peace lobbies instead of ignoring them.... Just as
[The Jerusalem PostQs liberal columnist Gershon] Baskin's call to
the domestic peace constituency to wake up is critical, so too must
our friends and allies in the American (and European) Jewish
communities seize this opportunity. They must not remain silent.
They must not let themselves be humbled into submission by an
organized community which attempts to portray them negatively. Now
is the time for them show their support of Israel by coming
together, supporting President Obama and his Middle East envoy, and
demonstrating to Israeli governments that there is an alternative
way forward.

VIII. QConsequence of the Oslo Agreement: Annex the West Bank

Columnist Assaf Golan wrote in the editorial of the nationalist,
Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (9/22): QAt this time, the summit
meeting between Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Abu Mazen
looks like a grand funeral ceremony for the AmericanQs mediation
efforts in the region.... Israel must embark on a new diplomatic
initiative that will include the annexation of all of Judea and
Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] and the granting of maximal autonomy to
the Palestinians.... Only thus can Israel stop the dangerous
infiltration of Iranian agents into the region -- an infiltration
that threatens peace in the entire Middle East and also directly and
immediately harms patent American and European interests.

MORENO

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