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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. Mideast

2. Iran

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Key stories in the media:
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All media viewed President ObamaQs QcoldQ announcement after his
meeting yesterday with PM Benjamin Netanyahu and PA President
Mahmoud Abbas at New YorkQs Waldorf Astoria Hotel as a sign of
impatience with the pace of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Similarly, HaQaretz reported that yesterday a senior White House
official told that newspaper that Qduring the tripartite meeting
Obama strongly expressed his impatience.Q The President told
reporters: QSimply put, it is past time to talk about starting
negotiations. It is time to move forward.Q The media noted that he
softened his regular language on a settlement "freeze," saying that
Israel has had meaningful discussions about "restraining" settlement
activity. The media cited satisfaction in NetanyahuQs government
coalition. Israel Radio quoted FM Avigdor Lieberman as saying that
U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace Senator George Mitchell
will return to the region next week, Qbut without a timer in his
hand.Q HaQaretz and Israel Radio quoted PM Netanyahu as saying:
"There was general agreement, including on the part of the
Palestinians, that the peace process has to be resumed as soon as
possible with no preconditions." Palestinian spokesmen contested
the PMQs statement. Leading media quoted President Abbas as saying
that the renewal of negotiations Qdepends on a definition of the
negotiating process.Q Abbas was further quoted as saying: QThat
means basing [the talks] on recognizing the need to withdrawto the
1967 borders.Q Speaking on Israel Radio this morning, senior Fatah
politician Jibril Rajoub said that there will never be peace without
the removal of the settlements.

Nahum Barnea of Yediot reported that a U.S. official told him in New
York that the U.S. administrationQs renouncing of a total settlement
freeze means an almost certain end to efforts at eliciting goodwill
gestures from Arab states towards Israel.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Labor QrebelQ Knesset Member Ophir

Pines-Paz as saying that the summit was a Qshameful farceQ that made
a show of the stalemate in the peace process and that it was
unfortunate that his party Qis a partner in this charade.Q National
Union Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari accused the PM of Qhumiliating
IsraelQ by Qdropping his head toward Obama in submission.Q The
daily quoted Vice PM Silvan Shalom (Likud) as saying on a visit to
the settlersQ protest tent near the Knesset, QThe Palestinians must
make a strategic decision to reach peace with Israel and not in
spite of Israel.Q Speaking to settlers in the tent, Likud Knesset
Member Tzipi Hotovely said that QIsrael doesnQt have to prove to the
world anymore that it is willing to take steps for peace. We can
say that we tried everything and we will no longer make any
concessions.

Israel Radio quoted PM Netanyahu as saying that heavy pressure
should be applied on Iran, which he said is weak domestically. The
media quoted President Shimon Peres as saying yesterday to an
audience of high-school students that Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad is an Qevil, horribleQ person who Qlies about the
Holocaust.Q All media quoted Ahmadinejad as saying at a military
parade in Tehran yesterday that Iran is stronger than ever, warning
that its military will "cut the hand" of anyone who attacks his
country.

Yesterday, Israel Radio quoted Palestinian media as saying that, in
a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Hamas PM Ismail
Haniyeh wrote that his group would support any step that would lead
to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967
borders.

Leading media reported that yesterday Irina Bokova, BulgariaQs
Ambassador to France, defeated Egyptian Culture Minister Farouq
Hosni in the contest for the post of Director-General of the United
NationsQ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO). Hosni was a controversial candidate whose one-time threat
to burn Israeli books had galvanized opposition. The Jerusalem
Post reported that HosniQs failure Qquietly pleases Israel.Q The
vote among UNESCO board members was 31 to 27. Israel Radio reported
that the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram accuses QJewish circlesQ of
engineering HosniQs loss.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday in Jerusalem LikudQs
far-Right politicians Shmuel Sackett and Moshe Zalman Feiglin told a
group of English-speaking immigrants that prisoners on HamasQs
negotiation list should be executed until Gilad Shalit is released.

Maariv reported that the IDF is freezing the promotion of officers
who allowed the beating of Palestinians. In an unrelated story,
HaQaretz reported that the Military Police are investigating the
death of Rabia Tawil, 23, of East Jerusalem, who was shot dead by
IDF soldiers early yesterday morning near the settlement of Mevo
Beitar, south of Jerusalem -- and not in Beitar Illit, as we wrote
yesterday.

Yediot reported that tonight New YorkQs Carnegie Hall will host a
duo of pianists (one Jewish and one Arab) from Israel -- David
Feffer from the northern city of Migdal Haemek and Bishara Harouni
from Nazareth -- who will perform a recital for peace.

Yediot, The Jerusalem Post, and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that a
QgreenQ architectural model designed by students from the West
BankQs Ariel University Center of Samaria reached the final stage of
a QprestigiousQ competition in Spain. However, the newspapers
reported that this month the competitionQs director-general removed
the studentsQ exhibit from the contest, citing the fact that the
Israeli institution is located on occupied territory.

Major media reported that Israel is instituting a witness protection
program.


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1. Mideast:
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Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "ObamaQs Chiding WonQt Be Enough"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning HaQaretz (9/23): QObama's real test still awaits him.
It is not enough to display toughness on live television. Abbas and
Netanyahu have for many years starred in the long-running media show

QWho's to Blame for the Lack of Peace?Q They will certainly try to
absorb Obama's reprimand and continue as if nothing had happened.
It is apparent that neither of them wants either negotiations or a
final-status agreement. If Obama really believes what he said
yesterday, he will have to be much tougher down the road. Then, the
stakes will not be a mere meeting devoid of content in a New York
hotel, but the future of Jerusalem.

II. QAlmost Embarrassing

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/23): QNetanyahu can feel that he did
it: He shook off the American pressure, made it through the summit,
and can return home safely. QThere are no winners and no losers,
he said last night with a winnerQs generosity. He should remember
the lesson that the Middle East gives all its winners: In this
region, the short-term winner loses in the long term. In the end
there are no winners and losers -- only losers.

III. "Corridor to Nowhere"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (9/23): QIt has been a long time since such a great effort
was invested by so many, for so long, in order to drag two people to
a corridor that leads nowhere. Netanyahu and Abu Mazen now stand at
the opening of this corridor, looking at the dead end that lies
ahead. Both of them know this route by heart. They have already
traversed it. Now it is ObamaQs turn to walk down it. He will
learn, at his expense, how misleading is this route, and how evasive
is the prize awaiting at its end. A long and exasperating road,
from which no one has yet returned alive, but Obama tried yesterday
to breathe life into this effort. His speech was weary and gloomy,
a kind of attempt to resuscitate a corpse. Even his Qyes, we can
appeared completely pass. It has become clear that the road to
nowhere is paved with good intentions and historical, moving
speeches. But in the end, the nowhere does not change.... It took
him nine months to extract a feeble consent to renew negotiations
(if they will indeed be renewed next month). A long, ectopic
pregnancy, which led to an unwanted child. Chances are that the
body of the peace process led by Obama will be washed up on the Gaza
shore before next summer. However, there is always room for
surprises.

IV. "Obama Scolded the Palestinians More"
Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (9/23): Q[President Obama] did not
reprimand [the sides] equally and in a balanced way. He asked the
Palestinians to lend a hand and do more to start the negotiations.
The Arab states were also lectured. On the contrary, he said that
Israel had made considerable -- or at least some -- headway.... It
appears that the coalition Right in Israel and most settlers were
wise enough to give Benjamin Netanyahu a long enough rope and an
amount of flexibility that helped him get closer to the American
positions, but without getting anything in exchange. This was put
across in the restraining of construction [in the settlements] and
the scheduling of an agenda towards its conclusion.... This doesnQt
mean that the United States will not exert painful pressure on
Israel of the kind that Yitzhak Shamir endured. But, as of
yesterday, IsraelQs condition as viewed by AmericaQs weakened
President is better than Abu MazenQs. This is a comfortable
condition ahead of NetanyahuQs address to the U.N. Security Council
about the Iranian peril.

V. "Harm Could Outweigh the Benefit"

Dov Weisglass, who was former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in Yediot Aharonot (9/23): QAbu Mazen has
been harmed: he was forced to give up the precondition that he posed
and heightened his image as a weak leader who cannot cope with
American or Israeli pressure. Netanyahu was also harmed: the
(ostensible) achievement of holding the meeting, while fending off
the American demand to freeze construction, will boomerang back at
him at moments when there are critical decisions to be made. When
the day comes, in the face of an unequivocal American demand, no one
on the Right will listen to his explanations about an expected
crisis with the U.S. QWhat crisis?Q they will tell him, Qyou have
already showed that you can make them back downQ (or as some of
NetanyahuQs aides put it, Qput them through their pacesQ). But we
can only fear that when the day comes when a real, incisive, and
painful decision is required, we will learn the hard way who is
putting whom through their paces. The current meeting passed
quietly. When there is nothing, there are also no mishaps. The
brief, bland and somewhat weary summary statements of President
Obama attested to the meaningless content of an unnecessary event.
The real crisis will wait for the next near opportunity.

VI. QLonging for Bush (Senior)

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz (9/23): QWhen
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sat opposite U.S. President Barack
Obama Tuesday, perhaps he was overcome by the sullen recollection
from the days when he served as deputy foreign minister under David
Levy. Even then, 17 years ago, there was an American president who
entertained the idea of resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict and
thought that this concept was incompatible with the expansion of
settlements. That president, George Bush, whose name would later
acquire the description Qsenior,Q informed the Israeli prime
minister that he had to choose between advancing relations with the
Arabs and American aid to help absorb immigrants from the former
Soviet Union and bolstering the creeping annexation of the
territories and embroiling Israel in a crisis with the world's only
superpower. Netanyahu was among those who urged then-Prime Minister
Yitzhak Shamir to go for broke by continuing to build in the
settlements while enlisting the support of Congress in the fight for
financial aid. Netanyahu certainly remembers how that story ended.
Israel lost the loan guarantees totaling $10 billion and the Likud
lost its grip on power.

VII. QIs ObamaQs Regional Initiative Going the Way of the Dying
Saudi Peace Plan?

Former ambassador to Egypt and Sweden, conservative contributor Zvi
Mazel, wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/23):
QIt may have been a mistake to ask Saudi Arabia to make the first
step toward normalization with Israel. The Saudi King holds the
title of keeper of the QTwo Holy Mosques,Q referring to Mecca and
Medina. The stability of his kingdom is founded on an agreement
dating to the 18th century with the Wahabi religious establishment,
one of the strictest in Islam.... Now that Riyadh has clarified its
position, Israel can never accept it, even if some minor changes are
made. And so, once again, the Middle East is waiting for Obama to
spell out what he has in mind. He will do so on Wednesday in front
of the U.N. General Assembly. Although one can hope, it is doubtful
he will find a way to satisfy all involved. There are signs,
however, that he is beginning to understand the region a little
better and is cooling his relations with Syria. Better late than
never.

VIII. QEarned It Honestly

Arab affairs correspondent Jacky Hoogie wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (9/23): QFarouq Hosni will undoubtedly contend in
the coming days that the Jews spoiled his victory. He is not
mistaken. Until the last moment yesterday, when the members of the
UNESCO Executive Council placed their ballots in the ballot box,
Jewish organizations and unofficial Israeli figures operated behind
the scenes to rob the Egyptian candidate of his dream. So shall be
done, they said, to the man who promised to burn Hebrew books and
boasted that he would be the last Egyptian to visit Israel. But if
Hosni looks around, he will find that he has no one but himself to
blame.... Instead of upgrading Egyptian culture to the level it
deserves, Hosni restricted Egyptian artists, who yearned to open up
to the world and display their works in Tel Aviv. He supported the
denunciation of journalists who visited Israel and returned to Cairo
with the conclusion that the monster is not so terrible. His
ministry opposed the translation of Hebrew literature in Egypt,
which would assist the Egyptian reader to be exposed to another
culture. He refused to open to Jews the records of the Jewish
communities in Egypt, for fear that they would lead to property
lawsuits. Hosni explained his proud stand against normalization by
saying that Israel was occupying territories. This stance may have
impressed the Egyptian street, but in order to head UNESCO one needs
vision, not vindictiveness. Besides, it suddenly became apparent
that for Farouq Hosni, ideology is also a matter of politics. One
day, sometime in May 2009, the Egyptian minister abandoned his old
opinions and suddenly began to express new positions. He instructed
that Hebrew books be translated in Cairo, permitted the opening of
community records, and declared that he would not be reluctant to
visit Israel if elected secretary-general of UNESCO. Last night it
became apparent that even the naove Europeans did not buy into this
election propaganda. Now he can boast of a consolation prize: If he
did not receive the sought-after title, at least he has added a few
more Jews to his list of friends.

---------
2. Iran:
---------

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

"Putin Is Right"

Senior military affairs analyst Reuven Pedatzur wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/23): QQThe decision is correct
and courageous,Q said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of U.S.
President Barack Obama's decision to cancel the deployment of a
missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic In Israel,
Obama's decision was greeted with considerable satisfaction.
Jerusalem's assessment is that deploying defensive systems on ships
in the Mediterranean Sea will strengthen Israel's defenses against
the Iranian missile threat. It would have been even better had
Israel taken advantage of this change in American strategy to decide
that it could rely on the defensive umbrella the U.S. will provide
it with and cancel continued development of the Arrow 3, thereby
saving billions of dollars. Regrettably, there is no chance at all
that this will happen. Israel's leaders, unlike the American
president, are not capable of making a Qcorrect and courageous
decision, even if simple logic favors it.

MORENO

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