Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS
SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
Key stories in the media:
All media quoted PM Benjamin Netanyahu as saying in interviews with
various media that he sees confirmation of IsraelQs positions in
President ObamaQs first U.N. speech yesterday. In an interview with
HaQaretz, the PM said that President Obama's speech to the U.N.
General Assembly was "positive" because "he also said something we
had been seeking for six months, that we have to meet and begin the
diplomatic process without preconditions." Netanyahu also said
Obama had spoken "clearly about Israel as the nation-state of the
Jewish people. I believe that disagreement about this is the root
of the conflict." Netanyahu also pointed out that Obama had made
reference to Israeli efforts to improve the Palestinian economy by
lifting roadblocks. The PM was quoted as saying that he disagrees
with the idea that Israel should withdraw to the 1967 orders. In an
interview with The Jerusalem Post, the PM said that the PresidentQs
speech was Qgood and positiveQ for Israel and for moving the peace
process forward. Netanyahu told reporters that there is no demand
of Israel to freeze the settlements. The Jerusalem Post quoted
Knesset members on the Right as saying that PM Netanyahu
Qprematurely celebratedQ what he thought was an American policy
shift in IsraelQs favor.
The media cited, and Maariv bannered, President ObamaQs comment that
Qthe U.S. will not accept the legitimacy of Israel's continued
settlement building.Q Media said that this corrected IsraelQs
assumptions stemming from the PresidentQs remarks following the
three-way meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders earlier
in the week. The media also reported that Obama called on the
Palestinians to stop incitement against Israel and on Israel to end
the occupation. The media often cited the PresidentQs remark that
the U.S. cannot Qsolve the world's problems alone.
The Jerusalem Post and other media wrote that Netanyahu will seek
wide consensus on an action against Iran. Yediot expects PM
Netanyahu to tell heads of state at the U.N. General Assembly today
that they must choose between Israel -- a democratic, liberal
country -- and Iran -- a terror-sponsoring state. The newspaper
also says that Netanyahu will condemn the Goldstone report and say
that the U.N outlaws Israel. The PM was quoted as saying in an
interview with Makor Rishon-Hatzofe that his achievement is an
improvement of relations with the U.S. and that he will tell the
entire world that Israel will not agree to a new Holocaust. The
media reported that although the tone of Iranian President Mahmoud
AhmadinejadQs speech was more moderate than last year, the
representatives of 20 countries, led by French envoys, walked out of
Maariv reported that PM NetanyahuQs envoy Yitzhak Molcho and senior
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat are slated to meet in New York to
try to reach understandings that will pave the way for the beginning
of negotiations between Netanyahu and Abbas. Molcho reportedly met
with U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace Senator George
Mitchell yesterday to prepare for todayQs meeting. The newspaper
reported that Mitchell and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are
slated to visit the region in two weeks.
Israel Radio reported that, in an interview with the London-based
Al-Hayat newspaper, PA President Mahmoud Abbas described the
Netanyahu government as a problem and said that the PA had no common
basis for dialogue with it. Abbas was quoted as saying that there
are no subjects left to discuss between the sides, since the Israeli
Government continued the construction in the settlements and refused
to talk about Jerusalem and the refugees. He stressed that the PA
was opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state in temporary
borders, which he believes would turn into an established fact.
HaQaretz quoted Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, a senior prosecutor
at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, as saying on
Monday that he is considering opening an investigation into whether
Lt. Col. David Benjamin, an IDF reserve officer, allowed war crimes
to be committed during the IDF's three-week offensive in Gaza this
winter. The officer -- a dual citizen of Israel and South Africa,
where he was born -- served in the IDF Advocate General's
international law department, which authorized which targets troops
would strike before and during the operation. HaQaretz reported
that on Monday Newsweek released an interview with Moreno-Ocampo in
which he said he is convinced his office has the authority to launch
an investigation into Benjamin's actions. The ICC has until now
refrained from trying IDF officers, as it lacks authority to do so,
since Israel is not a signatory to the 2002 Rome Treaty that founded
the court. South Africa, however, did sign the treaty, so the ICC
is authorized to indict its citizens. HaQaretz notes that
Moreno-Ocampo's remarks are in line with the recommendations of a UN
fact-finding commission on the Gaza war headed by South African
Justice Richard Goldstone. HaQaretz reported that the ICC began
looking into Benjamin's case after receiving material from
pro-Palestinian organizations in South Africa. The material
included a transcript of an interview Benjamin gave to the web site
Bloomberg.com, in which the officer recounted his involvement in
legal consultations with the IDF ahead of army operations.
The media reported that yesterday, in his address to the U.N.
General Assembly, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi ripped the U.N.
Charter and dismissed the two-state solution. He pitted the bloody
history of Jews in Europe against what he termed the tolerance of
Maariv reported the police will increase their state of alert in the
northern, mixed city of Acre, for fear of a repetition of last Yom
The Jerusalem Post reported that the IDF Central Command is forming
a rapid-response team to combat extremist settlers.
HaQaretz and Maariv reported that, one day after losing the UNESCO
leadership contest to Bulgarian diplomat Irina Bokova, Egyptian
Culture Minister Ferrous Hosni renewed his attacks against the Jews.
He was quoted as saying that the Qorganization gave in to
tremendous political and Zionist pressure.Q Yediot quoted a Saudi
Web site in a report that Hosni had assisted Palestinian
Yesterday Channel 2-TV revealed that in July terrorists tried to
carry out an attack against a bus carrying Israelis in the Sinai and
that this was the reason for severe warnings at the time by the
Counter-Terrorism Bureau at IsraelQs National Security Council.
HaQaretz reported that the organization Breaking the Silence will be
among the groups receiving grants from a foundation set up by the
prominent Canadian singer Leonard Cohen -- the Fund For
Reconciliation, Tolerance, and Peace. Cohen will perform in Tel
The media reported that former PM Ehud OlmertQs trial will start at
the Jerusalem District Court tomorrow.
HaQaretz cited the results of a poll conducted among Palestinians by
the International Peace Institute headed by Terje Roed-Larsen:
- Fifty-five percent of Palestinians favor a Palestinian state in
the West Bank and Gaza, separate from Israel. The survey did not
ask respondents about the option of one Palestinian state between
the Mediterranean and the Jordan River
- Sixty-six percent support the Arab peace initiative.
- Fifty-two percent are opposed to a solution of the Jerusalem issue
according to the principle of QArab neighborhoods to the Arabs and
Jewish neighborhoods to the Jews (including the Old City).
- Sixty-nine percent support a solution to the refugee problem
according to U.N. Resolution 194 Q Israel would take in a number of
refugees similar to the number absorbed in the European states.
- Almost 70% say that they do not support the U.S. President and 56%
say that they do not believe he will bring about progress toward the
establishment of two states.
- Fifty-five percent are happy with the performance of President
Abbas; 51% are unhappy with PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad; and 64%
are unhappy with the performance of Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh.
I. "DonQt Descend from the Summit"
The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/24): QIt is
to be hoped that the triumphal crowing from Netanyahu's camp after
the summit does not mean the Prime Minister interprets Obama's
decision to pull back from his demand for a total settlement freeze
as a carte blanche for construction in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem.... Israel also has no interest in making Obama look like
a weak leader who cannot impose his will on a small, friendly state.
The United States holds the key to restraining the Iranian nuclear
threat, and is also Israel's bulwark against imposed political
solutions.... The New York summit was an important step, but by no
means sufficient. Now is the time to move forward from mere
handshakes to real action.
II. "The Go Kart Policy"
Channel 2-TV commentator Amnon Abramovich wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/24): QIn his Cairo
speech, Obama managed to sway Arab public opinion in his direction,
but was unable to budge any Arab leader by a millimeter. Even from
the King of Saudi Arabia, who depends on him for his physical
existence, Obama was unable to extract passage for Israeli planes.
It is worth mentioning that the firm formulation that President
Obama made in his U.N. speech last night -- to end the occupation
that began in 1967 -- was adopted by the Likud government headed by
Ariel Sharon seven years ago already in the framework of the
Roadmap. And nothing happened. The conflict here is complicated
also because there are no partners. The Israeli Prime Minister
trembles as if he had spent the night in the Settlers Council's
protest tent. And Abu Mazen, who was given, at the time, an
inordinate proposal from Ehud Olmert, did not even get back to him
purely as a courtesy. Without employing all the levers, all the
might and pressure on both sides, how will the U.S. President truly
know that he has no partners?
III. "On ObamaQs Block"
Senior commentator Ari Shavit wrote in Ha'aretz (9/24): QThis region
must be given evolutionary, and not revolutionary, treatment. The
key word is: process. Not a KO punch, but a long and thorough
chipping away that will gradually change Palestinian society and at
the same time lead to the end of the occupation. No one is more
suited to the task than Obama. This talented community worker will
have to see this blighted and violent neighborhood for what it is.
Instead of wasting time on doomed efforts to get Netanyahu and Abbas
on the road to an illusory Peace-Now solution, Obama should initiate
a gradual, deep and cautious process, one that will relentlessly
partition the country.
IV. "The QHalf-FullQ Aspects of ObamaQs Speech"
Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/24): QThat the
settlement line received the loudest applause of the president's
speech ... should not distract anyone from the interesting nuances
that redounded very much in Israel's favor. For instance, the
President did not call -- as some in Israel had worried about -- for
two states along the 1967 lines.... Likewise, the President --
unlike in his Cairo speech -- made no mention of Jerusalem, other
than to say it was one of the issues that would be discussed in the
permanent-status negotiations. Another nuance in yesterday's
address was his reference to Israel as a Jewish state, something
that has been interpreted as shorthand for an appreciation that
descendants of Palestinian refugees, in any future agreement, will
be allowed to return to a future Palestinian state, and not to
Israel. And, finally, Obama also gave voice to his exasperation
with the failure of the Arab world to heed his call and make any
gestures toward normalizing ties with Israel, or do anything
concrete to move the diplomatic process forward.... [Regarding his
condemnation of incitement, the PresidentQs] message was clear: it
was time for the Arabs to stop saying one thing in private, and
another in public, but to act publicly on what they say privately.
From the [Israeli] Government's point of view, that comment more
than compensated for his remark that continued settlement
construction was illegitimate.
V. QThe Great Betrayal
Far left columnist Gideon Levy wrote in Ha'aretz (9/24): QWhy is it
okay to talk to Iran but not to Hamas?.... As Israel's isolation in
the world only grows, and the danger of Iran threatens the country,
Israel's best friend must pressure its ally and save it from itself.
Instead, we got another condemnation of the Goldstone Commission
report, this time from the new American Ambassador to the United
Nations, Susan Rice, who had held the promise of major change. It's
not too late. True, the initial momentum has been lost, but now,
following this week's Qsummit of rebukes,Q America must hurry up and
rebuke itself and mainly ponder how to get out of the booby trap to
which it has succumbed. Now, too, only America can (and must) do
VI. "America ShouldnQt Cuddle Itself in Its Visions"
Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (9/24): QObamaQs America is weaker than at
any given time since the end of World War II; this allows Israel to
repel some pressure from the White House, but Israel essentially has
a supreme interest in the strengthening of the United States and the
acceptance of its leadership.... If the United States of the 44th
President continues to cuddle itself in his visions, 2009 and 2010
will be recorded as historical parallels of 1936 and the most
horrible war that started three years later. It can be fairly
assumed that not only the composition of [NetanyahuQs] words [at the
speech he will deliver today to the U.N. General Assembly], but the
resonance they will find, will determine the worldQs assessment of
the intentions of the Jewish state, which is such an important actor
on the Middle Eastern scene.
VII. "ObamaQs Word"
Conservative columnist Nadav Haetzni wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (9/24): QFor so many years, Israelis have been told to fold
their national flags because of the limits of IsraelQs power.... It
has been proven this week in New York that this scenario is not
really implementable.... The person who demonstrated the limits of
his power was U.S. President Barack Obama.... Had ObamaQs entourage
learned the history of U.S. pressure on Israel, it would have
adopted a slightly more modest approach. If it had not been blinded
by the temporary success in the elections, it would have found out
that since the foundation of Israel, no American pressure could
defeat determined Israeli resistance.
VIII. "The Restraining of Obama"
Settler leader Israel Harel wrote in HaQaretz (9/24): QSettlement in
Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] is a solid, permanent and
deeply rooted reality. A long and terrible war of terror could not
vanquish it, oceans of horrific and cruel propaganda, especially
from those within Israeli society who hate it, could not break its
spirit. The complete opposite happened. All the more so, external
dictates will not rattle its foundations. Functional arrangements
for the future of Judea and Samaria have their place, but the
starting point is clear: Settlements will not be uprooted and their
size will not be limited. Even the restrained Obama has begun to
realize this. So when will the extreme left in Israel also restrain
itself and realize it?
IX. "Played for a Sucker"
Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (9/24): QWe're laughing at this guy now.
Look, Benjamin Netanyahu stared down the President of the United
States! The settlers have stopped worrying. All is well again in
our little Qvilla in the jungle,Q as Ehud Barak, the government's
man of the Left, likes to describe this country. And if Israel is
happy -- 21st century Israel, that is, Israel the right-wing
monolith -- then the Republican Party is happy, too. We're allies,
Israelis and Republicans. If we stare down Obama, the Republicans
are encouraged, and vice versa. In the campaign to cripple the
Obama administration, to destroy his presidency, Israel is doing
much, much more than its share.... This cannot go on. Obama, for
the sake of his presidency, cannot allow this to go on.
X. QA Continuation Will Follow
Political commentator Ephraim Ganor wrote in Russian-language
popular pluralist weekly Novosty Nedely (9/24):QThe American
President looked like a tough teacher coping with irresponsible
students.... He publically reprimanded Netanyahu and Abu Mazen....
The U.S. President spoke with a very serious face and his entire
speech expressed a visible dissatisfaction with both IsraelisQ and
PalestiniansQ approaches. He expressed a firm intention to bring
the sides to the negotiations in the nearest future... The U.S.
President succeeded in breaking the resistance of the Palestinians,
who were unwilling to start the negotiations until an absolute
freeze of settlement construction in Judea and Samaria [i.e. the
West Bank].... Despite the toughness demonstrated by President
Obama, both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abu Mazen tried to show
journalists accompanying them that actually the U.S. President was
unable to achieve anything.... The QtrilateralQ high-level meeting
was first of all important for Barack Obama in order to improve his
image that has tremendously suffered recently. The feeling that
Obama is rather a person of words than deeds is increasing.... His
famous election campaign slogan QYes, We Can!Q today seems an empty
one with no real basis. The number of the U.S. PresidentQs failures
and political malfunctions is continuing to grow.... ObamaQs
unenviable situation leads one to expect that he will undertake a
maximum of efforts to achieve significant results on the
Israeli-Palestinian track, [since] his chances [to succeed] look
much more realistic [on this track] than anywhere else.