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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002118

STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

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

SECDEF WASHDC FOR USDP/ASD-PA/ASD-ISA
HQ USAF FOR XOXX
DA WASHDC FOR SASA
JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR PA
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COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE FOR PAO/POLAD
COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019

JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
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PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

Please note:

1) There will be no Tel Aviv Media Reaction report on Monday,
September 28, 2008, due to the Yom Kippur holiday.
2) Israel is moving back to Winter Time at 2 A.M. on Sunday,
September 27. Until the introduction of Daylight Saving Time in the
U.S. on November 1, Israel will be six hours ahead of EDT.

--------------------------------
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. U.S.-Israel Relations

-------------------------
Key stories in the media:
-------------------------

All media led with the speech delivered by PM Benjamin Netanyahu at
the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) yesterday. The PM blasted IranQs
nuclear program and the welcome President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
received at the U.N. (QWhat a disgrace! What a mockery of the U.N.
Charter!Q) Netanyahu also denounced the U.N.Qs silence facing
HamasQs eight-year-long rocket barrage, and the Goldstone reportQs
accusation of IsraelQs having committed Qwar crimes.Q The PM also
extended IsraelQs hand in peace to the Palestinians, but emphasized
that the future Palestinian state must be Qeffectively
demilitarized.Q The media reported that Israeli politicians lauded
the PMQs address, although -- like journalists among others --
Kadima Knesset Member and former Finance Minister Roni Bar-On told
Israel Radio that Netanyahu did not have to prove the reality of the
Holocaust. Israel Radio cited negative responses to the speech by
the PA and Hamas. The latter said that Netanyahu lied and that
there never were Jews in Palestine.

Israel Radio reported that the Quartet welcomed President ObamaQs
remarks on the Middle East in his address to the UNGA.

HaQaretz quoted White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as saying
yesterday in an interview with PBS that Israeli and Palestinian
leaders must move quickly to take advantage of this "unique moment"
for making peace, following their meeting with U.S. President Barack
Obama earlier this week. Emanuel was quoted as saying: "He [Obama]
challenged them publicly, which means they now have to go home and
face the people that they represent about the opportunities of peace
versus the risk of not taking action." He added that he believes
both parties desire peace. According to Emanuel, whose father is
Israeli, Obama told both parties: "First of all, I have a lot of
other challenges. I don't have an inexhaustible amount of time, but
I'm going to spend whatever time it takes to help. But not more than
you're willing to take." "I will spend political capital, as [I
did] in the heart of the Arab world, in Cairo," Emanuel quoted the
president as saying. "Talk about the right of the state of Israel
to exist in that region, as a secure country. And America will
always have that friendship, and it runs deep." Obama "also said he
is willing to challenge the Israeli government and friends when he
thinks they're wrong, as he has shown on the settlement[s], in a
public way as well as in private," Emanuel added. This, he said,
ensures that both sides trust Obama "to be an honest broker; don't
miss that opportunity in his story." Obama, Emanuel said, believes
Israeli settlements "can be provocative to a peace process, in a
negative sense." But even more importantly, he believes that both
parties, Israeli and Palestinian, need to "put aside the
negotiations about the negotiations and begin their negotiations,"
Emanuel told PBS. "And you can't start as if there hasn't been a
process." "If you don't make progress and engage in the process of
making peace," he continued, "you give Hamas and Hizbullah and Iran,
who are enemies of the peace process, and vocal opponents of it, a
veto." Referring to Netanyahu, Emanuel said Obama views the PM as a
"practical person," adding that Netanyahu "has shown" this "in the
past," at the Wye Plantation talks in 1998. "He'll take risks,"
Emanuel said of the prime minister. And "the risk[s] for peace, in
the President's view, are less than the risks of not making peace."
Asked about the U.S. administration's message to the Israelis - "if
they decide they want to take military action at some point" against
Iran - Emanuel said, "I wouldn't do it, even though I would like to
do it." He also argued that Iran has lost much of its clout.

In an interview with HaQaretz, IsraelQs Ambassador to the U.S.
Michael Oren downplayed the admonitions he reportedly received from
the U.S. administration.

The far-Left group Gush Shalom affirms in paid ads in HaQaretzQs
Hebrew and English editions: QNetanyahu has won: no settlement
freeze. Obama has swallowed the frog. How much shall we have to
pay for that in the future?

Media speculated that Morocco or the Maldives were renewing

diplomatic relations with Israel.

HaQaretz reported that the construction of a large new Jewish
neighborhood in East Jerusalem is being planned. Government
ministries are seen as sympathetic to the idea. The newspaper
reported that Palestinian residents of Walaja, an Arab village
within the boundaries of Jerusalem that abuts the area of the
proposed neighborhood, have been offered concessions in exchange for
their consent to the plan.

Fatah strongman Jibril Rajoub, whose standing was enhanced in his
movementQs recent elections, is quoted as saying in an interview
with HaQaretz that he does not rule out the notion of armed
struggle, and that he does not consider Hamas an enemy, but a
political rival.

Yediot printed the story of a reporter who infiltrated the far-Right
settler movement (the QWild EastQ) during three months.

HaQaretz (English Ed.) reported that the U.S. Internal Revenue
Service (IRS) extended the deadline for Israel residents filing
their Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or FBAR. The
IRS announced this week that instead of September 23, people
intending to join the program could now do so through October 15.
The newspaper noted that the extension roughly corresponds to the
Jewish High Holiday period.

--------
Mideast:
--------

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

I. "An Elephant in the Room"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/25):
QRadical Palestinians interpreted Obama's advocacy [at the U.N] of a
QJewish State of IsraelQ as negating the Palestinians' claim to a
Qright of return.Q We agree. Relative moderates among the
Palestinians were perturbed that Obama wanted negotiations to resume
without preconditions. Mahmoud Abbas had been holding out for a
total settlement freeze. Yet by speaking of QsettlementsQ in the
generic sense, without reference to strategic settlements blocs, the
President was inadvertently encouraging Abbas to dig in his heels.
Unsurprisingly, Obama found it politic not to mention that Hamas
controls Gaza and has designs on the West Bank. Palestinian
disunity was the elephant in the room.... Given the inhospitable
venue, we did not realistically expect Obama to take moderate
Palestinians to task for their unwavering insistence on the Qright
to settle Palestinians en masse in Israel proper; nor did we expect
him to call on them to budge from their demand for a pullback to the
1967 boundaries. We also did not realistically expect the president
to say that Palestinian demilitarization is the sine qua non of any
resolution. But Obama must at least say these things privately to
the Palestinians if the prospect of lasting peace Qbetween Israel,
Palestine, and the Arab worldQ is to be fulfilled.

II. "Woe to the Victor"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/25): QPrime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged pleased from the three-way
summit in New York this week. In an interview with HaQaretz
correspondent Natasha Mozgovaya, Netanyahu boasted of his diplomatic
achievements: Q[Obama] said something we had been seeking for six
months, that we have to meet and begin the diplomatic process
without preconditions.Q Netanyahu was encouraged by the fact that
the U.S. President gave in on the demand for a total freeze on
settlements and by the agreement of Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas to come to the summit despite the conditions he had set for
renewal of talks with Israel not being met.... But Netanyahu's joy
of victory is worrisome. The Prime Minister went to the summit and
is returning today to Israel without having renewed negotiations
with the Palestinians.... By presenting Obama as a weak president,
who folded in the face of Israel's refusal to freeze settlements,
and Abbas as refusing peace, Netanyahu is signaling to his political
base in Likud and the right-wing parties. However, he risks missing
the opportunity presented by Obama's election for a renewal of the
peace process and a solution to the Israel-Arab conflict. In
presenting the expansion of the settlements as an achievement,
Netanyahu is working against Israel's interests in ending the
occupation and dividing the land. His momentary QvictoryQ might be
the country's loss.

III. "The Best Show in Town"
Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (9/25): QTwenty-one years after completing
his term as Israel's ambassador to the U.N., the Prime Minister
returned to the scene of the crime, the General Assembly of the
organization that in 1975 defined Zionism as racism and in 2009
accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu
proved yesterday that he and the U.N. are, and have always been, a
winning cast -- the best show in town.... It was an excellent
speech. Well written, beautifully constructed, given in the proper
tone. Slow, measured, firm. During the half hour of his address,
Netanyahu represented almost all of us. The sane Israeli
mainstream, from Meretz to the [far-Right] National Union, from
Shelly Yacimovich [on the left wing of the Labor Party] to Benny
Begin, stood behind him. It seemed to me that some of the Arab
Knesset members would have signed off on parts of his speech,
particularly the ones that mentioned Iran.... Netanyahu persuaded
those who were already convinced, but made no impression on the
hypocritical and the obtuse.... On the other hand, he spoke in our
name. He expressed our frustration. He defended our pride and our
honor. He said what we have been shouting to our television screens
or our computers or the newspaper headlines, to all those who have
been holding us to a standard that is not applied to anyone else.

IV. "At His Best"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/25): QGive Netanyahu
a good platform, a convenient enemy and a charged issue to battle
over, and he is at his best.... There probably are Israelis who did
not like the recurring emphasis on the Holocaust motif. Netanyahu
does not really think that the threat that Iran poses to Israel is
identical to the threat that Hitler posed to the Jews in Europe.
Israel was established so that such threats would not reach
fruition. But in America, the Holocaust works.
Criticism of the U.N. also works. The Americans loathe the U.N.,
and they know why.... Netanyahu has good reasons to sum up his visit
to New York favorably. It is not out of the question that this was
his best week since being reelected prime minister. The good news
is that Netanyahu is pleased with himself. This may also be the bad
news.

V. QLeaving Them Cold

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in HaQaretz (9/25): QObama
has not succeeded in enlisting even one supporter in Israel's public
arena or political establishment, who will stand up to Netanyahu and
call upon him to accept the president's initiative and gallop toward
a Qtwo-state solution.Q The Israelis don't think establishment of a
state headed by Abbas will improve their situation in any way. The
hard-core ideological left is fighting the IDF in the name of
pacifism, and striving for a binational state in the name of
equality and liberalism. The right is striving for a binational
state in the name of the Greater Land of Israel, fulfillment of the
Bible's promises and the security afforded by dominating the
hilltops.... Nor are the Palestinians thrilled by Obama. A survey
published this week by the International Peace Institute, headed by
Terje Larsen, the former mediator from the time of the Oslo Accords,
has found that 70 percent of Palestinians do not support the U.S.
president, and 56 percent do not expect Obama to achieve progress in
the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. And this in
a public opinion poll in which most of the respondents expressed
support for Abbas, not Hamas.... In order to lead, [Obama] must
articulate a clear path that everyone in Israel and the territories
can support.... He has given up on the Qconfidence-building
measuresQ he had hoped to achieve ... and is now urging the sides to
renew negotiations quickly, Qwithout prior conditions.Q Netanyahu
interprets this as a victory: construction in the settlements will
continue and Israel will go into talks without promising the
Palestinians anything. There is no danger to the integrity of the
coalition and the unity of Likud. Obama, too, is minimizing his
political risk by delegating the negotiations to his rival,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Here is an elegant way to
attribute the expected failure to her and to damage her chances of a
rematch against Obama.

VI. "Give Hope to the Palestinian"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in Maariv (9/25): QSome
[officials] in Washington are considering adopting Salam FayyadQs
plan [of Palestinian statehood within two years]. The Palestinian
Prime Minister is happy with NetanyahuQs economic peace vision and
Shimon PeresQs ideas.... [But] FayyadQs congeniality and pragmatism
would turn into a tangible danger [for Israel; the [Israeli] Prime
MinisterQs bureau would regret its dilly-dallying ... and perhaps
the humiliating of the Palestinians and the premature celebrations
and the arrogance that we saw this week in New York. On the other
hand, we are in the Middle East -- so many things can happen.

VII. "ItQs Not Goldstone, ItQs We"
Legal commentator Boaz Okun, who was Director of IsraelQs Courts
from 2004 to 2006, wrote in Yediot Aharonot (9/25): QWe need the
[Goldstone CommissionQs] report because of what it tells about
Israel and what we donQt want to hear.... It pointed at
contradictions in Israeli claims that damaged their credibility....
The Commission found that it was impossible to point out any
military gains that could have been obtained through [IDFQs]
targeting civilians.... International humanitarian law requires an
independent investigation to verify such actions. There was no need
for an international commission to reach such a conclusion.

--------------------------
2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

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

QObama: I Am Not Naive

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea and diplomatic correspondent Shimon
Shiffer wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot
(9/25): QNetanyahu learned one important lesson from his relations
with the [U.S.] administration in his previous term. He is careful
to conduct his talks with the Obama administration in full
transparency, without concealing his political difficulties and the
disputed points. The key word is transparency. Almost every day,
there is a dialogue between the two governments. QNot almost, every
day,Q he is corrected by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael
Oren. The Israelis are careful to emphasize that the White House
gave Netanyahu in advance the main points of ObamaQs speech at the
UN General Assembly. During Sharon and OlmertQs period, the
Israelis not only received the draft, they also succeeded in
revising it. Netanyahu and his aides have not yet reached this
degree of intimacy.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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