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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002126

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
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JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR PA
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COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE FOR PAO/POLAD
COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019

JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

SIPDIS
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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1. Iran

2. Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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All media reported that, two days before the opening of talks
between Iranian and U.S. officials, the Islamic Republic carried out
a test launch of long-range missiles capable of reaching Israel.
Iran test-fired its Shahab-3 missile, which puts Israel within reach
along with Saudi Arabia and U.S. Army bases in the Gulf. HaQaretz
reported that DM Ehud Barak is scheduled to meet today in Brighton,
England, with British PM Gordon Brown to discuss the Iranian nuclear
issue. HaQaretz also reported that Barak will meet with British
Foreign Secretary David Miliband tomorrow for a talk on the same
subject. The successful launch of the Shahab-3, which the military
said has a range of 2,000 kilometers, came on the second day of war
games led by the Revolutionary Guards. HaQaretz reported that the
Israeli Foreign Ministry denied any link between the missile tests
and the October 1 nuclear talks in Geneva. The war games had been
scheduled many months ago, but were seen in the West as an act of
defiance, especially in light of the recent exposure by the United
States of a facility for the enrichment of uranium which the
Iranians are said to have set up in Qom. Leading media reported
that Israel has clamped down a blackout on GOI responses to the
recent Iranian developments, saying that other countries are
responding adequately and that there is no need for Israel to get
publicly involved.

On Sunday, HaQaretz reported that, following the discovery of a
second uranium enrichment plan near Qom, Iran, PM Benjamin Netanyahu
told U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Senators and Congress
members in telephone conversations that now is the time to act to
halt the Iranian nuclear program. A senior Israel official told The
Jerusalem Post on Saturday that Israel believes that many Western
countries now see that the Iranian mask is slipping, but that Israel
does not yet know if Russia and China understand this.

Leading media reported that tomorrow Israel and the U.S. will
continue their talks in Washington on bridging the open issues
between Israel and the PA that are delaying the relaunching of peace
negotiations. PM Netanyahu's envoy, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, and DM
Ehud Barak's chief of staff, Brig Gen. Michael Herzog, are slated to
meet with U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace Senator George
Mitchell and senior White House officials. Media reported that on
Thursday Mitchell will meet Palestinian representatives (senior PA
negotiator Saeb Erekat will head the Palestinian delegation,
according to HaQaretz and Maariv) but that it is doubtful whether
there will be any contacts between Israelis and Palestinians.
HaQaretz reported that formulating the framework for the
negotiations and the "terms of reference," or the opening
conditions, are the focus of the talks. At the same time the sides
will continue negotiating the terms of the settlement construction
freeze. Next week Mitchell will come to Israel to continue the
talks and meet with Netanyahu and Barak. HaQaretz reported that
President Obama instructed Mitchell and U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton to report to him on progress in the talks by October
15, in an attempt to bridge the gaps between Israel and the PA by
then and to allow Obama to hold an event marking the launch of peace
talks. In light of massive U.S. pressure, the Palestinians have
agreed to drop their main precondition to resuming negotiations, a
demand that Israel completely cease all construction in the
settlements and East Jerusalem. But HaQaretz quoted sources on all
three sides as saying that Obama promised PA President Mahmoud Abbas
that in return for his concession on a construction freeze, the U.S.
would take under consideration the Palestinian demands on the
framework of the negotiations. The framework includes such matters
as how the talks will be managed and what the opening conditions for
the talks will be -- and this is a matter of fierce dispute between
Israel and the Palestinians, as well as with the U.S.
administration. There are disagreements over a number of issues.
First, the Palestinians want to restart the talks where the
Government of Ehud Olmert left off, while Netanyahu argues that he
is not bound by Olmert's proposals. Second, the Palestinians want
the negotiations to focus on the principle of a solution based on
the 1967 borders, and Netanyahu strongly disagrees. Third, the
Palestinians want a two-year timeframe for the achievement of a
permanent agreement, while Israel objects. In addition, the
Palestinians want to hold negotiations on all the issues of the
permanent settlement, including Jerusalem, refugees and borders, but
Israel still has not completed formulating its policy on these
points.

Maariv reported that Qany negotiations for a permanent status
arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians will be based on the
1967 lines," is one of the headlines from a document authored by
former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, which she gave to the
current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Maariv says that the
document constitutes the administrative link between the Bush and
Obama administrations. Maariv quoted a high-ranking White House
official as saying last week that this was the policy that the
current administration had inherited from its predecessor, and that
it was also the view of President Obama. This reportedly was also
one of the reasons that Obama declared in his UN speech that Israel
must end the occupation that began in 1967. According to Maariv,
the document relays to the current administration everything that
was achieved in the negotiations between the sides in Bush's eight
years in the White House. The permanent status arrangement, the
document states, must also include a solution of all the issues,
including Jerusalem, refugees, water, borders, and so on. Israel is
demanding of the American administration to also stand by the
agreements between Jerusalem and Washington during Bush's time,
first and foremost Bush's letters from April 2004 which mentioned
the settlement blocs and said that the U.S. will support taking into
account demographic changes on the ground in the negotiations on the
permanent status arrangement. Maariv comments: QNow it appears
that the Bush administration has passed the stick, i.e. the 1967
lines, but it isn't clear if it also passed the carrot.

On Sunday, citing the AP, HaQaretz reported that on September 26
Secretary Clinton urged Arab nations to take steps toward
normalizing relations with Israel and supporting the Palestinians,
in a an effort to help restart stalled Mideast peace talks.

The media reported that yesterday IAF warplanes destroyed an armed
missile launcher on northern Gaza aimed at Israel. The army
reported a direct hit. Yesterday afternoon Palestinians fired a
Qassam rocket and a mortar shell at Israel. The rocket apparently
exploded within the Gaza Strip. Palestinians also fired two Qassam
rockets overnight Sunday at the western Negev.

Major media reported that yesterday, a day after several people were
wounded and arrested in East Jerusalem, clashes started at the
Temple Mount. Yediot reported that Palestinian organizations in
Gaza and in the West Bank are threatening to ignite a third Intifada
in wake of the clashes. IDF Radio reported that about 100 olive
trees were chopped down in the last few days near the village of
Burin in the northern West Bank. The IDFQs Civil Administration is
permitting Palestinian landowners to begin olive picking today in
order to prevent damage to the olives left.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Israel warmly welcomed
German Chancellor Angela MerkelQs reelection victory, even as some
officials expressed reservations regarding Free Democratic Party
(FDP) leader Guido Westerwelle, the man expected to be her next
foreign minister -- because he is a member of a post-World War II
generation and because a top FDP politician, Juergen Moeelemann, was
involved in a 2002 scandal that seemingly reeked of anti-Semitism.

The Jerusalem Post cited an official IDF scorecard recently compiled
by top navy officer Lt. Col. Robi Sandman showing that Hizbullah had
better intelligence than Israel and better control of its forces
during the Second Lebanon War.

Over the weekend the media reported that QAjami,Q an Arabic-language
movie about a Jaffa neighborhood, will represent Israel at the 2010
Academy Awards ceremony.

Major media quoted the British newspaper The Daily Express as saying
that the British intelligence agency MI6Qs chief Sir John Scarlett
has bee told that Saudi Arabia is ready to allow Israel to bomb
IranQs new nuclear site.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the upcoming visit by Syrian Deputy
FM Fayssal Mekdad is the first in about five years and is part of
U.S. efforts to improve strained relations with Damascus.

Over the weekend leading media reported that on Friday Egyptian FM
Ahmed Abu al-Gheit urged Israel to release 1,000 Palestinian
prisoners in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit.

HaQaretz reported that the defense establishment recently relaunched
its campaign with its Western partners to block Hamas's fund-raising
network. The government, meanwhile, is considering launching an
awareness campaign to highlight the link between fund-raising for
Palestinian causes and terror funding. Israeli efforts have had
some success in recent years, when Western governments forced
certain charity organizations to reveal their records and sever ties
with the Charity Coalition, the umbrella organization for groups
that raise funds for Hamas abroad. However, HaQaretz reported that
there are sometimes legal obstacles, such as a ruling by a U.S.
judge in Ohio who ordered the lifting of a freeze on the assets of
an Ohio-based charity called KindHearts following an investigation
by the U.S. Treasury in 2006 concerning the charity's connection
with Hamas. The judge ordered the charity to be allowed to regain
control of its assets, ruling that the administration did not
provide enough evidence to justify the freeze.

HaQaretz reported that accusations PM Netanyahu a few weeks ago that
the Swedish government attempted to create contacts with Hamas were
apparently based on incorrect information.

Maariv and HaQaretz (the latter, quoting the London-based A-Sharq
Al-Awsat) reported that the board of directors of the powerful
Egyptian media group Al-Ahram has decided to boycott Israel and
Israelis of all positions.

HaQaretz quoted PA Communications Minister Mashhud Abu-Daka as
saying that the PA strenuously resists an Israeli attempt to link
the allotment of frequencies to the second cellular phone provider
in the territories, Al-Wataniya, to the cancellation of the
Palestinian appeal to the International Court of Justice in The
Hague regarding Operation Cast Lead. The Jerusalem Post also cited
IsraelQs threat.

Yediot reported that Israel and the Maldives -- the smallest Muslim
state in the world -- renewed their diplomatic relations over the
weekend.

Yesterday, HaQaretz reported that a recently declassified U.S.
report on the Yom Kippur War cited instance of intelligence
blindness in Washington and self-deception in Israel and the West.

In a story published by arrangement with the U.S. Jewish weekly The
Forward, HaQaretz reported that David Remes, a Washington attorney,
left a major corporate law firm to take on full-time representation
of terrorism suspects held in the American detention center in
Guantanamo Bay, stressed that he sees no equation between Guantanamo
and the Nazi camps. Still, he added, "When you consider the way Jews
were dehumanized as vermin, there's an unfortunate echo." The
newspaper noted that Jewish attorneys are considered to be the
backbone of the campaign to provide legal rights for the Guantanamo
detainees, all imprisoned without charge or trial.

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1. Iran:
---------

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

I. "Facing Iran with Obama"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/29): QYom
Kippur 2009 bore two pieces of news for Israelis. The bad news was
Iran's ground-to-ground missile test. The good news was that the
Western powers, led by the United States, are facing off against
Iran and threatening to increase sanctions against it following the
discovery of a secret uranium enrichment facility near the holy city
of Qom. The plant's discovery and the missile launches have made
clearer the increasing Iranian threat to Israel -- just days after
the leaders of Iran and Israel addressed the United Nations General
Assembly and accused each other's countries of Qbarbarism.Q Talks
are to begin the day after tomorrow between Iran and the major
powers, among them the United States, but success seems unlikely
considering the developments of the past few days.... Under these
circumstances, Israel should support Obama and give him the chance
to exhaust the move combining dialogue with the threat of sanctions.
This is not the time for Jerusalem to threaten and badger. The
Iranian threat is not only Israel's problem, it's that of the entire
international community. It's best for Israel if the issue is dealt
with on an international level.


II. "In Praise of Actions"

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of Ha'aretz
(9/29): Q Just before Iran and the international community begin
talks on Iran's nuclear program, Israel is sending out messages of
measured and cautions optimism. Israeli official are praising the
proposed sanctions against Iran to journalists, explaining that a
stiff cost could prompt the Iranians to rethink their actions,
especially in light of the domestic troubles the regime of
ayatollahs has faced over the past few months. The New York Times,
meanwhile, reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is
lobbying U.S lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to
impose Qcrippling sanctionsQ on Iran. This constitutes a certain
change in the atmosphere surrounding Israel's approach to the issue.
Until a few weeks ago, Israeli officials expressed serious
skepticism, bordering on cynicism, about American efforts to divert
Iran from its gallop toward obtaining nuclear capability.... Israel,
from its point of view, now needs to show the Obama administration
E
and the international community that it is a team player, one that
supports exhausting all non-military options. At some point in the
future, there will come a time when it would make sense to once
again threaten to attack Iran in order to pressure Tehran, but now
is still the time for negotiations.

III. "Think Cuban Missile Crisis"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/29):
QIran's stratagem is to QengageQ as it pushes ahead with its bomb,
thereby making it hard for the international community to impose
meaningful sanctions. Once it feels certain it has all the pieces
of the nuclear weapon's puzzle in place -- fuel, warhead, delivery
system -- it might offer Obama a stop just short of a test
detonation, in return for a long list of Western concessions.
Anyway, the pace of economic sanctions is way out of sync with the
progress the mullahs are making on their bomb. Even if Russia and
China accepted a winter embargo on refined petroleum products
entering Iran, is there any reason to imagine that the mere
discomfort of the Iranian masses would take precedence for Khamenei
and Ahmadinejad over the bomb? Obama should leapfrog over futile
intermediate steps and place draconian sanctions on the table, now.
To paraphrase John Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this
would mean that all ships and planes bound for Iran, from whatever
nation, would be turned back. Perhaps this prospect, coupled with a
complete land, sea and air quarantine, can influence Iran's leaders
to rethink their one-step-forward-two-steps-back strategy, and save
humanity from an Iranian bomb.

IV. "The Ineffectual West"

Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (9/29): QThe Qom reactor (have other
facilities gone unreported?) is making American willingness to
dialogue with the current Iranian regime superfluous. There is
nobody to talk with. The sanctions must start -- as early as
possible. Will the West act determinedly? Let us hope so. But the
Western leadersQ collective biography teaches that a few days after
a quick discovery [of international misconduct] and a feeling of
panic, they return to their good old selves.

------------
2. Mideast:
------------
Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "The Notable Shift in the Obama Administration"

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/29): QTo say that U.S.
President Barack Obama hates, seeks to destroy, and/or is pressuring
Israel is a staple of the Internet rumor mill. A large portion of
the far Right would like to believe it. But it isn't true.... So
why did Obama shift his stance? During the campaign he came to learn
that Israel's supporters were active, energetic, and would fight
back even when almost no one else would confront him. In addition,
the fact that he could gain Jewish support gave him an added
incentive to pull back. Put simply, being anti-Israel was a
political liability. Obama knew it and shifted accordingly.... The
[Israeli] Government could not possibly have handled Obama better.
At the same time, the obvious fragility of the current coalition
proved another persuasive factor that made Obama pull back. I
shudder to think what would have happened if Tzipi Livni had been
prime minister. In addition, as always, intransigence on the Arab
and Palestinian side was so extreme that even the Obama
administration couldn't ignore it.... To this day, the U.S.
Government under Obama has not taken a single material step against
Israel and no such development seems to be on the horizon either.
While there are many criticisms that can be made of Obama's Middle
East policy, it has swung in a more pro-Israel direction while still
maintaining the kind of QevenhandedQ balance frequently seen in his
predecessors.

II. "No More Grey Areas"

Liberal columnist Yael Paz QMelamed wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (9/29): QThe President is unhappy about the fears of each of
the [Mideast] leaders from their own factions. Experience has
taught him that those who do not look thousands of miles ahead and
do not aspire to reach as far as they can, will forever remain
stumped and unable to move. Benjamin Netanyahu now has a unique
opportunity to turn from a politician who fears minor Knesset
members into a true leader -- to lead a courageous move of real
change involving hard concessions. If he follows this road with all
his might, the entire public will follow him.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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