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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 6843
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 6090
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002131

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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COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019

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

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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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Electronic media reported that the Security Cabinet has approved the
release of 20 female Palestinian prisoners and detainees in exchange
for proof that Gilad Shalit is alive. In a statement, PM Benjamin
Netanyahu's office said that it expects to receive a video showing
the soldier is alive and well. The deal is to be carried out on
Friday. Similar statements were given in Cairo and Gaza on
Wednesday. The Shalit family was also updated on the recent
developments in the affair.

All media reported that yesterday a London court rejected an appeal
by pro-Palestinian organizations for the arrest of DM Ehud Barak,
who is currently on a visit to Britain, for involvement in war
crimes during Operation Cast Lead. IsraelQs Ambassador to the U.K.
Ron Prosor was quoted as saying in an interview with Israel Radio
that it had not been easy to convince the British authorities to
grant diplomatic immunity to Barak, but that this is a temporary
situation. Media quoted Barak as saying that he will neither flee
nor apologize over IsraelQs war on terror. The media reported that
many GOI officials and IDF officers might be affected by the
QGoldstone effect.Q Leading media reported that Barak is initiating
a commission of inquiry into accusations that the IDF acted wrongly
in the operation. Yediot and other media reported that the DM has
suggested that former Chief Justice Aharon Barak head the
commission.

HaQaretz reported that the PA is urging the U.N. Human Rights
Council to adopt the Goldstone Commission report in full and pass it
on to the General Assembly for action. The report was formally
presented to the council Tuesday. However, HaQaretz reported that
Israel and the U.S. are furious with the PA initiative and are
seeking to recruit the EU to help foil it. Israel's
diplomatic-security cabinet will meet Wednesday to discuss
Jerusalem's response to the report. Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted FM
Avigdor Lieberman as saying that the PA promotes legal suits instead
of negotiations. The media reported that at Tuesday's council
meeting in Geneva, Assistant Secretary of State Michael H. Posner
criticized the report and rejected the suggestion that it be taken
up by the Security Council. The Jerusalem Post reported that 32
U.S. Senators signed a letter to Secretary of States Hillary Clinton
urging that the U.S. block any punitive measures against Israel at
the U.N. on account of the Goldstone Report. Media quoted Prof.
Uriel Reichman, president of the Interdisciplinary Center in
Herzliya (IDC), saying yesterday that if Israel does not investigate
the military operation in Gaza, it will be forced to do so by the
international community. Professor Amnon Rubinstein of the IDC and
a former Education Minister from Meretz voiced simila views in the
media. Israel Radio quoted IsraelQ Ambassador to the U.K. Ron
Prosor as writing inan op-ed article in the British daily The
Times:QIn the history of international organizations it i hard to
conceive of an institution less fit forpurpose than the absurdly
titled U.N. Human Rights Council. Since its inception in 2006, the
UNHRC has included such champions of liberal values as Saudi Arabia,
Pakistan, and Cuba. There is no doubting the comic value of such
membership. Analogies spring to mind of Jack the Ripper leading a
disciplinary inquiry at Scotland Yard, or Dr. Harold Shipman
chairing a panel discussion on medical care for the elderly. Yet
for Israel, on the receiving end of this surreal hypocrisy, it is no
laughing matter.Q Prosor added: QIt is impossible to escape the
obsession of the Human Rights Council with Israel. In three
years, it has issued 25 resolutions against individual states: 20 of
them targeted Israel.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Jessica Montell, the Director of the
Israeli human rights group BQTselem, as saying that the U.N. Human
Rights Council and the Goldstone Report are either biased or
mistaken in some of their fundamental accusations against Israel.
However, she added that Israel could have avoided such a repot had
it conducted a Qthorough investigationQ of Cast Lead itself,
something that BQTselem itself continues to urge on Israeli
leaders.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the U.S. is looking for Iran to
disclose details of its nuclear program, provide access to
facilities and personnel, and otherwise take concrete steps to show
E
it is serious about complying with international demands at
Thursday's landmark meeting between the countries -- though American
officials characterized the parley as the beginning of a long
process rather than a one-time occurrence.

HaQaretz quoted Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, the head of IDF Intelligence,
as saying that the IDF should adopt a "Code of Ethics for the War on
Terror," because its existing ethical code is insufficient. Yadlin
co-authored the proposed code along with Prof. Asa Kasher, the
philosopher who drafted the army's first code of ethics in the
mid-1990s. That code was later replaced by the current one, "The
Spirit of the IDF," drafted by other philosophers. However, Yadlin
argues, the current code does not sufficiently address one of the
army's most pressing challenges: asymmetric warfare against
terrorist organizations that operate amid a civilian population,
such as the 2006 war against Hizbullah in Lebanon or January's
Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.
Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has yet to respond to Yadlin's proposal.

The Jerusalem Post, HaQaretz, and Yediot reported that PM Netanyahu
finally agreed yesterday to a request by French President Nicolas
Sarkozy to rebuild GazaQs Al-Quds Hospital, which was damaged during
Operation Cast Lead. Netanyahu told Sarkozy by phone Tuesday that
he had decided to approve the project as a humanitarian gesture.
The Premier also said he wished to accommodate Paris due to the
"strident stance that France has taken on Iran's nuclear program."
The hospital is managed by the Red Crescent Society in Gaza.
Sarkozy added that the initiative is a joint venture between France
and Qatar, the wealthy Gulf sheikhdom that broke off relations with
Israel during the Gaza war.

Maariv detailed a plan to build 14,000 housing units in the area of
the Arab village of Wallajah in southeast Jerusalem that will be
brought for approval to the Interior Ministry's District Planning
Committee as well as to various municipal planning bodies.
[HaQaretz reported on the plan on Friday.] This is the largest
project in East Jerusalem since the construction of Pisgat Ze'ev,
Gilo, and Har Homa. The new neighborhood, Givat Yael, is to
encompass 3,000 dunams (around 740 acres), and is expected to have
approximately 40,000 Jewish residents. The new neighborhood is
expected to exceed Jerusalem's municipal borders and enter the area
of Judea (southern West Bank). The area around Wallajah was recently
purchased by a group of investors, which also formed a company
called Givat Yael. The group is headed by Meir Davidson, who was
once one of leaders of Ateret Cohanim, a group dedicated to settling
Jews in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. The developers face
two hurdles: the area is populated by many illegal Palestinian
houses and has been declared a QgreenQ zone. Last February the
District Planning Committee decided to reject the plan proposed by
the Wallajah people to tear down the illegal houses. The battle
over the houses has been going on for years and is funded by various
American and European sources. Maariv reported that the
international intervention concerning the village has sparked
something of a storm in Jerusalem. The village's cause is being led
by Meretz city council member Meir Margalit, who laments the "brutal
takeover of the village's land and the abuse of its residents."
Elisha Peleg of Likud, on the other hand, argues that "we must
promote construction in all parts of Jerusalem. The European
intervention is scandalous. The British Mandate is long over." In
the course of the past week politicians leading the battle on behalf
of the village claimed to have been offered a deal by the Givat Yael
people -- the latter would be willing to keep the homes destined for
demolition, in exchange for support on the municipal planning board.
Yesterday Meir Davidson yesterday denied the existence of such a
deal. The Jerusalem Post cited a brochure put out by Ateret Cohanim
touting building in JerusalemQs Arab neighborhoods.

Citing the AP, HaQaretz reported that yesterday chief Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erekat played down expectations for U.S. President
Barack Obama's latest attempt to restart peace talks, saying key
differences with Israel make it difficult for negotiations to
resume.

The media reported that an Israeli driver was moderately wounded
last night when Palestinians opened fire on his car near the central
West Bank outpost of Shvut Rachel, between Ramallah and Nablus.
Also yesterday, Palestinians in Gaza fired two Qassam rockets at the
western Negev.

Media cited difference between the intelligence services of Israel
and Germany on one side, and those of the U.S. regarding the
proximity of IranQs acquisition of a nuclear weapon. Media cited
RussiaQs call to pursue diplomatic contacts with Iran.

HaQaretz quoted the Kuwaiti Web site Al-Rai Al-Aam as saying that
the U.S. is delaying the appointment of an ambassador in Damascus
because of QmanipulationsQ by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The media quoted a state commission of inquiry into the state's
treatment of the evicted settlers from Gaza as saying that while
evacuating every last settler took less than two weeks, the
Qfamilies' rehabilitation has not finished to this day, more than
four years after the evacuation -- and, even worse, it seems the end
is not even visible on the horizon." This conclusion was part of an
interim report that the commission, headed by former Supreme Court
Justice Eliyahu Mazza, submitted yesterday to PM Netanyahu and other
senior officials. The commission assigned Netanyahu personal
responsibility for ensuring that the rehabilitation process finally
ends. It praised Netanyahu for having pledged to do so, but stressed
that this pledge was as yet unfulfilled. The commission placed
responsibility for the situation on the successive governments and
the settlers themselves, who the commission said did not extricate
themselves from their predicament when they could. The Jerusalem
Post quoted Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon as saying yesterday
that he would have the report sent to Washington, to put out the
message that Israel had learned the lesson of the 2005 disengagement
-- that any similar withdrawals in the future would not be carried
out at the QwhimQ of the U.S. administration.

HaQaretz (Akiva Eldar) pointed out a crisis between Jewish religious
settlers in the West Bank region of Binyamin (north of Jerusalem)
and their Christian Evangelist benefactors, who apparently broadcast
missionary Christian content on their site www.frontlineisrael.com.

Maariv cited the claim of the influential Egyptian daily Al-Ahram
that the Mossad thwarted the appointment of Egyptian Culture
Minister Farouq Hosni to the post of secretary-general of UNESCO.
Maariv quoted Israeli Foreign Ministry officials as saying that they
knew that after their defeat, Hosni and Egypt would embark on a
revenge campaign against Israel.

The media reported that, following consultations with DM Barak, the
top brass, and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, PM Netanyahu has
endorsed an additional 1.5 billion shekels (around $375 million) for
the defense budget, to be spread out over this year and next. The
initiative has sparked criticism from politicians who advocate
social causes, including Education Minister Gideon SaQar (Likud).
Maariv quoted senior government officials as saying that an extra
4.8-billion shekel (around $1.2-billion) budget cut will be
necessary in 2010.

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1. Iran:
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Block Quotes:
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"The Iranian Paradox"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning HaQaretz (9/30): QIn recent months, it seems Israel's
preventive strategy is paying dividends. The Iranian regime has
lost some of its strength following the rigged presidential election
and subsequent repression of the opposition, while Obama has taken a
tougher public stance against Iran. It is in Israel's interest to
see both trends gain momentum -- Iran's weakeningand America's
determination. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's challenge in the
coming months will be to withstand the burgeoning pressures to
attack Iran, keep his composure, and not become frightened at his
own speeches warning of a Qsecond Holocaust"Q while adhering to the
preventive strategy. This is the most effective way, one that will
give incentive to the West to rein in the Iranians without risking
harm to Israel.

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2. Mideast:
------------

Block Quotes:
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I. "Dead Man Walking"

Liberal columnist Gideon Samet, a former consul in Philadelphia,
wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (9/30): QAfter all the
attempts made by Barack Obama in the past weeks to revive the peace
process, what remains is the clear recognition that this phrase has
ended its convoluted lifetime. The respiration effort seems
pathetic. The sour meeting by the leaders of Israel and the PA with
the U.S. president can be recorded as the symbolic date of the end
of the process, a burial ceremony for a protracted attempt that
failed. It had some good times. But for quite some time, it has
been a dead man walking.... In the past weeks, it has become clear
with what ease an Israeli prime minister can succeed in thwarting an
American initiative. It is not outstanding power of action that
enabled Benjamin Netanyahu to undermine ObamaQs initiative, it is
growing distaste on the Israeli street with talk about a peace
process. And where there is no distaste, most Israelis exhibit
complete indifference. Take an unwilling leader and a public that
is fed up with the process and you will get something that even a
charismatic U.S. president will fail in promoting. If there is a
significant process, it is the shift of many Israelis rightward....
The next thing on the agenda will be talking about projects,
diminishing the aspiration to a comprehensive solution. The next
arena, the truly hot and action-filled one, is Iran, of course. The
process has ended. There will be no demonstrations. Netanyahu has
won.

II. "On the Right Path"

Legal commentator Boaz Okun, who was Director of IsraelQs Courts
from 2004 to 2006, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (9/30): QThe mandate of an [independent Israeli] committee
[to investigate Operation Cast Lead] is ... not clear, but it would
appear it ... is dictated by the Goldstone report. In practice, the
committee will have to examine all the events detailed in the
Goldstone report, and take a stance on the question of whether the
evidence it brings is sufficient to justify a criminal or other
investigation in Israel. It should be noted that the Goldstone
report aims high and casts responsibility on the planners of the
operation, those who gave the orders, and the advisers who
supervised the operation, not the foot soldiers in the field.
Therefore, the committee will have to examine the cabinet's
resolutions, the chief of staff's instructions, the orders given by
senior commanders, and also the advice given by the legal advisers.
The Defense Minister's attempt to restrict the committee's mandate
will not succeed.

III. "Egypt, Stop the Rot"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/30):
QVarious Israeli officials have privately been talking of late about
a Qnew honeymoonQ period between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.... Any such positive
developments in bilateral relations, however, are being dismally
outweighed by the negatives: Egypt, formally at peace with Israel
for three decades, is at the forefront of Arab efforts to
internationally discomfit Israel over the reported nuclear
capability at the heart of this country's self-defense doctrine. A
well-rewarded U.S. ally, Egypt has also failed to encourage the
dramatic moves by other Arab states toward normalized ties with
Israel that the Obama administration has been seeking en route to an
Israeli-Palestinian peace breakthrough. And, perhaps most
disturbingly, internally Egypt's media is intensifying its abiding
hostility toward Israel, ensuring that our cold peace cannot be
warmed.... Isn't that wider regression, emphatically encompassing
the Egyptian media's viciously upgraded hostility to Israel, a
decline Mubarak need urgently address?

IV. "On the Sovereignty Watch"

Columnist Yoav Sorek wrote in the editorial of the nationalist,
Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (9/30): QIsrael is coping with the
issue of its continued control of Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West
Bank], but the Palestinian national movement is already ogling the
Galilee. The demand for Arab autonomy in the Galilee is not a
distant nightmare but almost a reality; the worldQs interest in
Israeli Arabs is evidence of this. In its defense of its
sovereignty and Jewish character, Israel must act forcefully against
countries that hold contacts with the Higher Arab Monitoring
Committee [in Israel], at least as long as the latter expresses a
political agenda and not a municipal union that takes care of
equality and social and economic conditions for the sector it
represents.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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