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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #2164/01 2741124
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P 011124Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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HQ USAF FOR XOXX
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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. Mideast

2. Iran

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Key stories in the media:
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All media led with the deal reportedly brokered by Germany and
Egypt, in which Hamas will give Israel tomorrow a video recording
proving that Gilad Shalit is alive. In exchange Israel will release
20 Palestinian women from jail. Fourteen of the women were indicted
over Qassassination attempts.Q The Jerusalem Post and other media
quoted President Shimon Peres describing the swap as a Qsmall but
important step.Q Maariv and other media quoted Hamas as saying that
ShalitQs release can be finalized by the end of the year.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday PLO Ambassador to the UN
in Geneva Ibrahim Khraishi told the newspaper that the Palestinians
Qhave enough votes" to get the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) to
agree tomorrow to pass the controversial Goldstone Report on to the
U.N. General Assembly in New York, and possibly on to the Security
Council. On Tuesday the council held a six-hour debate on the
conclusions of the four-person UN fact-finding mission that
investigated Operation Cast Lead. The Jerusalem Post reported that
yesterday Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. institutions in Geneva,
Aharon Leshno-Yaar, admitted it was unlikely that Israel could stop
the report from heading to New York. The newspaper reported that
yesterday PM Benjamin Netanyahu urged the ambassadors of Asian and
Pacific Rim countries to block the report, saying Qthis is not
politics as usual.Q The PM was quoted as saying: QThis report will
stop the peace process. HaQaretz reported that Netanyahu rejected a
call for an Israeli inquiry into Cast Lead. HaQaretz cited DM Ehud
BarakQs officeQs confirmation that the DM has asked former Chief
Justice Aharon Barak to contribute to the legal battle against the
report. However, Ehud Barak was quoted as saying that he opposes an
inquiry commission.

The media reported that IranQs dialogue with the five permanent
members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany will begin today in
Geneva. Yediot summed up the U.S. message to Iran as Qfreeze the
enrichment; weQll freeze the sanctions.Q Media reported that
yesterday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested a third
party enrich uranium for Iran. Yediot quoted The Financial Times as
saying yesterday that Iran has secretly developed nuclear warheads.
HaQaretz reported that yesterday Iranian FM Manouchehr Mottaki
arrived in Washington, where sources were quoted as saying that he
is not expected to meet with U.S. officials.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday in Washington Israeli
officials Yitzhak Molcho and Mike Herzog met with U.S. Special Envoy
for Middle East Peace Senator George Mitchell. The newspaper quoted
Assistant State Department Spokesman Philip J. Crowley as saying
before the meeting: QWe havenQt set aside anything. We do believe
that the Israelis, Palestinians, and other countries in the region
need to take affirmative steps which create the conditions for a
successful negotiation.Q Crowley was also quoted as saying: QWe
are also interested in getting to negotiations as rapidly as
possible, as the President, the Secretary, and George Mitchell
emphasized last week.

Maariv and Israel Radio reported that Shmuel Polishuk, a senior
member of the Nativ network, who holds an Israeli diplomatic
passport, was interrogated in Moscow and then expelled by the
Russian secret service FSB based on charges of spying. Nativ used
to be a secret Israeli organization that fostered emigration to
Israel.

Leading media reported that the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee has
declared a general strike in Arab communities in Israel today to
mark the anniversary of the October 2000 riots.

The Jerusalem Post and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that yesterday
Saudi Arabia denied a July report that it would allow IAF jets to
fly over the kingdom during any strike on Iranian nuclear
facilities.

The Jerusalem Post reported that two leading U.S. Senators --
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) -- have introduced
a bill (the Boycott Disclosure Act of 2009) aimed at strengthening
WashingtonQs opposition to the Arab economic and trade embargo
against Israel.

HaQaretz quoted the organization Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
as saying, after analyzing data collected by the World Health
Organization, that Shin BetQs slow response to requests by
Palestinians seeking to leave the Gaza Strip for medical care via
the Erez crossing was the main reason that more than one third of
such applicants missed their medical appointments between January
and August 2009.

Yediot reported that Israel fears the ecological implications of the
nuclear reactor that Jordan will reportedly build at Aqaba.

Maariv claims that Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, the IDFQs O/C Southern
Command is taking over agricultural land without proper
authorization. The article is a follow-up to an investigative
report published in the newspaper in December 2008.

HaQaretz and Maariv reported that three Israel tourists have asked
the Israeli Foreign Ministry to help them leave Samoa after the
island was hit by a deadly tsunami on Tuesday.

Major media quoted Israeli police as saying yesterday that, as part
of a two-year operation spanning three continents, a number of
reputed crime bosses have been arrested over the past few weeks for
attempting to smuggle 108 kilograms of cocaine from Panama to
Israel. Two years of surveillance operations in Panama and France,
as well as analysis of hundreds of wiretaps in those countries and
Spain led to a raid on a warehouse in Panama where the drug was
being stored. One of the suspects broke under questioning and
signed an agreement to become a state's witness. The media reported
that a key suspect in the affair is Zeev Rosenstein, who is serving
his U.S.-imposed sentence in an Israeli prison.

The Jerusalem Post, HaQaretz, and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe cited the
results of the American Jewish CommitteeQs 2009 Annual Survey of
American Jewish Opinion conducted August 30-September 17:
- A majority of American Jews support military action against Iran
to prevent the Teheran regime from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Asked if they would support American military action, 56% of
American Jews said they would, while just 36% opposed it. An even
greater number support Israeli military action against the Iranian
nuclear program, with 66% in favor and just 28% against.
- The survey found that a majority of American Jews oppose the Obama
administration's recent policy of demanding a total Israeli
settlement freeze, but this did not translate into support for
keeping these settlements in the long term. While 51% oppose the
American freeze demand (though a substantial 41% agree with it),
fully 60% said Israel should dismantle all (8%) or some (52%) of the
West Bank settlements in the context of a permanent settlement with
the Palestinians.
- Despite any criticism, however, American Jews believe that
Israeli-American relations were being handled well by the two
countriesQ leaders. The Obama administration received 54% approval,
compared to 32% disapproval, in its handling of this relationship,
while Netanyahu garnered a slightly better ratio (59%-23%.) In
general, the vast majority of respondents believe U.S.-Israeli
relations are strong, with 81% saying they were either "very" or
"somewhat" positive and just 16% disagreeing.
- Asked about the prospects for peace, three-quarters (approx. 75%)
of the respondents expressed profound skepticism over Arab
intentions, saying they agreed with the statement: "The goal of the
Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the
destruction of Israel." Just 19% disagreed with this statement.
Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that 51% do not believe there
will ever "come a time when Israel and its Arab neighbors will be
able to settle their differences and live in peace." That pessimism
rises substantially to 79%, when the Palestinian side of the
equation is Hamas: just 17% think peace is achievable between Israel
and Hamas. But the pessimism is not reflective of their hopes.
American Jews favor a Palestinian state, even "in the current
situation," by a factor of 49-41%, through they are opposed (58-37%)
to compromising on Israeli jurisdiction over Jerusalem.
- The survey briefly delved into questions of identification. Asked
for their political affiliations, respondents revealed the expected
overwhelming identification with the Left and Center. Fully 53% said
they were Democrats, 30% Independent and just 16% Republicans. As
for religious affiliation, 27% said they were Reform, 24%
Conservative, 9% Orthodox and 2% Reconstructionist. But the most
popular answer, at 36%, was "just Jewish." Jewishness was important
to the respondents, with 51% saying it was "very important" in their
lives, 33% "fairly important," and just 15% responding "not very
important." This Jewish identification, however, did not
necessarily translate into a feeling of connection with Israel. Just
28% said they felt "very close," 41% "fairly close," and fully 30%
were either "fairly distant" or "very distant" from the Jewish
state.

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1. Mideast:
------------

Block Quotes:
-------------
I. "A Fitting Deal"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (10/1):
QYesterday's decision by the security cabinet to approve the
Egyptian-German initiative to release 20 Palestinian female
prisoners and detainees in exchange for a sign of life from
kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is not a balanced deal. For a piece
of information, Israel is paying in Qhard currencyQ -- people who
were convicted or are suspected of hostile acts against its
citizens.... Still, no step toward the release of the soldier who
fell into the enemy's hands three and a half years ago will be an
economical deal. Israel has more than once paid a high price for
its captured soldiers, and even for bodies and body parts of the
dead. This is not the first time it will have paid for information
about a captured or missing soldier.... Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu called the decision to agree to the new initiative a
Qconfidence-building measureQ in the indirect negotiations with
Hamas. It is reasonable to assume that documented proof that Shalit
is still alive will encourage the government to go another step
further and pay the set price to extricate him and end this painful
affair.

II. "No Cause for Celebration"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (10/1): QIf indeed a
tape should arrive here in which we see [Gilad] Shalit alive and
well, we will be excited and glad with the family. But as a nation,
we must not forget that this tape only highlights the fact that Shin
Bet and other security agencies have not succeeded in bringing
information that would make it possible to rescue Gilad from
captivity. Three years, ten kilometers from home, and no one has an
idea what his situation is, until Hamas does the German envoy a
favor and releases a tape at an exorbitant price. Why is it that
when we are negotiating over receiving one soldier for hundreds of
prisoners, we still have to pay interest in advance to receive a
sign of life? It is sickly logic. We have become accustomed to
being dishrags.... Meanwhile, the basic obstacles remain as before.
The specific discussions on the terrorists slated for expulsion
continue. Each name is being examined, in an attempt to prepare an
Qexpulsion packageQ for each one that will be acceptable to all
sides. If the current initiative, of building mutual trust, is
indeed indicative of the intentions of the two sides, perhaps the
deal for Shalit's release will be signed sooner. And perhaps it
won't.

III. "Cruel Paradox"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one of the
popular, pluralist Maariv (10/1): QThe effort to bring Gilad Shalit
back home is imprisoned within a cruel paradox. On the one hand,
Hamas needs an achievement desperately, given Abu Mazen's success on
the West Bank. On the other, if Israel exploits this situation and
opts to close a deal, Hamas will become stronger, will become the
only one that is capable of delivering the goods and making the
Zionists capitulate, and might just win the elections once again.
In a situation of that sort, Gilad Shalit will be back home, but all
the moderates in the region will have been dealt a strategic death
blow. It will be a decision to lament over for generations to come.
Hamas' reign over the Palestinian people will be extended, perhaps
into perpetuity, and we, as always, will be left with our longing
for Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad.... We are now strengthening the
extremists, the ones who regard our annihilation to be a religious
imperative, and weaken anew the people with whom we can still
talk.... A leader with endurance and patience could have redefined
the rules and forced Hamas to climb off the high limb of its insane
demands. Now the deal is that much more unpalatable. Netanyahu
talks Right, but acts Left. In the meantime, he is building a lot
less than his predecessors did in Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West
Bank] and appears poised to release a very large number of
murderers. The charts don't lie.

IV. "A Deceiving Quiet"

Conservative columnist Nadav Haetzni wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (10/1): QOver the recent period we have been exposed to a
wave of reports praising the dramatic change among the Palestinians
under Abu Mazen.... But this is yet another deception campaign that
incredibly fits the tradition of the Oslo spirit.... To find a fresh
illustration that nothing has changed among the Palestinian
partners, it is enough to pay attention to what has been happening
over the past week around the Temple Mount. All the riots that
broke out there were produced by Abu Mazen and his men. As Abu
Mazen returned from Washington, Palestinian Authority spokesmen
invented a new anti-Israeli libel that now accuses Israel of
knocking down the mosques on the Mount.... The current libel is
developing in exactly the same way Arafat, in his distress after
Camp David, started what is called the QSecond IntifadaQ.... Here
lies the challenge of the Netanyahu government, which must decide
whether it is willing to play the game that Israel always loses, or
whether the time has come to tear the mask of deception off the
PalestiniansQ faces. Abu MazenQs regime relies on IsraelQs
bayonets. The time has come to scatter all illusions surrounding
it.

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

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

"The Home Stretch"

Senior commentator Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (10/1): QThe basic facts have not changed: Iran is
galloping toward nuclear weapons.... Nor have the strategic
implications of the basic facts changed: if one fine day Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad announces he has a nuclear bomb, the world will be a
different world.... And yet, something fundamental has changed: The
events of the past week proved that with regard to Iran, the West of
fall 2009 is different from the West of spring 2009. The Pittsburgh
declaration issued by Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Gordon
Brown was merely the visible tip of the iceberg. Beneath the water,
the United States has been engaging in energetic and enthralling
diplomacy for the last few months. Thus, if at the beginning of the
summer it was still possible to wonder whether Obama had
internalized the Iranian problem, today the picture is clear: very
belatedly, the U.S. President [and the other Western leaders] are
trying to impose a real diplomatic siege on Iran. They are doing
everything that can be done via diplomatic efforts to try to stop
the catastrophic centrifuges of Natanz and Qom. In this situation,
there is no genuine fear of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran. But
the fact that, for now, Israel is showing restraint and even
lowering its profile should not mislead anyone. If the
international community does not employ harsh diplomacy now, it will
put itself in an impossible dilemma: an Iranian bomb or bombing
Iran. And if that happens, the quartet of Obama, Sarkozy, Brown and
Angela Merkel will bear personal responsibility -- not only for the
emergence of a new Middle East, but for the emergence of a whole new
world.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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