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Cablegate: Special Israel Media Reaction

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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002275

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
CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL FOR POLAD/USIA ADVISOR
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: SPECIAL ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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All media reported that despite Israeli lobbying efforts against the
Goldstone Report, the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva is set to
endorse the document on Friday, a move that will send it on to more
powerful U.N. bodies in New York for action. Although it is assumed
that the resolution will pass in Geneva, Israel and the Palestinians
have focused on the votes of Western countries, which they view as a
wider statement of legitimacy. The Jerusalem Post says that it is
expected that the U.S. would vote against the resolution on the
report but that it was unclear, however, whether or not the European
countries would abstain or follow the United StatesQ lead. The U.K.
was the only Western power with voting rights on the council to
state Thursday that it would not endorse the report or the draft
resolution based upon it, but that still left open the possibility
of an abstention.

Leading media quoted PM Benjamin Netanyahu as saying in Jerusalem
lat night that he hoped that all the "responsible countries" would
vote against the resolution "that encourages terrorism and harms
peace." Speaking at a press conference with visiting Spanish PM
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the PM said that diplomatic attacks on
Israel were standard and had increased since Operation Cast Lead.
"It is important that responsible countries say we will not lend a
hand to this; we know that Israel is right," he added. "Some, like
the U.S., say this clearly. Some say it in a whisper. It is
important on this matter not to whisper it. If this report will
move forward in a serious manner, it will harm the peace process."
Zapatero was quoted as saying that Spain will not prosecute Israelis
for alleged war crimes. The Jerusalem Post quoted Israel's
Ambassador to the UN institutions in Geneva Aharon Leshno Yaar as
saying that the issue here was internal Palestinian politics.
"Every person here knows that today's meeting is not about human
rights, but an abuse of the integrity and procedures of this
organization to make a point to a domestic Palestinian audience," he
said. The special session, he added, was "another opportunity for
the favorite and most infamous subject of some within this Council,
Israel-bashing. There is a call to pass this on to other forums, to
any place where politics, buried under the flag of human rights, can
be waged against one state, against Israel." He defended Israel's
actions in Jerusalem and accused "extremist elements" of
"disseminating lies that [Israel] intend[s] to dig, or was actually
digging under the Temple Mount." Israel, he said, showed "extreme
restraint" in its response to Palestinian rock-throwing from an area
around the mosque. He denied that the clashes that took place had
anything to do with the Goldstone Report and said that during the
recent month of Ramadan, over 100,000 Muslims visited the mosque on
the Temple Mount without incident. Leshno Yaar said that the focus
on the Goldstone Report "offers a hollow victory for those that want
to sow conflict in our region. The moderate forces are weakened,
not aided, by these resolutions and conflicts." Leshno Yaar noted
that even PA President Mahmoud Abbas had said that during Operation
Cast Lead, "the Hamas movement hid in basements. The leaders of
Hamas ran away in ambulances to Sinai and left our people to bleed."
He continued, "This biased and flawed report accuses Israel of war
crimes for having taken action to fight against Hamas -- war
criminals who openly call for our destruction, fired thousands of
rockets against us and endangered their own population by hiding and
fighting from within densely populated areas."

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday in Geneva, U.S. deputy
permanent representative to the Human Rights Council Douglas M.
Griffiths urged the council to take a more balanced approach. He
spoke against sending the report to the International Criminal Court
and said that resolution to the conflict between Israel and the
Palestinians would not happen in a courtroom, but would come from a
two-state solution that provided for the peace and security of both
peoples. The council must recognize both Israel's fundamental right
to self-defense and the civilian casualties that resulted from the
Gaza conflict, Griffiths was quoted as saying. "The report makes
clear that the Gaza operation was commenced lawfully after civilians
in Israel came under sustained attack by Hamas, in violation of
international human rights and humanitarian law," he continued,
adding that Israel was not the only country faced with the question
of how to conduct warfare in a populated area. "Virtually every
region of the world has similar conflict situations," he said. In
contrast to the U.S., U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
Navanethem Pillay endorsed the report and condemned both Israeli and
Palestinian actions.

The Jerusalem Post quoted PLO Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ibrahim
Khraishi as saying that the Palestinians had tried to make a
conciliatory gesture toward Israel two weeks ago when it agreed to
delay the council's endorsement of the report, originally set for
the end of the council's 12th session. Nevertheless, Khraishi said
that when Israel cracked down on Palestinians in East Jerusalem in
the days that followed that gesture, the Palestinians changed their
minds and called for a special session to move the matter forward.
Israel, he said, had endangered the al-Aqsa Mosque by excavating
underneath it.

HaQaretz quoted human rights activists monitoring the West Bank as
saying that despite commitments Israel made to President Obama's
administration last month, widespread building activity commenced
three weeks ago in at least 12 settlements. The work consists of
ground preparation, pouring concrete and drilling construction
foundations. This work is not part of the projects that Israel and
the U.S. had reached an understanding on. PM Benjamin Netanyahu and
DM Ehud Barak had agreed with the administration to complete some
2,500 housing units that were already in various stages of
construction at the time. The dozen sites do not appear on the list
of 492 new housing units that the defense ministry issued after
Barak approved their construction. Work on these units began after
the list was released.

Maariv quoted diplomatic officials in Jerusalem as saying that
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the source of his countryQs
tensions with Israel. The Jerusalem Post quoted PM Netanyahu as
saying yesterday that Israel was QdisappointedQ by the incitement on
Turkish television and that it was not Qtaking pleasureQ from the
Qdirection we have seen from Ankara for some time. Meanwhile,
Turkey announced that it had arrested 33 al-Qaida terror suspects in
a plot to target Israelis and others. Some media noted that the
timing of the announcement may not have been accidental. Israel
Radio quoted senior Turkish cabinet ministers as saying that their
countryQs links with Israel have always been strong and that they
will continue to remain so. The media carried contradictory reports
on the scope of current Israeli tourism to Turkey.

HaQaretz reported on a conference held in Washington by the Jewish
People Policy Planning Institute, and led by attorney Stuart
Eizenstat, which brought together U.S. Jewish leaders and Dan
Shapiro, Senior Director of Middle East and North Africa for the
National Security Council. Natasha Mozgovaya, the dailyQs
Washington correspondent, wrote: QAs could perhaps be expected,
there was little agreement on the most contentious issues, such as
settlements and borders, but all agreed to recommend that Obama
visit Israel soon.

The Jerusalem Post reported that ChinaQs Ambassador to Israel, Zhao
Jun, has told the newspaper that his country is firmly opposed to an
Iranian nuclear arms program.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday two top Israeli
officials, Yitzhak Molcho and Mike Herzog, extended their stay in
the U.S. top continue discussions on a potential settlement freeze
and the restarting of peace negotiations.

HaQaretz reported that Egypt is threatening to boycott the Union for
the Mediterranean foreign ministers' conference scheduled to take
place next month in Istanbul if Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor
Lieberman, attends. The Egyptian boycott on Lieberman may lead to
the conference being canceled altogether. The daily reported that
Egyptian FM Ahmed Abu al-Gheit recently told his French counterpart
Bernard Kouchner he would not attend the conference if Lieberman was
present.

The media reported that Israel dubbed videos produced by Hizbullah
after the mysterious blast in a southern Lebanese village this week
a Qfabrication.Q The tapes show Qmetals poles,Q which Hizbullah
says are doors, being loaded from trucks.

Maariv reported that SyriaQs Navy is purchasing anti-ship Yahont
missiles from Russia. Sources in the Israeli defense establishment
fear that such weapons may be given to Hizbullah.

Leading media reported that yesterday Lebanon won a seat on the U.N.
Security Council. The Jerusalem Post cited the concern of the
Israeli Foreign Ministry, quoting it as saying that it expects
Lebanon to show a Qspecial responsibility,Q especially on issues
pertaining to its own affairs.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that Jews often have a low security
clearance in the U.S. Army.

Maariv reported that the (American) Carling Institute has awarded
its prestigious Man of the Year Prize to Israeli Rabbi Yitzhak
Grossman and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Grossman is
well known in Israel for his educational work with disadvantaged
children.

HaQaretz and Yediot reported that yesterday American actress and
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow visited the city of Sderot,
two days after visiting Gaza and meeting with Palestinian children
injured during Operation Cast Lead.

HaQaretz (English Ed.) cited a claim by 83-year-old Iranian-Israeli
billionaire Izak Nazarian from Beverly Hills that he will engineer a
change in Israel's system of government in the very near future.
His group reportedly proposes a form of government closer to that of
the U.S. -- instead of IsraelQs multi-part system, it is promoting a
presidential system that has regional system. Nazarian and a few
industrialists reportedly helped forge an alliance on restructuring
the system between Kadima chairperson Tzipi Livni and her political
rival, Avigdor Lieberman.

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Mideast:
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Block Quotes:
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I. "The Noose Tightens"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning HaQaretz (10/16): QOperation Cast Lead in Gaza was
perceived in Israel as a shining victory.... Ten months later, it
seems the victory was a Pyrrhic one. Israel did not realize that
the rules have changed with Barack Obama's election as U.S.
president. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert timed Cast Lead to take place
during the twilight period between the outgoing and incoming U.S.
administrations, and rightly assumed that the incumbent, George W.
Bush, would fully back Israel. However, in contrast to the Lebanon
war of 2006, which ended with a cease-fire, the Gaza campaign
continues being fought -- in the diplomatic arena and in public
opinion -- and Israel must cope with its consequences in a
less-friendly Obama era.

II. "No Big Deal"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in Ha'aretz
(10/16): QAnyone who expected Obama to put Israel at the top of his
priorities made a mistake. After eight months in the White House,
one can see that his emissary George Mitchell has drawn a blank.
But Obama has no intention of subduing Israel. He is a president
who believes in dialogue but who can be resolute when necessary.
For Israel's good. Netanyahu took a giant step forward when he
proposed two states for two peoples. But that is not enough for
them and they want more and more. To be more accurate, they
themselves do not know what they want. the fact that the
Palestinians are once again missing an opportunity does not free
Netanyahu of the need to do everything possible to implement his
plan for two states for two peoples. That is the only way for him
to be recognized as Israel's leader.

III. "No Big Deal"

Columnist and former Meretz Party Chairman Yossi Sarid wrote in
Ha'aretz (10/16): QTo force the chairman of the Palestinian
Authority, of all people, to withdraw his demand for a discussion of
the report -- that is an Israeli-American dictate tantamount to
pressuring him to commit hara-kiri. Extortion through the use of
threats has paid off, and once again there is no party to speak
with, nor will there be in the near future. This is what happens
when one turns a partner into a collaborator. Now efforts are being
made to revive Abbas (Abu Mazen) -- there's even talk of removing
two or three roadblocks to help restore his pulse. Netanyahu does
not merely want to win; he also wants to humiliate. He does not
merely want to stab a knife in the back, but also turn it in the
stomach. Bibi understands the nature of the beast's soul -- that of
Israeli public opinion, which cheers on the toreador who places his
foot on the bull when it is already dead.

IV. "A Big Migraine"

Columnist Shmuel Rosner, who was HaQaretzQs correspondent in
Washington, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (10/16): QThe
[U.S.] administration has three key concerns regarding the
[Goldstone] report: the Americans understand that Israel is under
heavy pressure and the Goldstone report might be the last nail in
the coffin of the Obama initiative; on the other side, they
understand that Abu Mazen is under great pressure as well and that
he cannot be required now to do anything that could be construed as
a surrender to an American or Israeli dictate; they also have
political concerns: Obama cannot afford to clash with international
institutions, to humiliate them, or to ignore them, as the previous
president had done. He believes in those institutions --
furthermore, he knows that his enthusiastic supporters in the United
States believe in them.

V. QObama and the Anti-Israel Tsunami

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized
(10/16): Q[President Obama] is guilty of having let [the world]
understand that Israel is responsible for its illegitimate status
and for the fact that it threatens world peace.... He kowtowed to
the Muslim world in Cairo and blessed [sic] the anti-Semitic
genocidal inciters in Iran. With those acts he stripped off
IsraelQs diplomatic defenses.

CUNNINGHAM

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