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Cablegate: Special Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #2324/01 2950623
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P 220623Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002324

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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Ambassador Susan Rice to Israel

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Key stories in the media:
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The Jerusalem Post and HaQaretzQs Web site quoted U.S. Ambassador to
the United Nations Susan Rice as saying last night in a speech
during President Shimon PeresQ QFacing TomorrowQ Conference in
Jerusalem -- which The Jerusalem Post said was warm and empathetic
toward Israel -- that it is not enough just to pay lip service to
peace and urged the government to immediately relaunch negotiations
without preconditions, aimed at creating an independent Palestinian
state and address the permanent-status issues: security for Israelis
and Palestinians, borders, refugees, and Jerusalem. HaQaretz noted
that Rice assured Israelis -- many of whom are wary of President
Obama's Mideast agenda -- that her government is committed to their
security. The media also remarked upon RiceQs mention of a Jewish
state of Israel, with relation to the rest of Ambassador RiceQs
remarks and the tenor of current U.S.-Israeli talks in Washington.

Meanwhile, HaQaretzQs Web site quoted Israeli officials as saying
yesterday that U.S. Special Envoy to Middle East Peace Senator
George Mitchell is close to a deal with Israel on terms for
resuming peace talks with the Palestinians. "There appears to be a
meeting of the minds and hopefully the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue
will be able to re-start in the near future," an Israeli official
was quoted as saying, summing up talks held by negotiators for PM
Netanyahu in Washington. Under the prospective deal, on which
Palestinians have not yet commented, the negotiations could be held
on the basis of two decades-old U.N. Security Council resolutions
242 and 338, another official was quoted as saying. Such a formula
could be acceptable to Israel since it interprets those resolutions
as falling short of a demand to withdraw from all of the West Bank
territory it captured during the 1967 Six Day War. (The Jerusalem
Post made a similar comment.) Israel Radio reported this morning
that in a phone call yesterday to U.S. Secretary of State Clinton,
FM Lieberman said that Israel is working to strengthen the PA but
that its leaders continue to act against Israel in the international
institutions.

Most media led with the draft agreement between Iran and the West
regarding uranium enrichment in Russia. HaQaretz reported that Uzi
Arad, head of IsraelQs National Security Council, has instructed all
government officials involved in the Iranian nuclear issue not to
respond to media reports on the draft agreement. Arad issued the
directive to officials in the Foreign Ministry, the Atomic Energy
Commission, the Defense Ministry, and the IDF. HaQaretz quoted a
senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem as saying that the directive
was issued because Israel wishes to ascertain the details of the
draft agreement and to ensure media reports on the deal are
accurate. HaQaretz quoted Deputy DM Matan Vilnai as saying
yesterday that despite Arad's instructions, the campaign to pressure
the Islamic Republic seems to be bearing fruit. "This proves how
important international pressure is," Vilnai told IDF Radio. "Iran
is more susceptible to pressure than we may believe." Even if Iran
agrees to the plan to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium,
world powers need to keep pressure on Tehran to prevent it from
developing nuclear weapon capabilities, he said. Vilnai said Israel
would examine the UN draft agreement cautiously, "paying attention
to every detail," to make sure Iran was not just trying to buy time.
Israel would also like to verify whether the deal reflects the
positions of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.S., and
European countries. Yediot reported that DM Ehud Barak told
Ambassador Susan Rice that the military option should not be
removed. Media reported that Rice also discussed the Iranian
nuclear program with PM Benjamin Netanyahu.


HaQaretz reported that a representative of the Israel Atomic Energy
Commission and a senior Iranian official met last month in Cairo to
discuss the chances of declaring the Middle East a nuclear-free
zone. This is the first direct meeting between official
representatives of the two states since the fall of the Shah in
1979. Meirav Zafary-Odiz, director of policy and arms control for
the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, and Ali Asghar Soltanieh,
Iran's delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),
met several times over September 29 and 30 and, together with
representatives of other countries, conversed, presented questions,
and gave replies. During the meetings, Zafary-Odiz explained the
Israeli policy of being willing, in principle, to discuss the Middle
East as a nuclear-free zone. She also detailed Israel's unique
strategic situation, saying regional security must be strengthened,
security arrangements must be agreed upon, and a peace agreement
must be sealed before Israel would feel at liberty to discuss this
topic. Zafary-Odiz said Israel lived in a complex geopolitical
reality, noting that in three decades, four countries in the region
broke their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty --
Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria. She said Israel takes a responsible
approach to the nuclear issue as a whole and that the far horizon of
its vision does include the possibility of a nuclear-free zone in
the Middle East, even if the chances for this are slim. Soltanieh
defended his country's policy and said Iran was not striving for
nuclear armament and did not endanger Israel. He said Israel did
not understand the mentality and ideology of the Tehran regime. He
said the regime did not oppose or hate Jews, but was merely
politically opposed to Zionism. He said Iran's growing arsenal of
missiles was for defensive, not offensive purposes. The meeting was
held under the auspices of the International Commission on Nuclear
Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND). Also attending were
representatives of the Arab League, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey,
Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, along with
European and American officials. The ICNND was set up by Australian
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and it is chaired by a former foreign
minister of Australia, Gareth Evans, and a former foreign minister
of Japan, Yoriko Kawaguchi. Former FM Shlomo Ben-Ami sits on the
advisory committee of the organization.

Israel Radio reported that last night the Israel Air Force bombed
two tunnels and a storage facility in Gaza in response to the
launching of a rocket into Israel.

HaQaretz reported that the U.S. and a number of important EU
countries are pressing Israel to establish an independent commission
of inquiry into the findings of the Goldstone report on last
winter's Gaza offensive. The daily reported that yesterday
President Shimon Peres harshly condemned the Goldstone report,
telling Ambassador Susan Rice that it "is outrageous that a
respected institution like the United Nations provides a platform to
spread lies and stories about Israel." He was quoted as saying that
the "U.N. provides a stage for Ahmadinejad, who threatens to
annihilate Israel, and lets him stand judge. This is nothing short
of ridiculous." Rice promised that the U.S. would continue to stand
by Israel as a loyal friend in the fight against the Goldstone
report. HaQaretz also quoted Human Rights Watch as saying that the
Hamas authorities in Gaza should immediately launch a "credible
investigation" into allegations of serious violations by its
fighters during Operation Cast Lead. The call came in a letter the
international NGO sent on Tuesday to Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas
leader in the Gaza Strip. Hamas said in response that while it
would launch an investigation, the appeal by Human Rights Watch
would be better directed toward Israel.

--------------------------------
Ambassador Susan Rice to Israel:
--------------------------------

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

I. QU.S. Envoy to U.N.: Time for All to Put an End to Peace QLip
Service

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (10/22): QIn a warm and empathetic speech
toward Israel, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Wednesday
night it was necessary to Qdecide whether we are serious about peace
or whether we will lend it only lip serviceQ.... Her comments seemed
to split the difference in issues of contention between Israel and
the Palestinians. While seeming to side with the Israeli position
that the negotiations should start without preconditions -- in
contrast to the Palestinian call for a complete settlement halt --
and that it should lead to an Qend of the conflict,Q or a
Qcomprehensive peace,Q she nodded toward the Palestinian position in
saying that all the core issues should be on the table: borders,
refugees, and Jerusalem. Her comment that the agreement should end
the occupation that began in 1967 is generally agreeable to Israel,
since it does not call for a withdrawal to the 1967 lines, a
position Israel has been concerned the U.S. would adopt. Also,
Rice's call for a QJewish State of IsraelQ is important for
Jerusalem, which wants the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the
homeland of the Jewish people, just as Israel has declared that it
would recognize a demilitarized Palestinian state. A Jewish state
is also generally seen as diplomatic code for denying a Palestinian
refugee Qright of returnQ.... In light of comments such as Rice's,
and the tenor of the talks in Washington, government officials said
Wednesday it was unlikely U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
would point an accusatory finger toward Israel when she reported on
the status of the talks to U.S. President Barack Obama, as she is
expected to do next week. One Israeli official said that Qthere are
a lot of different issues that have to be addressed,Q and that Qit
is not clear we have gotten overQ all the obstacles. The official
said that while Israel had shown a willingness to come to Qsome sort
of middle groundQ on a number of issues, there had been no softening
of positions among the Palestinians. As a result, the official
said, there was no certainty inside the Prime Minister's Office that
the Palestinians were indeed interested at this time in pursing
negotiations, thinking that it may perhaps be in their interest to
hold out for a better offer. QThe Palestinians are not going to get
everything they want,Q the official said. QThey are not going to be
able to fix the end game in advance.

II. QThe Threat Has Just Been Postponed

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (10/22): QOur region is a far cry from peace,
as exciting as the reports from Vienna might appear. The actual deal
between the world powers and Iran is yet to come, but the draft
agreement proposed by the IAEA is a serious move forward, as is the
positive reception of it by the sides at the table. This compromise
slows the Iranian race for nuclear capability by a year or two. It
certainly doesn't stop the nuclear project and Iran is not giving up
the bomb. Quite the contrary: it gets international recognition of
its right to enrich uranium, ostensibly for peaceful purposes, while
other, slower channels toward obtaining nuclear weapons remain
open.... However, few would be surprised if Tehran brings up some
more last-minute reservations to try and drag some more concessions
from the international community. If the Iranian regime does take
the IAEA draft as it is, it may well be motivated by internal
political calculations.... Refusing a deal could lead to sanctions,
which would encumber the Iranians' daily lives to a degree the
regime considers dangerous. Assuming that staying in power is its
top priority, even the nuclear program can wait a while. Some
loopholes certainly arise from reading what we know so far about the
draft. What will happen to the enriched uranium staying in Iran?
And, as Donald Rumsfeld once poignantly observed, QThere are things
we don't know we don't knowQ. The threat against the Israeli home
front remains, with or without Vienna. This makes the timing of the
joint American-Israeli QJuniper CobraQ exercise all the more
interesting. [The impressive drill] sends a clear message about
America's commitment to Israeli security.

III. QWeQll Pay the Price

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (10/22): QThis isnQt the
light at the end of the tunnel. If anything, this is the headlight
of the locomotive rapidly rushing toward Israel -- the harbinger of
a disaster. This is how Israel should treat the agreement with Iran
over the enrichment of uranium outside its territory, which the
outgoing Chairman [sic] of the International Atomic Agency (IAEA),
Mohamed ElBaradei, has proclaimed. The agreement waved by
ElBaradei has a price tag. This man, whom Western intelligence
agencies identified long ago as a collaborator of Iran, is going to
complicate our lives. Washington has already started to brace for
the possibility that one of IranQs ultimate demands in exchange for
the agreement will be international supervision of the Israeli
nuclear installations. We shouldnQt be surprised if a parade of
senior Israeli officials is soon invited to Washington for
QconsultationsQ over that price.

IV. QImplausible Belief

Liberal columnist and television anchor Ofer Shelach wrote in the
popular, pluralist Maariv (10/22): The Iranian nuclear program has
long forsaken the domain of clear judgment and considerations of
cost-efficiency, and turned into a kind of mystique. Most Israelis
donQt believe that anything has been done in earnest to stop the
bomb until the Israel Air Force takes off, whatever the price. The
agreement that is shaping up is postponing that day, because Israel
will have no legitimacy to attack while Iran fulfills its
commitment. In the consciousness that has been formed in Israel in
recent years, this is an obstruction of the only way Israelis
believe in.


V. QAmerica Is Not Sweden

Liberal columnist Gideon Eshet wrote in Yediot Aharonot (10/22): QA
body belonging to the [United States] Government bribed a suspected
citizen in exchange for confidential information he acquired on his
government job. To sell to whom? The same government sent a man
posing as an agent of the Israeli Mossad to pay money received the
goods. The rest will be told in the treason trial. That government
was not reprimanded by [IsraelQs] foreign minister. Like Netanyahu,
Lieberman is afraid of the U.S. administration. The silence
regarding the U.S. administrationQs trick, which also abused the
reputation of Israel and the Mossad, teaches first and foremost
about Israeli hypocrisy. The Swedish Government is responsible for
the contents of a private newspaper, but the U.S. Government is not
responsible for a grave act carried out by the FBI? The Israeli
GovernmentQs hypocrisy is unequalled.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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