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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 281238Z OCT 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 6974
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RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 7067
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 TEL AVIV 002376

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: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Iran

-------------------------
Key stories in the media:
-------------------------

All media reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is
expected to arrive in Israel on Saturday after preparatory talks by
U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace Senator George Mitchell,
who arrives tomorrow.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe led with what it says is President ObamaQs
rapprochement with Israel and the American Jews. The newspaper
expects Obama to deliver a conciliatory speech at the United Jewish
Communities General Assembly (GA) next month.

Major media (lead story in The Jerusalem Post) reported that Deputy
Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is the latest Israeli to face possible
arrest on war crimes charges during an official visit to the UK.
Ayalon returned to Israel last night after a two-day visit to
London, during which pro-Palestinian activists attempted to use a
section of British law to have him arrested. Ayalon was also
heckled at the London School of Economics on Monday.

All media reported that last night a Katyusha rocket fired from
southern Lebanon struck the Upper Galilee, causing a deafening
explosion and setting a field on fire, but failing to cause
casualties or significant damage. The IDF Spokesman's Office was
quoted as saying that the IDF immediately shelled the Lebanese
territory from which the projectile was launched, using several
rounds of artillery. It was not immediately clear who fired the
rocket, though initial assessments by Israeli defense officials were
that a Palestinian group was responsible. Yediot cited the belief
of security sources that the rate of arms smuggling to Hizbullah is
at its peak, since the land border between Syria and Lebanon is
completely porous. Yediot reported that Israel complained to UNIFIL
about the fire from Lebanon. Israel Radio reported that Israeli
Ambassador to the U.N. Gabriela Shalev lodged a complaint with the
President of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) and U.N.

TEL AVIV 00002376 002.3 OF 007


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The radio reported that Lebanese PM
Fouad Siniora condemned both sidesQ actions, saying that the Israeli
shelling constituted an Qaggression.Q Israel Radio reported that
the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL disarmed four rockets aiming at Israel
from the village of Hula. Israel Radio quoted Terje Roed-Larsen,
the U.N.Qs special envoy to Syria and Lebanon, as saying a closed
UNSC meeting that Hizbullah has retained substantial military
strength in Lebanon. A few hours before the attack, Defense
Minister Ehud Barak toured the North and praised the "nine years of
calm we have had" in the region, "which were interrupted for a
number of painful weeks during the Second Lebanon War." "I hope
that we can continue this quiet," he said, but warned that Israel
was "preparing for other possibilities, including the possibility
that you [the residents of the North] will be tested again."

Leading media reported that yesterday the lower house of the Bahrain
Parliament passed legislation banning any contact with Israelis,
with one source saying this was a direct result of the viciously
hostile anti-Israel mood in the Arab world following the Goldstone
Report and confrontations over the Temple Mount. The Jerusalem Post
reported that a source in PM NetanyahuQs office termed the move
"unfortunate," and quoted him as saying it was a throwback to the
Arab rejectionist positions of the 1960s and 1970s. The Jerusalem
Post noted that the parliamentary move stands in stark contrast to a
July Washington Post op-ed written by Bahrain's FM Sheikh Salman bin
Hamad al-Khalifa, calling for more engagement with Israel.

Maariv, The Jerusalem Post, and other media reported that PM
Netanyahu has selected Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, IDF Advocate
General Brig. Gen. Avihai Mandelblit, and Cabinet Secretary Zvi
Hauser as the members of the team that will examine the Goldstone
report.

Yediot (Shimon Shiffer) reported that, following the U.S.
administrationQs strong aversion to comments made by Israeli
diplomatic and defense officials against the agreement reached by
major powers with Iran, Israeli criticism of the understanding has
entirely disappeared. The daily quoted a diplomatic source in
Jerusalem as saying: QThe agreement that is shaping up is a
positive, correct step towards preventing nuclear weapons from
Iran.Q The newspaper cited contacts between the U.S. and IsraelQs
regarding IranQs QmeltingQ of the agreement. The media reported
that Iran demands significant changes in the agreement. Israel
Radio quoted U.S. National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones as
saying yesterday that the U.S. is prepared to respond if Iran does

TEL AVIV 00002376 003 OF 007


not abide by its commitments over its nuclear program.

Major media reported that a Patriot missile battery has been
deployed in recent days in the Central Region by forces taking part
in the joint Juniper Cobra 10 exercise Juniper Cobra 10, which
simulates missile fire on the Israeli home front. Journalists were
given access to the site overlooking a major city, and shown Israeli
and American air defense crews who were working together to turn the
missile battery into an active component of a multi-tiered air
defense system. Leading media quoted Col. Tony English, commander
of the Germany-based U.S. 357th Army and Missile Defense Detachment,
as saying: QSince the Gulf War of 1991, not only have we made great
strides, but our capabilities have also increased.

Yediot reported that the Defense Ministry and the Tel Aviv
ProsecutorQs Office have received notices that Gaza Palestinians
will file around 1,500 Operation Cast Lead-related civil lawsuits
against the IDF for tens of millions of dollars.

HaQaretz and other leading media reported that yesterday settlers
threw stones at security forces, who responded by firing tear gas in
two separate incidents in the West Bank.

Maariv cited a Hebrew University study that found that many state
religious schools tend to replace memorial ceremonies for the
assassinated PM Yitzhak Rabin with religious ceremonies to remember
the passing of the biblical matriarch Rachel, who had not been
commemorated so far. The study says that awareness of the Rabin
legacy is increasing in state secular schools.

The Jerusalem Post reported that seeking to place the liberal Jewish
lobby J Street firmly in the Israeli and American mainstream,
Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami compared his organizationQs
positions to that of IsraelQs centrist Kadima party. Various media
reflected a debate as to whether the group defines itself more as
Qpro-peaceQ or Qpro-Israel.

HaQaretz reported that PM Benjamin Netanyahu is considering
attending the Copenhagen climate summit.

All media reported that yesterday a French court sentenced
Israeli-Russian businessman Arkady Gaidamak to six years in jail and
a 5 million-euro fine for his role in selling arms illegally to the
Angolan government in the 1990s and in laundering hundreds of
millions of dollars. Gaidamak was one of 42 people charged in the

TEL AVIV 00002376 004.2 OF 007


case, popularly known as Angolagate. Others include the son of
former French President Francois Mitterrand; a former French
Interior Minister, Charles Pasqua; and several senior French
government officials. All but six defendants were convicted.
Because of the sentence, Gaidamak is now considered unlikely to
return to Israel, which has an extradition treaty with France. That
is why he left for Russia 10 months ago, two months after the trial
began.

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

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

I. "No Talk about Justice"

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin, opined in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (10/28): QWe've always known that a billion and a
quarter Muslims are more than seven million Israelis and that 57
Muslim countries are more than one State of Israel. We bought our
special place in the family of nations, first and foremost, thanks
to the United StatesQ recognition of our uniqueness: a lone
democracy, the values of the prophets, and the Bible. The change in
this view in the U.S. is what has (nearly) turned the entire world
against us: the U.S. is fed up with cooperating with us in
everything related to the occupation. The great America, which
chose to turn a blind eye for 42 years, opened both eyes at once and
signaled to the world that the rules of the game had changed. The
world was waiting for this moment, and it is reveling in it. The
fact is that it woke up. What in the view of a large part of our
population looks and sounds completely unjust is, in the view of the
new administration, very just, and how. In its view, the 1967
occupation has to end and it is not budging from this position by
even a millimeter.... [From another perspective,] Netanyahu is torn
within himself -- but the Americans are quietly waiting for him in
the corner. They are confident that Netanyahu's moment of decision
is approaching. QSometimes life brings you to your knees,Q goes
that song about peace and justice. The Americans are convinced that
in order to stand tall, you have to start by going down on your
knees.

II. "Facing a Weakened Abbas"

TEL AVIV 00002376 005 OF 007

Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote in the
independent, left-leaning HaQaretz (10/28): Q[Mahmoud] Abbas will
come to the meetings with the Americans when Palestinian elections
will be approaching, and the last thing he needs is the renewal of
negotiations with Israel without a complete freeze of construction
in the settlements. Nonetheless, Clinton will ask Abbas to restart
the negotiations without getting what he has been seeking for so
long -- a halt to Jewish construction in the West Bank and
especially in East Jerusalem. The U.S. Secretary of State may have
the United States to blame for the current situation. The Obama
White House and State Department pushed Abbas not to seek a hearing
at the United Nations on the Goldstone Commission report on
Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. This greatly damaged Abbas' standing
in Palestinian public opinion. The Americans had engendered a
feeling in Abbas' office that this time the administration was
serious in its determination to apply pressure on Israel to stop all
construction over the Green Line. President Obama, his Secretary of
State and Middle East Envoy were the ones who, over and over, said
they were demanding this as part of the first stage of the Roadmap
peace plan. The moment they came to an agreement with Israel on a
partial construction freeze, they left Abu Mazen high and dry. He
was up a tree they had helped him climb. The embarrassing situation
in which Abbas finds himself may leave him feeling more than a
little betrayed. This helps explain his implied threat in the
course of a weekend conversation with Obama that he would not submit
his candidacy for the presidency in the upcoming Palestinian
elections -- in other words, he would resign. A high-ranking figure
in Fatah explained the situation well when asked about it by
HaQaretz: QYou can remain calm. On our side, no senior official
resigns.

III. "Let Palestinians Challenge their Leadership"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (10/28):
QIt is simply undeniable: neither Fatah's crooked, dead hand nor
Hamas's firm grasp of belligerent medievalism is going to lay the
groundwork for a viable Palestinian state. What to do? One way
forward is to let the Palestinian Authority die a natural death and
encourage its replacement with a completely new, apolitical, and
technocratic provisional Palestinian government. Its task, with
Europeans playing a trusteeship role, would be political
institution-building, socialization toward tolerance, the
development of transparent government, and day-to-day administration
of Palestinian affairs. Such a provisional government would also

TEL AVIV 00002376 006 OF 007


assume the PLO's legal standing as representing the Palestinians.
But the idea would work only if the Palestinians -- perhaps via a
referendum in both the West Bank and Gaza -- were given the chance
to embrace a new beginning... and did so. A recent New York Times
dispatch from Gaza revealed just how fed up modernizing Palestinian
elites are with both Fatah and Hamas -- while pointing out that they
had no mechanism for effecting change. A referendum that proposes
to replace the Fatah-dominated PA and Gaza's Hamas government with
an apolitical provisional regime could at least offer Palestinians a
means to choose between more Fatah and Hamas, or something far
better. If Abbas is really fed up and ready to go, his departure
could presage a revolutionary opportunity.

IV. "ItQs Time to Deal Separately with Gaza"

Yossi Alpher, Co-Editor of the bitterlemons.org family of
Israeli-Palestinian Internet publications and former director of the
Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, wrote in
The Jerusalem Post (10/28): QA Hamas-Fatah unity agreement is bad
for the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian peace process, at least
in the near term.... Under present circumstances, a successful peace
process means an agreement with the West Bank alone, even though
both Israel and the PLO would declare their intention that it
eventually apply to the Gaza Strip as well. Eventually -- because
there currently is no prospect that Gaza will be pried loose of the
Hamas grip. But an agreement with the West Bank alone is better --
for Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab states and the world -- than
none.... Moderate Palestinians obviously shy away from contemplating
the consequences of moving forward on the West Bank without Gaza:
This would shatter their narrative of a two-state solution based on
a Palestinian state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza. Yet,
if there is to be any viability to the notion of an
Israeli-Palestinian peace process mediated by the United States,
it's time for all parties concerned to recognize that, for the time
being at least, Gaza is a separate entity. We all have to begin
reevaluating our failed strategies for Gaza. We need to look for
new strategies that don't interfere with the process but are not, of
necessity, a part of that process.

V. QWhat I Want to Know

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning HaQaretz (10/28): QI want to know how and why it was
decided to embark on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and to expand it
into a ground offensive. I want to know if the decisions were

TEL AVIV 00002376 007 OF 007


affected by the Israeli election campaign then underway and the
change in U.S. presidents. I want to know if the leaders who
launched the operation correctly judged the political damage it
would cause Israel and what they did to minimize it. I want to know
if those who gave orders to the Israel Defense Forces assumed that
hundreds of Palestinian civilians would be killed, and how they
tried to prevent this. These questions should be at the center of
an investigation into Operation Cast Lead. An investigation is
necessary because of the political complexities that resulted from
the operation, the serious harm to Palestinian civilians, the
Goldstone report and its claims of war crimes, and the limits that
will be imposed on the IDF's freedom of operation in the future.
There is no room to argue that the government should be allowed to
govern without interference and investigations, with the public
passing judgment at the ballot box. The government changed after
the Gaza operation and the questions remain troublesome.

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

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

"Ankara Has Crossed the Lines"

Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (10/28): QErdogan is adding to his sins as
his anti-Israel incitement means that there no longer is an isolated
voice from Tehran but a chorus in AhmadinejadQs and his neighborQs
axis of evil. The Turkish Prime Minister has freed Iran from its
loneliness. No one has risen up against him and the damage can
already be seen in some Arab states that refuse to extend their hand
in peace and assist in the process led by Obama. When, in a
parliamentary decision, a Persian Gulf country bans ties with
Israeli citizens, Jerusalem gets a real notion of the harm caused by
Erdogan.... Israel would delude itself if it lets its wishes
overshadow the reality unraveling in Turkey. Ankara has crossed the
lines. We have to wait for its sobering up under another
leadership.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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