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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #2381/01 3021005
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291005Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4026
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 6164
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 2735
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 6768
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 6981
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 6222
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 4865
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 7074
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3843
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2060
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0725
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 8248
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 3253
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 7231
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 9306
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 2054
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 3062
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002381

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:
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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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Today, according to the Hebrew calendar, marks the 14th anniversary
of the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
HaQaretz reported that President Obama has videotaped a message to
be shown Saturday night at the annual memorial ceremony for Rabin in
Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. The message will relate to the murdered
prime minister's legacy and the need to advance the peace process.
It was prepared in response to a request from Rabin's daughter,
Dalia Rabin. HaQaretz reported that Obama's advisers are worried
about his lack of popularity and the expressed feeling that he is
hostile to Israel. They believe this seriously harms his ability to
advance the peace process with the Palestinians. Obama's advisers
see this as the reason why Israelis view his diplomatic initiatives
on both Iran and the Palestinians so negatively. HaQaretz reported
that recent weeks have seen a number of meetings on the matter in
the White House, and that one of the ideas under discussion is an
Obama visit to Israel. It was decided at this stage to wait and
send Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Jerusalem; she is
scheduled to arrive Saturday night.

The media cited objections by Knesset Speaker Reuven (Likud) and
other right-wing politicians to aspects of the commemoration of
RabinQs assassination, saying that it is too politicized.

Leading media reported that, meeting with PM Benjamin Netanyahu and
President Shimon Peres last week, Croatian President Stjepan Mesic
offered his government's help in restarting negotiations between
Israel and Syria and suggested that his country's Brijuni Islands be
used as the site for talks. Netanyahu reportedly asked Mesic about
Assad's character and his willingness to reach a peace agreement
with Israel and improve ties with the West. Netanyahu said he was
ready to relaunch talks with Syria without preconditions, as long as
those talks were held directly without a mediator. "I held
negotiations with the elder Assad, and I see no reason that I cannot
hold negotiations with the younger," Netanyahu reportedly said.
Yesterday, several days after the Croatian President returned to
Zagreb, Assad paid him a visit. At a press conference, Assad said
he would be willing to renew negotiations with Israel and called on
Europe to help in such an effort. "We call on European countries to
also give their contribution, to help Turkey but also us to be able
to resume from where we have stopped," Assad said, adding that the
presence of a "third side" would be necessary if the talks resume.
"As far as it concerns us in Syria we have national support to
continue talks with Israel," Assad said. "However, there is a
condition that on the Israeli side we also have those who want to
continue the negotiations." (Yediot and other media reported that
yesterday Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was actually on a
visit to Iran, expressed a message of reconciliation with Israel.)
For his part, Mesic said that "the suspended talks should resume and
[the] Golan be brought back under Syrian sovereignty .... Security
for Israel should be also guaranteed." Israel Radio quoted
President Peres as saying that Israel is willing to make peace with
Syria. Leading media quoted DM Ehud Barak as saying that in the
past Israel sought, and that it will continue to seek, ways to
advance peace with Syria. The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio
quoted Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey
Feltman as saying in testimony before the House Subcommittee on the
Middle East and South Asia that the U.S. wants to move beyond
dialogue to a more constructive relationship with Syria but that
Syria must address U.S. concerns about some of its regional
policies, such as its support for terrorist organizations such as
Hizbullah and Hamas and its control of foreign fighters trying to
enter Iraq.

The Jerusalem Post and other leading media reported that yesterday
Hamas announced that it will not allow the PAQs Central Elections
Committee to start preparations in Gaza for holding new presidential
and parliamentary elections on January 24, 2010. The Jerusalem Post
says that Hamas's decision to ban the vote in Gaza raises doubts
regarding PA President Mahmoud Abbas's ability to hold the elections
on time. The Jerusalem Post quoted Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri
as saying that the committee was established in violation of
"understandings" reached between Hamas and Fatah through Egyptian
mediators in recent weeks. He added that according to the
ostensible understandings, the committee was supposed to be
established in agreement between the two parties.

The Jerusalem Post quoted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as
saying yesterday he would defer to recommendations by the General
Assembly regarding the Goldstone report accusing Israel of war
crimes during Operation Cast Lead. Israel Radio quoted Moon as
saying that Israel must assist in the reconstruction of Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post noted that one of the most notable political
processes currently taking place in Gaza is the growing prominence
of QSalafi jihadQ organizations.

Citing the semi-official Iranian news agency ISNA, The Jerusalem
Post quoted Iranian lawmaker Muhammad Karamirad as saying that
Tehran would formally respond on Thursday to a UN-drafted plan to
ship much of its uranium abroad for enrichment. Leading media
reported that yesterday the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to
approve legislation blocking refined petroleum from reaching
Tehran.

The Jerusalem Post cited the State Department's annual International
Religious Freedom Report on Israel released this week that Israel
discriminates against non-Orthodox streams of Judaism and against
Jewish-born believers in Christianity, while the PA has not been
doing enough to combat Muslim violence against Christians. The
report states: "Israeli government policy continued to support the
generally free practice of religion, although government
discrimination against non-Jews and non-Orthodox streams of Judaism
continued."

Referring to the bloody terrorist attacks in Pakistan, leading media
dubbed Secretary ClintonQs visit to that country Qwarm.

Leading media reported that Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister
Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor Party) will be the only government
minister attending tonightQs Turkish Republic Day reception at the
home of the Turkish Ambassador in Kfar Shmaryahu, a reflection of
the current tension between the two countries.

HaQaretz and Israel Radio reported that PM Netanyahu has secretly
asked Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi to keep his country in charge of
UNIFIL, the U.N. force in Lebanon, rather than handing control to
Spain as planned, causing chagrin in Madrid.

Yediot reported that PM Netanyahu is trying to make DM Barak and
Justice Minister Yaakov NeQeman agree to a compromise regarding the
issue of splitting the functions of the attorney general.

HaQaretz reported that yesterday Supreme Court President Dorit
Beinisch accused the Government of ignoring illegal settlement
construction in one of several barbed remarks that could presage a
first High Court of Justice decision ordering the demolition of
illegal housing in the West Bank.

HaQaretz reported that yesterday Channel 2-TV News fired its
Palestinian affairs reporter Suleiman al-Shafi over events
surrounding a letter by Gilad Shalit that he had obtained while
writing a book on the captive soldier.

HaQaretz reported that although there is growing support in the
Knesset for a controversial government bill that aims to prevent
asylum seekers from entering via the Israeli-Egyptian border, human
rights groups charge that this support stems from false information
from the IDF. (Two weeks ago, the media quoted IDF units
responsible for guarding Israel's expansive western border with
Egypt as saying that there are one million would-be infiltrators
from Africa waiting to cross the mostly barrier-less border and
enter Israel illegally.) The bill, which has passed its first
reading, states that anyone who enters Israel without a permit,
including refugees, will be subject to immediate expulsion or
imprisonment. The human rights organizations say this violates
Israel's commitments under the international Convention Relating to
the Status of Refugees.

Yediot reported that two Jewish groups in Switzerland, which
represent the majority of the Swiss-Jewish community, are
campaigning for the rights of Muslims in the country.

All media reported that yesterday police interrogated Elior Chen, a
self-styled rabbi who allegedly influenced some of his followers to
abuse their children in order to "correct their corrupt souls,"
after landing at Ben-Gurion Airport following his extradition from
Brazil.

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Mideast:
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Block Quotes:
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I. "And the Time Passes, My Friend"

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin, opined in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (10/29): QThat which was advocated almost solely by
Yitzhak Rabin (with the formidable partnership of Shimon Peres), has
become an accepted belief by nearly everyone, including the Likud.
Words like QPalestinian state,Q which Rabin hesitated (and never
actually uttered) to say publicly are today the recurring refrain
sung by Q unbelievably -- Arik Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, and
now, please welcome the groom with a loud round of applause,
Benjamin Netanyahu. To remind you: this is the very same Netanyahu
from the coffin in RaQanana and the balcony of the Zion Hotel in
Jerusalem [well-known cases of incitement against Rabin in 1995].
Sharon and Olmert have already said out loud that they had been
mistaken. Netanyahu will say the same. We need to be
compassionate: it isn't easy to replace a worn out CD that has been
playing in your head ever since you were an infant in the cradle.
In practice, nearly all of the Zionist parties have adopted the
principles that were signed at Oslo, each one using its own
terminology. Yitzhak Rabin can rest in peace in his grave. He has
successors.

II. "Where to?"

Senior commentator Ari Shavit wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (10/29): Q[Yitzhak] Rabin was great because during his
second term as prime minister he realized the existential danger of
occupation and decided to take action. The specific action he took
-- the Oslo process -- was quite flawed. But the septuagenarian's
willingness to foment change and take risks to extricate Israel from
its troubles turned Rabin into a historic figure and role model.
When Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak give speeches about Rabin at
this week's memorial ceremonies, they should ask themselves where
they are compared to him.... At a time when Israel faces dramatic
challenges, its leadership isn't saying anything or striving for
anything. Yes and no, mutters Netanyahu. No and yes, whispers
Barak. This isn't how you lead a nation. This isn't how you
rebuild a country. If this is the government's price, there isn't
any point to it.... Rabin's great insight was that the Jewish
democratic state of today cannot choose the status quo. It has two
options: getting out of the mud or sinking into it. This is an
insight the current government must internalize. The time has come
to know where we are going.

III. "The Right, the Obligation, and the Sin"

Liberal columnist Yigal Sarna wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (10/29): QIt should be said in defense of
Benjamin NetanyahuQs days in power that there have been no wars
during his period. What can be said against him is that [his
periods of power] have generally not been times of hope. Hope is an
essential ingredient in a nationQs existence. There is no war, but
neither is there peace. There is no battle, but thereQs no
conciliation. There is a limbo, an abyss -- an empty space that
arouses curiosity and a nightmarish feeling about our interim
leaderQs internal world. His days are always confused, gloomy, and
filed with frictions -- as if he had brought with him a worldview of
an inquisitorial world solely populated with persecutors or
persecuted people, with no compromise or solution. This is why he
fends off wars, letting his successors fight them.

IV. "Some Victims We Are"

Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (10/29): QThe truth is that Israel has
never been a victim, and our likening of ourselves to the 6 million
has been embarrassing from the beginning -- but now? After what we
did in Gaza? With the stranglehold we have on that society, while
we over here live free and easy? Victims? Lambs to the slaughter?
Us? No, this has gone beyond embarrassing; this is out-and-out
shameful.... The reason we tell ourselves and the world that we are
victims is because we know, whether we admit it to ourselves or not,
that victimhood is power. Victimhood is freedom. A victim can't be
told to restrain himself. A victim fighting for survival can't be
accused of abusing his power because, after all, his back is to the
wall, he's desperate.... Instead, let's take a good, hard look at
what we did and what we're doing in Gaza. Then let's take a good,
hard look in the mirror. And then let's admit who's the true victim
here and now, and, more importantly, who isn't.

V. QFar from Watertight

The Jerusalem Post editorialized (10/29): QIsrael is under fire
again for supposed human rights contraventions. Hot on the heels of
the Goldstone Report, which is at the behest of the U.N. Human
Rights Council charged Israel with war crimes against Gazan
civilians in Operation Cast Lead, Amnesty International this week
accuses Israel of depriving the Palestinians of the most basic and
vital of all commodities -- water.... So-called human rights
organizations have become the prime weapon of choice with which to
whack Israel. In the name of ostensible liberality, Israel is
repeatedly placed in the dock of world opinion, where it is
tarnished as the villain among nations. There's almost no sphere
where Israel can remotely expect a fair shake.... While ostensibly
pursuing a well-intentioned attempt to improve Palestinian welfare,
Amnesty seems more intent on coming up with pretexts to justify its
assertion that Israel Qdenies hundreds of thousands of Palestinians
the right to live a normal life, to have adequate food, housing or
health, and to economic development.Q A readiness to first hear,
and then take into account, the Israeli side of the vexed water
dispute would have enabled a more credible report -- and one more
likely to have practical impact.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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