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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #2513/01 3231233
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191233Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4281
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 2842
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 6880
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 7091
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 6330
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 4981
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 7187
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3951
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2168
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002513

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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All media quoted President Obama as saying in an interview he
granted Fox News in China yesterday, QThe situation in the Middle
East is very difficult and I've said repeatedly and I'll say again,
Israel's security is a vital national interest to the United States
and we will make sure they are secure." The President was referring
to the Jerusalem Municipal Planning CommitteeQs announcement that it
would build 900 apartments in Gilo, East Jerusalem. The President
added that the construction hampersU.S. peace efforts. Maariv and
other media repoted that the international community followed suit
HaQaretz and other media reported that yesterday an aide to PM
Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed U.S. anger at Israel's approval for the
new homes in Gilo. Netanyahu's aide said the building plan was "a
routine process." He said Netanyahu saw Gilo as "an integral part
of Jerusalem. Construction in Gilo has taken place regularly for
dozens of years and there is nothing new about the current planning
and construction," the aide added. The media reported that
Netanyahu seemed keen to contain the fresh dispute with Washington
over settlements, ordering cabinet ministers to show restraint after
the White House criticized the plan. Leading media quoted Geneva
Initiative co-sponsor Yossi Beilin as saying that Netanyahu would
soon announce a 10-month freeze on settlement building, in a bid to
renew peace talks with the PA. Beilin was quoted as adding that he
believed Netanyahu would not propose a halt in construction in
Jerusalem. President Shimon Peres was quoted as saying in an
interview with Israel Hayom that there Qcan be no doubt that Gilo is
under Israeli sovereignty and the current reality there cannot be
changed.Q HaQaretz quoted Peres as saying during a meeting with
French FM Bernard Kouchner in Jerusalem Israel knows that the U.S.
and French positions is on Jerusalem but that only negotiations
could resolve differences. The media quoted Kouchner as saying that
construction in Gilo is not necessarily an obstacle to
negotiations.

Maariv (Ben Caspit) reported on a budding Qgrad planQ engineered
mostly by President Peres and DM Ehud Barak, according to which the
Palestinians will receive a guarantee that negotiations will
conclude within a defined period of time (between a year and a half
and two years) as well as a guarantee that at the end of
negotiations the Palestinians will be in possession of territory
equivalent to what they had prior to the Six-Day War. Israel, for
its part, will receive a letter officially promising recognition of
its Jewish character, thus ruling out the right of return, as well
as security guarantees (demilitarization etc.) The obstacles facing
this plan are many: the Palestinians are not agreeing to it and the
Americans are yet to be convinced it is plausible. Maariv mentioned
the Prime MinisterQs BureauQs response that various political
initiatives are being discussed, however no decision has been made.

Yediot and other media reported that both Israel and Hamas expressed
guarded optimism about yesterdayQs media reports of an imminent
prisoner exchange between the parties. Yediot quoted Hamas as
saying that IsraelQs refusal to release Israeli prisoners is a
stumbling block to the implementation of the deal.

Major media reported that last night the IAF attacked a building in
southern Gaza that was used for manufacturing munitions as well as
two tunnels. This was in response to the Qassam rocket fire
yesterday on the western Negev. Reports from Gaza state that three
people were injured in the attack. In the rocket fire yesterday no
one was injured and no damage was caused.

Major media reported on IranQs rejection of the nuclear deal.

Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor
Party) was quoted as saying in an interview with Maariv that the
U.S. never requested a settlement freeze from Yitzhak Rabin or Ehud
Olmert.

HaQaretz quoted Kadima Knesset Member Shaul Mofaz as saying in
Washington, during meetings at the State Department with Ambassador
Dennis Ross and Deputy Secretary of State Jeff Feltman, that the
territory of the future Palestinian state will be close to that of
the territories occupied in 1967.

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that FM Avigdor
Lieberman is planning to tap veteran Israeli diplomat Alon Pinkas
for the Israeli ambassadorship at the U.N. The Jerusalem Post
quoted a diplomatic official familiar with PinkasQ record as saying
that Pinkas has moved from the political Left to the center.
Maariv reported on an initiative by right-wingers to return Jewish
presence to JosephQs Tomb near Nablus. The IDF abandoned the site
nine years ago during the second Intifada.

Leading media reported that yesterday two Border Policemen were
arrested on suspicion of having beaten an East Jerusalem
Palestinian.

The Jerusalem Post cited a new study by the NGO Sikkuy that the
social, economic, health, and educational gaps between IsraelQs
Jewish and Arab citizens are continuing to grow, mostly as a result
of unfair government policies and prejudice from the Jewish
population.

The media reported that the Government has authorized the purchase
of a special aircraft for presidential and prime ministerial trips.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Block Quotes
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I. QGot a Bit Carried Away, Mr. President

Conservative columnist Hanoch Daum QaddressedQ President Obama in
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/19): QFrom here,
Mr. Obama, the whole recent move concerning Gilo seems like a
haphazard and tragic error, which will only further entangle things
in the region. This is such a preposterous move, Mr. President, that
even Tzipi Livni, chairwoman of the opposition, a woman who usually
misses no opportunity to totally miss out, has understood that she
must openly oppose this new demand, which regards Gilo as a
settlement. But it is not only the demand that we halt our
construction in Gilo -- a demand which nobody really plans on
abiding by -- which is causing us to lose sleep. It is also the
tone of your words. You say that if we build in Gilo, a legitimate
Jerusalem neighborhood, Israel will become a less safe place to
live. You explain that the construction will cause Palestinians to
perform acts of extremism. You insinuate that terrorism is a direct
and unavoidable result of Israeli conduct. You are telling us,
essentially, that just as if you water a plant it grows, so if you
build houses in Gilo, terrorists perform suicide attacks in coffee
shops. A natural occurrence. So what if following our withdrawal
from Gush Katif we received more rockets? So what if after pulling
out of Lebanon we got served with Katyusha rockets? So what if
after having offered the Palestinians everything at Camp David, we
got a murderous Intifada in return? This is of less interest to
you. After all, it is only our security that concerns you. Because
if we only stop building in Gilo, all will be quiet here. Iran will
not threaten us with nuclear weapons, Hizbullah will not seek out
our detriment, and Hamas will choose to disarm itself for all
eternity. A new administration comes with no understandings. This
is certainly acceptable to us, Mr. President. But you would do well
to understand, already early on, when your approval is at an all
time low of 46 percent, that not all of your heart's desires will
immediately come true here. There are some particularly
preposterous demands -- and that which regards Gilo as a settlement
is one of them -- which unite us, the Israelis, from right and from
left and cause us to remember that at the end of the day we, and
only we, hold the right to decide where we build, what we build, and
what will happen within our sovereign state. America is a good
friend and such it shall remain, Mr. President, even if ever so
often we must put it in its place.

II. QGo for It, Abbas!

Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (11/19): QWhat we're seeing now in the
West Bank is something the democratic world has been awaiting for a
very, very long time: a non-violent Palestinian independence
movement. Everything that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad are threatening -- a
unilateral declaration of statehood, an appeal to the UN for
recognition, or, if that doesn't work, dissolving the PA and
demanding Israeli citizenship for Palestinians -- are all tactics of
non-violence. They're all meant to force Israel, via international
pressure, to give the Palestinians what every country except this
one thinks they're entitled to: a sovereign state based on the
pre-Six Day War borders. Abbas, Fayyad and their people aren't
blowing up buses, they're not shooting anybody -- with the notable
exception of Hamas gunmen -- and they recognize the State of Israel.
Isn't this what everyone's been asking of them?... The way things
stand are that the Palestinians are delivering peace while Israel
has gone back on its offer of land; who's holding up progress here,
us or them? Unfortunately, the Americans and Europeans have been
too timid to back up the PA, so Abbas and Fayyad are threatening
unilateral, non-violent actions to embarrass the world -- which
supports their demands -- into acting. In response, the prime
minister and his government are raising the roof. Unilateral
actions! What about the Oslo Accords, which this government has
always revered? What about the U.N. resolutions, which this
government salutes?.... If non-violence fails, it stands to reason
that the Palestinians will return to violence. Israel can't see
this, doesn't want to see it. So it's up to Obama and the West to
make Israel see. What are they waiting for -- an explosion?

III. QObamaQs No Wimp

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/19): QObama's fury was over not only the
principle, but also the way Netanyahu handled the crisis [over
construction in Gilo]. In their recent White House meeting they
spoke about how even disagreements should be settled in a
gentlemanly fashion. White House officials wanted to believe that
Netanyahu had taken to heart the message that he should never again
portray the president of the United States as a wimp. The
impassioned reaction to U.S. Middle East Envoy George Mitchell's
request to postpone the Gilo plan outraged Obama and his staff even
more than the act itself. They have enough to do with fending off
the Republican ambushes, mainly on Fox, against Obama's hesitation
on the war in Afghanistan. U.S. embassies in Arab countries are
reporting that Obama's charms are wearing off as it becomes clear
that nothing has changed since his June speech in Cairo. The Obama
administration has recently begun discussing how to appease Abbas --
for example, by giving him letters spelling out U.S. support for a
final-status arrangement based on the 1967 borders and reaffirming
Washington's position that Jerusalem is divided into eastern and
western parts. Netanyahu's behavior in the Gilo affair could remove
any remaining doubt in Obama's mind over signing such letters.

IV. QFalse Alarm and Real Threat: Unilateral Events

Former Meretz leader, former Justice Minister, and chief Israeli
promoter of the Geneva Initiative, Yossi Beilin, wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (11/19): Q[The Palestinians] do not want
the implementation of the second stage of the Roadmap, which
proposes a state within provisional borders. From this standpoint,
the Israeli reaction is unnecessary and even ridiculous. However,
the other possibility raised by the Palestinians -- a unilateral
annulment of the Palestinian Authority -- is a practical
possibility. And it is also a real threat to Israel. It is
practical because the U.S. cannot veto such a move and Israel cannot
prevent it: the Palestinians are entitled to announce that they did
not intend to maintain an authority for such a long time and that
they are returning the infant to us. Israel will have to return to
managing their lives and invest billions of shekels every year to
meet their daily needs. In addition, this move will greatly weaken
the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state and will
increase the danger of one state, in which the Jews will become a
minority within a few years. If the two sides do not return to the
negotiating table as soon as possible and engage, instead, in making
old and new threats towards each other -- they will both pay the
price. Still, they have the possibility of returning to talks. If
there is another violent outburst in the near future, this will
become impossible.

V. QStop Playing Make-Believes

Conservative columnist Erel Segal wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (11/19): QNo single Palestinian leader is prepared to sign a
de facto concession on the right of return. On the other stances,
Israeli stances are being eroded one by one. TodayQs Likud is
yesterdayQs Meretz. While the erosion continues, we reach
absurdities such as Gilo. Those who accepted to freeze construction
in Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] will today be blasted for
building in Gilo; tomorrow theyQll be condemned for their attempts
to make the Galilee more Jewish. Oh, sorry, it is no longer
politically correct to talk about Judaization of the Galilee. If I
understand ObamaQs logic properly, it might ignite Palestinian
resistance. There also are Palestinians and a demographic problem
in the Galilee. The Palestinians know that patience pays. They
have grasped the message of QNetzarimQs fate is akin to Tel AvivQs.
[Netzarim was a settlement in the Gaza Strip.] So have the
[rebellious pro-settler] soldiers.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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