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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #2530/01 3271339
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P 231339Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 6895
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RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 6349
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 5000
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 7206
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3970
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2187
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002530

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 major media today focused on Arab and international media
reports of an impending deal between Israel and Hamas on the release
of Gilad Shalit in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. In its early
morning news program, Israel Radio reported on the issue of Gild
Shalit that senior Hamas figures from Gaza and from outside the
territories are scheduled to arrive in Cairo in order to decide on
the deal for his release. Israel Radio quoted Al-Arabiya in its
report last night that substantial progress had been made on the
deal. According to the report, the German mediator gave Hamas a new
list of prisoners that Israel was willing to release in exchange for
Shalit.

Sources in Hamas said that the deal would be carried out within a
few days, if an agreement were to be reached on the matter of
Israeli Arab and East Jerusalem resident prisoners. However, a Hamas
source assessed that the deal would not be completed this week.
Gilad Shalit's father, Noam, said last night that he had no new
information regarding his son, since receiving the latest update
last week. Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said that he felt that
unlike in the past, the Gilad Shalit affair was very close to a
conclusion. Yediot Ahronot led with two front-page articles, by Alex
Fishman and Sima Kadmon, about the implications of any such deal,
while Ma'ariv repored that Noam and Aviva Shalit are scheduled to
meet with the prime minister's special envoy, Hagai Hadas, in Tel
Aviv today, after which they intend to go to the Knesset to persuade
the powers that be to make the necessary concessions to release
their son from Hamas captivity.
Israel Hayom quotes President Shimon Peres as saying yesterday
during a joint press availability with President Mubarak, in
response to a question on settlement freeze, that Israel is not
expanding settlements, not confiscating land, and not investing in
infrastructure. He also said that the Government of Israel has
already announced that it will not build new settlements once
negotiations begin and that it will evacuate illegal outposts.
On the same issue, Alex Fishman in Yediot Ahronot reported that
Israel has begun preparing for the possibility of renewed
negotiations, which would include a freeze of settlement
constructions. The Ministry of Defense has already completed
military orders instructing a full freeze of construction in Judea
and Samaria, to be delivered upon negotiations' renewal.
Israel Radio reported that Israeli minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
arrived last night in Turkey and is scheduled to hold a series of
economic and political meetings today in Istanbul and Ankara. Upon
his arrival in Turkey, Ben-Eliezer said that the relationship
between Ankara and Jerusalem was under a cloud, but that it would be
best to look ahead.

On threats from Iran, Israel Radio reported that a high-ranking
Iranian officer reacted dismissively to the possibility that Israel
would attack nuclear facilities in his country. He said that even
if Israel's fighter planes should succeed in evading Iran's air
defense system, their bases would be destroyed by surface-to-surface
missiles before they would have a chance to land. Iranian Defense
Minister Vahidi said that Iran intended to develop its own
anti-aircraft missile system in response to the delay in the supply
of S-300 missiles promised by Russia. The Iranian army and the
Revolutionary Guard launched a large-scale exercise yesterday,
practicing the defense of nuclear facilities against an air strike.

Block Quotes:
-----------
--------
Mideast:
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I. "Shalit deal may be near, but nobody's talking"

Military correspondent Amos Harel and Palestinian affairs
correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (11/23): "There are telling signs out there [of an
impending deal for Gilad Shalit]... Another positive development is
Saturday's announcement ... that rocket fire would end. It is
doubtful that the timing of the announcement is coincidental...
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is backing [the deal], support
from Defense Minister Ehud Barak is guaranteed ... Shas will follow
its spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef ... Mossad chief Dagan and Shin
Bet Diskin probably will oppose the move, but Chief of Staff
Ashkenazi will back it. What is unusual is the role of military
censorship: Compared to previous times, there is a near absolute
blackout. The Censor says that preventing detailed reporting is not
directed at public opinion and is merely to allow the negotiations
to continue unhindered."

II. "Bibi Afraid Cabinet Won't Approve Deal"

Senior diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/23): "Yesterday
President Shimon Peres [said] "real progress has been made in the
talks to release Shalit." ... It is safe to assume that Prime
Minister Netanyahu is about to make one of the most dramatic
decisions in his term ... when does a country capitulate to
terrorism? From Netanyahu's perspective, [it is] a complete reversal
on everything that he has ever preached in his books, speeches [and]
political doctrine ... The question that Netanyahu and Defense
Minister Barak have been deliberating over is who will approve the
deal. People who witnessed Netanyahu's deliberation have spoken
about a ministerial committee that will be comprised of members who
will support the deal. Another possibility is to formulate a motion
that will be put to a cabinet vote empowering Netanyahu to make the
decision on his own. The above stems from Netanyahu's concern that
he will be unable to muster a majority within his own cabinet to
support the prisoner exchange deal. ... One thing is certain:
international pressure on Netanyahu will mount to lift the siege on
the Gaza Strip. No one will take seriously Netanyahu's arguments
that no talks must be held with Hamas. The truth needs to be said,
even if that truth is hard to swallow: releasing hundreds of
Palestinian murderers will further entrench the Hamas regime in the
Gaza Strip and will ultimately force the Netanyahu government to
live with the consequences. It will be ironic to see that government
take Shaul Mofaz to task for saying that talks could be held with
Hamas "under certain conditions."

III. "What price Shalit?"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/23):
"Arab press reports, echoed in Israel, claim that Gilad Schalit's
long ordeal in Hamas captivity may be nearing its end... When it
comes to Shalit, it's hard to know where the spin ends and the news
begins... Plainly, Netanyahu is loath to have his government approve
a lop-sided prisoner exchange that requires setting free some of the
most dangerous terrorists Israel has ever encountered. Yet he may be
telling himself that any such deal would be the absolutely,
positively, honest-to-goodness, very last time Israel capitulates to
Hamas or Hizbullah....An ill-considered prisoner deal could also
bring down Mahmoud Abbas's already tottering Palestinian Authority
in the West Bank....Too Bad Israelis can't look to Egypt to play a
constructive role... Cairo is ready to disregard the [Quartet]
principles for Hamas participation in a Palestinian unity government
... turning a blind eye to Palestinian arms smuggling.... Mubarak is
also doing everything possible to harden Abbas's heart, telling the
Egyptian parliament Israel alone was to blame for the paralysis in
the peace talks, called on Israel to stop "Judaizing" Jerusalem and
demanded it reconcile itself to the Arabs' refusal to recognize its
right to exist as a Jewish state ... As Much as we Israelis ache to
see Gilad Schalit home ... the emotional blackmail of campaigners
who say the country should do "anything" to achieve his release
could unleash on our home front the very same sociopathic killers
Israel's security forces worked so hard to capture in the first
place. We urge the premier to leave no stone unturned in trying to
bring Gilad home, while placing the national interest above all."

IV. "Prisoners With Blood Up to Their Ears"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/23): "We are not talking about a deal
in which prisoners with blood on their hands are going to be
released in exchange for...Gilad Shalit. We are talking about
prisoners who are drenched in blood up to their ears....We are
talking about the release of a few dozen major terrorists who were
sentenced to consecutive life terms for the most heinous terror
attacks ever committed. The dilemma currently facing Prime Minister
Netanyahu: is the State of Israel prepared to release murderers?
People whose release will plant hope...and a message: you can murder
Jews. In the end, someone is going to release you.... The second
dilemma is: Is this the price that Israel needs to pay in light of
the ineptitude of its security apparatus? The third dilemma is
unique to the Netanyahu era. If masses of Palestinian prisoners are
released Abu Mazen might as well resign. This deal will be an
Israeli death sentence to the Abu Mazen government.... To compensate
Abu Mazen...the Israeli government is going to have to think about
releasing...Fatah prisoners on his behalf, expanding the territory
under the PA's rule extensively, a dramatic cessation of
construction in the settlements. And we haven't even begun to talk
about how Israel will be perceived in the world and in the Arab
world, about the blow to our own morale and another long list of
dilemmas that Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers still have to
face."
V. "Because There is No Choice"
Political and parties columnist Sima Kadmon wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/23): "Aviva and Noam
Shalit... will begin a battle, perhaps their last, to win over the
hearts of the cabinet ministers. In the past number of days... all
of us have been vacillating between skepticism and hope. But this
time the sense is that things are different...the moment of truth
has arrived. But what appears to be self-evident...is probably far
from being such. Netanyahu is hardly at peace with himself. His
concern is that the deal...will not be approved. The political
sources said that Netanyahu is looking for a forum that will ensure
him a majority. What is clear at present is that Netanyahu is about
to make far-reaching concessions. What we already know is what the
opponents are going to say: capitulation to terrorism; terms were
dictated entirely by Hamas; Israel will have to lift the siege on
Gaza; how the deal is going to weaken moderate Palestinians and
strengthen extremists. Those are not arguments that can be
dismissed. Netanyahu is going to need all the help he can get. It
isn't going to be easy...but as soon as the prime minister throws
his full weight behind the matter, he will be able to muster a
majority. What will this do to Netanyahu? From being a prime
minister who dodges making decisions, he will turn into a prime
minister who made a major and difficult decision, but one that was
correct and unavoidable. Bring him back home already."
CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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