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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2541/01 3291052
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251052Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4344
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 2863
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 6906
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 7119
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 6358
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 5010
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 7215
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3979
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002541

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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Despite the lack of real developments on the ground, the prospect of
a prisoner exchange deal being reached between Israel and Hamas
continues to be featured prominently by the Israeli press.

Army Radio quotes a high-ranking Israeli diplomat who said he
believed that Obama administration was opposed to the deal, which is
construed as liable to damage the Palestinian Authority and Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas. Yediot Ahronot quoted PA and Fatah officials who are
taking Israel to task for the yet incomplete deal, saying that in
past prisoner releases Israel didn't agree to Abbas's demand for a
prisoner release saying those prisoners released were petty
criminals and not prisoners with influence and standing who could
have contributed to his standing.

Ma'ariv reported that senior Hamas prisoners told Marwan Barghouti
that the impending deal will not take place without him being
included.

Israel Hayom commissioned a public opinion poll that found a firm
majority of Israelis would support a prisoner exchange deal to
release Gilad Shalit, even if that meant releasing prisoners with
"blood on their hands." Israel Hayom reports about a petition that
was filed to the High Court of Justice yesterday in hope of lifting
the censor's blackout on which kinds of prisoners might be
released.

Israel Radio reported this morning that PM Netanyahu will convene
the security cabinet today to discuss the Palestinian issue and
several other issues. Political sources said that as of now, there
was no deal with Hamas. The prime minister said yesterday that if a
deal were to be put together for Shalit's release, it would be
brought before the cabinet for a decision

Ma'ariv reports this morning about an American diplomat from the US
Consulate in Jerusalem who has begun to conduct a hands-on
investigation into construction in the West Bank settlements. The
diplomat, who is believed to be a member of George Mitchell's team,
visited Efrat yesterday where she questioned officials about what
was being built where and why, as well as what was not being built.
According to Ma'ariv, Efrat was merely the first in a series of
settlements the American diplomat intends to visit.

Block Quotes:
-----------
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Mideast:
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I. "The Highest Price"

Senior commentator for Channel Two News Amnon Abramovitch wrote in
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/25): Death in
war starts with a young man walking down the stairs. ... About four
months ago, Netanyahu told people that he has been carrying around
in his bag the letter that he wrote to Yitzhak Shamir against the
Jibril deal... Later, Netanyahu pointed out the differences between
the Jibril deal [of 1985] and the expected Shalit deal. The next
day... Netanyahu had made a strategic decision to go for the Shalit
deal. Shortly beforehand a new envoy was appointed, Hagai Hadas,
with a new mandate. The task of mediation was placed in the hands
of a German mediator. When Gilad Shalit returns home, and the book
is written with the "real story" of the negotiations... At first
there was a cabinet resolution... which adopted the GSS's definition
of the term "having blood on their hands." ... Matters were
subsequently conducted in a Palmach-style, chummy manner, in which a
method was employed that was known in the media as the "bathtub"
method: ...The bathtub did not fill up. But control of the tap was
handed over to Hamas....Former PM Olmert could have closed a deal.
He made a leadership decision, which was unpopular... to stick
somehow to previous deals and "market prices." Hagai Hadas
reorganized things in a very orderly fashion, almost scientific,
with analyses and cross-sections, motives and alternatives....How
will the story end? The captions the end of the film will read:
Gilad Shalit returns home. Israel paid the highest price for him.
Israel, and the world too, took note of another negotiation with
Hamas. Hagai Hadas is a candidate to replace Meir Dagan as Mossad
director.


II. "Resuming the Turkish track"


The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (11/25):
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's criticism of Israel for its policy
in the territories ... and Cast Lead ... unjustly changed Turkey's
status from ... close friend to ... an almost-enemy. Israel
attributed Erdogan's criticism to the pan-Islamic slant of Turkey's
ruling party, the country's growing ties with Iran and the aim of
Turkey and Syria to replace their Western allies with Arab ones....
In a single moment we forgot... that it was Turkey that managed to
renew the dialogue between Syria and Israel... The Turkish criticism
is no different in essence from that being heard in some European
countries or on American campuses.... [It]is partly because of the
personal insult felt by Erdogan, who hosted ... Olmert and even
conducted an indirect phone conversation between Olmert and Syrian
President Bashar Assad. Erdogan's request to mediate between Israel
and Hamas was rejected; instead, the Turkish premier was forced to
deal with the fallout from a violent operation in Gaza.... Minister
Ben-Eliezer is trying to put an end to the public account-keeping
between Israel and Turkey. He proposes that Turkey resume its
mediation between Israel and Syria. This is an appropriate
proposal... The Turkish side, too, apparently wants to move past the
disagreement and restore relations with Israel. On the other hand,
the harsh words being hurled in Turkey by Avigdor Lieberman, are
hurting more than they are helping. Israel's interest lies in
restoring relations with Turkey, just as it does in renewing the
Syrian track. If Turkey is the catalyst for that, we should avail
ourselves of its good services.


III. "Keeping the Golan won't protect Israel from Syria"

Senior military affairs analyst Reuven Pedatzur wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/25): On June 19, 1967, after
the end of ... the Six-Day War, ministers, were willing to give up
on the gains made on the Syrian front in exchange for peace...
listing the following conditions: 1. Demilitarization of the Syrian
heights currently held by the IDF forces; 2. ...A promise not to
interfere with the flow of water from ... the Jordan [River]." Thus
were created, 42 years ago, the basic conditions for an agreement,
which are still valid today. If negotiations between Syria and
Israel are resumed, what will be left to discuss is the security of
Israel.... Despite the significant changes that have occurred in the
structure of the Syrian army ... an agreement demilitarizing the
heights and securing the water sources of Israel... would be
sufficient.... Netanyahu must decide whether achieving peace with
Syria is a strategic target. If he decides yes, then the argument
that has been made more than once to excuse delaying an agreement
with the Syrians, that the cost is too high because it may undermine
Israel's security, is patently invalid... Syrian President Bashar
Assad appears to have made the strategic decision to sign a peace
accord with Israel. If there are those who think that this is mere
posturing, this is the time to test him. The security of Israel will
not be endangered if it turns out that Assad does indeed mean what
he says.

IV. "Public Discussion is Needed"


The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized
(11/25): The extensive discussion on the question of the deal that
is or is not being drawn up for the release of the soldier Gilad
Shalit, keeps on focusing on bilateral questions.... This discussion
feeds the newspaper headlines ... but conceals the lack of a real
public discussion on the weighty moral question that the deal
involves.... Because the government and the media are not interested
in a discussion, the censorship can impose a blackout on the details
of the emerging deal-without real security justification.... The
issue of the release deals is a moral, social and strategic issue of
the first order. It places the individual versus the collective,
solidarity versus national interests, present versus future, the
commitment to a soldier versus the need to maintain the personal
security of Israel's citizens. It also raises, of course, questions
related to deterrence and the meaning of punishment and judgment,
the cheapness of human life and the moral significance of the
extreme asymmetry that marks all these deals.... The time has come
for the current leadership in Israel to understand that on
fundamental moral questions, the public discourse should be
encouraged and deepened, not silenced and reduced to cheap trade in
emotions.
CUNNINGHAM

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