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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 301145Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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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
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COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE FOR PAO/POLAD
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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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In this morning's front-page headlines, both Yediot Ahronot and
Ma'ariv highlighted the trial of John Ivan Demjanjuk that is set to
begin in Germany today.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cancelled a scheduled visit to
Berlin due to what his doctors described as a slight seasonal
illness. Netanyahu's visit to Germany was to have been part of a
larger meeting between Israeli and German cabinet ministers in the
context of a joint effort by the two countries to forge closer ties.
Ma'ariv reports that the visit has been rescheduled for January
2010.

The settlement construction freeze is still in the news this
morning, as Yediot Ahronot reported that some settlers on the ground
reportedly have begun to take measures to bypass the enforcement of
the measure. The paper reported that settlers in a number of West
Bank settlements have begun to hastily lay fake foundations for
buildings that had been given construction permits so as to allow
them to begin construction work even in the course of the current
moratorium. Politicians have begun to use the developments in this
sphere as a means of improving their own political standing among
their supporters. Defense Minister Ehud Barak yesterday told other
top Labor Party officials that the settlement construction freeze
proved just how crucial his role was in steering this government
towards peace. Israel Hayom quoted Barak as having said: "Ask
yourselves what would have happened had we not been in the
government and instead of us there were 'Ketzele' (MK Yaakov Katz)
and Ben-Ari. Would the government have been capable of making a
decision about two states, about suspending construction in the
settlements and about a renewal of the negotiations?" Meanwhile,
Likud ministers who are not members of the security cabinet also
spoke out yesterday against the settlement construction freeze. Dan
Margalit criticizes them in Israel Hayom today, especially for
focusing their anger at Ehud Barak and refraining from pointing an
accusatory finger at the prime minister.

The main headline in Haaretz and Israel Hayom this morning focused
on the revelation by the State Attorney's Office last night that
Israel was considering the release of 980 prisoners in exchange for
Gilad Shalit: 450 demanded by Hamas and 530 that Israel would free
unilaterally.

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

I. "Likud's harmful resistance"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (11/30): "The
Likud Knesset members' show of strength in presenting Netanyahu with
a list of opponents of the temporary settlement freeze is damaging
and unnecessary... The Likud lawmakers are refusing to accept...
that Israel... must make at least one small goodwill gesture to the
world, led by the United States... Amid the bluster of Likud
ministers Livnat, Kahlon, Erdan, Shalom, and Edelstein, Netanyahu is
being depicted as a tragic hero about to embark on a fateful
decision. This is, of course, grotesque and ludicrous... If
Netanyahu surrenders to pressure on such an inconsequential,
elementary matter, he will certainly not be able to stand before the
settlers if and when the real moment of truth arrives. Likud's
blusterers - some of whom denigrated the Obama government as
"anti-Semitic," an evictor of Jews - want to prove that the prime
minister can be pressured and extorted, to show the U.S. president
who is really in charge of Israel. Netanyahu must prove to himself,
his government, and this country's citizens that authority lies with
him, not with those orchestrating calculated resistance."

II. "The Opposing Ministers are Playing Make-Believe"

Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (11/30): "Members of Knesset Hotovely,
Danon and Levine believe with all their hearts that the suspension
of construction in the settlements for ten months is an historic
error. Their position is an asset to the Likud... The position
maintained by Benny Begin and Moshe Yaalon is problematic but
respectable. They came to the conclusion that the freeze would also
be the lesser of all evils. They both could have voted against...
But Begin and Yaalon voted in favor... The opposite course of action
was taken by Livnat, Kahlon, Erdan, Edelstein and Shalom. They
waited for the security cabinet vote to approve the freeze and
immediately thereafter began to talk about their opposition to the
decision. Heroes in retrospect who let the horses out of the stable
and then rushed to slam the doors shut behind them. They shouldered
no risk by doing so. In order to soften Binyamin Netanyahu's anger
they cast the... decision as a dictate that was handed down by Ehud
Barak... That suits Barak just fine. He has utilized that criticism
against him to claim that his decision to have the Labor Party join
the coalition government was the right move... The demand to convene
the Likud Central Committee to discuss the settlement construction
freeze does not threaten [Netanyahu]. He knows that the rebellious
ministers are merely play-acting... But Netanyahu would do well were
he to bear in mind that every political rebellion that initially
appeared to be fleeting, sometimes culminated in the fall of the
government, a split in the party, and/or a shift to the
opposition."


III. "She Said I Was Awful"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/30): "It is not easy to defend Barack
Obama's foreign policy these days. This is a particularly difficult
task in Israel, where according to one poll, only 4 percent of the
population have confidence in him. It is doubtful whether there has
ever been an American president who was less popular in Israel than
Barack Obama... Nevertheless, Obama deserves to be defended... Bush
left him scorched earth in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, the
European Union, Russia, Latin America, and the Middle East...
critics of his path say that it has not scored impressive
achievements until now. They are right. But the alternative...
achieved even less... He sought to bring the sides to the
negotiating table. He thought that a freeze... would be the prize
that would draw in Abu Mazen and the Saudi royal family. This
aspiration could be called naove. It cannot be said that it was
"awful." Obama launched a dialogue with Iran... The question whether
this effort will bear fruit is open, but... it is a necessary stage.
Without it, there is no chance of stopping Iran by other means. Is
the way the Obama administration is handling Iran "awful" for
Israel? The opposite is true. True, the Obama administration has
made a series of tactical errors in its handling of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is true, that the administration
was not experienced enough to understand the sensitivities and
expectations of the Israelis. But all these criticisms are dwarfed
by the administration's sincere desire to promote an arrangement.
For 16 years, we were indulged by administrations that mainly told
us what we wanted to hear... A slightly less indulgent president
might be more beneficial to us. Give Obama a chance, because he's
the only one who is willing to take one. Give him a chance, because
more than him needing a chance, we Israelis need one."


IV. "We Can See You"

Veteran journalist and television anchor Yaron London wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/30): "The optical
spies working in the service of states have a very sharp glance...
That is why I was amused by the attorney general's warning that the
state would find it difficult to implement... the decision to freeze
construction over the Green Line... [It] stems from the need to
preserve our relations with the world power that protects us, and
therefore, in the opinion of the cabinet ministers, it is an
important decision... The Judea and Samaria hills are a tiny area.
It only takes one person looking every day at updated satellite
images to discover any change there. This is what the Defense
Ministry in fact did, and with surprising speed, sent a photography
plane to document the topographic reality in detail... The problem
does not lie in the difficulty to locate them, but rather in the
will to enforce the law on them. The will is weak. Israel's
governments have accustomed us to the sense that the rebellion of
the annexers of the occupied territories is a law of nature, or
perhaps a version of "cops and robbers," in which the cops are not
real police officers and the robbers no more than good boys
disguised as criminal offenders. Youthful folly should not be
punished, perhaps only gently reprimanded, and the policemen and
soldiers will quarrel with them cautiously. Some of the buildings
will be demolished and then rebuilt, demolished, and so on and so
forth, until the spineless jellyfish known as the state is worn down
and they remain standing.
MORENO

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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