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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 021107Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 6318
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 2885
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 6928
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 7139
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 6378
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 5032
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 7235
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3999
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2216
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0877
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 8396
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RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 7381
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002580

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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1. Mideast

2. Iran

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Key stories in the media:
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Major media quoted PM Benjamin Netanyahu as saying yesterday at an
economic conference that the 10-month moratorium on new housing
starts in the West Bank is a one-time, temporary deal, and that
building will begin anew once this period ends. Meanwhile, IDF
Civil Administration inspectors spread across the West Bank for the
second row to enforce the building freeze declared last week. Since
Monday, the inspectors have visited 90 settlements and handed out 64
stop-work orders. Media reported that settlers have blocked
inspectors. Yediot bannered: QThe Battle over the Freeze.

HaQaretz cited a classified report drafted by European consuls in
East Jerusalem and Ramallah that slams Israeli policy in East
Jerusalem and recommends that the European Union take steps to
strengthen the Palestinian Authority's status in the city. It also
advises taking various measures to protest Israeli policy in the
city as well as sanctions against people and groups involved in
"settlement activity" in and around it.
Due to the sensitivity of the annual document, the E.U. has never
before published it and in previous years Israel pressed the E.U.
hard not to do so, for fear the publication would further undermine
the European public's already negative view of Israel. HaQaretz
quoted senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials as saying that this
year's report "left a harsh impression" in Brussels and helped
Sweden promote its plan to have the E.U. formally recognize East
Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. The report accuses
both the Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality of
working deliberately to alter the city's demographic balance and
sever East Jerusalem from the West Bank. It says that both bodies
assist right-wing organizations, such as Ateret Cohanim and Elad, in
their efforts to implement this "strategic vision," especially
around the Holy Basin area. These organizations buy houses in Arab
neighborhoods and make "attempts to implant further Jewish
settlements into the heart of the Muslim Quarter." The
municipality, the report continues, discriminates against the city's
Arab residents with regard to building permits, health services,
education, sanitation, and more.

Israel Radio reported that diplomatic officials in Jerusalem have
accused a number of E.U. states, in particular Sweden, of attempts
to create facts on the ground and thwart U.S. mediation efforts
through the reported initiative to make Jerusalem the capital of two
states. HaQaretz reported that yesterday opposition head and Kadima
chair Knesset Member Tzipi Livni wrote Swedish FM Carl Bildt, asking
him to cancel his initiative to change the status of East Jerusalem,
which he is reportedly bringing to the E.U. institutions for
approval.

HaQaretz reported that last year set an all-time record for the
number of Arab residents of East Jerusalem who were stripped of
residency rights by the Interior Ministry. Altogether, the ministry
revoked the residency of 4,577 East Jerusalemites in 2008 -- 21
times the average of the previous 40 years. In the first 40 years
of Israeli rule over East Jerusalem combined, from 1967 to 2007, the
ministry deprived only 8,558 Arabs of their residency rights -- less
than double the number who lost their permits last year alone. Thus
of all the East Jerusalem Arabs who have lost their residency rights
since 1967, about 35 percent did so in 2008.

Leading media reported that yesterday clashes erupted in the Sheikh
Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem between demonstrators and
counter-demonstrators, after a group of Jews announced their
intention to move into a house in the neighborhood. The entry of
the Jews into the home follows a court order ruling that the Arab
al-Kurd family, which lives in a portion of the house, had no right
to occupy an addition that they had built onto the house.

Israel Radio quoted the London-based Al-Hayat as saying that Israel
has agreed to release Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti as part of the
QShalit dealQ -- provided Barghouti is not allowed back into the
PA.

Various media reported that PM Netanyahu may have thwarted the
nomination of former Consul-General in New York Alon Pinkas to the
position of ambassador to the U.N.

Maariv reported that Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset Member David Rotem,
the Chairman of the KnessetQs Constitution, Law, and Justice
Committee, intends to have a basic law passed that would define
Israel as a Jewish state.

HaQaretz reported that the Israel Air Force has been debating the
need to procure the V-22, a Boeing-made transport aircraft capable
of vertical take-off and landing. The V-22 flew for the first time
in 1989 but technological development was slow and only in the last
three years was it placed in operational squadrons. On combat
missions, the V-22 was included for the first time in operations in
Iraq and Afghanistan. The drawn out development process and
technological difficulties with the tilt-rotor system made the
aircraft considerably more expensive than originally planned; its
current price stands at $65 million.

Maariv reported on a massive departure of Israeli Defense Ministry
officials from the service. The newspaper quoted a defense source
as saying that the tension inside the ministry is due to the State
ComptrollerQs Report that criticized defense officialsQ spending
behavior during this yearQs Paris air show.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Jonathan Pollard told
visiting Likud activists that he is enraged by the Shalit deal and
that Hamas prisoners should be killed, not released.

The Jerusalem Post reported that senior LAPD official Michael P.
Downing told the newspaper this week in Tel Aviv that Israeli
organized crime in Los Angeles is on the rise.

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1. Mideast:
------------

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


I. QThis Time It's Final

Senior diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/2): QIn the coming
months, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is supposed to
start an election campaign, in which the PLO and Hamas will compete
head to head. Each side will adopt increasingly extreme positions
and will pledge allegiance to Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine
and to the principle of the return of the 1948 refugees. The
Americans, for their part, will argue that the only chance of
restarting the negotiations lies in continuing the construction
freeze. The question at hand is: will Netanyahu decide to confront
the Americans? I believe that he will continue to try to maneuver
between all the bad options, his voters from the right wing will
continue to take potshots at him, and the Americans will hint that
if he renews construction they will enable the Europeans to pass
sweeping resolutions in the Security Council that signify
recognition of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Israel may find itself isolated and all the horrific scenarios about
which Netanyahu has written at least four books will come true.

II. QObamaQs Not the Problem

Washington correspondent Natasha Mozgovaya wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/2): QMaking out that Obama is Qbad for
IsraelQ may have helped Netanyahu mobilize some support, but in the
long term a responsible Israeli leadership should try to keep the
President's status from eroding and take advantage of his efforts to
improve relations with the Islamic world, instead of jealously
measuring who is getting more attention. There's no sense in trying
to extort declarations of love from an administration that speaks in
terms of interests. It makes sense to try to speak its language.
But it would be even more helpful to admit that Obama is neither the
problem nor the solution, not until at least one of the sides takes
responsibility for establishing a dialogue with the other, not with
Washington.

III. QFear Scale

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in HaQaretz (12/2):
QNetanyahu estimates [IsraelQs] security requirements will cost tens
of billions of dollars and for Israel not to collapse economically,
it will need to retain annual growth of 4-5 percent. He thinks the
money can be found in bureaucratic efficiency, privatization of
state lands, and incentives for high-tech industries and
entrepreneurs. But economic reforms will not be enough.
Netanyahu's security model relies on broadening Israel's dependency
on the United States. The Prime Minister wants America to
neutralize Iran, back it up in its effort to curb the smuggling of
rockets, assist in the development of missile defense, and take
action to shelve the Goldstone report. It is worthwhile paying
attention to what is missing here: Netanyahu does not consider the
settlements a component in the security of Israel.... Like Menachem
Begin, who went from Qnot a single inchQ to Qno more war,Q and like
Yitzhak Rabin, who was shocked by the pathetic show of resolve among
Tel Aviv residents during the Gulf War and opted for a compromise
with the Palestinians, Netanyahu, too, understands that the majority
of the Israeli public wants quiet and considers the settlers a
nuisance. And this means the decision to freeze settlement
construction for 10 months is just the first taste of domestic
confrontation.

IV. QLet the Man Go

Former Mossad Director Ephraim Halevy wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/2): QAbu Mazen's initiative to drag
Israel, its leaders, and its officers to international courts gave
rise to the Goldstone commission, the severe and mistaken
conclusions of which continue to be marketed by the Palestinian
President at every opportunity. It is all the more difficult to
understand why Abu Mazen chose Caracas as a location to attack the
United States, since without its support for him, his government
would long since have disappeared.... In the past weeks, there have
been increasing voices calling to QstrengthenQ Abu Mazen, so that he
can be a partner for peace talks with Israel. Some wish to Qsave
him -- his stature is bowed so low and he needs Israeli salvation
that badly. Among other arguments, we hear that these are the
wishes of the U.S. In light of the performance of the Palestinian
leader in the past week, it might not be considered an impudent
presumption if we were to propose to our friends in Washington to
reconsider the value of their support for the PA President, in light
of the quality of the judgment he displayed in Caracas. Abu Mazen
has recently hinted that he would not run for another presidential
term. Perhaps the time has come to relieve him of our repeated
urging to do us a favor and remain in office? In short, let the man
go. There is no person or leader who cannot be replaced. And if
the Palestinian movement is an exception to the rule, and no other
leader can be found for it, then what point is there in making an
agreement with a person who has no successor?

V. QWhatQs the Haste ?

Liberal columnist Gideon Samet, who was Consul-General in
Philadelphia, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (12/2): QThe
apparently determined Obama is assisting [IsraelQs] decision
failures. The demand for a [construction] freeze in the West Bank
was a mistake. Crafty as it may be in other domains, the White
House team should have been aware of the longstanding Israeli
thwarting of all previous efforts to restrain construction in the
West Bank. And how useful will a temporary freeze be when
WashingtonQs unvarying test is that the settlements themselves
constitute an obstacle? Housing units and other building plans that
have already been approved and are not included in the freeze will
provide for the coming ten months. Time will again play in the
hands of a government that does not intend to abide by its two-state
promise. The Gilad Shalit festivities will be forgotten. There
will be no negotiations with the Palestinians; with the passing of
time, it is frightening to reflect that this [political] system will
decide how to act against the Iranian nuclear program.

VI. QThe Justified Fear of a Diplomatic Avalanche

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (12/2):
QThe fear that the Netanyahu government is tumbling into an all-out
diplomatic avalanche is justified -- it will slowly abandon its
stances one by one, as it will delude itself at every stage that it
is maneuvering in the Qart of the possibleQ and that it is
minimizing damage. The only decisive test now is in actions, not in
words, in the very margins the Prime Minister has declared he
wouldnQt give up: construction of public buildings in the
settlements, massive construction in Jerusalem, and the
non-extension of the freeze penalty at the conclusion of these ten
months.

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2. Iran:
---------

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

QElBaradeiQs Failure

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/2):
Q[Outgoing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Director-General] Mohamed ElBaradei, stepped down after 12 years
with what, by his deplorable standards, amounted to a bang rather
than a whimper. In the last few days, ElBaradei declared bitterly
that the IAEA's probe of allegations that Iran has been trying to
make nuclear arms is at a Qdead endQ because Tehran is not
cooperating.... There, in a few words, is the essence of ElBaradei's
failure -- his incapacity or disinclination to distinguish between
the dangers posed, on the one hand, by a tiny country that, over
several decades during which its very existence has frequently been
under threat, has not resorted to the use of a reported nuclear
capacity, and, on the other, by a regional bully that has brazenly
lied to the international community about its nuclear program,
oppressed its own people, relentlessly incited the elimination of a
sovereign state, and vowed to remake the entire world order. The
IAEA is charged with preventing the proliferation of nuclear
technology, to ensure that the most devastating, last-resort
weaponry remain out of reach to those who cannot be trusted with it.
Given the accelerating ease of technology-transfer, the task is
complex enough. Under ElBaradei, a man incapable of recognizing
where the most potent dangers were sited, it became a lost cause.

MORENO

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