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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2594/01 3370954
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 030954Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4427
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 6325
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 2892
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 6935
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 7147
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 6385
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 5041
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 7243
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 4006
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2223
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0884
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 8403
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 3415
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 7388
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 9467
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 2209
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 3277
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002594

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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Israel Radio reported that PM Benjamin Netanyahu will meet today
with the leaders of the Yesha Council of Settlements in the
Territories and the heads of local councils in the West Bank to
discuss the 10-month moratorium on construction in the territories.
The radio reported that few settler leaders attended a similar
meeting with DM Ehud Barak, following a day of clashes throughout
the West Bank between settlers and the inspectors enforcing the
freeze. Leading media reported that Barak sought to placate the
settlers, promising to restore mayors' power to approve minor
renovation projects such as enclosing balconies or building pergolas
over a porch -- powers they had initially lost under last week's
cabinet decision on a settlement freeze. Barak was quoted as saying
at the meeting: "Settlement blocs will be an integral part of Israel
in any future negotiations with the Palestinians. The Jordan Valley
and the Dead Sea are regions that are dear to my heart.Q Leading
media cited sharp criticism of the freeze by Likud cabinet minister
Moshe QBugiQ YaQalon, who is quoted as saying that Qthis was not
what was decided by the cabinet.

Maariv reported that the IDF is interrupting its exercises to brace
for possible enforcement of the freeze.

Major media reported that Israel is waiting for Hamas' answer to the
German mediator's proposal on the final prisoner exchange deal over
kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. The
Islamist group is expected to respond within the next few days. The
mediator met separately over the past few days with representatives
of both sides. Arab media reports say Hamas is likely to present
additional conditions for the agreement, which Israel has already
agreed to in principle. The main remaining dispute, say the
reports, is over a few senior prisoners who are described as
"symbols of the Palestinian struggle." HaQaretz reported that it
seems that Hamas has concluded it will be difficult to convince
Israel to free the senior Hamas leaders. Therefore, Hamas will
likely focus its demands on two prisoners not from Hamas: Marwan
Barghouti of Fatah, and the Secretary General of the Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmad SaQadat. The final
negotiations center on which senior prisoners Israel will release.
The Jerusalem Post quoted BarghoutiQs wife Fatwa saying that he Qis
going nowhere; he wants to return to his home and family in
Palestine.Q The newspaper cited similar comments by BarghoutiQs
friends.

The Jerusalem Post reported that French Ambassador to Israel
Christophe Bigot told the newspaper yesterday that France has
"several strong reservations" about a draft resolution on the Middle
East put forward by Sweden that would recognize east Jerusalem as
the capital of a future Palestinian state. "Let us be clear the
text is not an E.U. text; it is a Swedish proposal looking for
agreement by the 27 E.U. members of the Council of Foreign Affairs
next Tuesday," Bigot said of the document, which has raised
Jerusalem's ire for a number of reasons, primarily because of its
pre-judging negotiations on Jerusalem and its reference in the
document to "Palestine." The E.U.'s ambassadors in Brussels are
scheduled to meet today, along with E.U. security experts, to
further discuss the text. The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel,
as part of its diplomatic efforts to block acceptance of the
document, is in contact with the U.S., hoping that it will explain
to key E.U. states that the text would only make moving the
diplomatic process forward even more difficult than it already is.

HaQaretz reported that the IDF recently finished formulating its
operational doctrine on how to deal with the threat of rockets and
missiles aimed at Israel's home front and how to provide protection
against these threats. In a report last year, the State Comptroller
had criticized the lack of an operational plan.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Jews worldwide were up in arms on
Monday over the Jewish National FundQs donation of trees to a
housing project being administered by the P.A. in the planned West
Bank community of Rawabi.

HaQaretz reported that PM Netanyahu is considering rescinding the
appointment of Shai Bazak as Consul General in New York. The daily
reported that the move -- and the possible repealing of Alon Pinkas
apparent appointment as ambassador to the U.N. -- is likely to cause
a rift between Netanyahu and FM Avigdor Lieberman, since the
rescinding of even one appointment signals that the PM is overruling
his foreign minister.
The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Alberto Nisman, the
Argentinean prosecutor who ferreted out Iranian Links to ArgentinaQs
largest terror attack, warned of TehranQs terror network in Latin
America. In an unrelated development, based mostly on Al Jazeera-TV
reports, Israeli electronic media reported that this morning a bomb
targeted at a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims near a major ShiQite
religious shrine in Damascus causing dozens of casualties. The bomb
attack took place as Saeed Jalilee, a top Iranian security official,
was visiting Damascus for meetings with Syrian officials.

HaQaretz and other media reported that on Tuesday some 100 people
injured and family members of those killed in the 2004 Taba Hilton
suicide bombing filed a suit against the hotel chain in the
Jerusalem District Court, arguing that the owners did not take
minimum security precautions that could have prevented the attack.
The plaintiffs are seeking about $70 million in compensation for
medical expenses, pain, emotional trauma, and lost earnings. The
attack killed 33 people, including 13 Israelis.

Maariv reported that Orna Angel, a former senior female advisor to
DM Barak, might become director-general of the Defense Ministry.

Yediot reported on the role of Israeli-made unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAVs) in the fighting in Afghanistan. The Jerusalem Post quoted an
Israeli defense official as saying, regarding exports of Israeli
defense technology: QThe expansion of the war in Afghanistan opens a
door for us.Q A Maariv article on the NATO statesQ fear of an
entanglement in Afghanistan is headlined: QA Power in the Mud.

HaQaretz reported that stories appearing on several Ukrainian Web
sites claim that Israel has brought some 25,000 Ukrainian children
into the country over the past two years in order to harvest their
organs. The claim, which was made by a Ukrainian philosophy
professor and author at a pseudo-academic conference in Kiev five
days ago, is the latest expression of a wave of anti-Semitism in the
country.

Yediot reported that Netanyahu is expected to head the Israeli
delegation to the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

--------
Mideast:
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Block Quotes:
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I. QLawbreakers

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (12/3): QThe
settler leaders' lawless behavior after the decision to temporarily
and partially freeze settlement construction in the West Bank
reminds us of Defense Minister Ehud Barak's metaphor of a Qvilla in
the jungleQ to describe Israel's place in the region. Only a few
kilometers from Tel Aviv, the laws of democracy give way to the law
of the jungle. Once again it turns out that only an ultra-thin
layer separates the rebels and tree cutters in the illegal outposts
from the core of the settler establishment.... A government that
demands that the Palestinian Authority ensure law and order among
the Palestinians in the West Bank is not allowed to be sympathetic
to the organized lawlessness of the Jewish residents there.

II. QDisengagement II

Senior commentator Ari Shavit wrote in Ha'aretz (12/3): QBenjamin
Netanyahu made history twice. The first time was when he adopted
the two-state solution in his Bar-Ilan speech and the second was
when he decided last week to freeze settlement construction. The
Palestinians dismiss his steps and the Europeans say they're not
enough. The skeptics are skeptical and the cynics are cynical. But
the truth is that Netanyahu circa 2009 is situating himself to the
left of Yitzhak Rabin circa 1995. Unlike Rabin, Netanyahu now
accepts the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state.
Unlike Rabin, he is issuing orders prohibiting construction
throughout the Jewish West Bank. Netanyahu has crossed the Rubicon
- on both ideological and practical levels - and reinvented himself
as a centrist.... Disengagement II will have to be completely
different from its predecessor. It will have to be coordinated with
the Palestinian Authority and granted European support and it will
have to turn the evacuated area into an economic prosperity zone.
It will need to prevent Palestinians from smuggling in weapons and
increasing their military might and must assure Israel's right to
self-defense. Such a plan would have to be part of an overall
strategic outlook that pushes both peoples toward peace through
measured, circumspect, and coordinated steps. A second
disengagement would have to be an improved version of the first, a
plan with a political dimension and an economic depth that would
strengthen the moderates -- Palestinians as well as Israelis. If
the Prime Minister dares to go forward with Disengagement II, things
would be easier for Israel on all fronts. It would help Netanyahu
in domestic politics, just as the first disengagement helped Sharon,
and it would turn the Prime Minister into the new leader of the
Israeli center.

III. QThe Opportunity in the Freeze

Settler leader Israel Harel wrote in HaQaretz (12/3): QThe vitality
[of the settler movement] -- the consolidation of a generation that
will constitute another link in the chain -- is what those enforcing
the freeze are now seeking to crush. There is no other explanation.
Benjamin Netanyahu, though he does not share the desire to destroy
the settlement enterprise, lacks the strength of character to abide
by his promise to resume construction in another 10 months. The
U.S. administration, the Europeans, and the settlements' domestic
foes (whose activity against the settlements and the Netanyahu
government is financed by European money) will not let him.... If
those leading the struggle make do with unfreezing a few hundred
building permits, or even more, they have been graced with neither
strategic vision nor an understanding of history. The time has come
for them to elevate themselves from mere settlement activists -- an
important job in normal days -- to leaders of a movement. The
freeze, which a priori appears detrimental, actually presents them
with a positive challenge: to reinvigorate the drive and capacity
for achievement of the movement that succeeded in reviving Israel's
pioneering spirit.


IV. QWaiting for an American Plan

Giora Eiland, former Director of IsraelQs National Security Council,
wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/3):
QThe Palestinians do not believe that it is possible to reach a
final status arrangement through direct negotiations with Israel, no
matter who the prime minister is. In their eyes, the gaps between
the sides cannot be bridged. Therefore, they prefer for Obama to
reach the same conclusion, which was reached by Clinton at the end
of 2000, that only a plan presented by the U.S. President himself, a
concrete and detailed plan, would make Israel Qtake things
seriouslyQ.... Such an American proposal will also play into the
hands of the Palestinians in another way. It will relieve them of
the need to compromise in negotiations with Israel and to risk
condemnation by Hamas and other Arab parties. They will prefer to
take Obama's plan and bring it before the Arab League for approval.
After they receive overwhelming support, they will be able to enjoy
greater political confidence. What should Israel do? The decision
on a construction freeze gives Netanyahu a certain breathing space
against immediate American pressure. This should be used to convey
two messages to the U.S. administration: firstly, after we have
agreed on a formula to solve the small problem (freezing the
settlements), we can now deal with solving the large problem (direct
negotiations on the final status arrangement). Secondly, a forced
American plan is dangerous, not only to the government in Israel but
also to the American reputation.... An initiative of a president at
the start of his path, which has high chances of failure, will have
negative ramifications for his ability to lead initiatives until the
end of his term.

V. QListen to the Pain

Former Editor-in-Chief Moshe Ishon wrote in the editorial of the
nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (12/3): QIt seems that
Obama is trying to force Israel back into its pre-Six Day War
borders, which will choke the Jewish state. President Obama has
not concealed this policy in his speech to both Houses of Congress
following his election. Over the past few months he has reiterated
his policy that Jerusalem will be the capital of two states Q for
Israel and the Palestinians. The PresidentQs declarations are
inconsistent with IsraelQs policy.... Netanyahu must now adopt a
tough line against the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria
[i.e. the West Bank] and make clear that Israel intends neither to
make concessions over that land nor to submit to U.S. dictates.
Such compromise proposals might bring about further concessions.
Israel would not bear them.

VI. QShalit : The Details Matter

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/3):
QIsraelis would dearly love to see abducted soldier Gilad Shalit
safely home and the entire episode of his cruel captivity finally
concluded. That is indisputably the national consensus. But no
similarly overwhelming consensus exists regarding the price which a
sovereign, responsible government should pay for Shalit's release,
given the risks of further kidnappings and killings orchestrated by
those Palestinian terrorists who could go free in a prisoner
exchange. Precisely because of widespread concerns over the terms
and costs of a deal, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu repeatedly
promised full disclosure and a comprehensive public debate on the
specifics of any swap. Yet precisely the opposite is happening,
with the formal sanction, as of this week, of a Supreme Court
ruling.... The suspicion, in the Shalit affair, is that censorship
is not safeguarding a vital national security interest as much as
shielding edgy politicians from adverse public opinion. All
Israelis will potentially be affected by the repercussions of a deal
to free Shalit -- and, for that matter, by a decision not to proceed
with such a deal. Whether we agree or not to the price that is
being demanded, we have the right to know, in good time, exactly
what that price is.

MORENO

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