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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 071147Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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1. Mideast

2. U.S. Foreign Policy

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Key stories in the media:
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Leading media reported that settlers are preparing for a heated
confrontation with security services over the construction freeze in
West Bank settlements. For the first time, settlers are seeking to
organize demonstrations and block roads in several Israeli
communities within the Green Line. Over the weekend the media
quoted settler leaders as saying that they have to come out in force
against PM Benjamin NetanyahuQs QWhite Paper,Q comparing his policy
with that of the British authorities that limited Jewish building in
Mandate-era Palestine. Yesterday morning, the residents of the
veteran settlement of Kedumim demonstrated the force being used in
the campaign against the freeze. Major media reported that
officials from hesder yeshivas (which combine religious studies and
military service) have vowed to fight the IDFQs attempt to cut ties
with the Har Bracha Yeshiva (near Nablus), whose head, Rabbi Eliezer
Melamed, has called on soldiers to refuse to act against settlers
and settlements. The media reported that Netanyahu is trying to
minimize opposition within Likud to the construction freeze.
Yesterday Maariv reported that the Israeli defense establishment is
considering bolstering the security detail around Netanyahu due to
the settlersQ protests. The Jerusalem Post reported that Likud
Knesset Member ZeQev Elkin told the newspaper yesterday that the
moratorium could cost the state half a billion shekels (around $125
million).

The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that Israel is pressing
E.U. ministers to reject a Swedish draft text calling for East
Jerusalem to become the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Leading media quoted Al Jazeera-TV as saying last night that the
German mediator in the negotiations for the release of captive
soldier Gilad Shalit is en-route to Tel Aviv with Hamas' response to
the latest Israeli offer. Reports in the Arab press over the last
few days indicate that there are still significant differences

between the Israeli and Palestinian positions on a possible swap,
making it unlikely that Hamas will accept the Israeli offer.
According to HaQaretz, the mediator is pressing both sides to reach
an agreement quickly. Arab media reports have said Hamas and Israel
expect the negotiations to be completed by the end of the month, and
the prevailing assessment in Israel is that it will take at least
another few weeks to finalize the deal. HaQaretz reported that PM
Netanyahu has been consulting with only a few advisers about the
deal, making it difficult to get an accurate picture of how it is
progressing. Meanwhile, HaQaretz reported that Hamas leader Mahmoud
Zahar told the newspaper yesterday that reports in the Arab press
that four French doctors visited Shalit were inaccurate. (The
reports had presented the alleged visit to Shalit by the doctors as
a confidence building measure by Hamas.) However, an Egyptian
source said yesterday that French doctors had traveled from Egypt to
Gaza. The source said they went to Gaza to provide surgical care
and would not confirm reports that they saw Shalit.

The media reported that on Thursday President Obama again delayed
the moving of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to
Jerusalem.

All media reported that yesterday cabinet ministers unanimously
approved the appointment of Attorney Yehuda Weinstein as the
countryQs next attorney general. Weinstein will begin preparing for
his new role in about two weeks and will formally take over from
current Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on February 1. Media
reported that Mazuz and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador have begun
discussions on whether to indict Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
on charges which include accepting bribes and laundering money.
Media reported that LiebermanQs indictment is expected before Mazuz
leaves office.

HaQaretz reported that the State Prosecutor's Office never responded
to some 400 High Court petitions filed by Palestinians seeking to
save their West Bank homes from demolition orders -- which means the
homes cannot be demolished -- according to a report released
yesterday by the Regavim advocacy group. The homes were classified
by the state as being illegally built. In an unrelated matter,
Yediot and other media reported that right-wing activists are
suspected of setting fire to a Palestinian house in a village near
Nablus.

Yesterday IDF Radio reported that Palestinian terrorists in Gaza
have begun launching Russian-made S-5K rockets at southern Israel.


Yesterday The Jerusalem Post reported that senior Israeli diplomatic
officials cast doubt on an Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper story
reporting that Turkey will resume mediating between Israel and Syria
in the first half of 2010.

HaQaretz (Hebrew Ed.) and Maariv led with the Copenhagen Climate
Change Summit. Maariv is one of 56 newspapers from 45 countries
that published a global editorial today on the summit. The media
emphasized IsraelQs unsatisfactory record on the subject -- in
particular its inaction on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

As IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi is embarking on a
five-day tour of the Far East, The Jerusalem Post quoted an Israeli
military source as saying that Israel is vital in helping New Delhi
make a Qvery significant transition to Western technology.

Yediot cited the Jewish-American communityQs anger over the White
HouseQs inviting only 400 guests to its Hanukkah party, instead of
the customary 800.

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

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

I. QBibi, DonQt Give In

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (12/6): QThe
cabinet resolution to freeze construction in the settlements has in
hindsight proved to be a slapdash affair, drafted without a thorough
examination of the difficulties involved in its implementation....
This is the time to tell Netanyahu: Bibi, don't give in. The Prime
Minister's willingness to take a political risk and go head-to-head
with his own supporters to advance Israel's foreign-policy interests
was a correct, albeit small and hesitant, step on the road to
realizing his vision of Qtwo states for two peoples.Q He must not
be deterred by settler protests and pressure from Likud ministers.
Further development of the settlements is damaging and unnecessary.
Even if Netanyahu is halting it in order to pacify U.S. President
Barack Obama, it is important that he stick to his decision and not
water it down. Netanyahu is correct in demanding that the settlers
limit their protest to legal means and respect the decision of an
elected government. He must serve as an example to the settlers and
not deviate from his own decision by making sure that any new
construction in the settlements is halted. Moreover, he must
tirelessly continue his efforts to renew the peace process with the
Palestinians.

II. QThis Time, the Government Means It

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote in HaQaretz (12/7): QQOne
thing, at least, is emphatically different this time from all the
previous rounds,Q said an Israel Defense Forces officer who has been
intimately involved with the situation in the West Bank for over a
decade. QThe political echelon has finally stopped winking. This
is the first time we're receiving clear, detailed instructions on
how to deal with building in the settlements,Q he said. QNo one is
trying to cut corners -- instructions were given and we're operating
according to them.Q If he is right, the inevitable consequence will
be a more heated, potentially violent conflict between security
services and settlers.... The past week's events represented some
interesting phenomena: 1) The army is taking a tougher tone.... 2)
U.S. President Barack Obama has united the settlers.... 3) The past
few months, in which the Government delayed responding to pressure
from Washington, gave the settlers time to organize.

III. QA Step of Sobriety

Dov Weisglass, who was former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's top
diplomatic advisor, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (12/7): QWhat is missing in the decision on the
construction freeze? It lacks real ability to affect what is
happening. It will not lead to a real stop of construction in Judea
and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank], except for a brief time span, and
will not bring about a change in the diplomatic environment. The
Palestinians do not view it as a reason to renew negotiations and
the international community, so it would appear, was not overly
impressed by the Israeli initiative. The Quartet refused to
congratulate it and the U.S. and the other major countries of the

world do not intend to declare that in the wake of this initiative
the Palestinians are called upon to return to the negotiating
table.... In this context, there is great sense in the contention of
the settlers that the freeze is unnecessarily oppressive: they are
being harmed, but [the freeze] is bringing no benefit.... The
continuation of Israeli construction throughout the Judea and
Samaria territories erodes IsraelQs main diplomatic asset -- its
special relationship with the United States.... What Sharon
understood, and Olmert after him, is now becoming apparent to the
current government: good or bad, just or unjust, that is the
reality. No one in the world agrees to IsraelQs presence in a
majority of the Judea and Samaria territories and the continued
construction there. Israeli persistence will bring upon its
diplomatic isolation and this is something that Israel cannot
afford. The freeze plan is an attempt to avoid this. It is not
important in and of itself, but as a first sign of a process of
understanding and sobriety it is highly meaningful.

IV. QEurope Divides Jerusalem

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv (12/7): QAfter a long period of frustration, Abu Mazen
finally has an international diplomatic achievement: apparently, the
Israeli-Palestinian battle over the E.U. Council of Foreign
Ministers in Brussels today will end with a clear Palestinian
victory. A final draft of the agreement, which reached Jerusalem
yesterday, indicates that the Palestinians will receive an
unprecedented European statement. Late last night, a draft was
passed that will evidently serve as the basis for today's
resolution. Barring any last-minute changes, it will include the
following principles: Europe calls for the establishment of an
independent, democratic, and contiguous Palestinian state in the
West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be the capital
of both states. All settlement activity must be stopped, including
in East Jerusalem and natural growth. The European Union will
recognize no changes in the 1967 borders unless both sides agree to
them. Regarding the decision for a temporary construction freeze,
the European statement will include a sentence along these lines:
The council views the decision for a temporary and partial
construction freeze positively, as a first step. Jerusalem
officials expressed disappointment over the fact that the United
States did not involve itself with the Europeans in any real sense
and that the frantic telephone campaign that the Prime Minister
himself conducted over the past several days was fruitless.
Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem are angry mainly with Sweden,
calling it Qthe most sanctimonious and hypocritical capital in
Europe.Q As far as the Israeli Foreign Ministry is concerned, Great
Britain's conduct was also disappointing. QLondon's positions are
disappointing,Q a high-ranking diplomatic official said. QIt is
cooperating with Israel on the Iranian subject, but when it comes to
the Palestinians, it takes a hostile line.

V. QBack to a Confederation -- There Is No Other Choice

Settler leader Emuna Elon wrote in the independent Israel Hayom
(12/6): QJust as there is no one who is indifferent to Gilad
[ShalitQs] fate, there is no one, not even on the most extreme
fringes of the right wing, who wants a binational state. That said,
one doesn't necessarily have to establish a Palestinian state that
is led by Hamas in the center of the Land of Israel, and one doesn't
necessarily have to commit suicide. Contrary to the incessant
brainwashing campaign of fear, it could very well be that
strengthening Jewish settlement in the entire area between the River
Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea could be just what is needed to
make it clear to our enemies that we have returned to our land with
the goal of staying in it -- and by so doing also to provide a
countering force against terrorism and to tempt the Palestinians,
sooner or later, to examine new solutions. The Land of Israel is
probably bi-national by nature and partitioning it by means of any
fence is not going to change that. Arabs will always be here, but
by annexing the Arabs of Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] into
a Jordan-Palestinian confederation and rehabilitating the residents
of the refugee camps, Israel can still maintain its Jewish majority.
Instead of establishing a Palestinian state between the Jordan
River and the Mediterranean Sea, we can establish for ourselves a
safer future.

VI. QThe Silence of the Left

Left-wing contributor Niva Lanir wrote in HaQaretz (12/7): QThe Left
has not survived the Qwar of attritionQ it has waged since 1968.
Its claim that its positions won the day does not hold water. It
doesn't matter who is more left-wing, be it [KadimaQs] Ehud Olmert
or [MeretzQs] Haim Oron or [the Labor PartQs] Yuli Tamir. What
matters is whether there is a decision. And it has yet to be made.
Until there is an agreement stipulating two states for two peoples,
there are no winners. Not the Left, not Israel, and not the
Palestinians. In the meantime, what we have is something that may
yet endure. Maybe it is an examination. Perhaps the removal of
outposts. Maybe a settlement freeze. Perhaps a jumpstart of
settlement construction. Maybe a process. All of these represent a
huge question mark -- which way will Netanyahu and Barak turn at the
crossroads? Toward two states or toward a bi-national state? In
the fourth quarter of the game, the left is floundering on the
sidelines. What a pity that it is not summoning what is left of its
strength in order to call on the Israeli Government and the
Palestinians (yes, also the Palestinians) to return to negotiations.
These are our lives and theirs as well. Does anyone else have a
better option?

------------------------
2. U.S. Foreign Policy:
------------------------

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


QObamaQs March of Folly

Avraham Ben-Zvi, visiting Professor of Political Science at Haifa
University and an expert in U.S.-Israel relations, wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (12/6): QJanuary 20 will mark the
anniversary of ObamaQs swearing-in. As far as the [American]
foreign affairs and defense policy are concerned, a gloomy and
worrisome picture is emerging. Like the modus operandi of a
previous Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, one gets the
impression that Barack Obama also feels at ease with an exclusive
arena -- the domestic one.... For instance, we are witnessing the
complete, painful collapse of the strategy of soft, appeasing talk
against the Iranian threat.... Regarding the war in Afghanistan, it
appears that ObamaQs America has not learned all the lessons of its
involvement in the Vietnamese quagmire or the Iraqi valley of
tears.... A scent of amateurism and lack of sufficient awareness of
the social, political, ideological, tribal, regional, and national
contexts arises from the way Obama handles Afghanistan and other
crisis zones. When this amateurism goes hand in hand with a narrow
technocratic approach that believes in engineered and short-lived
solutions to problems absolutely, in total opposition to the world
of American values -- chances are great that the current march of
folly will lead ObamaQs America straight into the heart of a new
darkness.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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