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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 091140Z DEC 09
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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.-Israel Relations

3. Afghanistan

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Key stories in the media:
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Major media reported that the QGolan Heights and Jerusalem
Referendum BillQ is expected to return to the Knesset plenum for a
key vote, after a late-night decision Tuesday by the Ministerial
Committee for Legislation ensured coalition support for the
controversial bill. The bill, which would require a majority vote
to approve any withdrawal from East Jerusalem or the Golan - areas
that are under Israeli sovereignty - passed its first reading during
the previous Knesset session and was supposed to be submitted for
its second and third readings on the first day of the winter session
of the last Knesset, but the elections intervened. When the Knesset
reconvened in the spring, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation
voted to revive the bill, but the bill's progress was blocked when
Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor appealed the ministerial
committee's previous decision to support the legislation. Meridor
complained that the law would tie the hands of the government in
future peace negotiations, saying in the appeal that the bill would
"add a harmful and unnecessary burden to Israel, which will be seen
as mounting obstacles against any possible peace agreement." Last
night the committee ruled by a vote of 5-2 to reject Meridor's
appeal.

Leading media reported that yesterday, shortly after European Union
ministers announced their support for the division of Jerusalem
between Israel and a future Palestinian state, the State Department
issued a statement saying that the fate of Jerusalem should only be
determined by Israel and the Palestinians in talks. "Our position
on Jerusalem is clear. United States policy remains unaffected and
unchanged: as has been stated by every previous administration which
addressed this issue, the status of Jerusalem and all other
permanent status issues must be resolved by the parties through
negotiations," the statement read. The Israeli Foreign Ministry
issued an official response to the E.U. statement, saying that the
"European Union ignores the primary obstacle to achieving a
resolution between Israel and the Palestinians: the Palestinian
refusal to return to the negotiating table." "Given the Israeli
government's efforts to renew the negotiations, Israel regrets that
the E.U. has chosen to adopt a text that, although containing
nothing new, does not contribute to the renewal of negotiations,"
the statement continued. "In light of the extreme draft originally
presented by the Swedish presidency at the start of discussions,
Israel does welcome the fact that at the end of the process the
voices of the responsible and reasonable E.U. states prevailed,
balancing and improving the text. We also welcome the recognition
given to the measures and efforts taken by Israel to enable the
resumption of negotiations," it went on to say. "We expect the E.U.
to act to promote direct negotiations between the parties, while
considering Israel's security needs and understanding that Israel's
Jewish character must be preserved in any future agreement,"
concluded the statement. HaQaretz quoted Foreign Ministry
officials as saying unofficially that Sweden, which holds the E.U.'s
rotating presidency, had failed. "The peace process in the Middle
East is not like IKEA furniture," one official was quoted as saying,
making a reference to the do-it-yourself Swedish furniture chain.
"It takes more than a screw and a hammer, it takes a true
understanding of the constraints and sensitivities of both sides,
and in that Sweden failed miserably." The Jerusalem Post cited
Israeli diplomatic officialsQ feeling of relief following the E.U.
statement, although Jerusalem publicly Qtook pains not to claim any
type of victory.Q Meanwhile, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also issued
a statement, saying that he "completely rejects the decision of the
E.U. to support the division of Jerusalem," calling it a real danger
for the future of Jerusalem and predicting that such a division
would never work. HaQaretz reported that Jordanian FM Nasser Judeh,
however, welcomed the E.U. foreign ministers' statement as an
"extremely important attitude."
.
Leading media reported that today a massive right-wing demonstration
against settlement freeze -- sponsored by the Yesha Council of
Jewish Settlements in the Territories -- is expected to take place
outside the PMQs residence in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Post
reported that yesterday Peace Now held a rally outside IDF General
Staff Headquarters, in support of the settlement freeze. Israel
Radio reported that Peace Now presented data produced by the GOIQs
Central Bureau of Statistics that show that even during this period,
construction in settlements is more massive than within the Green
Line.

The Jerusalem Post reported that top U.S. officials pressed Saudi FM
Saud al-Faisal to support Palestinians in holding peace talks with
Israel, during the FMQs visit to the State Department on Monday.

The Jerusalem Post quoted hard-line Likud Knesset Member Benny Begin
as saying that President ObamaQs stance on settlements is more
problematic than that of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

HaQaretz reported that Egypt has begun the construction of a massive
iron wall along its border with Gaza in a bid to shut down smuggling
tunnels into the territory. The newspaper quoted Egyptian sources as
saying that the wall will be nine to ten km. long and will reach
twenty to thirty meters into the ground. It will be impossible to
cut or melt. The new plan is the latest move by Egypt to step up
its counter-smuggling efforts. Although some progress had been
made, the smuggling market in Gaza still flourishes.

The media quoted Khaled Mashal, the head of HamasQ political bureau,
as saying yesterday in Yemen that PM Netanyahu bears responsibility
for the fact that the prisoner swap between the sides has not yet
been carried out. In a different development, The Jerusalem Post
reported that the IDF Home Front Command is preparing for the
possibility that Hamas will fire missiles up to a range of 80 km.
from Gaza in the event of a future conflict with Israel.

In an interview with Israel Radio this morning, FM Avigdor Lieberman
said that he favors the resumption of negotiations with Syria
without preconditions and that his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, will
vote for the QJerusalem-Golan ReferendumQ bill.

Citing the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, The Jerusalem Post reported
that U.S. Jewish and non-Jewish Qpro-peaceQ groups have established
a coalition.

Citing the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, The Jerusalem Post reported
that U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) is the latest to call for
a Justice Department investigation into whether Viva Palestina USA,
a pro-Palestinian group, has been raising money on college campuses
for Hamas.

Channel 10-TV reported last night that Kadima leader Tzipi Livni
agreed to cede to the Palestinians some 92.7% of the West Bank
during negotiations she held as foreign minister with Palestinian
Authority negotiator Ahmed Qurei in 2008. According to a report on
the negotiations Livni conducted from the end of 2007 to the end of
2008, Livni would also have given the Palestinians some 3% of land
in various parts of Israel as compensation for the 7.3% of the West
Bank that Israel would retain. In her plan, the Jordan Valley would
be given up, but Ariel would remain part of Israel, connected to the
Green Line by a thin corridor. While her offer was more generous
than what former Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians
at Camp David in 2000, it fell short of what then-PM Ehud Olmert
offered PA President Mahmoud Abbas in talks he held even as Livni
was negotiating with Qurei. Under Olmert's plan, the Palestinians
would receive 94.5% of the territory. According to the Channel
10-TV report, the Palestinians put forth a proposal of their own,
under which they would receive 98.1% of the territory.

HaQaretz and other media quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel
Ayalon as saying that Turkish forces have prevented a Hizbullah
attack on an undisclosed Israeli target in their country. In a
meeting with Turkish journalists, Ayalon thanked Turkey earlier this
week for the successful operation and the bilateral cooperation.
According to defense sources, the attack was meant to avenge the
killing of senior Hizbullah operative Imad Mughniyah -- who died in
a car bombing in Damascus in February 2008. The organization sees
Israel as responsible for the assassination. The planned attack in
Turkey was exposed over a month ago, with Turkish media publishing a
warning issued by the local police's senior command to its officers
to take steps to prevent a Hizbullah attack on American and Israeli
targets. Turkish reports said Hizbullah had set up a network of
Iranian agents posing as tourists in Istanbul, with the cooperation
of Iranian security agencies.

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

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


I. QOne Chain of Command

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (12/9): QIt
appears Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi lost his
patience this week after the incitement by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed,
the head of the Har Bracha hesder yeshiva. Ashkenazi took the
uncharacteristic step of recommending to Defense Minister Ehud Barak
that the yeshiva be removed from the hesder arrangement, in which
religious studies are combined with military service. Ashkenazi is
right. Melamed permits himself to excoriate the IDF, both orally
and in writing, to dismiss the authority of its commanders and to
call on his students to disobey orders. The Defense Minister is
loath to take the Chief of Staff's advice.... That is a mistake.
The government must not give in to those who do not accept its
authority, particularly if certain rabbis threaten that their
students will not enlist in the army. The more the state ignores
the incitement in the hesder yeshivas, the more it allows it to
grow.... About two weeks ago, at the annual memorial for David and
Paula Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there is no
place for refusal, there are no ideological factions in the IDF,s
and there is a single chain of command. The Chief of Staff's
recommendation puts that declaration to the test.

II. QA Story Foretold

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin, opined in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (12/9): QSomeone in Jerusalem or Washington has
decided to make the [Jewish] residents of Judea and Samaria [i.e.
the West Bank] crazy, pinch their nerves, and -- perhaps -- break
them.... If, in a future agreement with the Palestinians, the sides
jointly decide to evacuate settlements in Judea and Samaria, Israel
has already proved -- not long ago -- that it can carry out an
evacuation in a matter of one to three days. If it is ordained
(some will add: God forbid) that one of the settlements should be
sacrificed on the altar of peace, we should treat this as a
temporary grief ... that should not wrack the settlersQ nerves.
Looking at the wasted energies on both sides is ridiculous -- one
more trailer, one more wall, one more porch. Enough! IsnQt there
anything else to do?

III. QTalk WonQt Help

Liberal columnist Gideon Samet, who was Consul-General in
Philadelphia, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (12/9):
QYesterday the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union
was about to call for the recognition of Palestine in the Q67
borders and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the new entity
The United States will not be able to prevent the transformation [of
the European initiative] into an international fact, even it vetoes
such a resolution proposal at the Security Council. Washington lost
much of its leadership ability following shuttle diplomacy that
ended in a whimper Q a temporary settlement freeze. The new reality
is not a recent phenomenon. It results from a flawed or
intentionally obstructive management of the negotiating instruments
by Israelis and Palestinians for too long -- and also by the
Americans, despite routine calls to Qgo back on track.

IV. QThe Swedish Initiative as Metaphor

Yossi Alpher, coeditor of the bitterlemons family of Internet
publications and former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic
Studies at Tel Aviv University, wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (12/9): QWhat does Netanyahu expect?
Basically, the [Swedish] proposal [on Jerusalem] reiterated known
European and international positions. And Israel's recent behavior
in Jerusalem -- the disastrous house expulsions in Sheikh Jarrah,
excavations at Silwan/City of David and expansion into disputed
territory at Gilo -- essentially invites a reprimand. Still, there
is little likelihood of real European pressure on Israel. The E.U.
has limited clout as a diplomatic player in the Arab-Israel
conflict. Conceivably, that situation may soon change, with the
advent of an E.U. president and foreign minister. But for the
moment, we simply don't know to what extent this new system will
enable the union of 27 European states to better formulate and
implement a foreign policy. Meanwhile, we recall that last July,
outgoing E.U. foreign policy coordinator Javier Solana proposed that
the U.N. plan unilaterally to create and recognize a Palestinian
state -- seemingly a much more far-reaching initiative -- without
generating more than an international yawn.

V. QSuspend Your Zionism

Settler leader Yisrael Medad wrote in The Jerusalem Post (12/9):
QWhile I can comprehend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's concern
for what he considers more primary national interests than keeping
his electoral platform promises to those who voted for him regarding
the continuation of the Jewish return to the national homeland, his
recent decisions are quite incomprehensible. To think that even the
opposition leader, Kadima chairwoman Knesset Member Tzipi Livni, can
justifiably criticize him from a right-wing perspective says much
about Netanyahu's policies.... In essence, Netanyahu's government is
inadequately dealing with the internal-social front, the economic
front, and the diplomatic-security front. Our Prime Minister is
asking us to suspend our Zionism, suspend our natural logic, and
suspend our economic personal freedoms for quirky political behavior
that will last 10 months -- after which all will revert to normal:
normal growth, normal development, normal security. This is truly a
matter of suspended belief.

--------------------------
2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

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

QBirds of a Feather

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning HaQaretz (12/9): QWhen the two leaders met in Jerusalem
during Obama's presidential campaign, he told Netanyahu that people
saw them as strongly ideological, but they were in fact both
pragmatists. He was right. Despite all the disagreement and public
tension between then, Netanyahu and Obama are alike in terms of
their leadership styles.... But the big question remains: what will
Netanyahu do when push comes to shove on going to war against Iran?
Will he avoid taking action and explain that the Qnational interest
requires him to sit tight, or will he lead like Obama -- who
captivated with his statements about the QgoodQ war in Afghanistan
-- and embark on a military adventure to make good on his promise
Qto prevent a second Holocaust?Q The like-minded leader in the Oval
Office can be an example in both directions.

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3. Afghanistan:
----------------

Block Quotes:
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QChinese (Indian, and Russian) Wisdom

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/9): QOne cannot
ignore ChinaQs interest in the stability of its neighbors.
Afghanistan is part of western ChinaQs vital security.... ChinaQs
diplomatic recipe is the golden path -- the United States had better
focus on it. Resolving the Kashmir conflict is the key to stability
in Afghanistan, which will cease being the playground of India and
Pakistan. Instead of insisting on useless war games, the Americans
should lever their influence in India and Pakistan in order to
return them to peace negotiations. Beyond increasing the number of
troops, President Obama should strive for a comprehensive agreement
in Afghanistan. This would mean enlisting the neighboring countries
to promote a national reconciliation agreement that would include
all parties: the government, the Taliban, and the war barons.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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