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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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HQ USAF FOR XOXX
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PARIS ALSO FOR POL
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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. President ObamaQs Nobel Speech

2. Mideast

-------------------------
Key stories in the media:
-------------------------

Israel Hayom bannered President ObamaQs statement in his Nobel Prize
acceptance speech in Oslo yesterday endorsing the concept of Qjust
war.Q Yediot headlined: QPeace and War Nobel.Q Maariv wrote that
Obama is Qfighting for peace.Q Makor Rishon-Hatzofe bannered:
QObama in Oslo: QWar Is Sometimes Necessary.

The Jerusalem Post cited the results of a survey released on
Thursday and conducted by the progressive New America Foundation
that Jewish Israelis are nearly evenly split in their attitudes
toward President Obama, with 40% viewing him favorably and 39%
viewing him unfavorably. Pollster Jim Gerstein pointed out that
some have incorrectly characterized the results of an August
Jerusalem Post poll as a 4% Qapproval ratingQ for the President.
The New America Foundation poll found that the general Israeli
public, by a 65 to 31 margin, believes that the U.S. is the only
powerful country that Israel can count on in the world today, and
that majorities fear the loss of American support in the event that
Israel rejects a U.S.-sponsored peace plan.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the U.S. was not apprised in
advance of plans to place dozens of settlements in the revised
national priorities map that will be brought to the cabinet on
Sunday, but it has been assured that the incentives to be given in
these areas will have nothing to do with housing or construction.
The Jerusalem Post quoted senior officials in the Prime Minister's
Office as saying that conversations had been held yesterday with
Washington on the matter, and it had been explained that the
national priorities map was one that took in scores of communities
from around the country, and that the settlements would not be
eligible for any assistance having to do with housing. The U.S. was
also told that this was in no way an attempt to roll back the
10-month moratorium on housing starts. Similarly, The Jerusalem
Post quoted senior government officials as saying yesterday that the
establishment of a committee led by Likud Minister Benny Begin and
DM Ehud Barak to take a look at how the moratorium was being
implemented was not an attempt to roll back the moratorium.
According to the officials, the implementation order in the
government's decision to stop new housing is much stricter than the
decision itself, and the committee is now trying to correct the
difference, which may even entail rewriting the original order to
bring it more into line with security cabinet decision. Despite
these assurances, however, major media quoted Begin, who voted in
favor of the 10-month construction moratorium, as saying yesterday
that even with the stop-work orders, "construction continues and
will continue for the next 10 months." Making his comments at a
gathering in Tel Aviv, Begin said that the government had not
decided on a construction freeze in the customary meaning of the
term. Rather, "if we are seeking to clarify the conditions ... we
are not planning on freezing life in Judea and Samaria [i.e. the
West Bank]." Furthermore, Begin said, "we are not discriminating
between isolated settlements and those considered to be within the
parameters of the agreement. Had we agreed to such a distinction, we
would be, in essence, setting the borders before the start of
negotiations." Begin went on to say that in the next 10 months, the
population of Judea and Samaria would grow by more than 10,000
people.

HaQaretz and other media reported that all Labor Party ministers are
expected to vote against a proposed revision of the country's
national priority zones at Sunday's cabinet meeting. The ministers
are objecting to the fact that the new map confers national priority
status on several isolated settlements. Designation as a national
priority zone entitles a town to various economic benefits. Several
Labor ministers were quoted as saying that even party chairman and
DM Ehud Barak would not be able to vote for the map in its current
form.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the current sense in Jerusalem is
that the U.S. is scaling down its intensive involvement in the
diplomatic process. The newspaper cited the feeling n Jerusalem is
that Washington believed that PM Benjamin NetanyahuQs moratorium
would somewhat move the process along, and that when the
Palestinians failed to respond positively to the move, the U.S.
decided to sit back and see how things would play out.

Israel Radio reported that the international newspaper Al Hayat
quoted senior Hamas members as saying that the prisoner swap with
Israel will not take place, following IsraelQs refusal to release
100 male and female Palestinian prisoners.

The electronic media reported that last night unknown persons set
fire to the second floor of a mosque in the West Bank village of
Yasuf, leaving the Hebrew inscription: QPrepare for the price-tag.
Israel Radio cited the policeQs uncertainty as to whether the
suspected perpetrators were settlers, but quoted Palestinian
security staff as saying that residents of the radical settlement of
Tapuah were behind the crime.

Israel Radio reported that the mayor of Ghajar, a village that will
possibly move from Israeli to Lebanese control, refuses to let
UNIFIL officials into his village. The Mayor claims that the
village belongs to Syria, not Lebanon. The radio also reported on a
demonstration by the village residents.

HaQaretz quoted Syrian FM Farouk Shara as saying at the BaQath
convention that all Israeli PMs since 1991 have agreed to leave the
Golan. HaQaretz (English Ed.) quoted Turkish journalists visiting
Israel this week as saying they were "confused" by conflicting
statements they heard here from senior politicians (PM Netanyahu and
Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon are named) regarding Turkey's role as peace
broker between Israel and Syria.

The Jerusalem Post quoted senior Israeli defense officials as saying
yesterday that EgyptQs metal wall will not be deep enough to block
smuggling tunnels.

Maariv reported that DM Barak wants to decrease funding for hesder
yeshivas (which combine military service with religious studies).

The media cited the anger of the municipalities of Ashkelon and
MaQaleh Adumim for having been excluded from the national priorities
map. Media reported that the government may revise its decision on
the matter.

HaQaretz reported that this week the IDF carried out two extensive
drills simulating war and national emergency situations.

HaQaretz reported that Shin Bet is looking for new immigrants from
Iran to offset the Islamic RepublicQs efforts to entice Israelis
back to Iran or blackmail them into spying for Tehran.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the IDF has concluded that 30 out
of 36 Qmost seriousQ cases of alleged war crimes as cited by Judge
Richard Goldstone in his QdamningQ report on Operation Cast Lead are
Qbaseless accusations.

Leading media cited IsraelQs anger over a British government advice
to retailers and importers to single out imports from settlements.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a 21-member mission of U.S. Latino
leaders made a six-day visit of Israel under the auspices of the
Anti-Defamation League.

Leading media reported that Israel is in the process of receiving a
new generation of Hercules C-130 transport aircraft from the U.S.

Shuki Oren, the Israeli TreasuryQs Accountant General, was quoted as
saying in an interview with Maariv that he fears for the strength of
the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange amid the IsraelisQ indifference to the
state of their economy.

-----------------------------------
1. President ObamaQs Nobel Speech:
-----------------------------------

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


I. QThe President Starts to Understand

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 (12/11): QAfter almost a year of continued
frustration and failure in diplomatic efforts to bring Iran and
North Korea into the world order, yesterday the U.S. President
outlined a more sobered-up, illusion-less vision . Compared to the
three key speeches permeated with moderation and hope that he
delivered over the past year -- the acceptance speech in Chicago,
his swearing-in address, and mostly the Cairo speech -- the Oslo
speech was largely characterized by diplomatic realism and
willingness (which didnQt find an expression in the Cairo speech) to
confront by force the challenges and the threats on his course....
Not only did he state in his speech that war as a social phenomenon
was and will remain a permanent component of the international
experience, but he also said that the use of force -- or the
forceful and uncompromising policy of force against the Iranian and
North Korean nuclear threat is an unavoidable necessity. Thus, the

U.S. PresidentQs thinking has gone a long way since he entered the
White House. There is great irony in the fact that he is receiving
the prestigious prize around a week after deciding on the expansion
of American military in Afghanistan. International reality is
indeed stronger than any dream or wish.

II. QQJust WarQ Is Back

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized
(12/11): QIt has been a long time since we last heard the notion of
Qjust war.Q Representatives of the enlightened world, led by the
Scandinavians, absolutely object to waging war. This is not an
option and Obama destroyed their claims [in his Nobel speech]....
Regarding the limited Israeli-Palestinian domain, Obama said in a
relevant sentence: QLet us focus on a more practical, more
attainable peace.Q He was quoting the late President John Kennedy
and did not actually mean Israel and the Palestinians. However, in
principle, this conception can suit us and serve as a platform for
all sides. Time will tell whether he will recognize over the next
year the need to act in Iran in a Qjust war.

------------
2. Mideast:
------------

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


I. QFalse Altars

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/11):
QThursday's main headline in The Jerusalem Post captured some of the
best news of the week: QThousands rally peaceably against building
freeze.Q Some 30,000 demonstrators, many of them young people,
turned out on a chilly evening near the Prime Minister's residence
in Jerusalem to protest the security cabinet's November 25
moratorium on new settlement construction. The assembly was a
celebration of democracy. There was neither incitement nor
violence. It could easily have been otherwise.... The establishment
of the state means that competing centers of authority cannot be
tolerated. There can be no false altars. Settler leaders are being
disingenuous if they think they can turn to the High Court of
Justice, appeal to public opinion, and lobby members of Knesset yet
retain the QrightQ to violently confront the state if they don't get
their way. While insisting settlers work within the law, we are not
oblivious to the often dysfunctional nature of Israel's political
system or the possibility of individual corruption. That is why we
support Wednesday's Knesset vote to expedite legislative
consideration of a bill that would require a national referendum
prior to any withdrawals from the Golan Heights or East Jerusalem.
Consideration might be given to a similar requirement for
substantial withdrawals in Judea and Samaria as well. In this way,
decisions about Israel's permanent borders would benefit from the
unassailable legitimacy of the body politic. For now, however, the
security cabinet's settlement freeze decision deserves the absolute
allegiance of the governed.

II. QSyria or the Palestinians?

Senior columnist and longtime peace advocate Yoel Marcus wrote in
the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/11): QLike the cherry
trees in Washington that bloom every year for just a few days, the
subject of an agreement with Syria has bloomed annually for decades
now, like a balloon that stays inflated for a few days until the air
escapes. First we were dealing with Hafez Assad. Once he sat with
Henry Kissinger for hours, arranging the seating at the first peace
conference in Geneva, and when they parted, after Kissinger nearly
burst his bladder, Assad informed him that Syria would not
participate. Another time Assad went to Geneva and surprised Bill
Clinton with a personal announcement that he was no longer
interested in negotiating with Israel. Every time the talks with
the Palestinians reach a stalemate our leaders remember that we have
to reach an agreement with Syria. Now the initiator is Bashar
Assad, the son. We are receiving direct messages from Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The price is known and has not changed. And there is a plethora of
proposals for possible long-term arrangements. But there is nothing
so simple that Israel cannot make complicated. Now there is a
proposal for a referendum. In real democracies there are no
referendums and it is important that a golem of this kind not
replace the cabinet and the Knesset.

III. QTurn Left Right Here

Political parties correspondent Yossi Verter wrote in Ha'aretz
(12/11): Q[NetanyahuQs] left hand signs construction-freeze orders
for the settlers, and his right hand votes for the law granting
amnesty to the rioters of summer 2005. His left hand is
outstretched to President Bashar Assad of Syria in a gesture of
peace -- he said he was pleased to hear from French President
Nicolas Sarkozy that Assad is ready to resume negotiations without
preconditions -- and his right hand supports, even before such
negotiations have begun, a bill that would oblige a national
referendum on a withdrawal from the Golan Heights. His left hand is
indicating to the whole world that this time he is serious about
leading the country to a peace agreement with the Palestinians,
something that would entail evacuating all the isolated settlements,
and his right hand categorizes all those settlements as lying within
national priority areas, meaning more money for growth. After the
Netanyahu government's wobbly start in the Knesset, the opposition
melted away. The government passes whatever legislation it wants.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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