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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2738/01 3521130
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181130Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002738

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
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JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

SIPDIS
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Iran

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

The media reported that DM Ehud Barak steadfastly expresses his
determination to carry out the 10-month moratorium on settlement
construction and that he will not recant his opposition to IDF
soldiersQ refusal to serve. Israel Hayom and other media quoted
rabbis supervising the hesder yeshivas (which combine religious
studies with military service) as saying that loyalty to God comes
before loyalty to the army. However Yediot reported on a group of
more moderate rabbis, expressing a differing opinion. The Jerusalem
Post reported that infighting among yeshiva heads may tear apart the
hesder framework.

HaQaretz reported that it is possible that years ago -- until 2004
-- the problem of Iran's nuclear project could have been solved by
one tough blow and with relatively minimal risk. At that time, the
project was dependent on one facility: the uranium conversion plant
in Isfahan. If it had been bombed, Iran would have lost large
quantities of raw material for uranium enrichment and its nuclear
program would have been set back years. But nothing happened and the
Iranians went ahead and dispersed their facilities and materials
into fortified bunkers that would be far more difficult to hit.
Iran has also, in the meantime, reinforced its response capabilities
to an attack. HaQaretz reported that when Benjamin Netanyahu was
finance minister in Ariel Sharon's cabinet, he urged Sharon to focus
on the struggle against Iran. When Netanyahu resigned over the
disengagement plan and Sharon left Likud and established Kadima,
Netanyahu told Sharon that if he acted against Iran before the
election, Netanyahu would support him. Sharon did not act.

Israel Radio quoted FM Avigdor Lieberman as saying yesterday that
Israel did all it can for Fatah, including allowing it to hold its
congress in Bethlehem, but that it will make no more gestures to the
Palestinians.
Yediot quoted Israeli diplomatic sources as saying that over the
past couple of days Syrian President Hafez Assad conveyed to
Netanyahu a message on renewing negotiations with American mediation
-- proposing a withdrawal to Q67 lines in exchange for
normalization, but without severing links with Iran. Israel Radio
reported that Frederick Hoff, assistant to Special U.S. Envoy to
Middle East Peace met yesterday in Damascus with Syrian FM Walid
Muallem and discussed with him ways of renewing the peace process
between Israel and Syria. This was reported by the Lebanese
newspaper As-Safir. According to the report, Washington is
interested in renewing the activity in this track. Meanwhile,
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed surprise at PM
Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to renew the Turkish mediation and [his
preference] to give France the role of mediator between Israel and
Turkey. In an interview to the Syrian media, Erdogan said that it
was not important whom Netanyahu would choose as a mediator, but
rather what Syria would say. He reiterated that Ankara was willing
to resume its mediation between the countries, but it did not make
sense for Turkey to mediate if one of the sides was not interested
in this. The Turkish PM said that it did not seem likely that
indirect talks between Syria and Israel would be renewed at the
present stage.

Leading media quoted the London-based Arab newspaper A-Sharq Al
Awsat as saying yesterday that Hamas is leaning toward accepting
Israel's latest offer on a deal for the release of Gilad Shalit,
although it does not include the release of major Palestinian
terrorists. According to the paper, there is still disagreement
within Hamas between those who support accepting the Israeli offer
and those who insist on holding out for the release of all major
terrorists. HaQaretz reported that Palestinian sources have told
the newspaper that Hamas leadership abroad and the group's military
wing in Gaza are leading opposition to the deal, while the Hamas
leadership in Gaza and in the prisons support it. The report also
said that the senior terrorists in question have told the Hamas
leadership that if they are not released in this deal they will
remain in prison for life. These include Abbas Sayad, planner of
the Park Hotel Passover suicide bombing, and Issa Barghouti and
Abdullah Barghouti, commanders of the Hamas military wing in the
West Bank.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli officials as saying yesterday that
the U.K. failed Israel on arrests, while Israel did its part in the
case of filmmaker James Miller, who was allegedly killed by an IDF
soldier.

The media stressed the importance of the visit of world leaders,
principally President Obama, to the U.N. Climate Change Conference
in Copenhagen, in order to rescue it. Leading media reported that
President Shimon Peres told the conference that Israel will reduce
its greenhouse gas emissions growth by 20%.

Israel Radio quoted the London-based Al-Hayat as saying that
Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman will come to Israel
tomorrow to discuss the resumption of the peace process. The radio
reported that Egypt favors a total settlement freeze.

Israel Radio quoted U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East
Peace Process Robert Serry as saying that Israel has still not met
its Roadmap commitments, despite the temporary construction freeze.
However, he called upon the Palestinians to renew negotiations with
Israel. In his monthly briefing last night at the Security Council,
Serry said that the smuggling of arms and terrorists to Gaza was
continuing. He warned that the situation in Gaza was continuing to
deteriorate, and called upon Israel to permit the rehabilitation of
areas that remained in ruins after the IDF operation.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe headlined an interview with Jerusalem Mayor Nir
Barkat: QAmerica WonQt Tell Him Where to Demolish or Build.

HaQaretz reported that the ministerial committee on legislation is
to vote Sunday on an amendment proposed by Knesset Member David
Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) to the Basic Law on Human Dignity and
Freedom, intended to bring it into line with the controversial
Citizenship and Entry to Israel Law. Rotem believes the Knesset
must keep the High Court of Justice from annulling a controversial
law that denies citizenship to Palestinians married to Israelis.
Rotem, who is chairman of the KnessetQs Constitution, Law and
Justice Committee, has garnered 44 Knesset members to submit the
bill with him.

HaQaretz reported that President Shimon Peres is due to meet Turkish
President Abdullah Gul today at the Copenhagen summit. Media quoted
DM Ehud Barak as saying yesterday that he will make an official
visit to Turkey next month and meet with Turkish DM Vecdu Gonul.
These are the first meetings with Turkish officials since a crisis
erupted between the two countries after the Israeli offensive in
Gaza nearly a year ago. Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, the Turkish envoy to
Israel, met with Barak yesterday and invited him for an official
visit.

Israel Radio reported that Itamar Ben Gvir, assistant to Knesset
Member Michael Ben-Ari, and right wing figure Baruch Marzel, are
demanding that the Bank of Israel back down from its intention to
issue banknotes bearing the portrait of the late PM Yitzhak Rabin.
They are quoted as saying that Rabin was a controversial figure, who
was responsible for the disasters that overtook Israel, as they put
it.

Electronic media reported that this morning unknown people
vandalized and removed the infamous German sign QArbeit macht frei
(work will set you free) from the gate of the former Auschwitz death
camp in Poland. Media quoted Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli
Edelstein (Likud) as saying that the theft is a "critical failure of
the Polish police." Edelstein also said that "we are in a period in
which anti-Semitic acts are on the rise and there is a tangible fear
for the safety of Diaspora Jews." Media quoted Yossi Levy, the
Foreign Ministry's spokesman for the Hebrew press, as saying: "It's
hard to imagine what kind twisted (person) would want to steal this
terrible symbol at the entrance to the death camp." Polish
Ambassador to Israel Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska told Israel Radio
that this act is not anti-Semitic, but represents the denial of the
Holocaust as a whole.

HaQaretz noted that the children of a U.S. pilot stationed in Iraq
lit a Hanukkah candle in the White House yesterday.


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

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

I. QA Basis for Talks

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (12/18):
QNetanyahu's demand to renew the negotiations Qwithout prior

conditions,Q his refraining from officially accepting the Roadmap,
and ignoring his predecessors' proposals belie his repeated calls to
Abbas to show courage and return to the negotiations. Peace
proposals that were officially conveyed to the other side and the
American mediators, Netanyahu knows, have not really been taken off
the table. Instead of wasting time on futile arguments he must show
the same courage he is demanding of Abbas and continue the
negotiations from the point where they were cut off last year.
Israel's growing international isolation should remind Netanyahu
that there is a price for foot-dragging in affairs of state and spur
him to end the conflict as soon as possible and implement the
two-state solution. That is his mission.

II. QStep by Step

Diplomatic correspondent and television anchor Ben Caspit wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv (12/18): QThe year is ending and
nothing has happened -- a cul-de-sac. Remember ObamaQs vision for a
quick agreement? The grandiose plan that we all reported with such
enthusiasm, an agreement within a year or two: a historic speech in
Cairo, followed by a map that would be imposed upon the sides -- and
peace upon Israel. All this is up in smoke. There are no
negotiations and no signs of negotiations. The Americans are
helpless. To their credit, they have understood how arrogant and
unwise they were. The question is what we do now. How do we get
out of this?.... On one hand an Israeli government freezes
settlements like no other one has done before; on the other hand a
Palestinian leader who doesnQt want and cannot talk to it.
Whichever way you look at it, you arrive at an interim solution --
something like the Mofaz plan, which is in fact the Peres plan,
which actually is the Barak plan.... Even the Prime Minister is
standing behind the plan -Q standing and shivering. He will never
sign it or be affiliated with it but he knows that if it comes from
Washington he will be there to accept it.... IsraelQs standing in
the world has never been this bad.... Netanyahu sees these things
and understands them. This is why a proposal for an interim
agreement could work for him under certain conditions. Up till now,
the Americans have vigorously opposed it.... [But] the picture has
been changing in recent weeks. The Americans understand that the
Palestinians will oppose anything. Since the Israelis are also
opposed to a final settlement, it is better to go for the Qsmall
option and bring the Palestinians there for better or for worse....
Dennis Ross is already checking [the plan].... The only condition is
that is comes ... from Washington, not Jerusalem, which will make it
much more difficult for the Palestinians to reject.... Netanyahu
will accept an arrangement -- even a temporary one -- and get a
historic spike in international public opinion.

III. QWanted: Wisdom

Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (12/18): QOur tragedy will be if stubborn
bloody-mindedness forces a cataclysmic schism where good sense and
tolerance could have prevented it. The ancient history of Jewish
sovereignty in this region is a bitter saga of internal intolerance
dividing and then destroying the capacity of our people to govern
themselves. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Gaza pullout, the
modern lesson of disengagement is that a responsible awareness of
the greater good can reconcile even viewpoints that may seem to be
utterly conflicted. Where the destiny of Judea and Samaria [i.e.
the West Bank, with emphasis on the settler movement] is concerned,
and for the sake of Israel, there are lessons that simply must be
internalized.

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

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


I. QA Time to Sanction?

Washington correspondent Hilary Leila Krieger wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (12/18): QThis week the
U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation
limiting IranQs access to refined petroleum by a lopsided vote of
412-12. But while it might be the season to be merry, supporters of
stricter sanctions against Iran shouldnQt uncork the champagne
bottles just yet. The House also passed sanctions legislation last
Congress -- an even more comprehensive bill sponsored by the late
Tom Lantos -- but the measure never made it through the Senate, let
alone to the PresidentQs desk. In fact, recent years have seen many
bills, some forward progress, but ultimately failure. The question
is whether the new year will finally bring a new law. Of course,
even if thereQs a change in the congressional course and sanctions
are passed after years of trying, it still doesnQt mean thereQll be
change where itQs most important -- in the Iranian regimeQs
behavior.

II. QLetQs Hear Other Voices about Iran

Uri Bar-Yosef, a member of the International Relations Department at
the University of Haifa, wrote in the independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (12/18): QThe theoretical question arises -- what is
preferable, a regional balance of fear or removing the
nonconventional capability of all countries in the region (including
Israel)? [In the public Israeli discourse] the bombing of the Iraqi
nuclear facility was a story of success and salvation.... Did the
Begin Doctrine prove itself? Is the best way to deal with the
Iranian initiative something similar to that doctrine? What might
be the ramifications of an Israeli attempt to destroy the Iranian
project with regard to Iran's ability to achieve nuclear weapons and
its readiness to use them when it gets them?.... [Officially]
military superiority is a condition for deterring a nuclear Iran....
Theoretically the opposite is also true. Since the capability of a
second strike, which foreign publications attribute to Israel,
contributes to nuclear stability, and since Israel supposedly has
such a capability, the Israeli interest must be that Iran also has
such a capability. Therefore, no matter how absurd it sounds, the
most reasonable thing Israel could do with the submarines Germany is
building for it -- and which, according to foreign reports, are to
serve as platforms for a second strike -- is to deliver them to Iran
so that, like their counterparts already in service in Israel (as
foreign sources report), they will calm Iran's fears about losing
its nuclear capability after a surprise Israeli attack. This will
contribute to stability. This logic, of course, is totally contrary
to the accepted military logic that Israeli officers and shapers of
Israeli policy are used to. That's why the subject must be opened
to a public debate in which other voices can be heard.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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