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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

VZCZCXYZ0038
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2750/01 3551145
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211145Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4663
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0056
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 2968
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 7015
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 7225
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 6465
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 5124
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 7325
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 4082
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2299
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0960
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 8479
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 3491
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 7464
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 9545
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 2285
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 3377
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002750

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

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

1. Mideast

2. Iran

3. Copenhagen Climate Change Summit

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

All media reported that the senior cabinet ministers who constitute
the so-called Qforum of sevenQ are to convene again this morning at
the PMQs Office to continue their discussion on the proposed
prisoner-release deal. The ministers met much of the day yesterday
and until late in the night to discuss the terms of the deal with
Hamas that would see the release of Gilad Shalit in exchange for
hundreds of Palestinians now held in Israeli prisons. HaQaretz
quoted a senior Israeli official as saying: "The purpose of the
meetings is to try and reach understanding within the forum. At
this stage, there is no such understanding." Media reported on a
tie between the members of the Qforum of seven:Q while three --
namely, Labor PartyQs Ehud Barak, ShasQ Eli Yishai, and LikudQs Dan
Meridor -- are in favor of a deal with Hamas, three -- Yisrael
BeiteinuQs Avigdor Lieberman and LikudQs Moshe YaQalon and Benny
Begin -- are opposed to it. The media reported that PM Benjamin
Netanyahu could resolve the draw. The media reported that Netanyahu
is expected to meet with members of the Shalit family, as the forum
renews its discussion this morning. This morning GiladQs mother,
Aviva Shalit, told Israel Radio that their meeting with Netanyahu
has been postponed indefinitely. The radio reported that Netanyahu
is opposed to release to the West Bank terrorists who killed
Israelis "with their own hands."

HaQaretz reported that yesterday right-wing activists began
preparing for a fight against the planned demolition of structures
built in contravention of the 10-month freeze on construction in
West Bank settlements. The media reported that the demolition plans
were described in an internal IDF memo detailing the
intelligence-gathering methods to be used to detect freeze
violations. The memo was leaked to the press on Saturday.
Yesterday The Jerusalem Post reported that IsraelQs relations with
the E.U.Qs new foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton got off to
an inauspicious beginning on Saturday, as she criticized Israel.
Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon was quoted as saying: QJust as the Romans
did not succeed in cutting off Jerusalem from Israel, so, too, will
diplomats from the U.N. and the E.U. be unsuccessful as well.

Yesterday the media reported on the perceived failure of the
Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

The Jerusalem Post reported that in the face of the growing missile
threat against Israel, the IDF Home Front Command and the U.S.
National Guard have decided to exchange liaisons to enable a steady
exchange of information on civil defense.

The media reported that yesterday the head of the Har Bracha
Yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, agreed to sign a document which
clearly bans any political demonstrations within the framework of
the IDF, reversing his previous position on the matter. Nearly 50
hesder yeshiva heads met yesterday at the Or Etzion Yeshiva, to
discuss Defense Minister Ehud Barak's recent decision to remove the
Har Bracha Yeshiva from the hesder arrangement with the army, which
combines Torah study with military service. Barak's decision came
on the heels of Rabbi Melamed's comments in which he openly
supported soldiers refusing to obey IDF orders on the basis of
political and ideological reasons. Following that, Melamed refused
to rescind his controversial statements. The rabbis eventually
agreed to sign a joint statement in which "all hesder yeshiva heads
clearly reject all demonstrations in the IDF, out of a wish to
preserve the unity of the IDF." The rabbis also declared their
appreciation of the Qdefense establishment, the IDF and its
commanders, who are carrying out a holy function in preserving and
defending the State of Israel and its residents." HaQaretz quoted a
source who attended the meeting as saying: QIn the end, all the
rabbis understood that Melamed had gone too far in his incitement
against the defense establishment and, therefore, they forced him to
reverse his position."

Yesterday HaQaretz presented a roundtable discussion involving
former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, former Israeli
Ambassador to the U.S. Professor Itamar Rabinovich, and former
senior Israeli diplomat Oded Eran. The debate revolved around the
United StatesQ policy in the Middle East.

The media reported that yesterday Labor Party ministers prevented
the Ministerial Committee on Legislation from discussing a proposed
amendment to the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom. Forty-four
Knesset members support the proposed legislation. The amendment is
intended to make constitutional the so-called Citizenship Law that
prohibits Palestinians married to Israelis from obtaining
citizenship. Supporters fear that the High Court of Justice, which
is presently hearing four petitions against the controversial
amendment, will declare that it is unconstitutional in its present
format. Knesset Member Nachman Shai (Kadima), one of the sponsors
of the law, announced yesterday he was withdrawing his support after
he learned that passage of the proposal would require amendment of a
Basic Law. The Labor ministers yesterday demanded that the
government find a compromise within the next two weeks that provides
solutions to the wide range of problems arising from the Citizenship
Law as it stands, and to present the compromise in the form of a
government-backed bill.

Over the weekend the media reported that Hamas leaders in Gaza were
behind the arrest warrants for former FM Tzipi Livni and other
senior Israelis in Britain and other countries.

The media wonder what lies behind the apparently friendly visit of
Lebanese PM Saad Hariri to Damascus.


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

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


I. QNetanyahuQs Test

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/21): QA state that
is unable to employ any option -- either a rescue by military
operation or subduing Hamas by military or economic means --
ultimately has no choice but to surrender. Because there is one
option that the Israeli government does not have -- to leave Gilad
Shalit in the captivity of a terror organization forever. Three
years are more than enough.... The key lies with the Prime Minister.
Not because there is a tie between the seven ministers, but because
this is his job.... In the end, what should decide is not advice
given by someone or the assessment of an expert or pressure by the
family in one direction or pressure by the Director of Shin Bet in
the opposite direction. What decides is a gut feeling, an instinct.
For Netanyahu, this is the first leadership test of his present
term. He has to come to grips with everything he preached in the
opposition years, his self image, the books he has written, and the
speeches he has given. I donQt envy him.

II. QA Deal on the Edge

Diplomatic correspondent and television anchor Ben Caspit wrote on
page one of the popular, pluralist Maariv (12/21): Q[Prime Minister
Netanyahu] wants so very much to bring Shalit home and is so very
incapable of paying the price. Just like in the big political
dilemma. He wants so very much to make peace and is so very
incapable of paying the price. That is how life is here,
immeasurably cruel, claiming a heavy price for everything, no free
lunches, and now Benjamin Netanyahu needs to make the enormously
large decisions that he has feared all his life. There is nothing to
envy about him or about us.

III. QThe Conflict Awaits ObamaQs Program

Labor Party Knesset Member Ophir Pines-Paz, a member of the
KnessetQs Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (12/21): QHow do we get the
peace train back on track? How do we restore the hope of peace and
the faith in a partner on the other side? Now more than ever, the
region needs President Barack Obama to initiate a new peace plan.
Such a plan would replace George W. Bush's road map, which can no
longer serve as a basis for renewed talks.... [The plan] should end
in a permanent agreement of two states for two nations within two
years. History will not forgive those who do not take advantage of
the current relative calm -- that has not existed for decades -- to
promote peace and, instead, contributed to a dangerous deterioration
which would sabotage any chance for peace and will lead, God forbid,
to another wave of violence or to diplomatic moves which would
intensify the existing rift. Obama, who recently received the Nobel
Peace Prize, has a golden opportunity to undertake an act of
inspiring leadership which will justify the public's trust and
expectations. Only a new pragmatic peace initiative can save us
from endless treading and time-wasting. Only a new peace program
can bring both sides to the negotiating table, prevent the
resignation of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and stop the destructive
political deadlock. This historical opportunity must not be missed,
as no one knows when another will come our way.

IV. QIt's Always Best To Ask

Columnist and former IDF Intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv (12/20): QI am not among those who
categorically reject a referendum law. Indeed, this is a sensitive
matter, unusual and atypical for the whole of Israel's legislative
practice; however, a decision mandating a change of the country's
borders should be brought for the people's direct approval and not
merely to the coalition and some haphazard majority of Knesset
members.... Israel now and in the future will be forced to make
fateful decisions which could influence its permanent borders.
Unlike in 1967 or 1981, if we are about to construct a judicial
mechanism which will require the direct consent of the people, it
must be ensured that the new law also mandates a referendum
following any intent to annex territory to Israel - just the same,
and no less, than it requires that we do this in the event that we
intend to withdraw from a territory.

V. QThe Great Disconnect

The Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/21): QHas the relative
prosperity of West Bankers made them more inclined to compromise
with Israel? Not really.... Gazans are as grateful to Hamas as West
Bankers are to Fatah for returning normalcy to their lives -- though
Gazans acknowledge they have paid a greater human-rights price for
their calm. From an Israeli viewpoint, the heartbreak is that
despite a massive investment of resources by the E.U. and U.S.,
accompanied by essential Israeli cooperation, the relatively
well-off West Bankers hanker after the imprisoned Barghouti, partly
because he refuses to rule out a third paroxysm of violence. The
core attitudes of West Bankers and comparatively deprived Gazans are
not poles apart, with so many believing that violence pays.
Economic well-being, then, does not obviate political frustration.
Tragically, Palestinian QmoderatesQ are doing precious little to
lessen the dissatisfaction of their people because they have failed
to candidly discuss the compromises necessary to achieve viable
aspirations.

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

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

QBomb and Be Done with It

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-Ha'aretz (12/20): QMany countries have the
capability to threaten Israel or Western countries, but without
motivation, this capability means nothing.... The effort required to
change Iran's motivation has not yet begun. Sweeping sanctions on
gasoline imports into Iran could quiet down for a while those who
seek to acquire the bomb, but they will not effect change in Iran.
They will only help cement the solidarity between the opposition and
the regime. If we assume that Iran is a rational state, then
dialogue between the Islamic Republic and the United States -- not
only on nuclear issues -- is the proper leverage to be used.
Recognizing it as a regional power, not just a QShi'ite Iranian
threat,Q could change its policy. But those who think Iran is crazy
better skip the rhetoric - bomb already and be done with it.


-------------------------------------
3. Copenhagen Climate Change Summit:
-------------------------------------

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

QWho Is Barack Obama?

Columnist Shmuel Rosner, who was HaQaretzQs correspondent in
Washington, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (12/21): QOnce,
[Barack Obama] knew very well how to explain his actions. This
ability has ceased to impress. Obama explained at the Copenhagen
Conference that there is a Qclear formulaQ to rein in global
warning. It may be clear to Obama -- but less so to the rest of the
worldQs leaders. Neither did his speech succeed in swaying the
balance nor in reaching a somewhat significant agreement in this
domain. We have already become accustomed to this pattern: the
President-electQs well-crafted speeches used to be admired; today he
is being treated as a man who can talk but finds it hard to
implement. This is not a good sign -- neither diplomatically nor
politically.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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