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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #2779/01 3571106
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231106Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4710
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEADWD/DA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0069
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 2981
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 7034
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 7241
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 6478
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 5143
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 7338
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 4095
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2317
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0973
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 8492
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 3504
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 7477
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 9563
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 2298
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 3392
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002779

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

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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1. Mideast

2. Iran

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Key stories in the media:
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TodayQs newspapers continue to closely follow the latest
developments in the talks on the prisoner exchange deal for the
release of Gilad Shalit. Israel is said to have conveyed its latest
offer to Hamas through the German mediator and is now awaiting
HamasQs response. Reports in both HaQaretz and Maariv say that
Israel is demanding that at least 100 prisoners (Maariv cites 120,
while HaQaretz puts the figure at 100-130) of those slated for
release not be freed to the West Bank, but rather be expelled to the
Gaza Strip or sent abroad. The current assessments are that it will
take at least until the end of December or mid-January to finalize
the deal. Hamas sources said that their organization had given all
it was capable of giving and would make no further concessions. A
report in Fox News said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did
not want the Shalit deal to be carried out and was raising various
demands so that the rejection of the deal would come from Hamas.
The Prime MinisterQs Bureau denied this report, saying that there
was a sincere desire to reach a Qresponsible deal that will
guarantee the security of IsraelQs citizens and prevent Israelis
from being murdered.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe and other media quoted PM Ehud Barak as saying
yesterday at a meeting with students in Rishon Lezion that the U.S.
must prepare for a military option vis-a-vis Iran.

Leading media quoted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as saying
in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he would not let a
third Intifada break out.

Leading media quoted Egyptian FM Ahmed Abu al-Gheit as saying that
his countryQs building of a barrier along the border with Gaza is
meant to defend Qagainst threats to national security.

Media quoted FM Avigdor Lieberman as saying yesterday, during a
congress in the Knesset, that Israeli Arabs are striving to achieve
an autonomous status. Israeli Arab Knesset members called him a
Qracist.

Yediot and Maariv report this morning that Prime Minister Netanyahu
and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have been engaged in talks over the
past few days aimed at effecting a split in Kadima, in conjunction
with the intensive discussions in the Qforum of sevenQ ministers on
the Shalit deal. The idea appears to be to persuade at least seven
Kadima MKs to break off from their party, in order to bolster the
governing coalition. The potential defectors, including such
figures as Shai Hermesh, Ronit Tirosh and Israel Hasson, were
reportedly offered positions as ministers and deputy ministers.
Kadima sources criticized the prime minister for dealing with
political affairs at such a sensitive time and called his actions
shameful.

Maariv reported that yesterday a Haifa square was named after the
late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Egyptian Ambassador to Israel
Yasser Reda and Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav attended the ceremony.

The Jerusalem Post quoted 16 British NGOs as saying that the E.U.
should publicly confirm a freeze in upgraded relations with Israel.

Maariv quoted Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer as saying in
an interview with The Economist that peace is the key to swift
growth.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger saying
yesterday that Pope Benedict XVIQs decision to proceed with the
beatification of Pius XII would make it difficult to continue with
Catholic-Jewish interfaith dialogue. Nevertheless, Metzger made it
clear the Chief Rabbinate would not cut off relations with the
Vatican.

Israel Hayom published the findings of a poll conducted between
December 9 and 15 by the Harry S. Truman Institute for the
Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the
Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah:
- Fifty-two (52%) percent of the Israeli public are willing to pay
any price for the return of prisoners;
- On the other hand, thirty-five (35%) percent believe that
terrorists who perpetrated attacks in which Israelis were killed
should not be released because this might encourage more kidnappings
and terror attacks;
- Fifty-eight (58%) percent support the release of Arab citizens of
Israel who engaged in terrorist activity in exchange for Gilad
Shalit, while 36% are opposed.
- Regarding the decision of PM Netanyahu to freeze construction in
the West Bank for ten months, forty-nine (49%) percent of Israelis
are in favor, while forty-two (42%) percent are opposed to the
measure.

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

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

I. QThe Paradox of Captivity

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in the independent,
left-leaning HaQaretz (12/23): QWhat is more important for Israel's
security? Bombing a nuclear reactor or bringing home a single
soldier being held prisoner? Going to war or the future address of
Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for a prisoner? Setting
the borders of the state or the imprisonment of senior terrorists?
The theoretical answer is clear: Decisions about war and peace are
more important than the exchange of prisoners. But in reality the
attitude is precisely the opposite. It is much easier for a prime
minister to divide Jerusalem or destroy Beirut than agree to the
release of 10 serious Palestinian terrorists to the West Bank in
exchange for the return of Gilad Shalit from Gaza.... The
negotiations moved quickly so long as they were about numbers and
stalled when they moved on to names. The politicians yearn to
establish principles for such exchange deals in order to free
themselves from personal dilemmas and move the discussion back from
names and faces to more abstract terms. This will not do them any
good: Even after the current deal is completed and Gilad Shalit is
back home this debate will repeat itself if another Israeli is taken
prisoner. Then, too, public opinion and the prime minister will be
occupied much more with [the prisonerQs] return than with the
fundamental strategic issues.

II. QDanger: Popular Struggle

Far-left Palestinian affairs correspondent Amira Hass wrote in
Ha'aretz (12/23): QThe popular struggle, even if it is limited,
shows that the Palestinian public is learning from its past mistakes
and from the use of arms and is offering alternatives that even
senior officials in the Palestinian Authority have been forced to
support - at least on the level of public statements.... The brutal
repression of the first intifada and the suppression of the first
unarmed demonstrations of the second intifada with live fire have
proved to Palestinians that the Israelis do not listen. The
repression left a vacuum that was filled by those who sanctified the
use of arms. Is that what the security establishment and its
political superiors are trying to achieve today, too, in order to
relieve us of the burden of a popular uprising?

III. QLearn the Lessons Now

Giora Eiland, former Director of IsraelQs National Security Council,
wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/23):
QAny negotiations on a prisoner exchange that are held in the future
between Israel and its enemies can be expected to place Israel at a
disadvantage.... [During Operation Cast Lead,] giving up the idea of
a comprehensive deal was a severe mistake.... [Also,] as soon as you
let the negotiators conduct negotiations without first establishing
the principled positions in a cabinet resolution, this enables the
negotiations to develop to the point of a detailed proposal and when
you sit down to discuss it only two choices remain: either approve
the only proposal that exists or create a crisis of confidence with
the other side, with the mediator, with public opinion, and so
forth. This phenomenon is relevant not only to negotiations on a
prisoner exchange, but also to many diplomatic issues. If we
remember how the Oslo Accords were approved, it seems as though the
process was similar.

IV. QNo Shalit, but Staying in Power

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in Yediot Aharonot (12/23):
QThere is nothing wrong with the attempt of the Netanyahu-Barak duo
to dismantle Kadima. In the hunting grounds of politics, eating
your rivalQs flesh is part of the game. We could even accept,
albeit grudgingly, such an effort made in the midst of the
discussions on the Shalit deal. Netanyahu and Barak are talented
individuals. They are capable of handling two kinds of deals at the
same time. It is more difficult to accept the pose. [Netanyahu] is
not agonizing at all. While the entire country was vigilantly
following the discussions of the forum of seven in Jerusalem,
Netanyahu and Barak were courting defectors in the back benches of
the opposition. Surprisingly enough, it becomes apparent that they
are no less interested in staying in power as they are in Shalit.
The obtuseness is infuriating, but more annoying is the
hypocrisy.... Some say that the move succeeded and the Knesset
members will already leave Kadima this week. Others say that it
failed. Some say that we will have to wait for a few weeks in order
to witness this cosmic event. On paper, this move will extend the
governmentQs lifespan.

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

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

QA Gesture for Montazeri

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/23):
QLet's not fool ourselves; the Iranian opposition is not
Western-oriented and certainly not agnostic on Israel. Still, it is
significant that former presidential hopefuls Mir Hossein Mousavi
and Mehdi Karroubi, along with former presidents Mohammad Khatami
and Hashemi Rafsanjani, have all latched onto [the late Grand
Ayatollah Hossein Ali] Montazeri as a symbol.... Unfortunately, for
those of us who'd like to see regime change, the opposition is not
yet a cohesive movement and has no concrete strategy. Its limited
goals are to overturn the rigged elections and increase freedom of
expression. Meanwhile, Western leaders are arriving, glacially, at
the realization that Iran's duplicitous determination to manufacture
nuclear weapons -- and perfect the means to deliver them -- is not
going to be reversed by diplomacy. The Chinese and Russians are
likely to enfeeble any effort at a robust sanctions regime; Germany
and Italy will find it hard to reduce their dependency on Iranian
lucre. But there is something that's doable right now and doesn't
require financial sacrifice or very much diplomatic daring: to
signal support for the Iranian opposition, countries which value
liberty should opt to indefinitely extend the vacations of their
ambassadors now on home leave for the Christmas and New Year
holidays. Is that too much to ask in honor of Montazeri's memory?

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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