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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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JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
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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. Mideast

2. Anti-Terrorism Efforts

3. Iran

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Key stories in the media:
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The media reported that yesterday PM Benjamin Netanyahu expressed
cautious optimism that talks with the Palestinians will soon resume.
"In recent weeks, I've had the impression there is a certain change
in atmosphere, and I hope that a maturation that would enable the
negotiating process to move forward has occurred," he told a meeting
of his Likud faction at the Knesset. HaQaretz quoted officials in
the Prime Minister's Office as saying that Netanyahu was
particularly encouraged by yesterdayQs meeting between PA President
Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. For weeks,
Abbas has been insisting that he will not resume negotiations unless
Israel completely freezes construction in West Bank settlements and
in East Jerusalem. But at Monday's meeting, Abbas repeatedly said
that he would postpone any decision on whether or not to restart the
talks until he sees what happens during next week's visit to
Washington by two senior Egyptian officials, Foreign Minister Ahmed
Abu al-Gheit and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. HaQaretz cited
the belief of Israeli officials that Abbas will agree to resume the
talks after that visit, or else after U.S. Special Envoy for Middle
East Peace Senator George Mitchell's visit a few days later.
However, they predicted, he will first try to wrest as many
guarantees as possible from the U.S. administration. Nevertheless,
in an interview with the Palestinian News Agency after his meeting
with Mubarak, Abbas reiterated that his view on the need for a
complete settlement freeze has not changed. A senior member of the
Palestinian negotiating team also told HaQaretz yesterday that
Abbas' demand for a freeze on construction in East Jerusalem has not
changed -- a precondition for which Abbas enjoys considerable
support in the Arab world. Abbas insisted that he was not seeking
any American guarantees beyond this. "We don't want guarantees; we
want a clear, well-prepared basis for negotiations," he said.
However, HaQaretz quoted Palestinian sources as saying that in
practice he apparently plans to insist that this "basis" include a
guarantee that talks will resume at the point at which they left off
under Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert. Maariv reported that
the Egyptian Foreign MinistryQs spokesman, Hossam Zaki, confirmed
the existence of an American peace plan providing for Palestinian
statehood in two years. HaQaretz quoted Zaki as saying that the
Abbas-Mubarak meeting focused on an Egyptian proposal for reviving
the talks that includes a promise of a Palestinian state within two
years and American letters of assurance to both Israel and the PA
about the nature of the final-status agreement. Netanyahu, at his
meeting with Likud MKs, also stressed that the current flurry of
diplomatic activity is focused solely on ideas for reviving the
talks. Commenting on reports in the press about various concessions
he has allegedly agreed to make on final-status issues, he said,
"The peace plans that are being ascribed to me in the media are
untrue." "We are serious in our intention to reach a peace
agreement, but we will insist that the outcome of the negotiations
be determined at the negotiating table," he continued. "Israel is
ready for negotiations with the PA without preconditions." At a
meeting Monday with special Quartet envoy Tony Blair. Netanyahu
urged the international community to press Abbas to resume the
talks. "We must start talking," he said. "The international
community must refrain from taking steps that are liable to cause
the Palestinian side to harden its positions. Instead, everyone must
act in a way that will encourage the Palestinians to return to
negotiations."

The Jerusalem Post reported that IsraelQs top decision-makers are
against discussing the border issue first in future negotiations
with the Palestinians. The newspaper and other media outlets said
there have been reports of a U.S. interest in solving the border
issue within the next nine months, before the end of the
construction moratorium in the settlements, so it would be clear
afterward where Israel could and could not build. However, The
Jerusalem Post quoted a senior official in Jerusalem as saying that
the problem with that approach is that it would mean Israel
relinquishing land and settlements without getting anything in
return, and then having to begin discussing the more difficult
issues of Jerusalem, refugees, and the demilitarization of a future
Palestinian state. "In this case you give up territorial assets,
and what have you done?" asked the official. "You haven't ended the
conflict, and haven't dealt with refugees or Jerusalem. This idea is
a nonstarter for all the ministers, from Left or Right." The
official was quoted as saying that from Jerusalem's point of view,
the idea that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed must be
the guiding principle in future talks, just as it has been in
previous rounds.

The Jerusalem Post reported that unlike Netanyahu, FM Avigdor
Lieberman expressed pessimism yesterday about the possibility of
talks with the Palestinians achieving results in the near future
even if they do resume. "It will not be possible to reach a
complete agreement in two years," Lieberman warned Blair during his
meeting with the envoy. "It is not a realistic target. We must
begin direct talks without committing to any deadline. In the past,
we have set deadlines that were not kept and it led to violence."

This morning Israel Radio reported that Hamas will soon give its
reply, including reservations, to IsraelQs offer regarding the
prisoner exchange swap. The radio quoted Moussa Abu Marzouk, the
Damascus-based deputy head of HamasQ political bureau, as saying
that the German mediator has not produced the desired result despite
his efforts and that Israel has changed its stance.

HaQaretz reported that the cabinet has instructed the IDF to issue
gas masks to all citizens. The original plan called for just 60
percent of the population to receive protection kits. The newspaper
reported that a major biological attack drill is slated to be held
next week in the greater Tel Aviv region.

Yediot reported that Israel canceled a visit to the U.K. by a
delegation of senior IDF officers after the British authorities
announced that they would be unable to promise that the officers
will not be arrested. Israel Radio reported on an emerging solution
to the problem, according to which the General Prosecution in
Britain will have to back up local magistrateQs courtsQ demands to
arrest foreigners accused of war crimes. Media reported that
Patricia Janet Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the Attorney
General for England and Wales and Northern Ireland, a ministerial
position in the UK Government, is about to visit Israel for talks
with legal officials, in a bid to resolve the problem. Israel Radio
quoted an Israeli official cognizant with the talks with the British
authorities as saying that it is unconceivable that laws originally
intended to stop Nazi war criminals should be used against
Israelis.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Shin Bet is considering beefing up
its teams of security guards stationed at Ben Gurion Airport and on
Israeli commercial flights.
The media cited expressions of anger by Arab Knesset Members
vis-a-vis settlers and the IDF. Yesterday at a session of the
KnessetQs Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, MK Taleb a-Sanaa
(United Arab List-TaQal) called settlers a Qmalignant tumor,
setting off a flurry of furious reactions from the assembled Knesset
members. HaQaretz reported that the IDF has denied allegations that
it trains its canines to attack anybody heard saying: QAllah hu
akbar,Q Arabic for QGod is great.Q Speculations of such practices
were exposed first by Israel RadioQs military correspondent, Carmela
Menashe, and echoed by Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab
List-TaQal).

Yediot and Maariv reported that an Israeli defense delegation headed
by National Security Adviser Uzi Arad left for India on Sunday for a
strategic dialogue. The newspapers reported that the sides will
discuss the Iranian and terror issues.

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

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

I. QWeakness Is an Asset

Former Mossad Director Ephraim Halevy wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/5): QWe should relate to the threat
made by the Palestinian President at the end of last week, who said
that if Israel were to continue its actions such as the killing of
the murderers of Rabbi Hai, the PA would have to reexamine the
security cooperation between Israel and the PA. This is an empty
threat both on the political and the security level: if the partial
cooperation that exists today stops, Israel will have no interest in
allowing the U.S. to continue strengthening the PA militarily. The
units that the Americans are training with Jordanian assistance and
with IsraelQs consent mainly act to suppress the Hamas opposition in
Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] and thus safeguard Abu
MazenQs regime. Without this security cooperation, the PA will
collapse. In the course of the last few months Abu Mazen was able
to leverage his weakness and the weakness of the PA into an Qasset,
so much so that the U.S. made his perpetual strengthening by Israel
into an essential condition for renewing JerusalemQs diplomatic
dialogue with it. The Palestinian PresidentQs language of threats
against Israel of last week should persuade even the Obama
administration, as well as the Israeli Government, that the expiry
date on this policy has passed.

II. QTime to Talk

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (1/5): QThe
peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has become an
empty phrase since Israel's elections, interchangeable with the word
Qdaydreaming.Q On the Israeli side, Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu has insisted on conditions that will prevent a renewal of
the process such as Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish
state, or not freezing construction in East Jerusalem. On the
Palestinian side, President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted on freezing
all Israeli construction over the Green Line, even after Washington
gave Israel Qdiscounts.Q Over the past few days, a crack seems to
be opening in the ice, and the peace process has a chance to be
revived. Netanyahu met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak,
presented the outlines of a plan, and was even praised by the
Egyptian foreign ministry. Abbas is also willing to move ahead;
reports from his visits to Saudi Arabia and Egypt indicate that he
is ready to be more flexible in his conditions. These positive
signs must be encouraged, because when peace talks are frozen they
are replaced by another, more threatening and dangerous dialogue....
This calm can flourish if it is nourished by the hope of a better
future. A lack of diplomatic prospects could generate a new wave of
terror.... Abbas and Netanyahu must sweep away preconditions to
renew the talks, even if such conditions are justified. A
construction freeze in the settlements, even if it is not total, and
adopting the two-state principle are appropriate incentives to get
the Palestinians back to the table. Palestinian security control of
the West Bank is the QgoodsQ Israel has always demanded. Now is the
time to resuscitate the Roadmap's other conditions and begin a new
stage in the peace process.

III. QEmpty Talk

Liberal columnist and television anchor Ofer Shelach wrote in the
popular, pluralist Maariv (1/5): QWhen any of the government leaders
are asked why make a pretense of talking, they shrug their
shoulders and talk about tactics. QThe process must be maintained,
and Qwe have to provide hope,Q mainly to look good in Washington.
About the assumption that ultimately the ongoing frustration will
lead to another round of violence, they respond with a shrug of the
shoulders: in any case, among the government and the public on both
sides, the majority views events in terms of an almost eternal
conflict, and all that is left is to control when it blows up. And
only the people who die in the next five years and afterwards, it is
only for them that this whole business is more than empty talk.

IV. QWhere Is Netanyahu Leading To?

Deputy Editor-in-Chief Uri Elitzur, who was director of the Prime
MinisterQs Office during Netanyahu's first term, wrote in the
editorial of the nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (1/5):
QThere are mounting signs that a far-reaching political deal is
being concocted, and that it will involve an Israeli withdrawal from
nearly all of Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank].... Not only
has the public not been given real information about the Prime
MinisterQs position, but the cabinet ministers do not know in which
direction Netanyahu wants to lead Israel. Either way, this is cause
for great concern. If Netanyahu, indeed, has changed his spots and
has become a true believer in Yossi BeilinQs idea of two states,
that constitutes utter bankruptcy of the national camp and will be
yet another instance in which a Likud prime minister has stolen the
will of his voters and has used deceit to have their votes serve a
left wing agenda. And if Netanyahu is merely playing a tactical
game that is geared to prove to the world that it is impossible to
reach an agreement because the Arab side isnQt interested in peace,
that is a very dangerous game that is being played on a very
slippery slope that could end with an avalanche.

V. QDCQs Open Arms

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (1/5):
QIt is fitting ... to acknowledge the ongoing aid Israel receives
from the United States. It may not come out of purely altruistic
motives, yet Washington's intentions are largely good, and absent
its unwavering military and diplomatic backing, the world would be
an even lonelier place for our Jewish state.... Especially at a time
when Americans are hurting economically, this financial support to
Israel is deeply appreciated. In light of our shared values and
mutual interests, the American people should know that they can
always count on Israel. Israelis also recognize that America has
interests elsewhere in our region.... But the sale of weapons to
Egypt is the hardest to fathom.... The Pentagon insists none of this
will Qadversely affect the military balance in the regionQ.... Since
1975, America has invested $14.83 billion in a wide array of AID
projects to make Egypt a better place for its people. Helping
ordinary Egyptians is where Washington's emphasis can continue to do
the most good. Adding to Egypt's considerable stockpile of weapons
hardly benefits its people. And such weapons could, heaven forbid,
one day fall into the wrong hands.

---------------------------
2. Anti-Terrorism Efforts:
---------------------------

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

QThe American Air Farce

U.S.-based columnist Shmuley Boteach wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (1/5): Q[Here] is the level of farce that
passes for airport security here in the United States.... Just a few
days [after the attempted bombing of an American airliner over
Detroit], one of New York's three premiere airports [Newark Liberty]
is shut down because a man walked straight through a QsecureQ exit
without being stopped. Nice to know we're being protected by the
Keystone Kops.... Israel has the most secure airport in the world.
I cannot imagine for a moment that a man with nitroglycerine in his
undies would ever have made it on an Israeli plane.... What Israel
excels at is not even ethnic profiling so much as psychological
profiling.... Israel, after all, often dispatches humanitarian
rescue teams to various parts of the world after an earthquake or
tsunami. Why not immediately dispatch a high-level security team to
Washington to advise an increasingly hapless Homeland Security
Administration about the right way to deploy limited resources in
securing a vast air network? I realize that Israel is a tiny
country and has to secure only one major airport. But then again,
unlike the U.S., it lives surrounded by terrorists yet has an
exemplary record in protecting air travel.

---------
3. Iran:
---------

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

QThe Americans Are Leading to a Disaster

Yisrael Yosefi, a settler and former Mossad official, wrote in the
nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe (1/5): QThe military
option against Iran has been ruled out: in ObamaQs vehement speech
upon accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, in which he talked about Qjust
wars,Q he did not mean Iran but Afghanistan.... [In a subsequent
meeting with European Union officials, Defense Secretary Robert]
Gates explained [approximate rendering]: QIn order to prevent Iran
from acquiring nuclear weapons, weQll offer it a package of
incentives and deterrence that will convince the Iranian
administration that it is less safe with nuclear weapons than
without them.Q One may surmise that Gates meant a nuclear-free
Middle East. In this situation, the Americans will demand that
Israel destroy all its nuclear weapons in exchange for an Iranian
pledge to stop its accelerated development of uranium enrichment....
I suggest a few possibilities: first, to take the masses into the
street with a call to prevent a new Holocaust; second, to recruit
Jewish opinion in the world and explain to it that, should Israel be
annihilated, this would influence the security of every Jew; third,
to convince the U.S. Congress that the Shihab-6 missile with which
the Iranians will ultimately threaten the United States; and lastly,
that the destruction of all Iranian nuclear installations must be
accepted by the world as a just war.

CUNNINGHA

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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