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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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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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Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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The main Hebrew language newspapers highlighted today's events
marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres are both scheduled to
speak in Europe today at ceremonies marking the Remembrance Day:
Netanyahu at the Auschwitz death camp and Peres at the Bundestag in
Berlin. Netanyahu visited Warsaw yesterday and met with the Polish
prime minister and foreign minister. He is expected to speak today
about the lesson that should be learned from the Holocaust in the
context of Iran's attempts to obtain nuclear weapons. Leading
newspapers provided several quotes from Netanyahu's planned speech,
in which he will say that "Iran is the greatest threat to the Jewish
People since the Holocaust." Ahead of today's ceremonies in Berlin,
President Peres met yesterday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
and thanked her for her firm position on Iran. According to most
media outlets, Merkel said that steps would be taken to tighten the
sanctions against Iran starting from next month.

On its front page, Yediot focused on the arrest of Rabbi Yitzhak
Shapira, dean of the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva in Yitzhar. Rabbi Shapira
was questioned in the context of the torching of the mosque at
Yasouf, near Nablus, in December 2009, and arrested after refusing
to cooperate with his questioning by the police and Shin Bet. This
follows the recent arrest of several young people from Yitzhar, who
are still under detention. Local Yitzhar residents and MK Michael
Ben-Ari (National Union) criticized the rabbi's arrest.

Major media reported that the Knesset House Committee voted
yesterday to strip MK Said Nafa (Balad) of his immunity, so that he
could stand trial for traveling to Syria in 2007 and allegedly
meeting with a foreign agent. In the committee's discussion,
Attorney General Meni Mazuz explained that unlike previous cases, in
which Arab MKs were not prosecuted after traveling to enemy states,
Nafa had also committed a security offense by engaging in contact
with a foreign agent.

Block Quotes:
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--------
Mideast:
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I. "At the mouth of the volcano"

Diplomatic correspondent and editorial page editor Aluf Benn wrote
in the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (1/27): "There is deep
concern surrounding U.S. President Obama's announcement that his
effort to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has failed.
... This is about preventing war. For America to abandon its efforts
would increase the danger of a regional conflagration.... Signs
indicative of an impending explosion are coming from every side:
from Iran, Lebanon, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and also
Israel.... The evident weakness of the "world's policeman" is
encouraging local leaders to take risks.... Israel is in strategic
trouble. Netanyahu's political positions ... are no different from
those of his predecessors, Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak. But the
timing of his declarations ... meant to bring him closer to his
rightist political base - were viewed internationally as a
provocation.... Leaving the regional players to their own devices
... increases the risk of war. Perhaps Obama is blind and does not
understand this or perhaps he is simply sick and tired of "the Jews
and the Arabs." But there is a third possibility - that he is acting
like Henry Kissinger before the Yom Kippur War: waiting for it to
begin so that afterward he can summon the wounded parties to
America, which will rescue them and impose order in the region."


II. "Leadership Avoiding a Meeting"

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever Plotker wrote in
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/27): "The
Palestinian leadership is refusing (so far) to negotiate with the
Israeli government headed by Netanyahu. The Palestinians have
spoken with all of Israel's governments since the Oslo Accords. But
shortly after Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister for the
second time, the Palestinian leadership devised excuses and more
excuses to avoid entering into a dialogue with Israel.... (They) do
not want to negotiate with Netanyahu because they perceive Netanyahu
as a practical statesman who aspires to a practical solution. And
this is something in which (they) do not want to become entangled.
The Palestinian leaders did not mind talking to Olmert because they
knew that he did not have a mandate to reach any agreement.... With
Obama and Bibi, the negotiations could evolve differently.... This,
then, is the absurdity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2010.
The Palestinians are willing for abstract negotiations with the
Netanyahu government, knowing in advance that they will not lead to
any result, but are unwilling for practical negotiations if there is
a chance that they will lead to results on the ground. They fear to
find themselves in a situation where they will be called upon to
reject or accept a feasible provisional arrangement, which includes
the evacuation of some of the settlements and the transfer of more
territory to their control. They are fleeing from Bibi because they
view him as a serious statesman."

III. "Israel's Whitewash"

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (1/27): "The
cabinet's likely approval of an "examination committee" to look into
... Operation Cast Lead ... is yet another grave error in the
state's response.... It's a case of too little, too late. After
foolishly boycotting the Goldstone committee, ... the government
persists in its attempts at a cover-up - entrenching itself further
still in its refusal to appoint a state commission of inquiry....
Such a commission is vital. A commission is needed first and
foremost in order to conduct an honest, independent examination that
will determine, once and for all, whether acts that are defined as
war crimes were indeed committed in Operation Cast Lead. Israeli
society has the right to know what happened in Gaza.... A committee
whose authority will be limited ... can only further damage Israel's
shaky position....
The Israeli public has a right to know.... The world will not buy
into the conclusions of a co-opted committee with limited powers and
its work will not dispel the suspicions hanging over Israel. The
prime minister must immediately act to appoint a state commission of
inquiry, chaired by a Supreme Court justice, and stop covering up
and avoiding a thorough investigation of the truth."
MORENO

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