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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 4245
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2470
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RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 3636
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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000225

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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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

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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. U.S.-PRC Tension

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Key stories in the media:
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The Jerusalem Post reported that PM Benjamin Netanyahu and DM Ehud
Barak are at odds over whether to form a committee to probe
Operation Cast Lead: Barak has spoken out against forming an
independent committee that would probe beyond the in-depth
investigation of the IDF. The PM is till undecided. The Jerusalem
Post quoted a top officer as saying yesterday that Military Police
investigations into allegations of crimes by IDF personnel during
Operation Cast Lead have uncovered evidence that could lead to
indictments against officers and soldiers. IDF Advocate-General
Maj.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit will make the final decision on whether
charges will be brought against the soldiers. The officer would not
reveal which allegations were backed up by evidence, but The
Jerusalem Post quoted other sources as saying that the possibility
that soldiers deliberately killed innocent Palestinians had been
ruled out. The remaining investigations will be completed in the
coming weeks. HaQaretz and other media quoted the GOI as saying in
its official response to the Goldstone Report that two IDF officers
were disciplined for using white phosphorus in the shelling of a
UNRWA facility during Operation Cast Lead. In response to a report
of a 60-meter Star of David carved into a Palestinian field during
the operation, The Jerusalem Post quoted the IDF as saying that it
was unfamiliar with the incident and that the Foreign Ministry
should be contacted for an official comment.

Maariv reported that indirect talks to smooth out differences
between the parties are taking place between U.S. Special Envoy
George Mitchell, Netanyahu envoy Yitzhak Molcho and Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erekat. Major media quoted Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas as saying yesterday in an interview with the British
newspaper The Guardian that Israel's continued activity in the West
Bank was leading to a "one-state solution." He was quoted as saying
he was prepared to relaunch peace negotiations in exchange for a
full three-month settlement freeze. Abbas said he could be inclined

toward accepting the Obama administration's proposal for direct, but
low-level, talks prior to beginning full-scale peace negotiations,
hinting that progress hinges on the acceptance by Israel of the
framework of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders and an
end to occupation. He told The Guardian that he and former PM Ehud
Olmert had come closer to a peace agreement than any previous
Israeli or Palestinian leadership, complete with discussions about
"border swaps, Jerusalem and the return of some refugees." However,
Abbas said, PM Netanyahu had refused to continue those negotiations.
Abbas also reiterated that he would not tolerate a return to
violent resistance and said he supported Egypt's construction of a
border fence with Gaza as part of its efforts to crack down on
smuggling. Yesterday Israel Radio reported that Abbas told Arab
journalists in London, after he met with British PM Gordon Brown and
Foreign Secretary David Miliband that the PA will consult with Arab
states and then provide its response within a weekQs time to the
proposal made by Special Envoy Mitchell that he mediate between the
Palestinians and Israel in indirect talks.

The media reported that Hamas threatens to strike at Israeli targets
abroad to avenge the killing of its senior activist Mahmoud
al-Mabhouh during his stay in Dubai on January 20. The media
highlighted al-MabhouhQs alleged principal role in arms-smuggling
from Iran to Hamas in Gaza. The media reported that yesterday at
the cabinet meeting, although they did not acknowledge IsraelQs
responsibility for the assassination, ministers praised their
overall satisfaction over the performance of Mossad Director Meir
Dagan. Media quoted National Infrastructure Minster Uzi Landau as
denying any link to al-MabhouhQs death. Landau had led a delegation
to Abu Dhabi to attend an International Renewable Energy Agency
(IRENA) conference.

Yesterday Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi was quoted as saying in en
interview with HaQaretz that IsraelQs settlement policy is a
mistake. The Jerusalem Post reported that during the visit of
Berlusconi and eight members of his cabinet to Israel, which starts
today, Israeli officials will focus on Italian aid to the Iranian
satellite program.

Yesterday Maariv quoted National Security Advisor James Jones as
saying over the weekend that the growing pressure on Iran is liable
to lead it to an attack against Israel. He said that history showed
that when regimes feel under pressure, as Iran feels internally and
as it will soon feel from without, they often opt to attack.

HaQaretz reported that last week CIA Director Leon Panetta visited
Israel and met with senior officials. According to an item posted
on Saturday on the U.S news site Politico, the officialsQ main
subject of conversation was Iran.

HaQaretz cited the London-based daily Al-Hayat, which quoted
Assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Jeff Feltman as saying that
the U.S. is concerned that HizbullahQs ongoing efforts to rearm
could prompt a war between Israel and Lebanon.

Electronic media reported that Shin Bet has arrested two East
Jerusalem residents suspected of being recruited by Hamas during
their studies in Jordan, and gathering information on potential
terror targets in Israel -- at key public sites. The two are
suspected to have collected the videos, photographs, charts, and
information on a USB flash drive which they were meant to transfer
to their handlers. They were then meant to receive explosives.
They allegedly prepared a cave near Sataf, in the Judean Hills, and
expanded it to use as a hiding place for their weapons. Murad
Kamal, 24, from Wadi Joz in Jerusalem, and Murad Nimer, 24 from Tzur
Baher, also in the capital, both carry Israeli IDs. They were
arrested on January 3 at the central bus station in Beersheva. The
two are to be charged in the Jerusalem District Court today with
contacting a foreign agent, membership in a terror organization,
aiding the enemy during wartime, and espionage. Israel Radio said
that Hamas-abroad took command of the foiled operation.
Leading media quoted Egyptian security forces as saying over the
weekend that Egypt forces arrested 23 Egyptians suspected of
belonging to a radical Muslim terror group that was planning to
attack Jewish worshipers during a pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi
Yaakov Abuhatzeira, who is buried in the Egyptian city of Damanhur.

Yesterday Israel Radio quoted American sources as saying that the
first mission of the new U.S. ambassador in Damascus will be to take
speedy action to bring about the renewal of peace talks between
Israel and Syria. The U.S. sources told the international newspaper
Asharq al-Awsat that it was possible that renewed talks between
Israel and Syria would reduce the growing pressure on the Obama
administration, after the it was accused of not doing enough, and
that since ObamaQs taking office, no real peace talks have taken
place in the Middle East.

The media reported that yesterday the Petah-Tikva MagistrateQs Court
released all the suspects in the December 11 arson of a mosque in
the West Bank. The court cited lack of evidence.

Yesterday Maariv reported that the KnessetQs Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee will soon hold a special hearing dedicated
FridayQs revelation in the newspaper about the link between the New
Israel Fund and dozens of Israeli NPOs, which Qserved as virtually
exclusive sources for the incriminating evidence presented in the
Goldstone Report.

Maariv and Israel Radio reported that former Netanyahu adviser
Naftali Bennett -- a resident of RaQanana inside the Green Line --
was appointed director-general of the Yesha Council of Jewish
Settlements in the Territories. In an unrelated item, The Jerusalem
Post reported that the IDF has agreed to erect a watchtower on a
strategic Gush Etzion hilltop called Shdema, thereby handing a
partial victory to settlers who have campaigned for two years to
ensure that it remains under Israeli control.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Breaking the Silence, the
NGO which collects mostly anonymous testimony from soldiers serving
in the territories, released a booklet containing interviews with 96
female soldiers who reported witnessing or taking part in violence
or degrading treatment of Palestinians since the outbreak of the
second Intifada in September 2000.

Yesterday Yediot reported that for the first time, Israel has begun
to train German pilots to use military equipment that is to be used
in Afghanistan.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that, for the first time in Israeli
history, the Justice Ministry is preparing a bill that would define
IsraelQs attitude to terrorist activities in the country and set
updated punitive norms.

The Jerusalem Post quoted National Infrastructure Minster Uzi Landau
as saying yesterday that he had recently raised the idea of
cooperating with Jordan on an nuclear power plan in a recent meeting
with French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.

Leading media reported that last night Israeli security staff at a
West Bank crossing shot and wounded an Israeli truck driver who they
thought was a terrorist.

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

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

I. QMore Talk, Less Action

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/1): QIf Obama were
honest -- and effective -- he would admit that Israel did almost
everything he asked, while the Palestinian Authority defied him....
The PA has refused to negotiate for five months after Obama asked it
to do so. Yet for Obama to pressure thePA to go to the table --
the normal route in suc situations -- is unthinkable for him. So
he ha no way out of his failure. And IsraelQs QrewardQ or its
major concession? Not even a mention in he PresidentQs main annual
speech for the first ime, I presume, in decades. So what are they
gong to do? Clinton lays out the framework: QWe aregoing to
continue to do everything we can to create an environment in which
that is possible.Q In other words, have lots of talks and present
ideas which continually fail but at least show they are trying. Of
course, whatQs left out is the missing element which might allow at
least for some minimal progress: put real pressure on the
Palestinian Authority to make some compromises. But that isnQt
going to happen. And so we return to business as usual.


II. QItQs All ObamaQs Fault

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in the
independent, left-Ha'aretz (1/31): QAs usual changes [in the Middle
Eastern diplomatic landscape] are of no interest to Israel. Obama,
like every other U.S. president, continues to be our impresario.
Only ours. As such, the real negotiations are with him and not with
the Palestinians or the Arab states. When Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu agreed to limit construction in the territories he was
responding not to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but to Obama.
When Netanyahu speaks of resuming negotiations he is addressing not
the Palestinian government, but rather Obama. Abbas and Obama, of
course, are the ones responsible for the lack of a peace process:
Abbas painted himself into a corner, while Obama aimed for the skies
with his vision and now cannot deliver the goods. It's his fault,
and Israel can celebrate its victory. It may be that Obama is only

an orator and not a statesman. But Israel is the last one who can
judge him for that. Israel is very pleased with the cage in which
it has trapped him. The question is what Israel will be left with
after this success. Indeed, the threat of peace was nearer a year
ago. We nearly fell into the trap when Netanyahu announced the
freeze in settlement construction. We were on the verge of another
Masada. But thank God we pulled ourselves together. Certainly we
will survive this American president, too.

III. QAt Last, a Real Response

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of Ha'aretz
(2/1): QIsrael's detailed response to the Goldstone Report shows
that the country can, in fact, respond to accusations with more than
complaints of anti-Semitism and endless repetitions of the mantra
that the QIsrael Defense Forces is the most moral army in the
world.Q Drawn up by the Foreign Ministry, the Justice Ministry, and
the IDF Prosecutor's office, the document gives a wide-ranging and
well-argued reply to many of the claims raised by Goldstone. It
also contains some interesting details that were never, for some
reason, disclosed to the Israeli media and public about Operation
Cast Lead. The most remarkable details concern the one time
disciplinary measures were taken against senior commanders in the
operation [who unjustifiably ordered artillery fire on a United
Nations compound].... Israel's detailed and well-argued report shows
that the country has a reasonably good case against the Goldstone
accusations. This naturally begs the question why Israeli
leadership is so wary of a state commission of inquiry that could
ostensibly clear up matters once and for all. Any such obligation
is missing from the report, as arguments in Israel continue on
whether to set up an examination committee or a state commission of
inquiry; as of now, it seems an examination committee will be set
up, but its powers are yet to be defined. Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu preferred to postpone the decision -- hoping that either a
consensus will be reached, or that the international pressure on
Israel will ease, making it the committee unnecessary.

IV. QThe Bomb or Disintegration

Veteran journalist and television anchor Yaron London wrote in the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/1): QIf an Iranian
bomb should be dropped on us, a colossal disaster will occur
immediately, but the chances that such an event will take place are
fairly low. If we do not disengage from the Palestinians, no
immediate disaster will take place, but we will gradually

deteriorate and IsraelQs end will ultimately arrive. In
physiological terms, this can be illustrated as the blow of an ax
that slices off the head with a single blow, but is likely to miss
our neck, as opposed to bloodletting that is already draining us of
blood, and will undoubtedly put us to death as a nation, even if not
as individuals. From this analysis you can understand that I do not
believe in the possibility of establishing a binational state, whose
Jewish citizens will be able to live in it peacefully and influence
its character. Such a state will not be modeled after the
Alexandria of the early 20th century. It will not be a calm
multicultural Levantine metropolis, it will be Beirut of the
1980s.... Explicit things are being said to us about events of
immeasurable severity. The leaders, in their cautious and rare
statements, describe upheavals of far-reaching significance that
will take place tomorrow, and may already be taking place now, but
the public discourse on these matters is incredibly meager -- a
nation in stupor.

V. QHeed a Friends Words

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/1): QThe
[visiting] Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, has stood out
among European leaders in his special friendship toward Israel....
Berlusconi ... has demands of the Arab side. He backs internal
Palestinian unity and the promotion of regional economic projects
and he displayed understanding for Israel's apprehensions of
continued violence after it withdraws from territory, as happened in
Gaza. But the main message borne by the guest from Rome concerns
leadership. He believes that the attainment of peace requires
leaders to display courage. It is worth Netanyahu's while to heed
the advice of his Italian friend. Instead of wasting time with
redundant propaganda wars with the Palestinian Authority, and
currying favor with the right by planting unneeded trees in
settlements, Netanyahu must tirelessly push for peace with Syria,
and explain to the public that the freeze on construction in the
settlements is only the first step in the undoing of this harmful
enterprise and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the
territories. Even his best friend in Europe thinks so.

VI. QFarther Right than the Government

Hadas Ziv, Director-General of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel,
wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (2/1): QThe implication of
the arguments presented by the non-profit organization Im Tirtzu
[which claims that the New Israel Fund abets IsraelQs enemies], with

the support of Ben Caspit, diplomatic correspondent of Maariv daily]
is that it would be better to dodge, lie and cheat only in order to
defend the actions of the army, even if they were immoral. The
Israeli Government would have done well had it gathered soldiers,
officers and statesmen to present the Gaza Goldstone committee with
the aggregate of evidence. It is reasonable to assume that the
armyQs testimony would have enhanced GoldstoneQs ability to reach
the truth.... Caspit wrote an article that was relevant three months
ago. Today Israeli society, officials in the Justice Ministry and
the Foreign Ministry, Knesset members, and cabinet ministers all
understand that the refusal to testify before Goldstone was a
mistake. Many of them believe that had Israel provided all of the
information it had and created an atmosphere of cooperation, the
committee would have been more capable of investigating the truth.
The norm is to say that the media is biased in favor of the left
wing. Many studies have demonstrated that not only is that not the
case, but that in times of conflict or a fight with external forces,
the media tends to toe the government line. CaspitQs article shows
that sometimes the media even goes further to the right than the
government.

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2. U.S.-PRC Tension:
---------------------

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


I. QChina Endangered?

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/1): QFor a
superpower-in-waiting, China is conducting itself with unbecoming
irresponsibility, not just on Iran but also on human rights, climate
change and Internet freedom. (Google may be forced to reduce its
presence in China due to government-orchestrated cyber-attacks.)

Nor does Beijing show concern that many of the weapons making their
way into Hamas-controlled Gaza are of Chinese manufacture....
Diplomatically, as a permanent Security Council member, China can
invariably be counted on to vote the interests of the Arab and
Muslim bloc. Plainly, the Israel-China relationship is
strategically important, but BeijingQs insensitivity to core Israeli
concerns does not fail to disappoint. Is it not absurd that China
feels threatened because the U.S. is selling Taiwan weapons that
pose no threat to mainland security, while it shamelessly blocks
international pressure aimed at keeping the atomic bomb away from
Muslim fanatics?

II. QA Smell of Confrontation in the Air

Columnist Shmuel Rosner, who was HaQaretzQs correspondent in
Washington, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (2/1): QLast
weekend signaled a sudden deterioration in U.S.-China relations....
The patience of the U.S. is growing thin [also regarding Iran and
terror]. This political spirit fits a determined move by thy Obama
administration, which wishes to prove to its voters that it is not
QweakQ after the blow it sustained in the Massachusetts [senatorial]
elections.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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