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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000227

STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
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SECDEF WASHDC FOR USDP/ASD-PA/ASD-ISA
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. Iraq

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Key stories in the media:
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All media reported that two barrels packed with 15 kg. of explosives
each washed up on beaches in Ashdod and Ashkelon yesterday, in what
Israeli security sources said was a carefully planned and
coordinated terrorist attack emanating from Gaza and targeting
Israeli ships, ports and naval bases. On Friday, a number of
explosions were heard off the Gaza coast, likely caused by
additional devices that were thrown out to sea. Islamic Jihad, the
Popular Resistance Committees, and FatahQs Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades
claimed responsibility for the blasts. Officials were quoted as
saying that the bombs may have been meant to act as naval mines,
detonating upon contact with a ship. Defense officials said
Palestinian terrorists have been trying for years to strike at
Israel Navy ships that patrol along the Gaza coast. Some defense
commentators have linked the attacks to the assassination of senior
Hamas activist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on January 20. Leading
Israeli media reported that Dubai is not allowing Hamas to
investigate al-MabhouhQs murder.

The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior Israeli Government official as
saying yesterday that Israel has no intention of acceding to PA
President Mahmoud AbbasQ call for a freeze of all construction in
West Bank settlements and in East Jerusalem for three months, in
order to resume direct negotiations with the PA.

Major media quotedDM Ehud Barak as saying yesterday in an unusually
sharp tone that the stalled peace process with Syia could bode ill
for the future of the Middle Eat and even lead to comprehensive
war. Yediot cied a Pentagon report that Syria has acquired
misiles capable of carrying chemical warheads.

HaQretz reported that restoration work near the Al-Aqa Mosque
could destroy the remnants of Israel's relations with the Muslim
world.

HaQaretz reported that last year the IDF downplayed the significance
of the proceedings against two senior officers who had exceeded
their authority in authorizing artillery fire during Operation Cast
Lead. However, the daily writes that the army is increasing its
efforts to teach commanders the laws of warfare.

Leading media reported that yesterday, during a visit to the Yad
Vashem Holocaust Museum, Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi drew a
parallel between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Adolf
Hitler. Berlusconi also said that his great dream is for Israel to
join the E.U.

Israel Hayom reported that Judge Richard Goldstone has ties with
anti-Israeli organizations.

The Jerusalem Post reported on the involvement of Knesset members in
demonstrations in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
The newspaper quoted conservative Kadima Knesset Member Arie Bibi as
saying that the left-wing protesters are a fifth column against
Israel and cited a claim by the .Association for Civil Rights in
Israel that police are violating activistsQ rights.

Yediot led with speculative reporting by its senior diplomatic
correspondent Shimon Shiffer that Sara Netanyahu, the PMQs wife, may
have thwarted the nomination of former Consul General in New York,
Alon Pinkas, to the U.N. ambassadorship. Yediot reported that
Bracha Shor, a confidante of Sara Netanyahu, sent Pinkas an e-mail,
saying that Mrs. Netanyahu is the person who decides on the issue.
Yediot quoted the Prime MinisterQs Office as saying that the
allegations about the PMQs wife are total lies.

Maariv reported that the New Israel Fund threatens to sue the NPO Im
Tirtzu that accused it of hostility against the state. The
Jerusalem Post cited a claim by the TaxpayersQ Alliance, a British
watchdog group, that E.U. aid is funding PA incitement.

The media continued to discuss a sensitive speech delivered last
week by Arab Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List) before the
Knesset plenum to commemorate International Holocaust Day, which
called for mutual recognition of the otherQs suffering. TibiQs
speech was hailed as a model of understanding.

Yediot ran a feature on the family of Egyptian banker Ahmad
al-Aroussi, who received fertility treatment at the Tel Hashomer
Hospital and became QIsraelQs best friends in Cairo.

HaQaretz reported that Israel should shortly be removed from the
U.S. blacklist of countries that fail to protect pharmaceutical
patents adequately. Nonetheless, the newspaper quoted sources in
the pharmaceuticals market as saying tat the country will move to
the list of countries that the U.S. is monitoring for such
violations.

The Jerusalem Post quoted the Bank of Israel as saying yesterday
that economic developments in the last quarter of 2009 support the
assessment that there was a Qsharp turnaround in IsraelQs economic
and financial environment in the second half of the yearQ and that
firm growth was to be found in real activity.

HaQaretz reported that the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor
told Intel Israel that if it wants to receive the $400 million grant
it has requested from the state, it must undertake to stay in the
country for a long time.

HaQaretz reported that a diary and a revealing letter written by
notorious Auschwitz death camp physician, Dr. Josef Mengele, were
put on auction in the U.S. last month for a starting price of
$60,000.

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

Block Quotes:
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I. QHelping Abbas Climb down the High Tree

Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/2): QPalestinian
Authority officials have described [U.S. Special Envoy George]
MitchellQs proposals as Qpositive,Q saying they could pave the way
for Abbas to start his descent from the tall tree he had climbed
when he set a series of conditions for returning to the negotiating
table. According to the officials, the latest American Qideas
include placing additional territories in the West Bank under the
exclusive control of the PA, the release of Fatah prisoners from
Israeli jails, and halting IDF QincursionsQ into PA-controlled
communities. The officials said that Abbas was under heavy pressure
from the Europeans, Americans, and some Arab countries to accept
MitchellQs proposals and resume the peace talks with Israel. QThe
[Palestinian] President wants to resume the peace negotiations, but
he doesnQt want it to look as if he has succumbed to the pressure,
said one official in Ramallah. QThe resumption of the peace talks
needs to be done gradually and one idea is to begin with low-level
or indirect talks between the two sides.

II. QGet Real, Get Down

Gershon Baskin, Co-Director of the Israel/Palestine Center for
Research and Information, wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (2/2): QSeventeen years after the Oslo process began,
Netanyahu and his cabinet are quite aware of the Palestinian red
lines. They know what would be an acceptable formula for reaching a
peace agreement. Rather than continuing the charade of trying to
convince someone that Israel is interested in negotiations, it would
be more honest to put our cards on the table: the demands of this
government and those of the Palestinian people are irreconcilable.
The same thing can be said of the Palestinians.... If the Israeli
Government and the Palestinian Government really want to achieve
peace, as they claim, they would be honest with their publics and
put on paper their vision of the peace agreement that the other side
could accept -- not their maximalist opening negotiating positions,
but their realistic peace offer. Since it seems that we cannot
depend on the international community to guide us to the shores of
peace, the leaders of Israel and Palestine should stop dragging
their feet and present a serious plan to their people. There is no
reason for one side to wait for the other to take the first step.
If both sides are as serious in action as their speeches imply,
negotiations will actually have a chance of reaching agreement.

III. QMany Wanted Hamas Man Dead

Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote in the
independent, left-leaning HaQaretz (2/2): QHaQaretz has obtained
some of the details [of DubaiQs investigation into the assassination
of senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh]; however, the mystery
is far from solved. Even the first suspicion of Mabhouh's relatives
and Hamas -- that the Mossad had taken out the man responsible for
weapons-smuggling to Gaza -- has been replaced by suspicions that an
Arab intelligence organization may have been responsible for his
death.... Unofficially, Hamas has conceded that quite a few parties
had an interest in taking out Mabhouh, who had become central to the
Iran-Gaza axis.... Yesterday a Hamas source told HaQaretz that
Mabhouh had been imprisoned in Egypt for almost a year in 2003 and
that he was wanted not only by the Israelis, but also by the
Jordanians and the Egyptians and did not lack enemies.

IV. QBibi Made It through the Year

Senior columnist and longtime peace advocate Yoel Marcus wrote in
the independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/2): QFrom a bird's-eye
view, the positive aspects of [Benjamin NetanyahuQs] term so far
exceed the negative.... Relations with America were preserved,
thanks to his Bar-Ilan University speech. Obama, who wanted a
pan-Islamic agreement, apparently was unaware of the Talmudic saying
according to which if you grasp for too much, you'll end up with
nothing. And the Palestinians, as is their wont, helped Bibi with
their stubborn refusal to begin negotiations. Good for Bibi, not
good for peace. Bibi was not dragged into wars like the two during
Olmert's term.... If I were a speechwriter for Bibi I would propose
that in his address to the nation he boast that despite Sara,
despite [Likud minister] Silvan [Shalom], despite [opposition leader
Tzipi] Livni, and despite Obama, his great achievement has been to
get through the year.

V. QItQs All Politics

Giora Eiland, former Director of IsraelQs National Security Council,
wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/2): QThe
proponents of establishing an [Israeli] commission of inquiry argue
that the establishment of such a commission will reduce
international pressure on us and the danger of having top Israeli
officials prosecuted overseas. That is completely baseless because
the pressure on Israel is political in nature, and not
issue-oriented. In 2002 the Secretary-General [of the United
Nations] sponsored the establishment of a commission of inquiry
because of the QJenin massacre.Q Why was that commission of inquiry
scuttled before it was ever formed? Because Israel succeeded in
recruiting both the U.S. administration and the Congress against it.
In other words, neither justice nor law are the tools of the game,
only pure politics. The establishment of a commission of inquiry in
Israel will not ease the pressure on us; rather, it will only
encourage hostile people to continue to pressure Israel.

VI. QDangerous Resistance

Conservative Op-Ed Page Editor Ben-Dror Yemini wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (2/2): QThe Goldstone Report is one of the worst
libels against Israel. It is a report that continues the Durban
syndrome and the campaign to deny the State of IsraelQs legitimacy.
It is a report that presents Israel as a state whose existence boils
down to revenge against the Palestinians and the perpetration of war
crimes and crimes against humanity. There is no greater lie. The
inquiry that the IDF already completed -- a thorough and serious
inquiry -- refutes those false claims. There is no whitewashing in
it, it is a true inquiry -- an inquiry with results. An inquiry
that found that there were also deviations that led to prosecution.
But official Israel continues to hesitate. QYesQ to an inquiry,
including of officers, QnoQ to a commission of inquiry. If we are
so confident of the findings, why not give them the seal of approval
with an official investigation? After all, IsraelQs loss by evading
an investigative committee is much greater than what will happen if
such a committee is formed.... This time the issue is the need to
remove the badge of shame that has been affixed to the State of
Israel.

VII. QHarassing Arab Knesset Members

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/2): QInstead
of calling on Arab lawmakers to act as a bridge between Israel and
the Arab world, Israel puts them on trial under a law that should
never have been passed in the first place. The law barring Knesset
members from visiting Arab countries is not merely a harmful one
that impedes their efforts to engage in public activity on behalf of
their voters. It is also discriminatory, because it is aimed only
at them. Whether the purpose of a visit is to make contacts in Arab
countries to help advance the cause of peace, to see relatives, or
to make a pilgrimage, the state should give Arab Knesset members
freedom of action and of movement, on condition, of course, that
they do not commit security-related offenses.

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2. Iraq:
---------
Block Quotes:
-------------

QThis Was a Just War

Shlomo Avineri, Hebrew University Professor of Political Science and
former director-general of the Foreign Ministry, wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/2): QPeople who say that the
war in Iraq was unjust are actually saying that the world would be
better off if Saddam were still in power. This is absurd, from both
the practical and the moral standpoint. And therein lies the
response to all those who find themselves defending one of the most
abominable dictators of our times because of their hostility toward
America or George W. Bush. As for the weapons of mass destruction,
there was no one who could say with certainty before the war that
Saddam did not have them in his arsenal. [Tony] Blair's testimony
[in the Chilcot Inquiry] brings the discussion back to the concrete
reasons for the war, which are valid even though a democratic
government has not been established in Iraq. Saddam Hussein and his
regime deserved to be removed from the face of the earth, even if
the United Nations, like the League of Nations before it, was
incapable of making a courageous decision on the matter. The world
without Saddam is not an ideal world, but it is more secure and less
murderous. Political choices are not always between an ideal good
and an absolute evil. The world is a bit too complex for that.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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