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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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1. Mideast

2. U.S.-Israel Relations

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Key stories in the media:
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Major media quoted PM Benjamin Netanyahu as saying yesterday at a
joint press conference with visiting Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi
that the resumption of talks over a prisoner swap involving Gilad
Shalit depends on Hamas. Netanyahu was responding to a statement by
senior Hamas leader in Gaza Mahmoud Zahar that the deal is Qfrozen,
for which he blamed Israel. HaQaretz also reported that another
senior Hamas official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the
Saudi daily Okaz that Hamas decided to suspend the talks to protest
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's murder. "Israel is fully responsible for the
killing of al-Mabhouh," the daily quoted him as saying. "Therefore
Hamas decided to halt the indirect talks." But that same official
also told the daily that the talks had been on the brink of
implosion in any case, for which he blamed Israel's government.
Israel Radio reported that last night IAF planes raided smuggling
tunnels in Gaza in retaliation for military actions by Palestinians.
The media also reported that yesterday Hamas captured an apparently
mentally unstable Israeli Bedouin who had crossed the border with
Gaza. He was released this morning following the intervention of an
Arab Knesset Member.

Leading media quoted PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as saying
yesterday in a conciliatory speech that Israel must show the
Palestinians that it is beginning to roll back the occupation, and
that the way to do that is primarily by stopping both settlement
construction and IDF incursions into Palestinian areas. Fayyad, who
was addressing the Herzliya Conference in a rare appearance,
affirmed that the PA is committed to IsraelQs security. Maariv
bannered FayyadQs reiteration that the Palestinians will establish a
state within two years. In his speech to the conference, DM Ehud
Barak praised Fayyad for his work in developing Palestinian
infrastructure and said that if a single state develops in this
area, it will necessarily either be non-Jewish or non-democratic.
QIf that block of millions of Palestinians vote, then there will be
a binational state, and if they donQt vote, then there will be an
apartheid state. Neither is the Zionist dream.

HaQaretz quoted the IDF as saying it has no intention at this stage
of permanently deploying the Iron Dome system to protect Sderot
against rocket attacks. The army expects to have a battery
operational by May. According to an IDF plan, the battery will
initially be deployed at air force bases in the south and will be
set up elsewhere only during significant escalations of conflict on
the Gaza border.

Leading media reported that 17 coalition and Kadima Knesset members
are proposing a bill that would prevent the Supreme Court from
rejecting new legislation. Media also report on yesterdayQs
inauguration of the Lobby for Greater Israel, composed of 39 Knesset
members, including 12 from Likud.

The media reported that this morning Silvio Berlusconi delivered a
particularly warm address to the Knesset plenum. Leading media
quoted Berlusconi as saying that he will intervene with Syrian
President Bashar Assad, Lebanese PM Rafiq Hariri, and Turkish Recep
Tayyip Erdogan on IsraelQs behalf. Berlusconi also said that the
Italian State has greatly reduced its trade with Iran, that he
called for an international parley against IranQs nuclear program,
and that he personally received assurances from Russia that the
latter country would support such a gathering. The media quoted
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying that Iran is
prepared to send uranium aboard for enrichment purposes. HaQaretz
cited the belief of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that
Iran is capable of developing nuclear weapons but that it has not
yet decided to do so. The newspaper further quoted senior U.S.
intelligence official Adm. (res.) Dennis Blair as saying that
continued stalling on the Israeli-Palestinian track might decrease
the PalestiniansQ support for a two-state solution.

Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported on 40 new educational buildings in
settlements, despite NetanyahuQs moratorium.

The Jerusalem Post cited HamasQ suspicion that Israel has
infiltrated its Damascus leadership and the Syrian security
services.

HaQaretz quoted Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, the head of the IDF
Advocate General's international law department during Operation
Cast Lead, as saying on Monday that it may be necessary to establish
a commission of inquiry to respond to the Goldstone Report. "It is
possible that, in hindsight, it would be have been correct to
cooperate with the Goldstone Commission," Sharvit-Baruch said in a
private closed-door meeting in Tel Aviv. "It's possible that had we
cooperated with the commission, its report wouldn't have been as
bad. I don't think anyone thought the report would be so severe."
Major media quoted the U.N. as saying yesterday that findings it
collected contradict Israeli claims that the Gaza flour mill was not
hit by an aerial bombardment. Maariv reported that the Knesset
plenum will vote today on whether to initiate a commission of
investigation into the activities of the New Israel Fund, which the
newspaper reported on Friday was behind the accusations against
Israel contained in the Goldstone Report.

Yediot reported that President Shimon Peres has met on a number of
occasions with prominent Iranian exiles, both overseas and in
Israel. Those meetings were held at the initiative of the exiles,
who contacted Peres and said that his international stature would
help them raise a moral outcry against the current regime in Iran.
These meetings, which PM Netanyahu was informed of and which he
authorized, have taken place for an extended period of time
already.

The Jerusalem Post reported that erstwhile Republican presidential
contender Mike Huckabee said during a visit to the country that
President Obama erred in placing all the pressure on Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the KnessetQs Immigration and
Absorption Committee met on Tuesday to put the finishing touches on
a bill that would mandate offering compensation to Jews who were
forced out of Arab lands following the establishment of the state.

Maariv reported that Natan Sharansky, Executive Chairman of the
Jewish Agency for Israel, is organizing a public gathering of

pro-Israel Jewish-Russian oligarchs in St. Petersburg in three
weeks. The oligarchs had so far been unwilling to participate in
such an event.

The Jerusalem Post reported that up to $6 billion in natural gas has
been found off IsraelQs coast.

The Jerusalem Post reported that during a special session yesterday,
the KnessetQs Internal Affairs and Environment Committee called on
the state prosecution to drop all charges against a 17-year-old
American-Israeli who was subjected to abuse and reported gang rape
at a prison while being temporarily held over minor suspicions in
November.

The media reported that yesterday the film QAjami,Q produced by
Israeli Arabs and Jews, was nominated for best foreign language
movie at the Academy of Motion Pictures.

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1. Mideast:
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Block Quotes:
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I. QBarak Is the One Responsible

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/3): QIn
February 2000 [the Prime Minister Ehud] Barak explained to the
officers the importance of a peace agreement with Syria. A decade
has passed. It is now February 2010, and ... Barak once again
presented his doctrine: Without a peace agreement with Syria Qwe are
liable to enter a belligerent clash with it that could reach the
point of an all-out, regional war.Q To spare Barak his usual speech
at the next General Staff conference in 10 years ... we need
energetic diplomatic activity, one of whose main protagonists is the
Defense Minister himself. After all, he said on Monday that Qwe
will immediately sit down [with Syria] after such a war and
negotiate on the exact same issues which we have been discussing
with them for the last 15 years.Q The fact that this is not an
original insight will not comfort the thousands who will be
casualties in the unnecessary war that might break out, according to
the Defense Minister.... Barak now plays a key role in the Netanyahu
government, which has not yet moved ahead on talks with Syria.
Barak can leave the government if the Prime Minister refuses to move
toward peace with the Syrians and the Palestinians. If he does not
and makes do with remarks to officers, he is afraid to pay a price
-- not the known price of withdrawal from the Golan Heights after an
agreement, but the price of giving up his cabinet post. Therefore
Barak, even more than Netanyahu, may be responsible for the all-out
and unnecessary war he warned of on Monday.

II. QWho Needs Proximity Talks?

Former Meretz leader, former Justice Minister, and chief Israeli
promoter of the Geneva Initiative, Yossi Beilin, wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (2/3): QI can understand that the U.S.
administration, in its despair with the sides, the obstinacy and the
limbs they have climbed, has decided to give them a ladder. But it
is difficult to think of anything more foolish than the idea of
holding Qproximity talksQ between Israel and the Palestinians at the
start of the second decade of the 21st century.... Proximity talks
are held between two sides that do not recognize each other, and
sometimes are fighting an all-out war against each other, and this
is the only way to reach some kind of understanding between them.
But proximity talks with Abu Mazen, 17 years after the mutual
recognition between Israel and the PLO, when the PA and the PLO are
headed by a person who adamantly opposed the Intifada and says
explicitly that he will also oppose in the future any use of
violence against Israel?.. I propose to the Americans, the
Palestinians, ad Israel to reject this futile idea. It is best to
prefer direct talks. Mahmoud Abbas must understnd that his longing
for Olmert cannot turn into legitimate demand from Israel to renew
the negoiations from the point they were stopped. Governmnts are
committed to agreements, not to talks that were held, particularly
since these are undocumented talks, in which informal ideas were
raised.... Netanyahu must understand that proximity talks are a
Qbroken telephoneQ game that could damage Israeli and Palestinian
interests. He should prefer direct talks, with the Americans in the
room, and preferably without them. Abu MazenQs demand for a full
freeze for three months is a minimal demand that Netanyahu can meet.
The key is in his hands, and the decision is far from being
dramatic. It is enough to consent to a brief freeze in order to
launch negotiations and remove from the agenda foolish and harmful
ideas.

III. QThe Corridor Card

Yossi Alpher, coeditor of the bitterlemons family of Internet
publications and former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic
Studies at Tel Aviv University, wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (2/3): QIsrael pledged, in the Oslo
accords, to treat the West Bank and Gaza as a Qsingle territorial
unit.Q But it never pledged specifically to grant the Palestinian
state an ex-territorial land corridor to link Gaza and the West Bank
across some 40 km. of Israeli territory. Moreover, that the West
Bank and Gaza no longer function as a single political unit is the
fault of Palestinians, not Israelis. Yet a corridor is absolutely
vital to the integrity of a future Palestinian state. Were Israel
to offer to remove all the settlements, thereby obviating the need
for swaps, but to reject the corridor principle, the PLO would be in
a quandary because the resultant state would not hold together.
Accordingly, in the course of peace negotiations over the years
Israel has undervalued the corridor as a factor in land swaps. It
is QworthQ all the settlement blocs together.

IV. QFinally, Some Palestinian Responsibility

Newly invested Labor Party Knesset Member Einat Wilf wrote in The
Jerusalem Post (2/3): QThe Palestinian national movement has been
characterized from its early days by a maddening culture of
irresponsibility... If the phrase Qassumption of responsibilityQ was
ever mentioned, it was always in the context of a spectacular and
bloody terrorist attack.... But it just might be that recently,
below the radar, a revolutionary change is underway. For several
years now, several players under the sound leadership of General
Dayton, Tony Blair, and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, were working
together to build a Palestinian state from the ground up.... The
greatest QthreatQ to IsraelQs policy appears to come from a dour
bureaucrat [Fayyad] who is steadily leading a revolutionary cultural
change of fostering responsibility among Palestinians. This change
is leaving Israelis, who have long grown accustomed to Palestinians
who do nothing but blame the world for their circumstances all the
while wasting numerous opportunities, wondering, confused and many
-- hopeful.

V. QMuscle Flexing on the Last Stretch

Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (2/3): QIt is logical that a sharp duel of
words between the sides [Israel and Hamas] was followed by complete
silence -- not between becuise everything is frozen but because
talks are going on. The less statements the sides will make, the
less it will be possible to tell them later that they made too many
concessions. The fact that a Ham,as spokesman suddenly spoke of
freeze yesterday does not indicate an interruption of contacts, but
muscle- and nerve-flexing on the last stretch of dialogue.

VI. QThe Assassination Trap

Intelligence affairs correspondent Yossi Melman wrote in Ha'aretz
(2/3): QThe Mossad is not Murder Inc., like the Mafia; its goal is
not to take vengeance on its enemies. QSpecial operations,Q like
the assassination in Dubai -- if this indeed was a Mossad operation
-- have always accounted for a relatively small proportion of its
overall activity. Nevertheless, these are the operations that give
the organization its halo, its shining image. This is ultimately
liable to blind its own ranks, cause them to become intoxicated by
their own success, and thus divert their attention from their
primary mission.... The assassinations - according to foreign
reports -- of the PLO's Abu Jihad (1988), Islamic Jihad leader Fathi
Shikaki (1995) and Hizbullah's Imad Mughniyah (2008), though they
dealt severe blows to their respective organizations, did not cause
them to collapse. And this is all the more true when the person
assassinated is a mid-level operative like [Mamhoud al-] Mabhouh.
Every terrorist, no matter how senior, is soon replaced, sometimes
by someone even better or more professional.... Such operations, and
especially assassinations, have no long-term impact on the balance
of power.

VII. QDonQt Silence Them

Columnist Merav David and diplomatic correspondent Maya Bengal wrote
in the popular, pluralist Maariv (2/3): QThe report [published this
week by the Im Tirtzu movement and Maariv daily] and the campaign
that followed in its wake accuse the New Israel Fund and the
organizations responsible for the publication of a blood libel
against the IDF and of collaboration with the enemy. The campaign
absolutely delegitimizes organizations that are extraordinarily
vital for Israeli democracy, even when they voice criticism that is
painful to hear. The more severe problem is that the discourse that
that campaign represents has trickled down into the Israeli media,
including this very newspaper in which this article has been
published, as if this were a central and normative school of thought
in Israeli society.... But even if we were to accept the validity of
the argument that without the IsraelisQ contribution there wouldnQt
have been a Goldstone report, does the information that was
submitted to the U.N. Commission constitute a blood libel?.... In
his farewell interview, [outgoing Attorney General Menachem] QMeni
Mazuz said that Qit would be a grave mistake not to form an
[Israeli] committee [of inquiry into Operation Cast Lead]. Had
Mazuz accepted those organizationsQ demand to form a committee a
year ago, the entire Goldstone saga might have been averted. The
New Israel Fund and the organizations that are cited by the report
busy themselves every day protecting the rights of women, the
unemployed, the handicapped, foreign workers, Arab citizens of
Israel, and also Palestinians. To sum up their contribution to
democracy as a project to prevent violence in sports is hardly
serious. Israeli society cannot afford to remove them from public
discourse.

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2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
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Block Quotes:
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QInternational Intrigues

Author and economic commentator Yehuda Sharoni wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (2/3): Q[The United StatesQ] dependence [on China]
isnQt just that of giant American corporations aspiring to sell
their goods to the Chinese nation. This dependence is mostly
reflected in the enormous scope of foreign currency reserves held by
the Chinese, the majority of which is invested in [U.S.] dollars....
The AmericansQ addiction to consumption, which China -- and recently
the Gulf states -- generously cultivates, might obscure the judgment
of Americans and in fact of the entire world from issues such as
security and human rights. The Israeli Government must draw the
practical and moral lessons of this development. Dependence on
foreign resources -- including the U.S. ones -- must be reduced. If
we want to apply a credible security policy, the [Israeli] Treasury
must act in exactly the same way a household follows the law
forbidding it from being overdrawn.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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