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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. Iran

2. Mideast

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Key stories in the media:
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The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel has decided that after it
presented its report about Operation Cast Lead to the U.N. earlier
this month, there is no need to set up an independent inquiry
committee. Maariv quoted Olmert as saying that he was the only one
to seek victory and an end to the Hamas regime during Operation Cast
Lead and that DM Ehud Barak and other politicians exaggerated the
number of casualties that would result from an Israeli takeover of
Gaza.

Israel Radio reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked
U.N. envoy Tony Blair to assist U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East
Peace George Mitchell in reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The radio reported that Blair acceded to MitchellQs request.

The media cited Iranian President Mahmoud AhmadinejadQs boast at a
mass rally in Tehran yesterday that Iran already is a nuclear
nation. Media quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that Israel must be
destroyed Qonce and for allQ if it strikes. Some media quoted him
as saying that he asks for SyrianQs assistance for that purpose.
The media noted the lack of effectiveness of protests in Iran
yesterday, mostly due to preventive measures taken by the regime.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli officials as saying that IranQs
nuclear bragging will persuade the world of the danger posed by the
Iranian nuclear program. Israel Hayom quoted the U.S. as saying
that Iran is exaggerating regarding its capability to enrich
uranium. Israel Radio quoted Gerard Araud, the French Ambassador to
the U.N., as saying at Columbia University that one must wait until
ChinaQs position is heard before imposing sanctions on Iran. Yediot
quoted Iranian opposition sources as saying that IsraelQs threats
against Iran are only causing them damage.

HaQaretz, Israel Hayom, and other media reported that Kadima Knesset
Member Shaul Mofaz told associates yesterday that he will form a
separate faction if his partyQs primaries are not moved up. Israel
Hayom quoted a supporter of KadimaQs chair Tzipi Livni as saying
that Mofaz and MK Eli Aflalo are Qcancerous tumorsQ in the party.
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Likud members as saying that they do not
want Mofaz in the party.

Major media reported that two months ago, while seven GOI ministers
were discussing the conditions of the Shalit deal, a Hamas terror
cell tried to infiltrate Israel through Egypt and kidnap an IDF
soldier. The plan was to kill the soldier, bury his body, and
negotiate over its return. The cellQs five members were caught with
explosives and a gun with a silencer.

HaQaretz translated a New York Magazine feature on President ObamaQs
Kenyan relatives.


HaQaretz quoted the think tank ReQut Institute as saying that Israel
is facing a global campaign of delegitimization. The institute
called on the Israeli Government to treat the matter as a strategic
threat. Israel Radio quoted Baroness Tonge, a Liberal Democrat
Member of the U.K.Qs House of Lords, as saying a few days ago that
the Israeli rescue team harvested organs in Haiti. The radio noted
that MP Nick Clegg, her party leader, failed to condemn her
assertion. Talking on the radio, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan
Sharansky said that this was a modern blood libel. Media reported
that French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot told reporters
yesterday that anti-Semitism is a problem not just for French Jews
but for the entire French Republic and the world as a whole. Bigot
said that IDF actions are being exploited by extremists.

Media reported that, two years after a High Court ruling on the
matter, work has started on a new route for the security fence in
the BilQin area -- 1,700 m. from the original one.

HaQaretz and Israel Radio reported that a nine-justice panel of the
Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a law allowing courts to remand
people suspected of security offenses in absentia contravenes the
Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty and that it is, therefore,
unconstitutional. The court said the law causes disproportional
harm to the suspect's right to be present during deliberations on
whether to keep him in jail. The East Jerusalem man referenced by
the decision had planned to assassinate former Jerusalem Mayor Uri
Lupolianski. Media said this was the seventh time the High Court
has overruled a law passed by the Knesset.

Channel 10-TV and other media reported that excerpts of the
stationQs report on corruption in the PA were broadcast all over the
Arab world. The media quoted the PA as saying that it is an Israeli
plot.

Maariv quoted the defense periodical JaneQs as saying that Egypt is
developing long-range missiles.

Yediot reported that PM Benjamin Netanyahu is setting limits to the
proposed absentee voting law: eligibility will be limited to those
Israelis who have been abroad for less than five years and have
maintained a link with Israel during that period. 100,000-200,000
Israelis would now be eligible under these conditions, instead of
500,000 as foreseen by the initial proposal.

The media reported on former U.S. President Bill ClintonQs chest
pains and the subsequent catheterization he underwent.

Yediot ran a feature on Avinadav Begin, the grandson of the late PM
Menachem Begin and the son of Likud Knesset Member Benny Begin.
Avinadav Begin is quoted as saying that he is neither Jewish nor
Israeli, that he does not respect the symbols of the state, and that
his grandfather did not change anything in IsraelQs relations with
Egypt.

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1. Iran:
---------

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


I. QBreak the Iranian Program -- There Is No Other Way

Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote on page
one of the independent Israel Hayom (2/12): QA democracy under the
Iranian threat and the neighboring states wavering between placing
an obstacle to Tehran and getting closer to it have no time to
hesitate. The debate isnQt between sanctionssolely on the
Revolutionary Guard and sanctions on the entire Iranian nation, but
about the need to make a strong-minded decision to make that Iranian
nuclear project disappear -- as Cato repeatedly vituperated against
Cartago.... [This project must be broken] through economic sanctions
or by military force, in a joint operation or by a superpower --
Ahmadinejad cannot be allowed to enrich uranium, either at 80
percent or at less.... There is no alternative when facing TehranQs
evil regime.

II. QThe Eleventh Hour

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (2/12):
QSome say tough sanctions [on Iran] will send the masses into the
arms of the governent and undermine the opposition. But
yesterdays rally showed that the regime doesnQt have a problem
putting on a show of support; and that the opposition is weak,
fragmented, and under siege. The prospects of the opposition are
unpredictable, regardless of what happens on the sanctions front.
Pretending otherwise strikes us as a lame excuse for doing nothing.
We also understand that sanctions on gasoline could enrich the IRGC
[Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps], which already controls IranQs
black market in commodities. Still, the debilitating impact on the
regime of endless lines at petrol stations should not be
underestimated. Dawdling by two U.S. administrations and by an
international community preoccupied with immediate economic
gratification has brought the world to this eleventh hour. It may
already be too late for the real sanctions option. But given the
stark alternative -- isnQt it worth a try?


III. QIs the Administration Off-Target with its Focus on the
IRGC?

Washington correspondent Hilary Leila Krieger wrote in The Jerusalem
Post (2/12): QConcerns that current broad-based sanctions
legislation pending before Congress would deeply hurt the general
[Iranian] population -- an undesirable circumstance in and of
itself, but also because the U.S. is hoping to strengthen rather
weaken the popular reform movement opposing the regime Q have been
cited in the administrationQs lukewarm response to the measure. If
the bill passes, the U.S. would sanction foreign companies providing
refined petroleum to Iran, essentially trying to bar IranQs access
to gasoline. Yet the administrationQs use of targeted sanctions
against the IRGC [Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps] and other regime
elements might not be as different from broad-based measures such as
CongressQ as the administration implies. ThatQs because nearly a
third of IranQs economy is estimated to be controlled the IRGC.

IV. QDelicate Sanctions

Columnist Shmuel Rosner, who was HaQaretzQs correspondent in
Washington, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (2/12): QWhat the
[U.S] administration plans is harming the Iranian economy with a
surgical scalpel -- harm the regime, but not the public-at-large;
impair the Revolutionary Guard, but not the reformist protesters.
This has understandable, even good reasons -- mainly for those who
believe that the Iranian regime is swiveling to the point of
near-collapse. But such surgical sanctions require thin-rope
acrobatics, the result of which may lack drama. This week Prime
Minister Netanyahu demanded that foreign ambassadors impose
Qcrippling sanctions on Iran.Q But the United States wants
crippling sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard -- not Iran.
There is a big difference between the two.


------------
2. Mideast:
------------

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


I. QAn Unacceptable Fight against Protest

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/12):
QIsraeli security forces have recently intensified their fight
against peace activists from here and abroad who seek to protest
against the occupation and identify with the Palestinian
inhabitants.... It could be expected that a country that has ruled
another nation for many years would show tolerance toward
manifestations of unarmed protest against the occupation and its
ills. The state should also respect the right of other countries'
citizens to show solidarity with the local people and join protests
alongside Israeli and Palestinian activists. The harassment of
individuals who do not toe the line and posters in the streets that
incite against human rights groups should arouse concern in the
heart f every Israeli. The suppression of public protes under the
transparent guise of protecting state ecurity does not augment
Israel's international tanding. Such a policy gives a bad name to
the Qnly democracy in the Middle East.Q Officials at te top of
government must instruct the security forces and the Interior
Ministry to immediately stop these heavy-handed attacks on
nonviolent protest.

II. QSarah PalinQs Friendship

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/12):
QLiberal Democratic Jewish voices, like Leon Wieseltier at The New
Republic, are aware that there is a problem with the rampant
anti-Semitism in their camp. And they fear that as a consequence,
American Jews may take a second look at Palin with her Israeli flag
lapel pin. As Wieseltier wrote this week, QA day does not go by
when I do not do my humble part to prevent such a transformation [of
American Jewry from liberals to conservatives] from coming to pass.
The fact of the matter is that for IsraelQs sake such a
transformation canQt happen quickly enough.... Sarah PalinQs
emergence as the mouthpiece of populist opposition to Obama presents
IsraelQs supporters -- and particularly IsraelQs Jewish supporters
-- with an extraordinary opportunity and an extraordinary challenge.
PalinQs coupling of support for Israel with her populist domestic
agenda marks the first time that support for Israel has been treated
as a core, populist issue. The opportunity this presents for
American Jews who care about Israel is without precedent. But of
course, to make the best use of this opportunity, American Jews who
support Israel have to disappoint Wieseltier. They have to
acknowledge that the Left has rejected their cause and increasingly
rejects them.... PalinQs future in politics is unknowable. But what
is clear enough is that today hers is the strongest single American
voice opposing ObamaQs foreign policy and the loudest advocate for
supporting Israel and denying Iran nuclear weapons. For this she
deserves the thanks and support of American Jewry.

CUNNINGHAM

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