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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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1. U.S.-Israel Relations

2. Mideast

3. Iran

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Key stories in the media:
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Media cited new developments in the investigation of the Dubai
assassination affair: Yediot bannered the finding that the
assassins visited Dubai three times. Israel Radio cited Irish
police that there are now 19 suspects in the case. Maariv led with
the Dubai police chiefQs announcement yesterday that, if proven that
the Mossad is behind the incident, PM Benjamin Netanyahu would top
the list of wanted persons in the case, followed by Mossad Director
Meir Dagan. Other media reported that Dubai seeks DaganQs arrest.
Maariv reported that Israeli representatives were asked to provide
clarifications throughout Europe. The Jerusalem Post quoted an
Israeli diplomatic official as saying that there was no diplomatic
crisis with the U.K., Qbecause there is nothing to connect this with
Israel.Q Yediot cited the British daily The Independent that the
summons issued to Israeli ambassadors in Britain and Ireland were
for show only. Israel Radio cited the British Foreign ServiceQs
denial of a Daily Mail report that it was informed in advance of the
use of forged British passports. The radio quoted William Hague, a
senior MP of the British Conservative Party, as saying that the
British Government might well have been told about it. Israel Hayom
quoted an Israeli diplomatic source as saying that the bulk of the
diplomatic crisis is over. Some media cited Arab media reports that
Muhammad Dahlan, former head of Fatah security in Gaza, had a role
in Mahmoud al-MabhouhQs assassination.

Leading media reported that for the first time the U.N.Qs
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) admitted that Iran is
developing a nuclear weapon. A secret agency report cited concern
that Iran is developing a nuclear warhead. Israel Hayom cited the
United StatesQ concern over the new revelations. Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe cited IsraelQs concern that QAmerica is prepared to
accept a nuclear Iran.

HaQaretz quoted a senior GOI official in Jerusalem as saying
yesterday that negotiations between Israel and the PA are to be
renewed next week. The source said Israeli government officials had
been told as much by Austrian FM Michael Spindelegger. The senior
Austrian official, who visited Israel and the PA last week, told the
officials that PA President Mahmoud Abbas had told him he would give
his consent to the United States' request to renew talks with
Israel. Abbas met in Ramallah yesterday with David Hale, the U.S.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and
deputy to U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace Senator George
Mitchell. Hale gave Abbas American assurances regarding the renewal
of talks with Israel, including a timetable for the move from
indirect to direct talks, and clarifications regarding the issue of
the 1967 borders. The nature of these clarifications is unclear.
The renewed negotiations are to use the "proximity" talks format,
similar to the model of the Israel-Syria talks that were mediated by
Turkey. During the indirect phase of the talks, the Israeli and the
Palestinian teams will sit in separate locations, and Mitchell and
his staff will convey messages between them. It is unclear whether
the talks will take place in Israel or in Washington. The U.S. has
updated Israel on Hale's talks with Abbas. The Israeli negotiating
team also visited Washington last week to clarify Israel's position
on conditions for the renewal of talks. The team includes attorney
Yitzhak Molcho and Brig. Gen. Mike Herzog. A senior government
source in Israel said that Israel wants the parties to move as soon
as possible from proximity talks to direct talks on all core issues
-- including borders, refugees, Jerusalem, and security
arrangements. Israel is hoping the direct talks will begin within a
number of weeks, or two to three months at the most.

HaQaretz reported that DM Ehud Barak will go to Washington next week
to meet with senior U.S. government officials, including Defense
Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Advisor Gen. James
Jones. Barak will then head to New York for a meeting with United
Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The DM is expected to focus
in these meetings on negotiations with the Palestinians, the Iranian
nuclear program, the situation on Israel's northern front with Syria
and Lebanon, and how to maintain the IDFQs qualitative edge.

HaQaretz reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has come to
regret its snubbing of a U.S. congressional delegation this week and
sent a senior official to apologize. The apology, however, failed
to assuage the deeply insulted congressmen, whose visit was
sponsored by left-wing American advocacy group J Street.

Leading media quoted Noam Shalit, the father of Hamas prisoner Gilad
Shalit, as saying during a meeting in Israel with the members of the
Conference of Presidents of Major [U.S.] Jewish Organizations that
the U.S. administration is putting off the deal over his sonQs
release. Noam Shalit was quoted as saying: QWe are hearing voices
from the U.S. administration hinting to decision-makers in Israel
not to carry out the proposed swap to have Gilad released.Q Noam
Shalit was quoted as saying that the U.S. fears that the deal will
endanger the stability of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Yediot cited
the U.S. Jewish leadersQ promise to QdemonstrateQ against the U.S.
administration.

Yediot reported that British Conservative politicians have promised,
if elected, to allow Kadima chair and former FM Tzipi Livni to enter
the U.K without worrying about being arrested.

The Jersalem Post reported that the 27 EU foreign minister, set to
hold their monthly meeting in Brussels n Monday, are expected to
discuss the Goldstone ommission report and issue a statement that
will be the basis of a debate on the issue to begin in the European
Parliament two days later.

Leading media reported that yesterday a Lebanese court sentenced to
death a man convicted of collaborating ith Israel. Israel Radio
quoted Arab League Secetary-General Amr Moussa as saying that the
Arabstates will come to LebanonQs rescue, should it be attacked by
Israel.

Israel Radio reported that Israel and Egypt are considering a joint
solar energy project in Sinai.

Former Consul-General in New York Alon Pinkas, whose candidacy for
the U.N. ambassadorship was allegedly thwarted by Sara Netanyahu,
the PMQs wife, was quoted as saying in an interview with Yediot that
no matter what Sara did, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had initially
offered Pinkas the Washington posting, asking for PinkasQ help in
bringing in useful contacts in the U.S., owes him an answer
regarding the U.N post. Yediot cited a response by the Prime
MinisterQs Office that Pinkas did not receive any promise to become
IsraelQs ambassador to the U.N.

Major media reported that the first Eitan Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
(UAV), also known as Heron TP, will enter service with the IAF on
Sunday. The 4.5-ton plane, made by Israel Aerospace Industries, can
maintain automatic high-altitude flight for 60 hours and is fitted
with satellite communications, specialized sensors and other
equipment for reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering hundreds of
kilometers beyond Israel's borders. The Eitan is expected to
enhance the IAF's ability to operate for a long time at a great
distance, even over Iran. It can fly at an altitude of 45,000 feet
and gather much more accurate information than the IDF can obtain
today. Media cited classified information that the aircraft is also
geared for air combat.

HaQaretz reported that Israel has reached an agreement with the U.S.
over intellectual property rights, after a decade of disagreement.
Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer was quoted
as saying yesterday that the two countries have reached an
understanding which will remove Israel from the blacklist of nations
that violate intellectual property rights. The agreement states
that Israeli laws on pharmaceuticals will be changed -- to the
disadvantage of generic drug makers, such as Teva Pharmaceuticals.
In practice, the changes will lengthen the patent protection for
drugs by a year or two. Once the legislative changes are made, the
U.S. has committed itself to actively support Israel's acceptance
into the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, as
the issue was one of the major disputes holding up Israel's entry
into the OECD.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel will set up a $1.5 million
school for 1,000children in Haiti.

All media reported somewhat sarcastically that DM Ehud Barak has
bought a luxury apartment in central Tel Aviv without having to sell
his current, more expensive one. The dwelling, which costs 10
million shekels (around $2.5 million), will be ready in four years.

Major media reported that on Sunday the state will approve a plan
for the preservation of 150 sites of Jewish and Israeli interest,
including Masada, Ben GurionQs Tel Aviv house and his Negev
residence and tomb, RachelQs Tomb at the entrance to Bethlehem, and
the historical Khan along the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. The cost
of the project will be 600 million shekels (around $150 million) --
400 million shekels from government funds and 200 million to be
raised from external sources. The Jerusalem Post said that RachelQs
Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron -- which the PA wants
to include in its future stateQs territory -- might not make it onto
the heritage list.
Major media reported that yesterdayQs visit by the Dalai Lama to the
White House is exacerbating Sino-American tension. HaQaretz dubbed
him a Qwelcome visitorQ in Washington.

Yediot reported on an art exhibition -- the Qfirst Mediterranean
biennale in HaifaQ -- held in a shipping container -- that includes
works by Israeli, Palestinian, Moroccan, Turkish, Dutch, German, and
Romanian artists.

Maariv cited the concern of Israeli clothing retail chains that
American chains that are opening stores here might seriously
challenge their businesses.

--------------------------
1. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

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

QThe Ministry for Isolating Israel

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/19): QThe
stupidity that has overtaken the Foreign Ministry under the
leadership of Avigdor Lieberman and Danny Ayalon sank to a new low
this week. When a delegation of American congressmen, who came to
Israel at the initiative of the leftist Jewish lobby J Street, asked
to meet with senior Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem they
encountered obstacles and delays. Then, at the last minute, the
Foreign Ministry agreed to arrange the meetings -- but said the
congressmen had to come alone, without their J Street escorts. The
guests refused and convened a press conference at which they called
the behavior of Israel's government a disgrace. It is hard to
imagine a more harmful and unnecessary blow to Israel's foreign
relations than boycotting U.S. congressmen and their escorts from a
Jewish organization. No bureaucratic justification -- such as Qthe
professionals advised against meeting with the group,Q which the
Foreign Ministry is now claiming -- can excuse this. The support of
Congress and the U.S. Jewish community are Israel's greatest
strategic assets.... The congressmen and their escorts deserve an
apology from the government. Even more urgently needed is a
reassessment of Israel's foreign relations in the Lieberman era.
Instead of bolstering Israel's international standing, it seems the
Foreign Minister and his deputy seek to deepen its isolation. Under
their leadership, the Foreign Ministry has turned into a thought
police and a ministry for silencing criticism. Following angry
outbursts against the Scandinavians and the Turks, Israel is now
humiliating U.S. congressmen, whose support is essential. Before
any more harm is done, Netanyahu must rescind his problematic
appointments at the top of the Foreign Ministry and find
replacements for both Lieberman and Ayalon.

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

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

I. QRerun

Diplomatic correspondent and television anchor Ben Caspit wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv (2/19): QWhat was good [in 1970] (when
[current Mossad head Meir] Dagan was credited with personal
operations that would QawardQ him three or four Goldstone reports
today) is not presently valid. Putting the secret organization in
his hands, when any tumbling could turn into a global disaster, is
dangerous.... Something went wrong in Dubai. According to one
assessment, the elimination should have been quiet and unsigned.
MabhouhQs death should have considered natural.


II. QA Hit with Few Consequences

Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote on page one
of the independent, left-leaning HaQaretz (2/19): Q[HamasQ] panic
could provide an answer to Israelis' questions about whether the
[Dubai] assassination was a success or failure: the efforts to keep
Mabhouh's identity secret failed and a key player in its smuggling
operation is gone.... Moreover, the killing has a deterrent effect
-- Hamas' boasts of its military prowess will now be taken with a
grain of salt by the people in Gaza. Therefore it's hard to call
this operation a failure. The operational goal was achieved. The
assassins came home safely (aside from two Palestinians who
evidently helped them).... The real snafu was the use of forged
European passports bearing the names of real Israeli dual citizens.
But it's hard to imagine any other method by which foreign agents
could enter and operate in hostile territory.

III. QNo More than Ricochets

The nationalist, Orthodox Makor Rishon-Hatzofe editorialized (2/19):
QIf those who in the past handled [sic] [Khaled] Mashal and [Imad]
Mughniyah are the same as those who took care of al-Mabhouh, the
[Dubai liquidation] was no failure.... Offensive fighting must
continue. The achievement is big enough for Israel to take in media
and diplomatic ricochets. The damage caused by criminals such as
the late al-Mabhouh ... justify temporary inconvenience to a few
citizens who woke up one day to headlines that mentioned their
names.

IV. QTearing the Palestinian LeaderQs Mask

Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (2/19): QOlmert quietly promised the
Palestinians that 25,000 of their people would be able to enter
Israel within its Green Line border, But Abu Mazen has not
responded to this offer until this day. This is surprising and even
amazing, since he is interested in a two-state solution. He should
have adopted OlmertQs proposal with fervor and embarrassed his
successor Netanyahu. But the Ramallah leader is so afraid of peace
that he wouldnQt even touch the proposal. It is the mask on Abu
MazenQs face that Peace Now should tear off tomorrow during a
demonstration at Tel AvivQs Cinematheque Square [a well-known venue
for left-wing protests]. The rallyQs organizers will certainly not
do that.


V. QThe Fatah Fairy Tale

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/19): QThere
is no doubt that an Israeli denunciation of [Mahmoud] Abbas and his
mafia would enrage the U.S. and EU. Apparently, Netanyahu, who, to
please President Barack Obama, accepted the two-state paradigm in
spite of the fact that he opposes it, and suspended Jewish
construction in Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] despite the
fact that knows doing this is wrong -- is loath to pick a fight by
pointing out the obvious fact that the PA is a corrupt band of
oppressive thieves. [Fatah whistleblower Fahmi] Shabaneh argues
that due to PA corruption, Hamas remains the preferred alternative
for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. In his view, the only reason
Hamas has yet to take over Judea and Samaria is the IDF presence in
the areas. The strategic implications of his statement are clear.
Far from being a bulwark against Hamas, Abbas empowers the
Iranian-backed jihadist force. The only bulwark against Hamas is
Israel.... As for angering the White House, the fact of the matter
is that by pointing out that Abbas is not a credible leader, Israel
will make it more difficult for Obama and his advisers to coerce
Israel into making further concessions that will only further
empower Hamas.

---------
3. Iran:
---------

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

I. QLet Them Talk with Someone Else

Columnist Shmuel Rosner, who was HaQaretzQs correspondent in
Washington, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (2/19): QThe
incessant race of American envoys coming to Israel to reassure it is
actually very discomforting and somewhat pressuring.... Something a
bit strange happened this week to the Obama administration, just
after the relative failure of the Q2/11Q events -- i.e. after it
turned out that the Iranian opposition is far from success (when the
AyatollahsQ regime managed to suppress and put an end to rioting
pockets, as Qregime changeQ wouldnQt apparently be here tomorrow
morning. The Obama administration suddenly started talking about
Qregime changeQ with increasing enthusiasm.

II. QAvoiding the Last Resort

Military correspondent Amos Harel and Palestinian affairs
correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote in the independent, left-leaning
HaQaretz (2/19): QWhile Iran is deliberately heating up the
atmosphere, the United States is seeking to cool it down a little.
Strangely enough, at this stage both sides have interpreted Israel's
role in a similar manner; both apparently believe it could lose its
patience.... In [Mohamed ElBaradeiQs] absence, it looks as though
the IAEA will also align itself with future U.S. analyses and harden
its tone toward Iran. Israel will choose to attack only as a last
resort. If Iran continues to enrich uranium and Washington does not
succeed in imposing genuine sanctions, or if such sanctions do not
move Iran, this question becomes more relevant. In such a case,
Israel would have more legitimacy for acting in self-defense, and
could not be blamed when diplomatic efforts fail. For the time
being, the Netanyahu government will try to QtranslateQ the fear of
its future actions into hard currency. The United States has
already deployed a radar system in Israel, which has improved the
country's deterrent capability against missile strikes. Israel
recently received a commitment regarding U.S. Army emergency
storehouses here. If we accept the version of the Prime Minister's
Office, there may also have been success on the Russian front, in
the form of another delay in the deal to sell SA-300 anti-aircraft
missiles to Tehran.

III. QMullen and Biden Are Coming to Sniff Around

Editor-in-Chief Amnon Lord wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe (2/19): QIranQs clients fear that Israel is
deliberately conducting an assassination campaign in order to
produce deterioration. Deterioration means escalation at some time,
followed by a flare-up. This seems to be the reason for their
frequent talk of war. The Americans can see this. They may wonder
why Israel would want a war. If such big guns as Mullen and Biden
come to Israel, they must be afraid that Israel might want to take
advantage of a flare-up in its vicinity in order to deal a military
blow on IranQs nuclear installations. Israel appears to signal that
it encourages an international a clash over Iran. But Israel has no
reason to trust such steps -- certainly not under the direction of
President Barack Obama. To this day he hasnQt demonstrated
leadership to match the magnitude of the challenge. He has neither
enlisted international forces needed to wrap up the sanctions issue
nor creates a credible military threat. Deadlines follow one
another and nothing tangible is happening.

IV. QIt Is Now Clear : ElBaradei Tried to Put the World to Sleep

Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (2/19): QThe International Atomic Energy
Agency has stopped lying to itself and to the world. Its new head,
Yukiya Amano, has drafted a detailed report that unequivocally
determined that Iran is acting to develop nuclear weapons.... It is
hard to know on whose behalf Dr. ElBaradei churned out the delaying
tactics that could have turned into a long-lasting catastrophe....
What remains to be seen now is whether the world was terribly
naove.... In the wake of yesterdayQs report, it is not enough for
foreign ministries to express their concern. Economy ministries
around the world, followed by defense ministries, must be enlisted
to contain the Iranian move.... It is too late anyway.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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