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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000405

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
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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. Iran

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Key stories in the media:
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All media reported that on Sunday night 35 right-wing activists,
including National Union Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari, illegally
entered Jericho, prayed at the ancient NaQaran synagogue, and placed
an Israeli flag on its roof. There were arrested yesterday by
security personnel. Media quoted the IDF as saying that the action
was a Qtotally unnecessary provocation that risked lives.Q This
morning Israel Radio reported that the police released all the
militants, except a minor.

The media continued to highlight the aftermath of the assassination
of senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on January 20.
The European Union is expected to issue a statement Monday
condemning the use of European passports -- some of them forged --
during the operation. HaQaretz quoted a senior European diplomatic
source as saying that the statement will not directly cite Israel,
nor is it expected to link Israel with the assassination or the
forging of passports. The diplomat was quoted as saying that EU
ambassadors had been summoned for consultations by Foreign Ministry
officials in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
During the meeting, Abu Dhabi officials requested that EU foreign
ministers, who will convene in Brussels today for a conference,
issue a communiqu over the use of European passports in the Mabhouh
operation. The UAE is also demanding an explicit EU statement
supporting the Emirates' authorities who are investigating the case.
HaQaretz quoted the European source as saying that the UAE
Government did not blame Israel for carrying out the assassination
nor did it request that Israel be cited in the EU statement. The
source added that senior officials from Germany, France, Britain,
Ireland, and the EU met yesterday to agree on the language of the
statement. Ireland is advocating the ardest line among all EU
members by demanding tht the statement explicitly refer to Israel.
Isral Radio quoted a senior Israeli diplomatic source as saying
that the Dubai incident is not likely to affect Israeli-European
relations. Media reported that FM Avigdor Lieberman will come to
Brussels today to Qface tough questions from his EU counterparts.
Aside from Irish FM Micheal Martin, he is also scheduled to meet
with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who has requested
clarifications over whether Israel is responsible for the
assassination. Israel HayomQs top story consists of an op-ed by its
senior columnist Dan Margalit who affirms that all countries
intelligence branches use forged passports. Maariv reported that
Hamas is looking for a mole.

Yesterday Maariv reported that the Israeli Government is dispatching
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer to China in order to explain
the necessity of imposing sanctions on Iran. The newspaper quoted
an Israeli diplomatic source saying that the character of sanctions
being economic, Fischer might have a real influence on the Chinese
decision. Yediot wrote that Vice PM Moshe QBoogieQ YaQalon will
lead the Israeli delegation to Beijing. Leading media reported that
Russia has eventually decided to abide by its commitment to sell
Iran S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted as saying in an interview with Ari
Shavit of HaQaretz that there are signs that the Palestinians have
started to climb down the tall tree of intransigence and that the
negotiations will be able to resume in the near future.

HaQaretz reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a
senior figure from the Persian Gulf that bombing Israel with a
nuclear weapon will kill more Palestinians than Israelis. He was
further quoted as saying that the nuclear capability of the U.S. and
Israel can annihilate Iran and that it is therefore illogical for
Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

The media quoted PM Netanyahu as saying yesterday that the Cave of
the Patriarchs in Hebron and RachelQs Tomb on the outskirts of
Bethlehem will be included in the list of national heritages sites
slated for preservation. While right-wing politicians applauded the
PMQs move, left-wing legislators condemned it. HaQaretz and other
media quoted Meretz Chairman Haim Oron as saying: "This is another
attempt to blur the lines between the State of Israel and the
occupied territories. Just a little pressure from the right and
Netanyahu immediately toes the line. This decision casts the Prime
Minister's Bar-Ilan University declaration of two states for two
peoples in a ridiculous light." In another development, media
reported that Peace NowQs Secretary-General sent a protest letter to
Netanyahu over the Information and Diaspora MinistryQs planned
campaign to turn Israeli tourists abroad into goodwill ambassadors
for their country, which the group says contains propaganda
contradicting IsraelQs commitments in the peace process and the
two-state solution.

The Jerusalem Post reported that U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY)
told the newspaper that President ObamaQs decision to reappoint an
ambassador to Syria was a Qmistake.Q Engel was the sponsor of a
2003 bill calling for sanctions against Syria if it does not end
support for terrorism and leave Lebanon.

Electronic media reported that last week Palestinian security forces
delivered to Israel a Qassam rocket that had been assembled in a
West Bank village. The rocket was ready for launch. Intelligence
on the matter was obtained by the PA.

The media reported that early on Sunday an improvised explosive
device was thrown at the Shaare Shamayim synagogue in Cairo, causing
no casualties or damage. HaQaretz quoted IsraelQs Ambassador to
Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon, as saying that based on what was told by
local authorities, there was no certainty the synagogue was the
target.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli officials as saying a French
recognition of a Palestinian State -- as hinted Sunday by French FM
Bernard Kouchner in an interview with the French magazine Le Journal
du Dimanche -- would hurt chances of talks with the Palestinians.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry
official told the daily yesterday that the pro-peace lobby J Street
lied about an alleged boycott by Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon of the
congressional delegation it recently brought to Israel and about
Israel apologizing to the group for the slight.

Last night Israel TV reported that a huge banner was displayed in
Turkey -- QshowingQ President Shimon Peres bowing to Turkish PM
Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a reminder of the Qlow chairQ incident in
Jerusalem. Maariv quoted Israeli diplomatic sources as saying this
is a Qbothering and revolting scandal.

Maariv reported that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Ltd will set
up a joint venture for developing advanced missile systems with a
government-owned Indian company, Bharat Electronics Ltd.

All media reported that IsraelQs public broadcasting service is in
crisis. In early January Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA)
management decided on a series of unprecedented cuts. Today Maariv
front-paged an appeal by prominent journalists from the commercial
stations Channel 2-TV and Channel 10-TV to save public broadcasting.
Israel Hayom reported that PM Netanyahu is expected to intervene in
the IBA crisis.

The media reported that ultra-Orthodox politician Rabbi Menachem
Porush passed away yesterday at the age of 94. He served as an
Agudat Yisrael parliamentarian from 1955 through 1994 and as a
Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Welfare in the Q80s and Q90s.

HaQaretz reported that according to a new Gallup poll released over
the weekend, Israel ranks fifth among the countries viewed most
favorably by Americans, behind Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and
Japan. Israel is the only country that received more favorable
views from Republicans. The PA, in contrast, received more support
from Democrats.

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

Block Quotes:
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I. QStart a Secret Track with the Palestinians

Former Meretz leader, former Justice Minister, and chief Israeli
promoter of the Geneva Initiative, Yossi Beilin, wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (2/22): QSince proximity talks are
cumbersome and problematic to all sides, it is important that Israel
and the Palestinians enter a direct and secret track that will
include true discussions while the elder Senator [U.S. Envoy George
Mitchell] shuttles between the hotels of the delegations. If
someone is seriously interested in the positions of the other side
and if someone intends to push the diplomatic process forward, not
just to prove to Obama that he is behaving, this is the only way.
The Turkish road [i.e. the indirect track] had better be left
empty.

II. QThe Shalit Syndrome

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/22): QThe Mabhouh case has knocked the
bottom out of the argument that Israel will be safer if the worst of
the freed terrorists are exiled to Damascus as part of a deal for
Shalit. The huge effort put into assassinating Mabhouh in Dubai and
the diplomatic and security risks -- surely calculated ones -- taken
by whoever did it are indications of the man's standing in the world
of terrorism. Exile, it transpires, can be an ideal hothouse for
breeding arch-terrorists.... Assassinating exiled terrorists will
not defeat Hamas and thwarting a prisoner exchange will not have a
long-term impact on the balance of power in the Palestinian
territories. The right way to tackle Hamas is to create a real
political alternative to its violent and uncompromising course. In
the absence of such an alternative, operations taken from James Bond
movies that the foreign media attribute to Israel make this country
look like a neighborhood thug and divert attention from the specter
of apartheid crouching at the gate.


III. QA Duty to Protest

Ha'aretz editorialized (2/22): QSome 1,000 people took part in last
Friday's demonstration against the separation fence in the village
of Bil'in west of Ramallah, marking the fifth anniversary of weekly
protests at the site.... Bil'in has become a symbol of a civic
struggle devoid of terrorism. Such persistent, ongoing protest
action is remarkable.... Actually, last Friday's rally was
relatively peaceful: the presence of Palestinian Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad and numerous journalists made the IDF and Border Police
behave less violently than usual. Only when the protesters began
causing damage to the barrier itself did the security forces react,
but even then they used riot-control measures rather than firearms.
This is how it ought to be, every Friday. The protests in Bil'in
are legitimate. They must be allowed. Protesters must be permitted
unobstructed access to the site and so should security forces, as
long as they act with restraint. Shooting at demonstrators -- as
has happened in Bil'in all too often -- is an act perpetrated by
only the most nefarious regimes. Protesting in Bil'in is not just a
right. It is a duty.

IV. QWho Is Stymieing Economic Projects in the PA?

Regional Development Minister and former Foreign Minister Silvan
Shalom (Likud) wrote in Israel Hayom (2/21): QConstruction of the
new Palestinian city to the north of Ramallah, Rawabi, is advancing
at present. This is the Palestinian AuthorityQs flagship project in
the realm of civil development.... Contrary to reports, Israel has
not stymied progress on this important project. Israel has declared
on numerous occasions that it regards economic peace as an important
component on the way to political peace. The gain that will be
accrued by the Palestinian citizen from economic cooperation is most
important for advancing the political peace process. Improving the
quality of life there will help reduce the advantages of clashes,
will promote moderation, will allow for the gradual construction of
trust, and will provide a horizon of hope. Economic cooperation
will contribute not only to the creation of trust, understanding,
and cooperation in other areas. At the end of the day, that
cooperation serves as a generator of growth. We are doing our
utmost, but continued advancement of the project is contingent upon
the Palestinians and the developer.... We have no conflict with the
Palestinians, but only with their leadership. We try to draw a
distinction and to remain firmly committed to our political,
security, and settlement principles, while allowing the Palestinians
to lead normal lives. But for the Rawabi project, like many others
that we are trying to promote, it takes two to tango. Unless the
Palestinians make a courageous strategic decision to be in touch
with us so as to promote projects whose purpose is to improve the
Palestinian economy, we are going to continue to run into obstacles.
It is a shame that while there are some people who work hard to
make something, there are others who work equally hard to destroy.
We look forward to finding a solution in the near future to the
problem of the access road [to Rawabi].

V. QOut of Date and out of Touch

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/22): QAnyone who
actually lives in Israel knows -- whether they like it or not --
that Israel is ready to make big concessions and take reasonable
risks to achieve peace. They know, whether or not they agree, that
the overwhelming majority is ready to accept an independent
Palestinian state, as long as it is willing to end the conflict and
live side by side in peace. Outside Israel, far fewer people
understand this reality. And that includes journalists, academics,
and politicians. If they address the issue at all, they presume
that Israel is asking the Palestinians to make some huge or
unreasonable concession. Often, as noted above, their understanding
of Israeli views is more than 20 years out of date.... But the
Palestinians especially and Westerners generally know even less
about Israel's own demands.... These include security guarantees,
non-militarization of a Palestinian state, an end to the conflict,
and the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in Palestine. The
above observations can produce a simple definition of the difference
between moderates and radicals. The radicals, both among the
Palestinians and their Western sympathizers, know -- even if they
pretend otherwise -- that they want all the land from the Jordan
River to the Mediterranean Sea along with Israel's elimination.
This is true whether they seek it through a two-stage process, the
dispatch of a million or two Palestinians to Israel in a peace
agreement, a one-state solution, or a temporary binational state.
Consequently they are indifferent to what Israel actually offers
except to distort it for propaganda purposes. A moderate is someone
who actually thinks the Palestinians today want a two-state solution
and is genuinely fooled by the ploys outlined above. Consequently,
the moderates -- few as they are among Palestinians, more numerous
in the West -- can have the facts explained to them. But the
radicals know precisely what they are doing and don't care about any
chance for compromise.

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2. Iran:
---------

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

QThis Will Be a Historic Moment

Eytan Haber, veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin, opined in the mass-circulation, pluralist
Yediot Aharonot (2/21): QBibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, whom even
their current political opponents view as experts, as opposed to IDF
Chief of Staff [Gabi Ashkenazi], who may be quite right in
depositing the final decision [about attacking Iran] at their feet,
cannot look back and look for someone upon whom to rely for making
that decision -- for better and for worse, they are the ones. To
envy them, one must be from another planet.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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