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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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COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019
JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS
SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
Key stories in the media:
Over the weekend the media extensively reported on the four-way
meting between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, PM Ehud Olmert, PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas, and Jordanian King Abdullah II
slated to take place in Sharm el-Sheikh today. Maariv bannered:
"Anti-Hamas Summit." Leading media quoted PM Ehud Olmert as saying
at Sunday's cabinet meeting that "it was necessary to take risks"
but that he had no illusions about Chairman Abbas and that he did
not want to give anyone the mistaken impression that "we are on the
brink of a dramatic breakthrough." According to Israel Radio,
Olmert referred to the possibility that Abbas could make a mistake
similar to the signing of the Mecca Agreement with Hamas. The media
reported that the cabinet voted on a resolution to "renew
transferring tax revenue" to the PA. PM Olmert will bring up the
decision at the summit. Only Yisrael Beiteinu ministers Avigdor
Lieberman and Yitzhak Aharonovitch voted against the decision.
Ha'aretz wrote that on Sunday, in their reports to a meeting of
Olmert, FM Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, most
security chiefs opposed lifting the roadblocks and recommended that
the travel restrictions remain unchanged until it is possible to
better evaluate security conditions in the West Bank. The security
chiefs were quoted as saying that they are concerned about Hamas's
plans to carry out suicide bombings and that they consider the
restrictions on Palestinian movement in the West Bank to be the most
efficient way to prevent this. Ha'aretz said that Barak asked for
more time to evaluate the situation. Maariv reported that both
Olmert and Abbas are interested in bringing international forces
such as NATO to the region.
The Jerusalem Post quoted President-elect Shimon Peres as saying on
Sunday that Israel should extend economic assistance to the
Palestinians in the West Bank. Peres was talking to the opening of
the Jewish Agency Assembly.
Leading media quoted PA officials as saying that during today's
summit Abbas is expected to demand the release of hundreds of Fatah
prisoners -- including Marwan Barghouti -- from Israeli jails. On
Sunday Maariv reported that former PM Ariel Sharon had planned to
release Barghouti in exchange for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.
On Sunday Ha'aretz revealed that during his visit to the US last
week, PM Olmert rejected a proposal by Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice that Israel negotiate a permanent settlement with
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Rice supports talks
on a "shelf agreement" that would outline the permanent settlement
but not be implemented immediately because of Abbas' weak standing.
In Rice's view, merely reaching such an agreement in principle would
provide the Palestinians with a "political horizon" and hope,
thereby encouraging them to fight terror and to establish governing
institutions in preparation for an independent state. Ha'aretz said
that FM Tzipi Livni shares Rice's approach, but that Olmert is
strongly opposed to the idea. He believes that any settlement
reached should be implemented, and fears a situation in which Israel
approves the agreement, but Abbas fails to sell it to the
Palestinian public. In that event, Israel might be pressured to
make further concessions to make Abbas's task easier.
All media reported that an Islamic Jihad gunman was killed and two
other wounded when an IAF aircraft targeted a car traveling in
eastern Gaza City on Sunday night, the fist such attack since Hamas
took over the Gaza Strip earlier this month. The IDF was quoted as
saying that the man killed, Hussan Khalil al-Hur, had fired Qassam
rockets as Sderot earlier in the day, which resulted in injuries to
three people. Media quoted Israeli military sources as saying that
he was also suspected of manufacturing the rockets. The Jerusalem
Post quoted sources close to Mahmoud Abbas as saying that he decided
to incorporate Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades into the PA security
forces in the West Bank.
Ha'aretz reported that Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told the cabinet
on Sunday that Hamas is planning to carry out suicide bombings in
order to undermine the efforts by Israel and the West to bolster
Abbas. Diskin also warned that the impression that Fatah is
powerful in the West Bank is only an illusion. On Sunday Maariv
cited new data collected by Western intelligence officials and
diplomats about Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip. Three countries
knew about Hamas's planned coup in Gaza in advance and supported it:
Iran, Syria and Qatar. The coup was meticulously planned by Hamas's
military wing. The planning was completed in the course of a
meeting that was held a few days before D-Day in Damascus.
The Jerusalem Post reported that John Ging, Director of UN Relief
and Works Agency (UNRWA) Operations in Gaza, told the newspaper that
the passage of basic staples into Gaza through two secondary border
crossings under Israeli control averted an immediate humanitarian
crisis on Sunday. Ging warned that this was only a stop gap
All media reported that on Sunday six UNIFIL soldiers were killed in
a car bomb attack. The Jerusalem Post and Yediot quoted Israeli
officials as saying that terror cells affiliated with Al Qaida --
and possibly also responsible for last Sunday's Katyusha rocket
attack on Kiryat Shmona -- were the prime suspects.
The Jerusalem Post reported that on Sunday Assistant NATO
Secretary-General John Colston told the newspaper that Israel moved
a step closer toward joining global NATO missions after the IDF
agreed to upgrade relations and joint military training and
exercises to enhance interoperability with NATO.
The media reported that the deputy head of the Mossad, "N.," a
likely candidate to replace the chief of Israel's external
intelligence organization, Meir Dagan, in the fall of 2008, has
stepped down after a falling-out with his boss. To fill the
unexpected vacancy, Dagan restored his former deputy, "T.," to the
post. "T." had been "on loan" to the IDF.
Major media reported that the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem
plans to publish a statement today that holding IDF Cpl. Gilad
Shalit hostage is a "war crime." On Sunday The Jerusalem Post
reported that the Franco-Israeli community will start a public
relations campaign to get French President Nicolas Sarkozy to help
bring about the release of Shalit, who has dual French and Israeli
Ha'aretz reported that several months ago an attempt failed to
arrange a meeting between Shimon Peres, the Vice PM and now
president-elect, and a senior Saudi figure.
The Jerusalem Post reported that several Jewish organizations
expressed outrage following the publication of opinion pieces penned
by Ahmed Yousef, a political adviser to Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, in
The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Yediot reported that Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik met with Olmert in
an attempt to convince him to name Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu
finance minister, and that Olmert promised to consider her proposal.
The newspaper reported that Itzik wants Olmert to form a national
unity government. Media noted that Education Minister Yuli Tamir
(Labor) might pay the price of a cabinet reshuffle. On Sunday The
Jerusalem Post and other media quoted Kadima Party officials as
saying that Olmert favors MK Ham Ramon for finance minister.
Maariv reported that for the first time the State Department
determined that every American citizen born in greater Jerusalem
will be registered as a native of Israel. The newspaper reported
that senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials are refraining from
granting special importance to the new policy.
On Sunday Yediot reported that a temporary solution to the problem
of African refugees seeking asylum in Israel is taking shape: Israel
will not allow the refugees to stay in the country, but instead will
grant temporary asylum before their transfer to a friendly African
Media reported that on Sunday the cabinet eased the acquisition
process of Israeli passports. Maariv noted that oligarchs will be
able to obtain passports even if they do not intend to live in the
The Jerusalem Post reported that Talla-Tech, the Tallahassee,
Florida-based subsidiary of Israel's Tadiran Communications,
recently said it has received US Army purchase orders worth about
USD 18.5 million for the latest generation Rugged Personal Digital
Assistant RPDA computers.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Citigroup has selected the Israeli
market as a relative outperformer among the regional markets in
Central-Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
Media speculated about the possibility that New York City Mayor
Michael Bloomberg might become the first Jewish president of the US.
Last week Bloomberg announced he was becoming an independent.
The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "It is a pity
to waste [the circumstances of] the emergency in the territories and
the neighboring leaders' moment of willingness on marginal gestures.
The Prime Minister must come to Sharm el-Sheikh with an agenda. He
should leave his trinkets at home."
The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Premature gestures, besides risking Israeli lives, also greatly
reduce the incentive for Abbas to act."
Senior columnist Dan Margalit wrote in the popular, pluralist
Maariv: "The willingness to pay Abu Mazen in advance, immediately,
created a new level of demands."
Veteran journalist Yaron London wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "It is doubtful whether increasing the
economic support for the PA will do anything to change the political
culture of the Palestinians."
Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in Maariv: "Hamas is like
a young snake that swallowed a cow. Now let us see it digest that
Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz: "Israeli
intelligence officials are already warning that the opposite of
peace is imminent war between Israel and Syria. This means that Bush
is refusing to help prevent another round of blood-letting."
I. "An Agenda, Not Gestures"
The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (6/25): "Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert's actions and statements heighten the
impression that he does not appreciate the seriousness of the new
reality after Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip. On the other hand,
concern is growing that Olmert and his coalition partners, among
them the new-old defense minister, are about to miss the opportunity
to enlist moderate Arab countries to strengthen pragmatic forces in
the territories and prevent the West Bank from becoming a second
Gaza.... As was reported in Ha'aretz on Sunday, during his visit to
Washington last week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected a proposal
by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to begin negotiations with
Abbas on a 'shelf agreement'.... The Prime Minister maintained his
bad-old approach that negotiations on a two-state solution are a
prize to the Arabs for good behavior. It seems that the lessons of
the past seven years are insufficient for policy makers to
understand the fate of politicians and Palestinian police who
cooperate with a foreign regime. It is a pity to waste [the
circumstances of] the emergency in the territories and the
neighboring leaders' moment of willingness on marginal gestures.
The Prime Minister must come to Sharm el-Sheikh with an agenda. He
should leave his trinkets at home."
II. "An Experiment in Israeli Lives"
The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (6/25):
"Shouldn't Israel remain open to the possibility that an important
corner has been turned and all this will now change? The answer is
yes, but not by risking Israeli lives; rather, by being forthcoming
in response to actual changes in Palestinian behavior.... If Abbas
is taking action against terrorism, there will be no reason for the
IDF not to reduce its presence in the West Bank substantially. But
it is unacceptable for the Palestinians to demand, let alone for
Olmert to offer, that Israel let its guard down first and see what
happens. This would amount to experimenting with Israeli lives....
Premature gestures, besides risking Israeli lives, also greatly
reduce the incentive for Abbas to act. Indeed, Abbas needs Israeli
conditionality to justify taking action. The standard Abbas
justification for opposing terrorism is, unfortunately, not moral
but pragmatic: on the grounds that terror is not in the Palestinian
interest. Putting the cart of security concessions before the horse
of a Palestinian crackdown against terrorism endangers Israelis,
deprives Abbas of his main reason to act, and thereby endangers the
chances, however slim, of moving forward."
III. "Haste Is From the Devil"
Senior columnist Dan Margalit wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv
(6/25): "What was the urgency that caused the government on Sunday
to decide immediately on giving approximately USD 600 million to the
Palestinians? Even a government that believes that the payment is
inevitable and that the Palestinian Authority is entitled to the
funds should have reined in its eagerness. Why before the four-way
summit being held today at Sharm el-Sheikh? It could be done during
the summit, or after it. It is not advisable to do so before it....
The willingness to pay Abu Mazen in advance, immediately, created a
new level of demands: The money is already in his pocket, and he can
take advantage of the meeting for additional demands -- a prisoner
release. In particular, the release of Marwan Barghouti. A demand
to remove IDF roadblocks in the West Bank, the reduction of which is
a recipe for rebuilding the Hamas infrastructure in the territories.
Arms and weaponry for Abu Mazen's Fatah. Had the government not
released the funds on Sunday, Olmert would only have been urged at
the summit to release the frozen taxes. Now he can expect to be
subjected to further pressures.... Despite the fact that Olmert is
arriving in a position of inferiority, he must bargain. Haste is
from the devil. He can borrow a successful slogan from his rival
Binyamin Netanyahu: 'If they give, they will receive.'"
IV. "Money is Not the Solution"
Veteran journalist Yaron London wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/25): "The aid that the UN Relief and
Works Agency has been supplying since 1948 to the Palestinians and
their descendants has paralyzed their ability to rehabilitate
themselves. Their weakness is one of their reasons for their
political behavior, and therefore it is doubtful whether increasing
the economic support for the PA will do anything to change the
political culture of the Palestinians. Contrary to the doctrine of
the Bush school of thought, imposed and imported democratization
does not have the power to educate people. Chile's economy actually
became stronger under the rule of Augusto Pinochet. South Korea
began its journey towards wealth during the long reign of the
dictator Park Chung Hee. China's economy is advancing at a dizzying
pace despite the fact that its regime is one of the most loathsome
in the world. My assumption may sound strange, but it is not
impossible that benighted Hamastan will gather up strength and
improve its economic situation, whereas Fatahland, the regime of
which is closer to democracy, will become impoverished."
V. "The Snake that Swallowed a Cow"
Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in Maariv (6/24): "Hamas
is like a young snake that swallowed a cow. Now let us see it
digest that thing. In the meantime, it is lying in the sun,
half-passed-out, enervated, bloated and paralyzed. Suddenly it is
vulnerable. From being a hunter it has become hunted. It has a
huge cow in its stomach, how is it going to feed it? What is it
going to do with it? Suddenly, Hamas has exposed itself to
governmental responsibility. Suddenly, it is not the alternative
but the real thing. It is the one who is going to have to deliver
the goods.... The events in Gaza last week unleashed all of the most
fundamental powers and emotions of the dissolving Palestinian
society. The folks in Ramallah finally understood what the Israelis
have been saying to them since 1996. That Hamas poses a greater
threat to them than to us. That if they did not stop the Hamas
extremists, Israel would be forced to do so. And now it is here....
Outwardly, the Palestinians have been saying quietly that they hope
and pray that weQll do the job for them. 'Barak will give Hamas its
blow,' they say hopefully. Barak will take care of Gaza. The
Israelis will pummel Hamas. Why? Because that is all they have
got. They look ahead and see only a pit at the end of the tunnel.
They know that they are liable to fall into that pit. So let Israel
go there first."
VI. "With Friends Like These..."
Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz (6/25):
"American intervention was one of the primary considerations leading
to the Egyptian, Palestinian, and Jordanian decision to reach a
diplomatic settlement with Israel.... The US President's shrugging
off of responsibility for the peace process that began in Madrid in
1991, under his father's baton, ruined one of Israel's most
important strategic assets: the belief, which bought a grace period
from its neighbors, that the only place that was selling tickets to
Washington and the right to enjoy its favors was in Jerusalem.
Officials in Olmert's government are sighing in great relief over
the lowering of the American profile. To understand the depth of
these leanings, one must go to Damascus. Vice President Farouk
Shara interpreted Bush's statements using the following harsh, but
accurate, words: 'The President of the US does not want peace
between Israel and Syria.' Israeli intelligence officials are
already warning that the opposite of peace is imminent war between
Israel and Syria. This means that Bush is refusing to help prevent
another round of blood-letting."