INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

Published: Mon 19 Nov 2007 11:12 AM
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 9697
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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3802
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3046
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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
DA WASHDC FOR SASA
JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR PA
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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
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS
SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION
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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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Mideast
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Key stories in the media:
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Leading media reported that PM Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas will meet today in an effort to salvage
the joint declaration for the Annapolis meeting. Major media
(banners in Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post) quoted Israeli and
Palestinian sources as saying that unless this last minute attempt
is successful, Annapolis will end with separate statements. Israel
Radio quoted the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi as saying that Olmert
and Abbas will discuss a joint declaration draft presented to the
Palestinians on Sunday by U.S. Consul General to Jerusalem Jacob
Walles.
On Sunday Maariv reported that the Arab League is expected to decide
at its meeting this Thursday that only ambassadors will represent
Arab states, a decision Maariv describes as "humiliating" to the
Americans and one that would turn the planned conference into a
farce. Ha'aretz's website reports that PM Olmert will travel to
Sharm-el-Sheikh tomorrow or Wednesday to meet with Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak to seek a high Arab attendance at Annapolis.
On Sunday Haggai Huberman of Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that the
U.S. has been trying to "coax" Saudi Arabia into sending its foreign
minister by dangling a major arms deal as a reward.
Maariv, quoting diplomatic sources, reported that President Bush
will outline a new vision at Annapolis and use the speech to create
an effect similar to what a joint declaration would have produced.
Maariv reported that PM Olmert sent a personal letter to the
President.
The media reported that today the cabinet is holding a special
session to discuss the Annapolis meeting. Israel Radio quoted
Olmert as saying at the session that Annapolis is important even if
there are no negotiations. Leading media reported that on Sunday
Labor Party leaders criticized Defense Minister Ehud Barak's
attitude towards Annapolis, saying that the party has become too
submissive to the right-wing parties in Olmert's coalition. Israel
Radio reported that Peace Now has started a poster campaign against
Avigdor Lieberman, picturing his face next to a smiling Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad as two obstacles to peace.
Maariv reported that the Americans would like to see Israel release
2,000 Palestinian prisoners, noting that this would oblige Israel to
change three out of six criteria that establish which prisoners have
Qblood on their handsQ and, as such, are not releasable. On Sunday
Israel Radio reported that Israeli officials have informed the U.S.
that no more than 450 prisoners are going to be released. The
Americans, Maariv reported, also want Israel to announce a complete
settlement freeze as part of the pre-Annapolis activity.
Leading media quoted Tony Blair as saying on Sunday that Defense
Minister Barak and Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad will announce a
number of economic projects today that could create tens of
thousands of jobs for Palestinians and give a sense of progress on
the ground. The Jerusalem Post reported that the agriculture
ministers of Israel, Egypt, and the PA will meet today in Rome at an
FAO conference to discuss plans to increase cooperation.
On Sunday Ha'aretz reported that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has accepted an invitation by IDF Chief
of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to visit Israel. He will be coming during
the second week of December. Ha'aretz noted that visits to Israel
by chairmen of the joint chiefs are very rare.
On Sunday visiting French FM Bernard Kouchner was quoted as saying
in an interview with Ha'aretz that he is not ruling out a strike
against Iran.
Ha'aretz reported that during his recent trip to the U.S., Defense
Minister Barak urged American officials to find ways to engage
Syria. Ha'aretz reported that on Sunday PM Olmert again hinted that
messages are being exchanged between Israel and Syria. Major media
cited pressure by Jordan and Egypt on Syria to attend Annapolis.
(Jordan's King Abdullah II visited Damascus on Sunday.) Last night
Channel 2-TV reported that the U.S. has changed its stance regarding
the possibility of negotiations between Israel and Syria.
Major media quoted FM Tzipi Livni as saying on Sunday at a press
conference with her French counterpart Bernard Kouchner that the
future Palestinian state will provide a solution for all
Palestinians, including both refugees and Israeli Arabs, in their
struggle for national expression. The media, which cited anger
among Israeli-Arab elected officials over Livni's remarks, quoted
Raleb Majadele, Minister of Sports, Culture and Science, as saying:
"The honorable Foreign Minister is not authorized by the Arabs of
Israel to decide where they will live." Some media quoted Livni's
later "clarification" that Israeli Arabs will maintain their full
rights.
Israel Radio reported that this morning a rocket launched from the
Gaza Strip landed in a southern neighborhood of Ashkelon.
The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz reported that the government will
evacuate newly squatting settlers from Hebron's "brown house."
Ha'aretz quoted Thomas Steg, the Deputy Spokesman of the German
Finance Ministry as saying on Friday that the German government has
rejected a request by Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan to
reopen the reparations agreement for discussion. The announcement
comes a few days before the visit of German Finance Minister Peer
Steinbruck. Steg was quoted as saying that the German government
would open talks with the Conference on Jewish material Claims
against Germany, but only on "amendments to the existing
framework."
On Sunday Ha'aretz reported that on Friday the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations announced two
former U.S. presidents, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, will
serve as honorary chairmen for the National Committee for Israel 60
that will organize celebrations for Israel's 60th anniversary.
Maariv reported that official Egyptian sources told the newspaper
that Israel is ignoring Egypt's efforts to thwart arms smuggling to
Gaza. The sources were quoted as saying that since January around
100 smuggling attempts have been averted and around 150 tunnels
destroyed.
On Sunday Yediot cited a scathing report issued by the Turkish
technical team that inspected the archaeological digs at the
Mugrabi Gate. The report accuses Israel of ignoring Jerusalem's
cosmopolitan character, particularly on the Temple Mount, of
violating international historical heritage laws and of a
"deliberate and planned" effort to destroy the Muslim character of
the Temple Mount and the Old City.
Ha'aretz quoted the human rights group Yesh Din as saying that the
IDF keeps Palestinian detainees in shipping containers while they
await their hearings in West Bank military courts.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister
Sergei Kislyak told Israeli Foreign Ministry officials as saying on
Sunday that Russia is not opposed to sanctions against Iran, but
that it does not think the time has come to impose them.
Leading media reported that 15 LAU missiles were stolen from an IDF
base in the Golan.
Ha'aretz quoted Britain's Sunday Times as saying that the Winograd
Commission's final report is expected to find PM Olmert responsible
for the deaths of 33 IDF soldiers at the end of the Second Lebanon
War.
Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post cited a poll by the Anti-Defamation
League, as proof of U.S. support for Israel. The poll claims that
around 56 percent view Israel as an ally and seriously interested
in peace. Among those who think the chance for peace has
diminished, Palestinians are blamed roughly twice as much as
Israelis.
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Mideast:
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Summary:
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Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "As the conference in
Annapolis looks at the moment, it is doubtful whether it justifies
the participation of such a high-ranking battery of Israeli
ministers."
Meretz-Yahad Party Chairman Yossi Beilin wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "If there is no serious dialogue at this
conference about the core issues ... it is better to stay home."
Dov Weisglass, top diplomatic adviser to former prime minister Ariel
Sharon, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot:
"After Israel accepted the Roadmap and consented, subject to the
conditions appearing in it, to establishing a Palestinian state, a
new and completely different diplomatic situation was created."
Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz:
"The [Annapolis] conference has already achieved one thing -- Olmert
can praise Abbas and say there is finally a Palestinians partner.
But sadly for him, there is no Israeli partner."
Arab affairs correspondent Jacky Hoogie wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv: "There is great similarity between Sadat of 1977
and Bashar Assad of 2007.... Like Assad today, Sadat wanted peace,
but warned in advance that if the stolen land was not returned by
negotiations, there would be no choice but to employ force."
Block Quotes:
-------------
I. "Three People on a Flight"
Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/19): "The
willingness of the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the
Defense Minister to share a conference, not to mention a plane, is
truly a rare event, almost historical.... It was not with joy that
Ehud Olmert decided to appoint Tzipi Livni as head of the
negotiating team, and it was not with eagerness that he invited
Barak to join the trip. He learned unwillingly that he does not
have sufficient strength and public support to conduct the talks
with the Palestinians on his own. He will have to share the stage,
consult, restrain himself, absorb. This is also a good lesson for
the other two passengers going to Annapolis. They will have to
learn that running a country is not always a zero-sum game: When
Olmert gets screwed, they are not necessarily on the side that
gains. As the conference in Annapolis looks at the moment, it is
doubtful whether it justifies the participation of such a
high-ranking battery of Israeli ministers. It is no more than a
series of speeches, three hours in all"
II. "It's Better to Stay Home"
Meretz-Yahad Party Chairman Yossi Beilin wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/19): "The absence of a discussion on the
core issue at Annapolis will leave us stuck in the intersection,
exposed to extremists on both sides.... The three leaders can
'leverage' their weakness in the upcoming meeting. They have very
little to lose and a great deal to gain.... President George W. Bush
tried democratization and a willingness to integrate Hamas into
Palestinian politics, and failed. Olmert tried the unilateral
option in Gaza, and failed. Abu Mazen tried a national unity
government with Ismail Haniyeh, and failed. This can be their
moment of truth -- the moment when they say what they have long
known. They can agree in Annapolis about the principles of the
final-status agreement.... If there is no serious dialogue at this
conference about the core issues, and if it does not end with clear
guidelines regarding the continuation of the negotiations, it is
better to stay home and to try to attain significant achievements in
the bilateral talks that began a few months ago. After all, if we
really want to solve this accursed problem, we do not need external
partners for this purpose."
III. "The U.S. Has Already Consented"
Dov Weisglass, top diplomatic adviser to former prime minister Ariel
Sharon, wrote in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot
(11/19): "Israel's character as a 'Jewish' state is a distinctly
internal Israeli matter.... The Palestinian Authority has already
recognized the State of Israel as a Jewish state, since there is no
other Israel.... After Israel accepted the Roadmap and consented,
subject to the conditions appearing in it, to establishing a
Palestinian state, a new and completely different diplomatic
situation was created: A Palestinian state was to be established,
which would be a national home for the Palestinians in the Diaspora,
and the Palestinian refugees would be able to return to their
recognized national homeQand not to Israel, just as the Jewish
refugees (and there have been many of these) belong in the Jewish
national home (Israel). This new Qsymmetry,Q among other things, is
what convinced the US administration to include in President BushQs
letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in April 2004 a clear
statement on the resettlement of the Palestinian refugees... For the
first time, the U.S. declared clearly that in its opinion,
Palestinian refugees should not be returned to Israel. With no
return of refugees, there is no danger to the Jewish character of
Israel, and no further need to preserve the 'hinting formula' and
affirm it by the Palestinians. All this, of course, is on condition
that Israel indeed firmly rejects any Palestinian demand for the
return of refugees, and is careful to enforce the American
commitment to support its position on this issue."
IV. "See You at the Next Summit"
Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in Ha'aretz
(11/18): "[Through Israel's recent behavior] a chunk of the core
issues, as it were, has been jarred loose and gotten stuck in
President Bush's eye.... [Cabinet minister Avigdor Lieberman] can
sleep in peace. He does not need any amendment of the Jerusalem Law
or Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state. The Roadmap includes
all the obstacles needed to thwart an accord. If all this were not
enough to summarize the Annapolis conference, a major operation in
Gaza is being promised by the Israel Defense Forces, an
extraordinarily mightily one, a real war.... One gets the feeling
that the conference will create more traps for the future instead of
removing those of the past. The conference has already achieved one
thing -- Olmert can praise Abbas and say there is finally a
Palestinians partner. But sadly for him, there is no Israeli
partner."
V. "The Syndrome of Israeli Folly"
Arab affairs correspondent Jacky Hoogie wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (11/19): "If even when it wins it loses, Israel
must not wage another military campaign so that it does not bring
another downfall upon its sons and its people. Since the Suez
Campaign, in which the IDF participated alongside the French and
British armies, Israel has not scored a clean military victory
thanks to its military strength. Its only diplomatic victories,
first and foremost the peace with EgyptQwere forced upon it. We
must remember this painful truth today, when coming to brandish the
axe of war against Iran, and especially against Syria. There is
great similarity between Sadat of 1977 and Bashar Assad of 2007.
Sadat too, in his time, suffered a great many insulting epithets by
Israelis and Americans, who did not know how to read him properly.
They said that he was stupid [and] inarticulate.... Like Assad
today, Sadat wanted peace, but warned in advance that if the stolen
land was not returned by negotiations, there would be no choice but
to employ force. What was perceived by the Arabs as betrayal in
1977 is now considered an achievement. The Arab states all want
peace with Israel. Some have made peace, others need a dividend
before doing so, and a third group maintains ties with Israel in
secret. What has changed here in the 30 years since Sadat's
SIPDIS
groundbreaking trip to Jerusalem? Apparently, not much."
JONES
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