INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

Published: Tue 10 Nov 2009 12:18 PM
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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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Mideast
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Key stories in the media:
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Electronic media reported that last night President Obama met with
PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House for over one hour and forty
minutes. The media cited a White House statement that the U.S. is
committed to IsraelQs security, and that the two leaders discussed
security issues, Iran, and the peace process. The White House
spokesman also said that the U.S. has not changed its position on
the settlements. Israel Radio quoted IsraelQs Ambassador to the
U.S. Michael Oren as saying that the Iranian issue has reached a
crucial point. DM Ehud Barak took part in the first part of the
meeting. There was no joint press conference and the President did
not escort Netanyahu out of the White House. Yediot cited The Wall
Street Journal as saying that NetanyahuQs public pledge to establish
a Palestinian state was a precondition to his meeting with Obama.
Yediot reported that in preparatory talks with Israeli officials
between the meeting, U.S. officials clarified that the U.S. expects
Israeli steps to strengthen PA President Mahmoud Abbas, including
the release of Fatah prisoners and the lifting of further roadblocks
in the West Bank. Yediot remarks that AbbasQ threats of resignation
have influenced Obama.
Media reported that Netanyahu told the Jewish Federations of North
AmericaQs General Assembly last night that he wanted to resume
negotiations with the Palestinians immediately, and rejected the
charge that he was not interested in reaching an agreement. The PM
was quoted as saying: QMy goal is not negotiations for the sake of
negotiations; my goal is to achieve a permanent treaty between
Israel and the Palestinians, and soon. I cannot be more emphatic on
this point.Q Netanyahu added: Qbut to get to a peace agreement, we
need to start negotiating. LetQs get on with it. LetQs move.
Netanyahu urged PA President Mahmoud Abbas: QLet us seize the
opportunity to reach a historic agreement.Q Netanyahu also referred
to Israeli steps, mentioning the agreement Israel was working out
with the U.S. to control settlement activity. Netanyahu also spoke
of the important role the U.S. should play in such an effort.
Leading media reported that Obama met with Jewish leaders before his
meeting with Netanyahu. They reportedly discussed domestic U.S.
matters, in particular the health reform.
Yediot and Israel Radio quoted President Abbas as saying yesterday
that the PA was close to an agreement with the Olmert government,
but that the results of the Israeli elections returned the
negotiations to the starting point.
HaQaretz (Akiva Eldar) reported that Secretary of State Hillary
ClintonQs praise of Israeli restraint in settlement building Qmissed
all the new construction.Q Israel TV reported that a cable received
at the Israeli Foreign Ministry from the U.S. claims that Clinton is
considering resigning over her dissatisfaction with her status in
the U.S. government, and vying for the position of senator or
governor in New York State.
Speaking on Israel Radio yesterday, PM NetanyahuQs media adviser,
Nir Hefetz, said that an analysis by New York Times pundit Thomas
Friedman, who wrote that reaching a diplomatic agreement interested
the U.S. administration more than the Israelis or Palestinians, is
wrong. Hefetz said that nobody wants peace more than the people of
Israel and that the Palestinian side took two steps backwards.
HaQaretz reported that Kadima Knesset members are demanding a
serious discussion of MK Shaul MofazQs peace proposal. MofazQs
spokeswoman told Channel 10-TV that he intends to meet in the near
future with senior Hamas leaders. Maariv reported on contacts
betwen Kadima and the Labor Party rebels -- the latter ight join
Tzipi LivniQs party.
Major media reorted that, less than two weeks after declaring his
desire for peace talks with Israel, Syrian Presient Bashar Assad
warned that if negotiations fai, it will result in "resistance" as
an alternatie option. Assad spoke at an economic summit of th
Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Istanbul yesterday.
Assad accused of Israel of seeking to damage the Al-Aqsa Mosque in
Jerusalem, reminding fellow Muslim leaders that "40 years ago we set
up the OIC in response to an attack on the Al-Aqsa mosque." The
Syrian leader added that the Palestinians were being evicted from
their homes so that settlers can live there instead. "Israeli
occupation must be resisted with all available means," Assad said.
Commenting on the settlements, Assad warned that Muslims "must not
be tricked regarding the freezing of settlements as a basis for
negotiation, as if the problem centers only on settlements. This is
not the goal, but a small step in the process." Assad then asked:
"Why are they not talking about dismantling the settlements or
ending the occupation?"
The media cited Jordanian King Abdullah IIQs warning yesterday in an
interview with the London-based Al-Hayat against an Israeli attack
on Iran, saying the repercussions for such action would likely be
catastrophic. The King also said: "Jerusalem is considered a red
line and Israel needs to understand this and not play with fire."
Still, Yediot reported that yesterday the armies of Israel and
Jordan conducted a joint exercise that simulated JordanQs response
to an earthquake in Israel. The newspaper quoted an IDF source as
saying that cooperation between the two armies was excellent.
Yediot reported that yesterday the U.S. Army and the IDF
successfully completed the Juniper Cobra 10 exercise with the firing
of a live Patriot missile.
HaQaretz cited the Israeli defense industriesQ displeasure over the
snub by the U.S. of the introduction of Israeli technology in the
Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Israel has ordered. The
newspaper reported that the U.S. has eased its stance on this point.
HaQaretz reported that members of the defense industries talks of a
Qsecret pactQ governing the deal and complain that Israel is about
to commit all the U.S. military funds for the coming decade into a
deal for the fighter. The daily says that the defense industry
employees are even bitterer bout the loss of income from locally
produced technology.
Maariv reported that yesterday Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz asked
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to check whether the inciting rabbi
from the settlement of Yitzhar can be prosecuted,
HaQaretz reported that the U.S. has demanded clarifications of
Israel regarding the deportation of Berlanty Azzam, a female
student, from the West Bank to Gaza a few days ago. HaQaretz cited
IsraelQs response that Azzam had stayed illegally in the West Bank
for four years. The newspaper reported that the Israeli Embassy in
Washington is actively involved in the affair, following protests by
pro-Palestinian organizations in the U.S.
The Jerusalem Post reported that HizbullahQs AL-Manar TV recently
condemned the distribution of a textbook in a Lebanese
English-language school because it contained excerpts from the
QDiary of Anne Frank,Q which the TV station says is an Israeli
product.
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Mideast:
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I. QAn Obama Time-Out? Unthinkable
Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote on page one of the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (10/11): Q[New York Times
pundit Thomas FriedmanQs] central suggestion, that Nobel Peace
laureate Obama actually disengage from the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, is thoroughly improbable -- however the president may
assess the two sides' readiness for progress. This, after all, is
an administration whose officials -- in stark contrast to the
initial approach of the Bush administration -- lay repeated stress
on the centrality of Israeli-Palestinian progress to stability in
the Middle East and beyond. QIf there is a linkage between Iran and
the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,Q Obama mused [when he hosted
Netanyahu in May], QI personally believe it actually runs the other
way. To the extent that we can make peace with the Palestinians -
between the Palestinians and the Israelis -- then I actually think
it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing
with the potential Iranian threat.Q It is exceedingly difficult to
square that presidential conviction with Friedman's new call for a
time-out on the peace process. Unless, that is, we should be
reading Friedman's column as inadvertent recognition that, when
gauging how to prioritize between Israeli-Palestinian peace and
thwarting the Iranian nuclear bid, Netanyahu had the equation the
right way round.
II. QGood for the (American) Jews
Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented on page one of the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (10/11): QDemanding that
Palestinians Qreturn to negotiations with no preconditionsQ might
wring applause from a Jewish audience, but Obama has learned that
it's merely code for QYou can forget about my government freezing
any settlementsQ.... When Netanyahu asks what the President intends
to do to save Israel from the nuclear demon, Obama will likely
answer: what do you intend to do to save Israel from the binational
demon? The Americans understand that if Netanyahu doesn't offer
Abbas concrete actions instead of hollow words, the entire
Palestinian leadership will go home with him and reiterate the
demand made by Martin Luther King Jr., Obama's hero: one man, one
vote. If this speech is all Netanyahu has to say to Obama, it
remains for Obama to decide, and quickly, on the next step --
whether to give the Prime Minister his peace plan, or the White
House telephone number with the suggestion that he give him a call
when he knows what he really wants.
III. QA Nobel too Early
Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in Ha'aretz
(10/11): QApart from his rhetorical skills, Obama has failed to keep
a single promise or solve one major problem during his time in
office. In this situation he cannot afford to lose the support of
the Jews, who are behind 40 percent of the contributions to the
Democrats' elections. Meanwhile, the cold shoulder Obama is giving
us and the hazing he's put Bibi through have achieved nothing but
Abbas' announcement that he would not be running for the next
Palestinian Authority elections. Perhaps he will and perhaps he
won't. While Israel is seriously talking about the peace process,
Obama has problems at home. His list of disappointments now
includes his failure to create a mechanism to end the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obama received the Nobel Peace prize
too early. I wonder if they have a mechanism in Oslo to take it
back.
IV. QTo Keep the Bond Strong
Historian and liberal columnist Alexander Yakobson wrote in Ha'aretz
(10/11): QThere is no real gap between the Obama administration's
positions on the settlements and those of the Bush administration.
The only difference is that Obama has decided to focus public and
diplomatic attention on this issue. From the moment this happened
it became clear -- beyond any ideological or political dispute --
that it is an essential Israeli interest to find a way to reach an
agreement with the Americans on a formula for a settlement freeze.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent statements reflect
progress toward such a formulation, but the public disagreement, in
which the Americans state that Israel is not keeping its commitments
as set out in the Roadmap, is not over. Such a prolonged and public
dispute with the United States over the settlements harms Israel.
It is a battle where even victory would be a serious defeat.
Netanyahu understands America well enough to know that. The
question is whether such a critical national interest is a good
enough reason in his eyes to confront the extremists within his
coalition and party.
V. QThe Death of the QProcess
Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever Plotker wrote in
the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (10/11): QIn the
absence of American pressure to renew the talks, one of two things
is going to happen: either a new Intifada will erupt (with a 51%
probability) or the two parties will begin to create and look for
new solutions (with a 49% probability). The former Chief of Staff,
Knesset Member Shaul Mofaz, already began to do so when he presented
this week a revolutionary political plan -- revolutionary in terms
of the accepted Israeli and Palestinian views. The conservatives
both here and there quickly rejected that plan because it repudiated
a fundamental tenet: the Mofaz plan obliges them to act, to move, to
agree, to implement. To act? To move? To change? Us? The
Polish-Jewish science fiction novelist, Stanislaw Lem, described in
one of his stories two astronauts who land on a planet that is
entirely frozen. They hold their breath: their slightest movement
was liable to cause the frozen material to melt. Nevertheless, one
of them begins to notice signs of melting around them. What are you
doing? He asks his partner. I told you not to move. IQm not
moving, answers his fellow astronaut, IQm lying in one spot quietly
and am thinking. Then donQt think, cried the first astronaut.
Thinking produces heat, and heat is melting the ice! Your thinking
is going to end up getting us killed here! The important thing, my
friend, is not to think! The important thing is not to think,
because thinking dissolves the ice of deadlock. LemQs story made it
past the Communist censors. They didnQt realize he was talking
about them. We donQt realize that either.
VI. QBeware, Qas ifQ Peace in Front of You!
Kadima Knesset Member Avi Dichter, a former Internal Security
Minister and former head of Shin Bet, wrote in the popular,
pluralist Maariv (10/11): Q[Mahmoud] Abbas knows that he can put
into practice his commitment to the peace process only in Judea and
Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] Q if at all. The Palestinian
AuthorityQs leadership recognizes the opportunity to move forwards
in the peace process in Judea and Samaria without mentioning its
commitment to the solution of the Gaza quandary. It is trying to
pull into this trap the Israeli leadership, as well as the American
and the European ones. Special awareness is required of the Israeli
leadership. We must not enter the trap that the PAQs leadership has
prepared for us. Confronting the PA, Israel must measure
performance, not Qas ifQ performances.
CUNNINGHAM
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