INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

Published: Mon 8 Feb 2010 11:49 AM
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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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HaQaretz reported that following heavy international pressure, PA
President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to the U.S. proposal to hold talks
with Israel -- in the format of indirect negotiations conducted by
U.S. special envoy for Middle East Peace Senator George Mitchell.
Yesterday senior Palestinian sources confirmed Sunday that Abbas has
agreed in principle to the U.S. proposal for indirect talks.
According to the same sources, Abbas intends to ask for a number of
clarifications with the U.S. administration and will consult with
Arab leaders prior to giving Washington his final response. Abbas
is inclined to respond positively to the American proposal, as a
refusal would shed negative light on the Palestinian position.
HaQaretz reported that senior Israeli officials noted that PM
Benjamin Netanyahu believes the talks will begin in late February
and will result in the resumption of direct negotiations between
Israel and the PA.
Yesterday HaQaretz reported that the U.N. is likely to refer the
Goldstone Report to the International Criminal Court.
Featuring a picture of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wearing
special laser glasses, all media cited IranQs announcement that it
will enrich its stockpile of uranium to 20% beginning tomorrow. The
Jerusalem Post and other media quoted the Prime MinisterQs Office as
saying yesterday that PM Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Moscow
next Sunday for talks expected to focus on getting Russia to back
stepped-up sanctions against Iran. Israel Radio reported that FM
Avigdor Lieberman has left for Baku to convince Azeri President
Ilham Aliyev to back sanctions against Iran. (A high-level Iranian
delegation visited Azerbaijan last week.)
Major media reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad on Sunday
vowed to stand by Lebanon's side against any Israeli "aggression,"
in an escalating war of words between Damascus and Jerusalem. In
other news, Yediot reported that Syria has contributed $300,000 to
the residents of East Jerusalem.
Assad made the remark to the speaker of the Lebanese Parliament,
Nabih Beri, in Damascus, according to the official Syrian news
agency, Sana. On the other hand Netanyahu told the ministers at the
start of SundayQs weekly cabinet meeting, that Israel had made peace
"with Egypt and Jordan and we aspire to do so with Syria and the
Palestinians. We can achieve this with two conditions: The first is
that we hold negotiations without preconditions. We will not accept
the notion that Israel makes major concessions in advance. We will
not enter negotiations for which everything is decided in advance."
The Jerusalem Post reported that Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon shook the
hand of Saudi Prince Turki al-Faysal during a panel of the Munich
Security Conference on Saturday. Yediot was shocked by the fact
that Israel only sent Ayalon to the conference, which prominent
world leaders attended.
HaQaretz quoted Minister Michael Eitan (Likud) as saying at a Geneva
Initiative conference in Dimona over the weekend that proponents of
the Greater Land of Israel -- including the recently established
Land of Israel caucus in the Knesset, hawkish Likud members, and
other Knesset members -- are deceiving the public because their
dream cannot be fulfilled. "You can't deceive all the time and
speak about Greater Israel," Eitan said.
Yesterday media reported that the Ministerial Committee for
Legislative Affairs was to discuss a bill sponsored by Knesset
Member Moshe Matalon of Yisrael Beiteinu to annex the West Bank
portion of Route 443. The bill, which has received the support
another 17 Knesset members, was introduced following the High Court
of JusticeQs ruling to permit Palestinian vehicular access to the
road. However, Matalon acquiesced to the PMQs request to withdraw
his bill from the agenda the committeeQs meeting. Then again,
Matalon told The Jerusalem Post that the bill would be brought back
to the committee after being discussed by government leaders.
Leading media reported that yesterday the IDF arrested two foreign
activists near Ramallah, citing expired visas, according to the
two.
HaQaretz reported that Interior Minister Eli Yishai has banned
Palestinian geographer Khalil Tufakji, a resident of Jerusalem, from
traveling abroad for six months, citing unspecified security
concerns. Tufakji is an expert on IsraelQs settlement policy.
Maariv and The Jerusalem Post reported that hundreds of New York
Times readers have demanded the removal of Ethan Bronner, the
American dailyQs Jerusalem bureau chief, from his post because his
son enlisted in the IDF. Maariv and The Jerusalem Post reported
that some senior members of the New York Times backed the demand,
while the Editor-in-Chief insists that Bronner must keep his
position. The Jerusalem Post quoted Government Press Office Danny
Seaman as saying that the issue of bias comes up only regarding
Jewish reporters.
Leading media reported that the IDF weighs jailing soldiers
alongside Palestinian detainees.
All media reported that on Saturday an 11-year boy lost his leg when
the stepped on a landmine in the Golan. Yesterday the IDF
acknowledged that there are problems with some of the fences
surrounding minefields on the Golan Heights, and that in some of the
areas the fences are not visible. However, IDF sources reiterated
yesterday that the minefield the boyQs family entered, with five
members ending up injured by a mine, was fenced and had clearly
visible warning signs.
The Jerusalem Post reported that after becoming stranded at
Ben-Gurion Airport due to an alleged 9,000-shekel debt (around
$2250), the journey to Israel of an American couple Q Jack and Suzan
Baumann from Miami -- has been transformed into a nightmare: the
wife had a miscarriage in the airport and the husband claims that
the no-exit ban was the result of a mistaken identity.
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1. Mideast:
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Block Quotes:
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I. QThe Illusion of QSyria First
Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/8): QWhen Mitchell returns the mandate
President Obama gave him to resume negotiations with the
Palestinians, he would do well to also give back the mandate for
reopening the Syrian track.... It's hard to believe that the Syrians
are willing to cooperate via yet another round of negotiations at
the expense of the Palestinians. Just a week ago, Syrian Minister
Bouthaina Shaaban criticized Arab countries for ignoring the
suffering of the residents of the Gaza Strip.... It's hard to
exaggerate the contribution of peace with Syria to Israel's position
in the region, especially to security in the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip. The Damascus channel must be reopened. This must be done in
parallel with the Ramallah channel, not instead of it.
II. QThe Moment of Decision Nears
Ha'aretz editorialized (2/7):. QIn his speech at the Herzliya
Conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he thought
negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would be resumed in
the coming weeks under American mediation. U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton said over the weekend that the focus of the talks
would be the 1967 borders, with territory swaps.... Clinton's
statement makes it clear that Netanyahu's grace period is nearing an
end. Instead of senselessly courting the right, he should take a
courageous stand and state clearly to his political partners that a
withdrawal from the territories and the evacuation of the
settlements are what is needed. Otherwise Defense Minister Ehud
Barak's warning that without partition Israel will become a
binational apartheid state will become a reality.
III. QThe Extremists Set the Tone for Hamas
Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (2/7): QHamas apologized in response to
the Goldstone report for the Israeli civilian casualties it caused
in the years it fired Qassam rockets on the Gaza periphery
communities. That was a wise response since Richard Goldstone, in
an attempt to retain a smidgen of decency in the report his
commission wrote, threw in a few crumbs of criticism for the
Palestinians as well.... Hamas, which retracted its nominal apology,
has encumbered its demand that the siege on the Gaza Strip be eased.
While there is no practical significance to HamasQs apology and its
subsequent retraction, it is nevertheless indicative of the
processes in place within the Hamas leadership -- mainly in Damascus
-- in which the extremists appear to have gained the upper hand.
This development perhaps also sheds light on the reasons for Hamas
unyielding position on Gilad ShalitQs release.
IV. QWords, Words, Words
Former Ambassador to the U.S., former Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/8): QAs for a sober assessment of the
Israeli-Syrian situation, by all indications the Syrians continue to
be deterred from attacking Israel by their appreciation of Israel's
military capability and the response they can expect to aggression
on their part. Over the years they have amassed a large arsenal of
ballistic missiles hoping to deter Israel from taking military
action against Syria. This Syrian deterrent has been effective
enough to keep Israel from calling Syria to account for its support
for Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. So far.
V. QSalam Fayyad Cannot Deliver
The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in
International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/8): QWhile [Defense
Minister Ehud] Barak said [at the Herzliya Conference] that regional
instability made it harder to give the Palestinians everything they
wanted (the PA could be overthrown by Hamas, subverted by Iran and
Syria, unwilling or unable to stop cross-border attacks), Fayyad
responded that once Israel left, the region would become more stable
and peaceful. ThatQs a rather questionable assertion.... [A
particularly inciting] sermon delivered by the imam whom Fayyad
appointed in Nablus was] meant to shape Palestinian politics and
public opinion; what Fayyad says is meant to shape Israeli and
Western politics and public opinion. Fayyad believes what he said
but, as a figurehead, also knows that he isnQt going to change the
dominant Palestinian view or even try to do so. The audience
applauded Fayyad because it does want peace and prefers him to all
the worse alternatives, especially Hamas but also those in Fatah.
Yet few have any illusions that peace is at hand or that Fayyad is
going to deliver it.
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2. Iran:
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Block Quotes:
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QAhmadinejad -- Yes and No
Columnist Boaz Bismuth, who was IsraelQs Ambassador to Mauritania
between 2004 and 2008, wrote in the independent Israel Hayom (2/8) :
QLast Tuesday Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared during an interview with
Iranian state television that his country was prepared to enrich
uranium outside its territory in exchange for nuclear fuel --
exactly what the world powers had suggested to the International
Atomic Energy Agency in October.... Is it surprising that no one
treats Ahmadinejad seriously? Maybe this is because, one day
earlier, the Iranian President talked about a QsurpriseQ he was
preparing for the West -- and even a Qhard blowQ as part of February
11, the 31st anniversary of the Iranian revolution. Yesterday he
threatened again. In fact Ahmadinejad is bidding for time and
trying to tease the West as his nuclear scientists attempt to beat
the clock. Within 24 hours he is able to simultaneously broadcast
conciliation and enrich uranium as he pleases.
CUNNINGHAM
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