Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. State Department Release of 2003 Human Rights

2. Alhurra TV Station

Key stories in the media:

Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli diplomatic officials as
saying that the White House and State Department are
not showing the same types of divisions regarding the
disengagement plan that emerged in 2002 over the road
map. The newspaper quoted the officials as saying that
the divisions that emerged during the debate over the
road map between the White House, which was perceived
to be pushing a policy more in tune with the Sharon
government's policy, and the State Department, has not
occurred during discussion on the US position on
disengagement. Jerusalem Post reported that the only
place where some disagreement has emerged, according to
these officials, is that the State Department seems a
bit more determined than the White House that settlers
evacuated from Gaza not be resettled in the West Bank.
Jerusalem Post also reported that Israel is trying to
derail a new European initiative to supplement the road
map that the GOI feels will again let the Palestinians
off the hook by presenting a plan that calls on them to
do less than they were called to do under the road map.
Sunday, Jerusalem Post reported that in Dublin Friday
FM Silvan Shalom embarked on a campaign to convince the
international community that, even if the road map is
not presently doable, the Palestinians still have
responsibilities to fight terrorism.

Yediot reported that Elchanan Tenenbaum told his
Israeli interrogators that he had deceived Hizbullah
and not betrayed Israel. Sunday, leading media
reported on Tenenbaum's admission that before being
abducted he traveled to Dubai to complete a drug deal
with Hizbullah. Ha'aretz reported that this week the
High Court of Justice is due to discuss a petition
against his immunity deal, although a High Court
justice has declined to issue a temporary injunction to
stop the bargain from being implemented.

During the weekend, all media reported on the killing
Friday night of a couple in a shooting attack on the
Lahav-Ashkelon road, along the Green Line, in the
southern Hebron hills. PFLP-CG claimed responsibility
for the attack. Sunday, leading media reported that
three Islamic Jihad operatives were killed in an
Israeli assassination attack in Gaza City.

Leading media reported that construction of the
security fence in northwestern Jerusalem has been
halted for one week by order of the High Court of
Justice and at the request of Palestinian villagers.
Ha'aretz reported that 30 residents of Mevasseret Zion,
a western Jewish suburb of Jerusalem, joined the
petition, and that another 200 signed a letter of
protest about the route of the fence. This is the
first time Israeli citizens living near the "seam line"
between Israel and the West Bank joined a petition to
the court over the fence's route. The media reported
that Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and President Moshe
Katsav implicitly condemned the court's decision.
Mofaz was quoted as saying that the defense
establishment hopes to start construction of the
southern segment of the fence by the end of the year.

All media reported that A/G Menachem Mazuz recommends
that the next Knesset elections should be held in 2006,
a year ahead of the planned date.

Sunday, Jerusalem Post reported that Saturday PA
security men arrested a man suspected of involvement in
last week's bus bombing in Jerusalem.

Leading media reported that the members of the Fatah
Revolutionary Council concluded their meeting by
backing a cease-fire and the road map, but that they
failed to decide on the issues of reforms and the
disarming of militants. The media reported that Friday
Nablus Mayor Ghassan Shakah announced his resignation,
accusing the PA of failing to rein in armed thugs who
are terrorizing Palestinians in his city and other
Palestinian communities. An Israel Radio commentator
said that Ghassan supports peace and cooperation with

Ha'aretz quoted Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee Chairman Yuval Steinitz as saying that the
findings of the committee that looked into the
preparations of Israel's intelligence branch with
regard to an Iraqi missile attack on Israel could cause
an upheaval in the intelligence community. Sunday,
Yediot cited The New York Times as saying that the
Iraqi Governing Council has rejected initiatives to
bring back Jews to Iraq "because of the Palestinian

Ha'aretz reported that the Israel Prison Service and
the IDF are planning to transfer responsibility for
more than 3,500 Palestinian security prisoners from the
army to the prison authority.

Leading media reported that over the weekend Iran and
Syria signed a military cooperation agreement.

Yediot reported that according to data presented by
Defense Ministry D-G Amos Yaron to the Cabinet Sunday,
Israeli security exports make up a tenth of all defense
exports in the world. According to the survey, Israel
is among the five largest defense exporters in the
world. Leading media reported that Sunday the
restricted diplomatic-defense cabinet approved the USD-
1.1 billion deal with India, involving the sale of
three Phalcon AWACS aircraft.

Sunday, Maariv reported that Manal Bakher (or Bakr),
the daughter of Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala),
who is married to an East Jerusalem physician, has
requested Israeli citizenship.

Maariv reported that the Jewish-Mexican millionaire
Moshe Saba, who had tried to purchase Channel 10-TV, is
under investigation in the U.S. for alleged stock

A Maariv/New Wave poll shows that the left (mostly
Meretz) would get five more seats in the Knesset if new
elections were held today, mostly at the expense of
Likud and Shinui.

--------------------------------------------- ----
1. State Department Release of 2003 Human Rights
--------------------------------------------- ----


Liberal columnist Gideon Levy wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The leader of the free world is
today imposing a dark regime in a number of spheres,
both domestically and internationally, behavior that is
deeply at odds with its enlightened image and its world
role as a preacher. This is bad news for the world,
maybe even worse than the immoral portrait of Israel
that emerges from the report."

Block Quotes:

"U.S. Has Lost Its Moral Right to Preach"

Liberal columnist Gideon Levy wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (February 29): "Look who's
preaching to Israel: last Wednesday, the U.S. State
Department released its annual report on the state of
human rights around the world. The chapter devoted to
Israel makes the usual detailed and gloomy reading.
Washington is critical of all the ills of the
occupation, about which the human rights organizations
and Israel have long since raised a hue and cry....
From this partial point of view, the report is
important. The other side, however, is that the United
States has by its own hand lost its moral right to
preach to any country in connection with human rights.
To begin with, since 1976, no fewer than 820 people --
35 percent of them blacks -- have been executed in the
United States.... Second, the State Department, which
authored the report, represents a state that tramples
human rights more than most others.... A country that
is holding 660 Afghan detainees at Guantanamo without
trial and depriving them of basic rights is in no
position to criticize administrative detentions carried
out by other countries.... As for the situation in
Israel: the United States bears direct responsibility
for the violations of human rights in this country. If
Washington truly wanted to, it could put an end to
them, just as it could have long since brought the
entire Israeli occupation to an end.... The leader of
the free world is today imposing a dark regime in a
number of spheres, both domestically and
internationally, behavior that is deeply at odds with
its enlightened image and its world role as a preacher.
This is bad news for the world, maybe even worse than
the immoral portrait of Israel that emerges from the

2. Alhurra TV Station:


Palestinian journalist Daoub Kuttab wrote in
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Sponsoring
foreign radio broadcasts has been a favorite tool of
colonial European governments."

Block Quotes:

"America's Clumsy Outreach"

Palestinian journalist Daoub Kuttab wrote in
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (March 1): "In
a desperate effort to reverse America's negative image
in the Arab world, a new Arabic-language television
station called Alhurra ('the free one') has been added
to the diet of existing government-sponsored
broadcasting outlets in the Arab region.... Judging
from the broadcast content of its first day, Washington
has a long way to go to achieve its goals. Alhurra
operates with a USD 62-million grant from the U.S.
government. Judging from its first broadcast day,
there is no hint it will ever become self-reliant.
Listeners can only conclude that Alhurra will always be
the instrument of the U.S. government.... Sponsoring
foreign radio broadcasts has been a favorite tool of
colonial European governments.... While some expected
the new station to be an important addition to the
plurality of opinions available to the Arab public, its
first day of broadcasting confirmed what the skeptics
have been saying all along: what the U.S. needs to do
is change its policy, not its media strategy.... Bush
started his exclusive interview with Alhurra saying he
hopes to encourage the spread of freedom in the Middle
East. His definition of freedom was very clear: 'Open
society, free parties, secular society and independent
press.' Of course, Bush didn't waste his time dealing
with the mundane issue of freedom. Rather he used his
airtime to talk about his war on terror and what he
considered his success in Iraq and Libya.... The
interview conducted by Mowafq Harb, Alhurra's editor-in-
chief, failed to challenge Bush on any of the issues
being hotly debated in America.... The Arab audience
was shocked that Harb didn't ask a single question
about Israel's nuclear weapons when the president was
talking ad nauseam about his efforts to free the Middle
East from weapons of mass destruction."


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