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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 TEL AVIV 001384

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
NSC FOR NEA STAFF

JERUSALEM ALSO FOR ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IS KMDR MEDIA REACTION REPORT
SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

--------------------------------
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

Mideast

-------------------------
Key stories in the media:
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All media reported that the security forces have
imposed total closure on the territories until Tuesday.
This is the first time such a measure has been taken
for the holiday of Purim.

Maariv quoted Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz as saying in
recent defense establishment meetings that Israel will
withdraw from the Gaza Strip only after the U.S.
presidential elections. Leading media reported that
Thursday PM Sharon resumed his efforts to persuade
recalcitrant right-wing ministers to accept his
unilateral disengagement plan. He met with Education
Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) and Transportation
Minister Avigdor Lieberman (National Union). Ha'aretz
reported that next week the Yesha Council of Jewish
Settlers in the Territories will intensify its protests
against Sharon's plan.

Maariv and Globes published new revelations regarding
Elchanan Tenenbaum. Maariv reported that Kayes Obeid,
the Israeli Arab and Hezbollah agent who set up
Tenenbaum's Dubai trip was a Shin Bet agent prior to
Tenenbaum's abduction. Sharon's son Gilad, Tenenbaum
and Shimon Cohen, the father of Tenenbaum's estranged
wife were involved in a 1992 land deal. Maariv asserts
that a senior associate of Sharon explicitly threatened
its reporters investigating the affair. Globes
reported that the friendship between Sharon and Shimon
Cohen went on until at least March 1991. Maariv cited
the response of Sharon's bureau that his family is not
linked to the land deal and that Gilad does not know
Tenenbaum.
-Leading media reported that Thursday Knesset members
on the Right expressed outrage at reports that Sharon
associates blamed the Right for Wednesday's revelations
in Maariv.
-All media reported that Tenenbaum is now being
investigated under tougher conditions, as crime, not
security, becomes the focus of the probe. Ha'aretz
reported that the police will give him another
polygraph test, after they have finished interrogating
him about alleged criminal offenses.
-Thursday, the High Court of Justice declined to debate
the plea bargain reached between the state and
Tenenbaum.

All media (banners in Ha'aretz and Hatzofe) reported
that Eliran Cohen, a 22-year-old Jew from Haifa, was
arrested on suspicion of having carried out nine
attacks against Arabs in the Haifa area, including a
bombing attempt of the car of Hadash Knesset Member
Issam Makhoul in October 2003. Eliran's father, Meir
Cohen, is suspected of having provided him with weapons
and explosives. Israel Radio reported that a 22-year-
old IDF soldier, who is a resident of Ashdod, was
arrested last night on suspicion of involvement in the
case. Makhoul was quoted as saying that Jewish
terrorism, which reached its peak with the
assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, is
"alive and kicking."
Ha'aretz reported that the IDF recently conducted a
simulation "war game" about what could happen the day
after PA Chairman Yasser Arafat passes away. The
exercise examined several scenarios and how Arafat's
death -- by natural causes -- would influence the
domestic situation in the PA and its relations.
Security sources told Ha'aretz that the exercise was
not a result of any new information about the state of
Arafat's health.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that Thursday the
High Court of Justice postponed the evacuation of six
illegal outposts by 10 more days.

Ha'aretz reported that a planned new IDF committee will
apply the same criteria to both genders seeking army
deferrals because of pacifism.

Leading media reported that next week FM Silvan Shalom
will hold talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak and Egyptian FM Ahmed Maher. Yediot reported
that Shalom will propose a deal in which Azzam Azzam,
an Israeli jailed for spying in Egypt, would be
released. This will be Shalom's first visit to Egypt.

All media reported that Thursday at a press conference
held at the Prime Minister's Office, Internal Security
Minister Tzachi Hanegbi announced the replacement of
the current security system for public transportation,
which he said had failed, with a new USD 7-million
plan, sponsored by the Chicago-based International
Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The group donated
an initial sum of USD 1 million to Israel.

Ha'aretz reported that Thursday the High Court of
Justice rejected a petition filed against the IDF's
plan to demolish 20 Palestinian houses in Hebron, but
decided to accept the army's revised request to raze
only two of the houses.

Ha'aretz (Zvi Bar'el) presented negative and positive
views of intellectuals and politicians from various
Arab countries regarding the Greater Middle East
Initiative.
Jerusalem Post reported that Victor Marrero, a federal
judge in New York, "shot down the PA's legal defense
strategy" in a USD 500 million terrorism lawsuit,
declaring that the Palestinian claim of sovereign
immunity does not hold up in U.S. courts.
Noted American Middle East expert Professor Bernard
Lewis predicted, in an interview with Yediot, that a
revolution will take place in Iran in two to three
years.
Ha'aretz reported on a Health Ministry decision, in
principle, to approve cloning human embryos for
scientific research and producing embryonic stem cells.

Yediot published the results of a Mina Zemach (Dahaf
Institute) poll:
-66 percent of Israelis do not trust the government.
-59 percent of respondents believed that Sharon's
motives for having Tenenbaum freed were untainted.
-53 percent believe that Sharon should reign because of
the affairs currently under police investigation.
-"If Sharon quits, whom would you like to replace him
as PM?" Shaul Mofaz: 30 percent (41 percent among
Likud voters); Binyamin Netanyahu: 26 percent (37
percent among Likud voters); Ehud Olmert and Silvan
Shalom: 8 percent each; none of the proposed choices:
24 percent (3 percent of Likud voters).

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Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Former editor-in-chief Moshe Ishon wrote in
nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe: "Sharon wouldn't be able
to commit himself to an evacuation from the Gaza Strip,
while Bush would find it hard to provide him with
financial grants before the elections."

Extreme right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick wrote on
page one of conservative, independent Jerusalem Post:
"What is happening is no less than a revolution, albeit
a tentative one, in the way the U.S. views its Middle
East policy."

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz:
"The Americans, and the other forces that are aiding
them in Iraq, have also defined themselves as an army
of occupation, but they repeatedly stress that this is
to last for only a relatively short time. The IDF has
had this reality forced upon it for decades and there
are no real signs of a substantial change in the
foreseeable future."
Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "Where Is He Running To?"

Former editor-in-chief Moshe Ishon wrote in
nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe (March 5): "In
Washington, people are aware of the disputes taking
place in Jerusalem around Sharon's unilateral
evacuation plan from Gaza. Not everyone [in
Washington] is prepared to accept his belief that he
can implement his plan. Many people are expecting a
government crisis. President Bush's close advisers ...
are suggesting that the confrontations concerning the
Gaza Strip be postponed until after the presidential
elections. Some have even proposed that Sharon's visit
be put off until after the elections. Bush considers
himself committed to meeting Sharon in the near future.
Some people say that it would happen no later than
early April, perhaps even earlier. They say that the
meeting would be purely formal, without real
commitments. Sharon wouldn't be able to commit himself
to an evacuation from the Gaza Strip, while Bush would
find it hard to provide him with financial grants
before the elections. Both sides understand each other
well, say Israeli government and Capitol Hill
officials. Sharon isn't prepared to admit at this
juncture that his Washington visit will be purely
formal. He is still pinning great hopes on it."

II. "Lessons of the Latest Debacle"

Extreme right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick wrote on
page one of conservative, independent Jerusalem Post
(March 5): "What is happening is no less than a
revolution, albeit a tentative one, in the way the U.S.
views its Middle East policy. If in the past,
consecutive U.S. administrations have swallowed the
Arab propaganda line that no reforms of their
dictatorships were possible until the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict was resolved, today the Bush
administration is rejecting this lie. Speaking in
Cairo this week, Undersecretary of State Mark Grossman
said, 'The effort for reform in Arab countries does not
have to wait until there is a full peace.' And what is
Israel doing in the face of this welcome and courageous
American policy? Our government is rejecting it, by
deed if not by word. By courting Mubarak while he
leads the charge against the U.S. initiative to bring
freedom to the Arab world we are strengthening Mubarak
and his authoritarian government that has made Egypt
the epicenter of Arab anti-Semitism and the gravest
conventional threat to Israeli security.... And where
is the Israeli media? Aside from laconic reports of
the American initiative, buried in the back pages of
the newspapers and at the tail ends of news broadcasts,
never to be repeated, there has been no media
discussion of the strategic ramifications of the
American initiative."
III. "What Makes the IDF Unique"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(March 5): "The IDF is a disciplined army that is under
democratic civilian authority and at this time, this
democracy, even if it wanted to, cannot free itself of
the control over another people. This, more than
anything else, is what makes the IDF unique today.
This is a negative distinction that the world is
witnessing. It is inconceivable that this is not
affecting the IDF and that it will not ultimately erode
its morality. The Americans, and the other forces that
are aiding them in Iraq, have also defined themselves
as an army of occupation, but they repeatedly stress
that this is to last for only a relatively short time.
The IDF has had this reality forced upon it for decades
and there are no real signs of a substantial change in
the foreseeable future."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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