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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 07 TEL AVIV 001408

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:
-------------------------

All media reported that Sunday 15 Palestinians were
killed, including four children under the age of 16,
and more than 80 Palestinians were wounded during an
IDF operation in two refugee camps in central Gaza.
Other than the children, all of the dead were armed men
(nine Hamas members, one member of Fatah's Al Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades and one member of the Popular
Resistance Committees). Israel Radio quoted IDF Chief
of Staff Moshe Ya'alon and other IDF sources as saying
that the troops did not aim at children, and that those
who died could have been killed by Palestinian fire.
Leading media reported that the PA denounced a
"massacre" and urged the UN to send observers. Israel
Radio quoted Hamas leader Abdelaziz Rantisi as saying
on Al Jazeera-TV that the Jews are the enemies of the
believers and that all they had brought to the region
was rage and pain.

Yediot cited the IDF's belief that terrorist attacks in
the Gaza Strip and West Bank will increase. Leading
media quoted Ya'alon as saying that there could be a
link between the rise in the number of Palestinian
attacks and PM Sharon's announcement of a unilateral
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. (Sunday, all media
reported on a failed combined bombing and shooting
attack at the Erez crossing Saturday, which was
thwarted by IDF soldiers and PA policemen.) Sunday,
Maariv led with a story that that Hamas is setting up
an army in the Strip in order to take it over after
Israel withdraws. Sunday, all media reported that one
or two (Yediot) suicide attacks were thwarted in
Jerusalem during the weekend. Yediot and Maariv quoted
Ya'alon as saying that one of the attacks was funded by
Iran. Sunday, Jerusalem Post reported that in a
further attempt to fight spreading anarchy in the
Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, the PA has
decided to resume executions of convicted murderers and
"collaborators."

Sunday, Hatzofe cited the British daily Financial Times
as saying that the U.S. Administration and the GOI will
soon agree on Sharon's disengagement plan.

Ha'aretz reported that Egypt is likely to demand that
Israel revise security arrangements incorporated in the
peace agreement between the two countries to allow it
to beef up deployments in its side of the Gaza Strip
should Israel withdraw from the "Philadelphi" seam area
around Rafah, thus providing security on the border and
preventing the smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip.
Israel Radio quoted PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's
national security adviser Jibril Rajoub as saying that
in the next few days there will be consultations
between Egyptian and Palestinian representatives about
Israel's disengagement plan, and that the Egyptian
chief of intelligence, Gen. Omar Suleiman, will arrive
in Ramallah for talks with Arafat. This morning,
Israel Radio quoted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as
saying in an interview with the French daily Le Figaro
that he rejects the idea of an Egyptian security role
in the Gaza strip, describing it as a trap that would
lead to conflict with the Palestinians and possibly the
Israelis. All media reported that Egyptian Parliament
Speaker Ahmad Fathi Srour declined the invitation of
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to address a special
Knesset session on March 23 to mark the 25th
anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty with
Egypt. Ha'aretz says that the person most likely to
represent Egypt at the ceremony is the head of the
Egyptian Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee.

Maariv reported that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
has presented a proposal to resume negotiations between
Israel, Syria and Lebanon: in a first stage, the three
countries would pledge to act against violence from
within their sovereign territory. The newspaper says
that the aim of the proposal is to rein in Hizbullah,
and that Syrian President Bashar Assad accepts the
offer, but that Sharon has not yet responded to it.

Israel Radio reported that the IDF has presented to
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz a binding ethical code
that will ban the humiliation of Palestinians and the
use of force as a punishment measure against them.

Leading media quoted State Comptroller Eliezer Goldberg
as saying Sunday that his office will check the
"decision-making processes that preceded the return of
Elchanan Tenenbaum." This investigation will start in
the next few days.

During the weekend, all media named the possible
accomplice of the Haifa father and son who attempted to
carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli Arabs as
Yevgeni Grossman, 22, from Ashdod. All media reported
that a group of Kach members and supporters of the
murderer Baruch Goldstein held celebrations Saturday
and Sunday to mark the tenth anniversary of his death
and of his massacre of Muslim worshippers at Hebron's
Tomb of the Patriarchs. Some Goldstein supporters were
interviewed in the mainstream media.

Ha'aretz reported that the United Arab Emirates and the
family of its president, Sheikh Ziad ibn Sultan are
funding the repair works of the Dome of the Rock
compound on the Temple Mount, which are due to begin in
the coming weeks and to take several months.
Sunday, Hatzofe quoted Mofaz as saying that the Phalcon
AWACS deal with India is "the most significant
breakthrough in Israeli defense exports."
Ha'aretz and other media reported that two former
Israelis -- the brothers Daniel and Abner Nicherie --
were indicted in a federal court in Los Angeles this
weekend on charges of defrauding a couple of some USD
40 million.

Sunday, leading media quoted U.S. officials as saying
that the Bush administration is close to imposing
economic sanctions on Syria for its support of
terrorist groups and for failing to stop guerrillas
from entering Iraq.

Ha'aretz cited a U.S. Energy Department report,
according to which Israel refuses to return highly-
enriched uranium it received from the U.S. years ago.
The report says that the U.S. has been working since
1996 to recover enriched uranium it had supplied to
friendly nations in the framework of the "Atoms for
Peace" program.

Ha'aretz reported that the joint Israeli-Jordanian
"Bridging the Rift" project in the Arava will include a
major scientific center that aims to create a
comprehensive computer databank of genetic information
on humans, animals and plants. The newspaper says that
Cornell and Stanford universities will also develop the
center.

Maariv reported that the Judea and Samaria College (in
the West Bank settlement of Ariel) is developing a
space exploration module in cooperation with NASA.
Sunday, Jerusalem Post reported that Ben Gurion
University Prof. Richard Israelowitz recently received
the "prestigious" "Distinguished Scientist Award" of
the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse" (NIDA) for
his research on immigrant drug abuse.

Ha'aretz Washington correspondent reported that for
Arab Americans, the voting trend is "anyone but Bush."

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The Palestinian
groups are trying to send suicide bombers all the time,
but there is no doubt that the increase in the number
of losses on their side, like in Sunday's raids, only
stokes their appetite for revenge."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one
of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The
strategic solution to terror is not something small-
scale, and is subject to the decision of the political
echelon: a comprehensive operation in the Gaza Strip
... or reaching a political arrangement that will
enable the entry of a foreign force."

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Gewirtz opined in an
editorial in Yediot Aharonot: "The atmosphere of zero
trust at home also exacerbates the attitude the U.S.
Administration has taken towards [Sharon]."

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in an editorial in Yediot Aharonot: "With
the U.S. paralyzed by an election year, a new French
policy could fill the void in assisting to formulate an
Israeli-Palestinian interim arrangement and perhaps
even a comprehensive Israeli-Arab arrangement."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz:
"If there aren't any stunning surprises, U.S. President
George W. Bush's blessings for the disengagement plan
will, in the blink of an eye, become the kiss of death
for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government."

Former education minister from Meretz, contributor
Amnon Rubinstein wrote in Ha'aretz: "Evidence has
started to mount that the external facade presented by
Arab media is a deception; and whenever the belt is
loosened a little, new voices can be heard in the Arab
world."

Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "Stoking an Appetite For Revenge"

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (March 8): "Is the
army trying to sabotage Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's
disengagement plan? This suspicion is likely to arise
in light of yesterday's operations by the Israel
Defense Forces in the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip.
Just as Sharon is talking about unilateral withdrawal
from Gaza and [Israel's] National Security Council is
working on plans for such a pullout, the army raids
camps in the Strip and confronts armed Palestinian
groups. The operation ended with 15 Palestinians dead,
most of them armed men, and no IDF casualties. As in
most cases, however, it appears the real reason for the
operation has to do with inertia, not conspiracy....
The operation was carried out Sunday because it is a
continuation of the IDF's policy in Gaza over the last
two years.... In other words, unlike in the case of the
Lebanon pullout in the spring of 2000, the army does
not plan to allow the political leadership to present a
withdrawal from Gaza as the result of a military
failure. The army can meet the challenge, but the
country's political leaders have decided to retreat,
and the army, of course, will obey.... The Palestinian
groups are trying to send suicide bombers all the time,
but there is no doubt that the increase in the number
of losses on their side, like in Sunday's raids, only
stokes their appetite for revenge."

II. "In the Mud"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one
of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (March
8): "No honest military man would say that the IDF
operation in the el-Bureij and Nuseirat refugee camps,
or the operation carried out three weeks ago at the
Sajaiya refugee camp, lead to any kind of solution to
terror in the Gaza Strip. These armored operations in
the refugee camps are, in fact, intended to ensure that
the IDF and settlers can survive in the Gaza
Strip-until the government decides where it stands on
the issue of unilateral disengagement. Someone has
thrown a stone into a puddle, and now the army is being
asked to both contain the shock waves in the swamp and
to stay clean and fragrant.... The armored operations
are tactical moves. The strategic solution to terror
is not something small-scale, and is subject to the
decision of the political echelon: a comprehensive
operation in the Gaza Strip styled after Operation
Defensive Shield, or reaching a political arrangement
that will enable the entry of a foreign force --
Egyptian, European or any other military force that
will be willing to take responsibility. Otherwise, we
will continue to sink into the mud of the Gaza Strip
until we are forced to leave with our tail between our
legs."

III. "The Trap of the Lack of Trust"

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Gewirtz opined in a editorial
in Yediot Aharonot (March 7): "Even the proponents of a
withdrawal from Gaza will find it hard to support a
prime minister who placed his full weight behind the
release of [Elchanan] Tenenbaum for concealed reasons,
and without having shown the necessary leadership when
it became evident that the entire deal proved to be
complete chaos. The atmosphere of zero trust at home
also exacerbates the attitude the U.S. Administration
has taken towards him. While Condoleezza Rice has
spoken about an event even more important than the fall
of the Berlin wall, Washington has refused to allow the
wall preventing Sharon's political visit there from
coming down before it receives from him assurances
about the initiative he wants to launch. That is the
miserable situation of the Israeli Prime Minister at
present, the peak of the trap of the lack of trust that
he has found himself caught in both domestically and
abroad. He is suspected to be a person whose real
motives are concealed and who assumes limited
responsibility. Until proven otherwise, he won't be
getting any additional credit."

IV. "Discovering France"

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in an editorial in Yediot Aharonot (March
8): "Relations between Israel and France are warming
up, slowly but surely.... There are many motivations
behind the change, starting from fear of the rising
power of Moslem fundamentalism (within the Arab
minority living in France as well) and the resurgence
of anti-Semitism, to the re-examination of the
traditional and fixated pro-Arab positions of most
French governments. It is not the motivations that
are important, however, but the actual results. The
turnabout in Israeli-French relations could lead to
surprising developments. Senior officials in the
Israeli administration now wish to mobilize French
support for the disengagement plan from Gaza and are
even willing to think in terms of a joint American-
French policing force in the Gaza Strip after the IDF
evacuation. Due to its prestige among the
Palestinians, France could be, according to certain
scenarios, the spearhead that will lead to the
(necessary) replacement of Arafat at the leadership of
the Palestinian Authority. With the U.S. paralyzed by
an election year, a new French policy could fill the
void in assisting to formulate an Israeli-Palestinian
interim arrangement and perhaps even a comprehensive
Israeli-Arab arrangement. France is discovering the
advantages of a balanced policy, and Israel is
discovering France."

V. "Disengaging From the Disengagers"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz
(March 8): "If there aren't any stunning surprises,
U.S. President George W. Bush's blessings for the
disengagement plan will, in the blink of an eye, become
the kiss of death for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's
government. This time, he will not have suspenders at
his disposal in the form of the 'seven days of quiet'
that served as charm against the dear departed Tenet
plan, or in the form of the 14 qualifications that
chained the dying road map. After the plan earns
American trust, it will be impossible to treat it like
the Mitchell plan of blessed memory, which was
ostensibly adopted but never won the trust of the
government of Israel. The government ministers from
the National Union will not be able to represent a
government that has voted in favor of evacuating the
Jewish settlements from Gush Katif in the Gaza
Strip.... The behavior of the Jewish settlers' lobby is
reminiscent of a child who acts wild in class and keeps
misbehaving despite all the punishments. During a
period of less than 10 years, they have brought about
the fall of four prime ministers who dared to try their
hand at non-brutal solutions."

VI. "Something's Changing in Arab Media"

Former education minister from Meretz, contributor
Amnon Rubinstein wrote in Ha'aretz (March 8): "Media
outlets in the Arab world are a unique phenomenon --
hatred and defamation are a staple, anti-Semitic
propaganda recalls that of Goebbels, and what
masquerades as fact is in fact a figment of
psychopathic imagination.... [However,] when a
dictatorship collapses, it turns out the facade was as
thick as paper. As it turned out, for instance, the
Soviet puppet regimes in Eastern Europe had no
supporters. Can a similar process of popular dissent
be swelling beneath the surface in the Arab world?....
In fact, evidence has started to mount that the
external facade presented by Arab media is a deception;
and whenever the belt is loosened a little, new voices
can be heard in the Arab world (and samples of them can
be found on the MEMRI, Middle East Media Research
Institute, site [NB: http://www.memri.org/])....
Something is afoot there. When hundreds of Syrian
intellectuals sign a petition calling for reforms in
their country, that's hardly a routine occurrence. In
terms of Israel's interests, it might not be a dramatic
change, but it's important to know that the Arab world
is not the sum of what's written in Cairo, Damascus and
Ramallah."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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