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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 08 TEL AVIV 001466

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

1. Mideast

2. Iraq

-------------------------
Key stories in the media:
-------------------------

Last night, Channel 2-TV reported that PM Sharon is
"enraged" with IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon, whom
he accuses of having caused "enormous" damage and of
"blatantly intervening in political matters and trying
to influence ministers." Ha'aretz reported that
Sharon's bureau later denied the report. All media
cited remarks Ya'alon allegedly made against a
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip "under fire." Yediot
reported that the political Right sides with Ya'alon,
while the Left claims that he should not discuss the
disengagement plan.

Maariv (Ben Caspit) reported that top Sharon aide Dov
Weisglass will leave for Washington only if Sharon
gives "satisfactory" answers about his disengagement
plan to the U.S. team arriving on Thursday (Stephen
Hadley and Elliott Abrams from the White House and
William Burns from the State Department). Maariv
wrote: "Washington is demanding many goods of Sharon in
exchange for very little." Leading media reported that
Shin Bet head Avi Dichter has arrived in Washington to
meet with senior U.S. intelligence and National
Security officials. Yediot quoted him as saying that
it is doubtful whether the disengagement plan will
prevent Palestinian terrorism. Israel Radio's
Washington correspondent says that the U.S. decision-
makers view Dichter as an authority on doings in the
PA, who has no political slant and is not attempting to
promote or thwart plans by Sharon. Hatzofe quoted Vice
PM Ehud Olmert as saying in Berlin Monday, following
his meeting with German FM Joschka Fischer, that Israel
is committed to the road map and that, should there be
a need for them, Israel would take unilateral steps for
that purpose.

Jerusalem Post led with a statement issued by Hamas
Monday that it would continue its attacks on Israel
even after the planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip,
in order to "liberate the rest of Palestine." The
movement also denied reports that it is planning to
seize control of the Strip after Israel withdraws.
Leading media cited Hamas's admission that it had
carried out the bombing of the Mike's Place pub in Tel
Aviv in April 2003. Maariv reported that instructions
for building Qassam rockets are posted on the Izzedine
Al Qassam (Hamas military branch) web site.

Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres was quoted as saying
in various media interviews that Israel's mistake had
been not to pull out from the Gaza Strip long ago.
Hatzofe reported that uprooting the Gaza Strip
settlements would cause economic harm to 30,000
Palestinians.

Yediot and Israel Radio quoted State Department
Spokesman Richard Boucher as saying Monday: "We do
recognize Israel's right to defend itself against
terrorism -- terrorist attacks, and we always urge
Israel to consider the consequences of any actions it
might wish to take. But we also urge the Israeli
government to take all appropriate precautions to
prevent death or injury of innocent civilians or damage
to civil and humanitarian infrastructure. At the same
time, we believe the best way to move forward is for
the Palestinian Authority to begin by making an effort
against terror and violence, an effort that's far more
serious than the one that they have made over the past
few years."

Ha'aretz reported on the growing discontent of Shinui
ministers and Knesset members over the government's
policy. The latest reason for their disgruntlement is
that they feel affected, as coalition members, by
criticism of Sharon's handling of the Elchanan
Tenenbaum affair.

Maariv reported that Knesset security marked the hard
hats of Israeli Arab construction workers at the
Knesset's construction site with X signs. The
newspaper says that this is done so that that they can
clearly be monitored and differentiated from foreign
workers. The newspaper cited strong protests by
Israeli Arab Knesset members.

Jerusalem Post reported that highlighting his concern
with the rise of anti-Semitism worldwide, Secretary of
State Colin Powell told Jewish leaders from the World
Jewish Congress (WJC) that he may attend a conference
on the issue, hosted by the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) next month in Berlin.
The newspaper also reported that Powell expressed
interest in backing an Irish-sponsored resolution that
unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism, which was
withdrawn near the end of the UN's annual General
Assembly session after several Arab and Muslim
countries voiced their objections to its message.
Jerusalem Post also reported that Powell told the WJC
leaders that the U.S. opposes any Iraqi legislation
excluding Jews or others from restoring their
citizenship, and that no such discrimination was
written into the new Iraqi constitution.

Leading media reported that Gen. Tommy Franks, the
retired head of CENTCOM, is visiting Israel. Some
media noted that he came to mark the beginning of the
joint Israeli-Jordanian Bridging the Rift science
project in the Arava. Yediot quoted him at saying
Monday at a meeting with the top brass of the IDF and
the defense establishment: "I do not think Iraq will
turn into a peaceful nation in my lifetime. " The
newspaper also quoted him as saying that if the U.S.
knew the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, he would
already have been dead. Jerusalem Post quoted Franks
as saying that he supports the disengagement plan.

Ha'aretz cited Palestinian claims that Monday two
Palestinians were killed by the IDF in the Gaza Strip
and the West Bank. Leading media reported that
hundreds of Palestinian villagers, backed up by
International Solidarity Mission volunteers from
overseas, clashed with IDF forces protecting the
bulldozers working on the route of the separation fence
near Beit Lakiyeh and Beit Daky, not far from the
settlement of Mevo Horon, northwest of Jerusalem. Ten
Palestinians were reportedly wounded and a soldier and
two of the workers on the fence suffered light wounds.
Leading media reported that drunken ultra-Orthodox Jews
attacked Arab cab drivers and Israeli policemen in
Jerusalem during the Purim holiday Monday.

Ha'aretz reported that at his first meeting with
Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) Monday, British PM
Tony Blair urged him to meet with Sharon. Ha'aretz
also reported that despite the statements of senior EU
and British officials, Hamas's political wing has not
been added to the British and EU lists of proscribed
international groups.

Ha'aretz reported that Monday the right-wing group The
Temple Mount Faithful petitioned the High Court of
Justice to order the Israel Antiquities Authority to
supervise projects taking place on the Temple Mount.
The supervisors say that the projects, carried out by
the Waqf Muslim religious trust, are "the continuation
of the mount's Islamization and the removal of all
Jewish remnants from it, while destroying and robbing
everything, in violation of the law, in an essentially
Jewish place and a cultural cradle to the entire
world."

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that next week four
representatives of the Israeli conscientious objectors
network will appear before the European Parliament in
Strasbourg, where they will speak out against the "the
GOI's double game, presenting itself as the only
democracy in the Middle East, while "trampling on basic
democratic values in the occupation, or throwing
conscientious objectors into jail." Ha'aretz notes
that the trip is being sponsored by the United Left, a
group of leftist parliamentarians from various European
countries.
All media reported on the signing of the interim Iraqi
constitution Monday. Israel Radio reported that the
U.S. protested to Syria about the brief detention of an
American diplomat who was monitoring a human rights
demonstration on Monday.
Ha'aretz reported that the Arab League plans to set up
Pan-Arab institutions: a parliament, a security council
and a tribunal.

Ha'aretz cited the results of Tel Aviv University's
Peace Index poll:
-64 percent of Israeli Jews believe that Israel should
not take into account the suffering caused to the
Palestinians by the route of the fence; 17 percent of
Israeli Arabs hold the same view.
-70 percent of Israeli Jews support the continuation of
the assassination policy as a necessary measure to
reduce acts of terrorism; 4 percent of Israeli Arabs
have the same view.

------------
1. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote on page one of independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "If Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had provided
greater clarity about his disengagement plan in Gaza
and Judea and Samaria [i.e. the territories], he might
have avoided the many critical remarks he's hearing --
and not only from the army and the defense
establishment."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz:
"When it comes to the influence of political
calculations on foreign policy and especially the
influence of the Jewish lobby on Middle East policy,
American presidents in their second and last term are
very different from what they were as brand new
presidents."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "Israel's moral, security and
political resilience is not measured by the balance of
death and terror in Gaza and Jerusalem."

Nationalist writer Hagai Segal commented in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "It's impossible to imprison 1.2
million Arabs behind a fence without gates and to tell
them to live in autarchy."

Veteran journalist Evelyn Gordon wrote in conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "Only if an individual
wishes to affirm Israeli sovereignty does foreign
policy suddenly become sacrosanct. That, it seems, is
State's idea of an 'even-handed' approach to the
conflict."

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

I. "The Generals Prefer Coordination"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote on page one of independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (March 9): "If Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had
provided greater clarity about his disengagement plan
in Gaza and Judea and Samaria [i.e. the territories],
he might have avoided the many critical remarks he's
hearing -- and not only from the army and the defense
establishment.... The current dispute appears to stem
from a belief among the general staff, including the
Chief of Staff and key generals, that Israel should be
striving for an agreement with the Palestinians
requiring them to take responsibility in various areas,
instead of undertaking a unilateral disengagement.
They think a unilateral move practically guarantees the
fighting will continue, and the Palestinians will
regard a unilateral move as their victory, so they will
go on wanting to fight. Senior officers say that if
the government wants the disengagement plan to work,
there must be prior coordination with the Palestinians
and others. But Sharon doesn't want that. Some are
even prepared for 'soft' international involvement,
which Sharon certainly cannot accept.... There is also
criticism of the way Sharon's unilateral disengagement
plan basically throws out much of what the army regards
as the achievements of Operation Defensive Shield. A
disengagement without any agreement will turn into
withdrawal under fire and certain continued conflict."

II. "Meanwhile, the Only Disengagement Is Bush From
Sharon"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz
(March 9): "[Seeing Bush] talking with Sharon about
giving territory to the Arabs will not please the
conservatives and evangelist contributors. The White
House has told the Prime Minister's Office that no Jew
will be evacuated from Gaza before the presidential
election. That's all Bush needs -- American TV cameras
showing his Middle East vision being trampled by Arabs
charging into abandoned settlements, and how his road
map disappeared behind the smoke of American flags
going up in flames in what remains of Netzarim [in the
Gaza Strip]. Apparently, the most convenient way out
of the problem is to postpone the meeting with Sharon
until after the elections. If he wins. Meanwhile, to
save the honor of his vision and leave something of the
road map, Bush has to constrain Sharon, meaning make
sure the Prime Minister does not turn Gaza First into
Gaza Last. The campaign advisers are recommending he
keep things vague. After all, how many voters in
Florida care that Palestinian Finance Minister Salam
Fayyad left Washington last week with an American
promise that the withdrawal will also include territory
in the West Bank? According to a classified report
reaching Jerusalem, Fayyad got the promise straight
from National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and
Secretary of State Colin Powell. He convinced them

SIPDIS
that an Israeli disengagement only from Gaza could
perpetuate the occupation in the West Bank and
eliminate any chances for a peace agreement.... When it
comes to the influence of political calculations on
foreign policy and especially the influence of the
Jewish lobby on Middle East policy, American presidents
in their second and last term are very different from
what they were as brand new presidents."

III. "The Routine of Death"

Ha'aretz editorialized (March 9): "Experience shows
that operations in the heart of the densely populated
areas of the Gaza Strip end routinely with the deaths
of innocent civilians. Often, the operations are
indicative of faulty judgment, if not utter
indifference, in the uppermost political and military
echelons. They don't take into account the long-term
damage when a civilian population is terrorized for the
sake of the temporary achievement of 'provoking armed
men into exposing themselves'.... The argument that the
Palestinians have no compunctions about using children
as 'human shields' does not absolve the IDF of
responsibility for their safety. On the contrary....
The time has come for the makers of policy and those
who implement it to drop the illusion of a military
solution to the conflict; until a political solution is
found, they should take care to make wise and
controlled use of force. Israel's moral, security and
political resilience is not measured by the balance of
death and terror in Gaza and Jerusalem. The
preparations for disengagement from parts of Gaza and
the West Bank must be accompanied by an effort to calm
the borders with our neighbors and break out of the
cycle of violence.".

IV. "Better Stay in Gaza"

Nationalist writer Hagai Segal commented in popular,
pluralist Maariv (March 9): "Even if Israel evacuated
[the settlements of] Gush Katif and Netzarim, it would
have to continue operating [the Erez Crossing], because
it's impossible to imprison 1.2 million Arabs behind a
fence without gates and to tell them to live in
autarchy.... Poverty would quickly develop to African
proportions. The entire world would scream ... and
demand that Israel lift the siege.... Furthermore,
transferring Gaza from Israeli to Egyptian rule would
mean changing one occupation for another; even the Left
would find it morally hard to explain such a move....
The Erez Crossing could turn into an escape route for
refugees, but in an opposite direction [i.e. into
Israel]. Wouldn't the current situation -- no matter
how tough it is -- be better?"

V. "Stateless in Jerusalem"

Veteran journalist Evelyn Gordon wrote in conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (March 9): "Congress enacted
an explicit law in 2003 stating that if an American
citizen is born in Jerusalem, 'the Secretary [of State]
shall, upon the request of the citizen or the citizen's
legal guardian, record the place of birth as Israel.'
Nevertheless, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv refused to
register [a] baby's birthplace as Israel.... The extent
of the bias is even more astonishing, however, when one
considers State's claim, expounded in its response to
the lawsuit [filed by the baby's parents in an American
court], that non-recognition of Israeli sovereignty
over Jerusalem is so central to American policy that
the 2003 law would constitute an unconstitutional
infringement on the executive's right to set foreign
policy unless the court reinterpreted the 'shall' in
the law to mean 'may' -- thereby allowing State to
continue refusing to register people born in Jerusalem
as born in Israel.... Thus State is perfectly willing
to subordinate American foreign policy to the
individual's wishes if the goal is to deny Israeli
sovereignty. Only if an individual wishes to affirm
Israeli sovereignty does foreign policy suddenly become
sacrosanct. That, it seems, is State's idea of an
'even-handed' approach to the conflict."

---------
2. Iraq:
---------

Summary:
--------

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Monday, Iraqis showed that Arab democracy need not be
a contradiction in terms. The region's future depends
on the success of Iraq's bold experiment."

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

"The Birth of Iraqi Democracy"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(March 9): "Freedom and independence rarely come
without a struggle, as Americans and Israelis know.
The road ahead for Iraqi democracy is a long one and
the outcome is not guaranteed. Monday's signing [of
the interim constitution], however, was undoubtedly an
historic moment in the history of Iraq, the Middle
East, and the world.... This is a proud moment for
Iraqis and for the United States, which made it
possible. We should not lose sight of where it is
taking place.... Bernard Lewis, the eminent scholar of
the Islamic world, once noted the strange fact that the
Europeans who oppose American pressure on Arabs to
democratize are considered the 'friends' of the Arab
world. They are not. They are friends of Arab
despots, not the silenced millions they rule. Monday,
Iraqis showed that Arab democracy need not be a
contradiction in terms. The region's future depends on
the success of Iraq's bold experiment."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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