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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 001575

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. March 11 Madrid Bombings

2. Mideast

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

All media -- except Ha'aretz (English Ed.) -- led with
the multiple, almost simultaneous bombings in Madrid on
Thursday morning, in which 198 people were killed and
over 1400 others were wounded, according to the Spanish
government. Yediot's banner reads: "In Europe, Too."
The media reported that the London-based Arabic-
language Al-Quds Al-Arabi received an e-mailed claim of
responsibility from Al Qaida, which allegedly states
that the organization has infiltrated "the heart of
crusader Europe" and completed its preparations for
terrorist attacks in the U.S. Israel Radio reported
that, like UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Secretary
of State Colin Powell initially endorsed the Spanish
government's assertion that the Basque guerrilla group
ETA is behind the attacks, but that the U.S.
Administration became open to other options following
the Al-Qaida announcement. Jerusalem Post cited PM
Sharon's expression of "deep grief" over the attack.
Ha'aretz notes that FM Silvan Shalom also sent his
condolences to the government and people of Spain.
Leading media reported that Israel is prepared to send
aid in various forms to Spain. Israel Radio reported
that, due to a lack of need, the Spanish authorities
declined an offer by an Israeli forensic team to travel
to Madrid to help in identifying the dead.

Leading media reported on Defense Minister Shaul
Mofaz's meetings in Washington Thursday and today with
Secretary Powell, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense

SIPDIS
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor

SIPDIS
Condoleezza Rice. Israel Radio and Maariv reported
that Mofaz asked for U.S. support for Sharon's
disengagement plan, saying that this support is
important for him (Maariv), and for the Palestinians,
the Arab states and the EU (Israel Radio). Maariv and
Israel Radio reported that Mofaz told the senior U.S.
officials he met Thursday that the conflict with the
Palestinians could last for years and Israel must
organize toward that possibility, because there is no
partner on the Palestinian side. Maariv reported that
Mofaz told the U.S. officials: "Israel is looking
toward a historic move" and "The moment there is a
partner for dialogue, we will resume the negotiations
with the Palestinians." Israel Radio's Washington
correspondent said: "The Americans know the Likud well,
the disengagement plan a little less." The radio also
reported that Immigrant Absorption Minister Tzippi
Livni (Likud) met with NSA Rice.

The media reported that Thursday Sharon and other
Israeli officials, including his senior aides Giora
Eiland and Dov Weisglass, met with the three U.S.
envoys -- Stephen Hadley and Elliott Abrams from the
White House and William Burns from the State Department
-- and that the meetings will continue today. Israel
Radio reported that FM Shalom met with the U.S. envoys
this morning. Yediot and other media reported that
Sharon told the American officials that he conditions a
substantial withdrawal from the West Bank upon a U.S.
agreement to the annexation by Israel of settlement
blocks in the West Bank. Jerusalem Post quoted a
senior diplomatic official as saying Thursday that
Israel is seeking written assurances from the U.S. on
the issue.

Ha'aretz reported that Sharon is considering
restricting his disengagement plan to the Gaza Strip
only, without a concomitant withdrawal from the West
Bank, in light of the growing opposition to the plan
among Likud ministers. The newspaper says that Sharon
will explore this possibility in the next few days, as
well as the alternative of a small, purely symbolic
withdrawal from the West Bank. Ha'aretz and other
media noted that both the U.S. and Egypt have said they
will not support the plan unless it includes a
significant withdrawal from the West Bank. Leading
media quoted DAS David Satterfield as saying Thursday
that one of the biggest questions is the scope of the
planned withdrawal from the West Bank. Satterfield
also spoke about Israel's "humiliation" of the
Palestinians.

Maariv divulged further details about the outline of
Israel's National Security Council disengagement plan.
Yediot reported that the council has raised the idea of
selling the Gaza Strip settlements to the World Bank.
Maariv cited the right-wing weekly Makor Rishon, as
quoting, in its latest issue coming out today, a senior
source as saying that the evacuation of settlers and
IDF soldiers from the Gush Katif bloc of settlements in
the West Bank will start on May 1.

Leading media reported that at his meeting with FM
Shalom in Cairo Thursday, Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak promised to secure the border with Israel with
Egyptian border police. Mubarak repeated this
assurance in interviews with the regional
correspondents of the three Israeli TV channels.
Mubarak emphasized that any unilateral move should be
made in accordance with the road map. Maariv reported
that Mubarak will send two delegates to the Knesset
ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the Israel-
Egypt peace treaty -- former ambassador to Tel Aviv
Mohammed Bassiouny and Mustapha Faki, the Chairman of
the Egyptian Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee.
Hatzofe reported that the Cairo Opera has been
presenting for some time an inciting anti-American
production.

Jerusalem Post reported that Thursday the High Court
extended a freeze on the construction of a section of
the security fence northwest of Jerusalem for another
six days, pending a hearing on a petition lodged by
Palestinian villagers in the area.

Maariv reported that the defense establishment is
considering immunizing Israelis against smallpox, and
that the Home Front Command could recommend that
Israelis get small and inexpensive masks granting a 20-
minute protection period from chemical and biological
materials.

Ha'aretz reported that a delegation of Likud members
met with senior Jordanian officials at the Movenpick
hotel, on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea, where
the Geneva Accord had been drafted. The Jordanians
reportedly asked the Likud members to tell Sharon that
Jordan views a public announcement by Israel that
Jordan is not the country of the Palestinians as
extremely important. Ha'aretz quoted Deputy
Employment, Industry and Trade Minister Michael Ratzon,
who took part in the talks, as saying that the Left
does not have a monopoly on dialogue initiatives.

All media reported that the police have arrested a
possible fourth member of the "new Jewish terror
underground" that planned and carried out attacks
against Israeli Arabs in the Haifa area -- Alexander
Rabinovich, 22, from Haifa.

Ha'aretz reported that under new legislation awaiting
approval from the U.S. Senate (an amendment to Title VI
of the Higher Education Act, already passed by the
House of Representatives), researchers from all over
the world -- including Israel -- could be asked to
present their positions on U.S. policy before
participating in advanced studies programs at U.S.
universities.

Ha'aretz reported that at a meeting last week with
ministers and representatives of agencies involved with
immigration, Sharon stated his goal of bringing 1
million Jews to Israel in the next few years.

-----------------------------
1. March 11 Madrid Bombings:
-----------------------------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote on page one of independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "Anyone who objects to what the terrorists
did Thursday in Madrid cannot at the same time justify
or overlook similar acts of terror against other
nations."
Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote on page one of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Western Europe, for some
reason, thought itself protected."

Foreign News Editor Arik Bachar wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Thursday, Spain joined the expanding
club of victims of mega-terrorism."

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

I. "Madrid Is Not the End of Terrorism's Road"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote on page one of independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (March 12): "Whether Thursday's terrorist
attack in Madrid was the work of the Basque underground
or of another terrorist organization, such as Al Qaida
-- or perhaps even a collaborative effort -- it is
clear that the massacre at the train station in Spain's
capital was modeled after acts by Al-Qaida, Hamas,
Islamic Jihad and their ilk: a massive terror attack
against innocent civilians in the name of an ideology
or political demand.... Israelis can empathize with the
horror and anguish experienced yesterday by residents
of Madrid. The irony is that the Spanish media has for
the last several years shown 'understanding' for
Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians in public
places, on buses and in railway stations, and has even
justified such attacks. But no political demand,
however justified it might be, justifies such acts of
mass murder.... Thus anyone who objects to what the
terrorists did Thursday in Madrid cannot at the same
time justify or overlook similar acts of terror against
other nations."

II. "Welcome to the Real World"

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote on page one of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (March 8): "Welcome to the
Europe of mega-terrorist attacks. First there was
September 11. Now there is also March 11. Between one
and the other, citizens of Indonesia, Kenya, Turkey,
Russia and Iraq were massacred in mass terror attacks.
But Western Europe, for some reason, thought itself
protected. Immune. It won't happen to us, the
Europeans said, we are not in terror's gun sights.
After all, we are not part of imperialistic America or
Russian imperialism and Zionist imperialism. We are
enlightened, post-modern, progressive.... Now it has
happened to them too.... People ask, why should al
Qaida, or some organization affiliated with it,
slaughter civilians in Madrid commuting to work?
Experts are quick to respond: it is because of Spain's
participation in the war in Iraq. What a stupid
question and what a stupid answer. And what was al
Qaida's motive in murdering 3,000 Americans who came to
work at the World Trade Center in New York? At that
time ... it even appeared that Bush was one of the more
pro-Arab presidents of America.... The game of motive
guessing leads nowhere. There is no logic here, what
there is is seizing opportunities to murder as many
people as possible. Let us pay attention to what
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a prophetic
speech a week ago: he said that for him, September 11
was a day of epiphany. He realized that zealots had
declared unlimited war on our world.... Europe still
refuses to internalize what happened. It still refuses
to open its eyes wide and to accept the fact that as of
this morning, every trip by any child to any school in
Europe on public transportation is a trip into the
heart of darkness, filled with fear and trembling. In
Madrid as in Jerusalem."

III. "Crossing a Threshold"

Foreign News Editor Arik Bachar wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (March 12): "Bin Laden did to
terrorism of the old kind -- that of the 70s and 80s --
exactly what Quentin Tarantino did to the shower scene
of Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho'.... This is only going
to get worse, because demons of this sort feed
themselves and compete with one another. The next big
target, a real irresistible temptation if you are a
terrorist on the way to establishing your reputation,
is the Athens Olympic Games.... Thursday, Spain joined
the expanding club of victims of mega-terrorism.
Israelis always feel that the understanding for what
has accompanied them since the very beginning is
growing, as more blood of citizens of other nations
entering that club is being spilled. But this is a
double-edged sword. Finally, everybody remembers that
international terrorism graduated in our neighborhood."

------------
2. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz:
"The significance of Sharon's outlook is broader -- the
doctrine that the importance of territory is supreme
has been called into question."

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one
of conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Sharon is
embarking on something that is completely untested, and
he is doing it at a time when Bush least needs
surprises."

Extreme right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick wrote on
page one of Jerusalem Post: "The [Greater Middle East
Initiative] is low risk and entails a potentially
enormous payoff. In sharp contrast, Sharon's plan is
being advanced despite its high risks and unclear
payoffs."

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

I. "Hints of Change?"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(March 12): "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's
disengagement plan has not been finally formulated, but
even now it is clear that with his plan, he has
succeeded into calling into question tactical security
doctrines that he held and also convinced many other
people to support. The significant change that emerges
from the disengagement plan is that Sharon has
apparently concluded that the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict has no military solution.... The trouble is
that there is no certainty at all that the conflict
with the Palestinians has a political solution. This
is what we learned during the tenures of previous prime
ministers -- Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud
Barak. Today, too, the big question is whether the
current Palestinian leadership, headed by Palestinian
Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, wants to and is
capable of arriving at a true political solution. For
Sharon a fundamental change has occurred with respect
to the security importance of the Jewish settlements in
the territories. He is now adopting the outlook of
Yitzhak Rabin and Haim Bar-Lev, who said that not all
the settlements are important for the country's
security.... The significance of Sharon's outlook is
broader -- the doctrine that the importance of
territory is supreme has been called into question."

II. "U.S. Planning Versus Israeli Improvisation"

Diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wrote on page one
of conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (March 12):
"Israel and the U.S. are currently in the midst of an
intense round of shuttle consultancy.... What is
emerging from these deliberations are two very
different styles of doing things: U.S. planning vs.
Israeli improvisation. The American penchant to try to
plan for every eventuality against the Israeli tendency
to wing it, to do things -- even very big things -- on
the run. Nowhere has this Israeli modus operandi been
more apparent than in the manner in which the country
is going about building the fence -- first build, then
chart the route.... This time the Bush administration
wants, is demanding, to see the details, the fine
print.... This time around, the Americans want to leave
as little to chance or Israeli improvisation as
possible. For good reason -- it's a gamble, and nine
months before a close election, President George W.
Bush is not in a gambling mood. Sharon is embarking on
something that is completely untested, and he is doing
it at a time when Bush least needs surprises."

III. "Even Worse Than Oslo"

Extreme right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick wrote on
page one of Jerusalem Post (March 12): "In many
respects Oslo was better than what Sharon is currently
advocating.... The most stunning aspect of this plan is
the fact that it is being advanced at the same time as
another Middle East peace plan that actually could
bring about a long term change for the better in our
region. This plan, the Bush administration's Greater
Middle East Initiative, involves pressuring Arab
dictatorships like Egypt's to democratize. The very
existence of the U.S. initiative has already caused
shockwaves throughout the Arab world.... If successful,
it will advance U.S. national security interests in the
region by drying up the swamps of extremism that
flourish in the darkness of totalitarian regimes. If
it fails, the U.S. is no worse off than it is today.
That is, the plan is low risk and entails a potentially
enormous payoff. In sharp contrast, Sharon's plan is
being advanced despite its high risks and unclear
payoffs.... It emboldens the Europeans and it pushes
the U.S. into a position where in the interests of
'progress' in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it will
be forced to undermine a plan that can actually bring
peace."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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