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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 001598

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. Aftermath of Madrid Bombings

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

With Yediot and Maariv devoting their entire front
pages to the event, all media led with Sunday
afternoon's double bombings at Ashdod Port, one of the
most sensitive, strategic and heavily guarded locations
in Israel. Ten Israelis were killed and 16 wounded,
one critically. Hamas and Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades jointly claimed responsibility for the
bombings. All media cited the beliefs of security
officials that the two terrorists planned to launch a
"mega-terrorist attack" by blowing themselves up near
the port's bromine tanks. Leading media reported that
the meeting between PM Sharon and Palestinian PM Ahmed
Qurei slated for Tuesday was subsequently canceled.
Israel Radio reported that the preparatory meeting
between the PMs' aides Dov Weisglass and Hassan Abu
Libdeh was also called off. Leading media reported
that the PA condemned the attacks, urged Israel to
commit itself "to break the cycle of violence" and to
implement the road map. Jerusalem Post reported that
scores of Palestinians took to the streets in the Jenin
and Jabaliya (Gaza Strip) refugee camps to "celebrate"
the attacks. Leading media reported that Sunday IDF
troops in the northern Gaza Strip shot dead three
Palestinians near the border with Israel. Some media
reported that the men were attempting to place a large
bomb on the Karni-Netzarim road. Leading media also
reported that 10 Palestinians and an IDF soldier were
lightly wounded during an anti-fence demonstration near
Modi'in Ilit.

Sunday, all media continued to lead with the aftermath
of Thursday's Madrid bombings. They reported that the
Spanish arrested three Moroccan and two Indian
nationals in connection with the attacks, and that Al
Qaida allegedly released a videotape claiming
responsibility for the bombings. All media reported on
last night's victory of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's
Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) over the Popular Party
(PP) led by Mariano Rajoy, who the polls predicted
would win the elections. The media pointed out that
the conservative majority paid the price for Thursday's
bombings in Madrid, which are thought to have been
carried out by Al Qaida, and by the Spanish
government's insistence that Basque separatists were
behind the attacks. Yediot quoted Sharon as expressing
his hope, at Sunday's cabinet meeting, that the world
is awakening to terrorism and that it understands that
everyone must join forces to fight it.

Ha'aretz quoted Secretary of State Colin Powell as
saying Sunday in interviews with U.S. TV networks that
Sharon's disengagement plan is "an interesting idea."
The newspaper reported that Powell reiterated the
United States' view that Israel should also withdraw
from West Bank land. Hatzofe reported that Sunday the
Council of Jewish Settlements on the Territories
published a position paper -- "Enough With the Silence
of the Lambs" -- that urges the right-wing ministers to
voice their opposition to the disengagement plan
publicly and at once.

On Sunday: Ha'aretz cited the USG's belief that
Sharon's disengagement plan poses risks, but has
"historic potential." The newspaper reported that at
an "executive forum" with the senior members of his
administration, President Bush pushed for support for
Sharon's plan, pending clarifications of details with
Israel. (Yediot cited Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz's
belief that Bush would state his support for the
disengagement plan in coming days.) Ha'aretz reported
that senior Sharon aide Dov Weisglass will leave for
Washington next week for a new round of talks with
administration officials before Sharon's planned visit.
Ha'aretz cited a statement released by Finance Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu after his meeting with the U.S.
envoys (Steve Hadley, Elliott Abrams and A/S William
Burns) indicating that the nature and scope of
guarantees and assistance to be provided by the U.S.
remain unclear. Yediot quoted a Netanyahu associate as
saying following the meeting: "The Americans will not
give Sharon anything in exchange for the potentially
disastrous plan. Ha'aretz quoted Mofaz as saying in
Washington that the security model to be followed in
the Gaza Strip is simple, since the region is
surrounded by a fence, but that the situation in the
West Bank is more complicated. Hatzofe reported that
FM Silvan Shalom told Likud Central Committee members
last Wednesday that a meeting between Sharon and Bush
has been set, in principle, for March 29. Maariv
reported that the PA has devised a plan for taking over
the Gaza Strip after the IDF withdrawal, including the
unification of the Palestinian security branches and
the prevention of rocket firing at Israel; a campaign
calling for law abiding; and cooperation with religious
leaders

Ha'aretz quoted Palestinian sources as saying Sunday
that the PA has released four Palestinians from the
Gaza Strip who were suspected of carrying out a deadly
bombing of a U.S. diplomatic convoy on October 15.

Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post quoted Sharon as saying
Sunday that Israel has no intention of allowing the
burial in Ramallah of Palestinian Liberation Front
leader Abu al-Abbas, who died in Iraq, contrary to PA
Chairman Yasser Arafat's wish. Yediot reported that
Balad Knesset Member Ahmed Bishara consoled Arafat over
al-Abbas's death.

Sunday, all media reported on the Kurdish riots in the
northern Syrian town of Qamishli.
During the weekend, the media predicted a tight contest
between Yossi Beilin and Meretz MK Ran Cohen for the
leadership of the new left-wing party Yahad.

Sunday, Yediot cited the anger of Foreign Ministry
officials over the fact that the former chief rabbis
Mordechai Eliyahu and Yisrael Meir Lau were required to
leave their fingerprints at the U.S. Embassy, even
though they have diplomatic passports. The newspaper
quoted U.S. embassy officials as saying that they
regretted the imposition, but that they insisted that
those were the regulations and noted that Rabbi Lau and
former defense minister Moshe Arens had both gone to
the embassy to be fingerprinted.

Sunday, Yediot quoted American sources as saying
Saturday that U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer has
recently expressed his dissatisfaction over the fact
that IDF officers travel in Japanese or European cars,
while the U.S. is transferring millions of dollars to
Israel. The newspaper quoted GOI sources as saying
that American cars are too big and American car
manufacturers should make attractive bids to compete on
the GOI market, "like everybody else."

Sunday, Ha'aretz cited the belief of Greek sources that
Greece will allow armed Shin Bet personnel to guard
Israel's delegation at the Athens Olympic Games. The
assessment came after Greek media reported over the
weekend that U.S. armed guards would be allowed to
provide security for the American delegation at the
Games.

Jerusalem Post reported that Sunday family members of
the crew of the Columbia space shuttle that crashed
last year arrived in Israel for a week-long visit.

Ha'aretz quoted officials at the Simon Wiesenthal
Center in Los Angeles -- and Yediot sources at Israel's
Consulate-General in Los Angeles -- as saying Sunday
that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be
in Israel for the ground-breaking of the Museum of
Tolerance in Jerusalem. Maariv reported that during
his upcoming visit to Los Angeles, FM Silvan Shalom
will finalize the details of Schwarzenegger's trip to
Israel.

Leading media cited the results of a Tel Aviv
University poll:
-Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post reported that 56 percent
of Israelis support Sharon's disengagement plan.
(Yediot reported that the support rate in the survey
was 68 percent.) Jerusalem Post reported that the
support rate drops to 50 percent if it is contingent on
dismantling settlements.
-60 percent support inclusion of "the larger, populated
areas [settlements] of Judea and Samaria [the West
Bank]" on the western part of the fence.
-71 percent object to the idea of building the fence on
the Green Line.
-Only 24 percent of respondents state their absolute
support for the Geneva Accord.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz:
"Current developments tend to support [a prediction]
that the moment Israel evinced its readiness to carry
out a unilateral withdrawal, the Palestinian
organizations would make a concerted effort to show
that Israel is retreating under military pressure."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "[Sharon] deserves credit for
the very fact of raising the initiative, but he will
pay a heavy political price if it turns out that he
failed to carry it through."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz:
"A party that believes in a peace agreement based on
the 1967 borders will have a hard time explaining to
its voters why it turned its back on a move that brings
Israel closer to those very borders."

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

I. "Militants Want Israel to Retreat Under Fire"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(March 15): "Cooperation between Hamas and Fatah in an
attack such as Sunday's strike at the Ashdod port, is
nothing new. This operational cooperation has
solidified over the past several weeks. For Hamas, the
development is a major achievement: It has succeeded in
building a kind of joint military apparatus with the
Fatah establishment.... Current developments tend to
support an assessment offered by Major General Aharon
Zeevi (Farkash), head of Military Intelligence, who
predicted that the moment Israel evinced its readiness
to carry out a unilateral withdrawal, the Palestinian
organizations would make a concerted effort to show
that Israel is retreating under military pressure."

II. "Lost in the Mist"
Ha'aretz editorialized (March 15): "Ever since Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon announced his dramatic initiative
for a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the
steps he is taking to implement his plan have been
clouded in mist.... Sharon will be making a grave
mistake by assuming he'll be able to bury the Gaza
withdrawal plan and lay the blame for this at the feet
of the other side. He deserves credit for the very
fact of raising the initiative, but he will pay a heavy
political price if it turns out that he failed to carry
it through."

III. "Joining the Disengagement Government"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz
(March 15): "There is only one political course of
action worse than disengaging from territories in the
Gaza Strip and West Bank without getting anything in
return and without coordination with the Palestinian
side -- not disengaging from the territories. There is
only one political course of action worse than the
Labor Party's support for Ariel Sharon's disengagement
plan -- opposition to the plan.... A party that
purports to fly the flag of peace cannot stand idly by
when the prime minister needs its support for a peace
initiative. A party that believes in a peace agreement
based on the 1967 borders will have a hard time
explaining to its voters why it turned its back on a
move that brings Israel closer to those very borders."

IV. "Wandering in a Fog"

Correspondent Efraim Ganor wrote in popular, pluralist
Russian-language Novosty Nedely (March 14): "The
unilateral disengagement plan's particulars are still
covered with ... fog. The U.S. is unable to define
its attitude regarding it ... and [determine] the
strong and the weak sides of the plan. It is unclear
what the plan's completion would bring Israel, the
Palestinians and the U.S.... Doubtfully, Sharon
himself and his closest advisors have definite answers
to these questions. In addition, the [Israeli]
security forces have ... objections against the plan,
arguing that in its present form, it cannot be executed
without clear agreements with the Palestinians. ...
Sharon sincerely tries to get his country and his
people out of the old and bloody conflict with the
Palestinians, and he is sure that Israel has to do it
unilaterally as opposed to coordination with the
Palestinians. Any agreement would force Israel make
more significant concessions than those it is ready to
carry out in a unilateral disengagement."

---------------------------------
2. Aftermath of Madrid Bombings:
---------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "U.S.
President George W. Bush's demand that countries around
the world take a stand and show who is in favor of
wiping out terror is simplistic, yet just."

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in the lead editorial of Yediot Aharonot:
"Even if it becomes evident that Al Qaida indeed bears
full responsibility for the terrorism in Spain, on whom
will the demonstrators vent their anger? You guessed
correctly: on the United States, of course."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"The longer Europe waits to join with America in common
cause, the more the war will escalate and spread,
including within Europe. The sooner Europe joins the
fight, the sooner these massacres will end and the
cause of freedom and human rights will prosper."

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

I. "World at War"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (March
14): "Europe has been roused from its slumber. Terror
is not limited to New York and Washington, Bali and
Mombasa, Russia and Israel. Courting the favor of Arab
and Muslim populations in whose name terror purports to
strike -- even though this population has not
authorized the terror -- will not tame the beast....
Judging by the response displayed by the Spanish
people, Europeans are not showing a precious degree of
unity and joining the alliance of victims being led by
the Americans. Should terror not be vanquished in a
long, hard struggle waged around the world, the way of
life cherished by citizens of free states will be
undermined. U.S. President George W. Bush's demand
that countries around the world take a stand and show
who is in favor of wiping out terror is simplistic, yet
just."

II. "The Politics of Mourning"
Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in the lead editorial of Yediot Aharonot
(March 14): "According to the contemporary European
cultural rulebook, the terrorism of the 21st century is
nameless, faceless and without religious identity.
Terrorism is repressed as an abstract threat or, at the
very most, a threat that stems from age-old internal
European conflicts. But to demonstrate explicitly
against Islamic terror? To send millions into the
street to that end? Heaven forbid. That is
politically incorrect, unmulti-cultural and
frightening. Mass anti-American demonstrations were a
common feature of Western European cities throughout
the duration of the Cold War. Not a single
demonstration was held in them at the time against the
USSR and the Soviet regime. This spectacle is now
repeating itself in reference to radical Islam. The
European code of conduct permits only demonstrations
against imperialism, and not against Al Qaida.
Therefore, even if it becomes evident that Al Qaida
indeed bears full responsibility for the terrorism in
Spain, on whom will the demonstrators vent their anger?
You guessed correctly: on the United States, of
course."

III. "It's a World War"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(March 14): "From Bali, Casablanca, and Manhattan to
Moscow, New Delhi, and Madrid, the evidence is too
vast, clear, and appalling to ignore: the world is at
war.... Spain and the rest of Europe must understand
that, just like last century's threat to their future
was fascism, this century it is the militant form of
Islam, and that just like Nazism's in its time, the
jihad's excuses for its mass-murders are not even worth
a hearing. Europe must concede it is at war, and has
no choice but to fight it until it is won. The jihadis
see Europe and America as a common enemy against which
they hope to play divide and conquer. The longer
Europe waits to join with America in common cause, the
more the war will escalate and spread, including within
Europe. The sooner Europe joins the fight, the sooner
these massacres will end and the cause of freedom and
human rights will prosper."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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