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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 001621

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. Campaign Against Terrorism

3. Greater Middle East Initiative

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

Jerusalem Post reported that Deputy State Department
Spokesman J. Adam Ereli condemned the double Ashdod
bombings in the strongest terms. Leading media
reported that the main working assumption among
security officials is that the two suicide bombers who
carried out the attack made their way from the Gaza
Strip into Israel via an underground tunnel. The media
reported that IAF helicopters bombed two Gaza City
workshops before dawn Monday in response to the attack,
and that the inner security cabinet is likely to
authorize further military actions. The media reported
on various violent incidents in the Gaza Strip Monday,
including a missile attack on a bus transporting
settlers' children, and today. Warning about a further
security blooper, Maariv reported that fuel trucks from
Iraq are entering Israel freely at the Arava border
crossing with Jordan, following American pressure and
against the objection of Israeli security elements.

Ha'aretz reported that Monday PA Chairman Yasser Arafat
refused his cabinet's call to use the Palestinian
security forces against terrorist organizations,
following Sunday's double Ashdod bombings, for which
both Fatah and Hamas claimed responsibility.

All media reported (banners in all media, except
Ha'aretz) that Tuesday a 10 to 12-year-old Palestinian
boy (depending on the media) carrying a bomb that was
to be activated by means of a cellular phone, was
arrested by the security forces at a roadblock near
Nablus. Tanzim activists had sent him with the
intention of blowing him up next to IDF soldiers.

Yediot and Ha'aretz reported that the Knesset has
received warnings that terrorist organizations are
planning to send letter bombs to Israeli public
figures.

Jerusalem Post reported that the State Attorney's
Office informed the High Court of Justice Monday that
the state has decided to re-examine the planned route
of a several-kilometer section of the security fence
slated to be constructed near the West Bank village of
Na'alin just north of Modi'in. The area has been the
scene of violent Palestinian anti-fence demonstrations
over the last few days. In what it says is a move by
thousands of people, Ha'aretz cited unofficial
estimates that some 300 Palestinians with Israeli ID
cards, who had been living east of the so-called
"Jerusalem envelope" fence, are returning to
Jerusalem's municipal area every week. They are
reportedly driven by the fear of losing social and
economic benefits as a result of being cut off from the
city.

Maariv reported that the U.S. Administration is
checking into, and is likely to take up a proposal from
the Prime Minister's Office that it invest funds in
building communities and developing industry in the
Negev, instead of providing monetary compensation to
evacuated settlers. The newspaper quoted a GOI source
as saying Monday that this is a winning idea, and that
by adopting it, "the Americans will help Israel move
from an age of confrontation to an age of impetus and
prosperity. A Maariv headline reads: "Bush Will Make
the Negev Bloom."

All media reported that the government survived a no-
confidence vote on Sharon's disengagement plan at the
Knesset, 46-45.

Jerusalem Post quoted senior PA officials as saying
that at least 140 Palestinians have been arrested in
the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the Intifada on
charges of collaborating with Israel.

All media reported that Monday the Knesset paid its
respects to the victims of Thursday's Madrid bombings,
as the Spanish Ambassador to Israel, Eudaldo Mirapeix,
and a EU delegation watched from the gallery. The
media quoted Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) as
saying: "The enemies of humanity have struck again.
Exactly two-and-a-half years after the horrific
spectacle of September 11, innocent civilians have once
again been massacred, and once again the free world has
been perceived by its enemies as weak and impotent."
Jerusalem Post quoted diplomatic sources in Jerusalem
as saying that the electoral defeat of Spanish PM Jose
Maria Aznar's Popular Party has deprived Israel of an
"understanding" European government that was attentive
to its problems.

Italian FM Franco Frattini, who is due to arrive in
Israel on a visit tonight, was quoted as saying in an
interview with Maariv that Israel's security and the
fight against terrorism constitute matters of primary
importance in the road map. Frattini was also quoted
as saying that Italy will not withdraw its forces from
Iraq and that there can be no compromise with
terrorism. Yediot cited the Italian daily Corriere
Della Sera as saying that the Mossad warned Italy that
it is one of Al Qaida's next targets. Ha'aretz
reported that Israel's political Right is trying to
enlist Christian support in Europe -- an equivalent of
the kind of support it has found among fundamentalists
in the U.S.

Israel Radio reported that Israel could return 40
million shekels (around USD 8.89 million) it
confiscated from Palestinian banks in Ramallah last
month.
Ha'aretz quoted Seif al-Islam Qadhafi, the son of
Libya's leader Muammar Qadhafi, as saying in an
interview with the London-based Al-Hayat that his
country armed itself with WMD for the purpose of a war
with Israel.

Ha'aretz quoted Francis Fukuyama, a former staff member
of the U.S. State Department and the author of the 1992
essay "The End of History," as saying Monday at Tel
Aviv University, among a panel that included Finance
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Labor Party Shimon
Peres, that the struggle against terrorism is not a
conflict between civilizations. Fukuyama claimed at
the meeting that fanatical Islam -- "the periphery of
history" -- has a fateful influence on "the center,"
i.e. the West.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one
of popular, pluralist Maariv: "It is not inconceivable
that Ariel Sharon might ultimately have to forget his
grand plan.... By so doing he will neutralize most of
the opposition and will crush the rebellion in the
Likud before its inception."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar opined in left-leaning,
independent Ha'aretz: "Sharon's unilateral
disengagement has long been bilateral. The
Palestinians decided 30 years ago to take any shred of
land that falls into their hands."

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in
Ha'aretz: "Sharon has gone too far to assume that he is
kidding around with his people, America and our
potential allies in Europe, now waking up to the grim
reality of mega-terrorism. Until proven otherwise,
there is no reason not to take him seriously."

Former minister of foreign affairs and former minister
of defense Moshe Arens wrote in Ha'aretz: "As summer
approaches and the American election campaign heats up,
it is not likely that the U.S. Administration will
endorse Sharon's plan.... In the meantime, pursue the
war against terrorism and don't bother the President."

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

I. "Lots of Trouble"
Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one
of popular, pluralist Maariv (March 16): "It is not
inconceivable that Ariel Sharon might ultimately have
to forget his grand plan, quash the medium-sized one
and go for the small version: a partial withdrawal from
Gaza, keeping the three northern settlements intact,
the fate of Philadelphi [the corridor at the Gaza-Egypt
border] unclear. By so doing he will neutralize most
of the opposition and will crush the rebellion in the
Likud before its inception.... Ariel Sharon is in
trouble. If he opts for the grand plan he will lose
his coalition, perhaps even his party, and maybe even
his seat as prime minister. Binyamin Netanyahu is in
trouble. If he acts against Sharon, he will be
gambling on his political future and will lose public
points. If he doesn't, the same applies. The two of
them, Sharon and Netanyahu, are trapped. They are both
searching for a dignified way out. Bibi [Netanyahu]
has spoken in the past number of days staunchly against
the disengagement plan. Sharon has tried to speak in
its favor, but without success.... The way things look
now, the wind in Sharon's sails is slowly dying out.
His principled determination still exists, but life
looks more complicated than ever before. The Israelis
made it clear to the Americans that in any event, no
steps would be taken on the ground before the summer of
2005. Sharon won't be going to Washington this month,
but only next month (maybe). The Americans are looking
forward to the Arab League convening at the end of this
month and to an explicit condemnation of suicide
bombing attacks, and don't want to ruin that
achievement."

II. "Sharon's Disengagement Has Long Been Bilateral"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar opined in left-leaning,
independent Ha'aretz (March 16): "Arafat's court does
not want Sharon's court spoiling its victory
celebration. They are keeping one important fact under
wraps: Sharon's unilateral disengagement has long been
bilateral. The Palestinians decided 30 years ago to
take any shred of land that falls into their hands....
That decision, which involves the liberation of all
Palestinian lands and the annihilation of Israel, is
known as 'the plan of the stages.' In 1988, it made
way for the Algiers Declaration, which recognized
Security Council Resolution 242 requiring Israeli
withdrawal only from territory conquered during the Six-
Day War. In the Oslo accords, the PLO agreed to
receive the territories in stages.... The fact that the
PLO leadership is not wiping away a tear at Israel's
departure from Gaza in exchange for nothing does not
keep it from going around the world with downcast
demeanor. Why would they miss the opportunity to
present Israel as the party that buried the road map
under the outposts of Israeli trespassers in the West
Bank and the ruins of the homes of innocent
Palestinians in Gaza?"

III. "Take Him Seriously"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in
Ha'aretz (March 16): "The first thing on [Sharon's]
list is to win the consent and support of President
Bush. Sharon is obsessive about coordinating every
step of the way with him. Next comes working out the
operation in detail, preferably with the approval of
the Strip's 7,500 settlers. From start to finish, the
pullback should be wrapped up in a year or two. While
this is happening, Sharon will drum up political
support for the move.... But Sharon is the one who will
choose the timing.... Sharon has gone too far to assume
that he is kidding around with his people, America and
our potential allies in Europe, now waking up to the
grim reality of mega-terrorism. Until proven
otherwise, there is no reason not to take him
seriously."

IV. "Don't Bother the President Now"

Former minister of foreign affairs and former minister
of defense Moshe Arens wrote in Ha'aretz (March16):
"For now, it does not look like the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict will be one of the prominent issues in the
[U.S. presidential] election. So what does ... it have
to do with Sharon's plans for unilateral disengagement
in Gaza and the uprooting of Israeli settlements? Not
much really, unless the execution of this plan ends up
in an escalation of violence in the area that blows up
in Bush's face, highlighting another problem that his
rival can accuse him of having created. Bush probably
prefers to leave the issue well enough alone. But
that's not the way the Prime Minister's Office sees
it.... As summer approaches and the American election
campaign heats up, it is not likely that the U.S.
Administration will endorse Sharon's plan. Everything
is going to have to be put on hold until after
November. And by then, everything may look different -
- in Israel, in the United States, and maybe even among
the Palestinians. In the meantime, pursue the war
against terrorism and don't bother the President."
-------------------------------
2. Campaign Against Terrorism:
-------------------------------
Summary:
--------

Veteran print and TV journalist Dan Margalit wrote in
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Europe is not prepared yet
to face the difficult, pan-human reality of non-state-
based Islamic terror, which seeks to acquire weapons of
mass destruction."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"If terrorist groups believe they can alter the outcome
of Spain's election, why not attempt to alter the
outcome of America's?"

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

I. "Comfort Now"

Veteran print and TV journalist Dan Margalit wrote in
popular, pluralist Maariv (March 16): "Europe is not
prepared yet to face the difficult, pan-human reality
of non-state-based Islamic terror, which seeks to
acquire weapons of mass destruction. It suffers from
myopia because the politicians there are trying to woo
the Moslem voters who have flooded many of their
countries; and because the shifting feelings of
superiority and inferiority about the U.S. plays a key
role in undermining the recognition of America's role
in defending the values of the West; and mainly because
the peoples and governments on the old continent are
focused on comfort now, and not on any real sacrifice
for the sake of a better future later. Al Qaida,
Hizbullah and radical Islam do not aspire to achieve a
compromise. They want to regain control over Andalusia
in Spain, and not only to punish it for sending 1,400
troops to Iraq. They have succeeded in deceiving the
voters in Madrid and Barcelona, as if their objectives
were restricted and all the voters needed to do was to
oust from power a government that helped Bush against
an awful tyrant like Saddam Hussein. Israel was first,
but is not alone.... If Madrid still refuses to
understand the significance of the events, the Jewish
state has no choice."

II. "Spanish Democracy"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(March 16): "The Al-Qaida manifesto [released after the
Madrid bombings] spoke menacingly of a 'Winds of Black
Death' operation against the U.S., which it said was 90
percent complete. This may or may not be a bluff.
What's certain is that if terrorist groups believe they
can alter the outcome of Spain's election, why not
attempt to alter the outcome of America's? In the
immediate aftermath of Thursday's bombing, the first
question on everyone's mind was 'Who did it?' Then the
question became 'Why?' If people in democratic nations
persuade themselves that the answer is the war in Iraq
-- and, more broadly, the American-led war on terror --
they will have handed al-Qaida the very thing it
seeks."

-----------------------------------
3. Greater Middle East Initiative:
-----------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Moderate Israeli Arab Dr. Thabet Abu-Ras, a U.S.
university graduate, wrote in the weekly Arabic-
language Assennara: "American democracy might be good
for the American people but duplicating and
implementing it in the Middle East is not suitable to
the nations [of the region]."

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

"Democracy and the Arab Nations"

Moderate Israeli Arab Dr. Thabet Abu-Ras, a U.S.
university graduate, wrote in the weekly Arabic-
language Assennara (March 12): "Arab intellectuals,
politicians and academics kept silent until the U.S.
President reminded them of the need to democratize Arab
and Islamic nations.... This 'peaceful' project [the
Greater Middle East Initiative] is another component of
the American globalization system with its ultimate
goal: economic domination of the region.... Who stood
against the liberation movements in the Arab world for
the last fifty years? It was the successive American
administrations.... Which democracy is President Bush
preparing for us [Arabs]? An American-style
democracy.... American democracy might be good for the
American people but duplicating and implementing it in
the Middle East is not suitable to the nations [of the
region].... It [the American model of democracy]
ignores the cultural and educational aspects of the
Arab and Islamic nations. There is a debate about the
credibility and seriousness of the U.S. Administration
as well. How would the U.S. administrations welcome
the results of this democracy if it conflicts with the
U.S. economic and political interests in the region?
It has been proved that the Americans are looking for a
special type of democracy, which brings 'acceptable'
leaderships to power.... We have the right to be
suspicious of the intentions of those who bent
democracies and supported dictatorships in Africa, Asia
and Latin America.... However, it is the time to
propose our [the Arabs'] perception on democracy....
Our people need freedom, human rights, and democracy,
but refuse to import the American model."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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