Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Mideast

2. Campaign Against Terrorism

Key stories in the media:

PM Sharon's disengagement plan:
-Leading media (Ha'aretz, citing GOI sources) reported
that Wednesday Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and other
senior security officials most likely convinced Sharon
that his disengagement plan should include a complete
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, but, at most, a pullout
from only a handful of settlements in the West Bank,
which Maariv says Sharon is considering carrying out
first. Ha'aretz quoted its sources as saying that the
maximal alternative -- evacuating 17 West Bank
settlements in addition to the Gaza pullout -- had
basically been dropped, mainly because of the growing
opposition in the Likud. Yediot reported that Sharon
responded to a suggestion by Mofaz that workers from
Gaza continue working in Israel after the disengagement
by saying: "Let them work in Egypt or Jordan." Yediot
cited the belief of a senior defense source that the
plan's authorization and negotiating process will
continue until September 2005. Other media reported
that the plan is likely to be implemented in December
2005. Ha'aretz reported that the Right is divided over
the legitimacy of refusing orders to evacuate the
settlements -- if and when the disengagement is passed.
Yediot reported that the Justice Ministry will
establish a special "dialogue" team with the Gaza Strip
settlers and initiate a basic law that would tackle
legislative issues that could result from the
evacuation, such as harming settlers' property rights.
-Jerusalem Post quoted FM Silvan Shalom as saying
Wednesday that PM Sharon will deal with renegade
ministers lobbying against his disengagement policy in
the next few days. The newspaper noted that Shalom
spoke one day after Construction and Housing Minister
Effi Eitam (National Religious Party) spoke out in the
U.S. against the plan and on the same day that
Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman (National
Union) met at his initiative with U.S. Ambassador
Daniel Kurtzer (a meeting also reported by other
media). Lieberman reportedly told Kurtzer that the
plan will not be approved by the cabinet, will endanger
the government, and could possibly present problems for
the U.S. Administration. Lieberman told Israel Radio:
"A meeting with the U.S. ambassador, as with other
ambassadors, is an exchange of information, opinions,
and assessments." Lieberman said he gave Kurtzer the
same assessment of the plan that he has given Sharon
and which he has presented to the Knesset. "I am glad
that the U.S. Ambassador listens to all the
assessments, and not only those from the Prime
Minister's Office. It is good that the Americans have
a complete picture," he said. Jerusalem Post noted
that a U.S. Embassy official confirmed the meeting,
saying it is normal practice for Kurtzer to
periodically meet with different government ministers
for an exchange of views.
-Ha'aretz quoted a Palestinian source as saying that
Wednesday Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's senior
adviser Osama El-Baz delivered an "ultimatum" to PA
Chairman Yasser Arafat, according to which the PA must
regain control of the Gaza Strip, or else Egypt would
withdraw from actively intervening in the implications
of Israel's withdrawal plan from the Strip. Jerusalem
Post also cited Egyptian pressure on the PA.

Israel Radio reported that last night the IDF pulled
out from the confines of Rafah, where it unsuccessfully
looked for smuggling tunnels. Leading media reported
that four Palestinians, two of them children (Ha'aretz:
armed teenagers), were killed. The media reported on
numerous violent incidents throughout the territories.
Maariv led by citing the concern of security sources
that terrorists could be planning to hijack buses. All
media reported that the suicide bombers who blew
themselves at Ashdod Port Sunday had hidden in a
modified container that had transported candies to the
Gaza Strip and re-entered Israel through the Karni
crossing. Leading media quoted police officials as
saying that five terrorist attacks were thwarted in
Jerusalem over the past two weeks.

Israel Radio reported that last night the D-G of the
Prime Minister's Office met with Palestinian Finance
Minister Salam Fayyad in order to discuss the USD 100-
million monthly transfer of tax money Israel owes the

Israel Radio reported that, based on the Syria
Accountability Act, the U.S. Administration will soon
announce that it is imposing sanctions on Syria for its
support for terror. The station quoted Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armitage as saying on a U.S.

radio station that these would be very forceful
sanctions, and that Syria had helped little in the
battle against al-Qaida but that at the same time,
along with Iran, it had supported Hizbullah and Hamas.

Leading media reported that one Palestinian was killed
and 21 others were wounded in a gun battle that erupted
in the center of Gaza City Wednesday morning between
Hamas activists and PA policemen.

Yediot reported that in four Palestinian cities the IDF
has seized notebooks of Palestinian children decorated
with "dreadful pictures" of terrorist attacks and
suicide bombers. Yediot and other media also reported
that scrapbooks filled with photographs of "shahids"
(martyrs) constitute the "biggest hit" among
Palestinian children.

Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post reported that Wednesday the
High Court of Justice, which debated various West Bank
fence-related petitions, ordered the state to respond
to claims that the current route of the West Bank fence
does not meet Israel's security needs and that it
simply causes harm to Palestinian villagers. The
Council for Peace and Security, a peace advocacy group
representing top-level Israeli reserve officers and
intelligence officials, had presented the claims to the

All media reported that last night in Baghdad at least
29 people were killed and 50 injured when an
approximately 1,000-pound bomb went off in front of the
Mount Lebanon Hotel, not far from the headquarters of
the U.S.-led coalition. The media cited the suspicions
of coalition officials that an al-Qaida affiliated
group may have been behind the bombing. Maariv
predicts that the committee investigating the role of
Israeli intelligence during the Iraq War will once
again blame the prevailing "preconception" among the
intelligence bodies and warn that this was one of the
gravest failures in the history of Israeli
intelligence. The newspaper cited a denial by Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Yuval Steinitz,
who also chairs the investigative committee. The
committee is also checking into the fact that Israel
only learned about Libya's nuclear plans from the U.S.

Leading media reported that Wednesday Yossi Beilin, the
newly elected leader of Yahad, the successor party to
Meretz, called on the Labor Party not to crawl before
Sharon. Leading media reported that Wednesday Labor
Party Chairman Shimon Peres reiterated statements that
his party has no intention of joining the government
coalition. Leading media reported that Justice
Minister Yosef (Tommy) Lapid called on the State
Comptroller to investigate who funded Beilin's election
campaign, and whether foreign funding he received for
the promotion of the Geneva Accord was not siphoned off
into his personal election campaign.

Globes quoted Jacob Toren, the Chairman of RAFAEL, the
Israel Armament Development Authority, that, due to a
50 percent cut in orders from the IDF, the authority is
expected to move a significant part of its production
and development activities to the U.S.

Globes and Ha'aretz reported that an agreement for
Israeli participation in the 16-billion euro Galileo
European satellite navigation system project was signed
Wednesday in Jerusalem. Globes also noted that the
European Parliament has approved Israel's participation
in the Sixth Framework Program of the EU for R&D.

1. Mideast:


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized:
"Posturing and threats do not enhance Israel's
deterrent power. They can actually backfire, leading
to a general escalation and producing one of two bad
results: enhancing the credibility of the Palestinian
version of Israel's withdrawal under force, or the
failure of the plan to withdraw from Gaza."

Block Quotes:

"How to Get Out of Gaza"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (March
18): "The Palestinians have a powerful interest in
presenting a different version of the narrative of the
withdrawal from Gaza. Sharon wants to present it as
the tale of an independent Israeli decision whose
purpose is to improve Israel's military capabilities in
years to come. Hamas and its cohorts want to frame the
withdrawal in a different context, presenting it as a
triumph of Palestinian power that culminated in the
removal of Jewish settlements and the expulsion of the
IDF. The terror attacks, which peaked early this week
in the double suicide bombing at the Ashdod port, are
intended to restore to the Palestinians both
operational initiative in the field, and the ability to
dictate the narrative to the world.... Since it is
tremendously difficult for security forces to thwart
terror attacks once suicide bombers and explosives have
been smuggled into Israeli territory, Israel does not
have the luxury of abandoning operations in the Gaza
Strip altogether. Under such circumstances, selective
assassinations of those responsible for planning future
terror strikes and for implementing them (as opposed to
punishing those responsible for past attacks) are an
unavoidable necessity. The same is true of ground
operations when there is no way of carrying out precise
strikes against defined targets.... Operations proposed
by military officials to the political leadership are
less problematic than the verbal wrapping in which
government spokesmen have packaged the plans for
marketing to the public. Posturing and threats do not
enhance Israel's deterrent power. They can actually
backfire, leading to a general escalation and producing
one of two bad results: enhancing the credibility of
the Palestinian version of Israel's withdrawal under
force, or the failure of the plan to withdraw from

2. Campaign Against Terrorism:


Nationalist writer Uri Dan, a close associate of Prime
Minister Sharon, opined in conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "To a far greater degree than the
terrible attacks by Muslim terrorists perpetrated in
Jerusalem, Bali, Casablanca, and Istanbul, the massacre
in Madrid was intended to tell the stunned Europeans
that the barbarians are, once again, at the gates of

Block Quotes:

"Victory For Muslim Terrorism in Madrid"

Nationalist writer Uri Dan, a close associate of Prime
Minister Sharon, opined in conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (March 18): "'President Bush is totally
familiar with the grave problem of global terrorism,
and the free world is fortunate that he is occupying
the White House,' Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told me
last Friday at his farm in the northern Negev. The
Prime Minister voiced these remarks after hearing the
reports from Madrid of the terrible massacre
perpetrated there the previous day by Al Qaida.... It
won't take long for the new Spanish government to learn
the hard way that rapid surrender to Muslim terror will
only encourage additional attacks in Spain by al-
Qaida.... The defeat of Aznar's government last Sunday,
72 hours after the massacre in Madrid, was without
doubt a victory for Muslim terrorism aimed at
undermining the Western democracies.... If France
opposed the United States' justified war in Iraq and
refused to dispatch a single soldier there, why should
it become a target for Muslim terror? Because al-
Qaida's global offensive against the West is
unconnected to events in Iraq.... To a far greater
degree than the terrible attacks by Muslim terrorists
perpetrated in Jerusalem, Bali, Casablanca, and
Istanbul, the massacre in Madrid was intended to tell
the stunned Europeans that the barbarians are, once
again, at the gates of Europe."


© Scoop Media

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