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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 05 TEL AVIV 001698

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: Anniversary of War's Outbreak

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

Jordanian King Abdullah paid a secret visit to Prime
Minister's Ariel Sharon Shikmim ranch, Ha'aretz and
Yediot reported. The media noted that there are no
details regarding the contents of the meeting but that
most probably the two leaders discussed the Israeli
disengagement plan and its possible implications on the
implementation of the road map for an Israeli-
Palestinian agreement.

All media highlighted Pakistani belief that they have
cornered and perhaps wounded Osama bin Laden's deputy,
Ayman al-Zawahri, in a major battle near the Afghan
border.

The media quoted a GSS report released on Thursday in
which it exposes that it thwarted 15 attempts by West
Bank terror groups to commit terror activity against
Israel, since the beginning of the year. Among these
attempts was a Tanzim led group's plan to hijack an
Israeli bus and to hold the hostages in Bethlehem in
order to get Palestinian prisoners released. The GSS
officials also revealed that P.A. security forces
members are involved in the exposed terror cells.

Jerusalem Post cited Washington sources as saying that
the U.S. may postpone its announcement of the sanctions
it will impose on Syria until after the Arab League
assembly in Tunis, so as not to anger Arab allies.

Yated Ne'eman cited senior Palestinian officials as
saying that the U.S., Britain and Egypt are preparing
plans for the day after Yasser Arafat departs from
ruling the Palestinian Authority. The plans involve
Jordan and Egypt so at the end of the process these two
countries would open their gates for Palestinian
workers.

Ha'aretz reported that a commander of an Israeli
Defense Forces tank battalion would be indicted for
causing the deaths of four Palestinian through
negligence in a 2002 incident.

Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz reported that the daughters
of Israeli Air Force Colonel Joe Alon, who was shot in
Washington while serving there as assistant military
attach, have filed a petition at the High Court of
Justice against the Israeli government demanding all
the information gathered about his death. The
daughters also filed a request for the FBI file on the
case under America's Freedom of Information Act.

Ha'aretz reported that Britain is refusing to sell
military equipment to Israel. The paper noted that the
British excuse for the embargo is the Israeli
government's policy towards the Palestinians.
All media reported that Major General Dan Halutz is to
be the next Deputy Chief of Staff.

Ha'aretz reported that three Palestinians were lightly
wounded on Thursday in clashes with IDF forces during a
demonstration against the separation fence. Radio
stations reported today that two Israeli soldiers were
wounded when a bomb detonated by Hamas militants
overturned an Israel Defense Forces tank during a
military raid near the Gaza Strip settlement of
Netzarim.

Yediot and Maariv reported that several Hollywood stars
such as Jennifer Aniston, Sharon Stone, Denzel
Washington and more are slated to participate in an
evening saluting Israel. The main speaker of the
evening will be Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Sharon's
great, Sisyphean task now is to achieve synchronization
between Danny Ben Lulu's [a Likud Central Committee
member] electoral aspirations and George Bush's
electoral aspirations."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The Americans
listened and did not answer. They will give thier
answers -- if and when -- to the Prime Minister. And
it is unnecessary to say that if Sharon returns from
Bush with empty hands, the move won't take place."

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

1. "George Bush, Insurance Corp."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (March 19): "For
Sharon to be able to pass the withdrawal plan in the
government and the Likud, he needs a festive reception
in the U.S., perhaps on the ranch in Texas, perhaps at
Camp David, perhaps in a historic ceremony on the White
House lawn. Mainly he needs a presidential declaration
that he can flourish. But before the president makes
his declaration, he needs to be sure that Sharon will
make his plan pass in the Israeli political
establishment. Otherwise, his efforts will have been
to no avail. Sharon's great, Sisyphean task now is to
achieve synchronization between Danny Ben Lulu's [a
Likud Central Committee member] electoral aspirations
and George Bush's electoral aspirations."

2. "Waiting for an Invitation"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (March 19):
"Even if the Americans are starting to digest the
[disengagement plan] idea they are still withholding
Sharon's invitation to Washington. And the Prime
Minister is impatiently waiting for this invitation in
order to bring what Israel needs in order to begin the
move: an American public support, an economic
compensation and "back wind" against the majority in
his government, who oppose the plan. An American
recognition, even a general one, for settlement blocks
in the West Bank, would help him greatly. The Minister
of Defense [Shaul Mofaz] tried to satisfy the Americans
by using a general formula: supporting the large
settlement blocks does not contradict the traditional
American policy, which talks about strategic depth and
defensible borders.... The Americans listened and did
not answer. They will give thier answers -- if and
when -- to the Prime Minister. And it is unnecessary
to say that if Sharon returns from Bush with empty
hands, the move won't take place."

---------------------------------------
2. Iraq: Anniversary of War's Outbreak:
---------------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: " A year after Bush
started a war in order to bestow democracy on Iraq it
is becoming clear to him that the world did not unite
with him even after the victory."

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "On
balance, Bush's decision to make it impossible for
Saddam to make war was justified, and even essential,
for the future of the region."

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

1. "Bush Imagined a Different Scenario"

Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (March 19): "A year
after Bush started a war in order to bestow democracy
on Iraq it is becoming clear to him that the world did
not unite with him even after the victory. If Bush and
his men believed that from the moment Saddam Hussein's
regime falls the countries of the world would
understand their mistake and support the war, the
elections in Spain, the polls in Europe and Arab
countries position, proved to him that he was left
alone.... The struggle for American public opinion over
the war is at its height.... The war in Iraq did not
succeed in building George Bush's image as a leading
commander enjoying the American public's trust....
Opposite stands John Kerry and the Democrats, who talk
about the mistaken information, the international
isolation and the entanglement continuing on the
ground. So was it a good year fro Bush? The answer to
that question will be given only on November 2 when the
American public's voice is heard."

2. "The Year of Iraq"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (March
19): "One year ago today, the American assault on
Saddam Hussein's regime began. It has been a year of
many ups and downs: The first strike on Saddam's hiding
place failed; the military campaign to conquer Baghdad
and overthrow the regime succeeded; the American effort
to immediately establish a peaceful, democratic Iraq
failed; the operation to capture Saddam succeeded; the
effort to cope with acts of guerrilla warfare,
terrorism and sabotage against the American occupation
army and its allies failed. Upon hearing the frequent
reports of attacks in which Americans and Iraqis are
killed, it is very tempting to label President George
W. Bush's Iraqi adventure as an expensive entanglement
that is likely to end badly. But this would be to take
the narrow-minded, short-range view. On balance,
Bush's decision to make it impossible for Saddam to
make war was justified, and even essential, for the
future of the region.... In the strategic context,
Israel should benefit from the war in Iraq. The
eastern front has collapsed, in a manner that justifies
updating our security concept and our defense
budget.... The Middle East now lies at the heart of
American policy, and one can only hope that after the
November elections, the U.S. administration will find
time to settle the Israeli-Arab conflict."
KURTZER

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