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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 06 TEL AVIV 001794

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:
--------------------------------

Assassination of Hamas Leader Ahmed Yassin

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

All media continued to lead with the aftermath of Hamas
leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin's assassination. The media
reported that IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon hinted
Tuesday that PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and Hizbullah
Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah are next in

SIPDIS
line.

Leading media quoted President Bush as saying Tuesday
that Israel has the right to defend itself from terror,
but that it should keep the consequences of its actions
in mind. Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying: "I worry
about terrorist groups targeting America. There are
still serious threats because of what we stand for.
There are still people who want to harm our country.
And so whether it be a Hamas threat or an Al-Qaida
threat, we take them very seriously." Ha'aretz and
Israel Radio note that Tuesday senior White House
officials, including National Security Advisor
Condoleezza Rice, altered their responses to the
assassination. Speaking on Israel Radio from
Washington, FM Silvan Shalom minimized the significance
of that change. Leading media reported that U.S. State
Department issued a travel warning for the region.

All media reported that Tuesday Abdel Aziz Rantisi
became the new "general commander" of Hamas, replacing
Yassin. Khaled Mashal, who approved Rantisi's
leadership, remains the head of the movement's
political bureau. Several media reported on possible
personality conflicts inside the Hamas leadership.

IDF operations in the Gaza Strip: The media reported
that the IDF is continuing its incursion in the
northern strip area of Beit Hanoun to prevent further
Qassam rocket launchings, and that it is operating on
the outskirts of Khan Yunis. The media also reported
that the IDF fired at boats off the Gaza Strip coast.
Israel Radio reported that last night the IDF killed
two terrorists who tried to infiltrate the settlement
of Morag.

All media reported that late Tuesday night IAF warships
struck at a terrorist squad in south Lebanon close to
the central portion of the border, after it was spotted
preparing launchers for firing Katyusha rockets into
Israel the Lebanese border. The members of the squad,
who were killed, apparently were Palestinian members of
Hizbullah.

Israel Radio reported that, due to U.S. opposition,
Algeria pulled a resolution draft condemning the
killing of Yassin, which it had presented to the UN
Security Council. The radio quoted U.S. Ambassador to
the UN John Negroponte as saying that the draft ignores
terrorist attacks by Hamas.
PM Sharon's disengagement plan: Israel Radio reported
that the current round of discussions between NSA Rice
and Sharon's envoys Dov Weisglass and Giora Eiland,
which started Tuesday, will continue today. Former
Mossad Director Ephraim Halevy said on Israel TV last
night that Israel is conducting indirect negotiations
on Sharon's disengagement with the Palestinians through
the U.S.

All media reported on the 3,000-strong protest march
held in Nazareth Tuesday to mourn Yassin. Leading
media printed pictures and aired footage from the
event, saying: "This isn't Gaza, but Nazareth." Yediot
reported that the public address system at the
demonstration blared a song of praise for Yassin:
"Leader of freedom, our sunlight, you are the candle
that lights our lost way." All media reported on
clashes in Jerusalem between the police and
demonstrators who blocked the entrance to the Hebrew
University's main campus when Sharon was addressing
immigrant students there.

Ha'aretz reported that the Finance Ministry told a
Knesset subcommittee Tuesday that the cost of
constructing 300 km of the security fence in 2004 is
estimated at 1.5 billion shekels (approx. USD 333
million) -- 200 million shekels (approx. USD 44
million) more than the initial forecast.

Ha'aretz disclosed details of facts uncovered in an IDF
military court ruling: Kayes Obeid, the Israeli Arab
and Hezbollah agent who had collaborated temporarily
with Elchanan Tenenbaum and helped Hizbullah abduct him
plotted to abduct other Israelis. Israel Radio and IDF
Radio reported that two Israeli Arabs from northern
Israel have been arrested for having allegedly
conspired to murder soldiers and steal their weapons
during the month of February.

Yediot reported that branches of the defense
establishment have decided to modify landing routes at
Ben Gurion Airport, so that airplanes do not fly too
close to the West Bank. The newspaper also reported
that aircraft will not be allowed to fly over the
Israeli Arab city of Umm el Fahm.

Leading media reported that Tuesday the High Court of
Justice upheld an IDF ban on allowing Israeli
journalists to enter the Gaza Strip following the
assassination of Yassin.

-------------------------------------------
Assassination of Hamas Leader Ahmed Yassin:
-------------------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The
approach that chooses to deal with Palestinian terror
by assassinating individual leaders, instead of a
determined effort to reach an agreement with the PA on
renewing dialogue, is wrongheaded."

Veteran op-ed writer Yaron London opined in the
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "We [Israelis] were not given any solid or
clear explanation, and we do not know how the
assassination fits in with the vision of the political
arrangement with the Palestinians."

Liberal contributor Dr. Gadi Taub wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "The more we [Israel] identify Hamas
with Al Qaida, the more points Al Qaida gains as an
Arab liberation movement, a freedom fighting
organization against the Zionist-American alliance."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"The condemnation by Arab leaders of Israel's pinpoint
targeting of Hamas godfather Ahmed Yassin sounds like
an awfully bad joke, which almost beggars [sic] the
retort of 'look who's talking.'"

Conservative columnist Avraham Tirosh wrote in Maariv:
"In a situation in which you cannot eradicate the
causes of terror, you should eradicate its leaders,
whose goal is to eradicate you."

Far-left, Arabic-language Al-Ittihad editorialized:
"The international community has the duty to pressure
Sharon's government to stop the bloodshed and to save
the Palestinian people from this colonial occupation."

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

I. "Deterrence and Horror"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (March
24): "Official [Israeli] spokesmen confirm that in the
short run the assassination [of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin]
will indeed make Israelis and Jews worldwide more
vulnerable, but promise that in the short run everyone
will see that the killing was worthwhile. That
assumption rests on very shaky ground.... Last week's
cabinet decision to kill off the Hamas leadership broke
the rules of the game, and could move the armed
conflict to areas never seen before.... The approach
that chooses to deal with Palestinian terror by
assassinating individual leaders, instead of a
determined effort to reach an agreement with the PA on
renewing dialogue, is wrongheaded.... The cabinet
decision could yet go down a serious negative change of
direction in the history of the conflict."


II. "Still, Why Was Yassin Assassinated?"

Veteran op-ed writer Yaron London opined in the
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (March 24): "And perhaps there is a 'critical
mass' of assassination victims, which will cause a
turnabout? Certainly. When we kill all the
Palestinians, big and small, there will be no one left
to kill us. Until then, we can presume that every
assassination increases the pool of terrorists and
fuels the murderous rhetoric. It is true that among
the educated, largely secular Palestinian elite, voices
can be heard that show a more sober view, but this
group, upon which the government has pinned its hopes,
the group that is the basis for the vision of the
Geneva plan's architects, and with whom Jewish peace
activists talk, has zero influence on the prevalent
trend.... The dead Yassin is stronger than the live
Yassin, and his image as the most senior of Muslim
saints is already inflaming the imagination of the
masses and narrowing the freedom of action enjoyed by
the moderate Palestinian leaders. If the government had
explained to Israelis sincerely what its considerations
were before it decided on the strike -- what it feared,
what it hoped for and what tipped the scales -- we
would be able to agree or disagree with it, but either
way we would feel like citizens who are partners to
deciding their fate. But we were not given any solid
or clear explanation, and we do not know how the
assassination fits in with the vision of the political
arrangement with the Palestinians, how it will benefit
our security and what dangers it involves. In its
silence and enigmatic talk, the government humiliates
its citizens and puts them into a fatalistic mood,
which weakens their staying power."

III. "We've Gotten the U.S. in Trouble"

Liberal contributor Dr. Gadi Taub wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (March 24): "One needs to bear in mind
that America not only has defined new parameters for
evil, but also has parameters for good. Evil changes -
- once upon a time it was communism, now it is
terrorism -- but good has remained stable: democracy,
self-determination and equality. Things become most
uncomfortable for the Americans when the definitions of
evil clash with the definitions of good.... In the long
run, the last thing they want is for their war on
terror to be cast as the oppression of national
liberation movements. They made every effort to paint
their war on Saddam Hussein as a war of liberation that
was being fought in the name of the Iraqis: they do not
oppress nations in the context of their war on terror,
they liberate them. That is the message. Just like in
the Cold War. Israel's war on Palestinian terror
creates a problem here. It creates a tactical problem
since the moderate Arab regimes cannot support American
intervention in the Middle East if it is perceived as
part of the American support for the oppression of the
Palestinians. And it creates a more profound strategic
problem since it stains Bush's war on terror with
colors of oppression instead of colors of liberation.
It helps bin Laden turn himself into a liberation
fighter. The more we identify Hamas with Al Qaida, the
more points Al Qaida gains as an Arab liberation
movement, a freedom fighting organization against the
Zionist-American alliance.... It is a worldwide
American interest not to give terrorists an entry card
into the union of national liberation organizations.
And we would do well, very well, to steer clear of
colliding with that interest."

IV. "Look Who's Talking"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(March 24): "The condemnation by Arab leaders of
Israel's pinpoint targeting of Hamas godfather Ahmed
Yassin sounds like an awfully bad joke, which almost
beggars [sic] the retort of 'look who's talking.'
Israel's critics in the Arab world are the very last
who should decry action against fundamentalist Islamic
terrorism. They know they fear it every bit as much as
Israel, if not more.... The latest to persecute the
[Muslim] Brotherhood is Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak, who reacted to Yassin's demise by canceling a
visit of Egyptian legislators to Israel to mark the
25th anniversary of the peace treaty between the
countries. He lashed out at Israel for having
committed 'a savage act.' Yet his repression of the
still-banned Brotherhood is ongoing.... None of this is
to suggest that Israel should measure itself by the
standards of the Arab world. This record should give
pause, however, to Western governments that shape their
own statements to accommodate official Arab anger at
Israel's minimalist act of self-defense. The Arab
world has no standing to lecture Israel on human
rights, the rule of law, or international legitimacy.
Western governments that ignore this wide disparity,
and which have long histories of taking similar
prudent, measured, and reluctant actions against
terrorism themselves, should spare us their criticism
as well."

V. "A Welcome Assassination"

Conservative columnist Avraham Tirosh wrote in Maariv
(March 24): "Shimon Peres said on Monday that the most
effective solution to terror is to eradicate the causes
of terror, and not its leaders. Theoretically, he is
right. In practice, in the case of Hamas -- he isn't.
Because the only thing that sparks Hamas terrorism is
the very existence of Israel in the region, and not the
occupation of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. 'Eradicating
the causes of terror' in this case means, therefore,
eradicating the State of Israel. That, in succinct
form, was the ideology of the 'spiritual leader,'
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. That, needless to say, is
something that even Shimon Peres would not agree to.
Therefore, in a situation in which you cannot eradicate
the causes of terror, you should eradicate its leaders,
whose goal is to eradicate you. Prevent them from
seizing control of the Palestinian territories so that
you are left with a chance of engaging in dialogue and
achieving an agreement. It is people, like me, who
support disengagement from Gaza and most of the
territories in Judea and Samaria, and dialogue with the
Palestinian Authority, who ought to support the
elimination of murderous terrorists of Yassin's kind,
who commit criminal acts to prevent any chance of that
happening."

VI. "Save the Palestinian People from Massacres and
Occupation"

Far-left, Arabic-language Al-Ittihad editorialized
(March 23): "The Israeli occupation forces have
committed an organized terror operation ... missiles
were shot from an American Apache warship to
assassinate Hamas's leader, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin....
This crazy Sharonic escalation will trigger the
conflict with more fire and violence.... A historic
responsibility demands serious initiative of the Arab-
Jewish peace movements to forge unity to restrain the
occupation government crimes.... The international
community has the duty to pressure Sharon's government
to stop the bloodshed and to save the Palestinian
people from this colonial occupation."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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