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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.

251201Z Mar 04

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 TEL AVIV 001830

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

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

Ha'aretz reported that Dov Weisglass, senior aide to PM
Sharon, asked National Security Advisor Condoleezza
Rice, in talks he held with her over the past two days,
for U.S. concessions to Israel in return for
disengagement from the territories. Israel Radio says
that the talks have been extended and will continue
today. Ha'aretz reported that Weisglass presented
Sharon's preferred plan: withdrawal from the entire
Gaza Strip and six settlements in the northern West
Bank -- Ganim, Kadim, Homesh, Sa-Nur, Mevo Dotan and
Hermesh. Ha'aretz quoted a source in Jerusalem as
saying Wednesday that these were small settlements
whose evacuation would provide territorial continuity
and roads to the Palestinians in a relatively large
area of the northern West Bank, and that greater
withdrawal is also expected to lead to greater
concession from the U.S. Ha'aretz recalls that the
U.S. has asked Israel that disengagement not interfere
with the "Bush vision" for the establishment of a
Palestinian state, and not be perceived as a "prize for
terror." Jerusalem Post quoted diplomatic officials as
saying Wednesday that the U.S. is unlikely to publicly
or formally recognize Israel's claim to major
settlement blocs in the West Bank for a Gaza
withdrawal. Israel Radio reported that Stephen Hadley
and Elliott Abrams from the White House and William
Burns from the State Department will visit Israel next
week to continue discussions on Sharon's disengagement
plan.

All media highlighted (lead stories in all newspapers
except Ha'aretz) the capture Wednesday near Nablus of
Husam Abdu, the youngest suicide bomber ever to be
caught. IDF soldiers held the 14-and-a-half-year-old
Palestinian at bay at a roadblock (at the same spot
where an 11-year-old carrying a bag of explosives was
caught last week), told him to remove his shirt and
instructed him about how to defuse the explosives belt
he was carrying. The boy told the soldiers that Fatah
militants promised him 70 virgins in paradise and 100
shekels -- about USD 22 -- for his family in return for
his blowing himself up. Israel Radio reported that the
Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades first claimed and then
retracted responsibility for the boy's action. Israel
Radio reported that politicians from across the
spectrum, including Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres,
condemned the moral degeneration of the men who sent
the would-be suicide bomber. This morning, Israel
Radio reported that 60 prominent Palestinian public
figures and intellectuals, including legislator Hanan
Ashrawi, called on Palestinians, in a paid ad in the PA
daily Al Ayyam, not to respond to the killing of Sheikh
Ahmed Yassin, and to abandon the path of violence in
favor of a political resolution of the conflict.
However, an Israel Radio commentator noted that there
is no Arafat associate or influential PA official on
the list of signatories.

Leading media reported that Wednesday Hamas political
bureau head Khaled Mashal, who operates from Damascus,
asserted his primacy over the entire movement.
Jerusalem Post and other leading media quoted him as
saying in an interview with the London-based Al-Hayat,
that his group is planning to assassinate Sharon.
Leading media reported that Wednesday, in talks with
reporters, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the new Hamas leader in
the Gaza Strip, sought to reassure the U.S. that his
group would not attack American targets. He said Hamas
would not deviate from its long-standing policy of
confining its attacks to Israel and the territories.
Leading media quoted PA Chairman Yasser Arafat as
saying that he is not afraid of the Israeli threats
that he could be next in line for assassination.

Leading media reported that intensive talks are
underway among members of the UN Security Council on a
new resolution on Monday's killing of Sheikh Yassin by
Israel. Israel Radio reported that the resolution
draft would include a condemnation of all acts against
civilians, but predicted that the U.S. would still veto
it. The radio reported that Wednesday the Geneva-based
UN Commission on Human Rights condemned Yassin's
killing by a roll-call vote of 31 in favor, two against
-- Australia and the U.S. -- and 18 abstentions.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that Wednesday, at a
meeting with FM Silvan Shalom, UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan offered UN assistance to establish law and
order in the Gaza Strip after Israel withdraws.
Ha'aretz reported that Shalom urged Annan to hold a
meeting at the UN General Assembly for a special debate
on means to fight terrorism.

Leading media reported that Wednesday the Knesset
rejected, 44-43, a bill providing that an evacuation of
settlements require the approval of 61 Knesset members.
Jerusalem Post notes that Sharon favored the bill.

The media cited statistics presented by police in the
West Bank: cases of harassment of Palestinians by Jews
have gradually decreased there after 2001. The West
Bank police commander also said that several policemen
have been forced to move out of the West Bank
communities they lived in after being threatened by far-
right Jews.
Ha'aretz reported that the committee looking into
Israel's intelligence assessments before the war in
Iraq criticizes all the intelligence branches for
erroneous assessments of Iraq's non-conventional
weapons. However, the newspaper says that the
committee establishes that the mistakes were not to be
considered a failure. Maariv notes that the committee
justifies the instruction given to Israelis at the
start of the war that they open their gas mask kits,
since Israel's intelligence branches had no knowledge
of Iraq's WMD capabilities at the time.

All media reported that Wednesday Sharon, at a special
Knesset session to mark 25 years of peace with Egypt,
reiterated Israel's determination to reach peace with
its neighbors. No representatives from Egypt or other
Arab countries attended the event.

Yediot reported that Turkey has sharply protested to
Israel about a recent GOI travel warning for Istanbul
during the Passover holidays (early to mid-April).

Ha'aretz reported that Wednesday 116,000 Internet
surfers visited a first-of-its-kind website in support
of the Geneva Accord ("the first interactive
demonstration in the world"). Ha'aretz doubts whether
a "non-virtual" demonstration would have been as
successful.

Ha'aretz reported that the police and Shin Bet found
that there are "black holes" in the account of freed
Hizbullah captive Elchanan Tenenbaum, but that there is
insufficient evidence to recommend canceling the
immunity deal with him. The final decision in the
matter will be made Saturday night at a meeting of
investigators.

Maariv quoted Seif al-Islam Qadhafi, the son of Libya's
leader Muammar Qadhafi, as telling Qatari reporters
Tuesday that Libya intends to discuss granting
compensation to Jews who left his country. He invited
them to return to Libya and receive citizenship.
Leading media reported that Tony Blair will make a
"historic" visit to Libya today, in the first such
gesture by a British prime minister in 60 years.
Ha'aretz reported that Blair will offer military
assistance to Libya.

Senegal Appeals Court President Coulibali Lamine was
quoted as saying in an interview held in Israel with
the Jerusalem Post that Senegal made a mistake in
arguing against Israel at the ICJ in The Hague last
month. Lamine said: "Every state has to guarantee
security for its people."

Leading media reported that California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger and noted American entertainers could
cancel their visits to Israel, following the killing of
Yassin.

Yediot reported that the Los Angeles-based Simon
Wiesenthal Center has embarked upon a campaign to free
12 Iranian Jews who disappeared between 1994 and 1997
during attempts to flee the country. In an unrelated
development, Maariv reported that an 18-year-old female
Muslim refugee from Iran who came to Israel over three
years ago has so far been refused residency in the
country.

All media reported on the testimonies given Wednesday
at the independent commission investigating the 9/11
attacks. Ha'aretz headlined: "Former Administration
Advisor [Richard] Clarke Testified in Congress: 9/11
Attacks Could Have Been Avoided."

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

Summary:
--------

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in
popular, pluralist Maariv: "The cabinet that ...
discussed and decided to assassinate Sheikh Yassin two
weeks before Passover [the shopping climax of the year]
hasn't devoted a single thought to Israel's economic
interests."

Conservative columnist Avraham Tirosh wrote in Maariv:
"A devil who resides in Nablus, Gaza or Damascus,
heartless, devoid of any human feeling, creates these
tools of war. Small children who are walking bombs."

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Even
if the model of peace with Egypt is not the paradigm
dreamed of by its signatories ... there is no disputing
the fact it has become a firm cornerstone of reality in
the Middle East."

Left-leaning contributor Larry Derfner wrote in
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "The missiles
they aimed at Yassin also took out the one light at the
end of the tunnel ... the hope of getting out of Gaza
and starting to get out of the West Bank."

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

I. "The Government Against its Citizens"

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in
popular, pluralist Maariv (March 25): "According to
extremely detailed reports from cabinet discussions
before the approval of the assassination [of Sheikh
Yassin], none of the participants raised the issue of
tourism, for instance. Neither did they ask about the
matter of shopping in the malls, which will be severely
harmed following the public's fear of coming and
buying. This is small fry for a cabinet performing as
an expanded General Staff, without anyone taking care
of the daily lives of Israel's citizens.... This must
be said: Yassin deserved to die, and no Israeli can
mourn him. It is also worthwhile recalling that 60
percent of the Israeli public approve the
assassination. But I'll only say that the public hears
the top military brass repeat at every opportunity
mantras meant for suckers. If the public didn't
believe that, there would have been a national unity
government a long time ago, which would have been
convinced that Israel's good lies not only in military
victory, which of course is a pseudo-victory. The
cabinet that ... discussed and decided to assassinate
Sheikh Yassin two weeks before Passover [the shopping
climax of the year] hasn't devoted a single thought to
Israel's economic interests."

II. "Diabolical Act"

Conservative columnist Avraham Tirosh wrote in Maariv
(March 25): "A devil who resides in Nablus, Gaza or
Damascus, heartless, devoid of any human feeling,
creates these tools of war. Small children who are
walking bombs.... There is not supposed to be any
connection between a child, any child -- Jew, Arab or
the son of any other nation -- the symbol of purity and
wholesomeness, and the devil, the symbol of evil and
pollution. But here there is. A diabolical act. It
is a diabolical act because it is inconceivable that we
are talking about human beings. It is inconceivable
that the person who sends children to blow up and to
become a paste of flesh and blood spread like manure on
the face of the earth, even for the sake of a cause
that he perceives to be sacred, is a human being whose
heart is capable of feeling compassion and love. Now
they will say again: 'What do you want from them, from
those devils, it is all because of the oppressive
occupation. That is what forces them to take such
insane action. They have no choice. Their death and
the death of their children is better than their dismal
lives.' In other words, Israelis are to blame for
their spilt blood. There is a border. A border that,
whoever crosses it, even in war, even in the midst of a
struggle that he perceives to be most exalted of all,
is neither a freedom fighter nor a person fighting for
liberation and freedom, but a monster, a devil in human
form, who sacrifices even his own children to the
Moloch of hatred and insanity. It lies beyond human
comprehension."

III. "An Unconditional Peace"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (March
25): "The 25th anniversary of the signing of the peace
treaty between Israel and Egypt comes at a difficult
time for both countries.... Even if the model of peace
with Egypt is not the paradigm dreamed of by its
signatories, Sadat and Menachem Begin, there is no
disputing the fact it has become a firm cornerstone of
reality in the Middle East. It was almost self-evident
that Israel would ask Egypt to step in to guard the
border between Israel and Gaza should Israel withdraw
from the Strip. But the importance of the peace goes
far beyond that. It proves that even after bitter
wars, wise, committed and untiring political efforts to
achieve reconciliation can break the cycle of hostility
and over time build a proper relationship with Arab
countries. This peace, together with the peace with
Jordan, have become daily evidence that despite
contradictions and even disputes, the countries of the
region can live alongside each other with quiet and
stable neighborliness."

IV. "Fear and Loathing in Israel"

Left-leaning contributor Larry Derfner wrote in
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (March 25):
"The air force just knocked off Gazan terrorist No. 1,
and Israelis aren't acting very victorious -- they're
afraid to sit in a downtown restaurant again. When the
explosions begin, then we'll really have fear, agony,
rage, and of course more escalations, and then nobody
will be talking anymore about any disengagement plan.
It will be too late. I'm afraid it already is.... The
missiles they aimed at Yassin also took out the one
light at the end of the tunnel that's shone since this
war of attrition began -- the hope of getting out of
Gaza and starting to get out of the West Bank. It was
certainly no sin to kill Yassin, but it was reckless
and self-destructive in the extreme, and who knows how
many innocents who otherwise would have lived are going
to get killed for it?"

-------------------------------
2. Campaign Against Terrorism:
-------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Settler leader Israel Harel wrote in independent, left-
leaning Ha'aretz: "The world faces a tough, extended
and frustrating war against this new arch-evil --
terror.... In this battle Israel ... can serve as a
beacon to the world."
Block Quotes:
-------------

"All Quiet on the Appeasement Front"

Settler leader Israel Harel wrote in independent, left-
leaning Ha'aretz (March 25): "The denouncements of
Israel, which boost the confidence of the terrorists,
will not do the Europeans any good when Al Qaida
decides their time has come, just as fascism was
unimpressed by the capitulation to its advances. After
all, it was Spain, one of the European countries most
critical toward Israel, that suffered the worst act of
terror since the attack on America. Could there be a
clearer message than this that there is no hope for
appeasement?.... Neither the actions nor the failures
or the U.S. created Al Qaida. Nor is Western
civilization to blame that Muslims in Algeria massacre
whole villages of their coreligionists -- sometimes
hundreds of souls in a single night --with their women
and children, and the world remains silent. The world
faces a tough, extended and frustrating war against
this new arch-evil -- terror. But despite the European
cowardice -- even betrayal -- the world will win. In
this battle Israel, despite the weakness encompassing
it at times -- the result of the continuous
psychological warfare being waged against it from
within and without -- can serve as a beacon to the
world, lighting the path -- the ethical one, too -- to
victory."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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