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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 001866

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. Blair in Libya

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

Yediot reported that Thursday in Washington, the date
of PM Sharon's visit to the U.S. was set as April 14.

Jerusalem Post (lead story) and Ha'aretz reported that
Sharon's bureau chief Dov Weisglass will return today
from intensive discussions in Washington about Sharon's
disengagement plan, but without any final U.S. approval
of the plan. Ha'aretz quoted government sources as
saying that "Israel did not get the full political
support" it sought from the U.S. Hatzofe reported that
in a leaflet distributed among Likud members, FM Silvan
Shalom criticized the disengagement plan, which he says
will increase Israeli-Palestinian friction.

Ha'aretz reported that Israeli defense experts have
concluded in the last two days that despite the
intention of Hamas and other groups to exert revenge
for Israel's assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin,
there would be no dramatic change in the number or
intensity of terrorist attacks. Maariv reported that
associates of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat have asked the
CIA to protect him from Israeli assassination attempts.
The newspaper reported that the U.S. declined to pledge
that Israel will not assassinate him. Ha'aretz
succinctly mentioned similar reports.

Leading media reported that Thursday the U.S. vetoed a
new UN Security Council resolution draft condemning
Israel for the killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, calling
the measure "one-sided" and saying it ignored the
group's bloody record of terrorism. Three countries
abstained -- Germany, the UK and Romania. Israel Radio
reported that Russia expressed disappointment over the
U.S. veto.

Leading media (Yediot's lead story) reported that last
night the IDF killed three Palestinian terrorists who
tried to infiltrate the Gush Katif (Gaza Strip)
settlement of Tel Katifa (Maariv: a military outpost in
the settlement). They had landed from the
Mediterranean. Israel Radio cited the Israel Navy's
surprise ober its inability to prevent the landing.
Leading media also reported that a terrorist attack was
thwarted near Emmanuel in the West Bank, and that three
Israelis were lightly wounded in a stone-throwing
incident.

Citing Reuters, Ha'aretz reported that after strongly
criticizing Israel for Yassin's killing, Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak said Thursday that Egypt would
continue efforts to arrange a meeting between Sharon
and Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala).

Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post quoted Turkish PM Recep
Tayyip Erdogan as saying in an interview with the
Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Thursday that Yassin's
assassination constituted "terrorism," and that he
could cancel a proposed trip to Jerusalem next month.
Jerusalem Post reported that sources in Jerusalem
downplayed remarks by Erdogan ("Mideast peace has
suffered a serious wound in this incident. There is no
road map left.... I don't find such an assassination
humane."), saying that -- if the quotes are accurate --
Israel regrets the remarks. Maariv reported that an
agricultural delegation of Israeli women participating
in a Danish-sponsored project in Egypt had to leave
Cairo because of security concerns.

The media reported that Husam Abdu, the would-be
suicide bomber apprehended Wednesday near Nablus, is
not 14, but 16-and-a-half years old. Ha'aretz reported
that military law in the territories does not consider
him a minor and that the army is considering
prosecuting him. All media cited the surprise and
indignation of his family that terrorist groups used
him. However, Hatzofe quoted his mother as saying that
she would have approved of his act had he been 18.

Yediot reported that following Yassin's killing, CNN
forbade talk show host Larry King, a "high-priority
Jewish-American target," from visiting Israel. All
media reported that Thailand told its citizens in Gush
Katif to leave the bloc of settlements. Yediot
reported that the Philippine government, which will
send a high-ranking military delegation to Israel, is
considering evacuating its foreign worker nationals
from the country.

Leading media reported that elements in the defense
establishment have warned that Hamas and other
Palestinian groups intend to assassinate Chief
Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger, as well as Rabbi Ovadia
Yosef and Rabbi Kadoorie, in retaliation for the
killing of Yassin.

Yediot reported that the special Knesset commission
investigating the weaknesses of Israel's intelligence
branches at the time of the Iraq War advocates tidying
up those branches, particularly IDF Intelligence.

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

Senior op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The assassination
of Yassin showed how Ariel Sharon is capable of
undermining the disengagement plan to which he is
ostensibly committed."

Veteran print and TV journalist Dan Margalit wrote in
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Raising the level of
personal strikes to the political leadership is a
serious mistake, which was meant to serve the Prime
Minister's objective in his party."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "The [Israeli] public will not
accept another empty political promise that does move
beyond the drawing board."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"This week's killing ... only intensified an already
strong suspicion that Sharon's moves are not part of a
broad-based and long-term plan, but a series of shots
from the hip."

Regional correspondent Ronni Shaked wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "One should not
ignore the courage demonstrated by those [70 prominent
Palestinians] who initiated the public statement."

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

I. "Shaken to the Core"

Senior op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (March 26): "When
the Israeli reaction to the assassination of Yassin is
anxiety over what lies in store and dense
fortifications, it's not so easy to be convinced that
the assassination is contributing to state security....
The assassination of Yassin showed how Ariel Sharon is
capable of undermining the disengagement plan to which
he is ostensibly committed. He explained the
assassination as arising from the need to paralyze
Hamas's ability to sow terror, and to enable the IDF to
leave the Gaza Strip without leaving behind conditions
that would facilitate a continuation of terrorist
attacks. But at the same time, the action was also
volatile enough to derail the unilateral withdrawal
plan -- since the killing of Yassin could easily spawn
a cycle of actions and reactions that would create a
situation, or the semblance of one, that would compel
the IDF to remain in Gaza."

II. "Why Now?"

Veteran print and TV journalist Dan Margalit wrote in
popular, pluralist Maariv (March 26): "For a split
second the danger had arisen that a tiny speck of
sanity had spread over Israel's territory....
Palestinian terrorism continued with the horrendous
Ashdod Port murders and the cruel dispatching of
children who would blow up next to Israelis, which
spawned proper IDF responses in Nablus and Gaza. But
something was in the air. There was talk of an
arrangement, of a mini-peace. Ariel Sharon, Ehud
Olmert, Shaul Mofaz and Silvan Shalom immediately
realized the gravity of the situation and brought back
the enmity of old.... It is not that pinpoint
assassinations are wrong. But they should be limited
to the professional level [i.e. those executing
attacks]. The killing of the 'Engineer' [Hamas bomb-
maker Yihie Ayash] in 1996 was justified, although it
was followed by a wave of bus bombings. Raising the
level of personal strikes to the political leadership
is a serious mistake, which was meant to serve the
Prime Minister's objective in his party."

III. "How Serious is Sharon?"

Ha'aretz editorialized (March 26): " If Sharon's
decision rests on security considerations, as he has
made it clear, every additional day the IDF remains in
the Strip is superfluous. One should remember that
Sharon has not made the disengagement from the Strip
contingent on the receipt of U.S. aid or approval,
therefore, there is no need to wait for the U.S.
position to implement the withdrawal.... [Besides,] on
Wednesday, Sharon voted in favor of a bill that, if
passed into law, would require a majority of 61 votes
in the Knesset to evacuate settlements in the
territories. Although one could see Sharon's vote as
an expression of self-confidence that shows he believes
he will be able to overcome constraints of the law, it
is impossible not to see his vote as adopting a
political constraint, albeit a symbolic one.... It is
difficult to assess the disorder that may ensue if it
emerges that the plan will not be put into practice due
to various constraints, from home or abroad. The fact
that the plan is unilateral -- a respectable constraint
in itself -- cannot allow Sharon to hang its non-
implementation on external (i.e. American or
Palestinian), political or bureaucratic factors. The
public will not accept another empty political promise
that does move beyond the drawing board."

IV. "Wanted: a Plan"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(March 26): "Say what you want about Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon, he sure knows how to change the subject.
When it seemed he was about to be indicted, he dropped
the bombshell of a unilateral dismantling of
settlements in Gaza. Then, just as that plan was
running into increasing resistance within his own
party, he drops a literal bombshell on Hamas leader
Ahmed Yassin. Not that we are suggesting the Prime
Minister has consciously engineered these diversions,
but the fact is that this week's killing has shifted
attention from the broader picture, which is not about
this or that resident of the Gaza Strip, but about the
Strip itself.... This week's killing, having come as an
isolated shot followed by nothing other than deep
entrenchment in expectation of retaliatory response,
only intensified an already strong suspicion that
Sharon's moves are not part of a broad-based and long-
term plan, but a series of shots from the hip. The
situation, not to mention history, demands a lot more
than that."

V. "Finally: Soul Searching"

Regional correspondent Ronni Shaked wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (March 26):
"Finally, after three-and-a-half years of continuous
terror, male and female suicide bombers, and the use of
children as human bombs, the Palestinians are beginning
to do some soul-searching. The problem is that the
initiative by 70 Palestinian public figures, who
Thursday called on the Palestinians to stop the terror
and go for a popular Intifada, came too late.... It is
also too bad that this initiative came after the
Palestinian street is already full of hatred.... It is
also too bad that the petition does not mention the
moral value of the cessation of the killing: the
signatories to the public statement call on their
people to stop the terror in order not to give Sharon
reasons to continue the fighting, and not in order to
maintain the value of a human being as such.
Nonetheless, one should not ignore the courage
demonstrated by those who initiated the public
statement.... There is no doubt that one should welcome
this initiative and encourage the signers to expand
their number, to address their people directly and tell
them unhesitatingly: enough of this terror. The soul
of the simple person on the street is sick of the
roadblocks, the suffering, the distress and the terror.
It is reasonable to assume that the silent majority is
prepared to accept the new initiative. The question is
whether the terror organizations and the leaders of the
gangs will agree to lay down their arms. The way
reality looks today, that seems really far away."

-------------------
2. Blair in Libya:
-------------------
Summary:
--------

Researcher in strategic affairs at the
Interdisciplinary Center Dr. Shmuel Bar wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (March 26): "In
actual fact, the Blair-Qadhafi meeting serves the
interest of both leaders, and is the direct outcome of
the American ultimatum against the 'Axis of Evil'
countries."
Block Quotes:
-------------

"An Alliance of Interests"

Researcher in strategic affairs at the
Interdisciplinary Center Dr. Shmuel Bar wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (March 26): "In
actual fact, the Blair-Qadhafi meeting serves the
interest of both leaders, and is the direct outcome of
the American ultimatum against the 'Axis of Evil'
countries. Qadhafi may have been considered the
craziest of Arab leaders, but he clearly knows about
rewards and punishments. When he understood that his
involvement in terrorist attacks had gone overboard, he
renounced terror.... He is demonstrating a perfectly
pragmatic behavior. Consequently, Thursday's meeting
constituted the first step toward the renewed
blossoming of the Libyan economy.... But Tony Blair,
too, had an interest in this meeting. He is currently
under domestic crossfire because of the British army's
involvement in Iraq. By being the first Western leader
who extended his hands to Qadhafi, Blair wished to
prove to his adversaries -- and to the numerous Muslim
voters in Britain -- that he can not only be a fighter,
but also a friend when facing the Arab world."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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