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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 001940

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. Gaza Withdrawal Plan

2. Greater Middle East Initiative

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

All media reported that last night PM Sharon promised
at the Likud convention that registered Likud members
would get to vote on his Gaza disengagement plan.
Ha'aretz says that Sharon's pledge "came under a hail
of scathing criticism from the right as well as the
left." Yediot published the results of a Mina Zemach
(Dahaf) poll taken last night among register Likud
members: 51 percent support disengagement; 36 percent
are opposed to it. A concurrent Maariv poll finds 51
percent in support of Sharon's plan, 39 percent opposed
to it, while 10 percent are undecided.

Israel Radio quoted GOI sources in Jerusalem as saying
that following Sharon's talks in Washington, the U.S.
will recognize Israel's security needs, but not
settlement blocs in the West Bank. Yediot filed a
similar report based on "the draft" of an Israeli-
American document. Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli
diplomatic officials as saying that Israel's request
that the U.S. formally reject the Palestinian demand
for refugee repatriation in exchange for disengagement
is likely to be finessed by a U.S. declaration for two
states -- one for Jews, and one for Palestinians.
Ha'aretz reported that Israel has asked the U.S. to
provide official endorsement of the separation fence
route, as part of the "benefits basket" which is to be
provided in exchange for the implementation of the
disengagement plan. The newspaper reported that this
request was submitted as part of an attempt to satisfy
conditions upon which Finance Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu has predicated his support for the separation
plan. Ha'aretz further reported that Thursday the
three U.S. envoys -- William Burns, Elliott Abrams and
Steve Hadley -- will finalize details of the compromise
with Sharon. The newspaper reported that the USG is no
longer lobbying for changes in the barrier's planned
route. Ha'aretz reported that the compromise proposal
was submitted by Defense Ministry D-G Amos Yaron in
discussions with the U.S. envoys.

Jerusalem Post featured the story of a 15-year-old
Palestinian, one of four Nablus boys to whom Islamic
Jihad promised heaven in exchange for martyrdom as
suicide bombers.

Leading media reported that Tuesday and today hundreds
of members of the security forces clashed with settlers
during the evacuation the Hazon settler outpost in the
vicinity of Kiryat Arba, next to Hebron. IDF Radio and
Israel Radio reported that this morning six policemen
were injured by stones thrown during disturbances that
broke out after members of the Ateret Kohanim movement
entered homes they had purchased in the Palestinian
village of Silwan (East Jerusalem).

Jerusalem Post reported that Tuesday cabinet minister
Natan Sharansky wrote to the BBC that it employs a
"gross double standard to the Jewish state" that smacks
of anti-Semitism. He was reacting to its coverage of
the IDF's arrest of a 16-year-old would-be suicide
bomber last week, which the British corporation
portrayed as "Israel's cynical manipulation of a
Palestinian youngster for propaganda purposes."

All media, except the ultra-Orthodox newspapers,
reported that the Euroleague basketball championship
will be played in Israel as planned next month despite
security concerns. The media had reported on
significant protests in Israel about the possibility
that the games could be moved to Spain.

Ha'aretz cited a Bank of Israel report released
Tuesday, according to which the Intifada has cost
Israel between 31 billion shekels (around USD 6.9
billion) and 40 billion shekels (around USD 8.85
billion) so far, but not including defense costs. The
amount comes to between 6.2 percent and 8 percent of
the GDP. Maariv also cited the document.

Jerusalem Post reported that, in response to a petition
signed last week by Palestinian intellectuals and
activists calling for a peaceful intifada, 81
Palestinians issued a statement on Tuesday urging the
Palestinians to continue the fight against Israel until
they achieve all their rights.

All media reported that Tuesday the Haifa District
Court charged Jewish terror suspect Eliran Golan with
the attempted murder of Arab Knesset Member Issam
Makhoul and at least three other people in the Haifa
area. The court also charged Alex Rabinovitch with
assistance in attempted murder, conspiracy and
supplying Golan with bomb-making equipment. However,
Golan denied that Rabinovitch had abetted him.

All media reported that Tuesday thousands of people
took part in Land Day protests in the Israeli Arab
sector, which came to pass without incidents.

Jerusalem Post quotes former Sharon adviser David
Spector as saying that audio tapes, allegedly in the
possession of Sharon's son Gilad, will incriminate his
father and himself, and will strengthen the draft
indictment against them once they are handed over to
investigators, as demanded by the High Court of
Justice.

Ha'aretz reported that, following the assassination of
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the hosts of a scientific
conference on desert dunes, which was supposed to be
held in Layoun, Morocco, in ten days asked the three
would-be Israeli participants not to come to the event.
The European organizers of the conference and its
French financial sponsors subsequently canceled it,
citing their objection to discrimination.

Ha'aretz reported on a poll conducted by the
Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research just
before the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin:
-53 percent of Palestinians support terrorist attacks
against Israeli civilians (up from 48 percent last
December).
-27 percent support Hamas; 20 percent support Fatah; 40
percent refused to state a preference between the two
movements.
-"Are you in favor of Hamas conducting negotiations
with Israel?" 54 percent are opposed, while 41 percent
support the idea.

-------------------------
1. Gaza Withdrawal Plan:
-------------------------

Summary:
--------

Veteran op-ed writer and the late prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin's assistant Eytan Haber opined in the
lead editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "From the moment the United States enters the
picture, accepts the plan and supports it, it is also
an American plan."

Political parties correspondent Yossi Verter wrote on
page one of independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Sharon
... will have to resign if his own party members reject
his diplomatic initiative."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of
Yediot Aharonot: "Sharon is presently at a low. The
comfort is that he can only rise from here."

Conservative columnist Avraham Tirosh wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "It is extremely doubtful whether
there is any point in Sharon traveling as a half-lame
duck to meet the president of the U.S., in order to
present a plan to him that could be erased from the
public agenda within a few weeks along with its
originator."
Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "We Will Meet on the Barricades"

Veteran op-ed writer and the late prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin's assistant Eytan Haber opined in the
lead editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (March 31): "Commentators will say: Sharon
believes that the wishes of the registered Likud
members are identical to the wishes of the general
population of voters in Israel, who will support the
disengagement plan en masse, according to public
opinion polls. At the same time, the 3,000 Central
Committee members are more militant and many of them
are opposed to the disengagement plan. In other words,
the Likud party members will carry out a 'bypass
operation' on the Central Committee members. Sharon
will then win and implement his plan. And if the Likud
voters reject the plan at the polls? Then too, the
plan will be implemented. Because from the moment the
United States enters the picture, accepts the plan and
supports it, it is also an American plan. In that
case, no Israeli leader will dare stand up in the Oval
Office and say: 'I am sorry, my constituency did not
agree.' There will not be such a leader, because
anyone who has ever reached the Prime Minister's Office
and is familiar with the situation -- Israel's complete
dependency on the U.S. from the standpoints of defense,
foreign affairs and economic affairs -- knows that the
Israeli leader has (almost) never been born who said
'no' to America, and the last one who behaved this way,
Yitzhak Shamir, was sent into early retirement by the
Americans with the support of the Israelis."

II. "Conceived in Sin"

Political parties correspondent Yossi Verter wrote on
page one of independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (March
31): "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to hold a
vote among Likud members about his separation plan was
reached in the usual faltering, belated manner. This
time, however, there was a new twist. This time,
Sharon's initiative was conceived in sin.... There were
no counter-proposals, nor was there even an agenda.
Senior Likud politicians who sat on the dais were
stunned. 'I thought I knew a thing or two about
politics,' said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin last
night. 'But there's always something new to be
learned'.... The timetable for the referendum dovetails
with the diplomatic and legal schedules.... Should
Sharon dodge an indictment, and win majority support
among Likud members for his separation plan, the
pullout proposal would go to the government and Knesset
for approval, and a unity government will come into
existence. But should [Attorney General Menachem]
Mazuz decide to indict Sharon, everything would be
frozen. The same would happen if Sharon lost in the
Likud poll -- he will have to resign if his own party
members reject his diplomatic initiative."

III. "The Arbel Effect"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of
Yediot Aharonot (March 31): "Sharon is a prime minister
under duress. Aside from targeted killings, everything
he has done on the Palestinian issue was done against
his will: that is the way he built the fence, supported
the road map and arrived at the withdrawal from Gaza.
He knew he would have to get past President Bush, the
Knesset, the cabinet, and perhaps the general
electorate as well. He scorned the institutions of his
party. But today's Sharon is not the man he used to
be. That is the result of the Edna Arbel effect. [NB:
Arbel is the country's State Attorney, who has
recommended that Sharon be indicted.] He can pass
political plans, with a tailwind from the United
States, but the ability to scorn has been taken from
him.... Sharon is presently at a low. The comfort is
that he can only rise from here. A sample scenario: he
travels to the U.S., does not receive many commitments
... but his encouraging photographs with the president,
in rolled-up sleeves, in shirts open at the neck, in
the rural landscape of Camp David, gladden the nation.
Then comes a sweeping victory in the referendum,
followed by the case being closed, accompanied by
petitions to the High Court of Justice and a
continuation of investigations in the Cyril Kern
[corruption] affair, but is still a dynamic of victory.
The Likud hears the voice of the people and remains
united. With a little luck, the right wing ministers
are also persuaded to stay (and if not, there is always
Shimon Peres)."

IV. "Sharon's Time Is Up"

Conservative columnist Avraham Tirosh wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (March 31): "It is extremely doubtful
whether there is any point in Sharon traveling as a
half-lame duck to meet the president of the U.S., in
order to present a plan to him that could be erased
from the public agenda within a few weeks along with
its originator. What is clear beyond a doubt is that
even if he goes to Washington and receives Bush's
blessing, Sharon will not be able to bring his plan
before the cabinet for a vote before [Attorney General
Menachem] Mazuz has spoken his piece. He is now the
boss who determines the schedule, and in fact the
future of the diplomatic initiatives in the region. He
and not Sharon, he and not Bush.... There is no longer
confidence [among the Israeli public] in the man
himself, as the polls show, apparently due to these
[alleged corruption] affairs.... In its present
situation, Israel needs a prime minister with a clean
head and even cleaner hands."
-----------------------------------
2. Greater Middle East Initiative:
-----------------------------------
Summary:
--------

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"The more forcefully the Bush administration advocates
[reforms in the Arab world], the more it will put
repressive Arab regimes on the defensive, and the more
courage it will give to the best elements in Arab
society."

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

"Arab Reform Now"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(March 31): "It strikes us [The Jerusalem Post] as
strange, to say the least, that the establishment of an
effective and representative legislature in, say,
Yemen, hinges on developments in Israel. It is said
that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provides Arab
regimes with an alibi not to reform. Perhaps, but that
would seem to suggest an interest among Arab despots in
perpetuating the conflict, not resolving it. At any
rate, why should the political freedoms of Arab peoples
be captive to what arch-enemy Israel does or does not
do?.... Among the conclusions the Bush administration
drew from September 11 was that the risks of inaction
outweighed the risks of action; that advocating
stability above freedom in the Middle East was
counterproductive, hypocritical, and unworthy of the
United States; and that reforming the Arab world was a
sine qua non for defeating terrorism. We believe these
conclusions are correct. The more forcefully the Bush
administration advocates them, the more it will put
repressive Arab regimes on the defensive, and the more
courage it will give to the best elements in Arab
society. As policy goes, this may be simplistic, but
it's the only approach that's likely to succeed."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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