Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A


Gaza Withdrawal Plan

Key stories in the media:

Ha'aretz (Aluf Benn) cited a letter of guarantees
drafted by the U.S. Administration in exchange for PM
Sharon's disengagement plan. The letter reportedly
indicates that the U.S. will assure Israel that it will
not have to withdraw to the Green Line in a future
permanent agreement with the Palestinians. The U.S.
draft also reportedly says the Palestinian refugees
will be able to return to a future Palestinian state,
which will be established in keeping with President
Bush's vision. According to Ha'aretz, the wording will
partially meet Israel's demand that the U.S. declare
its objection to the right of return, which the
Palestinians insist on.

Leading media quoted Sharon as hinting Wednesday at an
annual high-tech event that he is likely to bring his
disengagement plan to a vote among the Likud
constituency in May or early June. Leading media
quoted Sharon as saying that there have been many
achievements in the talks with the U.S. about the
disengagement plan. Sharon was also quoted as saying
that the disengagement will put an end to the
Palestinians' "historical pretext" that they cannot
fight terrorism. Ha'aretz and other media reported
that opponents of Sharon's plan within the Likud have
set up campaign headquarters. Maariv reported that
Sharon's campaign in the party will revolve around the
message: "It's me or Feiglin." (Moshe Feiglin
represents the Likud's far Right.) Jerusalem Post
quoted Sharon associates as saying Wednesday that Likud
ministers who do not accept the decision of the party
membership on the plan may lose their jobs. Ha'aretz
reported that Peace Now is returning to the streets
with a campaign backing unilateral withdrawal.

All media (lead stories in Yediot and Jerusalem Post)
reported that Wednesday Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei (Abu
Ala) urged Palestinians to put an end to suicide
attacks and that he reiterated his commitment to the
peace process. This was the first time he has openly
called for an end to suicide bombings, explaining that
they are causing extensive damage to the Palestinians.
Israel Radio and other media reported that Qurei's
remarks to the Palestinian Legislative Council resulted
from a precondition set by the U.S. for his scheduled
meeting with U.S. envoys Stephen Hadley, Elliott Abrams
and William Burns today. Israel Radio quoted GOI
officials as saying that Qurei's call to coordinate the
disengagement plan with the PA is a transparent attempt
to obtain U.S. and international support, and benefits
for the PA. The radio quoted PA sources as saying that
Qurei has given instructions that no attacks be carried
out during the U.S. envoys' visit. Hatzofe reported
that Qurei told Palestinian reporters that the Israel-
U.S. talks on disengagement remind him of the Balfour
Declaration, which involved a declaring side that does
not own the land and a receiving side that does not own
it either. The newspaper also quoted Qurei as saying
that the PA will demand compensation from Israel for
the settlements it built in the Gaza Strip and the use
it made of the land and resources there.

Israel Radio reported that the High Court of Justice
has canceled various temporary injunctions that had
stopped construction on segments of the security fence.

Hatzofe reported that the IDF is bracing for further
clashes over the dismantling of settler outposts.

Israel Radio reported that early this morning at
Bethlehem's mental hospital, the security forces
arrested 12 "senior wanted" Palestinians, who had
allegedly planned many attacks against Israel. Their
apprehension was preceded by an exchange of gunfire.
The radio quoted Palestinian security sources as saying
that eight of the men are activists in the Al Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades, one of them being Jamal Hamamreh, the
group's commander in the region. Israel Radio also
reported that, in a plea bargain, a military court has
sentenced Ala el-Khader Koka, an Al Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades militant, to 18 years in prison for planning
to assassinate Israel's ambassadors in Germany and
China, to poison water reservoirs and to blow up a
wedding hall in Jerusalem. Leading media reported that
two months ago the security forces arrested a Hamas
militant from a village near Jenin, who had planned to
assassinate Likud Knesset Member and former FM David
Levy. Channel 2-TV reported that the Al Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades have rescinded their threat against American
interests in the region.

Jerusalem Post reported that responding to Hamas leader
Abdel Aziz Rantisi's statement on Sunday, "God declared
war on America, Bush and Sharon," State Department
Spokesman Richard called Hamas "a major obstacle to the
pursuit of peace." Jerusalem Post quoted FM Silvan
Shalom as saying, at a meeting with Dutch FM Bernard
Bot in Jerusalem Wednesday, that Israel wants to see
the EU place Hizbullah on its list of terrorist
organizations and wants to see individual European
governments move faster in legislation outlawing Hamas.
Referring to the assassination of Sheikh Yassin, Bot
was quoted as saying: "We consider targeted killings
contrary to international law, and in my view a country
like Israel, a true democracy, should not act like

Ha'aretz notes that the PA never allowed the Islamic
groups to enjoy so much media coverage before Sheikh
Ahmed Yassin's death. Te newspaper says that the
change may be a warning to Israel not to kill PA
Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Maariv quoted a senior legal source as saying that
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz is expected to rule in
the bribery case allegedly involving Sharon in two
months. Leading media reported that Wednesday Mazuz
blasted State Attorney Edna Arbel for having leaked her
intention to submit to him a draft indictment against
Sharon. Some media reported that there actually are no
ill feelings between Mazuz and Arbel.

Ha'aretz cited the admission by a senior IDF officer
Wednesday that a slip of the tongue by Sharon six
months ago about the possibility that Libya could reach
nuclear weapons capabilities before Iran made the U.S.
hide its negotiations for Libyan disarmament from

Jerusalem Post reported that a resolution seeking
justice for Jews and other minorities who were
persecuted, expelled or forced to flee the Arab lands
of their birth is being introduced into the U.S. Senate

Ha'aretz reported that an examination of the payrolls
of the PA's National Security Force, considered the
largest of the Palestinian security forces, commanded
by Gen. Haj Ismail Jabber, has revealed that salaries
for 7,000 fictitious troopers -- some USD 2 million --
were being paid into his pocket every month. Later,
Israel Radio reported that Qurei has ordered that from
now on all salaries will be paid directly to the bank
accounts of the members of the PA security forces, a
move long required by donating European countries.

Yediot reported that, in order to counter forgeries,
Israel will soon issue new passports outfitted with
electronic chips -- "identical to U.S. passports."

Ha'aretz reported that an interministerial committee,
headed by Justice Minister Yosef (Tommy) Lapid,
examining the implementation of the Or Commission
report on the October 2000 riots in the Israeli Arab
sector, will recommend that the cabinet approve a new
national holiday -- "Tolerance Day" or "Solidarity Day"
-- in celebration of the coexistence of Jewish and Arab
citizens in the country.

Yediot reported that Tuesday night, at New York City's
Waldorf Astoria Hostel, over USD 4 million were raised
to benefit the Israeli Soldiers Welfare Association --
an all-time record for an Israeli fundraising event.

Ha'aretz quoted Abraham Foxman, the national director
of the Jewish -American organization Anti-Defamation
League's (ADL) as saying that his group will boycott an
event hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during
his upcoming visit to the U.S. Foxman said the move
was in protest of Egypt's boycott of the 25th
anniversary events of the signing of the peace treaty
between Egypt and Israel. Leading media reported that
Wednesday Egypt's Emergency State Security Court
convicted of espionage Walid Ahmed Lofti Hashim, an
Egyptian who allegedly faxed military data to the
Israeli Embassy. The court sentenced him to 15 years'

All media reported that Wednesday the EU released its
long-awaited report showing a rise in European anti-
Semitism. (A Maariv headline: "Europe is Bad For
Jews.") The media reported that while the European
Jewish Congress welcomed the recognition that anti-
Semitism is growing, it said that the report
misrepresented the threat from extremist Muslims.

All media reported that four foreign contractors,
including at least one American, working for the U.S.-
led coalition in Iraq, were killed in Fallujah, where a
jubilant crowd dragged their charred bodies and hanged
them from a bridge. The media also reported on the
deaths of five U.S. servicemen in a roadside bombing
nearby. Maariv reported that 70 to 100 leading Israeli
companies are selling their products to Iraq for
millions of dollars.

Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post reported that the Swiss
government has announced it will donate USD 1.8 million
to help finance a school building for a Jewish-Arab
school in Jerusalem -- the Bilingual School -- which is
already operating out of some temporary buildings at
the Denmark School in the city.

Gaza Withdrawal Plan:


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized:
"Using [a referendum] in the Likud, on the
disengagement issue, could create a precedent that will
gravely distort the national decision-making process in
both this case and in the future."

Block Quotes:

"Distorting the Process"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (April
1): "The Likud convention's decision to give the party
rank and file the authority to decide on the fate of
the Gaza disengagement plan appears to be supremely
democratic. In effect, however, it is leading to an
improper process that distorts the conventional
tradition of democracy in Israel and creates a
problematic precedent for the national decision-making
process.... Historic decisions no less weighty than the
one to quit Gaza -- including the decisions to go to
war, and peace agreements -- were made so far in the
conventional manner of voting in the government and
Knesset. What's true for a referendum involving all
the electorate is especially true when it is being used
in the narrow framework of a political party.... Under
such circumstances, how will the necessary debate about
the plan and its details be conducted? A referendum
can be helpful for making decisions, when it is derived
from the political climate of the countries where it is
conventional. It usually makes up for too much
governmental power in the hands of state leaders, and
sometimes is an expression of direct community
democracy, at the risk of creating a dictatorship of
the majority. It is inappropriate for the Israeli
system, not at the national level and certainly not at
the party level. Using it in the Likud, on the
disengagement issue, could create a precedent that will
gravely distort the national decision-making process in
both this case and in the future."


© Scoop Media

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