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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 002063

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


Please note: no Israel Media Reaction Tuesday, April 6,
Passover holiday.

--------------------------------
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Campaign Against Terrorism

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

PM Sharon was quoted as saying in a Passover-eve
interview with Israel Radio: "Those who kill Jews and
order to kill Jews because of the fact they are Jews
deserve to die. Any self-respecting country facing
murderers and their dispatchers must defend itself --
exactly like the U.S. and any country respecting
itself." He was reiterating the view he expressed in
the weekend newspapers that PA Chairman Yasser Arafat
does not have insurance from assassination. During the
weekend, leading media quoted Deputy Secretary of State
Richard Armitage as saying Friday: "Our position on
such questions -- the exile or assassination of Yasser
Arafat -- is very well known. We are opposed and we
have made that very clear to the government of Israel."
Sharon also said in the interview that it will be
easier to understand his disengagement plan once the
U.S. has given something in exchange for it, a gesture
which he said would be presented during his upcoming
meeting with President Bush.

Sunday, Ha'aretz reported that Israel and the U.S. have
nearly completed the formulation of the official notes
that Sharon and Bush will exchange during their meeting
on April 14. The newspaper quoted diplomatic sources
in Jerusalem as saying, "only words and a few emphases"
are left open. The newspaper says that Sharon will
declare his intention to bring his disengagement plan,
as has been presented by the media, to the cabinet for
approval, and express his commitment to the road map.
According to Ha'aretz, in Bush's note, the U.S. will
declare its commitment to the road map. The newspaper
quoted Israeli sources as saying that it will guarantee
there will be no alternative plan and no diplomatic
progress if the Palestinians do not tackle terrorism.
Ha'aretz further reported that Bush will also promise
Israel support in the war against terror and aggressive
action, if the attacks from the evacuated territories
persist. Ha'aretz reported that at this time the U.S.
refuses to deal with the issue of a permanent
agreement. Sunday, Maariv reported that the U.S. has
launched an initiative to turn Sharon's disengagement
plan into an international plan to which the UN, the
EU, the Quartet and Arab states (Egypt and Jordan) are
party, and which will be implemented in close
coordination with the Palestinians. Maariv reported
that in an attempt to promote this plan, talks are
underway to coordinate a meeting between Sharon and UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan (which may be held in

SIPDIS
April in New York). Maariv said that Israeli
officials would like to obtain UN recognition of its
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as the "end of the
occupation" of the Gaza Strip, and the U.S. has
enlisted to help achieve that goal.

Leading media reported that Sunday, at the cabinet
meeting, Sharon lashed out at right-wing cabinet
ministers Effi Eitam and Benny Elon, who are opposed to
the disengagement plan. Sunday, Yediot reported that
the government will offer a basket of benefits to
settlers who are evicted from their homes as a result
of the disengagement plan, provided they choose to
resettle in the Negev.

Maariv quoted Sharon as saying that Israelis "cannot
take two tracks." Sharon was explaining the absolute
veto he put on the possibility of renewing negotiations
with Syria, in contrast to the opinion of the security
establishment. The newspaper reported that,
officially, however, Israel conveyed a message to Syria
last week that it is willing to renew negotiations
without preconditions, with an emphasis on terror in
the first part of the talks.

During the weekend, all media reported that over 40
Palestinians were wounded during altercations on Friday
at the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem. Leading media
reported that the unrest started when a preacher at the
Al Aqsa mosque incited against Israel.

Sunday, all media led with the killing on Saturday
morning of a settler -- a father of six -- by a
terrorist in Avnei Hefetz (West Bank). Hamas and
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the murder,
saying it was in retaliation for the assassination of
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin two weeks ago.

Leading with the situation in Iraq, Jerusalem Post
reported, as did the other media, that anti-coalition
demonstrations evolved into gun battles on Sunday in
Iraq, leaving at least 15 people dead and over 200
people wounded, leading some Iraqi Governing Council
officials to fear civil war. The media reported that
eight U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq during the
weekend.

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard was quoted as saying in
a "first, face-to-face" interview with Yediot's Shimon
Shiffer that Israel had betrayed him.

Jerusalem Post featured a long interview with the Irish-
American writer Frank McCourt, the author of the
Pulitzer-winning memoir "Angela's Ashes." McCourt
recently visited Israeli as part of a State Department-
sponsored "cultural ambassador" program.

During the weekend, all media reported that former
minister of security affairs in the PA Cabinet called
for Arafat's resignation in interviews with the
international media. Some Israeli media reported that
he recanted.

Sunday, Jerusalem Post reported that Thursday British
PM Tony Blair offered a defense of Israel's
assassination of Yassin, though he did not excuse it
wholeheartedly.

Sunday, Yediot reported that Israeli cabinet ministers
and other senior figures are required to remove their
shoes and undergo body searches at airports in the
United States. The newspaper quoted sources close to
Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres as saying that he did
not regard the search as humiliating and that he has no
problem with it. Former prime ministers Ehud Barak and
Binyamin Netanyahu have been subjected to the same
treatment. Yediot quoted another minister, speaking on
condition of anonymity, as saying that that if
Secretary of State Colin Powell or any member of the

SIPDIS
U.S. cabinet were treated in this way at Ben-Gurion
airport, there would be an uproar. The newspaper
quoted a source at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv as
saying that said there is no procedure making such
searches obligatory, and that the problem lies in lack
of communication between the body that invited the
Israeli VIP and the authorities at the airports.

All media reported that Sunday Attorney-General
Menachem Mazuz decided not to charge Vice PM Ehud
Olmert for bribery in the "Greek island" affair, in
which Sharon is allegedly involved.

Sunday, Maariv and other media cited Powell's admission
Friday that the "most dramatic" claim in his speech to
the UN Security Council weeks before the war -- that
Iraq had mobile biological laboratories -- appeared to
have been based on faulty information.

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

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The
knowledge that the most detailed plans may be
overthrown by a deadly terrorist attack must fill the
government of Israel with greater urgency toward making
a combined move to fulfill its obligations."

Senior op-ed writer Uzi Benziman opined in Ha'aretz:
"Sharon ... has stirred suspicions that, just as he
doesn't hesitate to bandy about empty threats to kill
Arafat, despite his promise to Bush, he is capable of
entangling the president of the U.S. in a far-ranging
diplomatic initiative that he has no real intention of
carrying out."

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized: "[The
Likud rank-and-file] will have to ask themselves
whether they really agree to the Likud's implementing
the program of 'Peace Now.'"

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

I. "Distracting the Public"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (April
5): "Sharon's attempt to deflect the attention of the
public from his legal troubles and political failings
by drawing attention to the negative role of Arafat,
and by threatening to harm the Palestinian Authority
leader, is quite ludicrous. It's an empty threat
because Sharon has promised Bush no harm will come to
Arafat. If there were any doubts about the binding
nature of this commitment, American spokespeople, both
senior and official, have declared that Washington is
opposed to killing Arafat, or to his expulsion, and
that Israel is aware of this opposition.... The Bush
administration is willing to bypass him, but not take
his head. Sharon is expected to know this and he shows
no respect for the citizens of Israel with his
exaggerated war cries that contradict the reality. The
knowledge that the most detailed plans may be
overthrown by a deadly terrorist attack must fill the
government of Israel with greater urgency toward making
a combined move to fulfill its obligations -- finding
security for Israelis by, among other things -- the
security fence following as closely as possible the
delineation of the Green Line; the evacuation of
illegal outposts and settlements, whose removal is
already supposedly acceptable to Sharon; improving the
conditions of the innocent Palestinian population that
is not involved in terrorist activities; and
approaching moderate Palestinian groups. If Israeli
policy were handled this way, it is perfectly possible
that the national mood could be much improved by
Passover next year."

II. "So What If Sharon Said It?"

Senior op-ed writer Uzi Benziman opined in Ha'aretz
(April 4): "Sharon's behavior raises the possibility
that he'll be willing to gamble about Bush's support,
even as he involves the U.S. president with his
separation plan. At first glance, the separation plan
seems to have emerged in the security-diplomatic
sphere, and it is in this context that Sharon seeks the
U.S. government's cooperation; but Sharon's current
unbridled, reckless rhetoric creates suspicions that
perhaps the separation initiative was also a ruse,
designed to create a facade of a major diplomatic
maneuver while its true purpose was to improve Sharon's
own personal position, as he faces the police and the
attorney general. In fact, statements are being made
today in Israel about how the corruption case against
Sharon ought to be ignored, in view of the 'historic
policy' that is to be enacted in the Gaza pullout.
Sharon himself has stirred suspicions that, just as he
doesn't hesitate to bandy about empty threats to kill
Arafat, despite his promise to Bush, he is capable of
entangling the president of the U.S. in a far-ranging
diplomatic initiative that he has no real intention of
carrying out."

III. "'Peace Now' Supporting Sharon"

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (April 4):
"At the end of the week, Ha'aretz reported that the
extremist left-wing movement 'Peace Now' has decided to
launch a public campaign in support of Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan. It is not so many
years since that movement held a demonstration holding
posters with the slogan 'Sharon is a Murderer.' Ariel
Sharon has already closed the circle. In the past few
months he has become the darling of the Israeli left.
'Peace Now,' which is the most extremist, deluded,
element of the extreme left, has warmly welcomed
Sharon's plan. In effect, judging by the platform of
that movement, Sharon has outflanked it -- and also
Beilin's Geneva initiative -- on the left.... Beilin is
reportedly demanding that the Likud, in its paid-up
members' referendum, should vote not only on Sharon's
disengagement plan but also on his [Beilin's] Geneva
plan.... When the Likud rank-and-file come to vote on
the Sharon plan, they will have to stop and think for a
moment. They will have to ask themselves whether they
really agree to the Likud's implementing the program of
'Peace Now.' Think about it, Likud members. Was it
for this that you joined this movement? To realize the
world view of 'Peace Now' the most extremist left-wing
movement in Israel?"

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

Summary:
--------

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Fortunately, the Uzbek leadership has responded [to
terrorist attacks] with the kind of resolve that Spain
has avoided.... [But] it is one thing to fight an
Islamism whose declared goal is the restoration of
medieval theocracy. It is an entirely different thing
to delay the arrival of political modernity."

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

"Trouble in Turkestan"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(April 4): "International terrorism barged last week
[in Uzbekistan], with a series of bombings that have
killed more than 40 people in Tashkent and Bukhara, and
wounded dozens more. For the terrorists, the aim here
is obvious. Uzbekistan, under the leadership of
communist-era boss Islam Karimov, has allowed the
establishment of American military bases on its soil,
thus offering the U.S. a vital springboard into nearby
Afghanistan. As they have done in Spain last month, it
seems that America's enemies are out to attack its
allies in the war on terrorism. Fortunately, the Uzbek
leadership has responded with the kind of resolve that
Spain has avoided, making it plain that it will meet
the terrorists in the battlefield rather than seek ways
to understand and appease them.... [But] it is one
thing to fight an Islamism whose declared goal is the
restoration of medieval theocracy. It is an entirely
different thing to delay the arrival of political
modernity."

LEBARON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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