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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 07 TEL AVIV 002079

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. Iraq

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

Both Ha'aretz (Hebrew Ed.) and Maariv led with, and all
media reported on the "Shi'ite Intifada" (Ha'aretz) in
Iraq. All media also reported on the confrontation
with U.S. troops in and around the Sunni city of
Fallujah. Like other media, Ha'aretz reported that 130
Iraqi citizens and 20 coalition soldiers were killed
over the past two days. Israel Radio cited President
Bush's optimism regarding the stabilization of the
situation in Iraq.

Gaza withdrawal plan:
-Israel Radio cited reports from Washington that the
U.S. and Israel have agreed in principle on the
components of PM Sharon's disengagement plan: Bush
would support the plan as an interim step until the
implementation of the road map. The radio quoted its
sources in Washington as saying further that the
agreement was reached last week at the talks between
Sharon and the three U.S. envoys (Steve Hadley, Elliott
Abrams and A/S William Burns), and that the points
still in contention will be resolved before the Bush-
Sharon meeting next Tuesday. The station also reported
that Sharon has started a round of talks with his
cabinet ministers to discuss his plan before his
upcoming trip to the U.S. -- Monday at his farm, he
met with Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Sharon
will depart Israel next Monday.
-Yediot reported that "Disengagement is good for
Israel" will be the slogan leading Sharon's campaign to
persuade the Likud registered members to support him
and his plan. The newspaper reported that his
opponents in the Likud will launch a campaign that will
hint that he initiated his plan because of the
investigations he is going through.
-Arafat was quoted as saying in an interview with
Yediot's Ronnie Shaked that Sharon must coordinate the
withdrawal from Gaza with the PA. He was quoted as
saying: "We have received promises from the Quartet and
the Americans that the withdrawal will be part of the
road map -- and I hope it indeed will be." Arafat
reiterated that he is not afraid of Sharon's threats.
(Maariv cited the Arab League's call on Israel Tuesday
not to hurt Arafat.) Arafat condemned the killing of
civilians. The full interview will be printed on
Friday. Israel Radio quoted Palestinian FM Nabil
Shaath as saying that the U.S. has promised economic
assistance to the PA after Israel's pullout from Gaza.
The radio quoted former Palestinian PM Abu Mazen as
saying on Al Jazeera-TV that both Israel and the PA had
failed him.
Israel Radio quoted Deputy State Department Spokesman
J. Adam Ereli as saying Tuesday: "Far from being
welcomed into any partnership or cooperation, Hamas
should be ostracized and disempowered as an
organization." According to the radio, Ereli was
responding to an interview PA Chairman Yasser Arafat
gave to the German weekly Focus, in which he hinted
that he could include Hamas and all Palestinian
factions in the PA. Several leading media reported
that Monday the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam noted
Arafat's intention. Jerusalem Post reported that a
source in Sharon's bureau dismissed the move as a
desperate bid by Arafat to stay in power.

Jerusalem Post reported that a source in Sharon's
bureau dismissed as "nonsense" a statement made by
incoming Spanish FM Miguel Moratinos in an interview
published Tuesday in the British daily Financial Times:
"Al Qaida will not be defeated until there is a
peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict."

Ha'aretz, Yediot and Jerusalem Post reported that
Monday morning IDF troops killed three Palestinians
near the central Gaza Strip. The media reported that
the IDF found and destroyed an eight-meter smuggling
tunnel at Rafah. This morning, Israel Radio reported
that the IDF wounded two Palestinians in the Casbah of
Nablus.

Several media reported that over the past few days the
Ayoun River stopped flowing into Israel, possibly under
orders from Lebanon. This morning, Israel Radio
reported that the water was streaming again.

Leading media reported that Iran has pledged to speed
up cooperation with the IAEA and to stop enriching
uranium.

All media reported that a Montreal Jewish elementary
school was firebombed Monday. The police allegedly
found anti-Semitic notes at the spot, denouncing recent
Israeli attacks against Palestinians, including the
killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Monday, Ha'aretz
devoted its entire Passover supplement to the rise of
anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli activity in the world.
The magazine describes the struggle between pro-Israeli
and pro-Palestinian militants on U.S. campuses.

Ha'aretz cited the results of Tel Aviv University's
Peace Index, conducted March 28-30:
-72.5 percent of Israelis believe that Palestinian
leaders at the level of leadership of organizations
such as Hamas should be assassinated in the framework
of the long-term war on terror, while only 21 percent
believe that such assassinations should be avoided
because they damage Israel's international image and
hurt its economic and tourism interests; 6.5 percent
are undecided
--79 percent of Israelis says that they did not change
their daily routine after Yassin's assassination; 20
percent say they changed it; 1 percent say that they do
not know.
-68 percent of Israelis think that the 70 Palestinian
public figures who called for avoiding revenge over
Yassin's killing represent only a small, insignificant
sector on the Palestinian side; a similar number assess
that the Israelis who condemned the act in the press
represent only a small, insignificant group; only 10
percent believe the call by the Palestinian
intellectuals would have a moderating influence on the
Palestinian public in general; only 14 percent believe
the call by the Israeli intellectuals would have a
moderating influence on the Israeli public in general.
Only 4 percent believe the call to avoid revenge would
moderate the reaction of Hamas, and just 12 percent
believe the condemnation by Israeli public figures and
intellectuals would moderate the Israeli government's
policy of targeted killings.

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

Summary:
--------

Veteran op-ed writer and the late prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin's assistant Eytan Haber opined in an
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "Those who know the Americans and are
familiar with Israel's history with them, know that
they will not agree with Sharon on less than a
withdrawal to the 1967 borders, with slight revisions."

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz:
"Most critics don't believe Israel has a right to self-
defense. Israel, therefore, should in most cases
ignore the critics."

Arab affairs commentator Danny Rubinstein wrote in
Ha'aretz: "The Israeli boycott of Arafat and the PA has
opened the door to cooperation between Hamas and the
Authority. The day when Hamas joins the PA, however,
is still far off."

Former editor-in-chief Moshe Ishon wrote in
nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe: "The joint statement ...
will only be a declarative one on the part of the
United States. On the other hand, Sharon will commit
himself in a practical fashion to withdrawing from the
Gaza Strip and some West Bank settlements within a
year."

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

I. "Baghdad"

Veteran op-ed writer and the late prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin's assistant Eytan Haber opined in an
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (April 7): "The situation [in Iraq] reminds
the Israelis of the first euphoric days of Arik
Sharon's Lebanon War in 1982, which ended in a whimper,
after the thunder of exploding bombs. Some people here
also remember the descent of the architects of the
Lebanon War here from the political stage (and Sharon's
late return). The chips that fly from the sawing of
the Iraqi tree reach the Prime Minister's bureau in
Jerusalem: the president of the U.S., on the eve of
elections, needs a serious achievement. In his eyes,
in the view from the Oval Office, he must not upset the
Islamic countries too much. Therefore, there is a
basis for the conjecture that there is no meaning or
value to the leaks issuing from Jerusalem saying that
Sharon's path, in his upcoming visit to the U.S., will
be easy and comfortable. According to the whispers
from Jerusalem, the Americans 'will give everything.'
The frequent trips of Bureau Chief Dov Weisglass to the
U.S. do not attest to a broad understanding with
Washington. In order to agree, it is sufficient to
meet once, but differences of opinion and disputes
require many meetings. Therefore, those who know the
Americans and are familiar with Israel's history with
them, know that they will not agree with Sharon on less
than a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, with slight
revisions; they will remain silent as to the 'right of
return'; and they are expected to reject further
requests by Sharon. This is not the time in the eyes
of Bush and his administration to exacerbate the
quarrels with the Arab world. In the parlance of
sports commentators, 'any other result (for Sharon's
visit) will come as a great surprise.'"

II. "Israel Is Not Allowed to Defend Itself"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(April 7): "'Pinpoint prevention' provoked a tsunami of
complaints, as if this war wasn't a war in which one
side, the Palestinian side, deliberately strikes at
civilians -- on buses, in restaurants and malls --
filling the explosives belts with large amounts of
nails to make sure as much damage as possible takes
place. That is targeted killing of Israelis. But in
the eyes of the critics, the pursuit of terrorists
appeared to be a criminal act, not hostilities during
warfare.... And there were complaints against the IDF's
rules of engagement. What army in the world has better
rules of engagement?.... All [armies] could learn from
the IDF about how to comply with the orders.... Lift
the blockades and checkpoints, shouted the critics.
True, the checkpoints harass the innocent, but the
critics did not take into account that the breaches
through which the murderers come must be blocked....
The criticism is also fed from inside Israel....
Presumably if we were to defend ourselves in this war
of terror by throwing rocks, the world would still
complain. Most critics don't believe Israel has a
right to self-defense. Israel, therefore, should in
most cases ignore the critics. We should be the ones
to criticize what is happening on our side and around
us."

III. "Resistant Hamas Eyes Joint Leadership Role in
Gaza"

Arab affairs commentator Danny Rubinstein wrote in
Ha'aretz (April 7): "Hamas never wanted to join the
Palestinian Authority because it was set up on the
basis of the Oslo Accords, which it and the other
opposition fiercely opposed.... Now, Hamas leaders are
saying they want to setup a joint national leadership
body in Gaza after the withdrawal. These declarations
give the impression that Hamas is ready to recognize a
joint leadership body that will constitute an
alternative to the PA.... The key factor that explains
the change in the Hamas position is the demise of the
Oslo Accords. Moreover, there are no contacts between
the PA and the Israeli government, and an Israeli
pullout from Gaza will be conducted unilaterally,
without any coordination or consultation with the
Authority. In other words, the Israeli boycott of
Arafat and the PA has opened the door to cooperation
between Hamas and the Authority. The day when Hamas
joins the PA, however, is still far off. In his
interview with [the German weekly] Focus, Arafat
praised the moderation, in his words, of Sheikh Ahmed
Yassin, as opposed to Abdel Aziz Rantisi, his successor
in Gaza. Arafat's criticism of Rantisi will not help
any partnership between them."

IV. "Washington Will Do What It Has Always Done"

Former editor-in-chief Moshe Ishon wrote in
nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe (April 7): "President
Bush has rejected Sharon's requests regarding the
indivisibility of Jerusalem; he has declined to publish
a unequivocal announcement about the future of Jewish
settlement in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]; he has
also declined to rule unambiguously against the return
of 1948 refugees. The President has reiterated that
those issues will finally be determined in a peace
agreement between the sides. Thus, the joint statement
that will be issued at the conclusion of Mr. Sharon's
visit to the U.S. will only be a declarative one on the
part of the United States. On the other hand, Sharon
will commit himself in a practical fashion to
withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and some West Bank
settlements within a year, as part of this is
implemented even before the U.S. elections. This would
most likely be the first phase of the evacuation of
some West Bank settlements."

---------
2. Iraq:
---------

Summary:
--------

Foreign News Editor Arik Bachar wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "The U.S. Administration has less
than one year to complete its Iraqi project decisively.
This requires a significant boosting of the number of
troops sent to Iraq, but that is an incommensurably
worthwhile investment."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Just because Iraq's nominal future leadership favors a
course of moderation doesn't mean that's the course
Iraq will take. Moderation is a virtue, but its defect
is its reluctance to confront extremism with anything
but moderation. In Iraq today, this will not do."

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized: "The means
Israel is using in the face of murderous Palestinian
terrorism are much more moderate [than the ones
employed by the Americans and the British in Iraq]."

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

I. "You Must Finish What You've Started"

Foreign News Editor Arik Bachar wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (April 7): "Life on our planet is hard
enough. Should the Americans leave Iraq and leave it
as booty for extremists like Sadr, life will become
unbearable for everybody -- from the New York yuppie to
the last of the Indonesian villagers. Bush and his
staff know this, but they might be ousted from the
White House in half-a-year; a Democratic administration
in the U.S. would find a way to leave Iraq as soon as
possible. U.S. failure in Iraq would constitute a war
call for generations of Islamic fanatics, would torment
the lives of all of us [on earth]. The U.S.
Administration has less than one year to complete its
Iraqi project decisively. This requires a significant
boosting of the number of troops sent to Iraq, but that
is an incommensurably worthwhile investment. For every
American soldier who is now staying home, America will
have to send five soldiers in the future to eradicate
the bad news that might come from Iraq."

II. "Gloves Off in Iraq"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(April 7): "It is a testament to what the coalition has
achieved that the principal Shi'ite cleric in Iraq,
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has called on Sadr to 'stop
resorting to violence' and to turn away from a "course
that could destroy the nation.' But just because
Iraq's nominal future leadership favors a course of
moderation doesn't mean that's the course Iraq will
take. Moderation is a virtue, but its defect is its
reluctance to confront extremism with anything but
moderation. In Iraq today, this will not do. It is
not simply a matter of political or strategic
necessity, but rather the moral obligation of the
coalition, to ensure that the monopoly on the use of
force rests firmly in the hands of legitimately
constituted authority. Whatever price ordinary Iraqis
will pay in the coming weeks to ensure that outcome
will surely be a small one next to what they'll have to
face at the hands of an emboldened Sadr, an emboldened
Iran, and an emboldened Fallujah street. We trust
Bremer and Co. know this, too."

III. "American-British Experience"

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (April 7):
"Let it be clear: the American-British struggle in Iraq
is absolutely justified. But the most justified move
at this time would be to place a mirror in front of the
American-British troops in Iraq. The means Israel is
using in the face of murderous Palestinian terrorism
are much more moderate. Only last week did the
Americans and the British scatter a demonstration in
Iraq by shooting live fire into the crowd. For a
moment we almost shouted: 'Mr. Blair, Mr. Bush, stop
that cruelty!'"

LEBARON

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