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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 002119

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:
-------------------------

All media highlighted the situation in Iraq. (Maariv's
banner: "America in Trouble"; banners in Yediot and
Hatzofe evoke the "Iraqi quagmire.") At least 150
Iraqis and 40 Americans were killed in Wednesday's
fighting. Jerusalem Post quoted leaders of Moqtada al-
Sadr's Shi'ite militia in Baghdad as saying Wednesday
that Palestinian fedayeen fighters have joined the
ranks of the rebel Mahdi Army. Ha'aretz and Jerusalem
Post reported on anti-American demonstrations in the
territories.

Yediot and Globes led with what Israel could get in
exchange from the U.S. for its disengagement plan: both
newspapers reported that the U.S. Administration is
considering granting Israel billions of USD to develop
the Negev and to fight terrorism. Yediot cited up-to-
date GOI assessments that the disengagement plan could
cost 4 to 5 billion shekels (around USD 900 million to
1.1 billion). Jerusalem Post and other media reported
that Wednesday British PM Tony Blair became the first
European leader to clearly back PM Sharon's
disengagement plan. Reporting that Blair called
Sharon, Jerusalem Post wrote that a British diplomatic
official confirmed that the conversation took place,
but that he would not reveal any details.

Ha'aretz reported (lead story in its English Ed.) that
the Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad leaderships in Gaza
have prepared a still non-binding draft "National Plan"
that "emphasizes the right to use violence to oppose
the occupation and the settlements, while avoiding
turning civilians from either side into targets for
attack."

Jerusalem Post reported that Wednesday the PA rejected
a U.S. warning against integrating Hamas and Islamic
Jihad into its political structure, saying that
Washington has no right to interfere in its internal
affairs. Ha'aretz reported that militant Palestinian
groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants,
will resume discussions on the Gaza Strip Saturday.
The newspaper notes that interest in this meeting has
been heightened by Hamas's agreement in principle to
join the PLO and the PA.

Ha'aretz reported that five terrorist attacks took
place in the first quarter of 2004, in a descending
curve since 40 attacks occurred in the first quarter of
2002. The newspaper says that Hamas is still looking
for a flaw in the security system to perpetrate what it
regards as a suitable act of retribution for the
killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Jerusalem Post quoted
Brig. Gen. (res.) Dani Arditi, Sharon's adviser on
counterterrorism, as saying that Israelis are becoming
too complacent about security and that they are
ignoring warnings to steer clear of dangerous sites.
Ha'aretz reported that Sunday a Palestinian youth from
the Balata refugee camp on the West Bank died of wounds
sustained during clashes with IDF troops the day
earlier. The newspaper also reported that Wednesday
two Israeli and some 20 Palestinian demonstrators were
moderately injured in clashes with IDF soldiers during
protests against the construction of the separation
fence at Biddu village, northwest of Jerusalem. Israel
Radio reported that the police have arrested 10 young
members of an extremist branch of Bratzlav ultra-
Orthodox for attacking and beating up Arabs in
Jerusalem over the recent period.

Ha'aretz reported that the GOI has approved a new,
tougher, directive for the monitoring of nuclear,
biological and chemical materials, which follows
guidelines used in Western countries.

Yediot cited Thai government warnings of possible
attacks of tourist sites by Muslim extremists. The
newspaper cited a GOI travel advisory for Thailand.
Yediot and other media reported that last week an
extremist Muslim group, the "European-Arab League,"
warned that organizations such as Hamas could attack
the Jewish community of Antwerp, Belgium, if it does
not denounce Israel's policy.

Over the past few days, the media cited claims by Roman
Catholic Church officials that Israel has delayed
granting visas to dozens of Roman Catholic clergy.
Leading media noted that Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah
called it an issue of survival for the church in the
Holy Land.

Ha'aretz reported that the Defense Ministry is
investigating a complaint that a company called Globus
Aviation Ltd. was involved in a transaction in which
surplus IDF helicopters ended up in Columbia, where
they could have fallen into the hands of criminal
elements.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Not since the
Balfour Declaration has there been a document that has
raised so many expectations as the one President George
Bush is supposed to give Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon.... One should not take the Bush letter too
seriously."

Liberal columnist Yehuda Litani wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Both the
Israeli establishment and the Palestinian establishment
are adamantly opposed to the activity [of Palestinian
moderates]."

Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The [Tunis]
summit collapsed because the Arab world has changed in
the past decade beyond recognition."

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

I. "Balfour to Bush, Vietnam to Israel"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (April 8): "Not
since the Balfour Declaration has there been a document
that has raised so many expectations as the one
President George Bush is supposed to give Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon, detailing American quid pro quos
for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and four isolated
settlements in the northern West Bank.... On his way to
his meeting with Bush in Washington, Sharon ought to
read 'The Palace File,' which documents how the U.S.
abandoned its closest ally in Asia, South Vietnam,
where so many tens of thousands of American servicemen
died fighting for its independence.... There are many
worlds of difference between South Vietnam and Israel.
Israel has never asked America to fight for it and die
for it. But despite the differences in the
circumstances, it is difficult to ignore the historical
lesson: political promises are meant to solve urgent
political problems and are always only good for the
moment they are made. Don't regard them as a
'political insurance policy'.... So why entrap the
Americans into articles of an agreement that will never
be formed? It is doubtful that a Democratic
administration would honor the Bush letter.... For all
those reasons, it is evident that one should not take
the Bush letter too seriously. Its importance will
evaporate with the closing of the Likud referendum
poll, when the disengagement plan is brought to the
government for its approval."

II. "Moderates Crushed Between Hammer and Anvil"

Liberal columnist Yehuda Litani wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (April 8): "If
Prof. Sari Nusseibeh had a private army, the Al-Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades would not dare threaten him.... Caught
between a rock and a hard place, the Palestinians who
support dialogue are not even capable of making a faint
sound. They still remember the lynching that was
nearly staged against Palestinian activists who
participated in the signing ceremony of the Geneva
Accord, and narrowly escaped this fate upon returning
to Gaza. If some of their brothers view them as
traitors, many Israelis believe that they are a
'gimmick,' that there is no difference between them and
the extremist Palestinians; their goal is the same,
Israel's destruction, and only their tactics are
different. Both the Israeli establishment and the
Palestinian establishment are adamantly opposed to
their activity. In our bloody ethnic conflict, as in
other similar conflicts from India to Ireland, the only
question is: Are you with us or against us? White or
black. Shades of gray fade, dissipate and at times are
even wiped out."

III. "A Different Middle East is Forming Before Our
Very Eyes"

Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (April 8): "The
[Tunis] summit collapsed because the Arab world has
changed in the past decade beyond recognition.... A
different Middle East is forming before our very eyes:
countries and groups that once were dominant and
deciding forces have become marginal, while the former
members of the periphery have become the center. These
changes are of immense strategic importance. Neither
Egypt nor Syria lead the entire Arab world in their
footsteps any longer, as we assumed to be the case just
a decade or two ago. Perhaps on the contrary. Perhaps
ties with the 'peripheral' states will ultimately
prompt Syria or Egypt to truly reconcile themselves to
reality. Moreover, the Palestinians, Egypt and Syria
have lost their veto power over Israel's ties in the
region. As a consequence, the price Israel will be
forced to pay for ties with the Arabs has changed as
well.... That does not mean that Israel needs to adopt
a condescending and reckless Middle Eastern policy and
to heedlessly exploit the Arab confusion.... The Arab
dissolution should also spark sober Israeli thinking.
Among themselves, they are incapable of reaching mutual
trust; no Arab country has normal, intrigue-less
relations with any other Arab country. Is it even
remotely likely that they will forge romantic peace
relations based on reconciliation, recognition and
coexistence with Israel, the ultimate enemy? Thus, the
collapse of the Arab summit is also a lesson for us not
about what is to be desired in the Middle East, but
about what exists and what is possible in the Middle
East."
---------
2. Iraq:
---------

Summary:
--------

Veteran op-ed writer Yaron London opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "The Americans will eventually leave Iraq,
whether they win the battle or lose it, but we will
continue to live in the same neighborhood as our
victims. The perpetual proximity compels us to adhere
to different rules of behavior than those the American
passers-by can allow themselves."

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "That kind of
reaction [by the Iraqi Governing Council] should make
clear to the Americans just how powerful an Iraqi
government they'll need to hand over responsibility to
at the end of June."

Hebrew University Professor of Political Science and
former Foreign Ministry director-general Shlomo Avineri
wrote in Yediot Aharonot: "Should three states arise
[in Iraq] there could be a chance for stability of some
kind."

Yoav Frummer wrote from New York in popular, pluralist
Maariv: "Bush still has one last political trump card
in his pocket -- that of a war president. Continued
deterioration of the situation in Iraq and the
dispatching of additional troops overseas would cost
Bush not only his last cards, but also his position."

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

I. "Why Is It Permitted For the Americans?"

Veteran op-ed writer Yaron London opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (April 8): "Malicious joy is not a laudable
emotion, but it is easy to understand the anger over
the fact that giants are judged by forgiving standards,
while midgets are subject to stringent standards. The
American giant is not afraid to call the punitive
operation in Fallujah by the name of 'revenge,' while
we would never admit this motive, which originates in a
boiling heart and paralyzed brain. Indeed, they are
permitted what we are barred from doing. And what is
the lesson? We will ignore the moral issues and
concentrate on the practical questions: the Americans
will eventually leave Iraq, whether they win the battle
or lose it, but we will continue to live in the same
neighborhood as our victims. The perpetual proximity
compels us to adhere to different rules of behavior
than those the American passers-by can allow
themselves."

II. "A War Waged For Prestige in Iraq"
Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (April 8):
"[Fallujah]'s 300,000 residents have been under curfew
for three days and under cover of that curfew American
forces are going house to house to find the terrorists
responsible for the lynching of four Americans and the
mutilation of their bodies. Finding those responsible
has became a matter of prestige for the American armed
forces, who could yet turn the campaign in Fallujah
into one of those watershed moments that characterize
many wars, when a city or site becomes a symbol....
Meanwhile, the impotence of the Iraqi Governing Council
is patently evident. It has been unable to calm the
situation and a few council members are making do with
calls for a probe of the activities of the American
forces, and at least two council members have
threatened to resign. That kind of reaction should
make clear to the Americans just how powerful an Iraqi
government they'll need to hand over responsibility to
at the end of June."

III. "Iraq: Mission Impossible"

Hebrew University Professor of Political Science and
former Foreign Ministry director-general Shlomo Avineri
wrote in Yediot Aharonot (April 8): "The current
increasing hardships endured by the Americans in Iraq
are evidence of the hopelessness of the attempt to
establish democracy in a society that utterly lacks the
foundations needed for that purpose.... During the last
decade the Kurds have enjoyed a de-facto autonomy
sponsored by the U.S. They have established a regime
that performs in an impressive fashion. It is doubtful
whether they would agree to find themselves again under
an Arab regime.... The current violence in Iraq is
indeed directed at the Americans and their allies, but
this is in fact a domestic civil war symbolizing the
end of Sunni hegemony in Iraq. In such a situation,
something can be learned from the example of
Yugoslavia.... It won't be easy to convince the
international community -- the U.S. in a first stage --
that it will be very hard to reestablish a united Iraq,
the original British dream of 'Mesopotamia.' Should
three states arise -- a Kurdish one in the north, an
Arab-Sunni one in the center and an Arab-Shi'ite one in
the south -- there could be a chance for stability of
some kind. If this doesn't happen, what would be
awaiting Iraq would be what characterized Yugoslavia in
the '90s. That lesson had better be learned."

IV. "Cracks in Bush's Armor"

Yoav Frummer wrote from New York in popular, pluralist
Maariv (April 8): "A quick glance at the years of
George Bush's presidency over the largest superpower in
the world doesn't reveal a success story.... The
American nation was ready to fight Iraqi terrorism --
but only to a point. This week's events, which revived
memories from Vietnam that have for a long time
reverberated under the surface anyway, were the last
thing that the U.S. Administration needed seven months
before the elections.... Despite his expected contest
with John Kerry ... President Bush will be the man who
will determine the results in November. As of now, his
situation is far from being assured. But Bush still
has one last political trump card in his pocket -- that
of a war president. Continued deterioration of the
situation in Iraq and the dispatching of additional
troops overseas would cost Bush not only his last
cards, but also his position."

LEBARON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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