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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 002259

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. Release of Mordechai Vanunu

3. Iraq

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

The major Hebrew media bannered the release of nuclear
whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, which will take place
tomorrow. Several media reported that Monday Interior
Minister Avraham Poraz signed an injunction forbidding
him to leave the country for one year. Ha'aretz
reported that Thomas Graham, former U.S. president Bill
Clinton's special envoy to the Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Treaty (NPT) talks, and Avner Cohen,
author of "Israel and the Bomb," which details the
country's nuclear capabilities, published an article in
the May-June issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientists, which calls on Israel to give up its
nuclear ambiguity policy and join the NPT.

Israel Radio reported that the UN Security Council is
convening an emergency session to discuss the
assassination of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi. The
station reported that the Palestinian representative
blamed the U.S. for emboldening Israel to assassinate
Rantisi by vetoing a Security Council resolution
condemning last month's "extrajudicial execution" of
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The PLO representative also
linked the assassination with the letters exchanged
between President Bush and PM Sharon, which he said
contravened international law. The radio notes that
the U.S. is expected to veto the resolution.

All media reported that Monday FM Silvan Shalom
expressed his support for Sharon's disengagement plan.
Yet, Ha'aretz cited the concern of Sharon's advisers,
led by his son, Knesset Member Omri Sharon, that Sharon
will not win a decisive victory in the May 2 referendum
of Likud rank-and-file voters. The newspaper also
reported that Sharon is intensifying efforts to gain
the Russian vote in the party.

The media reported that eight Israeli civilians were
wounded, one seriously, by Qassam rocket fire Monday at
the settlement of Nissanit in the Gaza Strip. An IDF
soldier was wounded in clashes south of Nablus, while
an unarmed Palestinian was killed by IDF gunfire south
of Hebron. Maariv cited the suspicions of the defense
establishment that Sunday's shooting incident in the
Galilee, in which border police killed an Israeli Arab,
could be linked to Hizbullah activity in Israel.

Israel Radio reported that the PA is considering
canceling the post of Palestinian PM and returning all
attributes of authority to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.
Jerusalem Post reported that Arafat phoned several
senior Hamas officials in the last 24 hours in an
attempt to persuade them to resume inter-Palestinian
talks about the establishment of a joint leadership.
Ha'aretz reported that a memorandum of understanding
issued by the leadership of Palestinian prisoners in
Israel under the patronage of jailed Tanzim leader
Marwan Barghouti calls for a total end to armed
struggle emanating from Gaza if a series of conditions
are met. The conditions detailed in the document, or
"proposal," sent to Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad,
includes "complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza,
including the "Philadelphi Route" on the Israeli-
Egyptian border; full Palestinian sovereignty over the
Strip, including the sea and air ports; and the release
from Israeli prisons of all Gaza residents. In
exchange for fulfilling the conditions, "the armed
forces in Gaza will be obligated not to conduct any
armed actions from Gaza," according to the document.

All media reported that Monday the High Court of
Justice handed down stiffer sentences than a district
court for Yitzhak Pas and Matityahu Shvu, two members
of the militant group of settlers known as the "Bat
Ayin underground."

Leading media reported that Monday Bush appointed John
Negroponte, currently the U.S. Ambassador to the UN,
Ambassador to Iraq. As he commented on American and
British efforts to turn Iraq into a stable and
prosperous democracy, Michael Ancram, the British
Conservative Party's "shadow foreign secretary," was
quoted as saying in an interview with Ha'aretz:
"Attempts to impose Western models in the Middle East
could lead to unwanted, even much worse consequences."
Ha'aretz and Israel Radio quoted Jewish officials as
saying in New York Monday that Iraqi Jews who fled
their homeland in the 1950s will receive from the
French insurance company AXA compensation for the
insurance policies they purchased when they were still
Iraqi citizens and still owners of assets and property
there. Ha'aretz quoted Ilan Steinberg, the Director-
General of the World Jewish Congress, as saying Monday:
"This is a breakthrough and justice has been done in an
area that has been neglected for years."

Yediot reported that California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger will meet with Sharon on May 2, the day
the referendum will be held in the Likud.

Ha'aretz reported that Monday New Zealand PM Helen
Clark and senior officials in her government toned down
remarks regarding the affair involving two Israelis
arrested on suspicion of attempting to obtain fake
passports. Yediot reported that the New Zealand
government acknowledged that the detainees are Israeli
envoys. Citing the New Zealand Herald, Maariv quoted
Clarke as saying that the Israelis will be entitled to
a fair trial.

Jerusalem Post led with, and other media reported on,
an affair involving Transportation Minster Avigdor
Lieberman. He allegedly used his Russian connections
to help extricate Bank Austria Creditanstalt, the
largest bank in Austria, from a sharp drop in the
Russian ruble in 1998. Lieberman had stepped down
months before as D-G of the Prime Minister's Office
under Binyamin Netanyahu.

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

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus, the
first journalist whom Prime Minister Sharon apprised of
his withdrawal plan, wrote in independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "Terror must not be allowed to torpedo the
first political initiative in years to offer a small
glimmer of hope for a better future."

Conservative columnist Nadav Shragai wrote in Ha'aretz:
"The main difference between all the previous
presidential declarations and the one given by Bush is
that no Israeli prime minister in the past ever
considered initiating a unilateral withdrawal, and
certainly not during a war, just to win such a
statement from the U.S."

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in the lead editorial of mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: " The
Palestinians' initial responses to the exchange of
letters between Bush and Sharon were furious and
bordered on the hysterical.... But insult is
mendacious diplomatic counsel."

Veteran print and TV journalist Dan Margalit wrote in
popular, pluralist Maariv: "It is possible that in the
year 2005 it will be Netanyahu who is called upon to
implement the disengagement.... Netanyahu too knows
that Sharon's disengagement plan is the minimum
reasonable offer with which he can visit the capitals
of the world and the region, for he has not forgotten
his days at Wye Plantation."
Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "Don't Let Terror Ruin Things"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus, the
first journalist whom Prime Minister Sharon apprised of
his withdrawal plan, wrote in independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (April 20): "Bumping off Rantisi was
justified. I doubt that even the heads of the
Palestinian Authority, including Dahlan, shed a tear
over his death.... [Anyway], Hamas wants to reap the
fruit of Israel's unilateral withdrawal and evacuation
of settlement in Gaza, presenting it as a victory for
the group. Israel must be on its guard not to get
sucked into this game.... Sharon has launched a
dramatic initiative to withdraw Israeli forces and
clear out 20 settlements in the Gaza Strip -- a move
that President Bush has described as an historic about-
face and the first stage in implementing the road map
on the way to establishing a Palestinian state. We
must take care that terror -- of which there will be
more -- and our disproportionate responses to it, do
not endanger the disengagement plan or cause the Sharon
administration, which is not bowled over by the plan in
any case, to turn against it.... Now is the time for
Sharon the statesman to eclipse Sharon the general, and
the forum of five to act like a political cabinet
rather than a subsidiary of the General Staff. Terror
must not be allowed to torpedo the first political
initiative in years to offer a small glimmer of hope
for a better future."

II. "Disengagement Illusions"

Conservative columnist Nadav Shragai wrote in Ha'aretz
(April 20): "The political graveyard in which the
minister of history buries friendly statements by
American presidents to Israel, is already populated by
quite a few ... watersheds. Bill Clinton, for example,
provided Ehud Barak with exactly the same merchandise
that Bush is now giving Sharon. Bush, how
embarrassing, even made sure to say in his letter to
Sharon that the fact that he doesn't expect Israel to
withdraw to the 1967 borders is practically an
historical fact: "All previous efforts to negotiate a
two-state solution have reached the same conclusion,"
wrote Bush. The main difference between all the
previous presidential declarations and the one given by
Bush is that no Israeli prime minister in the past ever
considered initiating a unilateral withdrawal, and
certainly not during a war, just to win such a
statement from the U.S."


III. "The Palestinians' Turn"
Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in the lead editorial of mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (April 20): "An
Israeli withdrawal from Gaza without disengagement
places the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a
crossroads. Gaza after the withdrawal is liable to
become a giant Palestinian ghetto.... A Gaza like that
will be a humanitarian disaster and a terrorist powder
keg. But that very same Gaza Strip after the Israeli
withdrawal could also be a cornerstone for a new
reality, a stepping stone to the establishment of an
independent and democratic Palestine, which was cited
explicitly as 'Palestine' in the letter Sharon gave to
President Bush. For that, the Palestinians are going
to need the world's help, Israeli good will and, above
all, Palestinian national resolve.... The Palestinians'
initial responses to the exchange of letters between
Bush and Sharon were furious and bordered on the
hysterical, which only became more pronounced with the
insult of the Rantisi assassination. But insult is
mendacious diplomatic counsel. The Palestinians have
not lacked for mendacious counsel of that kind in the
past number of decades. What they have wanted for was
truthful counsel."

IV. "Netanyahu's Astuteness"

Veteran print and TV journalist Dan Margalit wrote in
popular, pluralist Maariv (April 20): "Netanyahu has
moved his political address from Against Disengagement
Alley to Support Disengagement Avenue, because he is
smart, because he is moving to the middle ground in
preparation for the battle of succession, and because
he has no choice.... The advantage of Sharon's plan is
that Likud supporters are capable of swallowing it,
because it can be fed to them in small doses. First
there was the road map. Now there is the withdrawal
from Gaza and four settlements in Samaria [the northern
West Bank]. For this alone Netanyahu cannot unravel
the unity of the Likud.... Moreover, the most important
thing is still ahead of us and it is two-pronged.
First of all there are some grounds for believing that
the disengagement plan will never be implemented, and
this is a subject for a separate discussion. Secondly,
it is possible that in the year 2005 it will be
Netanyahu who is called upon to implement the
disengagement. This will be when it is clear whether
John Kerry will be the next occupant of the White
House, and whether the cases of the straw companies and
Cyril Kern have sent Sharon back to his farm and his
sons to the dock, and in such a case Netanyahu could be
the next prime minister. So will he appear as the
leader of the opposition on such a central issue? It
is not worth his while, because if he becomes prime
minister he will have to go to Washington and stand
before the Arab world with something more than empty
hands. Netanyahu too knows that Sharon's disengagement
plan is the minimum reasonable offer with which he can
visit the capitals of the world and the region, for he
has not forgotten his days at Wye Plantation."
-------------------------------
2. Release of Mordechai Vanunu:
-------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized:
"Israel is a law-abiding country. Vanunu served his
sentence. Any further extraordinary efforts to silence
him will only perpetuate both his status as a symbol
and the campaign that has grown around him."

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

"A Damaging Over-Reaction"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (April
20): "It is entirely possible that the ongoing over-
reaction to Vanunu has damaged Israel much more and
longer than the one-time publication in the Sunday
Times. Given the two obsessions that have become
focused on Vanunu -- keeping him silent or making him
divine -- it is no wonder that his release from prison
tomorrow, after serving all 18 years of his prison
sentence, has turned into a particularly charged
moment.... Presumably, after his release, Vanunu will
continue to serve -- willingly, and with the support of
those around him -- as an instrument with which to
attack Israel and its policies. The defense
establishment's desire to continue to control what he
says is understandable even if it is not at all clear
what further damage could be caused by someone who has
been cut off from any security secret for the last 20
years. But Israel is a law-abiding country. Vanunu
served his sentence. Any further extraordinary efforts
to silence him will only perpetuate both his status as
a symbol and the campaign that has grown around him."

---------
3. Iraq:
---------

Summary:
--------

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"If one were to write a recipe for failure in Iraq,
putting the UN in charge would probably be the place to
start."

Block Quotes:
-------------
"How to Lose Iraq"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(April 20): "One might think, looking at all the
troubles in Iraq, that the place is a hopeless mess.
Actually, in broad terms, the situation is surprisingly
promising. The basic Western interest is that Iraq
enjoy a stable and representative non-despotic
government that serves the interests of all three major
groupings: the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi'ites. All three
groups have a fairly strong incentive to support a
system with sufficiently robust checks and balances
that no one group will be able to dominate the
others.... Let's assume that Bush and Blair, having
been burned by the UN in the run-up to the war in Iraq,
are not entirely naive about just how the UN might try
to shape Iraq's post-war future. And let's say that, in
an ideal world, the UN could provide a patina of
legitimacy and even logistical and troop support for a
hitherto controversial allied effort. But the big
question here is who is fooling whom. The UN ... has a
long and corrupt history with Iraq.... The UN
bureaucracy, France and Russia have a huge incentive to
cover up their own complicity in Saddam's pillaging of
Iraq, as does the Arab bloc in preventing a successful
Iraqi regime from arising. The UN is the ideal vehicle
for all these anti-democracy forces. Indeed, if one
were to write a recipe for failure in Iraq, putting the
UN in charge would probably be the place to start."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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