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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 002282

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. Release of Mordechai Vanunu

2. Mideast

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

All major media led with the release after 18 years in
jail for aggravated espionage of whistleblower, or
"atomic spy," Mordechai Vanunu, which took place this
morning. The Israeli media often describe the expected
commotion of foreign media and Vanunu supporters as the
"Vanunu festival." Speaking live to the media outside
Ashkelon jail, Vanunu attacked Israel's security
services, principally Shin Bet and Mossad, saying that
he had been subjected to cruel and barbaric treatment
during his incarceration. He added that he had no
further secrets to divulge, alleging that he suffered
for 18 years because he was a Christian rather than a
Jew. He said his primary message was a call to open
the Dimona nuclear reactor complex to international
inspections. He stated that he wants to live and study
in the U.S.

Ha'aretz reported that along with Israel, the U.S. will
be following Vanunu's words and deeds after his
release. The newspaper noted that Gideon Frank, the D-
G of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission, met in Israel
Tuesday with John Bolton, U/S for Arms Control and
International Security. The two men discussed Vanunu's
release. Ha'aretz writes that the working assumption
is that Vanunu will try to cause problems for Israel.
Jerusalem Post reported that acting on a tip from
security sources, police detained a CNN television crew
on Tuesday as it was filming near the restricted Dimona
nuclear reactor in the Negev.

A Ha'aretz dialogue poll found that 47 percent of
Israelis believe that Vanunu should not be released
yet; 44 percent believe that he should be freed; 9
percent are undecided.

All media reported that Jordan's King Abdullah II
abruptly postponed a meeting with President Bush.
Jerusalem Post quoted Jordanian FM Marwan Muasher as
saying Tuesday that he was persuaded the U.S. did not
intend to prejudice final status negotiations between
Israel and the PA. Ha'aretz reported that Tuesday
senior Israeli officials called Jordanian anti-
disengagement activity and its opposition to the
separation fence "matters that do not at all concern
Jordan, but are entirely between us and the
Palestinians." Israel Radio quoted Powell as saying at
his meeting with Muasher: "We should take advantage of
the opportunity created by the evacuation of
settlements for the first time in decades." Powell was
also quoted as saying: "I think that people will see
over time that the United States is committed to the
welfare, benefit, and the hopes and dreams and
aspirations of the Arab nations, and especially the
hopes and dreams and aspirations of the Palestinian
people."
Leading media reported that the IDF is leaning toward
shutting down the Erez industrial zone in the northern
Gaza Strip, due to the spate of terrorist attacks in
the area. Leading media reported that Tuesday five
Palestinians were killed during disturbances in the
northern Gaza Strip towns of Beit Hanun and Beit
Lahiya. Israel Radio reported that four armed
Palestinians were killed there today. A series of
Qassam rockets and mortar attacks was launched from
that area on targets in the Strip and in Israel,
beginning early Tuesday morning.

Leading media reported that Sharon vowed Tuesday in
Ashdod that his government would not give up its policy
of targeted assassinations against what Israel calls
"ticking bombs." Leading media quoted Hamas leader
Khaled Mashal as saying in Damascus Monday that Arab
and Muslims must join forces to defend themselves
against the U.S. and Israel, and support the
Palestinians in their worsening conflict with Israel.

All media reported that Tuesday Defense Minister Shaul
Mofaz described the unilateral disengagement plan from
the Gaza Strip as a "historical step" and the "right
move." Mofaz was speaking to soldiers in the Strip.

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that Monday in New York,
at a meeting organized by American Friends of Tel Aviv
University, former U.S. president Bill Clinton hinted
that Israel should consider resuming talks with PA
Chairman Yasser Arafat.

All media highlighted a remark PM Sharon's son Gilad
made Tuesday to the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court that
he threw out audio tapes he had secretly recorded
during conversations with businessman David Appel about
the fee he would receive for his services regarding
Appel's "Greek island" project.

Jerusalem Post reported that Monday in Jerusalem
Finance Minister Binyamin told a 600-member solidarity
mission from Michigan: "You come here because you want
to ensure that Israel's present and future are secure."

Ha'aretz reported that Democratic presidential
candidate Sen. John Kerry is currently investing
"special efforts" to persuade the Jewish-American
community to support him.

Ha'aretz reported that New Zealand police are hunting
for a fourth man in the passport mystery case involving
Israelis.

Israel Radio reported that this morning at least 60
people were killed and 200 were wounded in an attack
against three police stations in Baghdad.

--------------------------------
1. Release of Mordechai Vanunu:
--------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Israeli officials
regarded Bush's comments as a clear hint that the U.S.
believes Israel should be able to maintain its nuclear
program."

Veteran op-ed writer and the late prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin's assistant Eytan Haber opined in the
lead editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "And if [Vanunu] opens his mouth on forbidden
topics? He will receive the treatment given to any
revealer of secrets, and will be prosecuted."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"The cumulative damage he will continue to do to Israel
as a propagandist will considerably exceed the damage
he caused as a spy.... In the very act of letting him
go free, Israel proves wrong Vanunu's contentions about
the State of Israel."

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

I. "The Triumph of Ambiguity"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (April 21): "There
was a time when American officials would squirm
uncomfortably when accusations of 'double standards'
were leveled against them. Why, they would be asked,
does the U.S. pressure Arab states and Iran to refrain
from attempts to develop nuclear capacities, whereas it
turns a blind eye to Israel's program? Times have
changed. Today, leaders in the West openly justify
Israel's nuclear program, depicting it as an insurance
policy taken out by a small, vulnerable country whose
hostile neighbors constantly threaten to destroy it....
[After Libya announced in December 2003 that it was
abandoning its unconventional weapons program] U.S.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was ... blunt:

SIPDIS
'Israel is a small country, and it is located in a
region in which many threaten to throw it in the sea.
Israel prefers not to be thrown into the sea, and so it
has organized itself accordingly.' In his letter to
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week, U.S. President
George Bush said his country would 'preserve and
strengthen' Israel's ability to 'deter and defend
itself' against any threat. This assurance reiterated
declarations made by president Bill Clinton to prime
ministers Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. Israeli
officials regarded Bush's comments as a clear hint that
the U.S. believes Israel should be able to maintain its
nuclear program."

II. "Now Be Silent"

Veteran op-ed writer and the late prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin's assistant Eytan Haber opined in the
lead editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (April 21): "Against 200 or 300 million
Muslims in immediate proximity, and over a billion
Muslims worldwide, stand -- if they exist -- the 'bombs
in the basement.' Egyptian president Anwar Sadat
hurried to Jerusalem and King Hussein wished to sign a
peace agreement only because of 'Dimona.' Muslim
leaders, from Iran to Pakistan, who dream at night of
destroying the Jewish people, wake up in the morning
drenched with sweat, upon recalling the Israeli nuclear
reactor.... Mordechai Vanunu broke the secrecy of
Dimona, and paid for it with 18 years of
imprisonment.... Let the man please open a new chapter
of his life. But the man is determined to continue to
harm -- or 'destroy' in his words -- the Nuclear
Research Center, and if possible Israel as well.... The
man will remain silent and win his full freedom. And
if he opens his mouth on forbidden topics? He will
receive the treatment given to any revealer of secrets,
and will be prosecuted. This is the whole story, and I
personally must provide full disclosure on the matter:
I served close to the decision makers in the affair of
Mordechai Vanunu when the man decided to choose his odd
and convoluted path, a path that is dangerous to us
all."

III. "Vanunu's Release"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(April 21): "Among the many things said about Mordechai
Vanunu, the Israeli due to be released from prison
today after serving his 18-year sentence for revealing
the country's nuclear secrets, is that he is a champion
of the anti-nuclear cause. Not so. In 1981, Vanunu,
with Arab activists, protested against Israel's
destruction of Iraq's Osirak reactor. Vanunu, then,
wasn't against the bomb outright. He apparently
approved of it in Arab hands. Indeed, for years prior
to Vanunu's arrest and trial, he was a pro-Arab
extremist.... The cumulative damage he will continue to
do to Israel as a propagandist will considerably exceed
the damage he caused as a spy.... In the very act of
letting him go free, Israel proves wrong Vanunu's
contentions about the State of Israel."

------------
2. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized: "Those
missiles are the writing on the wall. They come as a
warning to all those Likud cabinet minister joining the
disengagement plan from the Strip, because we're
talking about a down payment."

Author and contributor Yitzhak Laor wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The difference
between us and Bush and his advisers is the price that
we will pay here for the crime of missing the historic
opportunity to divide the country."

Former ambassador to France Ovadia Soffer wrote in
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Israeli
diplomacy will be tested by its ability to exploit the
interim period before the Gaza redeployment to convince
the Europeans to embrace the American approach to the
refugee problem."

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

I. "Down Payment"

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (April 21):
"Monday, the IDF identified dozens of attempts by
Palestinians to launch missiles at Gush Katif [Gaza
Strip] settlements.... Those missiles are the writing
on the wall. They come as a warning to all those Likud
cabinet minister joining the disengagement plan from
the Strip, because we're talking about a down payment;
Heaven forbid, the big payment is still to come....
Attempts to carry out terrorist attacks ... will force
the IDF to continue keeping significant forces in the
Strip; so why is there a need to evacuate the Jewish
settlements?.... Primitive logic maintains that the
Arabs in the 'Strip' are convinced that Israel is
dismantling the Jewish settlements for the reason that
it is surrendering to increasing terrorism. That Arab
thinking will encourage an upsurge of hostile actions
in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] in order to
achieve similar results."

II. "We'll Take Whatever the Americans Allow"

Author and contributor Yitzhak Laor wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (April 21): "During
the decades of the occupation, the dovish camp has
learned to summarize its position regarding annexation
with the dogma, 'The Americans won't allow it.' Even
the settler right has tended to believe that dogma, and
decided to identify it with 'fear of the powerful
gentile' so familiar from the Diaspora, and such. But
that belief has been in stark contradiction to the
facts. Since the 1970 Rogers Plan, no U.S.
administration, before or after elections, in a second
term or not, has ever intended to halt the Israeli
annexation of the last of the land available to the
Palestinians to establish their own state.... What was
called 'minor border corrections' until the era of Ehud
Barak has become 'land percentages,' and behind those
percentages is the assumption that Israel does not have
the strength to demand of itself what it demands of the
Palestinians -- a civil war. Now Bush's promise has
arrived as some great achievement for the coming years:
the map of Israel has changed, the 'national divide'
will be postponed. But what about the conflict with
the Palestinians? The difference between us and Bush
and his advisers is the price that we will pay here for
the crime of missing the historic opportunity to divide
the country."

III. "Put Israeli Diplomats to Work"

Former ambassador to France Ovadia Soffer wrote in
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (April 21):
"For the first time the president of the world's only
superpower is taking Israel's side and granting written
legitimacy to its position on the matters of refugees
and borders.... Israeli diplomacy will be tested by its
ability to exploit the interim period before the Gaza
redeployment to convince the Europeans to embrace the
American approach to the refugee problem. They must
press their Arab allies to take responsibility for the
fate of the Palestinian refugees, which they have
managed to evade for the last 50 years.... The
disengagement plan, backed by the American president's
statements, even if currently met with angry responses
by the Palestinian side, could introduce an element of
sobriety into Palestinian thought, at least on the
matter of the right of return. It could serve as a
serious incentive to Israeli-American-European action
in harnessing the Arab countries to a serious joint
effort to find a pragmatic and practical solution to
the problem of the Palestinian refugees, without which
there will be no lasting peace in the Middle East."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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