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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 08 TEL AVIV 002376

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 Tel Aviv Media Reaction report Tuesday,
April 27, 2004, Israel's Independence Day holiday.

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

1. Israel's 56th Independence Day

2. Mideast

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

All media highlighted events related to Israel's
Memorial Day (commemorated from last night through this
evening) and Israel's 56th Independence Day (celebrated
from tonight through Monday night). Israel Radio
reported that in his greetings to President Moshe
Katsav, President Bush wrote that Israel can count on
the friendship of the American people and on America's
firm commitment to the well-being and security of
Israel's citizens. The radio also cited greetings from
French President Jacques Chirac and Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak, who both expressed their wishes that the
conflict be resolved (Mubarak mentioned the road map).
All media cited data released by the GOI's Central
Bureau of Statistics: Israel now counts 6.78 million
residents -- 81 percent of them are Jews and 19 percent
are Arabs.

A remark made by PM Sharon in an interview with Channel
2-TV Friday night dominated the headlines Sunday.
Sharon told the TV station that he had informed Bush,
during their meeting in Washington 10 days ago, that
Israel was no longer bound by a pledge made three years
ago not to harm PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. The comment
was widely construed as a wink to the Likud members who
will participate in Sunday's scheduled vote on the
disengagement plan. All media reported that the U.S.
Administration made clear over the weekend that it
continues to oppose any Israeli action physically
targeting Arafat. The media reported that National
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice called Sharon's
bureau head Dov Weisglass, and cited responses by
Secretary Powell and the spokesmen of the National

SIPDIS
Security Council and the State Department. Maariv
reported that Israel has conveyed a message to the PA
that a terrorist attack on the scale of the 2002
Passover bombing in Netanya could bring about the
assassination of Arafat.

All media reported that Sunday cabinet ministers
Binyamin Netanyahu, Limor Livnat and Silvan Shalom
refused to assist Sharon's campaign to muster support
for his disengagement plan prior to Sunday's vote in
the Likud. Yediot reported that Ohad Kamin, a member
of the Likud Central Committee, published an article on
the Internet site of the extreme-right movement "Jewish
Leadership," led by Moshe Feiglin. Kamin's article
contained an implicit call to take up arms against
Sharon, "a most dangerous enemy of the Jewish people."
Education Minister Limor Livnat has urged A-G Menachem
Mazuz and Likud institutions to take steps against
Kamin.
All media reported that a border policeman was killed
and two were wounded last night when shots were fired
at their jeep near Idna in the southern Hebron Hills.
Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the
attack, saying that it was in retaliation for the
assassination of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi. An
hour later, and Israeli Arab was seriously wounded from
shots fired at guards patrolling near the shooting
range at Migdal Oz near Efrat in Gush Etzion. Israel
Radio cited the belief of defense sources that the
second incident was not a terrorist attack. All media
reported that Friday the security forces arrested three
alleged members of a terrorist cell who reportedly
murdered university student George Khoury in the north
Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill, and wounded
another student a week ago.

Ha'aretz quoted Palestinian sources familiar with the
inner workings of Hamas as saying that Dr. Mahmoud A-
Zahar has been elected leader of the movement in the
Gaza Strip. Ismail Haniyeh has reportedly been
appointed as A-Zahar's deputy, while the new No. 3 in
the Hamas hierarchy is Said A-Siam. Sunday, Maariv
quoted Border Police commander David Tzur as saying
that Israel has "excellent human intelligence" in the
ranks of Hamas. This morning, Israel Radio cited an
announcement by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in
Ramallah that they executed a Palestinian who had
collaborated with Israel.

Sunday, Jerusalem Post cited criticism by U.S.
officials of the PA for failing to prevent the escape
on Wednesday night of three Palestinians who were being
held in a Gaza City prison of involvement in the attack
on a U.S. diplomatic convoy last October.

Sunday, Jerusalem Post reported that a federal judge in
Rhode Island denied a motion to dismiss a USD 250-
million lawsuit against the PA and PLO for the 1996
murder of Yaron Ungar, a U.S. citizen who was killed
with his wife Efrat by Hamas. In July, the court
ordered Hamas to pay USD 116 million in damages.

Sunday, Yediot quoted the UN's special Middle East
envoy Terje Roed-Larsen as saying that the PA must
start taking effective steps to stop violence and
eliminate terror.
Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post reported that Sunday the
High Court of Justice ruled that Palestinian
journalists with permits to work in Israel will be able
to get press accreditation from the Government Press
Office (GPO). The ruling overturned a two-year-old
government order denying press cards to Palestinian
journalists.
Sunday, Jerusalem Post reported that last week in
Dublin and Belfast Israeli lawmakers (from the Left and
Shinui) and Palestinian leaders held separate meetings
-- organized by the Irish Foreign Ministry -- with
leaders from the Republic of Ireland and Northern
Ireland. The Palestinian participants reportedly said
they were under orders not to meet with the Israelis or
discuss reconciliation between the two peoples.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel has decided to ask U.S.
Judge Edward Korman to defer a decision, originally
slated to be handed down in the next few days, over how
to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars in
reparations by Swiss banks to Holocaust survivors
worldwide.

Jerusalem Post quoted Jan Willem Van der Hoeven,
director of the International Christian Zionist Center
in Jerusalem, and Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of
the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, as
saying Sunday that evangelical Christians may be "very
disappointed" in Israel's leaders if the country
withdraws from part of the Land of Israel, but that
they will not turn their back on Israel or the Jews.
They were taking issue with remarks made by Herbert
Zweibon, chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel, who
had warned about a possible evangelical anti-Semitic
backlash if Israel withdraws from the territories.

Jerusalem Post reported that California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger will arrive in Israel on Saturday. He
will attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Simon
Wiesenthal Center's Center of Human Dignity Museum of
Tolerance in Jerusalem.

-----------------------------------
1. Israel's 56th Independence Day:
-----------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized:
"Israel's willingness to adjust its own worldview -- to
withdraw from territory and dismantle settlements -- is
more than merely a message to the Palestinians, that
they must also adopt a realistic world view."
Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote on page one of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Despite its age, Israel
still lacks basic features of maturity.... Mainly: its
residents do not have peace and quiet."
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Those who dismiss Israel as a temporary 'Crusader
state' and assume that their brand of hatred and
radicalism will outlast us do not understand a free
society's strengths."
Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "Toward a Change in Outlook"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (April
26): "The fact that Memorial Day, which honors the
soldiers who fell in Israel's wars, is the day before
Independence Day stems from the history of the State of
Israel. The longed-for independence exacted a high
price in blood, which has been paid by thousands of
soldiers and their families not only to achieve
independence, but also to preserve it. Indeed the
Zionist idea of establishing a state for the Jews,
which has been recognized by the world's nations, is
still not self-evident, especially in the region where
the state is located.... Even though [recent]
declarations [by Ariel Sharon] still await actual
implementation, they constitute an ideological
revolution that holds out the possibility that by its
57th Independence Day, Israel will stand at the dawn of
a new era.... This is the reality that the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict has been dictating already for
decades. Its solution is complex, but not impossible.
It must begin with a change in outlook by both sides.
Israel's willingness to adjust its own worldview -- to
withdraw from territory and dismantle settlements -- is
more than merely a message to the Palestinians, that
they must also adopt a realistic worldview. The
adoption of realistic policies by both sides --
policies that reject the old ideologies, which served
mainly to foment war -- may be the great contribution
that this Memorial Day makes to next year's Memorial
Day."

II. "Clinging to Hope"

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote on page one of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (April 26): "In another four
years the State of Israel will be 60 years old. Time
for countries is not like time for people, but still, a
60-year-old country is no kid any more. It isn't an
adolescent any more. Its first gray hairs have begun
to show. Despite its age, Israel still lacks basic
features of maturity. It still does not have final and
recognized borders. It still does not have a capital
city that is recognized by the world. It still does
not have a constitution. And mainly: its residents do
not have peace and quiet. Israel at 56 is a country
whose sons and daughters love it despite what it is,
not because of what it is. A year ago we were
optimistic. New winds were blowing. Saddam Hussein
had been easily defeated. Arafat had been pushed aside
by a realistic Palestinian leadership.... A year has
passed, a lot has happened in it, and yet so little.
Objectively, one can say that it was not a bad year.
The economy began to grow again. The critical section
of the fence was built.... The terror organizations
were dealt one blow after another.... But perhaps we
need to change the definition of 'not a bad year.' How
can a year be not bad when 185 security personnel and
137 civilians fell in a terrorist war? How can it be
not bad when unemployment reached a record high? When
poverty is record high? How can a year be okay when a
heavy cloud of suspicion of corruption and bribery
hovers over the prime minister? That is the paradox of
Israel in its 56th year of independence: a country
whose citizens are crazy about it, but where every
second citizen believes it is heading in the wrong
direction."

III. "Israel at 56"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(April 26): "Tonight, in that sharp transition that
should earn Israel a patent, we switch from mourning
our fallen soldiers to celebrating the nation they
defended. There is plenty to celebrate. Israel is a
success story. Against all odds, the Jewish people has
a country in its own land, after 2,000 years of
exile.... The Jewish national project has flourished,
while the Arab choice of enmity with Israel has been
the primary cover for neighboring states not to
confront their own political and economic failings....
Our greatest success -- however ironically, given the
way we have been vilified -- is not material but moral.
Our enemies are consumed by hatred of us, and have
attacked us with such barbarity that to call it war is
to dignify an offensive composed almost entirely of war
crimes. Yet we have not thrown our democratic values
out the window in the name of security, as illustrated
both by the elaborate judicial review imposed on
security policies and by the freedom given Arab Knesset
members to vilify their country and side with its
enemies. Most dramatically, we have sacrificed our own
soldiers' lives to minimize civilian Palestinian
casualties in ways that few, if any, democracies would
under similar circumstances.... Those who dismiss
Israel as a temporary 'Crusader state' and assume that
their brand of hatred and radicalism will outlast us do
not understand a free society's strengths."

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Sharon's latest
threat to strike at Palestinian Authority Chairman
Yasser Arafat came at a convenient time for all the
parties involved.... it is also convenient for the U.S.
Administration, which wants to show its Arab and
European friends that it can restrain the 'neighborhood
bully.'"

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Gewirtz opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "To the Americans, Sharon behaved like a bull
in a china shop.... Right now they expect him to go the
extra mile for them."

Military correspondent Aryeh O'Sullivan wrote on page
one of conservative, independent Jerusalem Post:
"Whether or not Sharon is adopting the 'madman
strategy' as a calculated policy or it comes naturally,
the results have already borne fruit."

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

I. "A Matter of Timing"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (April 25): "Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon's latest threat to strike at
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat came at a
convenient time for all the parties involved. It is
convenient for Sharon, who must present a hard line
ahead of the Likud referendum on the disengagement and
prove to his party members that he is not a sucker who
caves in to terror and retreats from Gaza under fire.
It is convenient for Arafat, who loves the role of
victim and martyr and uses it to enlist renewed support
from the Palestinian public. And it is also convenient
for the U.S. Administration, which wants to show its
Arab and European friends that it can restrain the
'neighborhood bully' and does not automatically support
Sharon's every bullying whim.... These restraints may
loosen under certain conditions, especially if a
serious terrorist attack occurs that can be tied to
Arafat, for instance, it the Tanzim is held
responsible. In that case, pressure would mount in
Israel to implement the resolution to remove Arafat.
The political timing would be critical -- for example,
if Bush loses the presidential elections in November
and the administration enters a transition period of
two and a half months until his successor enters
office."

II. "A Private Hit"

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Gewirtz opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (April 25): "The Prime Minister announced over
the weekend that he told President Bush that he
regarded himself as free of his commitment to refrain
from harming Arafat physically. This time, unlike the
precedent of the assassinations of Yassin and Rantisi,
the American response was quick, insulted and harsh.
Sharon, according to the Americans, is crudely
transgressing the rules of diplomatic discourse and
also putting them at risk.... Beyond that, the
Americans are saying angrily, after we went the extra
mile for Sharon, we did not expect him to pay us back
by making an announcement that increases even more the
great risks we already cope with on an international
level. What kind of logic motivated Sharon now, after
government spokesmen and the security establishment
have already announced that no Palestinian leader
Israel views as directly responsible for terror is
immune anymore, to publicize such a declaration
regarding Arafat and hang it like a millstone around
the President's neck? To the Americans, Sharon behaved
like a bull in a china shop, kicking over the pitcher
of milk he received from Bush with his statement.
Right now they expect him to go the extra mile for
them. Dov Weisglass, who garnered praise for obtaining
the understandings between Sharon and Bush and for
Sharon's actual visit, which had been delayed for
months, will need his full supply of verbal effects in
order to ensure that both Sharon and Bush get out of
this mess looking good."

III. "Trying Out Our 'Madman Theory'"

Military correspondent Aryeh O'Sullivan wrote on page
one of conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (April
25): "If you are going to apply the madman theory, or
try to convince the other side you are a 'loose
cannon,' then you need to back it up with a true
threat.... The manner in which the Sharon-Mofaz
government has been behaving, with its unabashed
willingness to assassinate and go anywhere, was
creating the sense of a loose cannon in Jerusalem. It
appears to be working. On Thursday rumors ran rampant
in Ramallah that the IDF was planning to storm Arafat's
battered headquarters where fugitives were hiding.
Arafat quickly expelled 21 of the fugitives, who will
likely be hunted down and arrested in the coming weeks
by Israeli security forces. The IDF has said that it
is prepared to launch a raid against Arafat himself.
All it needs are the orders. Whether or not Sharon is
adopting the 'madman strategy' as a calculated policy
or it comes naturally, the results have already borne
fruit."
KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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