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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 006200

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. Iran Nuclear Program

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

Israel Radio reported that the U.S. has no information
regarding the achievement of a framework agreement
between Israel and the Palestinians, as indicated in
reports coming out from Cairo -- through Egypt's Middle
East News Agency (MENA) -- that are cited in all major
media. Reporting that Israeli officials played down
the reports from Cairo that progress was being made in
behind-the-scenes negotiations, Jerusalem Post
nevertheless quoted a source in Sharon's bureau as
saying that elements in those reports are true. Israel
Radio quoted GOI sources as saying that the reports are
meant to assuage frustration among the Egyptian public
regarding the release of convicted spy Azzam Azzam, and
to prepare Egyptian public opinion to the return of an
Egyptian ambassador to Israel.

Ha'aretz reported that during his current visit to
Kuwait Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is trying to
persuade Kuwaiti ruler Prince Jabber Ahmed el Sabah to
open negotiations with Israel for diplomatic ties and
to pressure Syria to demonstrate more daring diplomatic
moves that will persuade Israel of Damascus's
seriousness about renewing the diplomatic process with
Israel. Israel Radio cited Israel's acknowledgment
that Egypt has launched a cease-fire initiative, but
said that PM Sharon has set the first stage of the road
map, i.e. the cessation of Palestinian terror, as the
precondition for talks with the Palestinians. The
radio also quoted GOI officials as saying that Egypt is
trying to convene a conference in Washington this
summer with the participation of Israel, the
Palestinians, the U.S., and Egypt. Leading media
quoted GOI sources as saying that Israel would respond
to quiet with quiet.

Maariv (Ben Caspit) reported that Elliott Abrams,
Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director
of the National Security Council for Near East and
North African Affairs, recently told Jewish leaders at
a private meeting in Washington that the U.S. is
concerned about recent reports about the conduct of IDF
troops at roadblocks, that it is opposed to even the
slightest delay in the disengagement calendar, and that
it views any settlement beyond the separation fence as
slated for evacuation.

IDF Radio reported that the U.S. is accusing official
Israeli representatives of trying to obtain
technological and intelligence information in a way
that can be termed spying. The station quoted senior
GOI sources as saying that the tension over this matter
stems from cultural differences. In another
development, Jerusalem Post reported that members of
the U.S. Congress have expressed anger and dismay over
Sunday's report in the newspaper describing how the FBI
set up the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. Rep. Gary Ackerman
(D-NY), who is one of the members of Congress whose
demand for a briefing on the matter by the Justice
Department has not been answered, was quoted as saying
in an interview with Jerusalem Post: "I think it's very
disconcerting to think that an investigating agency of
the U.S., while investigating the alleged misdeeds of a
[Pentagon] employee [Franklin], would look to cut some
kind of deal with him if they believe he committed a
crime and to give him a better deal if they could."
Ackerman reportedly added: "They are trying at any
length to disrupt the work of a very prestigious
American organization that advocates American foreign
policy in the Middle East for a better relationship
with Israel."

Leading media reported that jailed Tanzim leader Marwan
Barghouti is considering withdrawing his candidacy for
PA chairman.

The media reported on disagreements in the IDF and
Israeli society regarding the conduct of IDF troops in
the territories. Yediot led with a protest letter
written by parents of soldiers serving in the elite
naval commando (Sayeret): "Our Sons Are Not Murderers."
Israel Radio quoted Sayeret reservists as saying that
the "neighbor procedure," in which the IDF orders a
Palestinian to instruct a person whom the army wants to
arrest to leave his house, is still being carried out
despite a ban by the High Court of Justice.

The major media reported that Finance Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu told Sharon Tuesday that he supports the plan
to bring the Labor Party into the coalition, and that
he has instructed his followers in the Likud Central
Committee to vote in favor of the plan. Ha'aretz
reported on inactivity among anti-disengagement forces
within the Likud, which expect Sharon to win the vote
in the committee Thursday. Ha'aretz also reported that
Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres intends to convene
the party's executive committee on Saturday night to
obtain its approval to start coalition talks with the
Likud, if the Likud's convention votes in favor of
Labor's entry into the government.

The electronic media reported that this morning, anti-
tank missiles landed next to a kindergarten in the
northern Gaza Strip settlement of Nissanit, and that a
mortar shell was launched at a settlement in the
southern strip. Israel Radio reported that Hizbullah
is attempting to recruit activists in the Gaza Strip,
as it has done in the northern West Bank. Hatzofe
reported that for the first time the Palestinians have
dug a tunnel from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
Ha'aretz, Yediot and Jerusalem Post reported that the
IDF is probing the killing of a 15-year-old Palestinian
boy last March by troops who were on a hike in the Gaza
Strip. Jerusalem Post reported that the PA Police have
refused to launch a joint investigation of the case
with the Israeli authorities.

Ha'aretz reported that security forces arrested 41
Israeli left-wing activists who were participating in a
demonstration against the separation fence Tuesday near
the West Bank village of Budrus. Leading media
reported that the IDF prevented a delegation of Peace
Now and left-wing Knesset members from completing their
visit Tuesday to a street being paved between Jerusalem
and the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, south of
Bethlehem.

Ha'aretz quoted official Iranian sources as saying that
they have information about Pakistan and Saudi Arabia
signing an agreement in 2003 in which Pakistan promised
to help Saudi Arabia develop nuclear weapons and the
missiles to deliver them.

Israel Radio cited a Washington Post story citing the
conclusion of U.S. military intelligence officials that
the Iraqi insurgency is being directed from Syria to a
greater degree than previously recognized,

Jerusalem Post quoted Majde al-Khalidi, a senior PA
Foreign Ministry official, as saying that the PA will
be seeking to obtain USD 400 million from the
international donor states about to convene in Norway,
in order to reconstruct its security apparatus. The
newspaper also quoted senior PA officials in Ramallah
as saying Tuesday that a high-level Palestinian
delegation is expected to visit the Gulf region next
week to ask for hundreds of millions of dollars in
financial aid for the PA. Israel Radio reported that
PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Palestinian
PM Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) will meet with the Lebanese
leadership in Beirut today.

Jerusalem Post reported that in a radical departure
from years of French critical rhetoric, the French
Ambassador to Israel, Gerard Araud, told the newspaper
on Tuesday that he thought Israel "has tried to show
the utmost restraint" in the course of the conflict
with the Palestinians since 2000.

Maariv, Jerusalem Post and Hatzofe reported that
Tuesday the Knesset approved the granting of Israeli
citizenship to former South Lebanon Army (SLA) fighters
and their family members who live in Israel.

Maariv reported that Tuesday Likud MK Ayub Kara
presented a bill draft to the Knesset, according to
which the state would compensate Azzam Azzam with 96
monthly salary payments -- the number of months he
served in an Egyptian prison. If adopted, the law
could be the basis for the compensation of people who
were jailed abroad for being Israelis.


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

Summary:
--------

Liberal columnist Gideon Samet wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The right thing to do is well
familiar to [Shimon Peres]: to change his mind by
tomorrow and explain why he is in favor of supporting
disengagement from outside the government, retreating
from the problematic intention of joining the Sharon
government."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"We would like to hear Peres argue ... that the way to
help the Palestinian leadership confront violence is to
hold them to high standards, and that low standards
actually fan the flames of radicalism."

Moshe Elad, who was the first head of the joint
security mechanism with the PA, writes in Ha'aretz:
"The Israeli government has never tried to initiate a
positive change in Palestinian society. Maybe the time
has come for it.... The instrument through which this
can be done is the Palestinian elections for
president."

Conservative columnist Nadav Haetzni wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "The positive 'signals' received from
the Arab states, which 'ambassador' Sharon will boast
about at the Likud Convention, are akin to the
satisfaction of a wolf that has just devoured a sheep."

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized: "Where is
the only person of conscience among the Palestinian
public who will speak about the 'purity of arms' [an
Israeli military concept advocating limited force and
the humane treatment of enemy prisoners and
noncombatants]?"


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

I. "Lose to Win"
Liberal columnist Gideon Samet wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (December 8): "The Labor Party's
entry into the government under the current
circumstances will be of no little shame for Peres and
his party. As ministers, they will be small pawns on a
board on which Sharon is playing until he decides to
checkmate them.... In the best of all possible cases,
to please the international ear and the eye of the
Israeli majority, the disengagement will start with
something. When it encounters its first anticipated
difficulties, perhaps even blood on the TV screens, it
will get stuck, together with the losers from Labor....
Say what you want about Peres, he's a serious,
experienced man. The right thing to do is well
familiar to him: to change his mind by tomorrow and
explain why he is in favor of supporting disengagement
from outside the government, retreating from the
problematic intention of joining the Sharon government.
One thing is certain in this vote: He will surely come
out a winner."

II. "Where's the New Peres?"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(December 8): "There is ... a fundamental difference
between the two leaders [Sharon and Peres], beyond
their disputes on specific issues. The difference is
that Sharon, by proposing disengagement, embracing the
goal of Palestinian statehood and calling the status
quo 'occupation,' has dramatically changed course....
By contrast, there is no new Peres.... Peres has been
defeated at the polls more times than perhaps any
leader in our history. Yet he has never shown any
doubt as to the rightness of his path.... Some say the
mistake of Oslo was the idea behind it, others blame
only the bet on Yasser Arafat as a partner. Without
resolving this debate, there should be no obstacle to
agreeing that it was a mistake, once it became clear
that Arafat was not complying, to make excuses for him
and accuse anyone who blew the whistle of 'weakening
Arafat' and threatening peace. We would like to hear
-- not just from Sharon, but from Peres -- that that
mistake will not be made again, that he will not say
that demanding an end to terror and incitement 'weakens
Abu Mazen.' We would like to hear Peres argue the
opposite: that the way to help the Palestinian
leadership confront violence is to hold them to high
standards, and that low standards actually fan the
flames of radicalism. We have a new Sharon. Will we
have a new Peres?"

III. "When the Likud Applauds Peres"

Conservative columnist Nadav Haetzni wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (December 8): "The actual significance
of the package of achievements Sharon has arranged for
Mubarak is a modification of the strategic balance in
southern Israel. God forbid, it could also brew the
next war with Egypt: after the withdrawal from Katif
[in the Gaza Strip], any Israeli retaliatory action
against the launching of missiles from Gaza, could be
viewed as a declaration of war against Egypt.... All
told, the positive 'signals' received from the Arab
states, which 'ambassador' Sharon will boast about at
the Likud Convention, are akin to the satisfaction of a
wolf that has just devoured a sheep.... Peres and
Chamberlain have patented this formula.... Thus, on
Thursday, after the members of the convention listen to
the Prime Minister's listing of achievements, they will
have to decide whether they will finally turn
Jabotinsky House [the Likud headquarters] into another
version of the Peres Center For Peace."

IV. "Time For a Positive Change"

Moshe Elad, who was the first head of the joint
security mechanism with the PA, writes in Ha'aretz
(December 8): "The sounds of joy Israelis are making
about 'seeing positive signs' in the Palestinian
leadership, and particularly in the Islamic bloc,
should be regarded with a considered degree of caution.
It's not peace they are talking about over there, but
about freedom for the prisoners, lifting the
checkpoints, and work permits.... For clear reasons,
mostly the continuing terrorism, the Israeli government
has never tried to initiate a positive change in
Palestinian society. Maybe the time has come for
it.... The instrument through which this can be done is
the Palestinian elections for president. Before the
pressure on Israel begins to mount, before a
spectacular terror attack by the association of
opponents of peace torpedoes the last bit of
willingness to turn a new page, it would be wise if at
our own initiative we responded to those signals. If
there is any chance for a change in the position of the
Palestinian public toward Israel and an end to
terrorism, it does not go through Abu Mazen's office
nor even Marwan Barghouti's cell. It passes, whether
we like it or not, through the gates of the Shata
Prison and at the Hawara checkpoint."

V. "Purity of Arms"

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (December
8): "[IDF soldiers] have carried out exceptional deeds
every few years; all those who took part in them are
paying dearly and publicly for them, which represent 99
percent of the cases perpetrated in the fight against
an enemy who attacks in order to kill.... Hundreds of
terrorists attend each funeral of a senior Hamas
member. Common and existential sense suggests that all
those murderers be sprayed with weapon fire. However,
Israel will never do such a thing, which could have
saved a considerable amount of Jewish blood. In
contrast to this humanism, mean Palestinian terrorists
have not hesitated to open fire at mourners who had
come to the [Gaza Strip] Gush Katif cemetery in order
to honor the memory of the terror victims. Where is
the only person of conscience among the Palestinian
public who will speak about the 'purity of arms' [an
Israeli military concept advocating limited force and
the humane treatment of enemy prisoners and
noncombatants]?"

-------------------------
2. Iran Nuclear Program:
-------------------------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz:
"While the world is preoccupied with Iranian nuclear
activity ... Iran says: 'You're only looking at us, but
here are two friends of the United States who are
working together through an accord to develop a nuclear
program.'"

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

"Iran Attempts Distraction"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(December 8): "After the board of directors at the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently
announced that the board welcomed Iran's decision to
freeze all activities connected with uranium
enrichment, a news item appeared in Tehran quoting
official sources who claimed that Saudi Arabia and
Pakistan had joined forces to develop a military
nuclear program.... What prompted Iran to issue this
piece of news? While the world is preoccupied with
Iranian nuclear activity, with the pressures that
European countries are putting on Iran, with the
American demands to transfer the issue to the United
Nations Security Council, Iran says: 'You're only
looking at us, but here are two friends of the United
States who are working together through an accord to
develop a nuclear program.' Unlike the past, this time
the Iranians did not accuse Israel -- falsely -- as the
cause for their nuclear development, but rather two
large Muslim countries. Thus the message is that the
U.S. is employing a double standard and wants to harm
Iran's efforts to develop energy."
KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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