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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 06 TEL AVIV 006261

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

Mideast

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

All media reported that the Likud Central Committee
Thursday voted, 62 to 38 percent, in favor of the
inclusion of the Labor Party and the two ultra-Orthodox
parties (Shas and United Torah Judaism) in the
government. Israel Radio reported that PM Sharon
called Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres to invite
Labor to unity talks. Both Yediot and Maariv banner:
"'Yes' to Unity." Hatzofe's banner: "Sharon Won:
Rigging Was Carried Out in Broad Daylight." Israel
Radio Thursday reported that the Labor Party, reaching
a compromise between the positions of Shimon Peres and
Ehud Barak, decided to hold primaries in June 29, 2005.
Maariv quoted Peres associates as saying that he might
not run for Labor chairmanship.

Jerusalem Post notes that Thursday, in radio
interviews, Sharon suddenly started talking about the
"plan to leave Gaza," instead of the "unilateral
disengagement plan" as he had named his initiative
until now. Yediot reported that Israel plans to
transfer areas in the northern Gaza Strip to full
security responsibility of the PA even before the
disengagement in July 2005. One of the goals of the
move is to examine the PA's ability to rein in the
anarchy in these areas.

Ha'aretz cited an AP story that Egypt confirmed
Thursday that it will gain tariff-free access to the
U.S. market for some key goods under a joint Israeli
deal.

Egyptian Charge d'Affaires in Israel Tareq al-Quoni was
quoted as saying in an interview with Ha'aretz: "We are
certain that the Syrians are serious in their
intentions to renew negotiations and we believe the
Israel should consider this favorably." Nahum Barnea
of Yediot, who this weekend attended a Washington
meeting organized by the Brookings Institution's Saban
Center for Middle East Policy, reported that all
present and past influential Americans who spoke at the
gathering -- including former U.S. president Bill
Clinton, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, and
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz -- warned
against Israel holding talks with Syria. Maariv
reported that the Knesset has readied technical
arrangements for a possible visit by Syrian President
Bashar Assad.

Jerusalem Post cited the Israeli defense establishment
as saying that it can start building over 180 km of the
security fence in the strategic West Bank. However,
the newspaper says that Sharon is delaying the final
approval of the route so as not to upset settlers.
Ha'aretz cited the state's arguments in response to a
petition by West Bank villages shut in a conclave by
the fence: the state says that not only are they not
harmed by the fence, but that they "benefit from it."

Yediot cited a warning by the GOI's anti-terror HQ that
Israelis traveling to Iraq are putting their lives at
risk.

Israel Radio reported that Thursday the EU ratified its
European Neighborhood Policy, but that Israel still has
to sign it. The radio says that Israel is expected to
give up reservations on a WMD clause included in the
treaty, in exchange for the many benefits provided in
the agreement. In another development, French
Ambassador to Israel Gerard Araud told IDF Radio
Thursday that Israelis suffer from "mental
disturbances" in their attitude toward France. He was
protesting against what he said was anti-French
sentiment in Israeli society and media. The media
reported that the Foreign Ministry protested to France
over Araud's remarks.

Leading media reported that Thursday the IDF killed
four Palestinians it claims were smuggling arms in the
Gaza Strip, but that it failed in an attempt on the
life of Jamal Abu Samhadana, the head of the Popular
Resistance Committees in Rafah.

Leading media reported that Thursday a column of 1,000
vehicles dubbed the "convoy of determination" made its
way from Israel to the Gush Katif settlement bloc in
the Gaza Strip. Ha'aretz web site reported that
settlers on Thursday uprooted 117 olive trees in the
Palestinian village of Jayyus, adjacent to the Zufin
settlement near Qalqilya.

Leading media reported that an IDF investigation into
the killing of Islamic Jihad activist Mahmoud Kmel by
members of a naval commando ("Shayetet 13") has
concluded that the actions of Shayetet 13 suffered from
operational, not moral flaws. Ha'aretz quoted soldiers
who shot the injured man from 40 meters as saying they
thought he had a second weapon.

Leading media reported that Wednesday a jury in a
Chicago federal courthouse ordered four Islamic
charities accused of raising money for Hamas to pay USD
156 million dollars in damages to the parents of David
Boim, a teenager slain in the West Bank in May 1996.

Jerusalem Post quoted four members of the Norwegian
Nobel Peace Prize Committee, who awarded the 1994 Prize
to Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat, as
saying that they had made the right choice, and that
Rabin's assassination, rather than Palestinian
terrorism, was the prime factor in the collapse of the
Oslo process.
In a feature about National Security Advisor and
secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice, Hatzofe

SIPDIS
calls her the "jewel in the crown."

All media reported that two Israeli scientists --
Profs. Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover -- will be
awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in Stockholm
today, along with the American Irwin Rose.


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

Summary:
--------

Jerusalem and settlements correspondent Nadav Shragai
wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon's victory in the Likud convention
destroyed the strategy adopted in recent months by
almost all of the disengagement's opponents."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one
of popular, pluralist Maariv: "It seemed impossible, it
was difficult, it went slowly, but it finally happened:
the Prime Minister succeeded in taming his party."

Political commentator Nehama Dueck wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (December 10):
"The Likud took another step Thursday towards parting
from the Greater Israel dream.... Yesterday's result
showed that [Sharon's] strategy was correct."

Veteran print and TV journalist Dan Margalit wrote in
Maariv: "Israel is now in a state of intoxication.... A
world of hope has suddenly opened up.... One needs to
pray that the government won't let this window of
opportunity lock itself again."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Egypt brings to the current situation two elements no
one else has in the context of the Palestinian problem:
regional leadership and available land."

Block Quotes:
-------------
I. "Anti-Disengagement Strategy Collapses"

Jerusalem and settlements correspondent Nadav Shragai
wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (December
10): "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's victory in the
Likud convention destroyed the strategy adopted in
recent months by almost all of the disengagement's
opponents.... The anti-disengagement activists are
still pinning their hopes on the Likud rebels, but it
is hard to believe that they would vote no confidence
in Sharon, and force elections, after the party
convention rejected this option.... If [persuasion
activity among the ultra-Orthodox parties and the
Likud] fails, the right wing will probably take the
course outlined in the last edition of the settlers'
publication Nekudah by the highly respected Rabbi
Ya'akov Medan, of [the settlement of] Alon Shvut.
Medan wrote 10 days ago: "Sharon has been shown as one
who is afraid of the nation and wants a violent
struggle. Now we must prepare for a physical struggle
of tens of thousands of people who will stop the
uprooting and destruction with their bodies."

II. "Taming the Shrew"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one
of popular, pluralist Maariv (December 10): "It seemed
impossible, it was difficult, it went slowly, but it
finally happened: the Prime Minister succeeded in
taming his party.... The shrewish party has been tamed,
the twitching has receded and the body is slowly but
surely beginning to accept the transplant.... Sharon
will try to bring [the senior Labor Party members] in
with portfolios, so that they will stay. Shas will
receive a 'coordinated disengagement' speech on
Thursday in Herzliya, in order to assist [its mentor]
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to change his ruling and join as
well. Sharon needs to finalize things this week
quickly, firmly and elegantly, otherwise he will get
bogged down again, perhaps for the last time. This is
the time to work fast or to cease to be."

III. "Now to Work"

Political commentator Nehama Dueck wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (December 10):
"The Likud took another step Thursday towards parting
from the Greater Israel dream. The Central Committee
authorized Sharon to bring the Labor Party into the
government, and in fact gave him carte blanche to
implement the disengagement plan. The significance is
known and clear: dismantling settlements in Samaria
[the northern West Bank] and a pullout from Gaza after
three decades of Jewish settlement. Precisely a year
ago, the Prime Minister launched the disengagement plan
in a speech he gave at the Herzliya Conference. Next
Thursday he will go to this forum once again. The
speech is not yet ready, but the message is clear.
Sharon marked a target, showed leadership and led. And
even if the tactics were not always successful,
yesterday's result showed that the strategy was
correct."

IV. "A Propitious Hour"

Veteran print and TV journalist Dan Margalit wrote in
Maariv (December 10): "Contrary to the Left's claim,
there had been no Palestinian negotiating partner since
2000, but the determined war against terror, which was
based on the correct assumption that there's no one to
talk to in Ramallah, produced a new reality in the Arab
world -- that there is someone to talk.... The official
Palestinian leadership is quietly asking the U.S. and
Egypt to rein in the Iranians and Hizbullah in the West
Bank and Gaza. The senior Israeli officials are well
aware of this fact. It is particularly important....
Cairo and London are interested in an international
conference. Washington is cautious about answering
positively, but it doesn't completely reject the idea -
- certainly not when Egypt took a hasty step by
declaring, one day before the voting started at the
Likud Central Committee, that it would convene an
international conference that has not been agreed
upon.... Israel is now in a state of intoxication.... A
world of hope has suddenly opened up.... One needs to
pray that the government won't let this window of
opportunity lock itself again.

V. "The Egyptian Way"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(December 10): "Egypt cannot be expected to retreat
from its traditional demand that the Palestinian state
be established mainly on lands previously ruled by
Israel. However, it is no secret that even if and when
the Palestinians obtain the entire West Bank and Gaza
Strip, it will be a tall order to contain within those
small and disjointed areas a viable state and a
functioning economy. This is where a newly
conciliatory Egypt can come in. Egypt brings to the
current situation two elements no one else has in the
context of the Palestinian problem: regional leadership
and available land.... Egypt certainly owes this to no
one... [But] in the dunes where Israel once began
developing the Yamit settlements, until they were
demolished on the eve of their relinquishment to Egypt,
Egypt can today offer to donate its own contribution to
Palestinian statehood in the form of a coastal strip
that would extend from the Gaza Strip toward Port Said.
Such an out-of-the-box initiative would prod both
Israel and the Palestinians to make concessions they
might otherwise shun, and inspire foreign investors to
develop the northern Sinai, so it can ultimately
linchpin a vast Riviera stretching from Alexandria to
Beirut. Perhaps the drama of Anwar Sadat's visit to
Jerusalem cannot be duplicated, but there are other
ways Egypt might inspire the world with its dedication
to the cause of peace."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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