Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Mideast

2. Syrian-Lebanese Track

Key stories in the media:

All media quoted PM Sharon as saying at the Herzliya
Conference last night that 2005 will be a "year of
great opportunity" for Israel, and that the
disengagement plan is the "foundation and cornerstone
for the great opportunities that lie before us." For
the first time, Sharon proposed to "coordinate various
elements relating to our disengagement plan with the
future Palestinian government -- a government which is
ready and able to take responsibility for the areas
which we leave." The media quoted Sharon as saying
that disengagement from Gaza does not tear the nation
apart, but that it unites it. Jerusalem Post reported
that the PA reacted angrily to Sharon's comments,
saying he would not find a partner on the Palestinian
side for his vision. The newspaper quoted Mahmoud
Abbas (Abu Mazen) as saying, during a visit to Qatar,
that the Palestinians completely reject Sharon's
statements. He stressed that the Palestinians will
never surrender the right of the refugees to return

Ha'aretz web site quoted senior GOI sources as saying
Friday that Israel supports a Middle East peace
conference planned by British PM Tony Blair for
February, but that it will not participate in it. They
said Israel sees the conference as a forum for
encouraging reforms in the PA. Palestinian, European
and American representatives will be attending the

Israel Radio reported that IDF forces made an incursion
into the Khan Yunis refugee camp last night, in an
attempt to neutralize rocket launchings. The radio
quoted Palestinian sources as saying that two
Palestinians were killed and eight were wounded in the
operation. The station cited the IDF as saying that
"five terrorists" were killed. The radio this
afternoon reported that five Palestinians were killed
in the collapse of a tunnel along the Gaza-Egypt
border, and that five others are missing. The IDF is
assisting the rescue operation.

Maariv (Ben Caspit) reported that the cabinet vote on
the evacuation of settlements as part of the
disengagement plan will take place next month instead
of in mid-June 2005, and that it will apparently be
conducted in a single show of hands regarding all
settlements in question, and not in separate votes
concerning four groups of settlements. Caspit says
that senior Justice Ministry officials told Sharon that
the High Court of Justice would contest a vote on the
evacuation of 7,500 settlers two weeks before the
actual evacuation. In another article, Caspit reported
that the Israeli authorities could allow members of
Palestinian security forces to carry weapons beyond the
date of the upcoming elections, if those turn out well.

Ha'aretz, Yediot and other media reported that the U.S.
Department of Defense -- according to Yediot and
Jerusalem Post, the department's deputy spokesman Bryan
Whitman -- denied Thursday that U/S of Defense Douglas
Feith is demanding the resignation of Defense Ministry
D-G Amos Yaron. However, Ha'aretz quoted Israeli
sources as saying that Gen. Jumper, chief of staff of
the USAF, recently canceled a planned visit to Israel
because he was unwilling to meet with Yaron. Ha'aretz
quoted the sources as saying that the Pentagon
instructed Jumper to refrain from meeting with Yaron,
and when Israel refused to accept the boycott, the
visit was canceled.

All media reported that last night Sharon suspended
coalition talks with the Labor Party, infuriated by
comments made by Labor's chief negotiator, MK Dalia
Itzik, that Sharon was "groveling" to get Labor in the

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that the State
Department intends to declare Hizbullah's Al Manar-TV a
terrorist organization today, because of the anti-
Semitic contents of its programs.

Ha'aretz reported that eleven families have recently
moved into the northern Gaza Strip settlement of
Nissanit with the assistance of the settlers' movement
Amana. Jerusalem Post reported on a budding crisis at
the Council of Jewish Settlements in the Territories as
settler leaders said they were split over whether to
call on the public to escalate the struggle against
Sharon's disengagement plan.

Ha'aretz, Jerusalem Post and Globes quoted the High
Court of Justice as saying Thursday that the government
must "thoroughly" examine the problems raised by a law
denying citizenship to Palestinians who marry Israelis.

Leading media reported that Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov
Amidror, a former deputy head of army intelligence,
lambasted the disengagement plan at the Herzliya
Conference Thursday, saying it would turn Gaza into a
"shelter for Al Qaida." In a separate development, the
media quoted National Union party leader and former
cabinet minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying at the
conference Thursday that he supports the transfer of
some of Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods and Israeli Arab
communities in Wadi Ara (between Hadera and Afula) to
Palestinian control, in conjunction with the
establishment of a Palestinian state.

Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi was quoted as saying
in an interview with Jerusalem Post that the
Palestinians should have accepted the 1947 UN partition

Visiting President of Harvard University Prof. Larry
Summers was quoted as saying in an interview with
Yediot that anti-Semitism has taken a new, anti-Israeli

Hatzofe cited leading Internet service Ynet as saying
that nuclear whistleblower Mordecai Vanunu has been
elected rector of Glasgow University. In the past,
Benjamin Disraeli and Winnie Mandela had held this

Hatzofe reported that former Ashkenazi chief rabbi
Israel Meir Lau is expected to tell American Jews
during his current visit to the U.S. that only in
Israel will they be able to guarantee their Jewish

All media reported that Shinui MK Prof. Yehudit Naot,
environment minister in 2003-2004, died of cancer
Thursday. Yediot reported that Erela Golan will
succeed Naot in the Knesset.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that the chairman of
Republicans Abroad in Israel, Kory Bardash, celebrated
Hanukah with President Bush and the First Lady at a
White House party last Thursday. Bardash, who received
an invitation for his work on behalf of the Bush
election campaign earlier this year, registered more
than 10,000 new Republican voters in Israel in 2004.

The Maariv/Teleseker poll:
-"Should Israel withdraw from the Gaza Strip even if
the terrorist organizations continue to carry out
attacks?" Yes: 55 percent; opposed to a withdrawal in
any case: 22 percent; no withdrawal as long as terror
goes on: 18 percent.
-"In which of the following countries is there the most
hostile attitude to Israel?" France: 86 percent;
Germany: 46 percent; Russia: 32 percent; Britain: 13
percent; U.S.: 5 percent. (Each respondent named two

1. Mideast:

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The
Jewish settlements are the main obstacle today to an
agreement with the Palestinians. To this historical
injustice, not one further settlement should be added."
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Abbas apparently genuinely opposes the kind of
violence espoused by Hamas and executed by
Barghouti.... [Alas, he] now appears reluctant to just
face his opponents in a free and open election."

Block Quotes:

I. "Not One Single Settlement"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(December 17): "The wall-to-wall support that Ariel
Sharon has been enjoying recently is based on his
decision to turn over a new leaf in the diplomatic
arena. This is not unconditional support. The
suspicions regarding Sharon still exist and have often
been expressed on this page. There is still the
possibility that the disengagement from Gaza is nothing
but a maneuver aimed at strengthening the Jewish
settlements in the West Bank. The recent silence of
the settler leadership makes one wonder whether they
have been given promises about which the public does
not know.... The suspicion is that the government is
trying to draw up a new map strewn with Jewish
settlement points before the Americans come to the
region to draw their own map of the settlements. In
addition to this, about 100 outposts that were slated
to be evacuated long ago are thriving undisturbed....
any future investment in the development of settlements
and their surroundings is unacceptable. This must be
the first and most important provision in the coalition
agreement with the Labor Party. Anyone who has been
following the settlement project since its inception
knows that most of it has come about using the method
of promises are one thing, winks are another thing and
construction is quite another, which is not unfamiliar
to Sharon. The time has come to put an end to this.
The Jewish settlements are the main obstacle today to
an agreement with the Palestinians. To this historical
injustice, not one further settlement should be added."

II. "The PA's Non-Contest"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(December 17): "It is widely hoped that the Palestinian
Authority's general election next month will herald a
new era, one that will contrast the decades that
preceded it and be dominated by reason, freedom and
prosperity. Unfortunately, the facts offer little
evidence that news of this transition has arrived where
it was hoped to take place.... As events are in fact
unfolding, we suspect that at the end of the day,
Mahmoud Abbas will face the same predicament that
Yasser Arafat did in his time, when his "election"
meant a lot less to the extremists than their extremism
meant to him. Abbas apparently genuinely opposes the
kind of violence espoused by Hamas and executed by
Barghouti, even if his critique is tactical rather than
moral. Alas, not only is there no indication that he
is actively going from village to village in order to
share his vision with the people, and thus touch off a
long-overdue re-education process; Abbas now appears
reluctant to just face his opponents in a free and open
election. As if to shed further light on this setback
to the Palestinian democratic process, PA lawmaker
Hanan Ashrawi, in this issue [of The Jerusalem Post],
tells [a reporter] that democracy is not a prerequisite
for Palestinian independence.... We hope to be proven
wrong the morning after next month's election, but
prospects are high that, like Arafat before him, Abbas,
too, will be intimidated by opponents who will enjoy
the benefits of maximum authority and minimum

2. Syrian-Lebanese Track:


Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Those who say that the Americans are
now preventing Israel from talking with Assad are
wrong, and deceiving too."

Block Quotes:

"The Americans Actually Encourage Talks"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (December 17): "The more signs [of
Syrian willingness to engage in talks with Israel] and
emissaries are increasing, so is the belief that the
survival of the Alawite regime is even more important
to Bashar [Assad] than the Golan. In other words,
there may be an historic possibility that a peace deal
could be made with Syria that would leave in Israel's
hands strategic security assets in the Golan.... The
Americans could have been enlisted for this purpose....
Those who say that the Americans are now preventing
Israel from talking with Assad are wrong, and deceiving
too.... Not only isn't the [U.S.] Administration not
preventing Israel from doing so, but it is even
encouraging her. The President of Israel knows this,
so does her Foreign Minister (he illustrated this in a
courageous speech in Herzliya Wednesday), the Chief of
Staff knows this -- all relevant people know this.
Ariel Sharon does not have the will, or the capacity,
or the energy to pursue two peace tracks
simultaneously. This is his right; this is a truth
that can't be avoided. This is his perception. One
should be aware of it -- for the coming generations or
for upcoming commissions of investigation (after the
next war)."


© Scoop Media

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