Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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

211214Z Dec 04





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Mideast

2. Israel-European Union Relations

Key stories in the media:

All newspapers reported that Monday, comparing
themselves to such freedom fighters as Martin Luther
King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, the Yesha Council of
Jewish Settlements in the Territories backed a call by
Pinchas Wallerstein, the head of the Binyamin Regional
Council, for the public to fight the disengagement plan
even if it means breaking the law. All media reported
that A-G Menachem Mazuz ordered the state prosecutor
Monday to "examine" the leaflet distributed by
Wallerstein. Maariv quoted senior Council members as
saying that the Council will circulate a petition among
Israelis inside and outside the Green Line, in which
the signatories will commit themselves to coming to the
Gaza Strip on the day of the evacuation, opposing it
forcibly, and exposing themselves to being sent to
jail. Leading media reported on a campaign among Gush
Katif settlers in the Gaza Strip, particularly
Holocaust survivors, to put on orange stars of David
reminiscent of World War II-era yellow stars. Last
night, Channel 10-TV revealed that thousands of such
badges have been produced and that they will be
presented Wednesday in a special ceremony. Israel
Radio reported that Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad
Vashem Directorate, urged that symbols and terminology
taken from the Holocaust not be used in the public-
political debate. Ha'aretz quoted Police Inspector
General Moshe Karadi as saying Monday that public
opposition could prevent the evacuation of Gush Katif.

Israel Radio quoted President Bush as saying Monday at
a White House press conference, regarding Syrian
support for Iraqi insurgents: "We have sent messages to
the Syrians in the past, and we will continue to do so.
We have tools at our disposal, a variety of tools,
ranging from diplomatic tools to economic pressure.
Nothing is taken off the table." The radio also quoted
the President as saying: "I'm realistic about how to
achieve peace. And it starts with my understanding
that there will never be peace until a true democratic
state emerges in the Palestinian territory." Bush said
that the Palestinian elections were the beginning of
such a democratic process. Jerusalem Post notes that
at his news conference Bush endorsed the idea of
holding a Middle East peace conference in the UK early
next year.

Israel Radio reported that this morning two anti-tank
missiles were launched at a synagogue in a northern
Gaza Strip settlement during morning prayers, hitting
it directly. No one was hurt. Jerusalem Post quoted
Jerusalem police as saying Monday that a 67-year-old
American immigrant who was stabbed and wounded outside
his home in the city's central Abu Tor neighborhood
late Sunday night was likely the target of a terrorist
While some media say that the national unity government
will be formed by Thursday, others believe the
establishment of the new cabinet could be delayed until
next week. All media reported that Monday the Knesset
approved, 56 to 34 and two abstentions, a proposed bill
allowing the PM to name two deputies. The bill can
turn into law only if it garners a majority of 61 votes
in its next readings. Maariv reported that Likud
members are pressuring one of the abstainers, the
chairman of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice
Committee, Likud MK Michael Eitan, to endorse the bill.
Israel Radio reported that the Labor Party's Central
Committee will meet this afternoon to endorse the
party's entry into the government and to choose its
ministers in the new cabinet.

Israel Radio reported that today the Justice Ministry
will put up on its Internet site the list of the 170
Palestinian prisoners whom Israel is expected to
release, in order to come across any objections.
Jerusalem Post quoted PA officials as saying Monday
they were deeply disappointed by Israel's decision to
release only 170 prisoners.

Visiting World Bank President James Wolfensohn was
quoted as saying Monday in an interview with Ha'aretz
that disengagement is insufficient if it does not give
hope to the Palestinians.

Jerusalem Post and other media cited the Industry,
Trade and Labor Ministry as saying Monday that Israel
and Jordan are set to sign an upgraded trade agreement
Thursday, aimed at reducing customs in bilateral trade.

Jerusalem Post cited criticism by visiting Czech FM
Cyril Svoboda of the EU's penchant for always trying to
"balance" its statements regarding the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict. Yated Ne'eman notes that the
Czech Republic has included Hizbullah in its list of
terrorist organizations.

Ha'aretz reported that the IDF is planning to hand over
Megiddo prison in northern Israel, with its 1,300
Palestinian prisoners, to the Prison Service in the
coming months as a first step in what the army hopes
will give the Prison Service responsibility for all
security prisoners.
Maariv reported that over 100 parents of soldiers have
signed a petition calling for refusal to serve in the
territories. Yediot reported that a group of parents
whose children were killed during their military
service sent a letter to the directors of 250 high
schools, asking them to convey the following message to
parents of youngsters about to be enlisted in the IDF:
"Don't be naive like we were. Check very carefully
every stupid order that commanders will give your
children." Yediot quoted military sources as saying
that those comments are unacceptable.

Jerusalem Post reported that a radar for the joint U.S.
Israeli mobile laser gun, called the Nautilus, will be
deployed shortly near Sderot to track incoming Qassam

Israel Radio reported that Monday residents of the
northern West Bank settlement of Yitzhar disconnected
the water supply of an IDF outpost nearby.

All media reported that British PM Tony Blair will
arrive today and visit Israel and the PA. Yediot says
that PM Sharon will tell Blair that Israel will support
the convening of an international conference in London,
provided it only deals with the advancement of reforms
in the PA, and not with diplomatic or security issues.
Some media noted that Blair declined to lay a wreath on
the late PA chairman Yasser Arafat's grave in Ramallah.

Ha'aretz reported that the Israel Navy is examining two
new medium-size missile boats, Saar 5+, and a new Barak
8 sea-to-sea missile system for defending ships over
ranges of more than 100 km, after incoming Adm. David
Ben Bashat decided to cancel a plan to acquire 10,000-
ton warships. Ha'aretz adds that the Navy is also
considering joining the U.S. Coast Guard or Navy in the
planning of new missile boats.

Yediot reported that today a group of over 500 Israeli
and American plaintiffs, who were victims of terrorist
actions in Israel, will file a USD 3.5-billion suit in
a Brooklyn court against banks in the U.S., which it
believes helped fund those acts. Last Thursday, Yediot
had mentioned that the plaintiffs sought USD 2 billion.
Jerusalem Post only mentioned that 117 plaintiffs filed
a suit against the Jordan-based Arab Bank.

Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post reported that a U.S.
federal judge in Miami Beach approved an agreement
between the USG and Hungarian Holocaust survivors,
settling what has become known as the "Gold Train"
affair. The newspaper quoted Washington insiders as
saying that the agreement is likely to include the U.S.
Administration's agreement to a USD 25 million
compensation payment to fund humanitarian aid to ill
and poverty stricken Hungarian Holocaust survivors.
However, Ha'aretz said that sources at Jewish
organizations close to the talks declined to comment on
the sums involved.

Ha'aretz reported that Monday in Haifa, 300 women
attended the first national conference of Jewish and
Arab businesswomen, organized by the Center for Jewish-
Arab Economic Development in conjunction with the
Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) has applauded both fiscal and
monetary policies that have helped Israel foster a
return to growth after three years of "depress
activity. However, the IMF notes that many challenges
still lie ahead.

Ha'aretz reported that close associates of UN Secretary-
General Kofi Annan have asked Israel to use its
influence with key Jewish organizations in the U.S. to
enlist the Jewish-American community in support of

Ha'aretz reported that some Egyptian and Saudi
intellectuals have criticized the decision not to allow
films by Israeli Arabs to participate in the
international film festival held earlier this month in

Ha'aretz interviewed Prof. Anne Marie Slaughter, the
dean at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and
International Affairs at Princeton University, who
attended the Herzliya Conference. Slaughter, a critic
of Bush's policy, said: "I agree with the
administration that a democratic Middle East is a very
important, crucial goal."

In Ha'aretz, Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar
Hermann, who are behind Tel Aviv University's Peace
Index survey, presented the results of parallel polls
in the PA and Israel: 44 percent of Palestinians, 70
percent of Israeli Jews and 58 percent of Israeli Arabs
are more optimistic about the chances of peace
following Yasser Arafat's demise.

1. Mideast:


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The
time has come to reduce the settler phenomenon to its
true proportions and to cease being afraid of it."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "When leaders
of the Council of Settlements recruit Mahatma Gandhi
and Martin Luther King to justify their battle, we can
only smile.... The settlers are battling for the
occupier, the strong, the armed."
Veteran print and TV journalist Dan Margalit wrote in
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Wallerstein and his
supporters in Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank]
are leading Israel to anarchy."

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized: "[The
settlers] are lawfully continuing their daily struggle,
without eying imprisonment, as suggested by Mr.

Block Quotes:

I. "Have No Fear"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(December 21): "To the settlers' cries that they are
being 'transferred' and that Ariel Sharon's government
is undemocratic -- two claims whose truth or falsehood
is not even worth debating with a public that has been
acting outside democracy for 30 years -- the government
must first and foremost respond wisely. The time has
come to reduce the settler phenomenon to its true
proportions and to cease being afraid of it.
Lawbreakers should be dealt with using the same tools
that are applied to ordinary lawbreakers, who do not
enjoy governmental protection. Settler activists from
the rest of the country must be prevented from going to
[the Gaza Strip settlement bloc of] Gush Katif by every
means possible, starting now."

II. "Love Hurts"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote on page one of mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (December 21):
"The distress felt by the leaders of the Yesha Council
of Jewish Settlements in the Territories is
understandable. For months they have been declaring
'we have love and it will triumph,' even though there
is not a trace of love among them at the moment, only
anger, which only continues to mount the more they feel
that they are losing, not triumphing -- in their battle
against disengagement. Their handiwork is drowning in
the sea, and Sharon is singing. Monday, after the
pathetic crisis with Peres had ended more or less,
Sharon took another significant step toward the
implementation of the disengagement plan.... The
letter by [settler leader Pinchas] Wallerstein was
directed primarily inwards, to his constituency. Its
immediate goal was to let off steam, to demonstrate to
the infuriated settlers that their leaders have not
gone into a coma. His colleagues on the Council of
Settlements, who had preferred to use pleasant means up
until now, dragged their feet and lined up behind him.
This is what we can expect to see in the coming months:
a furious, hurt community, some of which has despaired
and is prepared to take any violent action, and a
leadership that is forced to line up behind the threats
of the militants. This is a dangerous borderline game
and, judging by past experience, is liable to end in
disaster. But there is almost no other way to play
it.... But when leaders of the Council of Settlements
recruit Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King to
justify their battle, we can only smile. The latter
battled for the enslaved, for the oppressed, for the
downtrodden. The settlers are battling for the
occupier, the strong, the armed."

III. "Remember the Warring Tribes of Israel"

Veteran print and TV journalist Dan Margalit wrote in
popular, pluralist Maariv (December 21): "As long as
the majority [of Israelis] agreed to pay for building
the settlements and for defending them, to paying a
high price for putting up roadblocks on the way to
them; and as long as there could be found citizens like
me who constantly quarreled with the dissenters from
the Left who undermined democracy and the IDF's ability
to perform, [settler leader Pinchas] Wallenstein did
not find anything wrong in a decision by the majority
in the government and the Knesset to continue to
maintain the settlements.... Even if Wallerstein
manages to deter Sharon at the last minute from
disengaging from Gush Katif, this will mean that a
minority will have imposed its will on the majority in
the name of God and some of the rabbis. This will put
an end to the isolation of the extreme-dissenting left
wing.... Wallerstein and his supporters in Judea and
Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] are leading Israel to
anarchy. The moment that lawbreakers control public
life, the sides will loot the IDF weapons storehouses,
each wanting a machine gun of its own.... The
settlement leaders are in a fierce battle, in the midst
of a storm. But they are being asked to behave with a
level head. They must take another issue into account:
if, despite their declaration of civil war, the
democratic majority wins by virtue of force and
evacuates Gush Katif, relations between the two sides
of the Green Line will not revert to what they were.
The open wound will not heal quickly. "

IV. "Opposition to Disengagement, But Not Through
Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (December
21): "Even those who oppose the uprooting of Jewish
settlements from Gush Katif (in the Gaza Strip) cannot
support [settler leader] Pinchas Wallenstein's letter
that calls for breaching the evacuation law, even if
this entails going to jail'.... The way chosen by
Pinchas Wallenstein is not that of the 'Land of Israel
Faithful.' They are fighting the battle honestly and
lawfully.... No only does Wallerstein's letter not
contribute to the strengthening of the Gush Katif
settlers, but it might also weaken the resistance to
the evacuation, as a result of his call to 'breach the
law,' even if this involved their incarceration....
[The settlers] are lawfully continuing their daily
struggle, without eying imprisonment, as suggested by
Mr. Wallenstein."

2. Israel-European Union Relations:


Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's Commissioner for
External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy,
wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The
Action Plan affords us a remarkable opportunity to
deepen EU-Israeli relations.... Against the backdrop of
international events, I sense the timing is

Block Quotes:

"The European Neighborhood Policy"

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's Commissioner for
External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy,
wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (December
21): "To my delight ... the warmth is now returning [to
Israel-EU relations]. Changes in the international
arena, such as the forthcoming elections in the
Palestinian Authority, a new U.S. Administration and
indeed a new European Commission, give us a real
opportunity to look afresh at our relations and examine
where we would like to go from here. And we are
fortunate to have the tool with which to do so. On
December 13, the European Union and the Government of
Israel agreed to an Action Plan, developed as part of
the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), which lays out
a number of areas in which we would like to work more
closely together.... I believe the Action Plan affords
us a remarkable opportunity to deepen EU-Israeli
relations in practical and mutually advantageous ways.
And, against the backdrop of international events, I
sense the timing is fortuitous. We will continue to
disagree on some points, but I am sure that the
increased level of confidence we have in one another,
thanks to this plan, will enable us to discuss those
points more frankly and openly than in the past."


© Scoop Media

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