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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 07 TEL AVIV 006502

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. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

Israel Radio reported that last night the IDF entered
the Khan Yunis refugee camp, from which it had pulled
out three days ago, in order to neutralize mortars and
Qassam rocket launchers. The IDF killed an armed
Palestinian in the camp. The station reported that the
operation is expected to last for two days.

All media, except Ha'aretz, led with events related to
the planned disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
Jerusalem Post and other media say that the opponents
of the disengagement plan sharpened battle lines
Tuesday when dozens of settlers donned orange Star of
David badges. The media reported that right-wing MKs
were among those who condemned the badge campaign.
Maariv quoted right-wing activists as saying that 2,500
IDF soldiers, including several hundred in regular
service, have signed a petition in which they pledge
refusal to serve orders to evacuate settlers. Leading
media quoted IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon as saying
before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee that he is worried by the radicalization of
statements by settlers.

Ha'aretz (Zeev Schiff) reported that the U.S. is
demanding that Israel not send back to China some of
the drones sent here for upgrading. The UAVs are
already Chinese property. The newspaper reported that
the Israelis were astonished, considering there is no
American technology in the drones. However, Ha'aretz
quoted American sources as saying that Israel will have
no choice but to comply with the U.S. demand. The
newspaper says that the "powerful" pro-Taiwan lobby is
warning that advanced Israeli weapons technologies
could be used against U.S. soldiers defending the
island state off the coast from China.

The electronic media reported that Sharon met with
British PM Tony Blair this morning in Jerusalem, and
that Blair is expected to meet toady with other Israeli
leaders and with the PA leadership. Reviewing the
joint Sharon-Blair news conference, in which Blair said
that disengagement should lead to the implementation of
the road map, Ayala Hasson of Israel TV said there was
a total alignment of U.S., British and Israeli
positions regarding the issue of terrorism in the
region. Sharon said at the conference that an end to
terrorism would "change the situation in the region."
He added: "The road map offers a solution to both
sides, but ending terror is prerequisite." All media
reported that Blair arrived in Israel last night after
a surprise visit to Baghdad.
Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported that Israel
has allowed 1,000 Palestinian policemen to carry
pistols in order to maintain order during local
elections in the PA, which are scheduled for Thursday
in 26 Palestinian municipalities in the West Bank.
Ha'aretz cited the concern of the Fatah leadership that
it may lose ground to Hamas in those elections

All media reported that a woman was stabbed to death
Tuesday in Moshav Nehusha, south of Beit Shemesh. The
media cited the police's belief that the murderer
infiltrated Israel from the West Bank and acted out of
nationalist motives. All media cited a Shin Bet
announcement that it has arrested Muhammad Abu-Gweed, a
Syria-born Palestinian who has resided in the West Bank
during the past few years, on suspicion that he was a
Hizbullah agent. Abu-Gweed had lived in Iraq, where he
took part in battles against U.S. forces. He is
suspected of planning attacks on Israeli trains.
Maariv reported that around 15 Palestinians wanted by
Israel have returned to the "Muqata" in Ramallah.

Israel Radio reported that the Justice Ministry has
asked President Moshe Katsav to pardon 37 Palestinian
prisoners who are included in a list of 170 detainees
to be freed -- likely by Monday. The release of the
others is within the powers of the Defense Ministry and
senior IDF officers.

Israel Radio reported that Trade Minister Ehud Olmert
will meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan in Amman on
Thursday.

Ha'aretz reported that on the first anniversary of the
signing of the Geneva Accord, an advertising campaign
is being aired on the Palestinian Qalqilya Channel-TV
and five other TV channels, featuring Israeli and
Palestinian statesmen voicing their support for the
venture. The newspaper quoted Qalqilya Channel-TV
director Tariq Jabara as saying that while a similar
campaign elicited violent reactions in the PA a few
months ago, the current promotion "does not go beyond
the bounds of ordinary debate."

Jerusalem Post and other media reported that Wissam
Tayem, who was allegedly forced by an IDF soldier to
play a tune on his violin at a West Bank roadblock six
weeks ago, was invited by the Keshet Eilon Music Center
in the Galilee to participate in a three-day master
violin class that brings together Jewish and Arab
musicians.
All media reported that Tuesday the Labor Party's
Central Committee approved the coalition agreement, and
that it will name its choice of five ministers Thursday
out of 13 candidates. Leading media reported that the
passage of legislation allowing a second deputy PM
could postpone the establishment of the new government
by three weeks.
Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post reported that Tuesday a
majority of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice
Committee expressed their opposition to the possibility
that the bill calling for compensation for settlers
evacuated during the planned disengagement in 2005 will
also include penalties for refusal to abide by it.
Yediot reported that government officials have promised
compensation to some settlers, even if the
disengagement plan is eventually not implemented.

Leading media quoted visiting Italian FM Gianfranco
Fini as saying as saying Tuesday that Italian
paramilitary police will begin training Palestinian
security forces in the coming weeks. He was quoted as
saying in an interview with Jerusalem Post that Italy
should justify Israel's case to the EU, and that
reports of growing internal dissent in Israel will only
give European leaders a greater appreciation of what
Sharon is trying to do.

Hatzofe quoted a high-ranking Israeli security official
as saying that the Palestinians have recently begun to
manufacture rocket propelled grenades of the kind that
once were manufactured by the USSR.

Maariv reported that Yoel Hasson, a Likud activist who
also serves in Sharon's bureau, has announced, in a
letter to thousands of Young Likud members, his
intention to place moles at Peace Now, in order to
investigate the movement. Peace Now D-G Yariv
Oppenheimer demanded that Sharon fire Hasson
immediately.

Ha'aretz reported that the interrogation of four AIPAC
senior officials, which was to take place this week,
has been postponed until after the New Year holiday.

Ha'aretz reported that UNESCO is initiating a project
for Israeli and Palestinian journalists: the Israelis
will learn Arabic at the Western Galilee College, while
the Palestinians will learn Hebrew at Bir Zeit
University. The courses, which will be almost entirely
funded by UNESCO, will start in January.

Yediot and Maariv cited stories in The New York Times
and The Washington Post, based on FBI memoranda, as
saying that U.S. interrogators in Guantanamo Bay had
wrapped an Iraqi prisoner in the Israeli flag.

Yediot reported that over 30 young Israelis have been
arrested in the U.S. in recent days over illegal
peddling and breaking the terms of their entry visas.
The arrests were made in the Minneapolis and San
Francisco areas, as well as in Texas and Florida.

All media reported on, and Ha'aretz underscored,
Tuesday's mortar attack on a mess tent in a U.S.
military base in Mosul, Iraq, where hundreds of U.S.
troops were lunching, in which at least 24 people were
killed and 60 other were wounded.

A Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute) poll conducted among
settlers (Yediot's leading story):
-"Do you support the call by the Yesha Council of
Jewish settlements in the territories for breaking the
law?" Support: 47 percent; (55 percent among Gaza
settlers); opposed: 40 percent (29 percent among Gaza
settlers); 13 percent are undecided (16 percent among
Gaza settlers).
-"How will you behave if an evacuation is decided upon
and policemen come to your house to evacuate you?"
"I'll barricade myself in my home and will refuse to be
evacuated, without applying physical violence": 42
percent (44 percent among Gaza settlers); "I'll let
myself be evacuated without resisting": 38 percent (23
percent among Gaza settlers); "I'll resist, using
physical violence": 10 percent (11 percent among Gaza
settlers); 10 percent are undecided (22 percent among
Gaza settlers).
-"How do you believe the settlers in the territories
will behave during the evacuation?" "They will
barricade themselves in their homes and refuse to be
evacuated, without applying physical violence": 45
percent (46 percent among Gaza settlers); "They will
resist, using physical violence": 27 percent (22
percent among Gaza settlers); "They will let themselves
be evacuated without resisting": 11 percent (6 percent
among Gaza settlers); 16 percent are undecided (27
percent among Gaza settlers).

Ha'aretz cited a poll commissioned by Peace Now and
conducted by Market Watch: 63 percent of Israelis are
opposed to violations of the law that might be carried
out in the process of disengagement; 20 percent favor
such breaches; 17 percent are undecided.

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

Summary:
--------

Liberal columnist Gideon Samet wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The only way to put the settler
leadership to the test ... is to start the actual
evacuation, without any more blather, without turning
weak-kneed."

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in the editorial of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "A Middle Eastern 'Marshall
Plan' of sorts ... is feasible only if it is led by the
United States and if it is executed in cooperation with
Israel. But its foundation has to be Palestinian."

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

I. "Two Forces Move Into the Fray"

Liberal columnist Gideon Samet wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (December 22): "During a nerve-
wracking waiting period, a few facts are becoming
evident. the main one is that the Prime Minister, in a
series of well thought-out moves, has for the moment
achieved most of his complicated goals. He's the
knight of disengagement, but he manages to get along
with his own unruly party.... Sharon the juggler is the
key to the success or failure of the Gaza evacuation
initiative. The settler picture is also becoming
clear. They'll go all the way, and it could end up in
bloodshed.... The possibility that the taut Yesha [i.e.
settler] force ready for battle will manage to obstruct
the disengagement cannot be taken lightly.... The only
way to put the settler leadership to the test -- and
the weight of the majority in favor of the exit from
Gaza -- is to start the actual evacuation, without any
more blather, without turning weak-kneed."

II. "The Palestinians' Test"

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in the editorial of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (December 22): "The economic
results of the Intifada for the Palestinians have been
catastrophic.... The World Bank now assesses that
increasing the annual aid to the Palestinians in the
coming few years to USD 1.4 billion annually.... A far
greater investment will be needed to produce a real
change in the Palestinian Authority.... of USD 15
billion in an international project that will center
around settling ... 1.4 million Palestinians who are
defined as 'refugees,' and who live in Judea, Samaria
and Gaza [i.e. the territories]. An operation on that
scale -- a Middle Eastern 'Marshall Plan' of sorts --
is feasible only if it is led by the United States and
if it is executed in cooperation with Israel. But its
foundation has to be Palestinian: the Palestinians
themselves have to want this. And indeed they do want
it; after a few decades' delay, they, we and the world
are capable of ending, once and for all, the chapter of
refugeeism in the life of the Palestinian nation. The
death of Arafat, the planned elections in the
Palestinian Authority, the democratic and liberal
reforms that it has undertaken to implement, and the
Israeli withdrawal from Gaza (and it is vital that it
be carried out sooner than planned and completed by
this coming Passover [late April]) create an historic
opportunity to find an economic and human solution to
the refugee problem in the natural and only possible
place there is: in the territory of the future state of
Palestine."

--------------------------
2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz:
"Israel walked into the problem of a severe clash --
and not for the first time -- with many members of
Congress who maintain an anti-China line.... A key
question that cannot be ignored is why such
misunderstandings repeatedly come up between Israel and
the U.S. regarding China."

Foreign News Editor Arik Bachar "addressed the U.S." in
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Who better than you knows
that a flag is a sensitive thing, that is for looking
at only."


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

I. "Selling Arms to China, Or Not"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(December 22): "The Israeli-American crisis over the
sale of an advanced technology weapons system to China
has also turned into an Israeli-Chinese crisis in the
wake of an American demand that Israel not return to
the Chinese the Harpy assault drone that China recently
acquired and which it sent back to Israel for an
upgrade.... The problem is that Israel walked into the
problem of a severe clash -- and not for the first time
-- with many members of Congress who maintain an anti-
China line. In recent weeks there have been hysterical
reports in the U.S. about Israeli advanced technology
sales to China.... A key question that cannot be
ignored is why such misunderstandings repeatedly come
up between Israel and the U.S. regarding China.... It
is impossible [for Israel] to win with the argument
that Taiwan is trying to drive a wedge between Israel
and the U.S.; or that we told the Americans that they
apparently did not understand the Israeli English; or
that it is all a matter of jealousy in the arms
industry, as if it were a matter of citrus exports.
And there's too much counting on friends in Washington
to get us out of every problem."

II. "Dear Uncle Sam"

Foreign News Editor Arik Bachar "addressed the U.S." in
popular, pluralist Maariv (December 22): "You know that
the Geneva Convention forbids torturing prisoners, and
that in the culture in my neighborhood, wrapping an
Arab up in the Israeli flag [as was reportedly done by
U.S. military officials in Iraq and in Guantanamo Bay
prison] is as inhuman an act as tossing a pig's body on
a suicide bomber as he is making his way to a better
and far more sensual world that ours. Because who
better than you knows that a flag is a sensitive thing,
that is for looking at only. After all, it is in
America that the entire nation rears up on its
hindquarters -- or at least runs to the Supreme Court -
- every time someone dares to desecrate the stars and
stripes. Every June you have your 'Flag Day,' and it
was less than four years ago, before the current
outburst of patriotism that brought bin Laden to your
land, that your administration proposed amending the
constitution so that any American who burned your
pretty flag could be sent to prison. So let's make
sure we understand one another on this matter: from now
on, let's leave ... flags out of it."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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