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 006564
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:
2. U.S.-Israel Relations
Key stories in the media:
On Monday, all media bannered the deadly tsunami that
hit South Asian coasts on Sunday, saying that dozens of
Israelis in the area are unaccounted for, especially in
southern Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka. Israel Radio
cited the Foreign Ministry as saying that some 500
Israelis known to have been in the affected areas still
have not called home. Leading media reported that,
responding to a call by Sri Lanka's President to the
international community, Israel has dispatched a
medical team to that country.
On Sunday, Maariv reported that the isolated Gaza Strip
settlement of Netzarim will be evacuated first.
Leading media quoted Yonatan Bassi, the head of the
Disengagement Administration, as confirming Sunday that
all 20 families from the Pe'at Sadeh settlement in the
Gaza Strip will relocate to Moshav Mavki'im south of
Ashkelon by May 21. Bassi said that five families from
additional settlements will move to Mavki'im. Ha'aretz
reported that the Knesset's Constitution, Law and
Justice Committee decided to delete the punitive
clauses in the proposed Evacuation Compensation Bill,
which sets out the financial recompense to be offered
to settlers who evacuate their homes in the Katif Bloc
(Gush Katif) and northern West Bank under the
disengagement plan. On Sunday, Yediot reported that
following a decision by the Knesset's Constitution, Law
and Justice Committee Chairman MK Michael Eitan, the
government will be forced to convene in January and
notify the Gush Katif settlers six months in advance of
the precise evacuation date of their settlements.
Ha'aretz reported that approximately 30 Thai workers
out of the 400 employed in the Katif Bloc have left the
area since last week.
On Sunday, all media quoted Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)
as saying Saturday that the Palestinians demand a full
Israeli withdrawal from the territories, including East
Jerusalem, and that they "will not accept settlements,
and that includes Ma'aleh Adumim, the Etzion Bloc, and
Ariel." Abbas also said that he will not use force
against Hamas, that there will be no peace without the
release of all jailed Palestinians, including Tanzim
leader Marwan Barghouti, and that he will follow in
Yasser Arafat's footsteps. (Yediot headlined: "Arafat,
Model 2005.") However, Abbas said he was extending his
hands in peace. FM Silvan Shalom was quoted as saying
in an interview with Israel Radio that he is
disappointed by Abbas's remarks.
All media reported that Sunday the cabinet unanimously
approved a series of measures meant to facilitate the
elections for PA chairmanship on January 9. Leading
media cited international pressure as the reason for
these steps. Israel Radio reported that this morning
Israel released 159 Palestinian prisoners, in a gesture
to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Jerusalem Post
reported that some 600 prominent Palestinians have
called for an end to armed attacks on Israel and urged
the PA to push for democratic reforms. The appeal was
made in an open letter to the Palestinian leadership
published in Palestinian newspapers on Sunday.
On Sunday, leading media reported that Hamas racked up
significant achievements in Thursday's elections for
local councils in the West Bank: out of 26 races, Hamas
won seven to nine [sources varied], and Fatah won in 12
local authorities. On Monday, Ha'aretz reported that
on Sunday the PA announced the official results of last
Thursday's municipal elections, but that it declined to
give a breakdown as to how many of the winning
candidates belonged to Fatah as opposed to Hamas.
On Sunday, all media reported that following the
internal Labor Party elections, MK Ophir Pines-Paz is
slated to become interior minister; MK Yitzhak Herzog
will get the national infrastructure portfolio; MK
Shalom Simhon will be environment minister; and Knesset
members Matan Vilnai and Haim Ramon will be ministers
without portfolio. Leading media reported that Sunday
an interministerial committee approved a bill proposal
that would allow Shimon Peres to become PM Sharon's
On Friday, Jerusalem Post quoted a senior U.S.
administration official as saying that the U.S. is
contemplating incursions into Syrian territory in an
attempt to kill or capture Iraqi Ba'athists who it
believes are directing at least part of the attacks
against U.S. targets in Iraq.
Israel Radio quoted senior GOI sources as saying that
opponents of the disengagement plan are expected to
come to settlements slated for evacuation in order to
bolster them. On Sunday, Yediot reported that for the
first time a soldier who is a "disengagement objector"
has been removed from an officers' training course.
On Sunday, Jerusalem Post reported that the Bush
administration is blaming Israel for undermining its
sustained diplomatic efforts to persuade Europe not to
resume arms sales to China. The newspaper quoted a
senior administration official as saying: "Something is
going badly wrong in the military relationship" between
Israel and the U.S." Jerusalem Post further quoted him
as saying that the dispute can now only be resolved "at
a high level."
On Friday, Jerusalem Post reported on anti-Israel hate
programs being broadcasted on Iranian TV.
Leading media reported that hundreds of settlers from
the areas to be evacuated demonstrated Sunday near the
Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, disrupting traffic in the
city's center. They were protesting against what they
view as the army's lack of response to mortar attacks
on Gaza Strip settlements and western Negev
Jerusalem Post reported that IDF soldiers north of the
Kissufim crossing in Katif Bloc shot and killed two
Palestinians they feared were planning to launch a
bombing attack before dawn on Sunday. The media
reported that IDF troops killed a deputy of Al-Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades Zakaria Zubeidi commander and three
other Fatah militants in Jenin during the weekend.
All media reported that Sunday the Tel Aviv District
Court indicted leftist activist Tali Fahima on charges
of aiding the enemy in wartime, transmitting
information to the enemy, contact with the foreign
agent, illegal possession of a firearm, support for a
terror group, and contravening a legal order.
According to the indictment, Fahima helped operatives
of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades evade capture by the
IDF by translating a secret IDF document involving an
arrest operation for Zubeidi.
Hatzofe cited an interview Yuval Steinitz, the chairman
of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee,
gave to the newspaper of the organization of IDF
handicapped, in which he reportedly said that the
extensive training of Egyptian forces and the fact that
Egypt does not prevent large-scale arms smuggling into
the Gaza Strip indicate that Egypt plans to wage war
On Sunday, Yediot cited a recommendation by a GOI-
appointed committee that Israeli Arabs perform a stint
of national service.
Leading media reported that the police arrested nuclear
whistleblower Mordecai Vanunu on Christmas Eve, as he
attempted to attend the Midnight Mass in Bethlehem.
Ha'aretz reported that two firebombs were thrown early
Sunday at the Hassan Bek mosque south of the Tel Aviv
beach promenade. The Mosque serves Jaffa's Muslim
Ha'aretz reported that the Interior Ministry decided
this weekend that children of illegal foreign workers
and their families will not be deported over the next
few months, but that they will instead be given visa
extensions until March 1.
Jerusalem Post reports that the private Israeli airline
Israir expects to earn revenue of USD 25 million from
flights from Tel Aviv to New York, which it will resume
in late March.
Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The response of
the settlers to the intention to evacuate a handful of
settlements ... has pulled the thin veneer from the
hard nut that is the settlers."
Ha'aretz editorialized: "British Prime Minister Tony
Blair's efforts to muster international support for
rebuilding the Palestinian Authority are an appropriate
form of external intervention."
Oslo skeptic, author Eyal Megged wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "This is a call
to all those who insist on making peace now (and I am
not blaming anyone, that is not my aspiration), to
prepare to turn over a new mental leaf."
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Sadly, it appears the taboo on true reconciliation
with Israel as a Jewish state with a moral right to
exist in this region is still too powerful for even the
bravest aspiring Palestinian politician to break."
I. "The Right To Uproot and the Right of Return"
Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (December 27): "The
obsessive highlighting of the danger of the 'rupture in
the people' (or the 'unity of the people,' as the Prime
Minister put it in his Herzliya speech), transformed
the disengagement plan into a dispute between right and
left. As if none of this had anything to do with
Palestinians, or might have any effect on the situation
on the other side of the Green Line.... [Nonetheless,]
the disengagement plan has already made an important
contribution to peace between Israel and Palestinians.
The response of the settlers to the intention to
evacuate a handful of settlements in the Gaza Strip,
which subsist on Thai labor, and four shriveled
settlements in Samaria [the northern West Bank], has
pulled the thin veneer from the hard nut that is the
settlers. Let every Jewish mother and every Israeli
father who are sending their children to defend a
settlement know that they have raised them to fight in
a war commanded in God's name."
II. "Welcome Intervention"
Ha'aretz editorialized (December 24): "British Prime
Minister Tony Blair's efforts to muster international
support for rebuilding the Palestinian Authority are an
appropriate form of external intervention for the sake
of toning down the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and
restarting the diplomatic process.... International
support is important on several levels: to strengthen
the new Palestinian president who will soon be elected,
to raise money to finance the PA's activities and
economic development in the territories, and to
reorganize the Palestinian security services.
International support also has domestic importance in
helping leaders to take unpopular steps. This has
already happened in Israel: Sharon used the letter of
commitments that he received in April from U.S.
President George W. Bush to help him overcome
opposition to the disengagement plan in the Likud and
isolate the settlers' lobby.... Sharon acted wisely
when he reached an understanding with Blair over the
terms of the international conference in London,
despite his opposition in principle to Israel's
participation in it. He thereby enabled this visit by
the leader of a friendly country, who emphasizes his
deep commitment to Israel's security at every
opportunity, to be crowned with success. Now, the ball
is in the Palestinians' court: They will have to do
their part and prove that they are able to bring about
the necessary changes in the PA."
III. "Turning Over a New Mental Leaf"
Oslo skeptic, author Eyal Megged wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (December 27):
"The reality is that the dream of two countries living
side by side in harmony between the Jordan River and
the Mediterranean Sea is perhaps our dream, but not
[the Palestinians']. This dream is nothing but an
artificial implant, provided through the generosity of
the peace camp.' That is the truth, and it is not
wishful thinking, but comes from the mouths of those
who have had this dream implanted in them. You cannot
help but get the impression that their rejection is not
just physical. It is accompanied by revulsion. These
words are not being written from a 'right-wing'
perspective whose bottom line is 'there is no one to
talk to.' Just the opposite: this is a call to all
those who insist on making peace now (and I am not
blaming anyone, that is not my aspiration), to prepare
to turn over a new mental leaf -- at this historical
moment. That they think again, that they think
differently. Perhaps about a division of a different
kind, certainly not one in the form of the false charm
known as 'disengagement,' which will only lead us to an
impasse. Think about a solution of a different sort,
because the good old solution will never be a
IV. "Not Much of A Choice"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(December 27): "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Sunday
stressed how vital it is that Israel be seen throughout
the world as facilitating the Palestinian Authority's
upcoming election. That is certainly so.... Sharon,
however, may be unrealistically optimistic when
expecting the election to perhaps produce a peace
partner for further road map explorations. There is no
denying that the sounds emanating from the Palestinian
campaign trail are hardly the sort to instill hope
among Israelis.... Even Abbas has openly wrapped
himself in Arafat's mantle and gone out of his way to
show respect for the terrorists he claims not to
support.... Sorely missing from the Palestinian
equation is a peace camp, one that need not embrace
Israel -- as some Israelis do the Palestinians -- but a
party that argues, as our own 'national camp' [the
Right] does, that the national interest requires
painful concessions.... Sadly, it appears the taboo on
true reconciliation with Israel as a Jewish state with
a moral right to exist in this region is still too
powerful for even the bravest aspiring Palestinian
politician to break.... It may emerge that Israel had
nothing to gain from the Palestinian elections, or it
may be that some of Sharon's purported optimism proves
well founded. Would that the latter turns out to be
the case. In that light, Sunday's unanimous cabinet
approval for pulling out of Palestinian towns and
keeping a low profile on the sidelines during the
lections is the only sensible move."
2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Despite the
Phalcon affair, Israel insisted on not
understanding.... No profit, no matter how much, for
the Israeli defense industries is worth a crisis with
Israel's main and only ally, the U.S."
"It Made Their Blood Boil"
Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (December 24):
"The signals that the Pentagon is sending Israel over
the present crisis are sharp and harsh. This is not
just a personal crisis of trust between two top
officials in the two security establishments.... This
is a conflict of substance over the dying spasms of the
military-commercial romance between Israel and China --
a romance that began in secret in the early 1980s, with
the consent and encouragement of the Americans, and
which ended, in practice, with a loud crash and an
enormous crisis with the administration with the
Phalcon affair in 2000.... Despite the Phalcon affair,
Israel insisted on not understanding. The defense
industry milieu in Israel is a powerful player with
great influence. In addition, the security
establishment thought that we were smarter, that our
friends in Congress would look out for us, that the
formal definitions would be on our side -- and
continued to sell problematic military equipment to
China.... The end of the current crisis is clear:
Israel will bow to American terms. But perhaps this
time, for a change, the security establishment will
realize that it has to stop trying to be a wise guy.
No profit, no matter how much, for the Israeli defense
industries is worth a crisis with Israel's main and
only ally, the U.S."