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. U.S. Foreign Policy

Key stories in the media:

The tidal waves in South Asia continue to dominate the
headlines. Citing international sources, Israel Radio
reported that 50,000 people are believed to have died
in the tsunami. The media reported that 33 Israelis
were injured in the disaster, four of whom seriously,
and cited the Foreign Ministry as saying that 200
Israelis are still missing. Israel Radio says that the
ministry does not rule out the possibility that some
Israelis may have been killed. Maariv front-paged
pictures of missing Israelis. Leading media reported
that Israel was supposed to dispatch to Sri Lanka a 150-
strong military delegation, which would set up a field
hospital in the city of Galle. However, Israel Radio
reported this morning that, as the Sri Lankan
authorities have raised difficulties, equipment and
drugs will leave Israel without the delegation. The
radio reported that a 15-strong Israeli delegation has
arrived in India. Conversely, reporting that India has
declined Israeli assistance, Yediot quoted Foreign
Ministry officials as saying that this is not the first
time India has turned down Israeli aid, characterizing
this as "Indian pride."

Leading media quoted PM Sharon as saying Monday that
the cabinet will vote on the evacuation of settlements
in the Gaza Strip and the northernmost part of the West
Bank as early as next month. The media reported that
Monday the cabinet endorsed the disengagement in
principle, but the decision does not include the
evacuation of settlements. Jerusalem Post quoted
National Union MK Zvi Hendel as saying Monday before
the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee
that unless the government agrees to hold new elections
or a national referendum, the disengagement plan will
fail. Yediot quoted Bentzi Lieberman, the Chairman of
the Yesha Council of Jewish Settlements in the
Territories, as saying at the committee's session that
the government decisions regarding disengagement
constitute a "collective rape of democratic rules."
Ha'aretz reported that 25 major Gush Katif (Katif Bloc)
farmers are negotiating indirectly with the
Disengagement Administration to receive large
agricultural plots in the Pithat Shalom region of the
western Negev in return for their fields in the Gaza

Leading media quoted Sharon as saying before the
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that
terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip now have
shoulder-mounted missiles, and that there are mounting
concerns that they will shoot down crop dusters flying
over agricultural zones next to the Strip. Ha'aretz
cited intelligence assessments by Israeli officials
that Hamas will not cease its terrorist attacks in the
run-up to the PA leadership elections on January 9, but
that it will consider reducing its activities within
the Green Line. Ha'aretz quoted a high-ranking Israeli
security source as saying that from the point of view
of Hamas, perpetuating the image that Israel is fleeing
the Gaza Strip under fire, and primarily the
organization's attacks, is a vital matter. Jerusalem
Post quoted former PA security minister Muhammad Dahlan
as saying that jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti,
whom he visited on Monday, told him that Israel's
decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and the
northern West Bank is a victory for the Palestinian

Leading media reported that the police briefly arrested
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian
presidential candidate, as he campaigned in East
Jerusalem on Monday.

Jerusalem Post reported that today Senator Joseph
Lieberman (D-CT) will hold talks with high-ranking
Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Ha'aretz reported that Monday at the Knesset's
Constitution, Law and Justice Committee A-G Menachem
Mazuz voiced reservations about the bill proposal
creating a second deputy PM, saying that Israel's basic
laws are supposed to be stable and invariable.
However, leading media quoted Mazuz as saying that
should the current law be changed, several posts of
deputy PM should be created. Yediot and Jerusalem
Post quoted Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres as saying
that the Likud is behaving unfairly toward his party,
which he said cannot wait much longer for its entry
into the government. Ha'aretz reported that the
establishment of a unity government, with a majority in
the cabinet and Knesset in favor of disengagement, has
turned the settler leadership into the most significant
opposition outside and within the Knesset.

Jerusalem Post quoted visiting Canadian Justice
Minister Irwin Cotler as saying that Israel's Arab
neighbors are making genuine strides toward democracy
and safeguarding human rights.

Ha'aretz reported that, upon a request by France's
Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk and French Jewish businessman
Pierre Besnainou, Tunisian President Zine el Abidine
Ben Ali decided to facilitate the entry of Israelis
into his country, and to rehabilitate the old Jewish
cemetery in Tunis.
Ha'aretz and Maariv reported that Monday a Syrian bride
crossed the border with Israel in order to marry a
Druze man from the Golan. Ha'aretz reported that 12
Druze students returning from studies in Syria also
passed through the Golan crossing. The passages open
several times a year with Israeli-Syrian cooperation
and Red Cross assistance.

Jerusalem Post reported that Chinese Deputy PM Tang
Jiaxuan is visiting Israel. The newspaper reported
that he told Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra that China is
considering upgrading Israel's status and allowing
travel agents to send groups of Chinese tourists to
Israel. The Chinese Minister also signed an economic
agreement with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah.

Ha'aretz reported that for the past three years the
advertiser Larry Weinberg, Vice President of the non-
profit organization Israel21c (, has
presented a positive image of Israel to the American
public. Jerusalem Post reported that Nonie Darwish, a
Palestinian woman, has recently launched a web site,, and has begun lecturing across
the U.S. for the need to stand behind Israel and
support its existence.

Leading media reported that Monday the U.S. presented
Acting Justice Minister Tzipi Livni with an extradition
request for underworld kingpin Zeev Rosenstein.

Ha'aretz quoted Immigrant Absorption Minister Tzipi
Livni as saying that immigration from Argentina dropped
by 71.6 percent in 2004. Conversely, 2,850 immigrants
from the U.S. will have arrived by the end of the year
-- the largest figure in the last twenty years.

1. Mideast:


Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "There is something
disturbing, very disturbing, that a debate about
Israel's right to exist is being held at all. It is
becoming increasingly clear that this is one of the
highest prices Israel is paying for the current
Intifada and the war in Iraq."

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global
Research in International Affairs Center, columnist
Barry Rubin: "Perhaps a 'silent majority' of Arabs and
Muslims do want democracy and modern society in the
Western sense; but such people may be only a 'silent

Block Quotes:

I. "Delegitimize the Debate"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (December 28): "'A
world without Israel,' screams the cover of the new
January 2005 issue of the American magazine, Foreign
Policy.... There is something disturbing, very
disturbing, that a debate about Israel's right to exist
is being held at all. It is becoming increasingly
clear that this is one of the highest prices Israel is
paying for the current Intifada and the war in Iraq....
In the international community, the debate reverberates
mainly in the declarations by European politicians
regarding their support for 'Israel's right to
exist'.... American, Indian and even Egyptian statesmen
do not talk about Israel's 'right to exist.' The prime
minister, foreign minister and other Israeli leaders
tend to ignore the entire matter, listening politely to
their European hosts, wiping the spit off their faces,
and continuing the conversation. Perhaps their
approach is the right one: if Israel justifies its
existence and by doing so becomes a party to the
debate, it may legitimize it. But despite the silence,
the calls to destroy Israel are not dying out and the
debate on them is just growing stronger. The time has
come for the government to take note of this problem,
and try to come up with appropriate ways to deal with

II. "Struggle for the Mideast"

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global
Research in International Affairs Center, columnist
Barry Rubin, wrote in conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (December 28): "As 2004's most important
development in the Middle East I would nominate the
rise of a liberal reformist movement in the Arab world.
... This movement is not just a few liberal professors
living and preaching in the West. It has a 'popular'
and 'militant' element missing in earlier movements.
Yet there is still no single liberal leader or movement
anywhere in the Arab world able to mobilize large
groups of people. Perhaps a 'silent majority' of Arabs
and Muslims do want democracy and modern society in the
Western sense; but such people may be only a 'silent
minority'.... The really engaging question is why it
has been so hard to gain popular support for reform and
moderation. A common claim by Arab liberals is that
the masses do support them, but secretly. 'Our numbers
are small,' said Egyptian liberal Saad Eddin Ibrahim,
'not so much for lack of fellow citizens yearning for
liberal governance, but out of fear of publicly
expressing those yearnings.' There is truth in this,
but fear is not the only problem. Arab liberals must
also compete against the persuasive force of other
ideologies, such as Arab nationalism and Islamism, and
the rewards they can offer their adherents."

2. U.S. Foreign Policy:


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Perhaps the biggest challenge facing Bush now, beyond
stabilizing Iraq, is staving off a nuclear Iran. Yet
U.S. policy could not be more incoherent on this

Block Quotes:

"A Job For the NSC"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(December 28): " [The] main purpose [of national
security councils] is to play traffic cop to the strong
bureaucracies that fight over national security
decisions. In the U.S. and Israel, as in most
countries, a myriad of separate bodies deal with
defense, foreign affairs and intelligence, all of which
have their own institutional strengths, weaknesses and
biases.... NSC staffs [in the U.S. and Israel] usually
do not exhibit the level of independence that they were
founded to provide.... Though we often look to the U.S.
as a model for how a proper government runs things,
America is, in this case, a negative example. Perhaps
the biggest challenge facing Bush now, beyond
stabilizing Iraq, is staving off a nuclear Iran. Yet
U.S. policy could not be more incoherent on this score,
with the White House labeling Iran a member of the
'axis of evil' while the State Department dubs it 'a
democracy' and flatly denies that the U.S. is pursuing
a policy of regime change. Ultimately, the credit or
blame for such inconsistencies cannot be laid on the
doorstep of NSC staffs, but rather on those of the
political leaders who tolerate the warring
bureaucracies underneath them. But NSC staffs are
supposed to provide another function that is sorely
needed here, that of strategic planning."


© Scoop Media

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