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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 006630

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. Tsunami

2. Mideast

3. Pakistan: Nuclear Program

4. Iraq

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

All media cited assessments that the casualty toll of
the tidal waves in South Asia has reached 60,000 or
even 70,000, and cited UN officials as saying that it
could rise as high as 100,000. Leading media quoted
Secretary of State Colin Powell as saying Tuesday that

SIPDIS
the U.S. "will do more" to help the victims of the
tsunamis. Powell also said that he regretted a

SIPDIS
statement by a UN official suggesting that it had not
helped enough. Israel Radio reported this morning that
the U.S. boosted its aid to tsunami-stricken countries
to USD 35 million. Depending on the sources, the media
reported that there is concern for the lives of 15 to
100 Israelis who were in the hit region. Israel Radio
this morning reported that the Thai authorities have
reported on two Israeli casualties. Foreign Ministry D-
G Ron Prosor said in an interview with Israel Radio
this morning that 150 Israelis are still unaccounted
for. Although all media reported that Sri Lanka turned
down the visit of an Israeli rescue team, and that an
Israeli plan carrying 80 tons of food and medical
supplies worth USD 100,000 was set to depart for Sri
Lanka this morning, Jerusalem Post reported that the
Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, called for
"a radical and dramatic change of perspective" among
people "too often preoccupied with making war," and
that it singled out Israeli military leaders for
declining a request for emergency medical help.

All media reported that the government suffered a
serious blow on Tuesday when the Knesset's
Constitution, Law and Justice Committee failed to
approve the bill for the "evacuation and compensation"
of settlers from the Gaza Strip and the northern West
Bank. The committee's vote on the bill resulted in an
8-8 tie, with Israeli Arab MK Azmi Bishara (Balad)
abstaining. The vote is likely to delay the
disengagement process by a few weeks. Leading media
reported that Tuesday settlers form the northern West
Bank community of Sa-Nur prevented members of the
Disengagement Administration from entering their
settlement. They had to force their way into Sa-Nur.
Jerusalem Post quoted Pinchas Wallerstein, a senior
member of the Yesha Council of Jewish Settlements in
the Territories, as saying Tuesday that settler leaders
are considering making an official appeal to Diaspora
Jews to travel and join the fight against the
evacuation of the Gaza Strip. Israel Radio reported
that activists of the outlawed Kach movement have
handed out leaflets showing Jews being led in trains to
the death camps. The Yesha Council of Jewish
Settlements in the Territories condemned the leaflets.
The radio reported that the Yesha leaders will meet
today with Acting Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in order
to convince her of the "illegality" of the
disengagement plan.

Jerusalem Post cited a denial by Gush Katif (Katif
Bloc) farmers Tuesday that they are in the midst of
indirect negotiations with the Disengagement
Administration to receive plots of land in the western
Negev in exchange for fields they will leave behind
under the disengagement plan.

This morning, Israel Radio reported that two IDF
soldiers escorting a civilian convoy were wounded in a
shooting attack in the West Bank town of Baka El-
Sharkiya, next to the Green Line. The media quoted
Palestinian sources as saying that Tuesday an IAF drone
carrying two Hamas militants near the southern Gaza
Strip town of Khan Yunis. The militants, who escaped
unharmed, were apparently on their way to carry out an
attack in Gaza.

Jerusalem Post reported that, facing an upsurge in
lawlessness and anarchy, the PA is preparing to deploy
a special force in the Gaza Strip to fight local
criminal gangs, but not Hamas.

Yediot quoted Sharon as saying at a meeting with
Israel's ambassadors to the European countries on
Tuesday: "Nobody has the right to determine how much
security Israel requires. Tell it to the Europeans
forcefully. We don't owe anything to anyone, only to
the Almighty." Maariv quoted Sharon as saying at the
meeting: "Europe won't take part in the diplomatic
process with the Palestinians, because it doesn't have
a balanced approach."

Jerusalem Post quoted visiting Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-
CT) as saying Tuesday that Yasser Arafat's death has
led to an improvement in U.S.-Palestinian ties, but
that this upswing is conditional on the PA stopping
terror.

Citing AP, Jerusalem Post quoted Syrian FM Farouk Shara
as saying Tuesday that Israel is to blame for the
deadlock in peace talks between the two countries,
citing Israel's rejection of Damascus's recent
overtures.
Yated Ne'eman reported that Egyptian FM Ahmed Abu el-
Gheit has urged Israel to pull out from all Palestinian
cities it entered in 2000.
Leading Internet service Ynet reported that the Iranian
Broadcasting Authority has launched a well-informed
Hebrew news site that includes items and articles on
world and Israeli events.

Jerusalem Post reported that next week Knesset Speaker
Reuven Rivlin is likely to declare Shinui party leader
MK Yosef (Tommy) Lapid opposition leader.

Maj. Gen Yiftah Ron-Tal, the head of the IDF Ground
Services, was quoted as saying in an interview with
Jerusalem Post that the Defense Ministry should boost
production of the Merkava IV tank. The newspaper also
quoted him as saying that women of Machsom Watch, a
group that monitors soldiers' behavior at roadblocks,
should be replaced with IDF officers.

Visiting Egyptian journalist and historian Ali Salem
was quoted as saying in an interview with Ha'aretz that
"Israel has joined the Middle East" following the
signing of the free-trade agreement with Egypt. Salem,
who was persecuted in Egypt following his first visit
to Israel in 1994, made similar remarks in interviews
with Yediot and Maariv. Ynet and Yated Ne'eman quoted
Jordanian journalist Shaker Nabulsi at saying at the
"New Media in the Middle East" conference held at Ben
Gurion University that Arab satellite media are a
primary factor in the encouragement of terror.

Citing AP, Ha'aretz quoted PM Sharon as saying Tuesday
that he has accepted an invitation to visit China. The
newspaper says that the expected visit could be
overshadowed by friction over a snagged Israeli-Chinese
weapons deal.

Citing AP, Ha'aretz reported that Turkish FM Abdullah
Gul will travel to Israel next week.

Jerusalem Post reported that members of Ethiopia's
Falash Mura community have accused a Jewish-American
aid group, the North American Conference on Ethiopian
Jewry (NACOEJ), of running a Mafia-like operation at
its compounds in Addis Ababa and Gondar, where some
15,000 to 17,000 Falash Mura await permission to
immigrate to Israel.

------------
1. Tsunami:
------------

Summary:
--------

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(December 29): "The enormous loss of life around the
Indian Ocean rim is partly a human failure too."

Veteran op-ed writer and the late prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin's assistant Eytan Haber opined in the
lead editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "Even if there are some hitches here and
there, it seems that there are few countries in the
world that come to the aid of their citizens the way
Israel does."

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

I. "South Asia and Us"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(December 29): "The enormous loss of life around the
Indian Ocean rim is partly a human failure too....
South Asian nations are not anywhere as affluent [as
the U.S. and Japan], which is their excuse for having
wasted so much time postponing expenditure on tsunami
alert devices. They couldn't even agree on whether
these are worthwhile.... Lest we too patronizingly
criticize others, however, we should pay attention to
natural menaces of our own. We must not ignore our
dangers as the countries of South Asia ignored
theirs.... Experts warn [Israel] to expect a major
quake (above 7 on the Richter Scale) sometime within
the next 50 years. It could happen any day and, if of
a devastating magnitude and in a lethally close
location, no part of the country would be safe.... But
talk and blueprints are no substitute for action....
Yes, dispensing more than advice costs money -- and we
have more pressing needs. So, too, did India,
Indonesia et al.... We can't be sure when the next
quake will come. We can determine how prepared we are
to survive it."

II. "Our Finest Hour"

Veteran op-ed writer and the late prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin's assistant Eytan Haber opined in the
lead editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (December 29): "Even if there are some hitches
here and there, it seems that there are few countries
in the world that come to the aid of their citizens the
way Israel does. The great America shrugs its
shoulders. France drowns in champagne and frog legs as
the screens show appalling sights. Oy, they say, and
move on to their business. Not us...The Americans have
1,000 workers in their embassy in Thailand, and it is
easy for them to get organized and send five of them to
the airport to welcome arrivals. Israel has six
workers, and they have to stretch themselves thin.
Albeit the concern of those rescued and their families
is understandable, and the strain that is part of their
lives at this time justifies their outbursts and rage,
but when the storm abates, they too will realize that
it is not exactly the job of the State of Israel to
find their children who have gone on a trip, and all
its actions in its handling and rescuing Israelis are a
'bonus' to Israeli citizens simply because they are
Israeli. There is (almost) no other country like this
in the world."

------------
2. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Conservative contributor Gerald M. Steinberg, Editor of
NGO Monitor and Director of the Program on Conflict
Management at Bar-Ilan University wrote in
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "Like other
powerful organizations, HRW [Human Rights Watch] and
its leaders should be subject to a system of checks and
balances."

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

"Human Rights: Watching the Watchers"

Conservative contributor Gerald M. Steinberg, Editor of
NGO Monitor and Director of the Program on Conflict
Management at Bar-Ilan University wrote in
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (December 29):
"In the past four years, despite terror attacks that
clearly violate any common-sense concept of basic human
rights, HRW's [Human Rights Watch] reports and press
releases have focused -- by a ratio of over six to one
-- on allegations against Israel.... In September 2001,
HRW emerged as a key player during the nongovernmental
organization sessions of the infamous Durban anti-
racism conference, which were hijacked to demonize
Israel.... Like other powerful organizations, HRW and
its leaders should be subject to a system of checks and
balances to ensure that the claimed objectives -- moral
and otherwise -- are consistent with the choice of
issues, the presentation of evidence, and the hiring
process.... Perhaps in this way the lost moral force of
the human rights movement, reflecting exploitation of
universal principles in support of private political
biases, can also be repaired."

------------------------------
3. Pakistan: Nuclear Program:
------------------------------
Summary:
--------

Defense commentator Reuven Pedhazur opined in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "There should be no
reliance ... on the American determination to prevent
the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Israel must
prepare for 'a New Middle East' in which it will no
longer be the sole nuclear player."

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

"Pakistan's Immunity"

Defense commentator Reuven Pedhazur opined in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (December 29): "All
eyes are set on Iran, which is trying to dupe the
Europeans and carry on with its plans to produce
nuclear weapons, but the truth is that the more
immediate threat for the acceleration of nuclear
proliferation can be found nearby, in Pakistan.... The
immunity enjoyed by [Dr. Abdel-Kader] Khan, [who was
arrested by the Pakistan authorities on suspicion of
running a clandestine international ring for the sale
of nuclear technology and later pardoned by Pervez
Musharraf] is rooted in the dependency that the Bush
administration has developed in the form of Pakistan's
president, who has been an important ally in the war
the Americans are waging against international
terrorism, and especially the hunt for Osama Bin Laden
in Afghanistan.... With this attitude, the U.S.
administration is in fact preventing the clearing of
the air surrounding Khan's nuclear dealings, and does
not allow the tracking of the path of proliferation
that he paved around the world.... The Khan affair
proves once more that even when the more sophisticated
intelligence agencies seek to follow the nuclear
activities of various countries, they fail over and
over again.... In Israel the affair needs to raise a
number of alarms. A significant portion of Khan's
clients are in the Middle East, and it is possible that
Iran is not the sole country in the region with a
nuclear weapons program.... The lesson is that there
should be no reliance on the IAEA to tackle the problem
and not even on the American determination to prevent
the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Israel must
prepare for 'a New Middle East' in which it will no
longer be the sole nuclear player."

---------
4. Iraq:
---------
Summary:
--------

President of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of
Commerce and former Likud Knesset member Uriel Lynn
wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv: "In my opinion,
Bush will be well remembered in history and actually
earn esteem for starting a war against Iraq."

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

"Determination Against Tyranny"

President of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of
Commerce and former Likud Knesset member Uriel Lynn
wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (December 29): "In
my opinion, Bush will be well remembered in history and
actually earn esteem for starting a war against
Iraq.... Every knowledgeable person in the Western
world should have felt revulsion facing the possibility
that a dictator such as Saddam Hussein could gain
control of nuclear weapons. Like Hitler, Saddam saw no
value in human life. International weapons inspections
cannot be carried out forever. The war held back a
process of clear and present danger to large
populations around the world.... Bush had to make the
decision of going to war in particularly difficult
conditions: he faced an antagonistic Europe ... divided
media at home, and sharp opposition by part of his
country's population. But the free world will have
much more to thank Bush for his decision, since he set
a barrage against murderous tyranny, which always seeks
to work beyond its country's boundaries."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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