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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 001192

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:
--------------------------------

Mideast

-------------------------
Key stories in the media:
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All media reported on, and the major newspapers
bannered, Monday's demonstration in Beirut and the
resignation of Omar Karameh's pro-Syrian government.
Israel Radio cited the USG's overt satisfaction over
the development.

Israel Radio reported that Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, traveling to the London Meeting on
Supporting the Palestinian Authority, warned
Palestinian leaders on Monday that they are required to
deal with terrorism. Ha'aretz reported on, and its
English Ed. bannered, a document it obtained -- the
final statement to be issued at today's London
conference, which will reportedly not mention terrorism
and refers only in vague terms to Palestinian security
commitments, as the Palestinians persuaded the British
hosts to leave out any mention of a Palestinian
commitment to act against the launching of Qassam
rockets or armed attacks on Israelis from the
territories. According to Ha'aretz, the PA does
promise "to restore and revive the lines of
communication with the Israeli security establishment
on security issues and will seek to strengthen them in
the process. Jerusalem Post quoted a senior PA
official in Ramallah as saying that the PA is planning
to ask for USD 500 million in financial aid at the
conference, and that the money is needed to rebuild
infrastructure and boost the economy to strengthen PA
Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's administration. Israel Radio
quoted Abbas as saying, before the conference, that the
London conference is the prelude to an international
peace conference that will take place soon. The
station quoted Abbas at saying in his opening speech at
the conference that the Palestinians have proven that
they are entitled to a state. Israel Radio quoted
Israeli defense sources as saying that security
cooperation with the Palestinians will resume next
week, when Abbas returns from London.

Ha'aretz quoted an Israeli source as saying that the
U.S., which was "burned" when it sent funds to the
Palestinians under Arafat's regime, is now particularly
careful. The same article mentions the importance of
U.S. Jewry in the restoration of the U.S. Congress's
transfer of foreign assistance to the Palestinians, as
promised by President Bush.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that the State
Department's 2005 Human Rights Report voices criticism
of human rights conditions in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and
Israel. Ha'aretz says that Israel is charged with
holding thousands of Palestinian prisoners without
trial, and with failing to act properly regarding the
improvement of discrimination against Israeli Arabs and
the abuse of foreign workers.
Hatzofe quoted a senior IAF officer as saying Monday
that the Iranian threat is high on the IAF's list of
priorities. Jerusalem Post printed a similar story.

All media reported that security forces discovered and
destroyed a booby-trapped car in the Jenin area on
Monday. It is believed to have been assembled by the
Islamic Jihad cell behind Friday's suicide bombing in
Tel Aviv. Depending on reports, the bomb weighed 200
to 500 kg. Leading media reported that two civilian
security guards were wounded last night next to the
construction site of the separation fence in the
Modi'in area.

Leading media reported that the Foreign Ministry went
on the diplomatic offensive against Syria Monday by
presenting evidence linking it to Friday's terror
attack in Tel Aviv to ambassadors and officials from UN
Security Council member countries. The ministry is
also sending defense officials to London, Paris, and
Washington to make Israel's case against Syria.

Israel Radio reported that the IDF plans to accelerate
the disengagement move, completing it by September 1.
The radio reported that the operation's codename was
changed from "Shevet Ahim" ("Brothers Sit Together"),
which was contested by the Right, to "Disengagement
Plan." Yediot reported that cadet soldiers from elite
units will take part in the evacuation. Leading media
reported that the chairman of the Likud Central
Committee, Minister-Without-Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi,
reached a compromise with the Likud "rebels" on a pro-
referendum proposal that would not embarrass PM Sharon
for Thursday's committee meeting.

Leading media reported that at a Likud Knesset faction
meeting on Monday, Sharon lashed out against the
persistent intervention of High Court Justices in the
determination of the route of the West Bank separation
fence. Leading media reported that on Monday, former
deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. (Res.) Uzi Dayan, who
currently heads the Public Council for a Security
Fence, placed indirect responsibility for Friday's
suicide bombing in PM Sharon. Speaking at the
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Dayan
said that if construction of the fence had been
completed, the terrorist might not have managed to
reach Tel Aviv to carry out the attack. Jerusalem Post
quoted Chief-of-Staff-designate Dan Halutz as saying
before the committee that the IDF will stay positioned
in the territory beyond the security fence, and that it
is putting a priority on completing the barrier in the
Jerusalem area by the end of July. Jerusalem Post
reported that British Ambassador to Israel Simon
McDonald told the newspaper Monday that Britain
protested to Israel last week over the decision to draw
Ma'aleh Adumim and its satellite settlements inside the
rerouted fence.

Jerusalem Post reported that Jordanian FM Hani Fawzi al-
Mulki is slated to arrive in Israel for a visit
Saturday evening, the first visit by a Jordanian FM
since 2001.

Jerusalem Post reported that the PA's Ministry of
Planning hopes to transform the Ganim and Cadim
settlements into a campus for a technical college after
Israel pulls out of the northern West Bank later this
year.

Ha'aretz reported that the defense establishment
commission examining the military censor's powers plans
to recommend expanding the powers of the censor,
according to a document from the commission that was
sent to the Press Council's presidium on Monday.

Yediot and Maariv reported that Halutz has named Maj.
Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky as his deputy.

Ha'aretz reported that the High Court of Justice ruled
Monday that the military investigation into the
shooting of International Solidarity Movement (ISM)
activist Brian Avery, and American citizen, who was
wounded in the face by gunfire in Jenin in April 2003,
will be reopened. Jerusalem Post reported that the
state "reluctantly" accepted a suggestion by the court
to hear testimony about the incident.

Ha'aretz reported on a business administration program
at Haifa University, which is attended by Israeli and
Palestinian students, and encourages economic
cooperation between Israel and the PA.

All media reported on Monday's suicide bombing in the
Iraqi town of Hillah.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Intelligence affairs writer Gad Shimron opined on page
one of popular, pluralist Maariv: "A large poster of
U.S. President George Bush was conspicuously absent in
the sea of thousands of Lebanese flags that were raised
in the central Beirut square."

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "These are the
twilight days of the Syrian political control over
Lebanon. The next question will be whether the Syrian
establishment will seek to punish the young president
for losing Lebanon."

Liberal op-ed writer Ofer Shelach opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "Who would have believed that the road to the
liberation of Lebanon would not be paved by
international diplomacy but by masses of people who
simply are fed up?"

Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in Yediot
Aharonot: "There can be no doubt that the events
currently under way in Lebanon are an earthquake in the
Arab world.... [Still,] the pressure on Syria and Iran
needs to be maintained at full force."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Palestinians and Lebanese, like Iraqis and Afghans,
are not exempt from the human desire for freedom."

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in Ha'aretz:
"The same Sharon who wanted to smash Oslo is now
imprisoned by its ropes and praying it won't come to an
end."

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

I. "Bush's Victory"

Intelligence affairs writer Gad Shimron opined on page
one of popular, pluralist Maariv (March 1): "A large
poster of U.S. President George Bush was conspicuously
absent in the sea of thousands of Lebanese flags that
were raised in the central Beirut square. There is a
clear and direct line that links between the
resignation of Omar Karameh's pro-Syrian government and
Bush's aggressive policy, which has set the
establishment of democracy in the Middle East as one of
its declared objectives.... In Beirut, on Monday, for
the first time in the history of the Arab nation, a
government resigned because of a mass demonstration.
So anyone who wants to can keep right on mocking Bush
and his abilities to lead the free world. But the wave
that was created in April 2003 with the crash of the
statue of Saddam Hussein in one of Baghdad's central
squares is now arriving, with tsunami force. Ask Omar
Karameh, Bashar Assad, Hosni Mubarak and others."

II. "Syria Is Losing Control"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (March 1): "It
turned out Monday that Syria can no longer avert the
political collapse in Lebanon, and that there was no
other choice but to make sacrifices. It is possible
that the Karameh resignation last night is only the
first in a series of steps Syria will take to satisfy
tumultuous Lebanese public opinion -- and to preserve
what remains of its stature in Lebanon.... Assad is now
in a new and dangerous situation, as far as Syria is
concerned. He's been stripped of his exclusive control
over Lebanese politics, and the government whose prime
minister he appointed has resigned, leaving him with
the somewhat nonsensical statement, 'the resignation of
the Lebanese government is a domestic Lebanese
issue'.... These are the twilight days of the Syrian
political control over Lebanon. The next question will
be whether the Syrian establishment will seek to punish
the young president for losing Lebanon."

III. "The Tidings from Beirut"

Liberal op-ed writer Ofer Shelach opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (March 1): "[Current events in Lebanon are]
the product of the 'zeitgeist': Al-Jazeera, for
example, is thought of by the West as an Arab
propaganda agent of sorts; but it brings into the
Arabs' homes images that raise spirits in a way that
dictatorial regimes are hard put to cope with. It is
not clear yet how the crisis in Lebanon will be
resolved. Whoever dares venture a prediction as to
what will happen to the Syrians, Hizbullah and the
Israeli interests does so at his own risk, and most of
the people prophesizing have met in the past with
stinging failure in their previous forecasts of these
very same things. For the time being, we can only gaze
on in marvel, perhaps even impressed, at a public that
is prepared to act -- even at the price of facing a
risk to life. Who would have believed that the road to
the liberation of Lebanon would not be paved by
international diplomacy but by masses of people who
simply are fed up?"


IV. "Earthquake"

Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in Yediot
Aharonot (March 1): "At first glance, this seems to be
a 'velvet revolution,' similar to the earthquake that
shook eastern Europe in 1989, with the people bringing
down a tyrannical government. Indeed, there can be no
doubt that the events currently under way in Lebanon
are an earthquake in the Arab world. Mass
demonstrations of this sort might yet topple the
totalitarian regimes in other Arab countries -- and
that has elicited almost panicked reactions from
Mubarak, Assad and their ilk.... But one needs to bear
in mind that the pro-Syrian regime in Lebanon is still
intact, and another pro-Syrian government is likely to
be formed to replace the one that fell. As such, the
turn of events is strongly redolent of a Syrian ploy,
yet another Syrian ploy, in hope that the fall of the
government in Beirut will appease the masses in the
streets and quell the 'independence Intifada' that they
declared.... Now that events are in full play and
dictators are being hunted, one must not succumb to the
temptation to believe in Middle Eastern style ploys of
deception. The pressure on Syria and Iran needs to be
maintained at full force. In what is an interesting
and historic set of circumstances, for the first time
since the establishment of the State of Israel, both
Israel and the Lebanese street, which longs for a
change, are party in a genuine but undeclared
partnership. Time will tell whether this partnership
will evolve in the future into an openly declared
partnership."

V. "Democracy Week"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(March 1): "It is only Tuesday, but it is already a
fabulous week for democracy. Yesterday, people power
ousted the pro-Syrian puppet government in Beirut.
Today, world leaders gather in London to discuss an
agenda for Palestinian democratic reforms.... When
Yasser Arafat was alive, all we heard was that the
alternative to him was Hamas. Now it turns out that
the alternative is Abbas, who was elected on an anti-
terror platform. It was also not long ago that anyone
predicting that the Lebanese people would oust their
Syrian oppressors was a hopeless dreamer. The lesson
here is that Palestinians and Lebanese, like Iraqis and
Afghans, are not exempt from the human desire for
freedom. It means that it is right to press Abbas to
bring freedom of the press, assembly, and rule of law
to his people, and that these rights will be the
ultimate guarantor of any future peace with Israel."

VI. "Back to Oslo"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in Ha'aretz
(March 1): "The attack near the Tel Aviv promenade on
Friday night only made tangible the return of the
'spirit of Oslo.' The government refrained from a
military reaction and chose to apply 'diplomatic
pressure' on Abbas and to suspend a few channels of
dialogue with him while distancing the blame to Syria.
It was just like Peres' sorry attempt to blame Iran for
the wave of bombings in 1996 that brought him down....
Oslo was not the 'peace of the brave' but an agreement
by cowards who took into consideration the domestic
limits on each of the sides, preferring small, measured
steps over 'painful concessions'.... The same Sharon
who wanted to smash Oslo is now imprisoned by its ropes
and praying it won't come to an end. Like Rabin,
Sharon is afraid of steps that move too quickly and is
not anticipating any 'end to the conflict.' He
continues now from the place where the process stopped
before the Intifada, and is hoping to withstand the
mounting international pressure to end the conflict,
once and for all."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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