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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 06 TEL AVIV 001419

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. Syrian-Lebanese Track

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

The media say that today's meeting between Defense
Minister Shaul Mofaz and Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh that will focus on Israeli-
Palestinian negotiations and implementation of the
disengagement from Gaza will be overshadowed by the
failure of two meetings between Israeli and Palestinian
officers Wednesday to finalize the details of an
agreement on the transfer of security responsibility in
Jericho to the PA. Israel Radio quoted Egyptian FM
Ahmed Abu el-Gheit as saying that one of the purposes
of the Mofaz-Mubarak meeting is to find out why Israel
is delaying the pullout from Palestinian cities.
Ha'aretz quoted senior IDF officers as saying that
Egypt's mediation between the PA and Hamas does not
help to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Major media (lead story in Jerusalem Post) reported
that the Right is targeting PM Sharon in the illegal
outpost scandal. Jerusalem Post recalls that "U.S.
Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer was going nowhere in trying
to wade through the complex maze of issues surrounding
the outposts," and that the U.S. had considered sending
a team of its own to do the work. The newspaper quoted
sources among the Likud "rebels" as saying Wednesday
that if Sharon's Gaza Strip withdrawal plan cannot be
stopped politically, then legal means will be used to
try to incriminate Sharon and force him to resign
before the disengagement can take place.

Maariv reported that the Legal Forum for the Land of
Israel, a group of lawyers and accountants voluntarily
helping the Gaza Strip settlers, has recently completed
an architectural plan for relocating all of the Katif
Bloc settlements to the area of the Nitzanim sand dunes
between Ashkelon and Ashdod. Ha'aretz reported that
delegations of rabbis and Jewish public figures and
activists from the U.S. are expected in the coming
weeks to visit the Katif Bloc settlements with the aim
of expressing solidarity with residents slated for
evacuation under the disengagement plan. Maariv
reported that Agrexco, the government company for
agricultural exports, has found that the evacuation of
the Gaza Strip and the halt in the agriculture
production of the Katif Bloc will cause the state
fiscal losses of 120 million shekels (about USD 27.9
million) a year.

All media reported that on Wednesday, Shas party mentor
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef played down the comments he made
Tuesday against Sharon. Jerusalem Post quoted a senior
source in the Prime Minister's Office as saying that
Rabbi Yosef's comments "are the wrong words in the
wrong atmosphere."

Israel Radio reported that this morning, security
forces killed a senior Islamic Jihad militant who was
barricading himself in a building near Baka el-
Sharkiyeh, east of the Green Line. He was allegedly
involved in the February 25 Tel Aviv bombing.

Ha'aretz reported that anti-aircraft units from the
U.S. Army and the IDF will hold an extensive joint anti-
aircraft exercise in Israel today. The forces will
practice the coordinated operation of anti-aircraft
systems, including the Arrow anti-ballistic interceptor
missile and the Patriot air defense missiles.

Maariv reported that MK Ahmed Tibi (Hadash-Ta'al) met
last month in Washington with senior State Department
officials, requesting that U.S. aid to Israel be
conditioned upon 20 percent of it being allotted to the
Israeli-Arab sector.

Citing AP, Ha'aretz quoted the family of British
filmmaker James Miller as saying that the IDF has
decided not to prosecute the soldier responsible for
Miller's May 2003 death in the Gaza Strip.

All media reported that Omar Karameh is expected to
return to the post of Lebanese PM, from which he had
resigned last month, and that a 100,000-strong pro-
Assad, "people power" demonstration took place in
Damascus Wednesday. Israel Radio reported that Walid
Jumblatt, Lebanon's most prominent opposition figure,
is visiting Moscow. Yediot headlined that the
"independence Intifada" in Lebanon was on the decline.

Yediot reported that the director general of the
Jordanian Health Ministry told Aharon Cohen, president
of the Contractors Association, that Israeli
construction companies will build a hospital in Jordan.

Yediot cited a New York Times report that that a
federal investigation committee led by retired judge
Laurence Silberman found that the U.S. intelligence
agencies know too little about the nuclear programs of
Iran and North Korea.

Leading media (banner in Yediot) note that the dollar's
exchange rate -- 4.299 shekels Wednesday -- is at its
lowest point in two years.

Erratum: A sentence in Wednesday's media reaction
report was incomplete. It should have read: "Ha'aretz
reported that Shalom asked Secretary Rice that there be
no shift in the West's stance on Hamas, even if Hamas
participates in the Palestinian elections as a
political party, and that Rice promised that the U.S.
position has not changed."

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

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "In
all likelihood, Israel's eastern border will be a lot
closer to the Green Line than it believes.... More so
than anything, the Sasson report should be seen as the
beginning of a new era."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"[The present situation of the settlers] is a result of
[successive Israeli governments'] failing to craft a
coherent policy in deciding exactly which areas over
the former 1967 borders are essential to this country's
security and national interests."

Nationalist columnist Uri Dan wrote in popular,
populist Maariv: "As far as the Jews in the Land of
Israel [Israel, including the territories] are
concerned, there is no such thing as 'illegal
outposts,' because Jews have the right to settle
everywhere."

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

I. "The Game Is Up"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (March
10): "If there is one thing that the Sasson report [on
illegal settler outposts] teaches us more than
anything, it is the fact that the game is up, and the
era of settlement establishment has finally come to an
end. The reason for this is that the principal patron
of the settlement movement became prime minister, and
began taking world public opinion into
consideration.... The insistent demand from Washington
to afford the Palestinian state to be established with
'territorial contiguity' that will not be hampered by
settlements, coupled with the fact that George Bush and
Condoleezza Rice make sure of mentioning this
expression at every opportunity, will lead in the end
to the evacuation of all the settlements that get in
the way of acceptable contiguity. In all likelihood,
Israel's eastern border will be a lot closer to the
Green Line than it believes.... More so than anything,
the Sasson report should be seen as the beginning of a
new era. The timing of the evacuation of the outposts
-- before or after the disengagement -- pertains
primarily to the operational ability of the police and
army to deal with their evacuation now, and is not the
main issue."

II. "The Sasson Report"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(March 10): "The settlement movement and its supporters
... have long advocated a policy of 'a hill at a time,'
which to a considerable degree has succeeded in
creating 'facts on the ground' in Judea and Samaria
[i.e. the West Bank]. Unfortunately, this approach has
also led them to often adopt an 'end justifies the
means' approach, as evident in the practices described
by the Sasson Report. However, whatever short-term
advantages this has gained the settlement movement, it
has cost them in the long-term in both local and
international support. A legitimate case be made for
much of the settlement activity in Judea and Samaria,
but not if it is carried out as part of an end run
around official procedures and the law. But more so,
it is the government itself, the current one and almost
every one preceding it for the past decade, that
allowed this situation to develop. This is a result of
failing to craft a coherent policy in deciding exactly
which areas over the former 1967 borders are essential
to this country's security and national interests, and
what action should be taken to ensure eventual Israeli
sovereignty there. Disengagement, in a way, is an
attempt to take such a decision retroactively, and for
that reason is all the more wrenching."

III. "A Libel"

Nationalist columnist Uri Dan wrote in popular,
populist Maariv (March 10): "As far as the Jews in the
Land of Israel are concerned, there is no such thing as
'illegal outposts,' because Jews have the right to
settle everywhere. The right term could be
'unauthorized outposts' -- i.e. those that were not
lawfully authorized by the legal government, or those
that the government has decided to evacuate.... Only in
Israel can government shoot a bullet in its own head,
as some legal officials and judges are enthused about
the fact that the International Court of Justice will
value them as the prophets of universal justice. A
country that began with an immigration that the British
defined as 'illegal,' and in which {Attorney Talia]
Sasson expounds her belief that the settlement drive is
'illegal,' could end up as an illegal country."


--------------------------
2. Syrian-Lebanese Track:
--------------------------
Summary:
--------

Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "In the long
range the problem can only be resolved in a real --
apparently imposed -- reform, including democratic
elections that would return the Sunnis to power [in
Syria]."

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

"The Assad Family's Tricks Continue"

Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (March 10):
"Bearing in mind the series of Syrian ruses in Lebanon,
including the one that is still to occur, the entire
issue of negotiations with Israel appears under a
different light. Many Israelis now understand that
public Syrian declarations are not necessarily true and
that, as in Lebanon, each Syrian move is only meant to
protect regime and community interests at the most
basic level -- all the more so considering the fact
that both countries -- Israel and Lebanon -- lack
legitimacy in Damascus's eyes, by their very nature.
They are supposed to be parts of 'Greater Syria.' As
far as Syria is concerned, the same modus operandi
apples to both countries: dispatching Syria-
subordinated terrorists in order to impose dictates....
The U.S. has not yet decided what to do against Bashar
Assad's defiant regime on the eve of the elections for
the Lebanese parliament. But it would be fair to
assume that should the Syrians pull out from Lebanon,
they would still run their apparatus by remote control.
This is what they do with the Palestinians. At this
time, international pressure -- including isolation and
ostracism -- should no doubt be applied to the Damascus
regime. However, in the long range the problem can
only be resolved in a real -- apparently imposed --
reform, including democratic elections that would
return the Sunni majority to power [in Syria].... Only
then will it be possible to reach a true cessation of
Syria's involvement in Lebanon, the end of the support
for the Palestinian terrorist organizations, and the
creation of the first opportunity of a true Israeli-
Syrian arrangement. It appears that the only things
that can be expected until then are deceptions."
KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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