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



Key stories in the media:

In Yediot's lead story, Shimon Shiffer cited
"undiplomatic" remarks reportedly made by U.S.
Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer several days ago at a closed
meeting with Foreign Ministry cadets, that the Israeli
government will not last beyond the disengagement move.
(Israel Radio reported that the government would not
comment on the story.) Yediot also reported that
Kurtzer said at the meeting that there is no
understanding between Israel and the U.S. on the matter
of Israel retaining settlement blocs. The newspaper
also reported that Kurtzer said that the U.S. will not
wait indefinitely for an agreement between Europe and
Iran regarding the latter's nuclear program, and that
the U.S. can be expected to launch ballistic missiles
in order to destroy Iran's nuclear sites. Kurtzer
reportedly addressed the issues of anti-Semitism in
Egypt and Israel's arms sales to China. Yediot cited
Kurtzer's complaint that Israeli officials keep
repeating the same mantras at each meeting with U.S.
officials, including "Jerusalem, our eternal and
indivisible capital." Speaking on Israel Radio this
morning, chief Likud "rebel" MK Uzi Landau, who said
his group had always refuted the GOI's statements on
settlement blocs, questioned the skills of top Sharon
aide Dov Weisglass to conduct negotiations with the
U.S. administration. The station quoted National Union
Knesset Member Arieh Eldad as saying that Kurtzer's
comments reveal Sharon's "scam": Israel is not
receiving anything in exchange for disengagement.

At noon, Israel Radio broadcast a response by
Ambassador Kurtzer that the Yediot story "has no
basis." Kurtzer reiterated President Bush's view that
any final status must reflect realities on the ground,
particularly major Israeli population centers, and the
U.S. belief that the final borders will not coincide
with the pre-1967 ones. The Ambassador was quoted as
saying that the U.S. expects the current Israeli
government to function through the end of 2006 when the
regular elections are scheduled to occur.

Israel Radio quoted Washington sources as saying that
President Bush, who does not want to cause difficulties
for PM Sharon before the Knesset vote on the state
budget, is minimizing his response to the GOI's
reported plan to build 3,500 housing units in the "E-1
corridor" near Ma'aleh Adumim. The station quoted a
State Department spokesman [J. Adam Ereli] as saying
Thursday that Assistant Secretary David Welch and
Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams raised
the issue with Israeli officials during their visit and
that they asked for additional information. The radio
reported that the Foreign Ministry has informed the
U.S. administration that the GOI's decision is not
Ha'aretz bannered Israel's delaying of the handover of
security responsibility for Qalqilya. The newspaper
says that Israel accuses the PA of not upholding its
commitments with regard to the towns for which it has
already assumed responsibility -- Jericho and Tulkarm -
- as the defense establishment's main gripe is that the
PA has yet to take action against wanted individuals in
these towns.

Ha'aretz quoted senior Sharon aides as saying Thursday
that they may fail to muster a majority for the budget,
in which case the government will topple and elections
will have to be held, unless Shinui changes its
position. Leading media reported that Shinui party
chief and parliamentary opposition head Knesset Member
Yosef (Tommy) Lapid is scheduled to meet with Sharon

Maariv and other media cited the IDF's concern that Sa-
Nur, one of four northern West Bank settlements slated
for evacuation, could turn into a "modern Masada" --
the focus of opposition to disengagement.

Maariv reported that PA Minister for Civilian Affairs
and in charge of disengagement Muhammad Dahlan
allegedly told U.S. envoys Welch and Abrams: "There is
no coordination about the disengagement and there is
nothing to talk about, if we don't succeed in bringing
a truck full of tomatoes out of Gaza and if the
Israelis continue to stop lifting restrictions and
continue to make our lives difficult."

Yediot reported that the Foreign Ministry has learned
that Dahlan and PA Negotiations Minister Saeb Erekat
met recently with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop
Scheffer and asked to have the PA be made part of
NATO's Middle East framework. The meeting took place on
the fringes of the Madrid conference on terror.

Jerusalem Post noted that despite its generally
critical tone about Israel, the report commissioned by
John Dougard, the UN Special Rapporteur on the
Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian
Territories, which was presented in Geneva this week,
praised Israel for its "brave move" in Gaza.

Ha'aretz quoted sources close to the FBI investigation
of suspicions that Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin
transferred classified information about U.S. policy on
Iran to members of the American Israeli Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC) as saying that the case could end in
a plea bargain.

Yediot reported that Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon is
demanding an investigation into the circumstances in
which his tenure was not extended. The newspaper cited
the contention of his associates that Ya'alon turned
into an annoyance when he refused to approve the
promotion of various "recommended officers."

Maariv reported that for the first time, an Israeli
Arab educator is a potential candidate for a seat on
Israel's National Security Council.

Yediot and Israel Radio reported that Chad is about to
resume diplomatic ties with Israel after a 33-year
hiatus. Yediot quoted diplomatic sources as saying
that the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian contacts
made the warming of relations between the two countries

Ha'aretz reported that the Jewish Agency, which has
long relied on the annual appeal of United Jewish
Communities in the U.S., will strike out on its own in
an independent campaign, due to a significant decrease
in the willingness of American Jews to donate money to
the United Jewish Appeal (UJA).

In interviews with Yediot and Jerusalem Post, various
Jewish Russian emigre "oligarchs" harshly attacked
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Leonid Nevzlin
dubbed Putin a neo-Stalinist.



Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Sharon's line
leaves about half the West Bank in Israel's hands.
This is way below the expectations of the Palestinians,
the international community and the Israeli left."

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote in Ha'aretz:
"What do you make of a Palestinian leader [PA President
Mahmoud Abbas] who absolutely rejects terror and lowers
incitement in the official media to a minimum, but at
the same time demonstrates determined stands on all of
the substantive issues of the permanent-status

Extreme right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick wrote in
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "The Bush
Administration, together with the Sharon-Peres
government, is pushing the view that Sharon's
withdrawal and expulsion plan ... is aligned with the
Bush Doctrine [of democratization in the Middle
East].... Not only is there no connection between the
two, but ... there is a glaring contradiction."

Block Quotes:

I. "Drawing the Line"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (March 25): "Sharon
knows that the moment of truth for determining the
borders is approaching, and he is trying to establish
facts that will strengthen the Jewish settlement blocs
in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Israel is in a
building frenzy in the area between the Green Line (pre-
1967 border) and the route of the separation fence
under the cover of America turning a blind eye.... How
will the future borders look? In a meeting he held
this week with members of Congress from California,
Sharon returned to his veteran plan for preserving
Israeli 'security zones' in the Jordan Valley and
western Samaria [the part of the northern West Bank
adjoining the Green Line].... Sharon also acknowledges
demographic considerations in determining the
border.... The thought of concessions in the West Bank
is difficult for Sharon, who from time to time asks his
aides: 'Can you imagine that there won't be Jews living
in ...?" (mentioning some West Bank settlement). And
the aides reply: 'Yes, we can imagine that.' Sharon's
line leaves about half the West Bank in Israel's hands.
This is way below the expectations of the Palestinians,
the international community and the Israeli left....
But even maintaining Sharon's 'security zones' will
necessitate evacuation of the settlements from the
mountain ridge, the pillar of the Israeli settlement
project in the territories... Alongside this idea, the
disengagement from Gaza will look like a leisurely
stroll in the park."

II. "Analyzing Abu Mazen"

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote in Ha'aretz
(March 25): "What do you make of a Palestinian leader
[PA President Mahmoud Abbas] who absolutely rejects
terror and lowers incitement in the official media to a
minimum, but at the same time demonstrates determined
stands on all of the substantive issues of the
permanent-status agreement? The intelligence
community, and like them the Prime Minister and senior
cabinet ministers, are having a hard time deciding. On
the face of it, the picture is a positive one: terror
has declined to a minimum, even lower than what was
achieved in the seven weeks of the cease-fire [in
summer 2003].... There seems to be solid support in the
Palestinian public for [Abbas's] agenda -- an end to
the terror attacks, a return to the negotiating table.
Conversely, what has the PA really done to counter the
terror organizations? To date, barely anything.... The
most disturbing question has to do with the long term.
Israel is insisting that there will be no advancing to
the next stage of the road map if the Palestinians do
not meet their obligations, including a genuine
campaign to battle terror (which Israel interprets as
disarming the terror groups). In the meantime, this is
also the official American position, but the longer the
quiet is maintained, the more this position may be
eroded. Abu Mazen can claim that he is doing his part
in preventing terror and that it is none of Israel's
business if this is being achieved through peaceful
means. At that point, Israel would be subject to
international pressure to continue making advances in
the process, without its security demands being met."

III. "Sharon and the Bush Doctrine"

Extreme right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick wrote in
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (March 25):
"The question of how Palestinian statehood fits into
the Bush Doctrine of democratization has always been a
nagging one.... Today the Bush Administration, together
with the Sharon-Peres government, is pushing the view
that Sharon's withdrawal and expulsion plan for Gaza
and northern Samaria [the northern West Bank] is
aligned with the Bush Doctrine. Among the Palestinians
and the Israelis, however, it is becoming increasingly
clear with each passing day that not only is there no
connection between the two, but that there is a glaring
contradiction.... Hopefully, once the supporters of
Israel ... come to accept the fact that Sharon's policy
involves many risks but provides no opportunities, they
will not hesitate to disavow it. And again, hopefully,
at that point they will demand that the U.S. policy
toward the Palestinians be bought into line with the
Bush Doctrine."


© Scoop Media

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