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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 002045

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

3. Pope John Paul II

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

All media on Sunday and Monday (3, 4 April) led with
stories on the Pope's death and disengagement-related
reports.

Ha'aretz reported Sunday that Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon decided he will not request funding for the
disengagement plan during his upcoming visit to the
United States. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, who
visited Washington last week, told his hosts that there
was a great discrepancy between Abbas' declarations and
deeds. The focus of Mofaz' visit to Washington was the
dispute over Israel's arms sales to China.

On Sunday, Ha'aretz reported that PA Chairman Mahmoud
Abbas (Abu Mazen) announced he was relieving West Bank
security chief, General Haj Ismail Jaber, of his
command of more than 15,000 Palestinian police. In
another move yesterday, that suggests he might be
preparing to clean house, Abbas issued a statement of
his intention to begin implementing a month-old law
that would force security personnel to retire at 60.
In another move toward unifying the forces, Abbas
ordered the relocation of all the police apparatus to
Jericho.

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Ha'aretz headlined Israel has decided to establish a
dumpster for the Sharon area in the West Bank (near
Nablus). The paper noted that Israel intends to dump
10,000 tons of garbage a month, a thing that could
jeopardize Palestinian water sources.

Leading media reported on Syrian President Bashar el-
Assad's announcement to UN Special Envoy to the Middle
East, Terje Larsen, saying that Syria will withdraw all
of its forces from Lebanon by the end of April.

Ha'aretz reported (3 April) that March 2005 was the
calmest month in Israel and the territories ever since
the Intifadah started in September 2000. No Israeli
was killed by Palestinian fire and only one Palestinian
(an Islamic Jihad activist) was killed. IDF logs
carried only one warning of an intended suicide
bombing, but a rise was noted in "popular" activities
such as stone and Molotov cocktail throwing. A 40%
decline in detentions in the territories was also
noted.
Maariv related on Sunday that on 30 March, Labor
Ministers Shimon Peres and Haim Ramon held secret
meetings with PA Ministers Muhammad Dahlan and Said
Arikat in an attempt to coordinate disengagement and
antiterror moves. The Palestinians complained that
Israelis are imposing difficulties and torpedoing
attempts to promote ties and introduce alleviations for
the Palestinians. The Israelis complained that the PA
reforms are stuck, Palestinians uninterested in
coordinating the disengagement, and that anarchy
prevails there.

Ha'aretz revealed on Sunday that Finance Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu met privately with Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon at the premier's Sycamore Ranch in the
Negev on 1 April and agreed to ease the tension between
them "for the sake of the unity of the Likud." From a
political standpoint, Likud sources said, it is
impossible to overstate the importance of the meeting.
Speaking at the Haifa Technion on 1 April, Netanyahu
said that he is fully obligated to helping implement
the disengagement plan that was approved by the
government, despite his reservations.

In disengagement related stories, the Jerusalem Post
reported that 20 Yeshivat Hakotel students, two rabbis,
and their families are currently moving to the Gush
Katif settlement. The Gush Katif settlements of
Atzmona, Gadid, B'dolach, Neveh Dekalim and Morag have
absorbed more than 100 families in recent months.
Hundreds more visit the Gush Katif area every day to
show their support.

Maariv reports that rabbis identified with the extreme
right have been drafting a list of rabbis who will
arrive at the Katif Bloc after Passover to join the
settlers' struggle against the evacuation. The rabbis
will sign a petition in which they vow to "gladly go to
prison without violence to prevent the deportation of
Jews and the destruction of the Holy Land."

Yediot Aharonot said that the Israel Police have
recently decided to tighten security on Temple Mount
for fear of attempts by extremist Jews to attack the
Muslim holy place. The police are currently monitoring
some 500 hard-core right-wing activists. There is also
fear that extremists might attack evacuating forces to
stop the Gaza Strip evacuation.

Maariv reported that the Disengagement Administration
head reported yesterday that, though few filed for
compensation so far, some 250 families have already
completed the forms and handed them over to their
representing attorneys. He estimated that eventually
some 70 percent will reach an arrangement and will not
be evacuated by force. Maariv added that a special
reserve army unit was secretly established last week by
the Defense Ministry for one of the most sensitive of
missions-evacuation of the Katif Bloc cemetery.

Most media reported that the first three of eighteen AH-
64D Apache Longbow helicopters (described by the media
as the best attack helicopter in the world) have landed
in Israel on Sunday. These three helicopters are part
of a $650 million military aid package from the U.S. to
Israel.
Yediot Aharonot has learned that the Israeli National
Security Council [NSC] has recently drafted a plan for
the preservation of the Israel's demography. Believing
that by 2020 the Arab minority will be 40% of the
Israeli population as nearly 200,000 non-Jewish
families received citizenship and another 100,000
Palestinians are illegally in Israel, the NSC suggested
that persons applying for Israeli citizenship will have
to prove linkage with Israel, pledge allegiance, and
show they are able to support themselves financially.
A minimal age will also be set, persons who are in
Israel illegally will have to leave to apply, and
applications will be individual, not for extended
families.

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

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "
Israel's interest is for Abu Mazen to succeed in his
efforts to expand the current security lull and spur
the resumption of negotiations on a comprehensive
treaty. This interest obligates Israel to do more to
help him and other moderates in the Palestinian
leadership."

Former head of IDF Intelligence, columnist Shlomo Gazit
wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv: "A secret and
discrete mission by Dov Weisglass should be to the
Muqata in Ramallah, a mission in which he clarifies
what are Abu Mazen's needs and expectations ... and how
we can assist him during the battle he is handling.
The trip to Washington comes to prepare the background
for the next Intifadah; the trip to the Muqata could
maybe prevent it from happening."

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

I. "Strengthen Abu Mazen"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (April
4): "It is clear that in the long run, Abu Mazen cannot
accept the existence of multiple armed organizations in
the PA. But so far, he has not succeeding in reforming
the security services, as both the road map and the
United States require him to do.... Israel's interest
is for Abu Mazen to succeed in his efforts to expand
the current security lull and spur the resumption of
negotiations on a comprehensive treaty. This interest
obligates Israel to do more to help him and other
moderates in the Palestinian leadership. Israel cannot
make do with assuming the role of an outside observer.
It must, to the best of its ability, contribute to the
process that Abu Mazen is having difficulty in carrying
out, even if such assistance will often entail security
risks.... All of the above steps relate to the near
term, and their goal is to help Abu Mazen improve his
standing among the Palestinian public. But over the
longer term, they are insufficient. Israel must start
preparing now for the next stages of its relationship
with the Palestinians. One important step would be to
start genuinely implementing the road map. In order
for the diplomatic process to progress and develop,
Israel must start dealing now with the steps that will
follow the disengagement."

II. " A gesture to Advance Calmness"

Former head of IDF Intelligence, columnist Shlomo Gazit
wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (April 4): "The new
[Palestinian] president has succeeded to force a cease-
fire on Palestinian organizations and ever since there
is almost a complete calm. Indeed he did it his way.
He did not declare war over the organizations, and he
did not confront them.... but as of now the result
stands the test of time.... Israel must free itself
from a set of values and delusions that stand to chance
and have no basis. We should view Abu Mazen and the PA
a partner for negotiations. A secret and discrete
mission by Dov Weisglass should be to the Muqata in
Ramallah, a mission in which he clarifies what are Abu
Mazen's needs and expectations ... and how we can
assist him during the battle he is handling. The trip
to Washington comes to prepare the background for the
next Intifadah; the trip to the Muqata could maybe
prevent it from happening."

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

Summary:
--------

Arab Affairs commentator Smadar Peri writes in Yediot
Aharonot: "When the last Syrian soldier leaves Lebanon,
Israel will lose the Syrian 'address,' despite the fact
that Beirut will keep receiving insructions from
Damascus and Tehran, only in subtler ways.... Saddam's
end is Asad's nightmare, but Syria will not let go of
its backyard."
Block Quotes:
-------------

"False Disengagement"

Arab Affairs commentator Smadar Peri writes in Yediot
Aharonot (April 4): "Only keen observers noticed the
secret visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Harazi

SIPDIS
to Damascus and Beirut two days ago. Ahead of the
visit there by UN envoy Terje Larsen, Harazi slipped
into the Syrian president's bureau to make sure that
when the 'big brother' moves out of Lebanon, Iranian
strongholds there -- Hizballah and the Revolutionary
Guards -- are not harmed. Harazi succeeded.
Yesterday, no one mentioned Iranian presence in
Lebanese Biqa Valley training camps or the arms
shipments from Tehran to the Lebanon, via Damascus....
Moving out of Lebanon, Syrian President Asad is leaving
behind many power elements to make sure that Lebanon
remains a Syria protg: not only Hizballah and the
Revolutionary Guards, but also hundreds of senior
officials and decisionmakers in Beirut were appointed
d
by the Syrian Presidential Palace.... So far, Israel
held Syria responsible for Hizballah activities, ...
but when the last Syrian soldier leaves Lebanon, Israel
will lose the Syrian 'address,' despite the fact that
Beirut will keep receiving insructions from Damascus
and Tehran, only in subtler ways.... Saddam's end is
Asad's nightmare, but Syria will not let go of its
backyard."

---------------------
3. Pope John Paul II:
---------------------

Summary:
--------

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Pope John Paul II was a great man and a friend of the
Jewish people.... We hope that the next pope will honor
his legacy by continuing in his footsteps and showing
even greater moral leadership with respect to Israel
and bringing Jewish-Christian relations further into a
new era."

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

"Pope John Paul II"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(April 4): "The pope who called Jews his 'elder
brothers,' who placed a message of atonement in the
Western Wall, and who opened relations with the Jewish
state, will be remembered with affection and admiration
by the Jewish people. It was hard to fail to be
touched by the compassion and dignity of this man who,
though he represented one religion, came to symbolize
the religious spirit to people of many faiths. It was,
if anything, a measure of the respect Jews had for him
that, despite his many efforts to extend a hand in
friendship, it was also difficult not to be
disappointed that his moral leadership did not extend
further in our time of need. We would not have
expected as much from a lesser pope.... In just these
few words, the pope affirmed the Jews' status as the
chosen people, asked for forgiveness, and pledged
Christian brotherhood with Jews -- all wrapped not just
in a dry statement, but in a profound and personal
gesture.... Pope John Paul II was a great man and a
friend of the Jewish people.... We hope that the next
pope will honor his legacy by continuing in his
footsteps and showing even greater moral leadership
with respect to Israel and bringing Jewish-Christian
relations further into a new era."
KURTZER

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