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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 04 TEL AVIV 002120

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

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Key stories in the media:
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In reaction to extensively covered remarks President
Bush made yesterday on freezing construction in the
settlements, Ha'aretz cited assurances senior Israeli
officials issued yesterday that a controversial plan to
expand Ma'aleh Adumim to reach Jerusalem, thereby
preventing territorial contiguity for a putative
Palestinian state, would not overshadow the Crawford,
Texas summit between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and
U.S. President George W. Bush next week. Sharon aide
Dov Weissglas, the prime minister's diplomatic adviser
Shalom Turgeman, and Israel's Ambassador to Washington,
Danny Ayalon, held two meetings with U.S. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice yesterday where they discussed
Sharon's upcoming trip. Housing Minister Isaac Herzog,
who discussed the plan with U.S. Deputy National
Security Adviser Elliott Abrams in Washington this
week, said the plan is still in its preliminary
planning stages, and his office is not dealing with it.
However, Herzog said it would be necessary to find a
solution that will enable territorial contiguity
between both Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem and the
northern and southern sections of a Palestinian state.

In a related development, Vice Prime Minister Shimon
Peres left Tuesday for Washington where he is expected
to ask for US financial assistance for development in
the Negev and Galilee, rather than to pay for
disengagement. Israeli officials have been saying for
months the US would be reluctant to give financial
assistance to pay compensation to Gush Katif settlers
because of its long-standing opposition to the
settlement enterprise. Peres is slated to meet with
Vice President Dick Cheney, Rice and National Security
Adviser Stephen Hadley.

All leading media reported on the meeting between
settler representatives and Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon. Ha'aretz reported that the PM met with a dozen
settlers due to be evacuated, who expressed "cautious
optimism" after the meeting. The parties discussed
settler demands that residents of the Katif Bloc be
moved en bloc and more generous compensation. Sharon
told the settlers that he'd consider relocating the
entire settlement bloc to the Nitzanim area, adding
that he would do everything to advance such a plan in
the event the settlers agreed on it. The Nitzanim plan
came under bitter attack yesterday from Green
organizations. Minister of Environment Shalom Simhon
warned "against mortgaging the future of Israel's
landscape just because of a difficult political
problem."

Ha'aretz and other media reported that the general
staff is planning to evacuate settlements continuously,
with the exception of the Sabbath. The action is
expected to begin in the last week of July and last a
month, with a deadline set for Rosh Hashanah. The IDF
is expected to remain in the evacuated settlements for
awhile, based on instructions it receives from the
political echelon. The withdrawal will simultaneously
begin on two Gaza fronts -- the northern settlement
blocs of Eli Sinai, Dugit, Nissanit and Netzarim, and
the southern bloc of Kfar Darom, Gush Katif and Morag.
Evacuation of the four settlements around Jenin -
Ganim, Kadim, Sa-Nur and Homesh -- will begin later.
While this evacuation is expected to take place during
the same period as the Gaza withdrawal, much depends on
the number of forces required for the mission.

Ha'aretz carried a report on a briefing by a "senior
IDF officer" according to which the IDF expects that
the relative calm in the territories to last until
after the disengagement this summer. This calm will
help pave the way for coordination between Israel and
the Palestinian Authority over the evacuation, the
officer said yesterday. The officer, a member of the
general staff, said there has been a noticeable drop
lately in Hezbollah pressure on Palestinian groups to
conduct terror attacks. He said the calming trend
serves the interests of most Palestinian factions. He
said it did not signify an overall change in the
Lebanese organization's policy, but rather a reduction
in the number of directives and amount of funding that
has flowed into the hands of activists in the
territories. Syria is also seen pressing Hamas,
Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian rejectionist
organizations operating from Syrian territory to lower
their profiles.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel and the United States are
conducting large-scale missile defense exercises aimed
at combining systems from both nations, military
officials announced yesterday. The tests include
integrating the Israeli-made Arrow anti-ballistic
missiles with the U.S. Patriot system to create a multi-
layer air defense system. This is the third time the
two countries have conducted the joint exercise, which
is held every two years.

Major media cited a report by the Central Bureau of
Statistics published yesterday that Israel's population
will reach 9.3 million in 2025, an increase of 45
percent compared to 6.4 million at the end of 2000,.
Seventy percent, or 6.5 million, of Israel's residents
in 2025 will be Jewish. The Arab population is
expected to reach 2.3 million, or 25 percent.

All media reported that a resident of Shirat Hayam, a
Gush Katif settlement, was shot yesterday in the
stomach as he worked on the fence around the
greenhouses at Morag in southern Gaza. He was presumed
to have been shot by a Palestinian sniper. His
condition was determined serious, but not critical.
The Jerusalem Post said Palestinian Authority Chairman
Mahmud Abbas on Monday vowed to put an end to
lawlessness and anarchy and said he needed more time to
reconstruct the PA security forces. He said that if he
failed to achieve his goals, he would not remain in his
position even for one day. Speaking to Palestinian
journalists and editors in his Ramallah office, Abbas
denied that he had ordered the expulsion of Fatah
gunmen from the Mukata compound last week. He also
pledged to fight corruption in the PA and disclosed
that he had established a special committee to look
into the personal fortunes of top PA officials. In
response to reports that he was considering postponing
his planned visit to the US, Abbas said no final date
had been set for the trip.

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

Summary:
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Washington correspondent Orly Azolai wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "When Prime
Minister Sharon arrives at U.S. President Bush's farm,
he will be received with a big American hug. With one
hand, Bush will give Sharon a hamburger in a roll, and
with the other hand, he will present the payable
commitment: no more construction in the territories,
without tricks, without bulldozers on the ground."

Defense commentator Reuven Pedhazur opined in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The nuclear
policy-makers in Israel should exploit the possible
opening of the doors of the nuclear club to India and
Pakistan, and lobby the American administration and the
international community also to be admitted to the
club. The time has come to put an end to the fiction of
nuclear ambiguity and to get on the bandwagon that the
Americans are leading for India and Pakistan."

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

I. "Without Tricks"

Washington correspondent Orly Azolai wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (April 6):
"When Prime Minister Sharon arrives at U.S. President
Bush's farm, he will be received with a big American
hug. With one hand, Bush will give Sharon a hamburger
in a roll, and with the other hand, he will present a
payable bill: no more construction in the territories,
without tricks, without bulldozers on the ground....
The White House estimated that Sharon and his cabinet
members are toying with the American kindness. The
Oval Office became even more enraged when the Bush
bureau presented last year's Bush letter to justify the
construction works. A senior White House official said
last week that the Israeli Government has actually
pushed the President with his back against the wall.
Furthermore, it cheated him. Next week in Crawford,
after a brief dialogue between the two ranchers, Bush
will start talking business. He will be friendly and
speak gently, but will use no uncertain terms: That
sympathy is there does not mean there is no pressure."

II. "In the Footsteps of India and Pakistan"

Defense commentator Reuven Pedhazur opined in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (April 6): "Israel
should be paying very close attention to the nuclear
developments in south Asia. After seven years during
which India and Pakistan were at least formally under a
regime of sanctions -- imposed by the American
government because of nuclear testing by the two
countries -- the tide has turned.... President George
W. Bush is in effect inviting India and Pakistan
formally to join the nuclear club, which so far
includes only the five permanent members of the United
Nations Security Council. So, the very person who
initiated an all-out war against the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction -- and even sent his army
to conquer Iraq on the grounds that it was developing
nuclear arms -- has in effect accepted the
'nuclearization' of the subcontinent.... Israel should
exploit these developments.... The nuclear policy-
makers in Israel should exploit the possible opening of
the doors of the nuclear club to India and Pakistan,
and lobby the American administration and the
international community also to be admitted to the
club. The time has come to put an end to the fiction
of nuclear ambiguity and to get on the bandwagon that
the Americans are leading for India and Pakistan."
KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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