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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 002615

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. Iraq

4. Iran: Nuclear Program

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

Israel Radio quoted security sources as saying that
Israel will hand over Qalqilya to PA security
responsibility next week if the Palestinians abide by
their pledge to collect weapons from wanted Palestinian
activists. The media reported that mortar shells and
Qassam rockets were launched at Israeli targets Tuesday
-- attacks which Israel Radio says were condemned by PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas. Israel Radio
reported on a heightened state of alert in Jerusalem
this morning. The station reported that this morning
two Palestinian youths carrying explosives were
captured at a roadblock near Jenin.

Both Maariv and Ha'aretz bannered the mass rally
expected to take place in the Gaza Strip's Katif Bloc
today. Ha'aretz reported that police expect up to
80,000 people to take part in the demonstration.
Yediot reported that the Ashkelon Municipality has
offered to resettle Katif Bloc evacuees in villas to be
built on a private beach. The newspaper cited the
municipality as saying that the Prime Minister's Office
has approved the plan. Ha'aretz quoted GOI sources as
saying that they are not negotiating a deal with
settlers from Gadim and Kadim from the northern West
Bank over an early evacuation date.

Yediot reported that PA Negotiations Minister Saeb
Erekat attended the funeral service for former
president Ezer Weizman Tuesday.

Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz reported that on Tuesday
Abbas promoted Rashid Abu Shabak to the PA's overall
security chief. Jerusalem Post describes him as a
"Palestinian commander responsible for a ruthless
campaign against suspected 'collaborators' in the Gaza
Strip."

All media highlighted the arrival of Russian President
Vladimir Putin to Israel today for a "historic" visit
that will include talks on Iran's nuclear program,
Russia's sale of anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, the
issue of rising anti-Semitism in Russia, and the
question of fugitive Russian Jewish oligarchs in
Israel. A Yediot headline reads: "The Czar's Visit."
Over the past few days, the media noted the fact that
Putin's visit originally coincided with the expected
guilty verdict of Russian Jewish oil tycoon Mikhail
Khodorkovsky. (It was postponed today by three weeks.)

Israel Radio reported that the U.S. Defense Department
has informed the U.S. Congress that Israel has
requested to purchase 100 laser-guided bombs that can
penetrate fortified underground targets, for a sum of
USD 30 million. The radio cited the Pentagon as saying
that the sale of the bombs, which are manufactured by
Lockheed Martin and can be carried by F15 fighter
planes, will not affect the balance of power in the
region. The station reported that American experts
told Reuters that Israel could use the bombs against
Iran's nuclear installations.

Ha'aretz reported that the Construction and Housing
Ministry continues to make plans for the E-1 corridor
linking Ma'aleh Adumim to Jerusalem, despite a
declaration by Construction and Housing Minister
Yitzhak Herzog that this construction is not in the
plan for 2005.

All media reported that the IDF soldier who was run
over by a taxi near Hebron Monday night was probably
killed by friendly fire.

Ha'aretz says that there has been talk in the defense
establishment about ending IAF overflights in Lebanese
air space after the Syrian troops depart, but that the
decision so far is to continue the overflights on the
grounds that they are vital for operational reasons.

In Yediot, Prof. Eytan Gilboa writes that the newly
released CIA report that denies the existence of WMD in
pre-war Iraq is dramatic, but that it will not change
anything.

In a report from Dubai, Jerusalem Post featured
Abdulaziz Sager, the initiator of the think tank Gulf
Research Center (GRC), who urges dialogue with
Israelis, but has also castigated U.S. pro-Israel
activists as "hate-mongering forces."

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "It was the Americans who told the
Israelis in talks in Texas the simple truth: Abu Mazen
is the only horse on the ground."

Block Quotes:
-------------
"It All Starts Now"
Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (April 27): "In Abu Mazen's case, the
first 100 days are less important than the second 100
days, which are starting now. This second 100 days
will include disengagement and will determine Abu
Mazen's fate, the fate of the peace process, the fate
of disengagement and the chances for a certain amount
of stability in the region in its wake. The way Abu
Mazen's administration weathers disengagement, if he
succeeds in weathering it calmly, if he succeeds in
preventing violence, if he takes over land and property
in an orderly manner and ensures quiet in Gaza in its
wake -- all these will determine the future of the
Palestinian leader and perhaps also the political
future of Ariel Sharon, as well as ours.... Abu Mazen's
real allies are in Washington. On the eve of Sharon's
last visit to the U.S., Sharon's aides described Abu
Mazen as irretrievably dead. On the way back they
already spoke differently. It was the Americans who
told the Israelis in talks in Texas the simple truth:
Abu Mazen is the only horse on the ground, and he must
be given all the time in the world and all the patience
that can be mobilized, because there is nothing behind
him. Sharon, as of now, is toeing the line. He will
soon met with Abu Mazen, and hear from him face to face
how he plans to weather disengagement in peace. And
afterwards, we will cross our fingers."

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

Summary:
--------

Liberal op-ed writer Ofer Shelach opined in the
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "The international coalition that joined the
U.S. in its unequivocal demand for a Syrian pullout
could now stare straight into President Bush's eyes and
tell him that he should ask of Israel what he had
requested from Assad."

Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The Syrian
withdrawal from Lebanon, ostensibly completed yesterday
... is far from being satisfactory to the U.S."

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

I. "A New Hope in Lebanon"

Liberal op-ed writer Ofer Shelach opined in the
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (April 27): "Five years after the last IDF
soldier left the soil of Lebanon, Syria is completing
its withdrawal from there after dozens of years of
occupation and exploitation. These are amazing sights,
which would have been inconceivable one or two years
ago.... First of all, one may hope that war-torn
Lebanon, which during the past three decades has mostly
known occupying forces that fought their wars on its
soil, will be able to find the golden path despite
ethnic and religious strife in its society.... What is
really important is not the fact that the U.S. is just
beyond [Syria's] border, and has already shown its
resolve to forcefully intervene in countries whose
regimes don't please it. No less important is the
enlistment of the entire international community,
including countries on whose empathy Syria had counted,
in the elimination of the Syrian occupation of
Lebanon.... Israel can be happy about Assad's
[eventual] downfall.... But it is not certain that
those who are convinced that the U.S. administration --
a half-ton gorilla that set the rules of the game as it
wishes -- will want (or be able) to ignore an
occupation in a less easy spot for the U.S. than
Lebanon. The international coalition that joined the
U.S. in its unequivocal demand for a Syrian pullout
could now stare straight into President Bush's eyes and
tell him that he should ask of Israel what he had
requested from Assad."

II. "Troops Out, But U.S. Doesn't Trust Assad"

Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (April 27): "The
Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, ostensibly completed
yesterday and marked by a ceremony in the Bekaa, is far
from being satisfactory to the U.S. As far as
Washington is concerned, Syrian President Bashar Assad
remains a problematic and dangerous leader in the
region, even if he obeyed the explicit American demand
to withdraw his troops from Lebanon by the deadline.
The U.S. list of complaints against Syria is long and
detailed, beginning with the issue of the Iraqi-Syrian
border.... The terror issue makes up a major component
on the American list of complaints.... Beyond those
complaints, Washington simply does not trust Assad....
As far as the [U.S.] administration is concerned, Assad
at best is unreliable, and at worst is an incorrigible
conniver who should not be engaged until he has met all
the U.S. demands. And the U.S. says Assad is far from
doing so. The withdrawal from Lebanon only erases one
article from the list of complaints. Only when Assad
erases each and every one of the complaints will it be
possible to accept him as a legitimate partner for
dialogue."
---------
3. Iraq:
---------
Summary:
--------

Ben-Gurion University political scientist Niv Gordon
wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The
current [U.S.] administration has adopted [in Iraq] the
model of 'democratic occupation' ... which Israel has
developed in the West Bank and Gaza."

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

"The Occupier's Subcontractor"

Ben-Gurion University political scientist Niv Gordon
wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (April 27):
"Israel is the key to understanding President Bush's
strategy in Iraq. This isn't because it influenced in
any way the decision-making process that led to the
second Gulf war, but because the current [U.S.]
administration has adopted the model of 'democratic
occupation' -- as [former communist Knesset member]
Tamar Gozansky has dubbed it -- which Israel has
developed in the West Bank and Gaza.... Following
protracted negotiations, the Palestinian Authority was
established -- as an entity that took upon itself the
daily organization of the occupied territories'
residents, whereas Israel retained control of 80
percent of the land reserves. Within a few months, the
civil institutions ... were transferred from Israel to
the hands of the young authority, which received a
limited type of sovereignty. Thus, without renouncing
its right to rule in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel
handed over responsibility over the residents to a kind
of subcontractor -- the PA -- abruptly reduced the cost
of the occupation.... The Bush administration found
that strategy particularly suitable to the narrative of
the 'dissemination of freedom' in the Middle East."


--------------------------
4. Iran: Nuclear Program:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Former senior Mossad official Uri Ne'eman wrote in
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Israel must not arouse a
new enemy against itself and create a direct conflict
with the Iranian state and people, with which it may be
possible to maintain normal relations, given a
different regime in Tehran."
Block Quotes:
-------------

"Don't Bomb Iran"

Former senior Mossad official Uri Ne'eman wrote in
popular, pluralist Maariv (April 27): "Iran will have
nuclear weapons, and Israel must prepare to reduce the
threat this embodies to a tolerable or even negligible
minimum. However, Israel must also avoid a direct
bloody conflict with Iran, and must remove from its
agenda all thoughts of an offensive violent Israeli
action against Iran and its nuclear installations, with
the aim of obstructing its nuclearization process....
Iran is a regional power, with everything this implies.
The present Iranian regime wishes for the elimination
of the State of Israel, and harasses it through its
emissaries. However, there is no direct conflict
between Iran and Israel.... Israel must not arouse a
new enemy against itself and create a direct conflict
with the Iranian state and people, with which it may be
possible to maintain normal relations, given a
different regime in Tehran.... Only the U.S. ... can
land massive and ongoing overwhelming blows on Iran and
maintain them operationally over time. The U.S. is
also capable of preparing properly against possible
Iranian reactions, including terror attacks around the
world against its interests and installations, and also
withstand the burden of international criticism and
outcries that will arise. Israel is as far from these
capabilities as a small country is far from a
superpower. It will never have such capabilities.
There is no point in entertaining the illusion that
Israel can prevent, on its own and with its own
strength, Iran's nuclearization, not only today and
tomorrow but from here on, not to say until the end of
time."

KURTZER

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