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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.





E.O. 12958: N/A

Please note: no Tel Aviv Media Reaction report
Thursday, May 12, 2005, Israel's Independence Day


Israel's 57th Independence Day

Key stories in the media:

All media reported on events related to Remembrance Day
for the Fallen of Israel's Wars, and Israel's 57th
Independence Day, which will be celebrated tonight
through Thursday night. The IDF has imposed a full
curfew in the territories from this morning through
Saturday night. The media cited GOI statistics,
according to which the population of Israel has reached
some 6,900,000, of whom 5,260,000 (76 percent) are
Jews. Numbering 1,350,000, the Arab population
constitutes 20 percent of the population. Another
290,000 (4 percent) are immigrants not registered as
Jewish. 20,368 soldiers were killed in Israel's wars
since the establishment of the state -- 169 over the
past year. Jerusalem Post reported that the
Palestinians are planning to mark Israel's Independence
Day -- commemorating what they call the Nakba, or
catastrophe -- by sounding a siren as an expression of

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In an interview with Jerusalem Post, Finance Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu delivered a "stinging assault" on PM
Sharon's disengagement plan, asserting that it helps
fuel a Palestinian perception that Israel can
ultimately be destroyed altogether under unrelenting
terrorist assault. However, Netanyahu also told the
newspaper that he accepts disengagement as a done deal
that reflects popular will. Leading media reported
that the plan to relocate settlers from the Katif Bloc
(Gush Katif) to the Nitzanim dunes located between
Ashdod and Ashkelon received a boost on Tuesday when
the National Council for Planning and Construction
ordered the drawing up of a detailed master plan for
the area.

Israel Radio reported that the PA has not collected
weapons held by militants in Tulkarm and Jericho,
despite assurances by PA leaders that this has been
carried out and instructions handed down by PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas. The radio also cited
criticism by Abbas of Sharon's postponement of the
disengagement move, and of FM Silvan Shalom's remarks
that a Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections would
forestall the implementation of disengagement. Israel
Radio also quoted Palestinian FM Nasser al-Kidwa as
saying that the peace process will be discontinued if
Israel does not abide by the Sharm el-Sheikh

Ha'aretz and other media reported that the U.S. and UN
are looking into the possibility that an international
force would replace Israel in the Sheba Farms area in
exchange for Hizbullah's disarming and becoming a
political party. The media reported that Terje Roed-
Larsen, the outgoing UN envoy to the Middle East peace
process, met a few days ago with Lebanese government
officials in New York and told them that recognition of
the Sheba Farms area as Lebanese would require a new
border agreement between Lebanon and Syria, ratified in
both parliaments, and then registering the new border
lines with the UN. Israel Radio quoted senior GOI
officials as saying that reports that Israel has agreed
to such a deal are unfounded. The station quoted a
senior Lebanese official as confirming that Roed-Larsen
told him that Israel will return the Sheba Farms area
to Syria next month.

Ha'aretz (Aluf Benn) points out differences between the
U.S. and Israel regarding Iran's nuclear "point of no

Ha'aretz recalls that U/S John Bolton, President Bush's
candidate for the post of U.S. representative at the
UN, has had poor relations with senior State Department
colleagues, notably on the issue of Israel's use of
U.S.-supplied arms. The newspaper evokes a report in
which Bolton wrote that the assassination of Salah
Shehadeh, in which 14 other Palestinians were killed,
did not constitute a violation of the rules of use of
American weapons. Bolton's paper contradicted the
conclusions of another State Department document.

Ha'aretz reported that 12 reservists belonging to
Battalion 925 of the IDF's Armored Corps have announced
that they will refuse to serve, because they are
involved in the struggle to prevent the evacuation of
the Katif Bloc.

Ha'aretz cited a High Court of Justice petition filed
on Tuesday, stating that the state has still not given
Palestinians who own agricultural lands in Jerusalem
permits to enter and work on their land, despite a
ruling by A-G Menachem Mazuz that the 1950 Absentee
Property Law does not apply to them.

Yediot reported that the Kuwaiti security services have
recently arrested Dr. Salam Abu Shaaban, a Kuwaiti
citizen of Palestinian origin, because he wrote a pro-
Israeli article in a Kuwaiti newspaper. He and his
wife were dismissed from their jobs, and his property
was nationalized. Yediot reported that Shaaban told
the Foreign Ministry, which he contacted through its
web site, that fundamentalists were behind those moves,
but that he will not give up his faith in peace.

Yediot reported that the PA and the Arab League plan to
establish a sister-city alliance between Nablus and the
German city of Nuremberg. The newspaper quoted
official Israeli sources in Berlin as saying that the
choice of Nuremberg is shocking because of that city's

All media reported on the dedication Tuesday of
Germany's new national holocaust memorial in Berlin.
Yediot reported that the EU has recently included the
denial of Israel's right to exist in its definition of

Leading media reported that Jewish Agency Chairman
Sallai Meridor told Sharon on Tuesday that he will step
down at the end of June. Ha'aretz quoted a senior
source in the Jewish Agency as saying that Meridor's
departure was meant to allow Sharon to block the
appointment to the chairmanship of Natan Sharansky.

Ha'aretz reported that a committee headed by Interior
Minister Ophir Pines-Paz is formulating a new
immigration policy for Israel that is expected to be as
severe as any in Europe.

Ha'aretz retraces the involvement of U.S. foreign
policy and intelligence in Israel's Independence and
Six-Day wars.

Israel's 57th Independence Day:


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "If
every further evacuation is perceived as a trauma and
not as a building block for peace, an historic
opportunity, nearly the last opportunity to be a truly
free nation, will have once again slipped out of our

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"When put in perspective all [of Israel's] problems are
dwarfed by what has been achieved here since 1948....
Strategically, Israel is ahead of most countries in
tackling the post-Cold War era's biggest menace --

Ultra-Orthodox Yated Ne'eman editorialized: "The
celebrations of the State of Israel's independence ...
symbolize the decline of the Israeli nations under the
leadership of Zionist ideology."

Block Quotes:
I. "It's In Our Hands, and In Our Power"
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (May
11): "Fifty-six years ago, the War of Independence
ended with the armistice agreements, thus achieving the
goal we celebrate today on the 57th Independence Day:
the establishment of an independent state for the
Jewish nation in the Land of Israel.... This
Independence Day there is nothing more optimistic and
important to strive for than the repartition of the
Land of Israel, by agreement and not through war, into
the state of Israel and the state of Palestine, and to
do so with sense and goodwill, on the assumption that
if our neighbors benefit, perhaps so will we.... The
disengagement from Gaza must be the first stage on the
way to a logical partition of the country, an
opportunity to create two independent entities, which
through cooperation could bring prosperity while
pettiness will lead to their destruction. Since Israel
is more powerful and prosperous than its nascent
neighbor, it can allow itself some calculated
concessions.... If the entire intent in the departure
from Gaza is to temporarily calm things down,
neutralize international pressure and buy time, while
looking for new subterfuges with which to grab more
land with the help of the flexible route of the
separation fence; if every outpost in the West Bank
turns into 'the rock of our existence'; if every
further evacuation is perceived as a trauma and not as
a building block for peace, an historic opportunity,
nearly the last opportunity to be a truly free nation,
will have once again slipped out of our hands."

II. "Plenty to Celebrate"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(May 11): "Fifty-seven years after David Ben-Gurion
declared its establishment, the State of Israel's daily
affairs seem, on the face of it, as tiresomely familiar
as those of most others. The Jewish state is deeply
embroiled in diplomatic intrigue, in regional conflict
and in far-flung arms deals, and its politicians are
shoulder deep in struggles with judges, generals, and
fellow politicians. Despite its genuine desire to
realize Isaiah's visions of social justice, Israel also
has its unfair share of poor, jobless and otherwise
disenfranchised people.... Still, when put in
perspective all these problems are dwarfed by what has
been achieved here since 1948.... In fact, Israel's
accomplishments are today impressive not only when
viewed through such historic prisms, but also when
compared with current global trends. Strategically,
Israel is ahead of most countries in tackling the post-
Cold War era's biggest menace -- terror....
Economically, in a developed world in which even
veteran economies like Germany's and France's are
struggling to achieve viable growth rates, Israel has
managed to restore its economic growth even after being
momentarily debilitated by a vicious terror war.... As
we celebrate our independence tonight, we should take
stock of all this and remember that with all the flaws,
setbacks and hardships that involve our existence here
-- it's worth the effort."

III. "No Holiday, No Independence"

Ultra-Orthodox Yated Ne'eman editorialized (May 11):
"Aren't all the deeds of the Zionist leadership, when
it comes to uprooting Judaism ... a sufficient reason
for knocking off balance the festive character of this
day?.... One may assume that those who support the
celebrations this year would have had second thoughts
if the issue of transferring all the territories,
including East Jerusalem, to the Palestinian enemies,
had been part of those festivities.... The celebrations
of the State of Israel's independence ... symbolize the
decline of the Israeli nation under the leadership of
Zionist ideology -- which had dreamed of turning the
House of Israel [i.e. the Jewish people] into a nation
like all others."


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