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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 07 TEL AVIV 003001

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. Iran: Nuclear Program

3. Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Danny Ayalon

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

This morning, Israel Radio reported that FM Silvan Shalom has
decided to cut short the term of Ambassador to the U.S. Danny
Ayalon at the conclusion of a probe by a civil service
investigator who has just arrived in Washington. During the
weekend, all media highlighted what Yediot referred to in its
front-page headline Sunday as "the spat" between Ayalon and
Shalom or, more correctly, the FM's wife, Judy Nir-Moses-Shalom.
Ayalon, who is facing the prospect of a civil service
investigation into allegations that his wife treated embassy
staff abusively, alleged in a letter to A-G Menachem Mazuz that
Shalom was meddling inappropriately with personnel affairs in the
Washington embassy. Ayalon claims that Shalom, at the urging of
his wife, had the ambassador's personal aide dismissed because of
Mrs. Shalom's displeasure with the way he handled Madonna's trip
to Israel. All media view the affair as an episode in the
dispute between Shalom and PM Sharon. Several media reported
that Sunday Sharon's bureau declared its support for Ayalon.

Leading media reported that the police are in a state of high
alert today due to the possibility that right-wing activists
could attempt to shut down major roads throughout the country at
5 p.m. as a dress rehearsal for this summer's demonstrations
against the disengagement. Several media reported that on
Sunday, police raided the offices of "Habayit Haleumi" (The
National Home), a radical right-wing group that has adopted the
civil disobedience tactics of Zu Artzeinu from the mid-1990s.
Several media reported that the defense establishment has devised
a plan to greatly increase the protection of the Temple Mount.

On Sunday, Ha'aretz quoted senior Israeli defense officials as
saying that Israel has given its approval for the deployment of
hundreds of armed PA police in all West Bank cities to crack down
on crime. The officials were quoted as saying that the move is
intended to strengthen the PA ahead of the transfer of additional
cities to Palestinian control. Today, Jerusalem Post quoted an
Israeli security official as saying that if the PA has
confiscated the weapons of fugitives in Tulkarm and Jericho, then
Qalqilya could be transferred to Palestinian security control in
the coming week. Comparing formal bans on talks with Hamas with
past curbs on talks with the PLO, a senior Israeli military
official told Israel Radio Monday that prominent Hamas officials
recently elected in PA municipal council elections are holding
regular contacts with IDF liaison and coordination officers.

Maariv reported that the construction of a fence encompassing
Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim will start in a few weeks, despite
the U.S. administration's firm opposition. The newspaper
reported that the timing of the move is not arbitrary and that it
is meant to create facts on the ground before disengagement.
Ha'aretz and Yediot quoted Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz as saying
at Sunday's cabinet meeting that Hamas is growing stronger,
becoming a power in its own right, parallel to the PA, and
building a popular army under the PA's nose. Yediot quoted
incoming Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin as saying that Israel should
prepare for a resumption of terror.

On Sunday, leading media reported that the security situation on
the Lebanese border heated up on Friday, as IDF planes, gunships
and tanks destroyed Hizbullah posts in Lebanon, in response to
Hizbullah shelling of IDF positions.

All media reported that the cabinet voted Sunday 16-2 to approve
an emergency amendment to the Citizenship and Entry to Israel
Family Law that limits family unification for Palestinians from
the territories married to Israeli Arabs, such that only some 200
to 250 Palestinians a year will be able to get Palestinian
citizenship. Hatzofe bannered: "First Loophole Into 'Right of
Return." Israel Radio reported that the police are barring
64,000 Palestinians who have committed criminal offenses from
entering Israel, but have not notified them of the decision and
have not explained it.

Israel Radio reported that this morning, at a checkpoint near
Tulkarm, a Palestinian who tried to stab a soldier was shot dead.

On Sunday, Yediot reported that for the first time, Israel will
open a discreet diplomatic representation in Dubai.

Yediot quoted Vice Premier Shimon Peres as saying on Sunday in an
interview with the Israeli-Arab newspaper Panorama that he has
recently met with senior Iraqi leaders who told him they want to
make peace with Israel.

All media reported on an escalating disagreement between Finance
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Vice PM Ehud Olmert.

Yediot quoted Sharon as saying in an interview with Time Magazine
that the Oslo Accords were the worst mistake that any Israeli
government has made.

On Sunday, Ha'aretz quoted Palestinian sources as saying that the
purpose of PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas's trip to the
U.S. at the end of the month is to present the PA's achievements
and to convince the U.S. about the progress of security and
administrative reforms in the PA. The newspaper reported that at
recent disengagement coordination talks, the PA has demanded that
Israel operate the "safe passage" procedure between the Gaza
Strip and the West Bank.

All media reported that on Sunday, Palestinians commemorated the
anniversary of what they call the "Nakba" (catastrophe) -- the
uprooting of hundreds of thousands of their people with the
creation of Israel. Maariv's headline: "Abu Mazen, Too, in
Mourning Over the Establishment of the State of Israel."
Ha'aretz cited New York Times as saying that the FBI has begun
questioning reporters who had contact with Pentagon official
Larry Franklin, who has been charged with disclosing classified
information to AIPAC officials.

On Sunday, Maariv devoted a double page to pleasure trips to the
U.S. by Israelis this summer -- including tips about five popular
sites.


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

Summary:
--------

Senior op-ed writer Uzi Benziman opined in independent, left-
leaning Ha'aretz: "In reality, Sharon's initiative might crush
once and for all the chance to settle the dispute on the basis of
establishing a Palestinian state beside Israel."

Arab affairs commentator Danny Rubinstein wrote in Ha'aretz: "If
Abbas sticks to his determination to hold the elections on time,
he will succeed. Israel should not intervene in the matter,
because nothing good can come of these elections, whether they
are held on time or postponed."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular, pluralist
Maariv: "Fifty-seven years of independence, and the State of
Israel still does not have two things that a proper state cannot
do without: permanent borders and an immigration policy.... From
now on, clear rules must be put in place."

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Gewirtz opined in an editorial of mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot:

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

I. "What Does Condoleezza Know?"

Senior op-ed writer Uzi Benziman opined in independent, left-
leaning Ha'aretz (May 15): "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice lavished praise on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in an
interview she gave Larry King on the eve of Independence Day.
Rice said Sharon was admirable for the leadership he is
displaying in his willingness to divide the land of Israel....
[Will] he indeed? It is hard to find any person with authority
in the Israeli government who knows for sure where the
disengagement initiative is going. This historic move appears
increasingly like a chain of improvisations rather than a
calculated, well-considered outline that is being carried out
judiciously.... [The disengagement move] implies that Israel will
renounce (at least) part of the territories and hand them over to
the Palestinians. But in reality, Sharon's initiative might
crush once and for all the chance to settle the dispute on the
basis of establishing a Palestinian state beside Israel. After
all, if Sharon intends to make do with pulling out of the Gaza
Strip and four settlements in northern Samaria, then entrench
himself behind a wall and sever the economic ties between the PA
and Israel, he will be condemning the Palestinians to conditions
that would not enable them to build a viable state. By this
seeming renunciation, Sharon is storing the fuel for reigniting
the conflict on the day after the disengagement. Does
Condoleezza Rice know something that we don't?"

II. "Nothing Good Will Come of These Elections"

Arab affairs commentator Danny Rubinstein wrote in Ha'aretz (May
16): "Nothing good for Israel can come out of the upcoming
elections in the Palestinian Authority.... If the vote is held as
scheduled in another two months, there is a good chance the Hamas
will register some real achievements. It might not win, but it
will come out of the elections as a key political force that will
have an important influence -- and not a positive one -- on the
negotiations with Israel. If, on the other hand, if the
elections are postponed, it might destabilize the current
relative security calm.... Abbas, attending an Arab-Latin
American summit in Brasilia, issued an announcement that he has
no intention of postponing the elections. He feels confident
ahead of his upcoming meeting in Washington with President George
W. Bush next week. His confidence is derived from the broad
international sympathy he is enjoying and polls showing that he
is a popular leader among the Palestinians. He apparently is not
bothered by the criticism being leveled at him by Israel, nor by
the vehement criticism of him by Fatah veteran Farouk Kaddoumi,
who has accused him of surrendering to Israeli-American dictates.
If Abbas sticks to his determination to hold the elections on
time, he will succeed. Israel should not intervene in the
matter, because nothing good can come of these elections, whether
they are held on time or postponed."

III. "Setting Limits"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular, pluralist
Maariv (May 15): "Fifty-seven years of independence, and the
State of Israel still does not have two things that a proper
state cannot do without: permanent borders and an immigration
policy.... Well, it is time to put things in order a little bit.
The Prime Minister is trying, in his way, to start to get us a
border. Today his cabinet will hold the first discussion of its
kind, an historical one, about 'immigration policy.' Better late
than never.... From now on, clear rules must be put in place.
Who is an Israeli? Will all ten children of an Israeli Arab man
and a Palestinian woman who married and have been living in
Nablus for ten years receive an Israeli identity card? Will
anyone who wants to marry a woman (or a man) from anywhere in the
world be able to force the state to accept his or her new spouse
as an ordinary citizen?.... A series of restrictions will be
imposed on those who wish to acquire Israeli citizenship. The
fence will be made higher. The Jewish state will defend itself.
Nothing more than what is being done currently in Europe in the
face of the Islamic invasion, but also nothing less -- mostly in
light of the fact that the Jews have no other country. The Prime
Minister and the director of the National Security Council [Giora
Eiland] have only one goal: to preserve the current proportion in
which Jews make up three-quarters of the population of the state,
not to let it dissipate, not to lose it."

IV. "Back to the Return"

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Gewirtz opined in an editorial of mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (May 16): "With the sound
of sirens that opened the Palestinian Nakba day, the yearning for
Jerusalem and the speeches about the right of return, the strong
resemblance between Israelis and Palestinians once again turns
out as a tragic joke.... The validity of the [Palestinian]
insistence on 'return' is identical to 'not one inch'
declarations by the dreamers of Greater Israel. If one infers
from shared and historical facts, one may assume that the
gathering of the Palestinian Diaspora will be very similar to
what the pioneering Jewish minority that created the State of
Israel for the Jewish people found out -- millions [of Jews] did
not stream into the country, and most Jews (including many
Israelis) have chosen to live in other countries."

--------------------------
2. Iran: Nuclear Program:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Unless it is
stopped, a nuclear Iran would overshadow the entire region....
The Iranian clock may be running faster than the world clock."


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

"The World Versus a Nuclear Iran"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (May 15):
"International acquiescence to Iran's conduct would shatter the
framework for the nonproliferation campaign. Additional
countries would be quick to conclude that they wouldn't suffer
should they follow in its footsteps. In the Middle East, the
effect would be even more immediate and severe. Israel wouldn't
be the only one to find it difficult to do nothing. Egypt, Saudi
Arabia and Turkey would identify an Iranian threat, at least in
terms of regional supremacy.... Unless it is stopped, a nuclear
Iran would overshadow the entire region. The three leading
countries in the European Union -- Britain, Germany and France --
are close to despairing of Iran's antics. The next stage is a
report to the Security Council, which would consider sanctions.
Only after these have been exhausted would it be time to use
force, American or otherwise. This is essentially the correct
course of action, whose weakness lies in the fact that,
meanwhile, time is passing -- and the Iranian clock may be
running faster than the world clock."

--------------------------------------------
3. Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Danny Ayalon:
--------------------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "If there
is anyone who should be interested in ensuring that we have the
best representation in the most important capitals around the
world, it is the foreign minister."

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

"Shalom's Scandal"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (May 16):
"It seems that Silvan Shalom has nothing better to busy himself
with than trying to fire one of our most successful ambassadors,
Danny Ayalon in Washington. Ayalon seemed a lackluster
appointment almost three years ago, a relatively unknown foreign
service official whose chief virtue was that he was acceptable to
both Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and then foreign minister Shimon
Peres. By now, however, Ayalon has by all accounts accomplished
a rare triple-play to which all Washington ambassadors should
aspire: he is well-respected in the U.S. administration, and in
Congress, and has established himself as an effective spokesman
in the American media. He has done this, in part, by maintaining
close ties to the Prime Minister's Office, where he served as
Sharon's national security adviser, without shunning his
minister, to the extent that is possible given Shalom's own
conflicts with Sharon.... [But] Shalom is reportedly upset that
Ayalon has been unable to reverse or mitigate the foreign
minister's poor reputation in Washington, where he is not taken
seriously.... Shalom has shown he does know how to work hard,
such as when he campaigned to convince Europe to label Hizbullah
as a terrorist organization, or his efforts to improve ties with
moderate Arab states. Yet there is so much more that could be
done. If there is anyone who should be interested in ensuring
that we have the best representation in the most important
capitals around the world, it is the foreign minister. That he
seems more concerned about having his and his wife's picture
snapped with Madonna is an embarrassment and a scandal, and
certainly no boon to his political future."
KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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