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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 003032

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. Israel-U.S. Relations

2. Russia: Yukos Trial

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

Yediot and Jerusalem Post quoted White House Press
Secretary Scott McClellan as saying Tuesday that the

SIPDIS
First Lady's visit to the region is "an opportunity for
Mrs. Bush to reinforce our commitment to promoting
freedom and supporting women and girls in the Middle
East."

All media reported on incoming Shin Bet head Yuval
Diskin's first meeting with the members of the
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
Tuesday. Maariv led with his warning that Israeli
airliners are being targeted. The media also cited his
warning of a rise in Jewish terror and quoted him as
saying: "Israel will not bear another political
assassination." Diskin also warned that Hamas was
showing restraint and not carrying out attacks at the
moment because it wanted to "make it through" the PA
elections, "but that does not mean it will not change
afterward." Israel Radio cited press agencies as
saying that IDF forces killed a Hamas activist near
Rafah, along the border with Egypt. The station
reported on exchanges of fire in the area overnight.
Yediot reported that Palestinian demonstrators and IDF
forces clashed Tuesday in the town of Dura, near
Hebron. Leading media quoted Defense Minister Shaul
Mofaz as saying Tuesday that the greatest threat on the
northern border at present are attempts to abduct IDF
soldiers.

As all media continued to report that one quarter of
the Katif Bloc (Gush Katif) residents have signed on to
the Nitzanim relocation plan, the media cited mounting
pressure from the government on the settlers in the
area to join the plan, including an implied warning
that if an insufficient number of people sign up, the
entire plan to move the settlers en bloc will be
canceled. Ha'aretz says that the government's position
on negotiating with the settlers on the issue will be
discussed in a session of the ministerial committee on
disengagement, headed by PM Sharon, this morning.
Sharon, who visited the Nitzanim area on Tuesday,
complained about the slow activity of building
contractors of the site. Some media quoted contractors
as saying that the government has not presented any
valid plan of action. Ha'aretz reported that Sharon's
visit to New York on Sunday is expected to bring to a
head the raging controversy in the American Jewish
controversy between those for and against Sharon and
the disengagement.
Ha'aretz reported that Sharon advisor Dov Weisglass and
the deputy director of the Finance Ministry, Joseph
Bachar, are slated to visit Washington next week to
discuss American aid for development projects in the
Negev and the Galilee. Israel is seeking millions of
dollars for the projects, as well as to move army camps
from the Gaza Strip as part of the disengagement.
Jerusalem Post quoted Gen. Yosef Mishlav, the
coordinator of GOI activities as saying at a meeting
last week with Vice Premier Shimon Peres, officials
from the World Bank and the Quartet countries, and the
U.S. envoy and adviser on economic affairs to the PA,
that he foresees a booming economy in Gaza after
disengagement. Israel Radio reported that Peres is due
to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Petra today.
Yediot reported that senior Israeli and Syrian
officials could meet at the Davos Economic Conference
in Jordan, which will convene during the weekend.

Citing Reuters, Ha'aretz reported that on Tuesday, U.S.
security envoy Gen. William Ward praised the PA for
reshaping often rival security services, whose mission
he said must include keeping militants in check.

Ha'aretz reported that some 100 survivors of terror
attacks, relatives of those killed, Magen David Adom
(Red Shield of David) paramedics, and volunteers of
Zaka, which works in rescue and recovery assignments
following terrorist attacks, will testify in what
Ha'aretz says U.S. authorities regard as the most
important trial in the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks.
The trial of four Arab-Americans belonging to Islamic
Jihad and raising funds to finance terror attacks,
including some that took place in Israel, is due to
start in Tampa, Fla., on June 6.

Afghan Minister of Women's Affairs Massouda Jalal was
quoted as saying in an interview with Jerusalem Post
that took place in Kabul that Afghanistan supported
ties with "the countries in partnership with the U.S.,
and Israel is one of those countries." However, Afghan
FM Abdullah Abdullah told Jerusalem Post that official
relations between Afghanistan and Israel could start
only following a comprehensive peace in the Middle
East.

Jerusalem Post cited the UN mission in Jerusalem as
saying that Israel will support Qatar's bid for
temporary membership on the UN Security Council. The
newspaper had reported last month on Qatar's petition
to Israel on the matter.

Leading media reported that Jonathan Pollard was
"disappointed and disgusted" by his first meeting ever
with an Israeli ambassador (Danny Ayalon), which took
place at the Butner, N.C., federal prison Tuesday. The
media quoted Pollard as saying that the GOI should stop
lying and act vigorously for his release. Jerusalem
Post quoted a GOI official in Jerusalem as saying that
raising Israel's interest in freeing Pollard was linked
to the disengagement plan, which the U.S. wants to see
succeed, and which it believes has the potential to go
a long way toward changing the Middle East. Jerusalem
Post quoted Pollard's lawyer Larry Dub as saying:
"There are many who believe that Pollard is one of the
trump cards that Americans are dangling in front of
Israel to complete the disengagement plan." Likewise,
Dub said that Sharon was using Pollard -- and the
prospects that he may be freed -- as a way of softening
up right-wing opposition to the plan. Ha'aretz reports
that Pollard has rejected attempts at an Israeli-
American deal linking his release to the implementation
of the disengagement plan, to which he is opposed.

Maariv reported that Moni Micha, the son of Israeli
Consul for Consular Affairs in Miami Shmuel Micha, is
working illegally in the U.S.

Leading media reported that FM Silvan Shalom is slated
to appear before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee next week to discuss the
deterioration of relations between him and Ambassador
Ayalon, as well as allegations that Shalom's wife, Judy
Nir-Moses-Shalom, intervened in ministry appointments.

Citing Malaysia's national news agency Bernama,
Jerusalem Post reported that Malaysia's Deputy PM Najib
Razak called Israel's refusal to let his country's
former PM Mahathir Mohamad enter Jerusalem Tuesday
"arrogant." Mohamad had said during an anti-Semitic
diatribe in 2003 that Jews rule the world by proxy.

Ha'aretz published the results of the monthly Peace
Index Poll, conducted on May 2-3: 56 percent of the
Jewish public support the disengagement plan, while 38
percent oppose it and 6 percent are undecided. A month
ago, support was at 59 percent and opposition at 36
percent, and in February the figures were 62 percent
and 29 percent respectively.

--------------------------
1. Israel-U.S. Relations:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Columnist Avraham Tirosh wrote in popular, pluralist
Maariv: "Silvan Shalom ... is strong in the [Likud's]
Central Committee and weak in Washington, and ...
[Ambassador] Danny Ayalon ... is strong in Washington
but is a nonentity in the Central Committee. Thus,
Ayalon can start packing."
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The
way to free Pollard is paved with restraint and
modesty, his and that of the state he wants to reach
[i.e. Israel]."

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "No one can doubt [AIPAC's]
invaluable contribution in making Israel's case in the
halls of Congress, and one can only hope this affair
will have no lasting impact on its effectiveness."

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

I. "Ambassador Ayalon Can Start Packing"

Columnist Avraham Tirosh wrote in popular, pluralist
Maariv (May 18): "Sharon could not care less about the
Likud's Central Committee on key matters, such as
Palestinian statehood and disengagement. He himself
does not depend on the committee's members, because he
was elected in primaries. But if the Likud organizes
its next [internal] elections in the present form, and
its Knesset members are chosen by the committee's
members and not in primaries, Sharon will need them
badly in order not to find himself in a small minority
within his faction after the elections. So, those who
need the committee's members also critically need
Silvan Shalom, who is strong in the Central Committee
and weak in Washington, and not [Ambassador] Danny
Ayalon, who is strong in Washington but is a nonentity
in the Central Committee. Thus, Ayalon can start
packing."

II. "The Way to Free Pollard"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (May
18): "Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew once employed
by U.S. naval intelligence who then spied for pay on
behalf of Israeli intelligence, lost his freedom nearly
20 years ago.... There are various elements responsible
for Pollard's suffering. First, there is Pollard
himself, who risked the delicate relationship Israel
(and the Jewish communities in his country) have with
the defense establishment and the administration in
Washington, with an adventurism that included elements
of cynicism and greed. A braggart, Pollard refused to
express regret. If he had behaved differently in the
first half of the 1980s, the entire affair never would
have taken place. When it did, if he had behaved
differently, he might have already been free by now.
Next in line of responsibility for Pollard's pain is
the U.S. defense and intelligence establishment, which
suffered a wave of humiliations the year of Pollard's
arrest in 1985, as spies were uncovered in the
intelligence agencies. That establishment was
influenced by the personal hostility from then-defense
secretary Casper Weinberger toward Israel, and objected

SIPDIS
to the special, preferential treatment given Israel.
Those two elements were outside Israel's control, but
Israeli governments -- the third element responsible
for Pollard's plight -- should have behaved more
wisely: not to provoke the Pentagon with periodic
scandals, and not to make Pollard into a national hero,
whose freedom would be trumpeted here as if he were a
redeemed prisoners. The way to free Pollard is paved
with restraint and modesty, his and that of the state
he wants to reach."

III. "The Challenge For AIPAC"

Columnist Calev Ben-David wrote in conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (May 18): "Next week the
[American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)]
holds its annual conference in Washington under one of
the darkest clouds in its history. Two senior AIPAC
employees -- policy director Steve Rosen and analyst
Keith Weissman -- are under investigation by the FBI
for allegedly receiving classified material passed to
them by Defense Department intelligence analyst Larry
Franklin. Franklin was arrested by the FBI earlier
this month; Rosen has reportedly told people he also
expects to be indicted in the near future. AIPAC
dismissed Rosen and Weissman last month. Whether
justified or not, the timing of that dismissal was
unfortunate.... Right now ... Steve Rosen and Keith
Weissman need and deserve AIPAC's public backing, and
AIPAC needs and deserves the support of both the
American-Jewish community and Israel. No one can doubt
its invaluable contribution in making Israel's case in
the halls of Congress, and one can only hope this
affair will have no lasting impact on its
effectiveness. But it's also time for AIPAC to focus
on that mission -- while also heeding Rabin's words to
resist the temptation to become 'shtadlanim'
[lobbyists] in those places in Washington, and
elsewhere, where it is more the business of the Israeli
government to take the lead."

------------------------
2. Russia: Yukos Trial:
------------------------

Summary:
--------
Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in an editorial of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The tragic staged trial of
the Yukos owners has triggered immense anger among
democracy-lovers around the world -- but not in Israel:
not a single voice of protest has been heard here."

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

"Show Trial in Moscow"

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in an editorial of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (May 18): "Last year, Michael
Khodorkovsky, 41, a Russian businessman of Jewish
origin, was the key shareholder in the oil and energy
corporation Yukos. His wealth was then assessed at
around USD 15 billion. He is now awaiting the
conclusion of the verdict in the crowded hall of
Moscow's municipal courthouse, imprisoned in a barred
cage and without hope of a minimally fair trial.... The
tragic staged trial of the Yukos owners has triggered
immense anger among democracy-lovers around the world -
- but not in Israel: not a single voice of protest has
been heard here. Stories about 'Jewish oligarchs from
Russia,' who supposedly transfer billions of 'Russian
Mafia' dollars to Israel -- notions that are totally
unfounded, even metaphorically -- have blurred and
blinded Israeli public opinion's discernment about
what's good and what's evil in Russia, between a fair
trial and the travesty of justice in Moscow."

KURTZER

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