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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 003121

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

-------------------------
Key stories in the media:
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Leading media (banners in Yediot, Maariv, and Jerusalem
Post) reported on PM Sharon's speech before hundreds of
Jewish leaders at the Baruch College in Manhattan
Sunday. The media quoted Sharon as saying that the
disengagement move will take place as scheduled, and
nothing, including Palestinian fire, will stop it. (On
Sunday, Maariv had led with statements by senior IDF
officers that the move would be postponed by six
months, because the set date for disengagement, plays
into the hands of the Palestinians.) The media noted
the warm welcome the leaders gave to Sharon. However,
he was heckled by protesters, hundreds of whom --
including many ultra-Orthodox -- also demonstrated
outside the hall.

Leading media reported that anti-American Muslim
protesters heckled First Lady Laura Bush as she visited
the Temple Mount on Sunday, while dozens of Jewish
demonstrators called for the release of imprisoned spy
Jonathan Pollard during her visit to the Temple Mount.
The media reported on the conviviality of the Fist
Lady's visits to the Western (Wailing) Wall, the
President's Residence, and Yad Vashem. In today's
Maariv, Labor Party Knesset Member and former minister
Yuli Tamir accuses the organizers of Mrs. Bush's visit
in Israel of having arranged meetings for her only with
the wives of senior Israeli officials, and not with
women active in peace or social reform groups.

On Sunday, Ha'aretz reported that the U.S.
administration is divided on what sort of gesture to
make to PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas during
his visit to the White House. Today, Israel Radio
reported that the PA has asked the pro-Israel lobby
AIPAC not to thwart in Congress the promised direct
U.S. aid to the Palestinians, amounting to USD 200
million. Ha'aretz reported that the U.S.
administration does not intend to circumvent
Congressional restrictions during Abbas's upcoming
visit to Washington.

Israel Radio reported that PA Minister of Civilian
Affairs Muhammad Dahlan told Vice PM Ehud Olmert and FM
Silvan Shalom Sunday at the at the World Economic Forum
(WEF) at the Dead Sea, Jordan (WEF), that the
Palestinians will not fire at Israel from the Gaza
Strip after the Israeli withdrawal. The radio cited
Olmert's promise that Israel would remove roadblocks
and take economic steps to improve the situation of the
population in the Gaza Strip, while Shalom reportedly
said the Palestinians had to stop the violence first,
before receiving concessions. Ha'aretz quoted Olmert
as saying at the meeting that Israel is willing to
gradually give up control of the Rafah crossing between
Egypt and the Gaza Strip, eventually handing the area
over to Egypt a few months after completion of the
disengagement plan.

On Sunday, Israel Radio quoted U.S. Senator Gordon
Smith (R-OR) as saying at the WEF that the U.S. will
not risk its prestige in order to establish a
Palestinian state. He said that the U.S. is committed
first and foremost to Israel's security, and the
establishment of a Palestinian state is not a top
priority for the administration. Smith added that the
leaders of Arab states would be better off dealing with
policy problems in their own countries before they
worry about the Palestinians.

Leading media reported that Infrastructure Minister
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer met with Iraqi FM Hoshair Zebari
at the WEF. Jerusalem Post cited the Tourism Ministry
as syaing that Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson met
with UAE Minister of Economy and Planning Lubna Al
Qasimi on Sunday in Amman to discuss ways to promote
tourism in the region. The newspaper also quoted Seif
al-Islam Qadhafi, the son of the Libyan leader, as
saying at the WEF that his country has no problem
talking to Israelis.

Yediot and Israel Radio reported that on Sunday at the
Hawara roadblock near Nablus, the IDF captured a 14-
year-old Palestinian youth who was carrying explosives
on his body. The radio also reported that a charge
exploded next to an IDF jeep in Dura, west of Hebron.
There were no casualties. Israel Radio reported that
the army arrested a young Palestinian carrying dummy
explosives in his clothes at a roadblock near Bethlehem
this morning. The station quoted IDF officers as
saying that this appears to be an attempt to check
soldiers' alertness.

During the weekend, all media highlighted renewed
exchanges of fire with Hizbullah on Saturday.

Israel Radio quoted Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi as
saying that the police are not prepared for all
possible developments during the disengagement process,
in particular an attack on the Temple Mount or an
assassination attempt against the PM.

Leading media quoted AIPAC executive director Howard
Kohr as saying Sunday, as the opening of the
organization's annual convention, that AIPAC would come
out of the Larry Franklin affair safely, and that its
employees' work for Israel both in Congress and the
administration had not been harmed.
Yediot reported that the Foreign Ministry has decided
that Israeli embassies around the world will no longer
issue passports, due to the increase in forgeries.
--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------


Liberal op-ed writer Ofer Shelach opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "Unilateralism is an overtly Israeli
aspiration.... [But] despite everything, we are not
alone."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Our advice to the American Jewish Right and its
Christian allies is: accept the changed realities.
Rather than opposing disengagement, strengthen the
government's hand in securing ... the ... 'consensus'
settlements."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Those who have longed for
independence for years cannot give it up when it is
laid at their doorstep because of a dubious bowl of
lentils."

Terrorism expert Dr. Boaz Ganor wrote in Yediot
Aharonot: "Even if different departments ... of ...
[Hamas] engage in activities of welfare, charity,
religion, education or legitimate political activity --
this does not legitimize an organization that engages
in terrorism."

Arab affairs commentator Danny Rubinstein wrote in
Ha'aretz: "The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, whose
political continuation is not clear to anyone, may yet
turn out to be a step that ... is a symbol of
exhibitions of hostility and hatred, of which the fate
of the settlers' homes is an example."

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

I. "We Are Not Alone"

Liberal op-ed writer Ofer Shelach opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (May 22): "One cannot separate all the firing
this past week, both in the Gaza Strip and along the
northern border, from the preparations being made by
all parties for the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza
Strip.... One thing is true, either way: the unilateral
nature of the withdrawal, in which Ariel Sharon took so
much pride when he sold the initiative to the public,
is wind in the sails of everyone who wants to clip
coupons from the withdrawal. Hamas, which is perceived
by the Palestinian public as the one that expelled the
Jews from the Gaza Strip with blood and fire, now wants
to strengthen that impression in the weeks leading up
to the evacuation. Hizbullah has taken into account
that the withdrawal has created an internal divide in
Israel and assumes that this will deter the IDF from
responding with full force and heating up another
sector.... Unilateralism is an overtly Israeli
aspiration. It stems from the belief, which is shared
by many in the leadership and the public, that there is
no other side. The Arabs, irrespective of whether we
are talking about the Palestinians or a Lebanese
organization, are irrational and unreliable. To count
on them is to make a mistake that will surely end in
catastrophe. Therefore, we need to do, without an
agreement, what is right for us and to impose a new
reality on the entire region. Sometimes, that line of
thinking leads to courageous and correct steps. Other
times, the other side insists on demonstrating its
rationale and reminds us that, despite everything, we
are not alone."

II. "To Israel's Supporters"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(May 23): "Spearheaded by the Zionist Organization of
America, Americans for a Safe Israel and certain
Orthodox leaders, the Jewish Right promised to rally
against 'Sharon's deportation plan.' Disengagement,
say its American opponents, is a continuation of Oslo,
the result of delusional thinking by Israelis under
siege. That is where the U.S. Jewish Right is most
mistaken. Disengagement is not Oslo redux. The plan,
though abysmally articulated by Sharon, doesn't promise
a New Middle East, or even an end to hostilities.
Indeed, disengagement is a reaction to post-Oslo
realities.... Most Israelis across the political
spectrum accept that the presence of 8,000 Jews among
one million hostile Palestinians does not serve
Israel's interests. Moreover, far from seeing
disengagement as a defeat of the settlement enterprise,
many see it as the best chance to save as much of it as
possible, thereby expanding Israel's eventual permanent
borders beyond the pre-1967 lines without threatening
the nation's democratic character.... Our advice to the
American Jewish Right and its Christian allies is:
accept the changed realities. Rather than opposing
disengagement, strengthen the government's hand in
securing Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and the other
'consensus' settlements.... The U.S. Jewish Right and
its evangelical supporters need to stop undermining
Ariel Sharon and invest their energies in holding Abbas
to account and encouraging Bush to go beyond his April
letter in bolstering Israel's position."
III. "Who's Afraid of Independence?"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (May 23): "The disengagement plan
actually pulls the rug out from under the Israeli
argument that the withdrawal means an end to the
occupation in the region.... It is difficult to think
of a more powerful symbol of occupation than a foreign
country's control over the border passages of its
neighbor, whether via land, sea or air.... It is
difficult to blame the Palestinians of paranoia. Quite
a few Israelis really do believe that 'Gaza first' is
'Gaza last.' But those who have longed for
independence for years cannot give it up when it is
laid at their doorstep because of a dubious bowl of
lentils. For many years, Gaza got along without an
'economic envelope,' and as for the fears that the
economic separation will turn into political separation
-- that will only happen if and when the independent
Palestinian government turns the Gaza Strip into a
terror state."

IV. "What To Do With the Elected Hamas Officials"

Terrorism expert Dr. Boaz Ganor wrote in Yediot
Aharonot (May 23): "Even if different departments or
activists of the organization [Hamas] engage in
activities of welfare, charity, religion, education or
legitimate political activity -- this does not
legitimize an organization that engages in terrorism.
On the basis of this principle, Israel should refuse to
maintain any contact with the elected officials of
Hamas until one of the following two scenarios takes
place: either Hamas declares its cessation of terrorist
activity, is disarmed and ceases terrorist activity in
practice; or the elected official declares his
disengagement from Hamas and announces himself to be an
independent elected official. Even if the declaration
is no more than lip service, it will prevent the
international legitimacy that could be granted the
terror organization without it. If both scenarios fail
to materialize, Israel should coordinate its activity
with the local council solely through the agency of an
appointed committee, or through a third party such as
the Red Cross."

V. "Palestinians' Mass March on Netzarim"

Arab affairs commentator Danny Rubinstein wrote in
Ha'aretz (May 23): "In Gaza they are talking about the
fact that tens of thousands will raid the settlements
in order to destroy them, down to their foundations.
In other words, they will raid the homes of the
settlers not to loot them, but for the purpose of
revenge.... The PA knows this, and its members are
afraid that it will be impossible to prevent the attack
of the masses. The entire world will then witness the
pictures of destruction, and will speak of the
Palestinians as uncultured vandals. That is why they
prefer to have the State of Israel destroy
everything.... The preparations for the Israeli
withdrawal from Gaza are accompanied by an atmosphere
of hostility and hatred, mutual suspicion and violence.
The root of the evil is the unilateral nature of the
move. The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, whose
political continuation is not clear to anyone, may yet
turn out to be a step that contains no message of
reconciliation and calm -- but, on the contrary, is a
symbol of exhibitions of hostility and hatred, of which
the fate of the settlers' homes is an example."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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