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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 003139

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. Israel-U.S. Relations

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

Yediot writes that PM Sharon is expected to call on PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas today at the AIPAC
convention in Washington to coordinate positions with
Israel ahead of the disengagement. Leading media
quoted Sharon as saying at a meeting with leaders of
the organization Israel Bonds Monday that his
government "will not negotiate Jerusalem" and that it
will not make any concessions over "the Israeli
capital, which is united and indivisible for eternity."
Sharon was also quoted as saying at the same meeting
that, contrary to the opinion of the defense
establishment, he believes that Israel must leave the
Philadelphi route along the border with Egypt. Yediot
quoted him as saying at the meeting: "Without offending
the Arab world, it must be said that their [the Arab
leaders'] agreements, declarations, and speeches are
not worth the paper they are written on. It is better
to sign agreements with President Bush than with the
Arab world."

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Israel Radio quoted Secretary Condoleezza Rice as
saying Monday before the AIPAC convention that Israel
and the Palestinians must fulfill their commitments in
accordance with the road map. Dr. Rice issued a call
to Israel's Arab neighbors to open the door towards
normalized relations with Israel.

Jerusalem Post quoted Abbas as saying at a meeting with
Labor Party and Yahad (Meretz) politicians that he
intends to ask President Bush, at their meeting on
Thursday, for assurances that implementation of the
road map will begin as soon as Israel completes its
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Abbas was quoted as
saying in an interview with Jerusalem Post: "My goal on
this trip is to succeed in getting American support for
the road map and for peace." Arab League Secretary-
General Amr Moussa was quoted as saying Saturday in an
interview published Sunday in Jerusalem Post that he
would like the Israeli people to carefully examine the
Saudi initiative for normalization of relations with
Arab states because "the Arab people want peace."

Leading media reported that Defense Minister Shaul
Mofaz met with PA Interior Minister Nasser Yousef
Monday to discuss a number of pending issues, including
measures the PA intends to take to restore calm,
coordinating disengagement, and an update on disarming
fugitives in Tulkarm and Jericho. The media reported
that Yousef presented Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz with
a Palestinian plan towards the implementation of the
disengagement plan. According to Yediot and Israel
Radio, Mofaz rejected the plan, saying it is
insufficient, shallow, and superficial. Israel Radio
and Maariv noted that Mofaz requested that the PA
submit "proper and serious plans that include details
of how they will be implemented on the ground." Maariv
reported that Mofaz and Yousef agreed to establish two
new coordination mechanisms ahead of the disengagement
-- one at the ministerial level, the other one
comprised of officers from both sides. Yediot quoted
Brig. Gen Yossi Kuperwasser, the director of IDF
Intelligence's Research Department, as saying a few
days ago that Abbas treats terrorists as heroes and
therefore refuses to disarm terrorist organizations, to
punish terrorists, and to put an end to arms smuggling.

Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra was quoted as
saying in an interview with Jerusalem Post that the
final cutoff date for the evacuation from the Gaza
Strip is the eve of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) on
October 3. Ezra maintained that 1 billion shekels
(around USD 228 million) would be saved if the settlers
agreed to evacuate "quietly" and on their own accord
without police and army intervention.

Yediot and Israel Radio reported that the Hebron Hills
Regional Council plans to set up 40 new residential
units at the Mitzpe Yair outpost, near the settlement
of Sussiya.

Leading media reported that GOI officials admitted on
Monday that arrangements to relocate settlers are at an
impasse. Ha'aretz reported that a group of Katif Bloc
(Gush Katif) farmers has reached an agreement with
Disengagement Administration head Yonatan Bassi to
receive 1,000 dunams (around 223 acres) of agricultural
land from Kibbutz Karmiya in the western Negev, in
addition to land the settlers will receive near their
new homes in exchange for the land they leave behind.
The newspaper says that the agreement was made despite
a decision by A-G Menachem Mazuz.

Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli officials told EU
anti-terrorism coordinator Gijs De Vries on Monday that
Israel is increasingly concerned about a growing
European trend to want to either establish or
strengthen ties with Hizbullah and Hamas. Yediot
reported that Israel has requested clarifications from
the UK regarding reports according to which it will
resume contacts with Hamas, following the group's
strengthening in local elections, and assessments that
the strength of Hamas will grow even further in the
PA's legislative elections. In a different
development, Yediot reported that the GOI is incensed
over a new textbook in Spain, which compares the
separation fence with the Holocaust. Jerusalem Post
also reported that on Monday, the Foreign Ministry
protested the inclusion of an anti-Israeli poem in a
Norwegian matriculation exam.

Israel Radio reported that on Monday, UN Secretary-
General Kofi Anan announced that UN officials have
verified the Syrian troop withdrawal from Lebanon. The
radio also reported that Secretary Rice told the AIPAC
convention that the U.S. will not rest until Syria
completes the troop withdrawal, referring to Syrian
intelligence forces that continue to operate in
Lebanon.

Ha'aretz reported that the Palestinian Election
Commission informed Abbas on Monday that parliamentary
elections cannot be held on July 17, as planned,
because the commission is not yet ready.

Yediot and Jerusalem Post quoted Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez as saying Monday that his country will soon
develop civilian nuclear technologies to assist Iran.

Ha'aretz reported that Egyptian playwright and satirist
Ali Salem, who has paid a heavy price for his
conciliatory attitude toward Israel, will arrive in
Israel next week to receive an honorary doctorate from
Beersheva's Ben-Gurion University. The university said
it chose Salem "as a sign of deep esteem for an
important playwright, writer, and satirist whose talent
and courage has earned him his reputation in Egypt and
throughout the Arabic speaking world."

All media reported that on Monday, members of the
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
lambasted FM Silvan Shalom against the background of
his sour relations with Israel's Ambassador to the U.S.
Danny Ayalon and the alleged involvement of his wife
Judy Nir-Mozes-Shalom in ministerial appointments.

Leading media reported that retired Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan
will head a new political movement -- "Tafnit - An
Agenda For Israel" -- that will work on a strategy to
change the nature of political discourse in all aspects
of public life in Israel.

Leading media reported that associates of outgoing IDF
Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon have started a web site
sharply criticizing Mofaz.

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

Summary:
--------
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized:
"Israel should be interested in Abu Mazen receiving
political guarantees from Washington, which he can then
present as part of his election campaign to the
Palestinian parliament."
Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (May 24):
"As long as terror continues, there is no possibility
of pursuing the path of peace. President Bush is aware
of this. One can only hope that he will properly
explain it to Abu Mazen."

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in the editorial of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "This flammable mixture of
political procrastination, bureaucratic sloppiness,
practical helplessness and the ideological zealotry of
a few who are willing to do anything, is liable to turn
disengagement into a practical and national nightmare."

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global
Research in International Affairs Center, columnist
Barry Rubin, wrote in conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "Uncritically putting a Western
template onto the contemporary Middle East leads to
remarkable distortions, and a failure to understand the
present or predict the future."

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

I. "Guarantees For Abu Mazen"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (May
24): "Abu Mazen is currently asking Washington for a
road map to the road map: guarantees that the stages
and processes that the sides agreed on both in the road
map and at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit will not merely
be adhered to as a gesture of good will but will become
mandatory policy in which the U.S. plays the chief
role. Abu Mazen has the feeling that Washington is
dragging its feet with regard to everything that has to
do with giving backing to the Palestinian side. This
feeling grows stronger in the face of the achievements
that Abu Mazen can already present [the United States]
with, the most important being the cease-fire between
the armed factions and Israel and the chance of turning
Hamas into part of the political fabric of the PA.
These are still fragile achievements.... But Israel ...
is quick to see in this ... a sign that Abu Mazen has
failed miserably. This is the reason for the
conclusion by some of Israel's policy-makers that Abu
Mazen is not a worthy partner and that therefore there
is no point in trying to coordinate the pullout from
Gaza with him, and that the PA is not worthy of
receiving political guarantees from the U.S. This
conclusion is both hasty and unmerited. Israel has an
interest in coordinating the withdrawal with the
Palestinian Authority as well as in seeing Abu Mazen
leading the diplomatic process even in the political
pressure cooker in which he finds himself. Therefore
Israel should be interested in Abu Mazen receiving
political guarantees from Washington, which he can then
present as part of his election campaign to the
Palestinian parliament."

II. "The Abu Mazen-Bush Meeting"

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (May 24):
"Alongside disagreements, many points, which don't
always match Israel's positions, have been agreed upon
toward Abu Mazen's visit [to Washington]... This no
doubt is an important meeting, a very significant one
from the Palestinians' point of view -- of course if
they provide their contribution to the progress of the
peace process in the region. At this time, one would
be hard-pressed to say that they have fulfilled their
duty.... One can only hope that, during his talks with
the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, President
Bush will skillfully explain to him that in order to
advance in the direction of peace, which we all yearn
for, one must first and foremost disarm the terror
organizations and ensure a stable cease-fire; only then
will it be possible to sensibly start talks to push the
peace process forward. As long as terror continues,
there is no possibility of pursuing the path of peace.
President Bush is aware of this. One can only hope
that he will properly explain it to Abu Mazen."

III. "Nothing Is Ready"

Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever
Plotker wrote in the editorial of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (May 24): "Approximately a
year and a half have elapsed since Prime Minister
Sharon first revealed his plan for a full withdrawal
from the Gaza Strip and the evacuation of all the
Israeli settlements. Eighteen months are, by all
accounts, a long enough time to find all the answers to
all the practical questions entailed in evacuation:
when will it begin, when will it end, where will the
settlers move, which of them will agree to move without
violence, how much money will each family receive, what
should be done with the buildings, who will be in
charge of the border crossings, etc. etc. However,
even today, three months away from the assumed (and
temporary) date when disengagement is to begin, there
are no satisfactory answers to any of these questions.
Not only has the fate of the buildings not been
decided, neither has the fate of the people been
decided.... This flammable mixture of political
procrastination, bureaucratic sloppiness, practical
helplessness and the ideological zealotry of a few who
are willing to do anything, is liable to turn
disengagement into a practical and national nightmare."

IV. "Mideast Fantasies"
The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global
Research in International Affairs Center, columnist
Barry Rubin, wrote in conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (May 24): "Uncritically putting a
Western template onto the contemporary Middle East
leads to remarkable distortions, and a failure to
understand the present or predict the future.... A
second element here is a tendency to acceptance of
regional ideology as truth.... The situation has
reached the point that many students studying the
Middle East in European or American colleges get
largely the same messages and understanding of the
region they would receive if they were attending
universities in Damascus or Teheran. Finally, the
culture-denying mind-set includes a strong streak of
utopian and wishful thinking. It is not true that if
people want peace or democracy, or prosperity or
international fraternity they should begin by assuming
these things can be quickly or easily achieved.... What
is especially dangerous here is that once people get
starry-eyed about how everyone is moderate, ideology
does not matter, extremism is a figment of the
imagination, and evidence to the contrary is
rejected.... These are the real difficulties facing a
more accurate Western perception of the Middle East.
Unless they are confronted and addressed, the common
pattern of recent years, in which misunderstandings
produce disasters and crises, will continue."


--------------------------
2. Israel-U.S. Relations:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"What is being threatened is the right of any community
to lobby on behalf of American interests as it sees
them without being tarred with a taint of dual-loyalty
reminiscent of other countries and eras."

Block Quotes:
-------------
"Put Up or Shut Up on AIPAC"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(May 24): "Anyone who has ever attended AIPAC's policy
conference, particularly from other countries where
Jewish communities are free but lie low politically, is
astounded by the confidence, organization and display
of democratic power. Each year, it is a celebration of
a community that revels in the democratic game and
represents the epitome of the unique American tradition
of popular participation in politics and government.
That this year has been no different is no small
triumph over the small, dark cloud that has hung over
the entire event. The cloud, as far as we can tell,
stems less from something that two AIPAC employees may
have done and more from the sense that, somewhere in
the bowels of the U.S. government, what AIPAC does,
indeed what AIPAC is, is suspect.... There comes a
point when the investigation itself becomes suspect,
and when elected officials begin to wonder whether the
mantle of national security is being illegitimately
used to trample civil rights and engage in bureaucratic
warfare.... AIPAC is a proud American institution and
deserves better from a government and Congress which so
lavishly praise its work. Any organization can have
its lapses, but what is being threatened is the right
of any community to lobby on behalf of American
interests as it sees them without being tarred with a
taint of dual-loyalty reminiscent of other countries
and eras. Its accusers should put up or shut up, so
that an organization with 100,000 loyal American
members can go about its democratic business."

KURTZER

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