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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 003189

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. U.S. Nuclear Policy

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

Yediot reported that over 1,000 families (60 percent of
the settlers) from the Katif Bloc (Gush Katif) have
signed a letter that will be sent to the High Court of
Justice today. The settlers state that they will
continue their fight against evacuation but that they
will leave if compelled to. Maariv and other media
reported on foot-dragging and bureaucratic
entanglements foiling settlement relocation efforts.
Ha'aretz's editorial is devoted to the issue. Ha'aretz
reported that the IDF plans to call up close to 8,000
reservists during the implementation of the
disengagement plan, from mid-August until approximately
mid-September. Only a small number of officers and
reservists are expected to take an active part in the
actual pullout, however.

Ha'aretz writes that the Bush administration will not
be demanding that the PA disarm the armed groups in the
territories, including Hamas, at least until after the
Palestinian legislative elections. The newspaper says
that President Bush may even try to bypass Congress and
announce tens of millions of dollars in direct aid to
the PA during his meeting with PA Chairman [President]
Mahmoud Abbas today. Ha'aretz quoted sources in
Abbas's entourage as saying that an understanding has
been reached that the U.S. will make do with a
Palestinian commitment to take action against arms
smuggling into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that senior officers
in the Central Command have suggested that security
control of Jenin be handed over to the Palestinians
even before the withdrawal from the northernmost part
of the West Bank. The media quoted Defense Minister
Shaul Mofaz as saying that he favors handing over
additional cities, but only if the PA begins meeting
its commitments.

All media reported that anti-disengagement protestors
burned tires and briefly blocked traffic on the Ayalon
Freeway, Tel Aviv's main thoroughfare, on Wednesday
afternoon. Yediot cited concerns among the IDF and
police that the hard core of West Bank settlers has
moved into the Katif Bloc.

Ha'aretz reported that the British Association of
University Teachers (AUT) could rescind its boycott of
Bar-Ilan and Haifa Universities today. Israel Radio
cited the London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi as
saying that the Palestinian leadership could dismiss
Prof. Sari Nusseibeh from his post of president of Al-
Quds University following his condemnation of the AUT
boycott, and the cooperation agreement he signed with
the Hebrew University. Jerusalem Post reported that
several Palestinian groups issued statements strongly
condemning Nusseibeh, accusing him of normalizing ties
with Israel and acting against the interests of the
Palestinian people.

Jerusalem Post reported that Fatah legislator Abdel
Fattah Hamayel told the Palestinian Legislative Council
Wednesday that Israel has informed the PA that it is
prepared to discuss the possibility of releasing the
murderers of cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi. The
newspaper reported that Israeli security officials
denied Hamayel's statement and said that if the
murderers were released, they would be arrested and
brought to trial in Israel.

All media reported that Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan
Nasrallah vowed Wednesday in the southern Lebanese town
of Bint Jbail to fight anyone who tries to take away
the group's weapons, which include over 12,000 rockets
capable of hitting northern Israel.

Maariv and Israel Radio reported that last week the
Spanish police arrested a Spanish aeronautical engineer
of Palestinian origin who helped design an improved
model of Qassam rockets for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Jerusalem Post reported that in Damascus on Wednesday,
Marc Gopin, an Orthodox rabbinical student from New
York, spoke about the value of religion in building a
tolerant and caring society along with the Mufti of
Aleppo, Ahmad Hasoun, and the Bishop of the Orthodox
Church of Syria, Ghattas Hazim. The event was attended
by dozens of people and filmed by Syrian television.

Maariv quoted visiting Peruvian President Alejandro
Toledo as saying Wednesday that the disengagement is a
"window of opportunity."

The media reported that on Wednesday, the Knesset
decided to establish a parliamentary investigative
committee that will probe the state of corruption in
Israel. All media reported that on Wednesday the
Knesset approved the nomination of Judge Michael
Lindenstrauss as the next state comptroller.

Yediot quoted a source at Israel's Embassy in
Washington that the outcome of the investigation of
Ambassador Danny Ayalon and his wife will "astonish the
Israeli public."
Leading media reported that in an interview with the
Canadian newspaper Canada Gazette, the famous Israeli
choreographer Ohad Neharin, who received the Israel
Prize this year, dubbed Israel a "war criminal."
Yediot cited the Foreign Ministry as saying that this
was a "grave utterance."

The media cited, and Ha'aretz and Hatzofe led with
Central Bureau of Statistics data released Wednesday,
according to which first-quarter unemployment fell
sharply to 9.1 percent, compared to 9.8 percent in the
previous quarter, and is now at its lowest level since
2002.

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

Summary:
--------

Veteran journalist Yaron London wrote in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "Mahmoud Abbas comes to the U.S. capital to
receive some sort of reward from Mr. Bush for good
behavior. He has an advocate: on the desk of the
President and of the Secretary of State lies a positive
opinion from General William Ward."

Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "From Abbas's
standpoint ... it [is becoming] clear that the U.S.
won't back Israeli demands to dismantle the [terrorist]
organizations immediately and won't consider that
grounds for halting progress on the road map."

Columnist Evelyn Gordon wrote in conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post: "The reasons that made a
blanket rejection of the 'right of return' essential 57
years ago no longer exist, and Israel should update its
negotiating position accordingly. Only thus will it be
able to protect its vital interests in other areas of
the negotiations."

Editor-in-Chief Lutfi Mashour wrote in independent
pluralist Arabic Language weekly Assennara: "The Hebrew
media might be most accountable for nourishing the
'sacred cows' of security, topped by the settlements,
jeopardizing society and the country."
Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "Upon the Completion of the Prime Minister's Trip"

Veteran journalist Yaron London wrote in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (May 26): "Many countries in the world -- such
as Turkey, which abhors Israel's treatment of the
Palestinians -- strengthen their ties with us also
because of how they perceive our influence in the
corridors of the American regime. This power, both the
real and the imaginary, is also the reason for concern
of losing it.... The lobby's display of power is
tantamount to a reminder to the President on the eve of
the visit of the PA Chairman [President] to Washington.
Mahmoud Abbas comes to the U.S. capital to receive some
sort of reward from Mr. Bush for good behavior. He has
an advocate: on the desk of the President and of the
Secretary of State lies a positive opinion from General

SIPDIS
William Ward, the U.S. envoy on security matters in the
Palestinian Authority. He believes that Abu Mazen is
moving in the right direction and that he has taken
real steps to reorganize the security organizations.
The Palestinians hope that in light of their good
report card signed by the general, the President will
declare openly his loyalty to the promise that the
Palestinian state will be established and that those
who draw its borders will not take into account the
ambition of the Sharon government to include the Etzion
Bloc, the Ariel bloc and Ma'aleh Adumim."

II. "Abu Mazen's Hard Time"

Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (May 26): "[At the
annual AIPAC convention that ended Tuesday] the speech
most sympathetic to the Palestinian cause came from
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who showed more
consideration for Abbas than either Condoleezza Rice or
Hillary Clinton. With such a state of affairs, it's
obvious Abbas won't be able to leave Washington with
much. President Bush's associates were quick to
announce yesterday the possibility of a direct American
grant to the Palestinian Authority of 'several dozens
of millions of dollars.' Such a grant would certainly
improve the atmosphere and enable Abbas to return to
Ramallah with something in hand, but he is still very
far from aid that could bring about real change.... In
an interview with Agence France Presse, Secretary of
State Rice explained on Wednesday that Bush's words on
[the United States' current Middle East policy] are
clear and known, so a letter isn't necessary. The
Americans don't intend to ignite debate on Hamas'
future or dismantling the armed organizations at this
time. Rice stressed Wednesday that 'not everything can
happen overnight.' From Abbas's standpoint, that
stance is important because it makes clear that the
U.S. won't back Israeli demands to dismantle the
organizations immediately and won't consider that
grounds for halting progress on the road map."

III. "Why Not Say Yes to the 'Right of Return'"
Columnist Evelyn Gordon wrote in conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (May 26): As long as Israel
continues its knee-jerk rejection of the refugees'
return, the Palestinians will have no problem parlaying
this rejection into international pressure for Israeli
concessions on other issues. And that is precisely why
even Palestinians who genuinely favor a two-state
solution cling to this demand: they know perfectly well
that Israel will never accept it, but it positions them
favorably for getting what they want in other areas.
It is therefore high time for Israel to stop playing
this game. The reasons that made a blanket rejection of
the 'right of return' essential 57 years ago no longer
exist, and Israel should update its negotiating
position accordingly. Only thus will it be able to
protect its vital interests in other areas of the
negotiations."

IV. "Security and the Media"

Editor-in-Chief Lutfi Mashour wrote in independent
pluralist Arabic Language weekly Assennara (May 20):
"Recently, we've started to hear criticism about the
Hebrew media, coming from its senior editors and
reporters, that it has not fulfilled -- and isn't
fulfilling -- its obligation, which is related to the
indulgent coverage of, and the opportunity and stages
granted to the settlers. They have finally awoken ...
especially as they know that the loyal patriotic Hebrew
media has been and will probably continue to be a slave
to security.... The Hebrew media might be most
accountable for nourishing the 'sacred cows' of
security, topped by the settlements, jeopardizing
society and the country.... Although they [the Hebrew
media] have now assumed responsibility, it is unlikely
that this will be translated into true and accurate
media action."


------------------------
2. U.S. Nuclear Policy:
------------------------

Summary:
--------
Defense commentator Reuven Pedhazur opined in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Under the cloak of
secrecy imparted by use of military code names, the
U.S. administration has been taking a big -- and
dangerous -- step that will lead to the transformation
of the nuclear bomb into a legitimate weapon for waging
war."
Block Quotes:
-------------

"The U.S. Removes the Nuclear Brakes"

Defense commentator Reuven Pedhazur opined in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (May 26): "Under the
cloak of secrecy imparted by use of military code
names, the U.S. administration has been taking a big --
and dangerous -- step that will lead to the
transformation of the nuclear bomb into a legitimate
weapon for waging war.... CONPLAN 8022 is a series of
operational plans prepared by Startcom, the U.S. Army's
Strategic Command, which calls for preemptive nuclear
strikes against Iran and North Korea.... Obviously, the
U.S. would not use less than five to ten 'small bombs'
were it to attack Iran or North Korea... None of this
takes into account the political and psychological
repercussions of using nuclear weapons for the first
time in more than 60 years. The Bush administration
regards all this as 'limited collateral damage.' The
nuclear policy that the Bush administration continues
to formulate, including plans for a preemptive nuclear
strike against states that do not possess such weapons
and the development of new nuclear weapons -- is a
recipe for disaster. It is a policy that blurs the
line between conventional and nuclear war. This
blurring could undermine the relative strategic
stability that has set in since the Cold War. In
addition, the Bush administration's approach contains a
message that is liable to encourage Iran and North
Korea to reassess the contribution such a weapon would
make to their own nuclear policies, possibly providing
the incentive that would accelerate such development.
Herein lies an inherent contradiction in the American
approach that on the one hand acts with commendable
determination to prevent the proliferation of nuclear
arms, but on the other hand, contributes toward it by
adopting an irresponsible nuclear policy."

KURTZER

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