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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 05 TEL AVIV 003399

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. Democracy in Mideast

3. Russia: Yukos Verdict

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

Leading media (banner in Jerusalem Post) reported that
the planned meeting between PM Sharon and PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas was finalized Wednesday for
June 21. The media reported that Abbas underwent a
heart procedure in Amman Wednesday.

Israel Radio reported that 398 Palestinian prisoners
were released this morning. The media reported that on
Wednesday, the High Court of Justice rejected an appeal
seeking to block the release before it takes place.
The petition was filed by a group of Israeli citizens
who were wounded or had relatives killed in attacks by
Palestinian terrorists.

Yediot quoted a senior IDF source as warning that the
army is unprepared for violent resistance against the
disengagement move, including cases of suicide, mass
refusals to serve in the army, the use of arms, and
causing a confrontation with Israeli Arabs. The source
was quoted as saying that veterans of elite units, who
"know exactly where they are going," will lead the
opposition to disengagement. Jerusalem Post and Yediot
reported that on Wednesday, incoming IDF C-o-S Dan
Halutz promised to carry out the disengagement move
with "determination and sensitivity."

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Leading media (banners in Ha'aretz and Hatzofe)
reported that a double suicide bombing planned to take
place in Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood this morning
was foiled by security forces and police. Five Islamic
Jihad activists have been arrested in connection with
the affair; security forces have also seized the two
explosive devices that were to be used in the attack.

Jerusalem Post and other media quoted Sharon as saying
Wednesday that the deadline has now passed for Gaza
settlers who want to join the group that will temporary
settle in the Nitzan and north Ashkelon area while
their permanent homes are being built.

Ha'aretz reported that Deputy Housing Minister Ruhama
Avraham told the Knesset Wednesday that the demolition
of homes in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem
could lead to unrest among residents of the area, but
that the government has no intention of "capitulating
to law-breakers."

Jerusalem Post reported that some 50 members of the
PA's Military Intelligence Force on Wednesday blocked
main roads and stormed public buildings in the Gaza
Strip in protest against the PA's decision to
reconstruct the Palestinian security forces.

Jerusalem Post reported that at the present rate of
trade, by the end of this year Israel will have
exported about USD 1 million in Israeli goods to Iraq,
according to statistics published Wednesday by the
Israel Export Institute (IEI). The IEI also said there
had been an overall increase of 8.3 percent in exports
to Arab states compared with last year, totaling USD 42
million. Jerusalem Post writes that the IEI report
fails to show that exports to most Arab countries are
still lower or nonexistent compared to pre-Intifada
levels, the only exception being Jordan.

All media reported that Finance Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu presented on Wednesday a five-year program of
tax cuts designed to benefit those with low incomes and
to increase workforce participation, including among
mothers.

Channel 2-TV reported last night that Israel's
Ambassador to the U.S., Danny Ayalon, allegedly tried
to influence witnesses to give evidence in his favor in
the investigation being conducted against him. Ayalon
is also suspected of charging unrecognized expenses,
such as the organization of his daughter's bat-mitzvah
party, to the state budget. Maariv and Israel Radio
cited Ayalon's denial of the allegations against him.
Leading media reported that Civil Service Commissioner
Shmuel Hollander has asked A-G Menachem Mazuz to send a
representative of the state prosecution to Washington
to join the commission's investigator examining
possible misdemeanors on the part of the Ambassador and
his wife.

Citing the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Jerusalem Post
reported that on Tuesday, President Bush named Jeffrey
Berkowitz, 26, the White House liaison to the Jewish
community. Berkowitz is a reform Jew.

Maariv cited a new report drafted by the Interior
Ministry's Population Authority, which establishes that
nearly half of the new immigrants who moved to Israel
since 2000 by virtue of the Law of Return are not Jews.

Yediot reported that Ambassador of the Philippines to
Israel Antonio Modena, in an interview with Al
Hasharon, the newspaper's local supplement in the
Sharon area, compared the behavior of the Immigration
Police to that of the Nazis toward the Jews.
------------
1. Mideast:
------------
Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized:
"[Outgoing IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon] says that
this burning was to no avail, and that we are destined
to an eternal war.... Israel has yet to try the only
solution acceptable to the Palestinians, most Israelis
and the entire world -- the solution of a withdrawal
from the occupied territories and the dismantling of
the settlements."


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

I. "Prophesying the State's Destruction"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (June
2): "[Outgoing IDF chief of staff] Moshe Ya'alon took
time out to give a prophetic interview on the
destruction of the state to Ha'aretz's weekend
magazine. Ya'alon will be remembered as a chief of
staff who believed in burning into the consciousness of
the Palestinians, by means of force, that terror
doesn't pay. In his farewell interview, he says that
this burning was to no avail, and that we are destined
to an eternal war.... One can treat the former chief of
staff's statements as the opinion of security expert
No. 1, lose hope, and sit hidden away in bomb shelters
in anticipation of the next wave of terror that he
predicts. Regrettably, one can also say that it is, in
fact, Israel -- and first and foremost the former chief
of staff -- which has proved that it understands only
force. Israel has yet to try the only solution
acceptable to the Palestinians, most Israelis and the
entire world -- the solution of a withdrawal from the
occupied territories and the dismantling of the
settlements.... The disengagement must be perceived as
Israel's choice to cut itself off from the ongoing
attempt to flee reality.... The question of what will
happen the day after the pullout depends less on
Mahmoud Abbas and more on whether Ya'alon's pessimistic
theories continue to rule the roost and whether the
captains of the disengagement see it as the end of the
story.... The State of Israel has already been
established, and does not require Palestinian approval.
On the other hand, Israel doesn't have to give the
Palestinians an independent state, but to try, finally,
to burn it into its consciousness."

-------------------------
2. Democracy in Mideast:
-------------------------

Summary:
--------
Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Should
[President Bush] pull out, the isolated buds of
democracy that have sprouted here over the past two
years would wilt. The United States must clarify
whether it is willing to continue its hefty
investments."

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

"Mubarak, For the Fifth Time"

Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (June 2):
"Something wrong is taking place in Egypt. Egyptian
security forces have thwarted the visit to Israel of
the liberal Egyptian playwright Ali Salem, who was to
receive an honorary doctorate from Beersheva [Ben-
Gurion] University.... Those who oppose the
continuation of the Mubarak presidency are being
monitored and threatened. Paradoxically, the more the
demand for democratization is increasing in Egypt, the
more democratization is shrinking. The peak of this
trend is an amendment to the Egyptian Constitution,
which has turned the demand for democratization into a
farce.... The U.S. understands that this is a joke,
but, given its entanglement in Iraq, it apparently
prefers not to worsen relations with the Egyptian
government. The problem perhaps lies here.... Thus,
the problem lies not with Mubarak and his Arab
counterparts, but with President Bush. If he is indeed
committed to the vision of democratization in the Arab
world, he must continue his forceful and demanding
policy in the region. Should he pull out, the isolated
buds of democracy that have sprouted here over the past
two years would wilt. The United States must clarify
whether it is willing to continue its hefty
investments. If it doesn't intend to do so, it had
better proclaim this now, lest it deceives despondent
human right activists in the Arab world, who will
eventually be the only ones paying the price of the
[United States'] inconsistent policy."


--------------------------
3. Russia: Yukos Verdict:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"When the Russian people increasingly see the benefits
of free societies and free markets in the surrounding
states, the calls for reform and not repression from
the Kremlin will grow louder."

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

"Putin's Trials"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(June 2): "The conviction of Russian-Jewish businessman
Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his sentence to nine years
imprisonment by a Moscow court Tuesday has rightly
given the world another reason for increasing concern
about the acts and intentions of President Vladimir
Putin.... Make no mistake, the Khodorkovsky conviction
by itself will generate its own punishment for Russia
in the chill it will send through the international
business community, and a likely subsequent reluctance
by that community to invest in a country where the
markets no longer look truly free and fair. But that
is not enough. Nor is the admirable rhetoric employed
by U.S. President George W. Bush last month in his
visits to the Baltic States and Georgia, where he
lauded and offered reassurances for their freedom and
independence from Russian domination. Bush was right,
though, that given the West's limited ability to effect
internal reform and democratization in Russia, the best
way to curtail Putin's ambitions is to do just that in
its neighboring countries, bringing them into the
Western sphere of influence. This will require more
than words.... When the Russian people increasingly see
the benefits of free societies and free markets in the
surrounding states, the calls for reform and not
repression from the Kremlin will grow louder. That is
the best way to ensure that everyone in Russia ---
including Mikhail Khodorkovsky -- gets the fair trial
they deserve."

KURTZER

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