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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.

131130Z Jul 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 TEL AVIV 004329

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:
-------------------------

All media led with a suicide bombing carried out in
front of a Netanya shopping mall on Tuesday afternoon
by an Islamic Jihad member from the village of Atil,
near Tulkarm. Four women were killed and 90 other
people were wounded, six of whom moderately to
seriously. An hour earlier, another Palestinian drove
a pickup loaded with cooking gas canisters into the
West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron. The charge
detonated and he sustained serious burns. The media
say that he was apparently abducted by Islamic Jihad,
which suspected him of collaboration with Israel and
chained him to the car. Ha'aretz reported that State
Department Spokesman Tom Casey and White House Press
Secretary Scott McClellan condemned the Netanya

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SIPDIS
bombing. Quartet representative James Wolfensohn was
quoted as saying in an interview with Israel Radio that
it would be sad if the disengagement did not proceed.
Israel Radio quoted Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld as saying that he does not rule out the
possibility that Iran was behind the Netanya attack.

The media reported that the Prime Minister's Office
vowed a "heavy-handed response" to the two terrorist
attacks, but that it would not specify when that
response would occur, or what form it would take. This
morning, Israel Radio reported that Defense Minister
Shaul Mofaz warned Islamic Jihad that, as far as Israel
is concerned, disengagement is a historic move, and
that Israel will not allow Islamic Jihad to cause it to
fail. The media reported that the PA condemned the
attack. Israel Radio quoted senior GOI sources as
saying that the PA has not done anything against
terrorist elements. This morning, the radio quoted a
spokesman for the PA's Interior Ministry as saying that
the terrorist did not act in agreement with his group's
leadership. Israel Radio reported that IDF forces
entered Tulkarm last night for an unlimited period of
time and arrested 15 Islamic Jihad militants, and that
a closure was imposed on the territories. The radio
said that an armed Palestinian was killed and another
was wounded in clashes in Tulkarm last night. Two IDF
soldiers were lightly wounded. Leading commentators,
such as Zeev Schiff of Ha'aretz, do not rule out the
resumption of targeted assassinations.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana was
quoted as saying on Tuesday, in an interview with
Jerusalem Post, that the EU is willing to serve as a
third-party presence after Israel leaves the Gaza
Strip. Solana said that in such a capacity, the EU
would be responsible for customs control. The
newspaper reported that, according to a source familiar
with the security cabinet meeting held Wednesday night,
Mofaz stated his opposition to the idea, saying that
without a peace agreement, he did not want any third
parties in Gaza. However, Jerusalem Post quoted Prime
Minister's Office spokesman Raanan Gissin as saying
that the government would need to discuss the matter.

All media reported that cabinet secretary Israel Maimon
told Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday that the
final agreement between Egypt and Israel on the
deployment of 750 Egyptian troops along the Philadelphi
route will be presented to the Knesset after the
cabinet has voted on it. The media cited Sharon's
confidence that the Knesset would pass such a bill.

This morning, Israel Radio reported that Sharon closed
off the Gaza Strip to Israelis who do not officially
reside in Gush Katif through the conclusion of the
disengagement move. The media had assumed that such a
step would be taken to block next week's massive three-
day anti-disengagement march. Israel Radio and other
media reported that the Council of Jewish settlements
in the Territories issued a statement saying: "This is
the first time that a Jewish prime minister declares a
siege on Jewish communities." The media reported that
the right-wing group Habayit Haleumi (National Home),
vowed to block roads countrywide every Monday and
Wednesday until Sharon rescinds his order.

The major Hebrew-language dailies reported that Shin
Bet representatives told the Knesset's Constitution,
Law, and Justice Committee on Tuesday that it has
arrested 30 right-wing activists over the past few
weeks on suspicion of conspiracy to commit crimes and
endangering human life. The media reported that Noam
Livnat, brother of Education Minister Limor Livnat and
an anti-disengagement leader, was arrested on Tuesday
in the Gaza settlement of Shirat Hayam, following a
violent confrontation between supporters and police.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that IDF Chief of
Staff Dan Halutz and another senior officer denied
Tuesday that there is any link between the July 7
bombings in London and the April 2003 bombing of the
Mike's Place pub in Tel Aviv.

Maariv reported that, contrary to claims by Gush Katif
farmers that the Evacuation-Disengagement Law will
discriminate against them, the government has reached
an agreement with the state, in which each of them will
receive 67 dunams (around 15 acres) of land near
Hatzerim in the Negev, as well as land that Kibbutz
Zikim, near Ashkelon, sold to the state for Gush Katif
evacuees.

Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli military sources as
saying that a Hizbullah gunman opened fire at an IDF
outpost in the area of Rosh Hanikra, near the
Mediterranean Sea, on Tuesday evening, without causing
any casualties or damage.

Israel Radio reported that a delegation of Shas and
"rebel" Likud Knesset members who were holding talks in
London with senior Palestinians, including chief PA
negotiator Saeb Erekat, interrupted those contacts
following the Netanya bombing.

The media reported on Tuesday's assassination attempt
against Lebanon's pro-Syrian outgoing Deputy PM Elias
Murr.

Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post published some results from
a survey of American attitudes toward Israel and the
Middle East, conducted [on June 19-23] by the Marttila
Communications Group, which the Anti-Defamation League
(ADL) released on Tuesday:
-71 percent of Americans polled expressed support for
the disengagement plan.
-52 percent believed Israel was working harder for
peace than the Palestinians.
-43 percent said they sympathized with Israel.
-68 percent said they thought Palestinians were serious
about peace negotiations, up from 62 percent in the
previous survey [conducted in March].
The newspapers write that a parallel survey of European
attitudes by the ADL produced different results, with
Israel and Sharon receiving low rates of support.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Israel says Abbas
has already stopped saying he wants to confront
terrorism but cannot to do so, and suffices with
displaying his impotence."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one
of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot:
"[Islamic Jihad] made a strategic decision to undermine
the disengagement process and try to drag Hamas back
into the armed confrontation with Israel."

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of
Ha'aretz: "The value of the pledges given in Cairo and
Damascus was made clear Tuesday in Netanya: Islamic
Jihad ... went back to perpetrating suicide bombings in
Israel."

Editor-in-Chief Amnon Dankner wrote on page one of
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Tuesday's terror attacks
should remind us all that in a moment we were liable to
forget all this, to forget the fact that the real, dark
and murderous threat lurks around us and not within
us."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"The lack of ... inter-Palestinian physical conflict
can only suggest a high degree of ideological
agreement."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "The government's decision
Sunday to speed up preparations for completing the
'Jerusalem envelope"' project exposes anew the attempt
to use the security fence for issues that have no
connection to the security of the citizens of Israel."

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

I. "Abbas's Final Test"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (July 13): "The
suicide bombing Tuesday in Netanya may be Palestinian
Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's final test, a senior
Israeli official said Tuesday night.... The terrorist
attack further erodes Abbas's standing among the
Palestinians, and Israeli officials are asking whether
the Palestinians have reached the stage of ignoring his
leadership, [the official] said.... Israel says Abbas
has already stopped saying he wants to confront
terrorism but cannot to do so, and suffices with
displaying his impotence. His calls for Israeli aid
are increasingly dwindling away, as is international
pressure on Israel that could strengthen him. Israel
interprets this as increased American recognition that
there is no medicine that would save Abbas' weak
regime.... Israeli officials say that perhaps the
bombing will shake Abbas up and that maybe this time he
will regain his composure and try to bring the
situation under control but it would be tough to say
they genuinely expect this to happen.... The security
reforms Abbas has promised have yet to take effect.
American security coordinator Lieutenant General
William E. Ward is trying to strengthen PA Interior
Minister Nasser Yousef's position, and is pressuring
Israel to treat him with respect and meet with him.
Ward insists on operating within the Palestinian chain
of command. People familiar with how Ward works say he
has difficulty accepting the lack of hierarchy in the
PA."

II. "Islamic Jihad Is New Hamas"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one
of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (July
13): "As a rule, we are living in a very shaky model of
calm. On the Palestinian side, it is a model filled
with internal contradictions. There is a public
commitment there to restrain terror, but complete
impotence in the war against the recalcitrant
organizations. Four days ago, the Palestinian
President went to Canossa. He invited himself to
Damascus to meet with the leaders of the rejectionist
organizations, headed by Islamic Jihad. The Syrians
held a lunch in his honor, and to mock him invited Abu
Musa -- the leader of the Fatah rebels organization --
to the meal. Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] requested of
the leaders of the organizations and from the Syrians
to halt the military activity and help him with the
calm. Tuesday's terror attacks are the response: they
simply spat in his face. Indeed, most of the terror
attacks that are currently being carried out -- in the
West Bank or in Gaza -- are staged by Islamic Jihad.
This organization made a strategic decision to
undermine the disengagement process and try to drag
Hamas back into the armed confrontation with Israel....
On the Israeli side, the meaning of the shaky model of
calm is taking chances in order to enable a process at
the conclusion of which disengagement will not be
carried out under fire."

III. "The Value of an Islamic Jihad Pledge"

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote on page one of
Ha'aretz (July 13): "At the beginning of the month, a
senior Damascus-based Islamic Jihad figure was summoned
to Cairo.... Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar
Suleiman, who met the man from Damascus, expressed
concern over the organization's wild behavior of the
past few weeks.... The Egyptians left the meeting
encouraged: while the Islamic Jihad leader did not
actually pledge to stop the attacks [against Israel],
he hinted that his organization would try to make do
with actions in the territories. But the Egyptians are
not the only country mixing in Palestinian Authority
affairs. Last Friday, Syrian President Bashar Assad
hosted PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas and the
heads of a number of Palestinian terror organizations
at his palace in Damascus. The latter made do with a
general promise to reign in their activities, if Israel
would avoid military actions. Abbas, Israeli
intelligence sources say, put no real pressure on the
organizations to back up their words. The value of the
pledges given in Cairo and Damascus was made clear
Tuesday in Netanya: Islamic Jihad, whose leader Dr.
Ramadan Shalah took part in the Damascus meeting, went
back to perpetrating suicide bombings in Israel."
IV. "The Real Enemy"

Editor-in-Chief Amnon Dankner wrote on page one of
popular, pluralist Maariv (July 13): "Tuesday's terror
attacks should remind us, after a period of calm, that
we have not yet reached a situation where we have no
enemies and it is so calm around us that we should
cultivate and sanctify internal conflicts, quarrels and
rifts within the people.... Who knows how many more
victims will yet pay with their lives and the wholeness
of their bodies until the end of the disengagement
process, and who knows how many the cruel and
reprehensible Palestinian terror will yet take from us?
There is no justification in the world for us to add
bereavement, injury, tears, and hurt with our own hands
and among ourselves. We are a nation that has known
how to stand united against outside threats, even
during fierce internal debate. We have always known
how to fight the enemy and defend ourselves against it
in a united fashion even when there were different
approaches and ideological clashes among us. Tuesday's
terror attacks should remind us all that in a moment we
were liable to forget all this, to forget the fact that
the real, dark and murderous threat lurks around us and
not within us."


V. "Palestinian Responsibility"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(July 13): "Even if Mahmoud Abbas's effort to sweet
talk the terrorists into ending their attacks were
considered a legitimate attempt, it must be deemed to
have failed.... The Palestinian leadership would have
the world believe that it, too, has embarked on a
creative enterprise, in contrast to Hamas and Islamic
Jihad, who seek to destroy Israel through terrorism.
But Abbas's refusal to touch, let alone dismantle, the
infrastructure of terrorism that he has committed to
eliminating destroys that contention. His refusal to
act led directly to yesterday's terror attacks and
places full responsibility for them on his doorstep.
This refusal also renders irrelevant any purported
difference between him and the 'rejectionist'
groups.... The lack of ... inter-Palestinian physical
conflict can only suggest a high degree of ideological
agreement.... The international community must help
Israel make the Palestinians understand that terrorism
will neither build them a state nor destroy ours.
There is no excuse for continuing to 'help Abu Mazen'
when such 'help' only encourages him to stay on the
unacceptable course he is on. The refusal to recognize
this will only cost more Israeli and Palestinian
lives."

VI. "Sharon Is Dividing Jerusalem"

Ha'aretz editorialized (July 13): "The government's
decision Sunday to speed up preparations for completing
the 'Jerusalem envelope' project exposes anew the
attempt to use the security fence for issues that have
no connection to the security of the citizens of
Israel. In a statement to the High Court of Justice,
the state prosecution did not hide that the government
is taking political, and not just security,
considerations into account.... The concrete walls,
which will further disrupt the close connection with
East Jerusalem residents on the social, political and
economic front, are likely to increase their hostility
toward the State of Israel and their motivation to harm
its citizens.... Ehud Barak was the first Israeli
leader who put the borders of Jerusalem on the
political agenda. [Actually,] Ariel Sharon is the
first Israeli leader who has proven, in an official
government decision, that the borders established
hastily and arbitrarily in 1967 are not sacred."

KURTZER

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