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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 004420

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

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Key stories in the media:
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On Sunday, Ha'aretz and other media quoted a State
Department spokesman as saying that Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice will cut short her trip to Africa and
visit the area at the end of the week in response to
the escalation of violence in the territories.

During the weekend, all media highlighted both
escalation between Israel and the Palestinians in and
around the Gaza Strip, and the march toward Gush Katif
planned for this afternoon by the Yesha Council of
Jewish Settlements in the Territories. It is slated to
start from the Negev town of Netivot.

All media reported that on Sunday, PM Sharon reiterated
his instructions to the security forces at the cabinet
meeting Sunday to take "all measures, without
restrictions, to halt terrorism." At the same time,
the media said that the government agreed to give PA
Chairman [President] "one more chance" to clamp down on
terror on its own. On Sunday, all media emphasized
that the IDF was poised for a massive sweep into Gaza.
However, Yediot stressed on Sunday that Sharon's
instructions to the IDF to apply force without limits
were a declaration of intentions meant to pressure
Abbas. The media reported that six Israelis were hurt,
two moderately and four lightly, by mortar fire on Gush
Katif on Sunday. Ha'aretz and Maariv reported that on
Sunday, Israeli snipers shot to death senior Hamas
operative Said Siyam on the roof of his home in Khan
Yunis. Ha'aretz reported that an Islamic Jihad
militant was killed Sunday in clashes with the IDF near
Netzarim (Gaza Strip). Leading media reported that
three Hamas militants were assassinated on Friday in
the West Bank. The media reported that the IDF
arrested 21 wanted men from Hamas and Islamic Jihad in
operations in the West Bank on Sunday and last night.

All media reported that, despite a police ban, many
demonstrators intend to participate in the pro-settler
march towards Gush Katif (most banners on Monday). All
media cited IDF and police's fears of violent clashes
between demonstrators and 10,000 to 20,000 security
personnel -- figures varied depending on the media.
The media reported that late on Sunday night, hundreds
of anti-disengagement protesters attempted to block the
Kissufim crossing into Gaza and that they were pushed
aside by police and troops. The media reported that
nine IDF soldiers -- all of whom are students in hesder
yeshivas (in which students combine military service
with religious studies) -- refused on Saturday night to
follow orders and participate in an operation to
prevent Israeli citizens from entering the Gaza Strip.
Two of them, who are hiding in Gush Katif, are
considered AWOL.

Leading media quoted Abbas as saying on Sunday that the
PA is determined to stop the rocket launching.
Ha'aretz reported that an Egyptian security delegation
arrived in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in a bid to forge a
reconciliation between the PA and Hamas's leadership.

Ha'aretz (Aluf Benn) cited reports transmitted to
Jerusalem in recent weeks by the Israeli Embassy in
Washington as saying that Ambassador Richard (Dick)
Jones, a professional diplomat from the State
Department, is the leading candidate to replace Dan
Kurtzer as U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Leading media quoted Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of
Israel's Islamic Movement (northern branch), as saying
on his release from prison on Sunday that he would not
be deterred from violating the terms of his parole,
which bars him from coming to Jerusalem during the next
four months without special police permission.

Jerusalem Post reported that members of Iraq's National
Assembly have told the newspaper that, one month before
the deadline for the creation of the new Iraqi
constitution, a debate on whether to include Jews as an
official minority has broken out in the assembly.

On Sunday, Maariv reported that Mohammed Sadique Khan,
one of London's suicide bombers, visited Israel in
2003, before the bombing of the Mike's Place pub in Tel
Aviv.

On Sunday, Yediot reported that this week, the FBI
warned the Israeli Consulate-General in Los Angeles
that Islamic extremists planned to attack Israeli and
Jewish targets in the city.

On Sunday, Yediot quoted Iran's Intelligence Minister
Ali Yunesi as saying on Saturday that the U.S. and
Israel are trying to recruit spies in Iran.

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

Summary:
--------

Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The fear of a
foiled evacuation of the settlers ... joining the
Americans' resounding failure to stabilize Iraq is the
principal motivating element behind Rice's lightning-
quick visit to the region."

Chief economic editor Sever Plotker opined in the lead
editorial of Yediot Aharonot: "The concept of
unilateral action, which has recently seeped into the
road map ... will not stand up to the test of Middle
East reality."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "It is not clear what more Rice
can say to Abbas, to clarify to him how serious his
weakness is."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one
of popular, pluralist Maariv: "A heavy shadow hovers
over the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. It is the
shadow of the withdrawal from Lebanon.... [But] the
Lebanese model will not recur."

Ha'aretz editorialized: "The Yesha Council is not
waging a campaign for Gush Katif, but a campaign
against the State of Israel."

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized: "The U.S.
Secretary of State is coming to the region and Sharon

SIPDIS
will be required to make a gesture in her honor, and to
pull out the IDF forces."

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Whatever the rationale for putting new [Palestinian]
territorial grievances on the agenda, it would do well
if our government didn't sweep these under the rug."

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

I. "Threatening and Calming"

Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (July 17): "The
Israelis aren't impressed any more with Abu Mazen's
cries of woe and his claims of weakness.... In talks
that were held by Shaul Mofaz and aides to Prime
Minister Sharon with Condoleezza Rice and her close
aides, the Israelis demanded that intense pressure be
applied on Abu Mazen, whose refusal to clash forcibly
with Islamic Jihad and Hamas could severely impede the
evacuation of the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria [i.e.
the northernmost part of the West Bank]. Without
doubt, Rice's decision to come urgently to the region
... stems from the sense of urgency the Israelis and
the Secretary of State's man in the field, General
Ward, managed to impress upon Ms. Rice. The Americans
are invested in Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan, and
this bears upon the Bush administration's prestige.
The fear of a foiled evacuation of the settlers from
Gaza and northern Samaria joining the Americans'
resounding failure to stabilize Iraq is the principal
motivating element behind Rice's lightning-quick visit
to the region."

II. "No Unilateral Withdrawal"

Chief economic editor Sever Plotker opined in the lead
editorial of Yediot Aharonot (July 18): "Apparently,
there is no such thing as unilateral withdrawal: just
as Israel did not succeed in imposing the occupation on
the Palestinians, it will also not succeed in imposing
the end of occupation on them under conditions that are
convenient for it and for it alone. For if the
withdrawal from Gaza is being served to the
Palestinians on a 'unilateral' platter and stands to be
carried out under any conditions, then what card can
Abu Mazen's administration use to subdue Hamas? And
what incentive does Hamas have to yield, even
temporarily? When two nations are in a state of open
bloody conflict, one side cannot extricate itself from
the conflict unilaterally. The concept of unilateral
action, which has recently seeped into the road map, in
which each side will make its moves separately without
taking into account what the other side is doing --
Israel will withdraw from the territories, and the
Palestinians will eradicate terrorism -- will not stand
up to the test of Middle East reality. We must return
to the formula of negotiations with the Palestinians
that Binyamin Netanyahu proposed in the past when
serving as Israel's prime minister: 'If they give, they
will receive; if they don't give, they won't receive.'
This formula is all the more valid today: after all,
Netanyahu only gave an outspoken verbal phrasing of the
principle of 'land for peace,' which has been a guiding
principle of Israeli policy since 1967."

III. "Fire Before the Evacuation"

Ha'aretz editorialized (July 17): "The calm period in
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, since the end of the
Yasser Arafat era and the beginning of Mahmoud Abbas'
regime, may soon be over.... Busy with the complex
problem of evacuating thousands of citizens and
blocking tens of thousands of evacuation opponents,
Israel hoped that pressure from the U.S., Egypt, and
others would curb the Palestinian urge to exploit the
evacuation to attack Israeli citizens and soldiers....
The Israeli support for restraint was replaced by a
recommendation for immediate action, in view of the
rigid evacuation deadline.... The Palestinians are
insisting on proving to Israel that Hamas and Islamic
Jihad not only drove it out of Gaza with fire, but will
continue to fire at the Negev and coastal plain from
the liberated territory and send suicide bombers into
Israel. This could weaken the support for the
evacuation before it begins, or as it progresses.
Abbas failed in his efforts to persuade the Hamas and
Jihad leaders to preserve the cease-fire.... The sudden
escalation is bringing U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice flying to Jerusalem and Ramallah, for
the second time in a month. It is not clear what more
Rice can say to Abbas, to clarify to him how serious
his weakness is. If he doesn't come to his senses
within days, he will be risking not only his rule but
the precedent-setting evacuation of the Gaza Strip
settlements."

IV. "A Heavy Shadow"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one
of popular, pluralist Maariv (July 17): "A heavy shadow
hovers over the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. It is
the shadow of the withdrawal from Lebanon, which the
IDF left overnight a little over five years ago....
Just like we entered Lebanon to seek revenge for the
spectacles of the Yom Kippur War, so we will leave Gaza
to fix the impression left by Lebanon.... [But] the way
things look now, the chances of the disengagement
process from Gaza going quietly and in coordination
with the Palestinians are slim.... Everything will be
ready for an immediate, forceful incursion that could
result in the occupation of parts of the Gaza Strip for
the duration of the disengagement process. As noted,
the Lebanese model will not recur."

V. "A Campaign Against the State"

Ha'aretz editorialized (July 18): "The Yesha Council of
Settlements in the West Bank and Gaza is supposed to
launch its march on Gush Katif today -- a march that is
meant to thwart the decision to disengage from the Gaza
Strip that was made by the state's authorized
institutions.... According to Yesha Council members,
the march is not supposed to involve clashes with
soldiers and policemen or violence of any sort. But
this is a hollow and, in fact, deceptive promise. The
Yesha leaders know very well, from their experience
with similar demonstrations, that violence is implicit
in their plans.... The Yesha Council is not waging a
campaign for Gush Katif, but a campaign against the
State of Israel.... The danger to the state reflected
in the march on Gush Katif is no smaller, and in
practice is even greater, than the danger posed by
other demonstrations that the security forces have been
forced to handle."

VI. "The Writing Was on the Wall"

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (July 18):
"Even if the IDF takes steps against the terrorist
organizations in a land operation, this action will be
very limited. Anyway, the terrorists are already
expecting it, and its effect will be marginal, since
the U.S. Secretary of State is coming to the region and
Sharon will be required to make a gesture in her honor,
and to pull out the IDF forces."
VII. "Dahlan's Deadly Claims"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(July 17): "The fact that the rocket attack on Netiv
Ha'asara last week came a short time after PA Minister
Muhammad Dahlan took Israeli disengagement coordinators
by surprise when he seemingly casually raised demands
for that village's land cannot be written off as a mere
unfortunate coincidence.... Though Dahlan later
declared that the PA isn't filing claims for lands
within Israel proper, he and fellow PA higher-ups may
simply disagree on the definition of what constitutes
'Israel proper'.... Though government spokesmen branded
this a non-starter, the very possibility that the strip
north of the Erez Crossing could now conceivably become
disputed is potentially explosive.... Whatever the
rationale for putting new territorial grievances on the
agenda, it would do well if our government didn't sweep
these under the rug, politically embarrassing as
additional pretexts for Palestinian belligerence may be
at this specific turbulent juncture. Letting even
artificially concocted complaints take hold and fester
can only make matters worse. Even a hint of a new
casus belli must be faced head on now. Israel must
explain its case articulately and unhesitatingly both
at home and abroad, before a new issue is conjured and
gets out of hand."

CRETZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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