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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 005002

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. Gaza Disengagement

2. U.S.-Israel Relations

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

Last night, Israel TV broadcast excerpts of an
exclusive interview that President Bush granted the
station's Washington correspondent Yaron Dekel in
Crawford, Tex. The entire interview will air tonight
on the channel's weekly newsmagazine at 8:00 p.m. (1300
EDT). The President said: "Disengagement is I think a
part of making Israel more secure and peaceful. I
believe that the decision the Prime Minister has made
and will follow through on will be good for Israel."
Bush also said that he understood that Israelis were
concerned that disengagement would create a vacuum into
which terrorism will flow. However, he said, "I happen
to disagree; I think this will create an opportunity
for democracy to emerge, and democracies are peaceful."
He noted that there has been a calm in attacks and that
in the long run the ultimate solution for Israel's
security was "two states living side by side in peace."
In the meantime, he said, "we have to work to dismantle
terrorist organizations, and that is precisely what the
road map calls for." Bush was also asked about the
issue of Iran's nuclear program. Jerusalem Post quoted
a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office as
saying "it was very important" for Bush to "reiterate
his continuing support for the plan. It sends a clear
message to the Palestinians, and to those who oppose
the plan, that the U.S. is squarely behind us on this."

Israel Radio reported that on Thursday, a State
Department spokesman praised the commitment of Israel
and the PA to the withdrawal process, and their courage
and determination. He was quoted as saying that both
sides have taken steps to ensure that the pullout take
place without hitches, and that U.S. administration
officials are summing up the final details of the
withdrawal's coordination. The station reported that
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with PA

SIPDIS
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas and Israel's Vice PM
Ehud Olmert. However, the radio quoted some U.S.
administration officials as saying that there still are
some problems, mainly on the matter of border crossings
between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, and between the Strip
and Israel.

All media highlighted the mass anti-disengagement rally
held last night in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, which was
attended by 150,000 to 300,000 people, depending on the
sources. Maariv banners: "Orange Square." The media
highlighted a call by Tzviki Bar-Chai, head of the
Hebron Hills Regional Council and head of operations
for the fight against the pullout, on disengagement
opponents to reach and block the access road to Gush
Katif.

PM Sharon was quoted as saying in an interview with
Yediot that he is not begging forgiveness from the
settlers, but that he is taking their pain into
consideration. Maariv and other media reported that
the Likud's Central Committee will debate Sharon's
deposition after disengagement. Israel Radio reported
that Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, the committee's chairman,
has decided to convene it in October.

Ha'aretz reported that the IDF and the PA security
organizations have increased their coordination ahead
of the disengagement. The newspaper cited the IDF as
saying that there has been a sharp drop in Palestinian
terrorism in the Gaza Strip, which the army chalks up
to a concentrated effort to increase pressure by the
PA, assisted by Egypt, on terror groups. Ha'aretz
reported that Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, IDF commander in
Gaza, met on Thursday with his Palestinian counterpart,
Brig. Gen. Suleiman Hils, and PA Deputy Interior
Minister Jamal Abu Zayd. Jerusalem Post reported that
on Thursday Abbas strongly condemned Sharon's
statements regarding the future of Jerusalem, the
settlement blocs in the West Bank, and the right of
Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

Yediot reported that 1,083 settler families have
presented compensation requests.

Maariv cited updated defense establishment statistics,
according to which 5,000 to 7,000 people have
infiltrated Gush Katif in recent months. Ha'aretz and
other media reported that on Thursday, the IDF ceased
issuing permits to the Gaza Strip settlements,
effectively admitting that it had failed to prevent the
permits from being exploited to enable massive
infiltration from outside Gaza. Ha'aretz quoted a
senior police source as saying that dealing with those
infiltrators, using all necessary force, will be the
evacuating forces' first assignment when the pullout
begins next week. Ha'aretz and other media say that
about 42,000 troops and police officers (possibly
53,000 if additional units are enlisted) will be
deployed during the disengagement operation. Ha'aretz
reported that the security forces intend to conclude
the operation within three weeks.

Yediot (Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer) reported that
Quartet envoy James Wolfensohn first tried to work with
GOI ministers, but eventually preferred to act in
conjunction with the defense establishment. The
newspaper quoted top Sharon aide Dov Weisglass as
saying that, following the terror years, every decision
pertaining to the Palestinians passes through security.
Israel Radio reported that an agreement has been
reached regarding the handover of the Gaza Strip
hothouses to the Palestinians. According to the radio,
Wolfensohn enlisted USD 15 million from private
investors so that the U.S. administration not be
formally involved in the transaction. The station
reported that no arrangement has yet been found with
Egypt to remove the rubble of the settlers' houses.

Yediot reported that an Israeli travel agency will soon
market organized pilgrimages to the tombs of Jewish
sages in northern Iraq.

Leading media reported that the GOI has rescinded its
travel warning for southern Turkey. The media reported
that on Thursday, a Turkish court arraigned Louai
Sakra, an Al-Qaida activist of Syrian origin, for his
alleged involvement in planning attacks against Israeli
tourists in Turkey.

Yediot and Maariv reported that the Jewish terrorist
Eden Natan-Zada was part of a group that registered in
the Likud one month before he carried out the Shafaram
attack. The newspapers quoted Likud sources as saying
that his registration was not finalized. Yediot
reported that the residents of the West Bank settlement
of Tapuah have asked members of the outlawed movement
Kach to leave their community, saying that they harm
the settlement's image.

Jerusalem Post quoted Richard Hellman, head of the
"small" Christians' Israeli Public Action Committee, as
saying that a coalition of pro-Israel Evangelical
groups is to meet in Washington in the near future to
discuss whether to actively oppose U.S. financial aid
for Israel tied to disengagement.

Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post reported that on Thursday,
a military court sentenced former IDF soldier Taysir
Hayb to eight years in prison for manslaughter in the
fatal shooting of British activist Tom Hurndall in
April 2003.

Yediot quoted Bush as saying that the U.S. will
consider a military action against Iran.

Ha'aretz (English Ed.) reported that the Anti-
Defamation League brought a group of 30 American
Catholic schoolteachers to Israel this week to learn
more about the Roman Catholic Church's role in anti-
Semitism.

Yediot cited statistics published on Thursday by the
GOI, according to which immigration to Israel this year
is at its lowest level since the 1980s, with the
exception of French and Ethiopian Jews.

Iton Tel-Aviv, Yediot's Tel Aviv supplement, features
the Rabin Center, which is under construction in the
city, and for which former secretary of state Madeleine
Albright and former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin
Indyk helped raise funds in the amount of USD 20
million.

A Yediot/Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute) poll:
-Following a "big bang" in Israeli politics,
respondents would give 38 Knesset mandates to a new
party led by Sharon, Shimon Peres, and Shinui party
head Yosef (Tommy) Lapid; a revamped Likud led by
Binyamin Netanyahu would garner 14 Knesset seats; the
rest of the Labor Party 7 seats; Shas: 11 seats; Yahad-
Meretz: 8 seats; Yisrael Beiteinu: 6 seats; National
Union: 6 seats; United Torah Judaism: 6 seats; National
Religious Party: 5 seats; and the Arab parties: 9
seats.
-In the case of a "small bang," in which the Likud
would split, a Sharon-led Likud branch would get 29
Knesset seats; the Labor Party would have 16 seats; and
a Netanyahu-led Likud branch would get 14 seats.

-----------------------
1. Gaza Disengagement:
-----------------------

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The
army is not preparing for war against the settlers, but
the settlers are preparing and how.... This
frighteningly empathetic approach has led to repeated
failures against the settlers throughout the decades."

Senior columnist Dan Margalit wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Sharon won't join Peres and Lapid,
because, during the [expected] election campaign, he'll
stick to threatening, refusenik phraseology. No more
conceding of land."

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in
Ha'aretz: "This is the week to strengthen the hand of
Sharon, the man with the vision and the courage to
extricate us from the Gaza Strip and free us from the
curse it has brought upon us."

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized: "In every
democratic country, the opinion of hundreds of
thousands of demonstrators would have been taken into
account."


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

I. "The Sebastia Syndrome"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(August 12): "Most of the soldiers who will have to
evacuate settlers from their houses next week do not
remember Sebastia, but the evacuating forces' conduct
toward both the evacuees and those who have infiltrated
into Gush Katif is beginning to recall those dark days,
the first days of the emotional manipulation of the
government and the IDF by members of Gush Emunim. The
illegal settlement in Sebastia was evacuated six times,
amid fierce clashes with the IDF, until in winter 1975,
when the compromising, hypocrisy and understanding
began, and continued until the state and the law were
completely defeated by the campaign of thousands who
came from all over the country to prevent the
evacuation.... [Now], the army is not preparing for war
against the settlers, but the settlers are preparing
and how.... This frighteningly empathetic approach has
led to repeated failures against the settlers
throughout the decades since Sebastia, and it is liable
to do so this time as well."

II. "False Predictions"

Senior columnist Dan Margalit wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (August 12): "On Thursday, Yediot
Aharonot published a [public opinion] forecast
according to which a joint list with Ariel Sharon,
Shimon Peres and [Shinui party head] Yosef (Tommy)
Lapid would be the big winner [in new elections], with
38 Knesset members... But a fallacious forecast -- as
far as timing is concerned -- is a common diversion in
politics.... Sharon won't join Peres and Lapid,
because, during the election campaign, he'll stick to
threatening, refusenik phraseology. No more conceding
of land. Perhaps even some military aggressiveness.
Anyway, his nationalistic credibility is in doubt --
certainly were Peres and Lapid to adorn his list. Why
is that forecast as weak as all the other ones?
Because of Qassam and mortar shell statistics. Sharon
and Netanyahu still have something in common. They
both are hostages of Hamas."

III. "The Comeback Kid Skips Town"

Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in
Ha'aretz (August 12): "After his dramatic resignation,
with all the interviews and headlines he grabbed,
Netanyahu has now decided it's time to fly to the
United States. That way he won't be caught leading the
mass rally of Israelis in Orange and their rabbis at
Rabin Square. A typical Bibiyahu maneuver: skipping
town.... In running away, the Comeback Kid is showing
cowardice. His actions are founded on the expectation,
or maybe the macabre hope, that the disengagement will
work out badly and develop into a bloody war between
the settlers and those who are sent in to evacuate
them.... But sources in the defense establishment are
saying that the disengagement will be carried out
quickly and without insurmountable problems. When the
withdrawal is complete, Israel will be the darling of
the world.... This is the week to strengthen the hand
of Sharon, the man with the vision and the courage to
extricate us from the Gaza Strip and free us from the
curse it has brought upon us."

IV. "Hundreds of Thousands Are Calling: Stop the
Deportation"

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (August
12): "During the past two days, hundreds of thousands
of people demonstrated next to the Western Wall and at
Tel Aviv's Kings of Israel [Rabin] Square. They
expressed their protest against the deportation of the
Jewish settlers from Gush Katif.... In every democratic
country, the opinion of hundreds of thousands of
demonstrators would have been taken into account. Only
a leader like Ariel Sharon can ignore the voices
emanating from the nation, and instead enlist the army
to impose his view on it.... The struggle is still
ahead of us. It isn't easy. It isn't simple to
confront tens of thousands of soldiers drafted by Ariel
Sharon, but we're right."

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

Summary:
--------

Shinui party leader and Knesset Member Yosef (Tommy)
Lapid wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv: "Some Jewish
courage wouldn't hurt here. American society is
basically open and enlightened. No senior official
will want to be accused of either anti-Semitic motives
or hatred of Israel."
Block Quotes:
-------------

"'Anti' in America"

Shinui party leader and Knesset Member Yosef (Tommy)
Lapid wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (August 12):
"American Jews employed in one of the key departments
of the U.S. administration -- such as the State
Department or the Pentagon -- won't be promoted to a
sensitive position if he has relatives in Israel. This
isn't official; neither can it be written. Had such a
racist directive been given it would have caused a
scandal and it would have cost the job of the person
responsible for it. The 'anti'[-Israel] people are
doing their job quietly, and the Jews don't want to
wake sleeping lions.... In order to measure the
wickedness of the FBI's sting [in the alleged Pentagon
mole affair], one has to ask why it fabricated a lure
that no Jews could resist: refrain from warning Israel
that Muslim terrorists are about to murder its
representatives. This is also very foolish. Had there
been any amount of truth in that information, the
Pentagon would have hastened to pass it on to Israel
through official channels.... I can recognize occasions
when Jewish leaders in the Diaspora plunge their heads
into a bowl of chicken soup.... [But] I differ with
such as attitude, even if there is Jewish wisdom in
it.... Some Jewish courage wouldn't hurt here.
American society is basically open and enlightened. No
senior official will want to be accused of either anti-
Semitic motives or hatred of Israel."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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