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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 08 TEL AVIV 005163

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
NSC FOR NEA STAFF

SECDEF WASHDC FOR USDP/ASD-PA/ASD-ISA
HQ USAF FOR XOXX
DA WASHDC FOR SASA
JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR PA
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL FOR POLAD/USIA ADVISOR
COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE FOR PAO/POLAD
COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019

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 and Northern West Bank Disengagement

2. Rocket Attacks on Aqaba and Eilat

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

The electronic media reported that this afternoon in
the settlement of Netzarim, the IDF and police are
completing their evacuation of all Gaza Strip settlers.
(The Netzarim residents will be living in the West Bank
town of Ariel through the end of October.) Seven
settlements were evacuated on Sunday. In addition,
security forces are completing preparations for
tomorrow's evacuation of Sa-Nur and Homesh, two of four
northern West Bank settlements from which Israel will
withdraw under the disengagement plan. On Sunday, the
cabinet approved the evacuation of the West Bank
settlements and of three northern Gaza Strip
settlements. Likud ministers Limor Livnat, Danny
Naveh, Yisrael Katz, and Tzachi Hanegbi opposed the
move. The media reported that security forces expect
major clashes in the West Bank, especially after seven
people were wounded Sunday in clashes between anti-
pullout protesters and security forces. All media
reported that on Sunday, the Defense Ministry started
destroying settlers' houses in the Gaza Strip.

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Israel Radio reported that on Friday, PM Sharon told
the commanders of the evacuating forces in Gaza that
Israel will negotiate with the PA under the road map
only after it dismantles the terror organizations and
puts an end to Palestinian attacks. Jerusalem Post
reported that on Sunday, in an unspecified context,
Sharon vowed to build inside the West Bank settlement
blocs. Referring to the controversial E-1 plan that
would connect Ma'aleh Adumim to Jerusalem, and which
the Palestinians argue would split the West Bank in
two, the newspaper quoted Sharon as saying, "This will
not cause the cutting-off of Judea and Samaria [i.e.
the West Bank]."

Leading media reported on, and Maariv bannered, the
arrest of two young Rehovot residents, associated with
the "hilltop youth" of the West Bank, who tried to set
huge cooking gas tanks on fire in Rehovot during the
weekend. On Sunday, Maariv headlined: "Jewish Terror
Against Jews." Maariv reported that the administrative
detainee Yehonatan Hakimi, who was arrested three days
ago on suspicion that he planned to attack Palestinians
and Israeli security forces, refused to fly to his
parents' in New York, as had been proposed in legal
debates about his case on Sunday.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel and Egypt have concluded
the drafting of an agreement on the deployment of
Egyptian border guards in the area of the Philadelphi
route in Rafah. Ha'aretz notes that the agreement has
yet to be presented to the cabinet and Knesset for
approval in light of an Israeli demand that Egypt
undertake not to transfer arms and ammunition to the PA
in the Gaza Strip.

Ha'aretz reported that the Prime Minister's Office has
come up with a proposal for the "reestablishment" of
the largest Gaza settlement in the Gush Katif, as part
of a plan to expand the town of Nitzan north of
Ashkelon.

On Sunday, Yediot reported that the U.S. will grant
Israel USD one billion in special aid to finance the
disengagement -- half of what Israel requested. The
paper reported that President Bush is expected to
announce in a few days that he is presenting the
"supplemental budget request" to Congress.

Citing AP, Ha'aretz quoted A/S David Welch as saying
Sunday, during a meeting with Palestinian leader
Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza City, that Israel's pullout will
reenergize the road map. During the weekend, the media
wondered whether "shahids" meant "martyrs" (suicide
bombers) or "victims," when Abbas said on Friday that
the "Israeli withdrawal was obtained thanks to the
shahids, the wounded, and the prisoners." Abbas was
also quoted as saying that the "big jihad is starting."
On Sunday, Jerusalem Post reported that Palestinian FM
Nasser al-Kidwa told Egyptian reporters on Saturday
that Israel's disengagement was a defeat and that
Israel would remain an occupying force even after the
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that Sharon
will speak before the UN General Assembly next month.
Ha'aretz says that FM Silvan Shalom will also attend
the assembly session. Yediot reported that, according
to intelligence reports, hopes of the Foreign Ministry
that the disengagement would lead to a breakthrough in
relations with various Arab countries will not
materialize. However, Yediot says that those reports
foresee "diplomatic quiet" for Israel until at least
the PA's legislative elections (in January 2006) and
Israel's Knesset elections (early 2006). Yediot cited
assessments in Jerusalem that Sharon will use that
quiet to "turn rightwards" and regain the Right's
support.

Citing AP, Ha'aretz reported that the Democratic Front
for the Liberation of Palestine announced it will
participate in the Palestinian parliamentary elections
in January, which AP says comes in support of the PA
and its current government by bringing one of the
radical "rejectionist" groups into the political
process. The report also cited a visit on Sunday by
Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei to Damascus, where he
discussed with Syrian President Bashar Assad the
Israeli pullout from Gaza and Palestinian arrangements
for the post-withdrawal period.

Leading media reported that on Sunday, the Israel
Broadcasting Authority announced a boycott of the Al-
Arabiya satellite channel after a Foreign Ministry
official was taken off the air Thursday.

Ha'aretz reported that dozens of musicians from Israel,
the PA, Syria, and Lebanon gathered in Ramallah in
recent days to perform works by Mozart and Beethoven.
Directed by the Israeli Daniel Barenboim, the concert
took place Sunday and was broadcast by the European
ARTE-TV.

During the weekend, all media reported that, during his
visit to a Cologne synagogue on Friday, Pope Benedict
XVI expressed his concern about rising anti-Semitism.

On Sunday, Ha'aretz reported that the Israeli
businessman Yossi Meiman and his Egyptian partner,
Hussein Salem, are initiating the construction of a
billion-dollar power plant in El Arish, which would
supply electricity to Israel and the PA.

Ha'aretz reported that Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son
in the Iraq War and is picketing President Bush's ranch
in Crawford, Tex., has made anti-Israel comments.

--------------------------------------------- -
1. Gaza and Northern West Bank Disengagement:
--------------------------------------------- -

Summary:
--------

Veteran columnist Yaron London wrote in the editorial
of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot:
"[Israel's] policy should not be based on the slim
chance that this road map will result in a stable
agreement."

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The
way in which the disengagement has been conducted until
now provides a message according to which it is still
possible to establish a life shared by the vast
majority of the religious public and the secular
majority."

Yossi Ben-Aharon, who was director-general of the Prime
Minister's Office under former PM Yitzhak Shamir,
argued in popular, pluralist Maariv: "The U.S. isn't
our partner in an agreement with our neighbors; it
isn't our neighbor; and it doesn't have common borders
with Israel."

Veteran print and TV journalist Yaacov Ahimeir wrote in
Maariv: "In the very days when Israel is carrying out a
unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, one could
have thought that [some U.S.] churches would have
blessed [the disengagement] -- but this isn't the case
at all."

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

I. "What Next?"

Veteran columnist Yaron London wrote in the editorial
of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (August
22): "The chances of holding substantive negotiations
will not increase much in wake of disengagement. Sharon
-- as the trustworthy Dov Weisglass interprets his
intentions -- will not budge an inch. The 'big bang'
[in Israeli politics] is a mirage. After wallowing in
sterile negotiations, Israeli politics will once again
be enslaved to settler rhetoric and the manipulations
of the Settlers' Council.... The Palestinian Authority
is shaky.... The immediate meaning of the
democratization of Palestinian society is the greater
influence of the fundamentalists.... The road map
should still be adhered to because the world, mainly
its American patron, is pinning all its hope on it, and
because we should not despair of the aspiration to
peace, but our policy should not be based on the slim
chance that this road map will result in a stable
agreement.... We should not expect that recognition of
the necessity of another and much tougher disengagement
will take root quickly. First, all the myths and
longings, scare tactics and dirty tricks have to be
defeated, but slowly and surely we will face reality.
Opposition from the Left could speed up this coming to
grips, but where is it?"

II. "From Messianism to Sanity"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(August 22): "Using ... spiritual terrorism, the rabbis
and their spokesmen terrorized the entire country.
They said blood would be spilled, promised that the
evacuation would be violent -- and worst of all,
assured the public as a whole that its pure prayers
would stop the government and the army.... And now, a
few days after the disengagement has started, it has
become clear that it will be. Virtually no refusal has
been recorded; bloody violence has been directed, as
usual, at the Arabs. The messianic leadership has
disappointed, not just deceived.... Most of the
religious public in Israel does not want to disengage
from the Zionist state and is not planning to turn it
into a theocratic state by means of a demographic
victory. The way in which the disengagement has been
conducted until now provides a message according to
which it is still possible to establish a life shared
by the vast majority of the religious public and the
secular majority. The revelation of the emptiness and
the lies of the radical messianic vision leaves other
religious leaders -- more realistic and more moderate -
- to make their voices heard bravely and to lead this
important public back to the bosom of Zionistic
sanity."

III. "Descent Into Perdition"
Yossi Ben-Aharon, who was director-general of the Prime
Minister's Office under former PM Yitzhak Shamir,
argued in popular, pluralist Maariv (August 21): "In
one of the interviews he has given, Sharon provided a
sort of explanation for his plan. Since the
Palestinians aren't reliable, he decided to forge an
agreement with the United States, which would determine
Israel's borders. People with a smidgen of knowledge
about international relations and their history will
agree that this is a unprecedented, foolish ... idea.
I served in the U.S. for years and I admire the
alliance between our two countries. But the U.S. isn't
our partner in an agreement with our neighbors; it
isn't our neighbor; and it doesn't have common borders
with Israel. President Bush has justly said that even
if he, too, approves the continuation of Israel's
holding on to settlement blocs, the determination of
Israel's borders is conditioned upon an agreement with
the Palestinians. Thus, this is about an expression of
goodwill by the President, which carries no diplomatic
weight. The Palestinians haven't been impressed by
Bush's promises to Sharon. The view the pullout as yet
another victory in their attrition war against us, and
an encouragement to continue it."

IV. "The Christian Boycott"

Veteran print and TV journalist Yaacov Ahimeir wrote in
Maariv (August 21): "If the following had caused us to
adopt a demagogical statement, we might have said: at
this very time, some U.S. churches are preparing the
ground for a 'crusade' against Israel: the target of
this new campaign isn't the liberation of the Holy
Sepulcher and the Holy Land from the chains of the
infidels (or Muslims) ... but hurting the pockets of
the Jewish residents of Israel, or the economy of
Israel, so that it changes its policy.... In the very
days when Israel is carrying out a unilateral
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, one could have thought
that those churches would have blessed that step -- but
this isn't the case at all.... What will you achieve
with these decisions?.... Isn't the unhappy history of
Christian-Jewish relations sufficient? This isn't an
entreaty to those churches' leaders, but an attempt to
cry out. Perhaps those U.S. churches could learn --
however late -- from another Christian, a Catholic,
though, the 'Vicar [of Christ]' ... the deceased Pope
John Paul II."

--------------------------------------
2. Rocket Attacks on Aqaba and Eilat:
--------------------------------------

Summary:
--------

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The main problem,
which is not only Jordan's, is Iraq.... Weapons ...
make their way to other countries in the region,
including Jordan and Egypt, thus solving an important
logistics problem for [local] terror organizations."

Terrorism expert Dr. Boaz Ganor wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Whether our Arab neighbors are
willing to recognize this or not, global jihad
organizations are becoming a strategic threat to the
entire region."


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

I. "Jordan Is Another Base of Operations For Al-Qaida"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (August 21): "The
Jordanian report that Egyptian and Iraqi nationals,
along with a Syrian, were arrested undermines a
Jordanian official's evaluation [in comments to
Ha'aretz] and raises concerns that Jordan, in spite of
the excellent record of its intelligence forces, is
becoming an arena for Al-Qaida operations.... The main
problem, which is not only Jordan's, is Iraq. Since
the end of the war, Iraq has become the chief supplier
of weapons and explosives to every gang. Large
quantities of weapons and ammunition are smuggled from
Iraq to Saudi Arabia, and thus Iraq has replaced the
previous 'exporter,' Yemen. These weapons then make
their way to other countries in the region, including
Jordan and Egypt, thus solving an important logistics
problem for [local] terror organizations."

II. "Warning Sign to the Security Establishment"

Terrorism expert Dr. Boaz Ganor wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (August 21): "Israel is not world
jihad's and Al-Qaida's main target, and the reasons
these organizations give for their terror attacks,
ostensibly because of the suffering of the Palestinian
people, are nothing more than lip service of the last
few years. But ... Israel was and remains a good
target for terror from the perspective of these
organizations. A terror attack in Israel sends a
symbolic message that is immediately understood among
the masses of their activists and supporters in various
Muslim communities.... Jordan's eastern neighbor [Iraq]
is a magnet for Muslim terrorists from all over the
world, led by arch-terrorist Al-Zarkawi, who comes from
Zarka in Jordan. Bin Laden's pupil aspires, like his
teacher, to undermine any Muslim regime that is not
radical, as part of its overall campaign to establish a
radical Islamic republic throughout the world. Whether
our Arab neighbors are willing to recognize this or
not, global jihad organizations are becoming a
strategic threat to the entire region. The Katyusha
rocket in Eilat and the terror attacks in Egypt are the
first swallows that herald the autumn."

KURTZER

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