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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.

241358Z Aug 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 TEL AVIV 005227

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

Gaza and Northern West Bank Disengagement

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

Following the evacuation of the West Bank settlements
of Homesh and Sa-Nur, which took place Tuesday without
serious violence, all media summed up the
implementation of the disengagement move: 25
settlements and 15,000 settlers were evacuated in six
days. Globes reported that unexpected expenditures
have raised the cost of the disengagement to USD 10
billion.

Ha'aretz, Jerusalem Post, and Israel Radio cited
comments made by President Bush, who talked with
reporters in Idaho on Tuesday. The media quoted
President Bush as saying Tuesday: "I want to
congratulate Prime Minister Sharon for having made a
very tough decision." The President was also quoted as
saying: "President Abbas has made a commitment to fight
off the violence, because he understands a democracy
can't exist with terrorist groups trying to take the
law into their own hands." Bush added: "I understand
that in order for [the road map] to go forward there
must be confidence -- confidence that the Palestinian
people will have in their own government to perform,
confidence with the Israelis that they'll see a
peaceful state emerging. And therefore it's very
important for the world to stay focused on Gaza, and
helping Gaza -- helping the Gaza economy get going,
helping rebuild the settlements for Gaza -- for the
people of Gaza." Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio
reported that today, Vice PM and Finance Minister Ehud
Olmert will discuss with Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice the Israeli withdrawal, the continuation of the
road map, and post-disengagement U.S. aid to Israel.
Ha'aretz says that high-level U.S.-Israel talks on the
assistance request are expected to last several months,
as it can only be sent to Congress as part of a
supplemental budget, which would be submitted in
February at the earliest. Israel Radio reported that
today, the U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem will hand
USD 50 million to PA Finance Minister Salam Fayed.

Leading media reported that on Tuesday, PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas called President Moshe Katsav
to express his gratitude to Israel for withdrawing from
the Gaza Strip. Abbas referred to the "brave steps"
represented by the disengagement, and said the PA is
trying to change the way that Palestinians think about
the peace process with Israel. "Only through
negotiations can we reach a reconciliation," Abbas
reportedly told Katsav. Ha'aretz reported that Katsav
called the recent developments "a historic opportunity
for peace and reconciliation." This morning, Israel
Radio quoted Abbas as saying that Israel has pledged to
pull the IDF from the Gaza Strip by October 4. Leading
media cited Palestinian dissatisfaction over the IDF's
maintained presence in the northern West Bank. Leading
media reported that many Palestinians derided
"artificial" scenes of settler anguish. However,
Jerusalem Post cited praise of Sharon by a minority of
Palestinians for "standing up to extremists."

Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli officials as saying
Tuesday that disarming the Palestinian groups is a
prerequisite to a diplomatic process.

Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio reported that, as part
of the expected agreement on the positioning of
Egyptian policemen along the Philadelphi route, Egypt
has agreed not to provide weapons to the PA. Speaking
on the station, Vice Premier Shimon Peres stated that
the agreement does not contradict provisions in the
1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty. Israel Radio reported
that Abbas is in Cairo to discuss with President Hosni
Mubarak the Israeli disengagement and the upcoming
visit to Israel and the PA of Egypt's intelligence
chief Omar Suleiman.

Yediot reported that the Quartet is considering
arranging a Sharon-Abbas meeting during the UN General
Assembly's meeting next month. The two leaders would
discuss the "day after" disengagement.

Ha'aretz reported that the IDF and the Civil
Administration in the territories began issuing land
expropriation orders this weekend for construction of
the separation fence around Ma'aleh Adumim, after A-G
Menachem Mazuz gave the bulk of the route a legal seal
of approval. The newspaper quoted diplomatic sources
in Jerusalem as saying that those expropriation orders
"are being carefully examined by the most senior
officials in the U.S. administration" and that the
issue is likely to be raised at today's Olmert-Rice
meeting.

Ha'aretz reported that PalTrade, the Palestinian
company in charge of running the greenhouses that the
Palestinians will inherit from Gaza evacuees, recently
signed its first export agreement for the produce
slated to be grown there. The produce will be marketed
via the Israeli firm Agrexco, which handles most of
Israel's agricultural exports.

Yediot reported that the Iranian TV station Al-Aalam
broadcast an interview with the Israeli Bedouin
diplomat Ismail Khaldi, who explained Israel's demand
that the PA dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.

Israel Radio reported that Republican and Democratic
U.S. Members of Congress are demanding an investigation
of the use of UN funds for pro-Palestinian propaganda
on UNDP-sponsored banners in the Gaza Strip.

Ha'aretz reported that on Tuesday, Peres dismissed talk
of his joining Sharon and Shinui party chairman Yosef
(Tommy) Lapid in the next Knesset election.

Yediot reported that Amnesty International is demanding
that Israel release five right-wing administrative
detainees.

Maariv reported that the U.S. Embassy to Israel
announced Tuesday that indefinite visas, whose validity
had been reduced to ten years, are no longer valid.
The newspaper also reported that, starting in January,
new visas will be obtainable through the Embassy's
Internet site. Maariv reported that Yossi Fattal, the
head of the Israeli Travel Agents Association, met
Tuesday with U.S. Consul-General in Tel Aviv Richard
Beer. The two men reportedly agreed on a series of
measures meant to accelerate the issuance of visas to
travelers slated to leave for the U.S. in coming days.

Maariv printed the results of a TNS/Teleseker Polling
Institute survey conducted last night:
-"Now that the implementation of the disengagement plan
is nearly over, do you support the disengagement plan
or are you opposed?" Support: 56 percent; opposed: 35
percent.
Ha'aretz front-paged a Dialogue Institute poll
conducted among Likud members over the past two days,
which again illustrates that a deep rift has opened
between Sharon and his voters:
-In a face-off between Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu,
the latter gains the upper hand -- 47 percent versus
30.5 percent. Sharon versus Knesset Member Uzi Landau
produces a 45 percent to 37 percent result in the
latter's favor.
-In a three-way race, Netanyahu wins the support of 26
percent of the Likud members; Landau gets the thumbs up
from 24 percent; and Sharon remains around the 30
percent mark.

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

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The
cumulative accounting shows that this was only the
first evacuation, which will be followed by more."

Editor-in-Chief Amnon Dankner and senior columnist Dan
Margalit wrote on page one of popular, pluralist
Maariv: "It is too early to assess the magnitude of the
change that Israeli society has undergone in the eight
days of the evacuation, but it is already clear that it
has changed beyond recognition."

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote from the evacuated
settlement of Sa-Nur on page one of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Israeli governments have
refrained in the past from evacuating illegal
settlement outposts.... This ... was rendered invalid
on Tuesday."

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one
of Yediot Aharonot: "The intelligence failure of the
army in assessing the opposition of the barricaders in
Homesh and Sa-Nur Tuesday was a great success for
Israeli democracy."

Yahad-Meretz Party Chairman Yossi Beilin wrote in
Yediot Aharonot: "The withdrawal from Gaza opens up a
substantial opportunity to continue towards a much more
dramatic move."
Uzi Arad, who was a senior advisor to former prime
minister Binyamin Netanyahu, wrote in Yediot Aharonot:
"Israel must put a stop to the present erosion in its
positions; it must fulfill and leverage every component
of the road map that serves its interests and must
implement the understandings that it has reached over
the years with the United States."

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

I. "Post-Evacuation Balance Sheet"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(August 24): "The IDF will maintain a presence in the
northern West Bank and will continue to fight terror,
especially the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. But Israel
must also work to improve the lives of the Palestinian
population in the area between Nablus and Jenin. The
Palestinians must feel a change following the
evacuation of Ganim, Kadim, Homesh and Sa-Nur -- more
freedom of movement between Palestinian communities and
use of the evacuated area, even if Israel continues to
have full responsibility for the area under its
definition as Area C. The focus now moves to
diplomatic and security relations between Israel, the
Palestinian Authority and international parties, such
as the U.S. and Egypt, and to attempts by the PA to
govern evacuated Gaza and to jump-start its economy....
The cumulative accounting shows that this was only the
first evacuation, which will be followed by more."

II. "The Eight Days That Changed Israel"

Editor-in-Chief Amnon Dankner and senior columnist Dan
Margalit wrote on page one of popular, pluralist Maariv
(August 24): "It is too early to assess the magnitude
of the change that Israeli society has undergone in the
eight days of the evacuation, but it is already clear
that it has changed beyond recognition. The myth that
settlements cannot be evacuated without a bloody civil
war has been shattered. The myth that Israelis are not
capable of meticulous planning has been shattered. The
keys were not inadvertently taken away by the absent-
minded red-head [as in the story by the late Israeli
satirist Ephraim Kishon]. They were in capable, wise
and efficient hands. Israel proved to itself as a
society that it is rock-solid. We got through a
gigantic crisis with nothing more than a few scratches
and bruises, and we can allow ourselves to heave an
enormous sigh of relief. For, in spite of everything,
we got through it unharmed and together."

III. "We Got Out Safely"

Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote from the evacuated
settlement of Sa-Nur on page one of mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (August 24): "[The completion
of the evacuation under the disengagement plan] was a
very sad moment for anyone who holds sacred the
settlements in the territories. For all others, it was
a moment of relief.... Israeli governments have
refrained in the past from evacuating illegal
settlement outposts on the grounds that the army and
the police do not have the ability to complete the
evacuation without bloodshed. This excuse was rendered
invalid on Tuesday. Whatever [the government] wishes
to evacuate can be evacuated. The question is whether
Sharon wants to, and whether he is politically capable
of it. The determination he displayed during
disengagement had a profound effect on his image in the
world and in Israel as well. Some see him as an
intrepid leader, a winner, and others view him as a
dictator without inhibitions. Sharon has won his place
in Israeli history."

IV. "Failure of Intelligence -- Victory of Democracy"

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page one
of Yediot Aharonot (August 24): "The intelligence
failure of the army in assessing the opposition of the
barricaders in Homesh and Sa-Nur Tuesday was a great
success for Israeli democracy.... The IDF did not have
intelligence dossiers about the evacuation opponents.
This is a mark of honor for our security establishment.
It proves, once again, that we live in a reasonable
democracy.... Sa-Nur and Homesh, with the exception of
a few isolated cases, were evacuated within half a day,
after displaying reasonable resistance. In retrospect
it can be said that the rabbis' activity for lowering
the flames fell on fertile ground. In the day or two
preceding the evacuation, there was a gloomy atmosphere
among the barricaders. They were certain that they
were the vanguard, and on the evacuation day there
would be 20,000 people in Sa-Nur. This did not happen.
The reinforcements did not arrive. This disappointment
contributed to the inaction, the acceptance of the
verdict, in the face of the courteous columns of
soldiers and police officers who flooded every corner
and every path in the settlements."

V. "Elections Now"

Yahad-Meretz Party Chairman Yossi Beilin wrote in
Yediot Aharonot (August 24): "The withdrawal from Gaza
opens up a substantial opportunity to continue towards
a much more dramatic move -- a peace agreement with the
Palestinians on the basis of the 1967 borders, while
annexing settlements close to the Green Line in return
for a land swap.... It has been made clear that there
is a Palestinian partner. [This partner is]
problematic, difficult, weak, but interested in quiet
and an agreement. The obvious step is to sit down with
Abu Mazen and try to reach a final status arrangement
with him. This will not happen. The election campaign
has begun.... The Palestinians [also] stand before
elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council in
January.... The elections should be moved up in order
to shorten the period of political stalemate as much as
possible.... In [the Israeli] elections, the peace camp
will have to present its real alternative ...
negotiations aimed at peace and ending the conflict....
It will be faced by the Right, which has split into two
camps: one camp that will speak about perpetuating the
current situation.... The other camp will offer small
unilateral withdrawals.... The people will be called
upon to choose, and the sooner the better."

VI. "Leverage the Road Map"

Uzi Arad, who was a senior advisor to former prime
minister Binyamin Netanyahu, wrote in Yediot Aharonot
(August 24): "Israel must put a stop to the present
erosion in its positions; it must fulfill and leverage
every component of the road map that serves its
interests and must implement the understandings that it
has reached over the years with the United States. In
any case, the consecutive stages of the road map must
not be watered down, and certainly not skipped over,
particularly an immediate Palestinian frontal
confrontation with the terror organizations, as they
have undertaken to do. The Quartet members must also
adhere to the road map and the necessity to dismantle
the terror organizations. Only then will Israel be
able to negotiate with the Palestinians without being
under violence and fire. Waiving this will lead to a
Palestinian escalation and ultimately an armed and
hostile Palestinian state will arise. The Palestinians
do not wish for a state within provisional borders, as
enabled by the second stage of the road map. This does
not mean that Israel will give up what it is entitled
to -- normalization on the part of the Arab states and
regional cooperation initiatives. Only within the
framework of demanding negotiations, based on Binyamin
Netanyahu's policy of reciprocity, will Israel be able
to reach arrangements that will meet our security
interests. But for this purpose a reversal is
required: no more should leniency and appeasement be
practiced outwardly and determination be shown
inwardly; Israel should demonstrate firmness and
determination outwardly and reconciliation at home."

KURTZER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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