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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 005734

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

Mideast

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

Several media reported that PM Sharon is returning to
Israel today "for the battle over his political
future." Yediot and Maariv highlighted polls among
Likud Central Committee members, which show that there
is a majority in that forum in favor of toppling Sharon
at the committee or for moving up the internal
elections. However, Yediot found that a majority of
committee members prefer Sharon to Binyamin Netanyahu
as the party's leading candidate in the next elections
(see below). Leading media reported that Sharon told
Jewish American leaders in New York that he has lost
his majority in the party he founded.

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On Sunday, Ha'aretz reported that the U.S.
administration has reservations about Sharon's
announcement that Israel will not cooperate in
elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council in the
West Bank if Hamas candidates participate in the
ballot. Leading media quoted Sharon as saying
yesterday at his meeting with Jewish American leaders
that he had asked European leaders and UN Secretary-
General Kofi Annan to press for the disarming of Hamas
militants and the abolition of their charter, which
calls for Israel's destruction. Sharon was quoted as
saying that Israel would not cooperate in Palestinian
elections scheduled for January unless those two
conditions were met. The media note that Israeli
assistance is considered vital for smooth elections.
The media also reported that on Sunday, thousands of
Hamas militants paraded with weapons through the
streets of Gaza City in the group's largest show of
force in years, defying PA efforts to ban public
displays of arms.

Leading media reported that outgoing U.S. Ambassador to
Israel Dan Kurtzer left the country on Sunday, and that
incoming Ambassador Richard H. Jones arrived in Israel
a few hours later. On Sunday, Jerusalem Post quoted
Kurtzer as saying in an interview with the newspaper
that there is still room for "diplomatic discussion" on
the matter of settlement expansion. Kurtzer was quoted
as saying in an interview broadcast on Sunday: "In the
context of a final status agreement, the U.S. will
support the retention by Israel of areas with a high
concentration of Israeli population." Leading media
reported that Sharon said at his meeting with Jewish
American leaders that Ma'aleh Adumim will be connected
to Jerusalem. Maariv quoted him as saying that the
U.S. now recognizes the "settlement blocs." Yediot
quoted Jones as saying that his great dream is to have
peace come during his term.

On Sunday, Ha'aretz reported that senior officials in
the PA and Egypt are discussing the possibility of
reopening the Rafah border crossing, which Israel
dismantled and closed before withdrawing from the Gaza
Strip. Ha'aretz writes that participants in the talks
told the newspaper that the crossing would be reopened
even without explicit Israeli approval, in light of the
difficulties in preventing people from crossing between
the Strip and Egypt since the Israeli withdrawal.
During the weekend, media such as Hatzofe reported that
Egypt and the PA are exploring the possibility of
reuniting the Palestinian and Egyptian parts of Rafah.
Leading media later cited Egypt's denial of such a
move.

On Sunday, Yediot bannered news that reached senior
Sharon associates, according to which the PA and senior
Jordanian officials have held contacts in recent days
regarding the return of 100,000 Palestinians who fled
the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, all media (banner in Maariv) cited Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at the UN on
Saturday, in which he stated his country's intention to
develop its nuclear program. On Sunday, Maariv
reported that Sharon told South African President Thabo
Mbeki on Friday that nuclear weapons in Iran's hands
are unacceptable to Israel. Jerusalem Post reported
that as the Board of Governors of the International
Atomic Energy Agency convenes in Vienna, American and
European delegates are struggling to ensure a majority
for referring the issue of the Iranian nuclear project
to the UN Security Council.

All media (banners in Ha'aretz, Yediot, and Jerusalem
Post) highlighted a statement made by the Justice
Ministry's Police Investigations Unit on Sunday that
all investigations into the October 2000 riots that
left 13 Arab citizens dead have been closed. The
decision contradicts many of the conclusions of the Or
Judicial Commission of Inquiry.

During the weekend, major media reported that Pakistani
President Pervez Musharraf urged Israel to show its
"courage," and the Jewish community to use its
influence, to solve the Palestinian dispute once and
for all," which requires Israel to pull out of the West
Bank and agree on a solution for Jerusalem that
respects the city's "international character."
Musharraf was speaking before an audience of Jewish
American leaders in New York on Saturday. He was
quoted as saying in an interview with Jerusalem Post
that he has no timetable for ties with Israel.
Jerusalem Post quoted Israel's representative to the UN
Danny Gillerman as saying that he considered
Musharraf's intimation that Israel's presence on land
it captured in the 1967 war in the West Bank and Gaza
to be the root cause of Islamic terrorism to be very
problematic." Gillerman was also quoted as saying that
now that direct contacts had been initiated, Israel
could and would try to "push [Musharraf] along a little
faster."

On Sunday, leading media reported that Sharon and PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas are expected to meet
in Jerusalem on October 2, before the Jewish New Year.

On Sunday, Maariv cited a diplomatic initiative to lay
a pipeline from Iraq through Jordan to Ashkelon, where
tankers bound for Europe would be filled. The
newspaper says that King Abdullah II of Jordan is
involved in the initiative.

On Sunday, Jerusalem Post reported that at the Clinton
Global Initiative conference in New York, Vice Premier
and Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres received praise
from former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Quartet
envoy James Wolfensohn. The newspaper reported that,
"in what sounded like an endorsement of the Labor Party
and Peres," Clinton called on the Jews around the world
to get involved in Israel and create a climate in the
"body politic" to move the peace process forward.
Maariv reported that the Central District Planning and
Building Committee has decided to approve the
establishment of an industrial park near the border
terminal that is currently being built near the Israeli
Arab town of Taybeh. The terminal may serve as a
future gateway between Israel and the PA.

Ha'aretz cited a message sent recently by Bahrain's
treasurer, Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, to the U.S.
commercial delegation in the kingdom, which said,
"Bahrain recognizes the need to withdraw the primary
boycott against Israel and is developing the means to
achieve this."

Ha'aretz reported that the state will allocate USD 1
million to defend senior army officers charged abroad
with war crimes, if a bill proposed by Justice Minister
Tzipi Livni is passed. The draft law will be submitted
for the cabinet's approval at its regular weekly
meeting next Sunday. On Sunday, Ha'aretz cited an AP
story, which quoted Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark
Regev as saying on Friday that British police have
canceled an arrest warrant for Gen. (res.) Doron Almog
for alleged war crimes, for procedural reasons.
However, Regev cautioned that similar warrants could
still be issued in the UK against Israeli commanders.
Yediot and Maariv also reported on the cancellation of
Almog's arrest warrant.

On Sunday, Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli Air
Force has dispatched 10 of its best warplanes to
Turkey, where they will dogfight with other nations in
the international Anatolian Eagle joint air maneuvers.

Jerusalem Post reported that on Thursday, the Homeland
Security Studies Program of the Interdisciplinary
Center in Herzliya and the Maxwell School of Government
at Syracuse University signed an agreement for
collaboration on the study of counterterrorism and
homeland security.

Jerusalem Post reported that the "Library of Life in
the Desert," pioneering software for storing and
analyzing biological information about the Dead Sea and
its desert environment, is to be developed jointly by
scientists from Israel, Jordan and the U.S. The
decision was agreed upon last week in Jordan at a
bioinformatics workshop held by the non-profit Bridging
the Rift Foundation.

This morning, Israel Radio's news bulletins led with
North Korea's renouncement of nuclear weapons.

A Yediot/Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute) poll conducted
on Sunday among members of the Likud's Central
Committee:
-"Should the Likud primaries be moved up?" Yes: 47
percent; no: 45 percent; 8 percent were undecided.
-"Who should lead the Likud in the next elections?"
Sharon: 39 percent; Netanyahu: 28 percent; Uzi Landau:
16 percent; 8 percent were undecided.
-"Should Uzi Landau retire from the race, whom would
you prefer?" Sharon: 43 percent; Netanyahu: 40
percent; 17 percent were undecided.

Maariv printed the results of a TNS/Teleseker Polling
Institute survey conducted on Sunday among members of
the Likud's Central Committee:
-"Will you vote for or against the proposal to depose
Sharon?" In favor: 47.8 percent; against: 41.6
percent; 10.6 percent were undecided.
-"Whom would you prefer to see as head of Likud and its
candidate for prime minister?" Sharon: 37.5 percent;
Netanyahu: 30.3 percent; Landau: 17.7 percent.
-"Whom would you prefer if only Sharon and Netanyahu
are candidates?" Netanyahu: 42.9 percent; 39.3
percent: Sharon.

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

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "To
expect the prime minister of Israel to declare a
willingness to divide Jerusalem and return to the
borders of 1967 is unrealistic.... [However], Sharon's
speech, following the withdrawal from Gaza, has created
a dynamic of reconciliation."

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in
Ha'aretz: "Egypt will make an effort to protect the
border from its side without creating violent friction
between its troops and the Palestinians.... There is
no reason to feign innocence and claim they [the
Egyptians] tricked us."


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"Instead of suggesting that Sharon is undermining
Palestinian democracy, the U.S. and EU should apply the
same yardstick to democracy building among the
Palestinians as they do in their efforts to promote
freedom in Afghanistan and peace in Ireland. The
ticket for participation is abandoning the gun."

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

I. "If Peace Be His Mission"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(September 18): "'The most important test' for the
Palestinian Authority that Sharon spoke of in his
speech [at the UN General Assembly] -- namely, the
prevention of acts of terror -- is not separate from
Israel's actions. Sharon's declaration that he will
continue to build in the settlement blocs until the
final stage of the negotiations -- as he said in
interviews with the U.S. media in conjunction with his
conciliatory address to the UN -- is of no help to the
success of the Palestinian 'test'.... [On the other
side], the Palestinian leadership did not join in the
enthusiasm over Sharon's address to the UN, and its
officials, each in his own style, emphasized instead
what wasn't said. To expect the prime minister of
Israel to declare a willingness to divide Jerusalem and
return to the borders of 1967 is unrealistic, and does
nothing to better the atmosphere. Sharon's speech,
following the withdrawal from Gaza, has created a
dynamic of reconciliation that should be grabbed with
both hands and utilized to the maximum. The planned
meeting between Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas must be a
first joint step toward moving the political process
forward."

II. "Of Course, Egypt Is To Blame"

Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in
Ha'aretz (September 18): "'Egypt promised,' 'Egypt made
a commitment' or 'I expected more of the Egyptians,' as
Ariel Sharon said in New York, are the 'charges' that
now comprise the indictment against Cairo. Egypt, it
should be remembered, did Israel a great favor: it
freed Israel from its presence on the Philadelphi route
and thus provided Sharon the possibility of declaring
that the Gaza Strip in its entirely had been freed from
Israeli occupation.... Egypt will make an effort to
protect the border from its side without creating
violent friction between its troops and the
Palestinians. This is the maximum that could be
attained under the conditions that Israel dictated, and
there is no reason to feign innocence and claim they
tricked us.... Egypt has no less of an interest than
Israel in seeing that it does not abut a Palestinian
Hamas state. But it seems that as long as some
shrieking politicians still regard Egypt as an enemy
state, it will continue to also be held responsible in
their eyes for poverty in Israel and the results of the
matriculation tests."

III. "Bullets or Ballots"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(September 19): "We understand -- and share -- the
American goal of democratizing the Palestinian
Authority. But what incentive does Hamas have to
abandon the 'armed struggle' if it can simultaneously
pursue the bullet and the ballot? The notion that
Hamas in government would set aside its raison d'etre -
- expelling the Jews from the Middle East -- and focus
on social services, sanitation and public health is
naive. So too is the idea that once it tastes power it
will share it indefinitely with non-Islamist
Palestinians.... Can any true democrat imagine
yesterday's elections in Afghanistan -- or in Germany,
for that matter -- permitting the participation of
armed militias; or an armed IRA competing in Northern
Ireland's elections? A genuinely representative system
demands more than going through the motions of
elections. More important than elections themselves
are the conditions under which they are held.... So
instead of suggesting that Sharon is undermining
Palestinian democracy, the U.S. and EU should apply the
same yardstick to democracy building among the
Palestinians as they do in their efforts to promote
freedom in Afghanistan and peace in Ireland. The
ticket for participation is abandoning the gun."

JONES

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