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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.

211034Z Sep 05







E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Mideast

2. Likud Infighting

Key stories in the media:

All major media, except Jerusalem Post, led with a
comment made by PM Sharon before 150 Likud Central
Committee members at his Jerusalem residence last
night: "I don't want to leave [the party]." However,
various media noted that he once again refrained from
saying he would remain in the Likud under any
conditions, even if he lost Monday's vote to advance
the party primary. Sharon's adviser Eyal Arad hinted
to IDF Radio this morning that Sharon may quit the
Likud if he loses in that vote.

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Jerusalem Post quoted UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
as saying after a ministerial level meeting of the
Quartet in New York: "What happens in the West Bank is
very much on our mind. For us, the Quartet, it's Gaza
first and then the next stage will be the West Bank,
not Gaza first and Gaza last." The newspaper quoted a
spokesman for Sharon as saying in response that what
comes after disengagement depends entirely now on how
the Palestinians handle their newfound
responsibilities. The official was quoted as saying:
"If they want Gaza to be first, and not last, then this
experiment must succeed." Leading media reported that
the Quartet urged the PA to "maintain law and order and
dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure."
Israel Radio quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
as saying that this is a "Palestinian process."
Ha'aretz quoted a senior State Department official, who
asked not to be identified, as saying: "The democratic
practice ought to be that armed groups do not
participate in the political process."

Israel Radio quoted Minister-without-Portfolio Haim
Ramon (Labor) as saying, at a meeting convened by Vice
Premier Shimon Peres on Tuesday, that Israel will not
allow the construction of a port in Gaza if
understandings are not reached between Israel and the
PA regarding security issues. Ramon reportedly said
that Israel should demand supervision over movements in
the harbor. Ramon was also quoted as saying that
Israel must operate the Nitzana terminal and refrain
from spending 60 million shekels (approximately USD 13
million) to build a terminal for goods at Kerem Shalom.
The radio quoted Peres as saying at the meeting that
the PA and Egypt have announced that they hope to
control the breaches along the Philadelphi road within
two days and prevent free passage of people along the
route. Israel Radio later reported that Egypt and the
PA will reopen the Rafah crossing on Friday to
Egyptians and Palestinians during a two-day period.
The radio quoted the PA's National Security Adviser
Jibril Rajoub as saying that the purpose of the move is
to allow residents who were caught next to the border
crossing when it was sealed last week to return home.
Israel Radio reported that senior Egyptian and
Palestinian officials will meet in a week in order to
finalize the arrangement at the Rafah border.

Israel Radio and Ha'aretz's web site reported that
Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, the head of IDF Military
Intelligence's Research Division, told the Knesset's
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this morning
that, despite fears to the contrary, powerful "tie-
breaker weaponry," such as long-range Katyusha rockets
and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, was not
smuggled into the Gaza Strip when the Egyptian border
was left largely open in the days following the Israeli
withdrawal. Leading media quoted Kuperwasser as saying
at the meeting that thousands of rifles were smuggled
into the Gaza Strip during that period. Yediot
reported that the prices of weaponry in the Gaza Strip
have dropped in recent days by over 50 percent, due to
the fact that the breached border between Egypt and the
Gaza Strip on Philadelphi Road has caused Gaza to be
flooded with weaponry from Egypt.

Israel Radio reported on a fiery exchange of words
between Israel and Iran at the UN General Assembly on
Tuesday. The station reported that FM Silvan Shalom
dubbed the Islamic Republic an "evil regime ruled by
Tehran's tyrants" and called upon the UN Security
Council to rein in Iran before it procures nuclear
weapons. The radio quoted Iranian representative Ahmad
Sadeghi as saying that Israel is a "Zionist regime
ruled by war criminals." He was quoted as saying that
Israel's nuclear weapons and missile capability,
combined with its demonic intentions, threaten regional
and world peace. Israel's representative to the UN
Danny Gillerman cynically replied that he greatly
admires the Iranian lecture on human rights, terror,
and proliferation of nuclear weapons delivered by one
of the greatest experts in those fields.

Ha'aretz quoted FM Shalom as saying on Tuesday, in an
address to the UN General Assembly, that diplomatic
ties and cooperation with Israel are essential
prerequisites for any country that wishes to help the
Palestinians. Yediot quoted Shalom's comment in his
address that the "iron wall between us and the Arab
states is falling." Yediot quoted Shalom as saying,
during a meeting with Annan, that Israel will submit in
the next few days its candidacy for membership in the
UN Security Council.

All media reported that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz
has begun looking into dozens of complaints alleging
that Sharon collected illegal campaign contributions at
a banquet held in his honor in New York. Leading media
reported that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss
announced Tuesday evening in a letter to the Knesset
his willingness to immediately investigate allegations
in the matter.

Jerusalem Post reported that King Abdullah II of Jordan
is set to speak with a group of American rabbis in
Washington today, as part of his ongoing effort to
build bridges between Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

Jerusalem Post reported that 28 Jewish leaders from
eight countries met Monday in London to strategize an
international campaign to "assert the rights of former
Jewish refugees from Arab countries." Jerusalem Post
reported that Stanley Urman, president of Justice for
Jews from Arab Countries, told the newspaper that the
ultimate goal of the campaign is to link Jewish
refugees with Palestinian refugees in peace talks.

Yediot quoted Indonesian President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono as saying Monday that last week's
confidential meeting between FM Shalom and Indonesian
FM Noer Hassan Wirajuda was "consistent with the
interests of the entire world and with those of the
Muslim world in particular."
Maariv reported that representatives of the Tourism
Ministry held a meeting this week with Foreign Ministry
officials and asked them not to inflate incidents such
as Qassam and Katyusha rocket fire. "Don't make a big
deal of every Qassam," the Tourism Ministry officials
reportedly said. "You are destroying Israel's tourist

Yediot reported that Israel has strongly protested to
the Swedish government over the fact that Swedish FM
Laila Freivalds will be the keynote speaker at an anti-
Israeli conference about the "wall" that Israel is
building in the territories. The meeting, which the
newspaper writes is organized by the "Swedish trade
union," will take place in 10 days.

Israel Radio reported that IDF forces have apprehended
six Islamic Jihad activists in the refugee camp of Nur
a-Shams near Tulkarm. The radio said that the arrested
men had been involved in recent terrorist attacks in
Netanya and Tel Aviv.

Leading media reported that the head of the Tafnit
organization, Maj. Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, presented his
plan for the separation of Israel and the Palestinians
at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. Under
the proposal, the separation fence in the West Bank
would be completed and Israel would evacuate 32
settlements containing 20,000 residents within three
years. The IDF would redeploy along a temporary
border. [NB: The political movement Tafnit, founded by
Uzi Dayan, aims to promote socio-civic and national
security agendas.]

Jerusalem Post quoted Vice PM and acting Finance
Minister Ehud Olmert as saying Tuesday that Israel is
close to signing a free trade agreement with the
Mercado Comun del Sur (Mercosur) in South America.

Ha'aretz reported that, "in a surprise move," the State
Department announced on Tuesday that it expects to fill
its quota of visas in the Employment Based Third
Preference (E3) Immigrant Visa Category by next month.
The newspaper says that the visas are allotted to
professionals with a B.A. degree. Maariv and other
media also reported on the matter.
Israel Radio reported that on Tuesday, President Bush
expressed his sadness over the "death of Simon
Wiesenthal, a tireless and passionate advocate who
devoted his life to tracking down Nazi killers and
promoting freedom."

1. Mideast:


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized:
"Abbas's plan is unacceptable to the government of
Israel. However, Israel must avoid deepening the
internal rifts in Palestinian society, and work to
strengthen Abbas as a partner in the diplomatic

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote in nationalist,
Orthodox Hatzofe: "A diplomatic program based on the
unilateral dismantling of 32 settlements without
getting anything in exchange ... is yet another program
of the Left."

Block Quotes:

I. "Help Abbas"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(September 21): "Israel's position is that
participation in elections to the Palestine Legislative
Council, which is the Palestinian Authority's
parliament, requires Hamas to disarm and abrogate its
basic manifesto that calls for the political
annihilation of Israel. If Hamas does not do so,
Sharon says, Israel will not prevent the elections, but
will give them no support. Israel's position is
logical, correct and justified. Since its establishment
some 17 years ago, the Hamas movement has declared all-
out war on the 'Zionist entity,' out of a belief that
all of Israel is Muslim sacred ground and not one inch
should be given up. To this end the movement initiated
and justified acts of terror and murderous suicide
attacks. Even though it has agreed over the past few
months to a cease-fire, it has not given up its
declared goals.... The concern of Israel and Abbas over
Hamas's growing strength is shared by many parties,
among whom cooperation can be created. Abbas has
avoided a direct clash with Hamas, which he believes
would result in civil war among the Palestinians. He
is asking to absorb armed Hamas members, numbering
about 3,000, into the approximately 40,000 or more
Palestinian police and soldiers in Gaza. Abbas
believes that without its military units, Hamas will be
transformed from a terror organization to a political
party. Abbas's plan is unacceptable to the government
of Israel. However, Israel must avoid deepening the
internal rifts in Palestinian society, and work to
strengthen Abbas as a partner in the diplomatic
process. Abbas was elected for a four-year term as a
powerful chairman with wide-ranging authority, and all
processes involving elections to the Palestinian
Legislative Council should and must be coordinated with

II. "No Message"

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote in nationalist,
Orthodox Hatzofe (September 21): "On Tuesday, [Maj.
Gen. (res.)] Uzi Dayan founded another left-wing party,
whose platform isn't very different from those of most
Israeli left-wing parties, including Sharon's faction
in the Likud. A diplomatic program based on the
unilateral dismantling of 32 settlements without
getting anything in exchange, and the determination
that in any case this would be an interim border that
would change during final-status negotiations, is yet
another program of the Left, with minor debates as to
whether the border would cross a hill on the left side
or another one on the right side. Uzi Dayan didn't
convey any special point on Tuesday, except for some
hints that, in order to reform Israel, people should
vote for him and [his movement]."

2. Likud Infighting:


Chief economic editor Sever Plotker opined in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Like a
shepherd who knows his flock, Sharon is certain that he
knows the collective soul of the Likud Central
Committee and the trend of opinion there."

Block Quotes:

"The Undivided Land of Israel in Exchange for Jobs"

Chief economic editor Sever Plotker opined in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (September 21):
"Sharon surprised everybody. [Instead of founding a
new party or returning to the hard core of Likud], he
pulled a third option, astonishing in its originality,
out of the hat -- to run for re-election inside the
Likud, with the political worldview of Meretz....
Sharon is certain that he will win, this time without
misleading the voters. Like a shepherd who knows his
flock, Sharon is certain that he knows the collective
soul of the Likud Central Committee and the trend of
opinion there. Today it is a skeleton party, devoid of
ideology, and the only fuel in its engine is the
burning desire to hold onto the reins of power.
Nothing remains of that historic Likud except the name.
In Poland, between the two world wars, there was a
broad-based party in power called 'the non-party bloc
for the government.' There is no more appropriate name
for the Likud in its present situation. So that is the
alternative which Sharon has been offering, since his
return from New York, to the members of the Likud
Central Committee: territory or jobs, nationalist
ideology or a good living, love for the Land of Israel,
or the love of the trappings of power. Like any wily
farmer Sharon knows which they will choose. They will
not give up the jobs. They will give up Karnei Shomron
[a key settlement]."


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