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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.

260707Z Sep 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 TEL AVIV 005802

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. Mideast

2. Likud Infighting

3. Six-Party Talks

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

All major media, except Jerusalem Post, led with PM
Sharon's situation in the Likud. Leading media (banner
in Ha'aretz) reported that on Wednesday, Sharon angrily
rejected an ultimatum demanding his unconditional
allegiance to the party, saying: "There is no limit to
chutzpah." The ultimatum came from Agriculture
Minister Yisrael Katz and Likud whip Knesset Member
Gideon Sa'ar, who said that if Sharon did not declare
that he would remain in the Likud under any
circumstances, they would vote in favor of bringing
forward the party primaries. Senior Sharon associates
were quoted as telling Maariv that Sharon intends to
prevail at the Likud Central Committee and to compete
in the primaries. However, the associates said that,
were the committee to topple Sharon, he would leave the
Likud. Yediot published the results of a Yediot/Mina
Zemach (Dahaf Institute) poll conducted among the
general public, which shows that a Sharon-led party
would overwhelmingly overcome a party under Binyamin
Netanyahu: a Sharon-led party would garner 36 mandates
(27 in a poll two weeks ago), while a Netanyahu-led
party would get 14 mandates (19 in a poll two weeks
ago). The second most important party would be Labor.
The full results of the survey will be printed on
Friday.

Major media (lead story in Jerusalem Post) quoted Shin
Bet chief Yuval Diskin as saying Wednesday, during a
briefing with military reporters, that the PA is
crumbling and "barely functioning," that its leader
Mahmoud Abbas is too weak to enforce law and order,
that his Fatah party is in disarray, and that Hamas is
taking control of the Gaza Strip. Yediot cited
Diskin's warning against Israel opening the Strip's
borders as a gesture to the Palestinians. The media
also quoted Diskin as saying that the Shin Bet failed
to prevent Jewish terror. Hatzofe chose to highlight
Diskin's comment that loyal citizens who contributed to
Israeli society were uprooted from Gush Katif, which
the newspaper says is a departure from official
government lingo.

Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday, the PA
rejected an appeal from the Quartet to dismantle armed
militias and called on the international community to
stop meddling in the Palestinians' internal affairs.
Israel Radio cited a similar plea by A/S David Welch,
who noted on Wednesday that the PA has taken on
governance in the Gaza Strip. Welch also called on
Israel to curb settlement expansion and to put an end
to illegal settler outposts.

Israel Radio, Jerusalem Post, and the leading Internet
news service Ynet quoted President Bush as saying, in
an address to the Jewish Republican Coalition in
Washington on Wednesday, that he considered Sharon an
ally for peace. Ynet quoted him as saying that "the
U.S. is committed to defend Israel's well-being and
safety." The radio quoted Bush as saying: "Now there's
an opportunity. And the opportunity rests with the
Palestinian people to show that they can govern
themselves in a peaceful way." Ha'aretz Washington
correspondent Shmuel Rosner found that polls among
Americans reinforce the idea that "the Israeli-American
romance is blooming."

Ha'aretz reported that the Justice Ministry's Police
Investigations Unit failed to properly investigate the
deaths of 13 Israeli Arabs following the October 2000
riots.

Leading media reported that on Wednesday, the defense
establishment officially defined the roadblocks around
the Gaza Strip as international border passages.

Ha'aretz and Yediot reported that on Wednesday, Israel
and the PA signed an agreement to establish a Joint
Transport Office that will plan and build project
benefiting both parties. The agreement was negotiated
with the assistance of the EU, which has allocated 2.5
million euros to fund the office, and also has promised
to consider providing funds for projects launched by
the office.
Israel Radio reported that this morning, IDF forces
killed an unarmed 19-year-old Palestinian who tried to
infiltrate the Dotan base in the northern West Bank,
which is being dismantled. The radio quoted
Palestinian sources as saying that the young man was
looking for scrap iron.

Ha'aretz quoted Prof. Mohammed Ghazal, Hamas's leader
in the Nablus area, as saying Wednesday that his
movement may one day amend its charter calling for the
destruction of Israel and hold negotiations with it.
The newspaper also quoted him as saying: "The charter
is not the Koran." Ha'aretz quoted another senior
Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, as saying in Gaza that
Israel could not be recognized as "the legal owner of
any part of Palestine," and that such theoretical
debate served nobody.

Citing Interior Ministry data from around 2002,
according to which the ministry approved 21,000 family
reunification applications from Palestinians in the
last decades, Ha'aretz reported that in April 2005, the
ministry's Population Administration presented data to
the newspaper indicating that only 5,000 applications
approved during the last 11 years are now being
processed. Ha'aretz suggests that Israel's immigration
policy might be based on "completely distorted
statistics."

Maariv reported that this week UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan called on Israel to consider pulling out
from the Sheba Farms. The newspaper reported that
Annan told Sharon that although Israel had withdrawn
from the entire Lebanese territory, "the Sheba Farms
area remain a thorn that must be removed."

Yediot reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad's
brother, Col. Maher Assad, and brother-in-law, Syrian
intelligence chief Gen. Assef Shawkat, are secretly
being investigated in Damascus under suspicion that
they were involved in the assassination of former
Lebanese PM Rafiq Hariri. Jerusalem Post featured
"America's Syria problem."

Yediot reported that FM Silvan Shalom has agreed with
his Moroccan counterpart, Mohamed Benaissa, that he
would soon visit Morocco. Citing the Israeli news
agency Itim, Ha'aretz reported that Libya denied a
Yediot story on Tuesday that an agreement had been made
for Libyan Leader Muammar Qadhafi to make a surprise
visit to Israel. The Yediot report also said that the
visit would be made after the two sides had failed to
arrange a visit by Sharon to Tripoli.

Leading media reported that on Wednesday, the police
questioned Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi (Hadash-Ta'al)
over his visit to Lebanon earlier this year, which
Israeli law views as an illegal visit to an enemy
country. Jerusalem Post quoted Tibi, who had been
invited by then Lebanese PM Najib Mikati, as saying:
"Lebanon is not my enemy."

Ha'aretz noted that, due to the Likud Central
Committee's meeting, Vice PM and acting Finance
Minister Ehud Olmert will not attend the International
Monetary Fund's (IMF) annual meeting, which begins
today in Washington. Ha'aretz and Yediot cited
predictions by the IMF and the World Bank that the
growth of the Israeli economy will drop by to 3.9
percent in 2006 compared to 4.2 percent in 2005.
Jerusalem Post reported that U.S. interest rates are
higher than Israel's for the first time, after the
Federal Reserve raised U.S. interest rates by 0.25
percentage points on Tuesday.

Maariv reported that the Civil Aviation Administration
is seriously considering setting up an early check-in
service in Nazareth for Israeli Arabs who reside in the
area, in order to ease security checks for them and
reduce the unpleasant treatment they face at Ben-Gurion
Airport.

Jerusalem Post reported that the Tel Aviv-based defense
equipment company ODF Optronics has signed an agreement
to exclusively sell its Eye Ball R1 optical device to
the U.S. Army in a deal worth at least USD 10 million
over the next year.

Maariv reported that the Agriculture Ministry has
declared a high alert over a possible avian flu
epidemic.

This morning's Israel Radio news bulletins led with the
advance of Hurricane Rita toward Houston and Galveston,
and President Bush's comment that all levels of
government are ready to meet the storm.

------------
1. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Liberal op-ed writer Ofer Shelach opined in the
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "If Israel wants to fight Hamas, it must
present the Palestinian public with an option of hope,
which will stem from support for Abu Mazen and turning
to the political path."

Palestinian affairs correspondent and far-left
Palestinian sympathizer Amira Hass opined in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The Israeli talent
for ignoring the enormous destruction that we caused
leads to the wrong political assessments."


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

I. "Force Will Not Prevail"

Liberal op-ed writer Ofer Shelach opined in the
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (September 22): "In the first months of 2004,
Israel launched a major offensive against Hamas.
Yassin was assassinated, as was his successor Rantisi.
Israeli security officials viewed the offensive as a
resounding success. It took about six more months, but
only force, they explained to us, brought Hamas on its
knees to the renewed calm, which preceded the
implementation of disengagement. But Hamas,
unfortunately, has refused to go.... The Palestinian
public has desires and aspirations; it has a preference
for organizations and parties. Israeli force can make
its life miserable, but it cannot change its desires --
perhaps on the contrary.... Those who want to
strengthen moderate forces should offer hope and not
block the path of bodies that represent about a third
of the Palestinian public. Physically blocking or
arresting Hamas members will not only weaken Abu
Mazen's rule, but will also renew the despair and the
bitterness, which are the real soil upon which the
terror organizations flourish. If Israel wants to
fight Hamas, it must present the Palestinian public
with an option of hope, which will stem from support
for Abu Mazen and turning to the political path. It
must support the democratic procedure and not presume
to decide who will participate in it and who will not.
We did not eliminate Hamas by the force of bombs, and
we will not overcome it by the force of roadblocks."

II. "A Talent For Destruction"

Palestinian affairs correspondent and far-left
Palestinian sympathizer Amira Hass opined in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (September 22): "If
Israel continues a policy of allowing only the most
minimal connection between the West Bank and Gaza, it
will foil from the start any chance of economic
recovery, which too often is presented as the basis for
political progress or a necessary condition to fight
terror.... The Israeli talent for ignoring the enormous
destruction that we caused leads to the wrong political
assessments. Ignoring it enables the IDF to continue
destroying Palestinian territory in the West Bank....
The more the IDF destroys and damages the landscape,
nature, the land, the more the Palestinians compare it
to the foreign armies of invading crusaders....
Foreigners, history has proven, leave. Irrespective of
the correctness of the conclusion, it holds the
Palestinians steadfast against the plans for
destruction for the sake of more settlements that the
Israeli government envisions for the West Bank."

---------------------
2. Likud Infighting:
---------------------

Summary:
--------

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in
popular, pluralist Maariv: "Electing Netanyahu as the
Likud's candidate in the next election is the best
thing that can happen to the center and the left wing
of the political spectrum."

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

"I Hope Bibi Wins"

Liberal op-ed writer Yael Paz-Melamed commented in
popular, pluralist Maariv (September 22): "The polls
express not only the balance of forces at the time when
they are conducted, but also a clear electoral trend
with regard to Binyamin Netanyahu. He has his hard
core of supporters, consisting of the extreme Right,
but that is all, and even that hard core is following
him mainly to take revenge on Sharon for disengagement,
not because they really think Netanyahu will be a good
prime minister. For they have already seen him in
action, and they have already brought him down, as they
have been doing for many years to right-wing prime
ministers. As for the rest of the public -- according
to the polls, the great, silent majority does not buy
Netanyahu's new pose. They did buy it for a time, but
Netanyahu, as always, managed to kick the jug of milk
and spill it after having worked so hard to fill it.
Most of the public, including those who elected him in
1996, already understand very well, in these moonstruck
years, with whom it is dealing.... Electing Netanyahu
as the Likud's candidate in the next election is the
best thing that can happen to the center and the left
wing of the political spectrum. It is hard to conceive
of a situation in which the Likud will go into the
opposition except with the generous assistance of
Netanyahu."

--------------------
3. Six-Party Talks:
--------------------

Summary:
--------

Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "[Following the
agreement with North Korea], every Arab or Muslim
leader understands that he needs a nuclear option --
only thus can he perpetuate his regime [and] ensure an
absence of American attacks."

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

I. "Nuclear Weapons For Every Dictator"

Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (September 22):
"In exchange for a 'renouncement' of the nuclear
option, the United States has declared that it will not
attack or invade North Korea; the world pledged to help
the latter economically; the North Korean leader's
control has been ensured. In light of the preceding,
every Arab or Muslim leader understands that he needs a
nuclear option -- only thus can he perpetuate his
regime, ensure an absence of American attacks, and
enjoy generous economic assistance, recognition, and
respect. This is the only conclusion that can be drawn
from that scandalous agreement; this is how it is
understood today in Damascus, Tehran, Cairo, and the
other Arab countries. Thus, an international intent to
reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons could
actually accelerate that option, particularly in our
region. In light of North Korea's violations and that
country lack of innocence, it is not too late to
rescind the agreement and return to the previous system
of zero-tolerance to a dictatorial regime. If this is
not done immediately, those who blessed that agreement
with North Korea will eventually curse it."

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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