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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 10 TEL AVIV 006010

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. President Bush's Address to the National Endowment
for Democracy

2. U.S.-Israel Relations

3. Mideast

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

Major media (lead story in Hatzofe) reported that,
addressing the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
on Thursday, President Bush dubbed Syria and Iran
"helpers and enablers" of Islamic radicalism. The
media noted that the President cited Israel twice: when
he said that one of the terrorists' goals is "to
destroy Israel" and when he asserted that the "Israeli
presence on the West Bank" is one of the extremists'
"excuses for violence." Jerusalem Post quoted an
official in the Prime Minister's Office as saying:
"These words shouldn't come as any surprise. Since
September 11 Bush has carried the fight against Islamic
terrorism." The newspaper further quoted the official
as saying that after this speech it was unlikely that
Bush would show any "leniency or flexibility" to Hamas,
Islamic Jihad, or Hizbullah as "legitimate partners for
peace."

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Ha'aretz expects next week's Sharon-Abbas talks to
focus on: the resumption of talks on passages via
Israel and passage from Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula;
the pullout of IDF forces from additional West Bank
cities; the release of Palestinian prisoners; and
Israel's demand that the PA fight terror and oppose
Hamas's participation in the PLC elections.

Yediot reported that the defense establishment will
recommend that the GOI hand guns to the PA in order to
help it rein in the anarchy in the Gaza Strip. The
newspaper reported that the U.S. administration
recently relayed messages to Israel saying that it must
stop its open activity against having Hamas take part
in elections, since this activity is liable to
strengthen Hamas and weaken PA Chairman [President]
Mahmoud Abbas. According to Yediot, the U.S. sent
these messages through a number of channels, among
others by means of the new U.S. Ambassador to Israel
Richard Jones. These messages are in wake of the
international PR campaign Israel has been waging
against Hamas participating in the elections. Yediot
quoted top American officials as saying in talks with
Israeli officials that the U.S. is concerned that with
its public activity against Hamas, Israel is in fact
liable to strengthen it and weaken Abbas. The newspaper
cited the belief of the U.S. administration that Israel
must work to weaken Hamas by other means, including the
"divide and rule" method and creating a clear
distinction between Hamas and the PA by means of relief
measures for the Palestinian population, which can be
chalked up to Abbas's credit. Yediot quoted a top
American official as saying that Hamas activists in
fact want to pull Israel back in to the Gaza Strip, by
means of provocations. Ha'aretz reported that an
investigative committee appointed by the Palestinian
Legislative Council (PLC) has found that the
Palestinian cabinet has never once discussed the
security chaos in the territories, and that Palestinian
PM Ahmed Qurei never asked it to do so.

Jerusalem Post reported: "Although it has been added to
the U.S. State Department's official list of foreign
terrorist groups, Fatah's armed wing, the Al-Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades, is planning to run in the next
elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council."

Ha'aretz reported that the World Bank supports building
a transit passage between the Gaza Strip and the West
Bank in the form of a sunken road, but that PM Sharon
favors a rail link because managing security would be
easier. The newspaper also reported that the U.S. will
finance a study examining options for linking the Gaza
Strip and the West Bank via Israel. Ha'aretz quoted a
diplomatic source as saying on Thursday that the
Israeli response to the study, which is due to be
completed in January, "will indicate its future
intentions regarding a Palestinian state that would
maintain contact between the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip." The newspaper writes that the study was
initiated by the World Bank, which asked for American
sponsorship to moderate Israel's anticipated objection
to its conclusions. According to Ha'aretz, Israel
approved the study initiative at a meeting last week
between Nigel Roberts, World Bank director for the West
Bank and Gaza, and Baruch Spiegel, an adviser to
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. The U.S. administration
conditioned the project funding on the agreement of
both parties. The study will examine transit options
such as a multilane road crossing Israel in a deep
trench, an elevated road and a rail link between the
Erez checkpoint with northern Gaza and the Tarqumiya
checkpoint near Hebron. The PA would be responsible
for the passage, according to the plans.

Ha'aretz further reported: a passage between the two
parts of the PA was at the center of the disengagement
talks held among Israel, the PA and the U.S. The
Palestinians were concerned that the pullout from the
Gaza Strip would be the end of the process and that
Israel planned to separate the Strip and the West Bank,
which is why they demanded a transit passage between
them, even a temporary one. Defense Minister Shaul
Mofaz and the Middle East Quartet's envoy to the
region, James Wolfensohn, have discussed opening an
experimental passage from Gaza to the West Bank, using
bus and later truck convoys accompanied by Israeli
vehicles. Ha'aretz reported that Wolfensohn returned
to the region Thursday and will hold individual
meetings with Mofaz, Sharon adviser Dov Weisglass and
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Friday. He is to meet
with Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Palestinian PM Ahmed
Qurei in the next few days. Wolfensohn will work an
agreement to operate the border crossing between Egypt
and the PA at Rafah and talks to operate the crossings
between the PA and Israel. Thursday, Israeli and
Palestinian officials met to discuss Egypt's offer to
have Egypt and the PA operate the Rafah crossing under
the supervision of a third party. Israel would be able
to monitor the movement of people entering the PA using
cameras and other technology to transfer the
information to the Shin Bet security service. Under
the proposal, goods would be moved via the crossing
being built by Israel at Kerem Shalom, to keep Gaza
within the customs arrangement Israel has with the West
Bank. Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that Sharon,
Peres, and Mofaz will discuss the Gaza Strip-West Bank
link on Sunday.

All media cited criticism among the IDF of the High
Court of Justice's ruling that it is illegal for the
IDF to use Palestinian civilians as "human shields."
Leading media reported that on Thursday, IDF Chief of
Staff Dan Halutz ordered the immediate cessation of the
"human shield" procedure. However, the media quoted
senior IDF officers as saying that the new directive
could endanger soldiers and Palestinian civilians.

Ha'aretz quoted a senior official in Jerusalem as
saying on Thursday that Israel did not operate Lawrence
A. (Larry) Franklin, a U.S. Defense Department employee
who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges for
passing on classified information to Israeli officials.
Leading media reported that Naor Gilon, the former
political officer in the Israeli Embassy in Washington,
had no idea that the information he got from Franklin
was classified.

Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres was quoted as saying
in an interview with Ha'aretz that he is rejecting
calls from within his party for Labor to quit the
government now that the disengagement has ended,
arguing instead that the party should remain until the
next scheduled elections, as long as Sharon accepts
four conditions -- resolving the outstanding issues
connected with the Gaza pullout, primarily the dispute
over border crossings and economic cooperation, by the
end of 2005; beginning diplomatic negotiations with the
PA on the basis of the Roadmap; devoting funds to a war
on poverty; and continuing to develop the Negev and
Galilee. Regarding the illegal settlement outposts,
Peres was quoted as saying that he intended to demand
that Sharon dismantle them but would not issue an
ultimatum on this issue. All media reported that on
Thursday, Sharon met with Shinui party head Yosef
(Tommy) Lapid and suggested that Shinui join the
government. Jerusalem Post quoted sources close to
Sharon as saying Thursday that Sharon would like to see
the National Religious Party and not Shinui join the
coalition.

Yediot reported that most of the Mossad's senior
officials are resigning from the service. The
newspaper quoted Mossad sources as saying that they are
expressing their lack of confidence in the intelligence
service's head, Meir Dagan.

Maariv reported on moral stock-taking among the Council
of Jewish Settlement in the Territories regarding some
actions, suck as the blockage of roads and the
embracing of soldiers, it took during the disengagement
period.

Jerusalem Post reported that Nigel Parsons, managing
director of Al Jazeera International, the 24-hour
English-language service that Al Jazeera-TV is set to
launch next spring, is due in Israel in the next few
days for talks with Israeli cable and satellite bosses
on adding the new channel to their rosters. Parsons
was quoted as saying in an interview with Jerusalem
Post that he is "very excited by the prospect of his
network being available in Israel, and that its
coverage would "take everyone's view and perspective
into consideration."

Citing news agencies, Yediot quoted senior Palestinian
official Nabil Shaath as saying, in a new BBC-TV
series, "Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs," that
President Bush told him and Mahmoud Abbas at their
first meeting in 2003: "God told me: 'George, give the
Palestinians a state.'"

Jerusalem Post reported that on Thursday, Foreign
Ministry DG Ron Prosor told a EU delegation that Israel
expects consistency in the EU's stand on terrorism if
it wants to increase its involvement here. Prosor was
protesting against a meeting of EU ambassadors to
Lebanon with a Hizbullah minister. The newspaper also
quoted diplomatic officials in Jerusalem as saying that
in recent days the U.S. has signaled Israel that it
will have no contact with representatives of Hizbullah.
The diplomatic officials also reportedly told Jerusalem
Post that the U.S., because of its own interests, is
not willing to pressure France and other EU countries
to include Hizbullah on the terror list.

Ha'aretz reported that during the past weeks, Kuwait
has eased its attitude toward Israel, and that it is
slated to joint the list of countries that have lifted
their economic embargo of Israel. The newspaper cited
various statements made by senior Kuwaiti journalists
and intellectuals, which bear out this trend.

All media reported that Israel Standard Time will take
effect on Sunday at 02:00. The clocks will be turned
back one hour and will be six hours ahead of EDT.

--------------------------------------------- --------
1. President Bush's Address to the National Endowment
for Democracy:
--------------------------------------------- --------

Summary:
--------

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"What is incredible is how alone [President Bush]
seems, both among the nations and in his own country,
in seeing the world this way."

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Talk about terror,
when there's a problem with your candidates for the
Supreme Court."

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

I. "Bush's Lonely Voice"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(October 7): "The world has been quietly watching U.S.
President George Bush lately to see if he has lost his
nerve.... Friends and foes alike have been on the
lookout for signs of recovery or its alternatives --
muddling and collapse. If recovery is in the offing,
months from now its seeds will likely be traced back to
a remarkable speech Bush gave yesterday to the National
Endowment for Democracy. In one of the most coherent
and determined outlines of his foreign policy given in
the last four years, Bush laid out the goals, means,
scope and enemies in the current war.... Though Bush is
rightly at pains not to declare Islam or Muslims as the
enemy, he is also right to more bluntly state what is
as blindingly obvious as it is assiduously avoided:
that the enemy is wholly concentrated in, and a subset
of, the Muslim world. Equally important, Bush spelled
out the goals of the global jihad: to evict the West
from the Middle East and to take over countries like
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan.... Bush's
description of the war, its stakes, and what is needed
to win it is cogent and undeniable. What is incredible
is how alone he seems, both among the nations and in
his own country, in seeing the world this way. Yet at
least Bush himself has returned to saying what must be
said. What remains to be seen is whether he can take
what is now seen as a voice in the wilderness and
transform it into an effective blueprint for action."

II. "Gaining Time Through Diversion"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (October 7): "The
world is full of ways to divert. For instance, talk
about terror, when there's a problem with your
candidates for the Supreme Court. Talk about war, for
example, when there's a problem about a hurricane....
All the rest are diversions. The problem isn't just
Bush's, but also his detractors'. It's easy to
criticize the administration over a war that hasn't
been managed properly, but it's hard to offer a
solution to the mess."


--------------------------
2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized:
"Without anybody wishing it, and perhaps due to
neglect, lack of caution and lack of alertness, the
ground between Israel and the United States has become
strewn with unnecessary mines."

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

"Between Friendly Countries"
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(October 7): "Without anybody wishing it, and perhaps
due to neglect, lack of caution and lack of alertness,
the ground between Israel and the United States has
become strewn with unnecessary mines. These include
the spare parts for an Israeli assault drone that were
sold to China, the classified information that was
leaked from the Pentagon to AIPAC employees and the
information that Franklin passed to a senior Israeli
diplomat. These mines must be disarmed, and no
additional booby traps must be added to them."

------------
3. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Very liberal columnist B. Michael wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "[The Roadmap]
is void of any practical contents.... Is it surprising
that Sharon is in love with it?"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "If
the war continues, as Hamas desires, the donor states
will have to leave the area, as has happened
elsewhere.... The choice lies with the Palestinian
public and the Palestinian Authority."

Liberal columnist Gideon Samet wrote in Ha'aretz: "The
doubts about Sharon? Don't allow them to doze off."

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

I. "Map Without a Road"

Very liberal columnist B. Michael wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (October 7): "If
you bother to review the archaic document called 'the
Roadmap,' you'll find that since it was presented to
Israel on April 30, 2003, none of the commas in it have
even been accomplished.... No one in the U.S.
administration seriously intended to have it
implemented. In its present form, it isn't
achievable.... [Former U.S. diplomat Flynt] Leverett
has described how the administration took care that it
remained a dead letter -- heaven forbid, not because of
sheer evil, but out of fear of the extreme Christian
right, and bending to the neo-conservative bunch that
controls the White House.... [The Roadmap] is void of
any practical contents. Therefore, as one of its
architects has stated, this is what it was meant to be
at birth. Is it surprising that Sharon is in love with
it?"

II. "After the First Round"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(October 7): "If the Palestinian public wants funds,
factories and other aid from donors -- including Israel
-- it has to pressure Hamas and the other extremist
groups to stop the war. The Palestinian public cannot
have it both ways: war and attacks against Israel, and
at the same time donations, new factories and easy
access to work in Israel. If the war continues, as
Hamas desires, the donor states will have to leave the
area, as has happened elsewhere. The Israeli fire will
make them leave, just as the murder of three U.S.
diplomats in the Gaza Strip drove out American
contractors. The choice lies with the Palestinian
public and the Palestinian Authority. They must
choose."

III. "Believe Him or Not"

Liberal columnist Gideon Samet wrote in Ha'aretz
(October 7): "Those on the left who cast doubts when
new admirers sang [Sharon's] praises for what seemed to
be a deep personal turnabout, owe an accounting....
[Still], the road map talks about a Palestinian state
at a date that has long since passed; but it provides
Sharon with almost unlimited time because of the
condition of ending terrorism.... He created what is
known as a dynamic, and for that he is to be
congratulated. But politics, like physics, does not
know a dynamic motion without a force to propel it.
The only propulsion that will permit progress of the
kind that Sharon is promising is for him to leave the
party he established and to reshuffle a stuck political
alignment, which is stuck. This is apparently not what
we can expect if he captures the security zone in the
Likud. Then, there will be no dismantlement of more
settlements and no serious negotiations with the
Palestinian leadership. The doubts about Sharon?
Don't allow them to doze off."

JONES

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