Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.







E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Mideast

2. Syria Governance

3. U.S.-Israel Relations

Key stories in the media:

In its lead story, Ha'aretz reported that in a letter
sent to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the foreign
ministries of Britain, Russia, and the U.S., James
Wolfensohn, the Quartet's special envoy for the
disengagement, criticized Israel for holding up
agreements on opening Gaza Strip border crossings to
the passage of people and goods and on improving
Palestinian mobility in the West Bank. Wolfensohn
allegedly wrote that the GOI acted "as if there had
been no withdrawal."

On Sunday, Ha'aretz quoted a senior State Department
official as saying on Friday that Israeli and
Palestinian obligations undertaken under the Roadmap
are not of equal importance. The official, who
reportedly asked to remain anonymous, was quoted as
saying that the PA's commitment to fight terror is more
crucial that Israel's commitment to freeze settlement
construction and evacuate illegal settlement outposts.

On Sunday, The Jerusalem Post reported that a senior
GOI source told the newspaper on Saturday: "Israel is
not going to stop Hamas from participating in the
[Palestinian Legislative Council] elections." The
source was also quoted as saying that Israel would not
deal politically with Hamas following the elections,
should members of the group be elected to office. In
addition, the source was quoted as saying that Israel
would not take any steps to help with the elections
should Hamas participate in them. He did not clarity
what he meant. Ha'aretz reported that contrary to the
Israeli stance, the U.S. administration has accepted
the position of PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas
that the right time to confront Hamas and its
disarmament is after the Palestinian elections in
January. Israel has been demanding that Abbas confront
Hamas now because it has created a "second authority"
that is posing a threat to the PA and Abbas's future.
Ha'aretz quoted diplomats in New York as saying that
despite the U.S. administration's strong condemnations
of Syria since Friday, the U.S. prefers not to take far-
reaching steps against Damascus at the UN Security
Council at this stage. Leading media quoted senior
U.S. officials, including President Bush and Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice, as saying during the weekend
that Syria must be brought to account for is actions in
Lebanon. Ha'aretz also quoted sources in New York as
saying that a report due to be published today at UN
headquarters, compiled by the UN special envoy to
Lebanon Terje Roed-Larsen, with a view to implementing
UNSC Resolution 1559, will focus on arms smuggled from
Syria to Lebanon that reach the Palestinian refugee
camps and constitute a central threat to the stability
of Lebanon and a danger to its security. On Sunday,
Ha'aretz reported that opinions are divided in
Jerusalem as to whether the fall of Syrian President
Bashar Assad's regime would be good for Israel. The
newspaper quoted senior Israeli government officials as
saying on Saturday that Assad's fall would benefit
Israel because Syria's government was the worst
possible regime. On the other hand, the daily quoted a
senior Israeli military official as saying that a rise
to power in Syria of the Muslim Brotherhood and
extremists who might even cooperate with Al Qaida could
be more dangerous.

Israel Radio reported that last night, two armed
Palestinians were killed in Tulkarm by IDF fire. The
radio reported that one of them, Luai Saadi, was the
head of the armed branch of Islamic Jihad in the West
Bank and was wanted for planning major terrorist
attacks. On Sunday, the media reported that the IDF
arrested five wanted men near Nablus on Saturday, one
of whom had concealed a grenade in his infant son's
blanket. All media (lead stories in Yediot and Maariv)
cited the Shin Bet as saying that two Israeli dentists
-- Dr. Nazmi Hassin from Nazareth and Dr. Asalam Zeidan
from the village of Kafr Manda -- who were recruited by
Hamas during their dentistry studies in Romania in the
1990s, have been arrested. They reportedly trained in
Turkey in order to carry out terrorist attacks in
Israel. On Sunday and today, Maariv highlighted a
warning by the Israeli defense establishment that the
launching of Qassam rockets from the West Bank into
Kfar Sava and other Sharon region cities is only a
question of time. On Sunday, the newspaper cited
assessments by the IDF that the manufacture of rockets
in Samaria (the northern West Bank) cannot be

Leading media reported that on Sunday, the PA announced
a security plan aimed at disarming the armed wing of
Fatah and recruiting hundreds of its members into the
security forces.

On Sunday, Yediot quoted associates of PM Sharon as
saying that former Shin Bet head Avi Dichter will join
Sharon's election campaign.

On Sunday, Yediot cited the belief of senior officials
in the Israeli defense industries that those
manufacturers are bound to dismiss thousands of workers
if the U.S. continue to cause Israeli weapons deals to

On Sunday, Maariv cited Knesset Member Binyamin
Netanyahu's denial of last week's Maariv story that
claimed he was considering retiring from political

Major media reported that on Sunday, the Jewish Agency
donated 100,000 shekels (approx. USD 21,600) to victims
and their families of the attack by Jewish terrorist
Eden Natan-Zada aboard a bus in the Israeli-Arab town
of Shfaram at the beginning of August. The Jerusalem
Post notes that it was the first time that money from a
special fund established shortly following the outbreak
of the Intifada to help victims of terror has been
given to Israeli Arabs who were victims of Jewish

On Sunday, Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post reported that on
Saturday, President Bush announced his intention to
nominate Paul J. McNulty of Virginia as deputy attorney
general at the Justice Department. McNulty is the
federal prosecutor responsible for the cases of former
defense analyst Larry Franklin and the two former AIPAC
lobbyists, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman.

On Sunday, The Jerusalem Post reported that William
Daroff, a Republican activist with bipartisan ties, was
selected to lead Washington operations for the United
Jewish Communities.

Yediot front-paged the picture of a Native American who
is a member of a group that came to Israel to
"encourage the Gush Katif evacuees."

Leading media reported that businessman Shmuel Levy, a
dual Israeli-American citizen who disappeared in
Greece, was killed there during an attempted robbery.

1. Mideast:


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized:
"Hamas's participation in the election should not be
viewed as a concession on the demand to stop the
terror. Rather, it should be seen as an attempt to
reach the same goal using different means."

Block Quotes:

"Do Not Disturb"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(October 23): "In answer to a question about the
timetable for the creation of a Palestinian state,
President George W. Bush gave a partly religious
response: 'I believe that two democratic states living
side by side in peace is possible. I can't tell you
when it's going to happen.' Later on, he said it might
not happen during his presidential term. Even if the
statement was intended to pressure the Palestinians to
disarm the militant organizations quickly, in order to
follow the route prescribed in the road map, it is
doubtful that lowering expectations is the desired
approach.... [Likewise], Israel's desire to take Hamas
out of the political game is apparently not in keeping
with reality. Israel's indelicate interference in the
Palestinian elections, as punishment for Hamas's
participation in them, will only further weaken Abbas.
In this matter, at least, the American position seems
clear. Hamas's participation in the election should
not be viewed as a concession on the demand to stop the
terror. Rather, it should be seen as an attempt to
reach the same goal using different means. To Abbas,
too, it is clear that no diplomatic process can be
carried out under fire, and his intention to achieve
calm through democratic means is deserving of trust and
support at least for a limited period. Israel's role
at this stage is not to disturb."

2. Syria Governance:


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "A
regime that employs terrorist means to implement its
policy will have to brought to account and even

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"This time, we hope, Damascus may have taken its
'misunderestimation' of the international community one
step too far."

Block Quotes:

I. "An Unfit Regime"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(October 24): "Lebanon, which has done more than any
other party in the region, including the United States
and the Arab League, to free itself from Syria's hold,
also wishes to sever itself from the 'joint track'
doctrine that Syria dictated. This is the doctrine
that prevented Lebanon from conducting peace
negotiations with Israel on its own. Lebanon's
political independence is therefore an important
Israeli interest, which, even if Israel does not
succeed at this time in persuading Lebanon to advance
toward peace negotiations with it, at least holds out
hope that Syria would not stand in the way of the
process. It is possible that the conclusions of the
two investigative commissions attest merely to another
attempt to adapt Syria's policies to the ambitions of
the United States, especially regarding Syrian
cooperation in the war in Iraq. That, however, is not
sufficient to negate their basic assumption: a regime
that employs terrorist means to implement its policy
will have to brought to account and even punished."

II. "Catching Rogues"

Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(October 23): "The significance of the Mehlis report is
that it shows how, given an international climate of
decreasing tolerance for terrorism, victimized nations
can puncture the thin veil of deniability and doubt
that has protected aggressor regimes until now. It
says that the West will not wait for the level of proof
required by a criminal court before pointing an
accusing finger and acting to protect itself. Syrian
protestations regarding flimsy evidence and the
presumption of innocence are, of course, risible coming
from a brutal police state whose idea of justice has
infamously included carpet-bombing its own citizens.
Yet the fact that the regime would even attempt such a
defense shows that it still believes that there are no
limits to Western gullibility and weakness. This time,
we hope, Damascus may have taken its
'misunderestimation' of the international community one
step too far."

3. U.S.-Israel Relations:


Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Should Israel
find out, within a few months, that the American
companies are upgrading the F-16 planes for Venezuela,
then we would become worthless."

Block Quotes:

"The United States Is Turning Israel Into a Worthless

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (October 23):
"During the discussions over the memorandum of
understanding between Israel and the U.S., following
[Israel's] arms sales to China, the Americans have
pledged that limitations [of sales] will only be
subject to purely diplomatic considerations. In other
words -- Israel will not be forced into a situation in
which a veto on a deal will be imposed on Israel due to
pressure by the American defense industries in the same
markets. The deal to upgrade Venezuelan aircraft would
be the test: should Israel find out, within a few
months, that the American companies are upgrading the F-
16 planes for Venezuela, then we would become
worthless.... In a semi-official communication, not a
real demand, the U.S. State Department has thanked
Israel for having acceded to its request that the deal
with Venezuela be canceled. It has also pledged that
no economic pressure by American firms is hiding under
the request. Will this expression of gratitude put
across 'measures to ease the siege' on Israeli security
exports? There's no chance of that happening."


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