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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 07 TEL AVIV 006219

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

The Israeli media lead with the aftermath of the Hadera
bombing Wednesday. All media reported on the IAF
missile strike in Northern Gaza last night, directed at
the car of an Islamic Jihad activist which killed
Islamic Jihad operative Shadi Mohanna, the Qassam`s
engineer along with two of his aides and four
civilians.

Israel Radio reported this morning that in a large-
scale ground operation in Northern Sumaria, 12 wanted
Islamic Jihad operatives were arrested in the Villages
of the Tulkam region and one in Jenin.

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Israel Radio and IDF Radio quoted State Department
spokesman Sean McCormack as saying this morning that
Israel has the right to defend itself, however it
should consider the consequences of its actions.

All media reported on the "twice postponed" meeting
between PA's Mahmud Abbas and Ari'el Sharon, due to
"the current environment." The postponement was
announced during the meeting of PM Sharon and visiting
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. PM Sharon was also
quoted as saying that, "If the PA doesn't take serious
and real action against terrorism there will not be any
diplomatic progress, and that would be a shame."
According to The Jerusalem Post, Vice Prime Minister
Shimon Peres told Minister Lavrov that Israel does not
have a policy of expanding the settlements, and that it
has committed itself to dismantling the unauthorized
settlement outposts and moving forward along the road
map. At the same time, this could only occur if Abbas
would wage a "determined war" against the "armed
organizations."
Yedi'ot Aharonot reported that after meeting President
Mubarak in Cairo yesterday, Defense Minister Shaul
Mofaz said: "I am not sure we could ever make a peace
agreement with the current Palestinian leadership. We
will have to wait for the next generation. The best we
could hope for in the meantime is yet another interim
agreement. A Palestinian state, a permanent agreement?
I cannot envision this in the coming years."
Ha'aretz reported that "Jerusalem is furious" that
Egypt has invited Islamic Jihad and Hamas to hold talks
with Cairo, thereby essentially granting them equal
status with the Palestinian Authority, at a time when
the former is perpetrating suicide bombings in Israel
and the latter is launching Qassam rockets at civilian
targets inside the green line. Jerusalem reportedly
said Cairo has effectively accorded Hamas the same
diplomatic status that it accords the PA.
The US State Department stated that Israel has the
right to defend itself, but must decide which steps to
take out of all of the possibilities, Israel Radio
reported.
Fearing more attacks, the Israel Police remain on high
alert, going up "to Level 3, one notch below a total
state of emergency," the Jerusalem Post reported.
The Jerusalem Post also reported that yesterday in the
Tel Aviv Stock Exchange "shares declined after the IDF
launched air strikes on Gaza Strip," with leading bank
shares falling and the Tel Aviv-25 Index losing 1.1%.

The Jerusalem Post reported that "Israel's Ambassador
to the UN Dan Gillerman began trying to build a
coalition Thursday in favor of expelling Iran from the
UN, as governments around the globe condemned Iran for
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments that Israel
should be 'wiped off the map,' though "UN mathematics
indicate that no such coalition could possibly
prevail." The report further lists senior
international officials denouncing the Iranian
president's statement.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, according to remarks
by the Likud's legal advisor yesterday, Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon did not break the law when a $10,000-a-
plate dinner was hosted in his honor on September 19 in
New York, Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz and State
Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss launched probes into
the dinner investigating whether it was illegal for
people who came to the dinner to be asked to donate
$10,000 - more than the $7,894 limit set in the Israeli
Election Law. But Likud legal advisor Eitan Haberman
revealed in campaign fundraising guidelines that he
sent to the Likud leadership cabinet on Sunday that the
limit had not yet taken effect. Once the date is set
for the primary, which can be held no later than April,
each candidate will be limited to raising no more than
NIS 36,472 ($7894) per person.

Ha'aretz reports this morning on Defense Minister
Mofaz's instruction to evict 15 families that have
lived for the past few years in old buildings in
Hebron's wholesale market. He has also instructed
troops to destroy 12 permanent buildings at the Amona
outpost near Ofra in the West Bank. The Yesha
Settlement Council fears that the decision, which was
taken in principle a long time ago but only now is
being made operative, is the beginning of the
implementation of the promise given by Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon to the US Administration that Israel will
evacuate some of the outposts. Also, all media report
that in the past 24 hours, the IDF have evacuated five
new outposts set up in the past two days by youth,
reporting that the settlers used excessive force during
these evacuations. Chief of Staff Dan Halutz condemned
the youths' behavior, while Mofaz said that "the
behavior of these hoodlums will not go unpunished."


Ynet and Yediot report that the US has recently halted
for an unlimited period of time all thea contracts to
supply night vision equipment and electro-optic devices
to the IDF. It is reported that the reason is the
Israeli failure to report loss of night vision devices.
-------------
Mideast
-------------
Summary:
-------------
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz carries commentary
by senior columnist Yoel Marcus who writes, "it's not
easy to preach restraint during this week of terror.
But in the era of moving toward negotiations, the
political echelon must stand up to the pressures from a
military establishment that demands escalating our
forceful reactions, and instead use a pair of tweezers
on the Palestinians.. In this transition period between
the disengagement and the implementation of the road
map, the government must display more empathy toward
the Palestinians."
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz carries commentary
by diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn who writes,
"Israel's biggest problem is not how Syria and Iran are
treated, but the fact that the international community
lost interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
shoving it into the drawer of unresolved problems that
should wait for the future., which is sure to give us
more terror attacks and targeted eliminations."

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Kaspit writes in popular,
pluralist Ma'ariv: "Should Israel overthrow Asad? The
majority in the Israeli political system believe we
should not. We could close a deal with Syria and
eliminate the northern front. For that, we need Syria
to be stable and well-led, one that can decide and act
on it, one that we had until not so long ago.
Otherwise, we will receive a new and upgraded model of
the PA, and then we will spend our time screaming that
'we have no partner.' In the end, when we look at
ourselves in the mirror, we will realize that we have
no more partners because we had eliminated them."

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

I. "Despite Hadera"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz carries a commentary
by senior columnist Yoel Marcus who writes, "With the
opening of the winter session of the Knesset this
coming Monday, a new Ariel Sharon will take the podium,
a Sharon who made the ideological transformation from a
man of war to a man of peace. Above all, the man at
the podium will be the person who foiled the plot by
extremists in his party to topple him from power for
the sin of the disengagement. He will deliver his state
of the State speech with the new status of King of
Israel. Or at least he is in the eyes of the majority
of the public that believes that maybe, just maybe, he
will be elected the leader of his party and its
candidate for prime minister in the primaries, and will
continue leading the country to an agreement with the
Palestinians.. Disengagement opponents are convinced
that they have been proven right. Look, they say, only
10 weeks have passed since Gaza was evacuated and the
intifadah is back.. It's not easy to preach restraint
during this week of terror. But in the era of moving
toward negotiations, the political echelon must stand
up to the pressures from a military establishment that
demands escalating our forceful reactions, and instead
use a pair of tweezers on the Palestinians.. In this
transition period between the disengagement and the
implementation of the road map, the government must
display more empathy toward the Palestinians. The
return to limits on their transportation, checkpoints
and passages is less effective than generosity. I would
expect Sharon to say that Israel must not fall into the
trap of the extremists on the other side, provoking us
into an escalatory response. Israel needs patience and
a view to the further horizon. Palestinian society, due
to its poverty and distress, will eventually be forced
to impose its authority over its extremists. Although
in the immediate calculation there are winds of
disappointment among us, Sharon can sum up his
political speech by saying that the future will prove
that Israel's disengagement initiative was justified
and eventually will lead to a far-reaching historic
change."

II. "Bush Wants Democracy, There'll Be Democracy"
Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Ben writes in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Last week's
events were a grim reminder for Israel that the
Palestinian intifadah is not over yet. A year after
Arafat's death and two and a half months after the
disengagement, reality remained as violent as it was
before, with the repeated ritual of a Palestinian
suicide attack followed by a large-scale IDF operation
in the territories.. The feeling that the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict is happening in a bubble, far
removed from events in the world, becomes stronger when
examined against the dramatic changes all around us..
The Bush Doctrine for a democratic reform in the Arab
world., and his foreign policy is showing results. The
new Iraqi constitution, that is supposed to serve as a
democratic model for the Arab world, was approved last
week; the UN Security Council started discussing a
condemnation of Syria over the Rafik Hariri murder; and
Iran is sweating ahead of another discussion of its
nuclear policy.. It is hard to imagine a more
favorable strategic situation for Israel.. As the
international situation changes, no one is blaming
Sharon and his activities in the territories for the
rising oil prices.. The Israeli presence in the West
Bank. is no longer viewed as a real strategic problem.
It is hard to overestimate the importance of this
change.. But Israel belatedly understood the nature of
the new US stand. Israel's declared interest was to
leave the regimes in their thrones, only weaker and
disarmed. because the alternatives might be a radical
Islamic regime that might threaten Israel, or a
supposedly Western regime, that would make the West
press Israel on the Golan.. The Iranian president's
call for a world without Zionism was seized by
Jerusalem for a quick PR campaign. yet, even countries
that may be willing to help dismantling the Iranian
nuclear project would not be as enthusiastic if they
are viewed as helping Israel. Sharon understands that
and thus keeps quiet and out of the events around us..
Sharon does not believe that the 'Arabs' can change,
certainly not soon, nor does he share Bush's
enthusiasm, but he was the first leader in the region
who realized where President Bush was going, and chose
to move with the US storm, not against it. He chose
the disengagement to secure the US support. A
Jerusalem official cautioned last week against
euphoria, saying: '.the problem is that we don't know
where the Americans are going.. "Still, Israel's
biggest problem is not how Syria and Iran are treated,
but the fact that the international community lost
interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, shoving
it into the drawer of unresolved problems that should
wait for the future., which is sure to give us more
terror attacks and targeted killings."

III. "The Asad Riddle"

Diplomatic correspondent Ben Kaspit writes in popular,
pluralist Ma'ariv: "So what do we do with Asad? .The
man who was the big white hope of the West turned out
weak, lazy, hardly thinking.. His Syria is a weak
country, almost insignificant militarily, that feeds on
past rumors.. Asad does not have a real center; there
is nothing original about him.. He put Syria on a
track where it turned into 'the sick man' of the Middle
East, perhaps even of the world. Still, it is asked:
Should Israel overthrow Asad? The majority in the
Israeli political system believe we should not, with
opinions divided between 'conservative' and
'reformists.' Strongly backed by Sharon and Mofaz, the
majority of the senior Israeli defense establishment
officials are 'guardians of the current situation'.
claiming there is no reason to replace him for an
unknown.. They maintain that the Americans, who sent
the Middle East into frenzy with their irresponsible
folly and picking on the weak instead of the dangerous,
might leave behind them a scorched earth infested with
Bin Ladens. Incidentally, speaking off the record and
very privately, Sharon too does not excessively believe
in Bush's dream of Arab world democratization. The
theories of Bush and Natan Sharansky (one of them is
even a good friend of Sharon) make him mock and laugh
at them: We will have an Iraqi democracy right away,
and it will break out in Syria soon after -- yeah,
right. Against this background, the current situation
is our- best option.. The price of peace with Syria is
well known (it even slightly dropped recently). It
will put an end to the cycle of hostility around
Israel, open it in every direction, and isolate the
Palestinians. Why did they not opt for that? Who
knows? .Perhaps the threat of peace terrified the
defense establishment, where tens of thousands make a
living.. We could close a deal with Syria and
eliminate the northern front. For that, we need Syria
to be stable and well-led, one that can decide and act
on it, one that we had until not so long ago.
Otherwise, we will receive a new and upgraded model of
the PA, and then we will spend our time screaming that
'we have no partner.' In the end, when we look at
ourselves in the mirror, we will realize that we have
no more partners because we had eliminated them."
JONES

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