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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 08 TEL AVIV 006256

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. UNSC Vote on Syria

2. Iran

3. Mideast

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

Almost all media led with PM Sharon's political
situation in the Knesset. The media reported that
Sharon decided on Monday to postpone a fateful Knesset
vote on the appointments of Likud ministers by a week,
avoiding a defeat that could have led to early
elections and a split in his party. Banners in both
Yediot and Maariv talk of a "cease-fire" within the
Likud. Ha'aretz cites a legal opinion prepared by A-G
Menachem Mazuz. The opinion reportedly states that, if
the Knesset does not approve Vice PM Ehud Olmert's
permanent appointment as finance minister by November
9, when his three-month appointment as acting finance
minister expires, the political and administrative
consequences are liable to be so severe that they could
force early elections. The media quoted Sharon as
saying in his address at the opening of the Knesset
winter session that Israel will press ahead with
intensive construction of the separation fence, that
"the Palestinians must understand that only a
determined fight against terrorism, including
dismantling its organizations, will ensure the quiet we
all yearn for," and that "the government's policy is to
work toward implementing the Roadmap with the 14
Israeli qualifications." The media said that Sharon's
comments contained no surprises.

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Major media reported that Sharon will convene the
diplomatic-security cabinet today to approve an
agreement on the Rafah border crossing that will
include the stationing of third-party monitors, most
likely from the EU. The media reported that under the
agreement, Palestinians would be able to cross from
Gaza to Egypt and vice versa, through the Rafah
crossing, which would be manned by Palestinian,
Egyptian, and EU officials. The Jerusalem Post
reported that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met
Sunday night with representatives of Quartet
disengagement envoy James Wolfensohn, who has been
facilitating negotiations over this matter for months.
Israel Radio reported that further contacts on the
issue will include PA ministers. The Jerusalem Post
reported that Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, who
Ha'aretz says engineered the agreement with Egypt's
President Hosni Mubarak and intelligence chief Omar
Suleiman in Cairo last week, is slated to leave for
Washington tonight and that he is believed to be keen
to enter meetings with Bush administration officials,
who have been long eager to see an agreement reached,
with one in hand to present to them.

All media cited the UN Security Council's unanimous
vote for a resolution demanding that Syria cooperate
fully with a UN probe into the death of former Lebanese
PM Rafiq Hariri or face possible "further action." The
media note that the UNSC did not mention the
possibility of imposing sanctions if Damascus does not
comply. Ha'aretz reported that on Monday, Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice threatened Syria with "serious
consequences." Ha'aretz reported that Israel welcomed
the resolution but that it urged the international
community to keep up the pressure on Damascus until it
halts its support for terrorism. The newspaper quoted
a GOI source in Jerusalem as saying, "This was a
positive resolution. The fact that the international
community is no longer acting forgivingly toward Syria
constitutes extremely significant progress in
comparison with the past."

Ha'aretz's web site and other media cited U.S. National
Security Advisor Stephen Hadley as saying on Monday
that PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas must crack
down on Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the wake of last
week's suicide bombing in the coastal city of Hadera.
The remarks, which were reportedly prepared for AIPAC's
National Summit 2005 in Los Angeles, were released by
the White House. Leading media reported that Monday
and last night, the IDF continued its arrest operation
in the West Bank, and that Qassam rocket fire from Gaza
persisted. Several media reported that the IDF fired
rockets and shells into Gaza Strip areas where
Palestinian fire originated. Yediot reported that
members of an organization calling itself "Al-Qaida's
Jihad in Palestine" are active in the Gaza Strip, in
the mosques of which they have distributed a brochure
including a greeting: "Al-Qaida's Jihad in Palestine
greets the Islamic nation upon the month of Ramadan."
The newspaper reported that the IDF's Intelligence
Branch told the cabinet on Sunday that the Iranian
government funds the group. Yediot cited the concern
of the defense establishment that the Strip would
become a base for world terror.

The Jerusalem Post reported that PA Interior Minister
Nasser Yousef was a surprise guest at the fourth annual
Iftar dinner for Arab dignitaries hosted by President
Moshe Katsav on Sunday.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the PA has decided to
turn the former Gaza Strip settlement of Neve Dekalim
into a university campus.

Ha'aretz reported that the U.S. Federal Bureau of
Prisons web site's entry for the convicted spy Jonathan
Pollard shows that he is expected to be released from
prison in 2015. Ha'aretz notes that this is the first
time a release date has been mentioned for Pollard.

Hatzofe cited the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam as
saying that senior Palestinian Legislative Council
member Rahim Abu al-Naja told reporters on Monday that
the Palestinian factions agreed to a lull under the
assumption that Israel would withdraw from additional
areas. Hatzofe also reported that on Monday, the
Palestinian daily Al-Quds blasted Arab states that
maintain ties with Israel. Hatzofe reported that last
Friday, the Voice of Palestine broadcasting on Radio
Damascus praised the attack in the "settlement of
Hadera."

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli and Greek
navies began three days of joint maneuvers near Crete
on Monday in a sign of warming defense ties. The
newspaper reported that Greece invited all seven of
NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue partners -- Israel,
Algeria, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Egypt, and
Tunisia -- to send delegations to the exercise. The
Jerusalem Post quoted an Israeli naval officer as
saying that Israel was the only country that accepted
the offer.

The Jerusalem Post reported that "The Skies Are
Weeping," a classical music piece inspired by Rachel
Corrie, the pro-Palestinian American activist killed by
an IDF bulldozer in March 2003, will premiere tonight
in London.

Globes reported that on Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to
Israel Richard Jones hosted Israel's senior businessmen
on the occasion of "America Month" in the leading
supermarket chain Super-Sol.

Citing news agencies, Yediot reported that 40 Iraqis,
including many civilians, were killed in a U.S.
bombardment near the Iraq-Syria border on Monday.

Leading media reported that a proposal to set January
27 as a world Holocaust Day is expected to be approved
at the end of a special General Assembly session that
began at the UN on Monday.

All media reported that on Monday, President Bush
nominated Samuel Alito to the post of Supreme Court
justice, after Harriet Miers' nomination fell through.
The media note that Alito is a conservative judge
opposed to abortion.


-----------------------
1. UNSC Vote on Syria:
-----------------------

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "After the lofty
words about unacceptable behavior ... the forces lined
up in their usual pattern: West versus East, democracy
versus dictatorship. The Security Council can reach an
agreement only when it is sterilized, at least
partially."

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

"A Return to Power Politics"

Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (November 1): "On
Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice threatened
Syria with 'serious consequences' if it refuses to
cooperate with the international community's continuing
investigation of the murder of former Lebanese prime
minister Rafiq Hariri.... However, it is unclear how
much substance Rice's threat could have without the
cooperation of Russia and China. They may not have
stopped the international steamroller lumbering toward
Syria, but they have managed to stall it.... Rice
agreed to give up the main demands that were originally
supposed to appear in the Security Council's
resolution. The sanctions were not the only thing
missing from the final version -- so was the demand
that the Syrian government sever ties with the militant
organizations that maintain offices in Syria.... After
the lofty words about unacceptable behavior and the
shock, real or feigned, of the assassination of a
neighboring state's prime minister, the forces lined up
in their usual pattern: West versus East, democracy
versus dictatorship. The Security Council can reach an
agreement only when it is sterilized, at least
partially."

---------
2. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global
Research in International Affairs Center, columnist
Barry Rubin, wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post: "What [Ahmadinejad's] speech really
shows is how millions of young Muslims are being
systematically indoctrinated with the idea that they
should sacrifice living standards, democracy, and
common sense in pursuit of the fantasy of destroying
Israel and defeating the West."
Block Quotes:
-------------

"'Osama Bin Ahmadinejad'"

The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global
Research in International Affairs Center, columnist
Barry Rubin, wrote in the conservative, independent
Jerusalem Post (November 1): "Read Ahmadinejad's words
and then try to find some differences between his
ideology and that of Osama bin Laden. It is precisely
the same worldview even though, of course,
Ahmadinejad's inspiration is Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini, the founder of Islamist Iran.... It should
also be noted that outside of Saudi Arabia, most Gulf
states are increasingly indifferent to the Arab-Israeli
conflict. But what [Ahmadinejad's] speech really shows
is how millions of young Muslims are being
systematically indoctrinated with the idea that they
should sacrifice living standards, democracy, and
common sense in pursuit of the fantasy of destroying
Israel and defeating the West. Few will become suicide
bombers; many more will participate actively in
encouraging their own societies to commit suicide."


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

Summary:
--------

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post
editorialized: "Sharon, as a former right-winger, the
author of disengagement and as prime minister, has the
primary responsibility to heal the divisions that his
policies have induced."

Liberal columnist Dr. Gadi Taub wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "If the choice is between anarchy and
Hamas, Hamas is not necessarily the worse among the
two."

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

I. "Missing Magnanimity"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post
editorialized (November 1): "By shepherding through
disengagement, Sharon has fundamentally changed the
political and diplomatic landscape. It is his job now,
as leader of the nation, to build a more solid
political foundation under this new reality, either
within the Likud or outside of it.... This is not to
say that what the country needs is a politics that is
based entirely on the logic of disengagement. On the
contrary, reconciliation with the right would be
advisable precisely because it is not healthy for a
large section of the electorate to feel
disenfranchised.... Sharon can make, and no doubt has
made, the argument to the right that his policy is the
best way for Israel to both defend itself and define
its permanent borders in a way that best fulfills our
national interests. The responsibility does not fall
entirely on Sharon; the right is ultimately culpable
for the extent it is able to adapt to the new reality.
But Sharon, as a former right-winger, the author of
disengagement and as prime minister, has the primary
responsibility to heal the divisions that his policies
have induced."

II. "Better that Hamas Should Rule"

Liberal columnist Dr. Gadi Taub wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (November 1): "If Defense Minister
Shaul Mofaz is right, and Abu Mazen is truly just a
'one-man show' and is incapable of controlling affairs
on the ground, and if there really isn't a partner for
negotiations in the Palestinian Authority, it could be
that Israel needs to reconsider a few of its positions
vis--vis Hamas.... It could be that if Hamas were to
become the governing force in the Gaza Strip and would
have to shoulder responsibility for both the
achievements and the prices paid in all areas of life
... the Israeli responses would exact a price from
someone who might be deterred by them.... Israel's best
interest is to have a stable, central Palestinian
government that is capable of forcing the extremists to
bow to its authority. But if the choice is between
anarchy and Hamas, Hamas is not necessarily the worse
among the two. If Gaza is beset by complete anarchy,
Israeli attacks might be able to strike at the
terrorists physically, but they would prove to be
completely ineffective in their effort to 'dry the
swamp' of its ideology; on the contrary, these attacks
would achieve the opposite: terrorism would become more
pervasive, and people in despair would join it. The
final calculation should be, in the event that the
collapse of the PA forces us to make this choice --
between anarchy and Hamas -- that we would best be
served, before we find ourselves in the corner, by
exhausting all possible ways of helping our partner,
even if it isn't a partner, to establish maximum
control over the Palestinian territories. Both of the
two options we will have to choose from in the event of
the PA's collapse are bad."

JONES

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