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. U.S.-Israel Relations

Key stories in the media:

This morning, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar was quoted as
saying in an interview with Israel Radio that he does
not rule out holding negotiations with Israel if this
serves Palestinian interests -- "to liberate our land,
to liberate our people from Israeli jails, [and] to
reconstruct what [was] destroyed by the Israeli
longstanding occupation." Zahar was quoted as saying
that this development depended on the Israeli
government, and that his group will not disarm.
Speaking on the radio, Amos Gilad, head of the Defense
Ministry's political bureau, said that Zahar's comments
did not represent anything new.

Ha'aretz cited a report recently sent to the PA,
according to which the World Bank technical team
examining the provision of a 'safe crossing' between
the Gaza Strip and the areas of the West Bank
controlled by the PA has recommended that convoys
carrying passengers and cargo operate on three routes
connecting the Strip to the southern, central and
northern West Bank several times a day. The report is
expected to come up in discussions between Quartet
special envoy James Wolfensohn and Israeli and
Palestinian security officials. Ha'aretz writes that
both Israel and the PA accept, in principle, the major
points raised in the report, according to which three
routes are needed because of the restrictions Israel
imposes on movement within the West Bank.

All media (banner in Yediot) reported on today's
primaries for chairmanship of the Labor Party. The
media say that Vice Premier Shimon Peres is expected to

Last night, Israel TV reported that PM Sharon will
leave the Likud and create a new party. The TV station
quoted Sharon associates as saying that the new party's
name will be "Eyn Li Eretz Aheret" ("I Have No Other
Country"). The Jerusalem Post reported that Sharon
advisers told the newspaper on Tuesday that Sharon
wants to advance the election so he can return to power
and decide where Israel's final borders are going to
be. The newspaper further quoted them as saying that
although Sharon was currently saying that, after
disengagement, the Roadmap was the only diplomatic plan
on the table, he had not ruled out a unilateral
withdrawal from the West Bank in the long run. Maariv
led with internal Likud polls that indicate that
Knesset Member Binyamin Netanyahu is getting stronger
in the party. Yediot reported that 10 Likud MKs and
local council heads have started a campaign to oust
"rebel" Likud MKs from the party's central committee.

Israel Radio reported that top Sharon aide Dov
Weisglass will leave for Washington today to prepare
for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to
Israel next week. The radio quoted a senior U.S.
source as saying that it is important for the U.S. that
Israel grant incentives to the Palestinians in the Gaza
Strip and open passages along Gaza's borders.

Leading media quoted IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan
Halutz as saying on Tuesday before the Knesset's
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israel will
continue with its targeted killings of Palestinian
militants, because the policy has proven itself to be
extremely effective in curbing terror activity. Halutz
was quoted as saying that the targeted strikes will
focus on Islamic Jihad members. Ha'aretz reported that
Al-Rul, an Islamic Jihad activist was killed in an
exchange of fire with IDF troops on Tuesday morning
south of Jenin. Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported
that on Tuesday, IDF troops shot dead Muhammad Abu
Salha, 16, near Nablus. The media cited the army as
saying that he was trying to place a bomb, which
Palestinian sources confirmed to the radio. Maariv
reported that Palestinians continue to dig tunnels from
the Gaza Strip toward Israel.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Minister-Without-Portfolio
Haim Ramon as saying Tuesday that the EU has accepted,
in principle, Israel's demand that the third party
stationed at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and
Egypt have enforceable authority.

Citing AP, The Jerusalem Post reported that in its
annual report on international religious freedom, the
State Department criticized Israel for institutional
discrimination against Israeli Arabs.

The new Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., Prince Turki Al-
Faysal, was quoted as saying in an interview with The
Jerusalem Post that Saudi Arabia would be willing to
normalize relations with Israel only after the Israelis
adopt the Arab League peace initiative, which calls for
full withdrawal to the 1967 lines.

Yediot reported that Jordan's King Abdullah II has
confirmed that he will attend the Rabin Center's
inaugural ceremony in Tel Aviv next week.

Ha'aretz printed an AP report, according to which Syria
accused Israel on Tuesday of seeking to exploit U.S.-
led pressure on Damascus to reject calls for peace
talks over the occupied Golan Heights.

Yediot cited the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi as
saying that "sensational information" will soon be
published about the fate of Israeli MIA Ron Arad, who
disappeared in Lebanon in 1986. Yediot and Israel
Radio also cited Al-Quds Al-Arabi as saying that Israel-
Hizbullah negotiations have resumed.

Yediot reported on "yet another embarrassing defense
incident between Israel and the U.S." The newspaper
says that the U.S. administration is demanding that
Israel explain how five IDF helicopters, which were
sold by the U.S. to Israel in the 1970s, are being used
by the Colombian drug cartels. The newspaper cited the
concern of diplomatic sources in Jerusalem that the
affair will once again cause tension in defense
relations between the Israel and the U.S., and that it
could cast a shadow over their strategic dialogue,
which is scheduled to be resumed this month after a
year and a half of deadlock.

Ha'aretz reported that the Muslim Brotherhood could
become the largest opposition bloc in the Egyptian
Parliament following the three-stage parliamentary
elections that begin today. The newspaper cited rumors
of unclear provenance, according to which the U.S.
supported the outlawed Islamist movement, as part of
its campaign to nurture democracy in the Middle East
and Egypt, in particular. Ha'aretz says that according
to those rumors, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
demanded that the Muslim Brotherhood be permitted to
run unrestricted in these elections.

Ha'aretz reported that a committee headed by PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas and veteran members
of his Fatah movement will determine the list of Fatah
candidates for the Palestinian Legislative Council
elections set for January 25.

Ha'aretz reported that two Israeli Arabic-language
journalists -- a correspondent of the Lebanese daily Al-
Mustaqbal and a newsman employed by the far-Left
Israeli newspaper Al-Ittihad -- have recently been
summoned to the Shin Bet, which warned them against
holding contacts with journalists from the Arab world
who are suspected of being terrorists.

Veteran British TV interviewer David Frost, whom Al
Jazeera-TV has enlisted to serve in its new English-
language satellite station, was quoted as saying in an
interview with Ha'aretz that the Qatar-based network
has promised him full editorial independence, without
any censorship. Nevertheless, Ha'aretz writes that it
is difficult to ignore the anticipated dilemmas that
will face Frost at his new place of employment.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Foreign Ministry official
Amos Nadai as saying on Tuesday that a crisis in
relations with India has been averted by Israel putting
a stop to all efforts to convert about 7,000 Indian
citizens, known as Bnei Menashe.

Ha'aretz reported that Jewish leaders raised the plight
of small Jewish communities in South America at a
meeting with President Bush in Brasilia on Monday.

Maariv reported that an unnamed Israeli who was caught
in Maryland in possession of 70,000 pills of the drug
Ecstasy, managed to escape from the U.S. to the Far

Leading media note the USD's record representative rate
on Monday -- 4.691 shekels. Maariv says that
electrical appliances have subsequently become more

1. Mideast:


Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker opined in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Israel wishes
there to be poverty, hardship and unemployment in Gaza.
Not just Israel: the Palestinian leadership is not
lifting a finger to move forward an economic
rehabilitation process."

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized: "[Sharon]
concludes -- under American pressure, of course -- that
Israel should allow Hamas to participate in the
elections. Sharon is leading us to the edge of the

Block Quotes:

"Economic Prison in Gaza"

Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker opined in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (November 9):
"Judging by the results [of grandiose economic plans to
reconstruct the Gaza Strip], it is clear that Israel
wished, and still wishes, that the residents of Gaza
not develop an independent economy. Judging by the
results, there is no choice but to conclude that Israel
wishes there to be poverty, hardship and unemployment
in Gaza. Not just Israel: the Palestinian leadership
is not lifting a finger to move forward an economic
rehabilitation process. It is not only Hamas, but also
the Palestinian Authority that finds the situation of
an 'economic prison' in Gaza convenient, since in a
prison there is no need to take responsibility. In
prison it is always someone else -- the occupier, the
jailer -- who is to blame for the unfortunate situation
of the prisoners. The economic atrophy in the Gaza
Strip will continue, because it serves many interests,
besides those of the Gaza Strip residents. But who
takes them into account?"

II. "The Value of Promises"

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (November
9): "Hatzofe has predicted a number of times in this
column that Ariel Sharon and Shaul Mofaz would not keep
their promise to prevent Hamas from running in the
Palestinian elections. And lo and behold -- on
Tuesday, in the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee, the Prime Minister said that even if Hamas
runs in the elections, Israel will not disrupt them.
Sharon's excuses are not impressive and are devoid of
logic. The real reason for Israel's capitulation to
Hamas is American pressure, particularly from
Condoleezza Rice. That political crook Abu Mazen
explained to the Americans that if Hamas is allowed to
take part in the elections it will become more
moderate, and therefore the United States should insist
that Israel refrain from impeding its participation.
By the same token one should allow Islamic Jihad,
Hizbullah and Al Qaida to participate too, to make them
more moderate.... What did Sharon himself say? 'Hamas
is a terrorist organization which talks about
destruction of Israel and the Jewish people,' he said.
'It has not given up its weapons nor handed them in,
nor has it been asked to do so.' And what conclusion
does Sharon draw from his own statements? He concludes
-- under American pressure, of course -- that Israel
should allow Hamas to participate in the elections.
Sharon is leading us to the edge of the abyss. Why is
the Knesset not supervising him?"

2. U.S.-Israel Relations:

Liberal op-ed writer Ofer Shelach opined in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Why do we need
100 [Joint Strike Fighter] planes, and how is such a
decision made without having the public, which will pay
a heavy price for it, ask questions and be given

Block Quotes:

"Billion Dollar Sonic Boom"

Liberal op-ed writer Ofer Shelach opined in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (November 9):
"The report on the conclusion of the crisis with the
United States regarding security export matters, and
Israel's return to the group of countries developing
the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), is a joyous and
important piece of news. Beyond the vital security
relations with the U.S., there is economic and
scientific importance to the very participation of
Israeli companies in a project that is at the forefront
of global technology.... [But] why do we need 100 of
these planes, and how is such a decision made without
having the public, which will pay a heavy price for it,
ask questions and be given explanations?.... Just as
the [Israeli] public does not ask what is good about
the sonic booms [over the Gaza Strip], it also does not
ask why exactly we need 100 JSF planes, today or in ten


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