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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.

151017Z Nov 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 TEL AVIV 006470

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

Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank November 13-15,

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2005

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

The Israeli dailies' top stories were split between
developments in Israeli politics (Ha'aretz, Yediot, and
The Jerusalem Post) and Knesset Member Omri Sharon's
expected guilty plea (Maariv and Hatzofe).

Leading media reported that Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice postponed her departure Monday night
to work out negotiations with Israel and the
Palestinian Authority on the contentious issue of the
Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. (Yediot
headlined: "Rafah Crossing: The Ultimatum.") The
Jerusalem Post wrote: "That she delayed her departure
to Korea to get personally involved in the issue was an
indication of just how important she considered it."
This morning, Israel Radio reported that Rice cancelled
her trip to South Korea. The Jerusalem Post quoted
Secretary Rice as saying Monday: "A lot of these are

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highly technical issues. I believe that with will and
some creativity, and agreement to what the envoy [James
Wolfensohn] has proposed ... as a way forward should be
within sight."

Israel Radio reported that a draft agreement regarding
crossings and movement of goods and people, which the
U.S. conveyed to Israel, states that Palestinian
customs officials will be posted at the Kerem Shalom
crossing and supervised by Israeli customs officials; a
media room would be set up at the Rafah border
crossing, as video footage would be inspected by
Israeli and Palestinian officials. Should differences
arise, European monitors would have the final say. The
sides reportedly agreed that work would begin on the
Gaza seaport and the planning of a Gaza airport.
Passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would
be carried out in the manner proposed by Wolfensohn --
by buses and trucks. Israel Radio quoted diplomatic
sources in Jerusalem as saying that the Americans would
like an agreement to be signed today. Ha'aretz quoted
a senior GOI source as saying that he expects the
agreement on the issue to be signed today. Various
commentators, notably on Channel 2-TV and Israel Radio,
said that the Americans are giving the impression that
the current developments in Israeli politics are
shortening the diplomatic calendar. This morning,
Israel Radio reported that an agreement was reached,
following a meeting between Secretary Rice, Defense
Minister Shaul Mofaz, and Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin.
The radio reported that Secretary Rice announced that
the Rafah crossing would open on November 25 for
pedestrian traffic. The station quoted Mofaz as saying
that the role that Egypt played in reaching an
agreement could be a basis for the future. The radio
reported that Yuval Steinitz, the chairman of the
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, urged
the government to reject pressure to sign the agreement
in its present form.

Leading media quoted Secretary Rice as saying Monday at
a news conference in Ramallah that she expects Israel
to fulfill its obligations to put a halt to settlement
expansion and evacuate illegal outposts. The media
reported that Rice told PA officials, including PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas as saying that the
settlements are contrary to U.S. policy, which opposes
any steps likely to prejudice final-status agreements.
Ha'aretz quoted Secretary Rice as saying: "It is very
important for ordinary Palestinians ... that there be
freedom of movement between Gaza and the West Bank."
Hatzofe reported that Secretary Rice has "adopted the
Palestinian position" by demanding that Sharon agree to
Hamas's participation in the PA's legislative
elections.

Ha'aretz quoted Secretary Rice as saying Monday in
Jerusalem that Israel will be included in American
efforts to advance democracy in the Middle East.
Ha'aretz reported that Rice told FM Silvan Shalom:
"There is room to include Israel, and I told Arab
leaders that." Ha'aretz reported that Secretary Rice
praised FM Shalom's efforts to advance Israel's
relations with the Arab states, and quoted her as
saying that she expects to hear soon about further
breakthroughs.

The media reported that Labor Party Chairman Knesset
Member Amir Peretz forced his party's ministers and
deputy ministers to sign resignation letters on Monday.
Leading media say that the move was intended to
forestall a possible decision by Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon to fire the ministers and to prevent Sharon from
dividing them by negotiations with those who want to
remain in the government. Leading media cited
increasing criticism of Peretz's moves among Labor
ministers and his Likud rivals, but also from close
associates. The media wrote that Knesset elections are
likely to be held in March 2006.

All media reported that today, FM Shalom will start a
visit to Tunisia, his native country.

The media reported that on Monday, during the
inauguration of the Rabin Center for Israel Studies in
Tel Aviv, Sharon stressed his personal connection with
the late PM Yitzhak Rabin, but downplayed the Oslo
Accords. The media reported that during the special
Knesset session in Rabin's memory, Knesset Speaker
Reuven Rivlin (Likud) offended several Knesset members
with claims that politicians were still trying to make
political gains from Rabin's assassination.

The media continued to report on the visit to Israel of
former U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. Senator
Hillary Clinton.

All media reported that lawyers of Likud Knesset Member
Omri Sharon, the PM's son, will announce today that
their client plans to retire from politics after
reaching a plea bargain over charges related to his
father's 1999 primaries campaign.

The media reported that on Monday morning, IDF troops
killed Amjad Hinawi, Hamas's top commander in the
northern West Bank. The Jerusalem Post notes that
Hinawi shot and murdered David Boim, an American
yeshiva student, in 1996. Ha'aretz reported that
Hamas's military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam, said in a
statement faxed to AP, that "the painful retaliation of
al-Qassam is coming."

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday, after a
delay of eight months, the High Court of Justice held a
hearing on an appeal by the PA involving 15 lawsuits
for damages caused by Palestinian terrorists during the
Al-Aqsa Intifada.

Yediot, Maariv, and The Jerusalem Post reported that
Israel is cooperating with Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, and
the PA, in the establishment and operation of a
scientific/research particle accelerator at Jordan's
University of Balaka.

The media reported that during the weekend, the police
interrogated Israel's Ambassador to the UK, Zvi Hefetz,
under suspicion of money laundering related to his
business relations with Russian tycoon and Maariv
newspaper shareholder Vladimir Gusinsky.

Ha'aretz reported that Israel is trying to persuade
Jewish federations and communities in the U.S. to
finance Israeli aid programs in foreign countries.

Israel Radio reported that today, the state sold a
controlling stake in Bank Leumi, the country's second
largest bank, to U.S. equity investment fund Cerbus
Gabriel for 2.474 billion shekels (around USD 522
million).

The Jerusalem Post reported on the fight by the Israeli
music group Coolooloosh's American lead singer, Joel
Covington, against the Interior Ministry's decision to
deport him from the country because he has stayed
illegally in Israel for much of the past six years.
The newspaper reported that more than 275 supporters
have signed a petition on his behalf.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Secretary Rice to Israel, West Bank, November 13-15,

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2005:
--------------------------------------------- -------

Summary:
--------

Senior columnist Dan Margalit wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv: "Wolfensohn was immediately accused
of being Abu Mazen's assistant."

Veteran columnist Yaron London wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The most
prevalent protest [in the Arab world] was over the fact
that Muslims had dared to murder Muslims, and not that
innocent people had been killed. The implication of
this is frighteningly clear: terror in and of itself is
not an act to be condemned."

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized:
"Labor Party members must understand, prior to the
unstoppable decision toward which [newly elected Labor
Party Chairman Amir] Peretz is leading the way, that
all these attempts are at odds with decent politics.
Worse yet, a significant danger to democracy in Israel
lies concealed. Let Peretz carry on with his labors."

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

I. "Gaza-Style Economics"

Senior columnist Dan Margalit wrote in popular,
pluralist Maariv (November 15): "Who would have thought
that ... [Quartet special envoy] Jim Wolfensohn would
have delivered a reproof speech ... about Israel's
responsibility for developments in distant Gaza's
economy? This happened during an Israeli-American
dialogue at the Saban Forum.... Wolfensohn was
immediately accused of being Abu Mazen's assistant....
What Israel can do is to send a certain amount of money
to Gaza, behind the backs of the terror organizations,
and not through the corrupt PA institutions.... If, by
means of force and threats, the PA and Hamas prevent
Gazans from receiving their money, Israel will at least
enjoy good will and create initial frictions between
destitute [Gaza] residents and the Palestinian
leadership. This is already something."

II. "The Arab Version of the Amman Terror Attacks"

Veteran columnist Yaron London wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (November 13):
"About half of those killed in the Amman terror attacks
were Palestinian Jordanian citizens and Palestinians
from the West Bank.... I hoped that the blind
murderousness that had hit them would arouse in the
Palestinians questions about the justice of suicide
bombing attacks, but this hope was dashed.... The most
prevalent protest [in the Arab world] was over the fact
that Muslims had dared to murder Muslims, and not that
innocent people had been killed. The implication of
this is frighteningly clear: terror in and of itself is
not an act to be condemned. The mistake has to do with
the religious identity of the victims.... This denial
is that of the masses and of the intellectuals. The
contention that it is impossible that Muslims would
commit such a heinous act and therefore those who did
it were not Muslims, was understood by the masses of
Jordanians in its simplest meaning: if Muslims didn't
do it, then obviously others did, and these others are
those who aspire to weaken the Arabs, in other words --
the Jews.... The [West Bank] villagers are incapable of
containing the thought that the mentality motivating
the shahids that come from their midst is the same that
motivates the suicide bombers sent by Abu Musab al-
Zarqawi to murder their relatives. You don't need to
be a psychologist to realize that admitting this would
lead them to the mouth of a dark pit, where the awful
realization resides that those who committed the murder
in Amman are not 'the others,' 'the Israelis,' 'the
Zionists,' 'America,' the CIA, but rather the victims,
in other words, the deniers themselves.'"

III. "Let Peretz Carry On With His Labors"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(November 15): "[Newly elected Labor Party Chairman
Amir] Peretz angers his rivals because he plans to
stand by the explicit promise he made to his voters: to
quit the government and reestablish the Labor Party as
a staunchly dovish, social-democratic opposition
offering a clear and unequivocal alternative to the
current right-wing government. Labor ministers, who
have become used to the pleasantness of power,
apparently hope to dissolve this commitment and defer
it as long as possible to gain time and weaken Peretz.
Labor Party members must understand, prior to the
unstoppable decision toward which Peretz is leading the
way, that all these attempts are at odds with decent
politics. Worse yet, a significant danger to democracy
in Israel lies concealed. Let Peretz carry on with his
labors."

JONES

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