Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Search

 

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 09 TEL AVIV 006530

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

All major newspapers, except The Jerusalem Post, led
with the likelihood of early elections, possibly as
soon as February. The media highlighted PM Sharon's
statement on Wednesday that he wants new elections to
be held as soon as possible, since he does not want "to
waste time on a lengthy election campaign." Leading
media reported that Sharon met with Labor Party
Chairman MK Amir Peretz this morning. Israel Radio
quoted Peretz as saying after the meeting that he
agreed with Sharon that the elections should be held
between late February and late March, and that Sharon
will set the final date. The radio reported that
Sharon will also meet Shinui party leader Yosef (Tommy)
Lapid, the head of the opposition in the Knesset. The
media reported that during the weekend, Sharon is
expected to decide whether he will found a new party or
remain in the Likud. Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post
reported that the Yesha Council of Jewish Settlements
in the Territories has begun collecting signatures from
settlement mayors urging all right-wing parties to form
a joint list in the next elections.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

All media reported on, and The Jerusalem Post bannered,
meetings of senior Israeli officials with Arab leaders
in Tunis. Israel Radio reported that FM Silvan Shalom
declared at the World Summit on the Information Society
that if the PA adopts a strategic decision to fight
terror, Israel will resume the dialogue with the PA and
return to the Roadmap. Shalom cited Hamas's use of the
Internet to harm Israel. The radio quoted PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas as saying in his speech to
the conference that Israel continues to use collective
punishment against the Palestinians. The radio further
reported that Abbas urged Israel to return to the
negotiating table soon and to achieve President Bush's
vision -- a Palestinian state with territorial
contiguity that would be at peace with Israel. The
media reported that Shalom and Abbas also held two
bilateral meetings on Wednesday, constituting the
highest-level Israeli-Palestinian contacts in the past
several months. The Jerusalem Post front-paged a
picture of Communications Minister Dalia Itzik shaking
hands with her Iraqi counterpart, Dr. Jowan Fuad Masum.
The newspaper reported that the two exchanged
invitations to visit each other's countries. Yediot
reported that Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben
Ali told Shalom that he welcomes Israeli tourists to
visit his country.

Ha'aretz and other media reported that Israel, the
Palestinian Authority, and the EU decided on Wednesday
that the 50 to 70 European monitors set to inspect the
Rafah border crossing will have the authority to ensure
that the PA complies with all agreements relating to
the terminal, but not to enforce Israeli or Palestinian
law. Israel Radio reported that the PA has requested
that the EU begin posting monitors at the Rafah border
crossing on Monday. The radio also reported on
Palestinian allegations that Deputy U.S. National
Security Advisor Elliott Abrams attempted to
surreptitiously introduce amendments in Israel's favor
during the negotiations on the Agreement on Movement
and Access. The radio reported that most amendments
proposed by the Palestinians were eventually adopted.
Israel Radio also reported on Palestinian claims, which
were also recognized by Israeli and U.S. sources, that
Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's political
bureau, and military secretary Nathan Dangott (phon.),
dragged their feet during the negotiations, thereby
endangering their success. Maariv quoted Quartet
Special Envoy James Wolfensohn as saying that during
diplomatic meetings, senior Israelis tend to focus on
security matters and to neglect other important issues.
Marc Otte, the EU's Special Envoy to the Middle East,
was quoted as saying in an interview with Ha'aretz that
the crossings agreement may be technical, but that its
success can shed light on the entire region.

Ha'aretz cited an AP story that President Moshe Katsav,
who is on an official visit to Italy, told reporters on
Wednesday that he has reservations about the Gaza
crossings agreement, which he believes may worsen
Israel's security situation.

Leading media reported that on Wednesday, Sharon
launched a 17-billion shekel (around USD 3.6 billion)
plan for developing the Negev. The Jerusalem Post and
Ha'aretz reported that Foreign Ministry officials
confirmed Wednesday that contacts with the U.S. had
resumed over negotiating terms for an estimated USD 1.2
billion Israeli aid request for Negev and Galilee
development.

Leading media quoted Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz as
saying Wednesday at a meeting with heads of local
settlement councils from the West Bank: "I intend to
continue to promote construction of the fence, to give
maximum security to the citizens and also to strengthen
the settlement blocs, because I believe that the
settlement blocs have to be strong.... Together with
the Jordan Valley, they will constitute the eastern
border of the State of Israel, also in the future."
Mofaz was quoted as saying that a decision will be made
before the elections on the building plans for the E-1
neighborhood, which is intended to create a link
between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Post reported that commanders of air
forces from NATO nations and senior officers from North
African countries -- including some without diplomatic
relations with Israel -- have wrapped up a visit to
Israel, where they learned how to fight terrorism from
the air. Beside NATO, participants included officers
from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and Morocco.

Leading media reported that soldiers manning the Hawara
checkpoint outside of Nablus prevented a suicide
bombing when they nabbed a Palestinian carrying an
explosives belt on Wednesday afternoon.

Ha'aretz reported that the deaths of two senior
Palestinian security officials -- Bashir Nafeh and
Abed Allun -- who were rivals of PA National Security
Adviser Jibril Rajoub in the bombing of Amman's Grand
Hyatt Hotel may bring about more quiet in the
territories.

Ha'aretz, Yediot, and Maariv quoted Ahmad Talebzadeh,
the head of Iran's space agency, as saying on Wednesday
that Sina-1, Iran's first satellite, which was launched
from Russia about a month ago, can spy on Israel. The
newspapers said that Iranian officials had claimed that
the satellite was purely scientific.

The Jerusalem Post reported that, ignoring Israeli
opposition, the Greek Orthodox Church will proceed with
plans for the coronation of the new Patriarch of
Jerusalem, Theophilos III. He will replace the ousted
Irineos I.

Maariv reported that a first draft of a proposed
constitution for Israel will be presented to the
Knesset in three months.

Ha'aretz compared Egypt, which views the Muslim
Brotherhood as a threat, with Jordan, where the
movement has placed itself squarely with King Abdullah
II in his war on Islamic terror.

Leading media quoted senior PA official Ahmad Abdul
Rahman as saying, in an interview that appeared
Wednesday in the London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-
Arabi, that the late PA Chairman Yasser Arafat died
after a poison was injected into his ear at the end of
September 2003.

Ha'aretz and Maariv reported that Israel will sign the
International Treaty Against Corruption despite a
dispute over the matter between the Foreign and Defense
ministries.

Reporting on President Bush's hardships in Congress,
Ha'aretz Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote,
"The war in the U.S. is already almost as tough as in
Iraq."

Yediot reported that an Israeli woman was hospitalized
in Thailand. She is allegedly suspected of being ill
with avian influenza.

Maariv reported that Israel has warned Ukraine that it
would damage bilateral relations if Ukraine does not
take legal steps to close the "anti-Semitic" university
MAUP, which supported Iran's call to wipe Israel off
the map.

Maariv printed the results of a recent TNS/Teleseker
Polling Institute survey conducted this week:
-Were the Likud to be led by Sharon, it would beat the
Labor Party in the next elections by 38 to 27 Knesset
seats. (In the current Knesset, Likud has 40 seats and
Labor 22.)
-Were the Likud to be led by Binyamin Netanyahu, Likud
and Labor would obtain 33 seats each.

Maariv cited the results of a poll conducted among the
residents of the settlement of Beit Arye, east of Ben-
Gurion Airport: 85 percent favor leaving their
community or having it relocate. The Jerusalem Post
also reported on the poll.

--------
Mideast:
--------

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The
border crossing agreement ... reflects growing
involvement by outside parties in the conduct of day-to-
day negotiations between Israel and the PA, as well as
a growing American role in this involvement, in which
Europe and Egypt also have a share."

Veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin Eytan Haber opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "The Palestinians will look for any way, any
opportunity, and any 'hole in the net,' in order to
breach agreements and score gains on the ground."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post
editorialized: "If the Palestinian leadership truly
decides to confront and expunge the terrorists, this
agreement will prove largely redundant and will be
easily implemented. Absent such a decision, this
agreement will be added to the heap of previously
signed dead letters."

Very liberal columnist Meron Benvenisti wrote in
Ha'aretz: "If massive pressure and personal
intervention by Rice were necessary to achieve a meager
technical agreement, what are the chances of real
progress in the peace process?"

Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Working
relations are the most that Israel can get from the
Arab world today, certainly after five years of
Intifada that have poisoned the region."

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

I. "The Third Party and the Next Step"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(November 17): "Had it not been for the pressure
exerted by Rice, with the clear backing of President
George Bush, the Agreement [on Movement and Access]
would not have been reached. The Israelis and
Palestinians failed in their efforts to compromise, as
did Israel's two cabinet ministers, Shimon Peres and
Shaul Mofaz. Only the understanding that it would be
better not to ignore Rice's insistent demands caused
Sharon to impose his will on the security
establishment. The border crossing agreement thus
reflects growing involvement by outside parties in the
conduct of day-to-day negotiations between Israel and
the PA, as well as a growing American role in this
involvement, in which Europe and Egypt also have a
share. General Keith Dayton, who was appointed
yesterday as America's security coordinator in the
region following William Ward's transfer to another
military posting, will be umpiring not the internal
Palestinian game -- the merger of its security services
-- but the competition between Israel and the PA. The
organization under his command will determine whether
Israel's demands to deny entry to specific individuals
who 'arouse concern,' in the agreement's words, are
justified. He will also decide whether the
Palestinians' behavior at the border terminals accords
with the agreement.... The third party ... must move on
without delay to the next step: pressuring the
Palestinians to disarm the terrorist organizations and
Israel to dismantle the West Bank outposts."

II. "The Palestinians Will Look For a Hole in the Net"

Veteran op-ed writer and assistant to the late prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin Eytan Haber opined in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (November 17): "Let there be no
understandings: the crossings agreement for
Palestinians and their vehicles from Gaza to Jerusalem
and vice-versa, the construction of a port, and the
passage of goods to Israel will cause a great security
headache and perhaps big trouble to Israel. The
Palestinians will look for any way, any opportunity,
and any 'hole in the net,' in order to breach
agreements and score gains on the ground."

III. "The Rafah Deal"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post
editorialized (November 17): "So now the deal to open
up the Rafah crossing is done. That was the easy part,
even though it took months of wrangling. The hard part
will be for the Palestinian leadership to summon the
determination to confront terrorism, without which no
such agreement can work.... Only Israeli military
actions against terrorism, and not signed documents,
have ever consistently provided a disincentive for the
PA's cooperation with, and tolerance of, terrorist
groups. Among the lessons from the failure of the
Oslo Accords is that, no matter how detailed an
agreement is, it is worthless if it not backed by
international support for holding the parties
accountable. In simple terms: a deal without
consequences is an inconsequential deal. If the
Palestinian leadership truly decides to confront and
expunge the terrorists, this agreement will prove
largely redundant and will be easily implemented.
Absent such a decision, this agreement will be added to
the heap of previously signed dead letters."

IV. "The Rafah Precedent"

Very liberal columnist Meron Benvenisti wrote in
Ha'aretz (November 17): "Now that Condoleezza Rice
decided to show [Israeli Defense Minister Shaul] Mofaz
who the real boss is, he has capitulated, but he is
trying to explain his capitulation as a concession to
America's need for an achievement. The Palestinians do
not interest him. After all, if he wanted a confidence-
building relationship with them, he would have agreed
long ago to the arrangements laid out in the Rafah
Agreement, without massive American pressure. The
Palestinians also do not interest the Americans, and
were it not for Rice's desperate need for some kind of
achievement for public relations purposes, this
agreement would never have been reached. The last
thing that the President of the U.S. wants is to
nurture the illusion that in the wake of the Rafah
precedent, other American initiatives to advance the
process will be forthcoming. And the Israeli public is
already being reassured that the Rafah agreement is
'the last move' before the start of a lengthy campaign
season.... Indeed, one can be pleased that American
pressure led to an agreement that is significant on the
level of principle. But one could also ask the
following question: if massive pressure and personal
intervention by Rice were necessary to achieve a meager
technical agreement, what are the chances of real
progress in the peace process?"

V. "Less Is More"

Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor, a lecturer
at the Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in mass-
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (November 17):
"Disengagement from the Gaza Strip undoubtedly brought
with it the first contacts and signals in years from
Arab and Islamic countries towards Israel. As of now,
this is at a level of quiet meetings and cooperative
ventures. These contacts can be characterized as
practical activity, though without the official-
diplomatic seal of approval.... Working relations are
the most that Israel can get from the Arab world today,
certainly after five years of Intifada that have
poisoned the region. Unfortunately, Israel's
reputation in Arab and Muslim public opinion is worse
today than ever before.... Perhaps it is time to learn
from the failed 1990s and to understand that in our
region it is necessary to conduct oneself modestly,
without any declarations, Nobel Prizes, vision or
festive promises. The greater the public Israeli
aspiration, the greater the resistance in the Arab
public will be, accordingly.... The rule with regard to
the highly fragile relations that are currently being
renewed with the Arab and Islamic world should
therefore be: without arrogance, brass bands, fanfares
or festive summits; without ceremonies and formalism,
undue statements or provocations; but with quiet and
productive economic, commercial and diplomatic work on
the ground. We should not perceive this practical work
as a prelude to the main thing. It is the main thing
in and of itself."

JONES

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
World Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.