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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.

221251Z Dec 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 09 TEL AVIV 007046

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. Mideast

2. Israel-Taiwan Relations

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

The Jerusalem Post reported that Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice outraged Israeli politicians from
across the political spectrum on Tuesday when she
praised PM Sharon in an interview with CNN's Wolf
Blitzer. The newspaper wrote that the politicians
accused Rice of unfairly helping Sharon's Kadima party
win the March 28 elections. The Jerusalem Post quoted
the politicians as saying that Rice has continued an
American tradition of interfering in Israeli elections.

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Israel Radio reported that Israel will carry out
goodwill gestures to the Palestinians ahead of the
Christmas holiday.

The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior official in the
Prime Minister's Office as saying Wednesday that no
final decision has yet been made on whether Israel will
allow voting for the January 25 PA legislative
elections from East Jerusalem post offices as has been
done in the past. The Jerusalem Post reported that the
Foreign Ministry's position is that the rules that
applied during the 1996 PA presidential elections
should apply this time as well. Ha'aretz quoted PA
Chairman [President] Mahmoud Abbas as saying Wednesday
that the PA might have to delay elections in view of
Israel's intention to bar East Jerusalem residents from
voting.

Leading media reported that in Tel Aviv on Wednesday,
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz met with Egypt's
intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, and asked him to try
to calm matters in the Palestinian arena and stop the
Qassam rocket fire on Israel. Ha'aretz reported that
Mofaz told Suleiman about Syria's role in conveying
directives and funding to various organizations in the
territories. The two reportedly also discussed
bilateral issues. Ha'aretz wrote that Mofaz insinuated
that Israel would continue militarily operations
against the terrorist infrastructure despite the
upcoming PA parliamentary elections. Yediot reported
that Suleiman advised Israel not to respond to Qassam
attacks.

Leading media reported that on Wednesday, Israel and
the UN Development Program (UNDP) signed an agreement
for removal of rubble from 21 Jewish settlements
destroyed in Israel's summer pullout from Gaza. The
media reported that Israel will transfer USD 25 million
to the UNDP, which will bring in Palestinian
contractors to remove the rubble. The media cited the
satisfaction of Israeli officials over the fact that
Israel would have spent much more for the rubble's
removal if it had done it itself. The Jerusalem Post
quoted Yossi Tzemach, spokesman for the Israeli liaison
mission with Gaza, as saying that much of the remains
are to be crushed and used in construction projects in
Gaza. Leading media quoted Tzemach as saying that UN
inspectors carried out an environmental check and found
that there were no dangerous materials in the rubble.

The three major Hebrew dailies led with internal
arguments in the Likud, Kadima, and the Labor Party.

Ha'aretz and Israel Radio reported that a vote on the
Likud's slate, which was to have taken place in the
Likud's Central Committee on January 3, has been
postponed to January 9, so as to prevent Moshe Feiglin,
head of the far-right Jewish Leadership faction in the
party, from running for a place on the party's Knesset
list. Maariv cited the subsequent anger of the Likud's
right wing regarding Likud Chairman Binyamin
Netanyahu's leaning to the center.

Yediot (lead story) and other leading media reported
that Vice PM Ehud Olmert and Justice Minister Tzipi
Livni are vying for the No. 2 slot in Kadima. Yediot
quoted sources close to Sharon as saying Wednesday that
Olmert has the best chances of taking the spot.

Maariv cited claims by senior Labor Party members that
Ben-Gurion University President Avishay Braverman
intends to capture the party's chairmanship from Amir
Peretz. The newspaper reported that American polls
advisor Stanley Greenberg has started working for the
Labor Party.
Maariv reported that Sharon was unconscious for an hour
after having been being anesthetized at the Hadassah
Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem on Monday and that his
authority was not officially transferred.

All media (banner in Hatzofe) reported that Rabbi
Mordechai "Motti" Elon of Jerusalem, brother of former
tourism minister MK Benny Elon, is considering
accepting a proposal to head a joint list consisting of
the National Religious Party and the National Union.

Israel Radio reported that this morning, IDF troops
killed the head of the PFLP in Nablus and two of his
lieutenants. The radio reported that later this
morning, an IDF officer and four soldiers were slightly
wounded south of Ashkelon by shrapnel from a Qassam
rocket. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the
attack. Another Qassam rocket landed in Ashkelon's
industrial zone. The radio reported that the IDF
responded with artillery fire.

Yediot reported that in the early 1990s, Israel offered
Iran USD 1 billion worth in benefits -- USD 5 billion
in frozen Iranian assets in the U.S. and USD 5 billion
from an unfinished Israeli-Iranian deal -- in exchange
for the release of MIA Ron Arad.

Ha'aretz reported that the Justice Ministry's Police
Investigations Department has been investigating a
complaint that border policemen tied a Palestinian's
hands to a mule last week in the village of Nuaman,
east of Bethlehem, and caused the animal to break into
a gallop, which ultimately led to the man's death.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Andrew MacDonald, a
British citizen from Glasgow and member of the pro-
Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, who was
arrested a month ago after allegedly assaulting a
soldier in Hebron, cannot be deported from Israel
despite being considered a security risk. He is
currently being held at an Immigration Police detention
facility.

Major media reported that Channel 2-TV has delayed
airing a story probing a near-crash of a plane of the
Israeli airline Israir at John F. Kennedy International
Airport, following an Israir demand to suppress the
show.
The Jerusalem Post extensively featured an interview
with Ambassador Swanee Hunt, who came to Israel, among
other purposes, to further the Women Waging Peace
program. Hunt is a former U.S. Ambassador to Austria
and a major player in the American intervention in the
Bosnian war, and since 1997, director of the Women and
Public Program at the John F. Kennedy School of
Government at Harvard University.

Leading media quoted MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud), the
chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee, as saying in a meeting with reporters that
Mofaz made false presentations to the panel on the
"Rafah Agreement" regarding border crossings,
subsequently leading the committee astray. Steinitz
claimed that the crossings were actually opened without
an agreement.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post quoted Latin Patriarch
Michel Sabbah as saying in his annual pre-Christmas
news conference that Hamas will only be strengthened by
U.S. opposition to its participation in Palestinian
elections.

Leading media reported that on Wednesday, dozens of
residents of the Palestinian village of Bil'in, near
Ramallah, accompanied by Israeli and international
activists, set out to place a mobile home on land
adjacent to the settlement of Modi'in Ilit (west of the
separation fence).

Maariv quoted Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the right-
wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, that he did not rule out
the division of Jerusalem.

Yediot reported that on Saturday, the Parliament of
Norway's Trondelag County decided to boycott all
Israeli products. The newspaper reported that the move
likely stems from Norway's perception that Israel
oppresses the Palestinians.

The media reported that the 16th Knesset concluded its
last session on Wednesday. The media note that Knesset
Member Yossi Sarid left political life on Wednesday
after 32 years as Knesset member in the Alignment
(Labor-Mapam), the Civil Rights Movement, and Yahad-
Meretz.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post cited the results of a
Hebrew University survey held in conjunction with the
Palestinian Center for Policy and Public Opinion in
Ramallah, according to which 50 percent of Israelis
polled in mid-December would support talks with Hamas
if this was necessary to reach a peace deal.

Hatzofe cited the results of a recent poll conducted by
Mada Al-Carmel, a Haifa social research institute,
according to which 80 percent of Israeli Arabs support
the right of return to Israel of Palestinian refugees,
or granting compensation as a minimum solution. The
poll found that 42 percent of Israeli Arabs tie the
issues of the right of return and compensation, while
29 percent believe that the refugees should be given
the choice between return and compensation.

------------
1. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "Any
Israeli intervention in the Palestinian election would
be perceived as the occupying side's meddling in the
democratic action of the occupied nation."

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote in nationalist,
Orthodox Hatzofe: "Contrary to all his predecessors ...
Ariel Sharon has only been a 'yes man' of the U.S.
administration."

Lucy Nusseibeh, Director of Middle East Nonviolence and
Democracy, a Jerusalem-based NGO, wrote in Ha'aretz in
an article disseminated by the American NGO Search For
Common Ground: "Israeli public opinion is one of the
keys to peace, and one of the major keys to that public
opinion is its perception of Palestinian public
opinion."

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in Ha'aretz: "Israeli
citizens have a real choice. Therefore, the decision
they make on March 28 will be a binding decision. It
will be a decision that will give a clear moral mandate
to the big division, which Netanyahu will criticize,
Peretz will adopt and Sharon will lead."

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

I. "What Will We Talk to Hamas About?"

Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(December 22): "The Hamas movement's sweeping victory
in the elections for the local authorities could be an
indicator of what results to expect in the January
election for the Palestinian Legislative Council....
The demand made by Israel, the United States and Europe
to disarm Hamas is not tactical but strategic, and is
preliminary to any change in policy toward the
organization. The same goes for the demand that the
organization recognize Israel. Israel can do nothing
but leave a door open to negotiations with Hamas, and
regret its own continued contribution to weakening
Mahmoud Abbas' movement to such an extent that Hamas
has become the leading Palestinian movement. At this
stage, Israel can do little more than this. Any
Israeli intervention in the Palestinian election would
be perceived as the occupying side's meddling in the
democratic action of the occupied nation."

II. "Why Do Bush and Condoleezza Want Sharon So Much?"

Senior columnist Haggai Huberman wrote in nationalist,
Orthodox Hatzofe (December 22): "There's nothing new in
U.S. intervention in Israeli election campaigns.... But
in all previous cases, the United States' behavior was
indirect. [During her recent interview with CNN], U.S.
Secretary of State spoke openly, without making use of

SIPDIS
blurred formulas. Ms. Rice addressed Sharon directly
... and candidly heaped countless compliments on him.
[In his December 20 article, Ha'aretz columnist Amir]
Oren accurately pointed at the 'special relationship'
between Bush and Sharon: the Israeli Prime Minister is
totally enslaved to the Americans. Contrary to all his
predecessors, who knew how to uphold Israeli interests
in the disagreements that did or didn't break out
between Israel and its big friend overseas, Ariel
Sharon has only been a 'yes man' of the U.S.
administration."
III. "Fighting For Peace Means Ending Media-Fed
Misperceptions"

Lucy Nusseibeh, Director of Middle East Nonviolence and
Democracy, a Jerusalem-based NGO, wrote in Ha'aretz in
an article disseminated by the American NGO Search For
Common Ground (December 22): "Given the balance of
power that so strongly favors Israel, Israeli public
opinion is one of the keys to peace, and one of the
major keys to that public opinion is its perception of
Palestinian public opinion. For the Israeli public to
tilt towards peace, it needs to be convinced that there
is a genuine and overwhelming desire for peace among
the Palestinian public.... If the Israeli public can be
encouraged to see not the pain of uprooting the Gaza
settlements, but the potential for a more peaceful,
less fearful life for themselves with disengagement as
a first step, the Palestinian public, as well as the
Palestinian leadership, might again feel engaged in a
peace process, rather than seeing themselves as victims
of a unilateral one.... Palestinian society has been
undergoing a transformation over the past few years;
there is a groundswell of interest in nonviolence, but
how many people, in particular Israelis, know this?
The influence of the negative stereotype of
Palestinians as violent is one of the major influences
on both Israeli and international publics.... The media
can and should correct the misperceptions of publics by
reporting on the common desires for peace and by
assuaging rather than stirring up the level of fear; by
giving credibility to the voices that speak out against
violence and exploitation of the conflict; by above
all, humanizing each side to the other in ways that
they both can hear."

IV. "Finally, Israelis Have a Real Choice"

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in Ha'aretz (December 22):
"On the political-diplomatic front, the conformist
uniformity continues to dominate. When no one listens
anymore to Yossi Beilin and no one listens anymore to
Uzi Landau, the result is an uncritical consensus that
could very easily evolve into a dangerous conception.
For this reason, Netanyahu is important.... The
opposite position that Netanyahu knows how to represent
is very much needed today, so that the fateful
decisions on partitioning the Land of Israel [i.e.
Israel, including the territories] will be made during
the coming years in a conscious, intelligent and
balanced way.... The placement of [Labor Party Chairman
Amir] Peretz and Netanyahu at the head of the two
ideological movements challenging Sharon is a blessing.
It completes the big bang, balances it and makes it
into a real democratic event. Now, when the three
different paths for the future of Israel have three
different leaders, Israeli citizens have a real choice.
Therefore, the decision they make on March 28 will be a
binding decision. It will be a decision that will give
a clear moral mandate to the big division, which
Netanyahu will criticize, Peretz will adopt and Sharon
will lead."

----------------------------
2. Israel-Taiwan Relations:
----------------------------

Summary:
--------

Foreign News Editor Adar Primor wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "[Taiwan's] lovers hid her away,
deep in the closet. This is the way most of the
world's countries behave today toward Taiwan. For all
its historic irony, Israel is also participating in
this game. It has become a secret lover itself."

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

"China's Wife, Israel's Concubine"

Foreign News Editor Adar Primor wrote in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (December 22): "Some ... call
Taiwan the 'Israel of the Pacific Ocean' -- both of the
small countries are vibrant democracies that share
common values, are preoccupied with existential-
security problems, are exposed to the threat of a giant
external enemy, and are dependent on American
assistance and protection.... During the decades in
which Israel waged an exhausting campaign for
international recognition, it learned to suffice with
the role of the concubine. Her lovers hid her away,
deep in the closet. This is the way most of the
world's countries behave today toward Taiwan. For all
its historic irony, Israel is also participating in
this game. It has become a secret lover itself."

CRETZ

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