Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

Published: Tue 11 Oct 2005 11:53 AM
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. Nobel Peace Prize to ElBaradei and IAEA
Key stories in the media:
Almost all media bannered the bestowing of the Nobel
Prize in Economics on Monday upon Hebrew University
Professor of Mathematics Robert J. Aumann for his work
on the game-theory analysis. Aumann, who emigrated
from the U.S. in 1956, shares the prize with Thomas C.
Schelling of the University of Maryland. The media
reported that Aumann holds hawkish views.
Leading media cited an announcement made Monday by
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, according to which
the meeting between PM Sharon and PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas, which was scheduled for
today, was postponed until late October or early
November. The statement says that it was decided to
resume the work of a number of joint Israel-PA
committees, "to prepare the agenda for a successful and
fruitful meeting between the two leaders." On Sunday,
Jerusalem Post reported that Sharon was to review a
plan giving the PA expanded control of Gaza border
crossings. On Sunday, Ha'aretz quoted Mofaz as saying
that Israel will not transfer any more West Bank cities
to the control of the PA. Leading media reported that
on Monday, as a Ramadan gesture, Israel eased up a
number of restrictions on Palestinians living in the
West Bank. The measures include a softening of
conditions to attend prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque in
Jerusalem, and freedom of movement for economic
purposes. Israel Radio quoted Vice Premier Shimon
Peres as saying that Israel has not entirely rejected
the PA's demands. Maariv quoted senior sources in
Jerusalem as saying that the Palestinians are only
interested in immediate achievements.
Leading media reported that Sharon is slated to meet
today with A/S David Welch, who met with Abbas on
Monday, followed by meetings with senior Sharon aide
Dov Weisglass, FM Silvan Shalom, and Defense Minister
Shaul Mofaz. Ha'aretz says that in his meetings
Monday, Welch reiterated the U.S. stand regarding the
importance of strengthening Abbas's government.
Leading media reported that the Shin Bet has arrested
100 to 117 Hamas activists, members of three terrorist
cells, who planned attacks during the lull period,
including the abduction and killing of the Israeli
civilian Sasson Nuriel in September.
On Sunday, Yediot led with differences of opinion that
have arisen between Mofaz and the Shin Bet regarding
allowing the PA to equip itself with light weaponry.
The newspaper wrote that while the Shin Bet is in favor
of allowing the PA to do so -- albeit, only in the Gaza
Strip -- Mofaz is opposed. According to Yediot, Sharon
is inclined to adopt Mofaz's position. On Sunday,
Ha'aretz wrote that the IDF and Shin Bet favor such a
Ha'aretz and Israel Radio quoted FM Silvan Shalom as
saying Monday after meeting with A/S Welch that the
U.S. will resume its strategic dialogue with Israel
after a hiatus of close to three years. The first
round of the renewed dialogue is scheduled for the
second week of November. The Israeli team will be
coordinated by Tzachi Hanegbi, minister in the Prime
Minister's Office, and Foreign Ministry DG Ron Prosor.
The American team will be coordinated by Under
Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns.
Ha'aretz quoted a senior political source in Jerusalem
as saying on Monday that the U.S. had apparently agreed
to resume the talks following the disengagement and the
end of the crisis between Israel and the U.S. regarding
Israeli arms sales to China.
On Sunday, Maariv's web site (NRG) reported that after
several weeks of tough clashes between organizations in
the Gaza Strip, especially Hamas and Fatah, an "honor
treaty" was signed on Saturday by the armed groups.
Its declared aim reportedly is to prevent deterioration
into civil war and to establish that from now on
weapons will be aimed only at Israel.
Maariv cited the Israeli defense establishment's
concern that Syria's increased revenues following the
hike in oil prices allow it to purchase state-of-the-
art weapons systems. Maariv also quoted senior members
of the Israeli defense establishment as saying that the
pressure being applied on Syria is too heavy, and that
it would be better not to push that country into a
corner. During the weekend, major media cited a
Newsweek report, according to which the USG considered
attacking camps and facilities in Syria that are being
used by insurgents operating in Iraq. According to the
report, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice opposed the
attack and succeeded in persuading other senior
officials to put it off.
On Monday, Yediot quoted IDF Intelligence head Maj.
Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash as saying on Sunday, in an
intelligence review to the cabinet ministers, that Al
Qaida has set up a terror base in Sinai, and that Egypt
knows about the terrorist base in its territory, but
has been hard put to dismantle it. FM Shalom said on
Saturday in an interview to Israel Radio that Egypt is
not doing enough to prevent the flow of weapons from
Egypt into the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing
between Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
Ha'aretz reported that three Palestinians, including a
15-year-old youth, were shot dead by IDF soldiers near
the Gaza Strip border on Sunday night. The three were
unarmed. The media reported that on Sunday, a Fatah
activist was killed near Nablus in a gun battle with
IDF troops.
On Monday, Yediot reported that, "setting a historic
precedent," Abbas is expected to deliver a speech
before an international conference that the Netanya
Academic College has planned to mark the tenth
anniversary of the Rabin assassination, to be held on
November 15 and 16. Jerusalem Post also reported on
Abbas's planned address.
Citing AP, Jerusalem Post quoted Yahad-Meretz head
Yossi Beilin as saying in Budapest Monday that the
Roadmap is not being taken seriously by any of those
involved with it.
Ha'aretz reported that on Sunday, the Turkish
government gave the PA a copy of the Ottoman archive
containing all documents pertaining to land ownership
in pre-state Israel through 1916. The PA had requested
the records to support Palestinian land claims.
Citing AP, Jerusalem Post reported that Col. Ely Ould
Mohamed Vall, Mauritania's post-coup leader, told
reporters that his country will maintain diplomatic
relations with Israel.
Ha'aretz reported that the Israeli delegation to the UN
was cautiously optimistic Monday that the UN's
selection of five new rotating members of its Security
Council -- the Congo Republic, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and
Slovakia -- could bode well for Israel. The newspaper
quoted sources in the Israeli delegation as saying that
Qatar, which has recently established strong ties with
FM Shalom and Danny Gillerman, the Israeli
representative to the UN, would treat Israel better
than Algeria, which is one of five countries vacating
their seats on the Security Council.
On Sunday, Yediot reported that, at a meeting of the
umbrella organization of the Palestinian factions in
the West Bank, the Palestinian Public Works Minister,
Mohammed Shatiye, announced that the U.S. will not
extend any financial aid to renovation projects or
other construction projects if they are named after
terrorists who were killed.
During the weekend, all media highlighted the
earthquake in Pakistan and India. Leading media
reported that Israel has offered assistance to both
Ha'aretz published the results of a survey conducted on
Sunday among Labor Party members by the Amanet Group's
Dialogue Institute:
-If the primaries for Labor leader were held today,
whom would you vote for?" Shimon Peres: 40.5 percent;
Histadrut labor federation chief Amir Peretz: 22
percent; Matan Vilnai: 12 percent; Binyamin Ben-
Eliezer: 10.8 percent.
-If a second round between Peres and Peretz were to be
held today, the poll shows that Peres would beat Peretz
by anywhere from 30 percent to 60 percent.
Ha'aretz printed the results of a poll conducted
jointly by the Dialogue Institute and Mina Zemach
(Dahaf Institute), which shows that the religious Right
would double its parliamentary representation if it ran
as a single list in the next elections (i.e. Likud: 38
seats; National Religious Party (NRP) and National
Union: 26; Yisrael Beiteinu: 8). In the current
Knesset, Likud has 44 seats; NRP: 5; National Union: 6;
Yisrael Beiteinu: 7.
1. Mideast:
Veteran columnist Yaron London wrote in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot: "We are very strong, and the miniscule
Palestinian state, even should it be governed by Hamas,
will be able to do us no more harm than the armed gangs
of embittered souls."
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized:
"Israel and the United States cannot remain observers
in view of these internal struggles."
Regional correspondent Ronnie Shaked wrote in Yediot
Aharonot: "The Sharon-Abu Mazen meeting is geared
solely to pleasing U.S. President Bush and Jordan's
King Abdullah."
Block Quotes:
I. "Their Fate, Our Fear"
Veteran columnist Yaron London wrote in the lead
editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (October 10): "Are we impeding the
Palestinians from standing on their own two feet?
Reason and justice behoove us to allow them to prove
that they can convalesce from their internal crumbling
if they are left alone, untroubled. We have refused to
do so, and are prepared to release our grip on their
throats only if the armed organizations are disarmed.
We can only gaze on in astonishment: the Americans are
lobbying Abu Mazen to delay the Palestinian
parliamentary elections, whereas he wants to keep his
word and to hold them on their scheduled date. The
bearers of the cross of democracy are afraid of the
Palestinian voter's verdict, whereas the Palestinian
leader is prepared to take the chance of his government
being weakened as a result of Hamas gaining strength.
His argument is as follows: if the organizations are
integrated into the political establishment they will
behave like legitimate players. He may be right and he
may be wrong, but we would be best served by accepting
his assumption. We are very strong, and the miniscule
Palestinian state, even should it be governed by Hamas,
will be able to do us no more harm than the armed gangs
of embittered souls."
II. "Unarmed Politics"
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(October 9): "The radical group [Hamas] wants to
maintain its private armed wing while it takes part in
local politics. This puts it on an inevitable triple
collision course -- with the Palestinian Authority,
with Israel and with the United States. The Hamas stand
is especially threatening to Chairman Mahmoud Abbas,
who is due to meet Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this
week and the American president later. Both will be
keen to ascertain how capable of navigating the
political course Abbas is. Even more than Hamas's
radical positions, the violent developments are raising
profound concern.... Postponing the elections, whether
by Abbas' initiative or due to Egypt's lobbying, cannot
replace resolved action to disarm the illegal
weapons.... Israel and the United States cannot remain
observers in view of these internal struggles.
Releasing Palestinian prisoners, opening sea- and
airports, transferring considerable funds to the
Palestinian Authority and equipping it with effective
military tools to strengthen it are necessary to
bolster the Palestinian partner. Without these steps,
Israel too will not be able to persuade the world that
its intentions are sincere."
III. "There Is With Whom to Talk, But Nothing to Talk
Regional correspondent Ronnie Shaked wrote in Yediot
Aharonot (October 9): "The Sharon-Abu Mazen meeting is
geared solely to pleasing U.S. President Bush and
Jordan's King Abdullah. While there currently is a
Palestinian leader with whom Israel can talk, Israel
has nothing to talk with him about. That is why
neither side has great expectations from the summit
meeting and that is why the preparations for that
meeting have been low profile and without enthusiasm.
The political process is in a deep coma and it is going
to take something far more momentous than a meeting
between Abu Mazen and Sharon to wake it up. The issues
on the agenda -- the border crossings, removing a few
roadblocks, opening up some roads to Palestinian
traffic or a few hundred permits for Palestinians to
work in Israel -- could easily be resolved in a lower-
level meeting.... Moreover, the security establishment
is not even contemplating either easing any
restrictions or making any other gestures due to
concern that terrorism might rise in the West Bank. On
the contrary, the discussion will revolve around ways
of improving security. So, then, why now? Why in
Jerusalem? Both sides have an interest in coming to
the meeting, but there is no mutual interest for
holding it. Abu Mazen doesn't want to embarrass King
Abdullah, who pressed for the meeting to be held.
Sharon too respects King Abdullah's involvement, but
more than that he wants to please President Bush, who
urged King Abdullah to pressure the parties."
2. Nobel Peace Prize to ElBaradei and IAEA:
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized:
"At the end of the day it is not the IAEA or the UN or
any organization that matter, but the governments in
the U.S., UK, France, and Germany."
Block Quotes:
"Premature Nobel Prize"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(October 10): "That the U.S. and UK, we hope with the
support of France and Germany, will now press harder
for effective sanctions against Iran should go without
saying. It is in the hands of these nations, and the
IAEA itself, whether this Nobel prize will in afew
years seem to have been either prescient or a cruel
joke. After all, it is reality that counts. If Iran
succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, it will be a
tremendous and probably fatal failure for the IAEA as
an organization. Even more importantly, of course, it
will be a failure of the international system and of
the West to defend itself against a threat to the
security and independence of all free nations. A
nuclear Iran, besides being a direct threat to Israel
and other countries, would become the linchpin of the
global terror network. The famous 'nuclear umbrella'
that was spread over Europe during the Cold War would
suddenly protect the terrorists themselves and the
dictators who sponsor them. Since the IAEA is an
international organization that has long resisted
distinguishing between democracies and dictatorships,
and still has to pretend it does not, it is not
surprising that it failed to stop Saddam Hussein from
coming so close to building a bomb before the first
Gulf War, and has so far allowed Iran to buy more time
for its program. But at the end of the day it is not
the IAEA or the UN or any organization that matter, but
the governments in the U.S., UK, France, and Germany.
If these four nations are determined to raise the price
Iran must pay for its program to unacceptable levels,
they have the collective diplomatic and economic, not
to mention military, power to do so. If they do not,
a misdirected peace prize will be the least of the
world's problems."
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