INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

Published: Thu 15 Dec 2005 04:54 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 10 TEL AVIV 006924
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. Iran: Nuclear Program
3. Syria
4. U.S.-Israel Relations
-------------------------
Key stories in the media:
-------------------------
Leading media highlighted remarks made in an interview
with Newsweek by Kalman Gayer, who advises PM Sharon on
public opinion polls, that Sharon would be willing to
give up 90 percent of the West Bank and part of
Jerusalem for a Palestinian state. The media quoted
senior Likud MKs Binyamin Netanyahu and Uzi Landau,
among others, as saying that Sharon will "divide
Jerusalem." Major media reported that Sharon published
a special statement last night in which he totally
dissociated himself from the quotes in Newsweek, saying
they were "senseless and absurd."
All media (banner in Ha'aretz) quoted IDF Chief of
Staff Dan Halutz as saying before the Knesset's Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that Iran will
be capable of enriching uranium within the next three
months, but that it will have to overcome many
technological obstacles before reaching the nuclear
"point of no return." Leading media cited Halutz's
belief that Iran could reach nuclear capability between
2008 and 2015. Yediot cited Halutz's concern that Iran
could pass "dirty bombs" on to terrorists if it
succeeds in reaching nuclear capability. Ha'aretz
reported that on Tuesday, Labor Party officials,
including Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, accused Sharon, Defense
Minister Shaul Mofaz, and other defense officials of
using the Iranian issue in their election campaigns in
an effort to divert public debate from social issues.
Leading media reported that, at a meeting with Hamas
leader Khaled Mashal in Tehran Tuesday, Iran's Supreme
Leader Ali Khamenei encouraged the Palestinians to
continue their struggle against Israel.
On Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post reported that the U.S.
and Israel are continuing talks about the plan to run
IDF-escorted buses between Gaza and the West Bank, even
as Israel is maintaining its firm resistance to allow
such buses to run. The newspaper reported that Israel,
the PA, and the U.S. had been organizing a test pilot
this Thursday of a convoy program that would allow safe
passage of Palestinian people and goods between Gaza
and the West Bank through a series of IDF-escorted
convoys.
Yediot reported that, just before he quit the contest
for Likud Party leadership and joined Sharon's party
Kadima, Mofaz authorized the construction of hundreds
of housing units in settlements. The newspaper wrote
that the majority of heads of local council that won
building permits are Likud members. Yediot, which
cited Mofaz's bureau as saying that the decision is not
politically motivated, noted that the move contravenes
Israel's understandings with the U.S.
Ha'aretz reported that the state is turning a blind eye
to "building violations on a colossal scale" on the
western side of the fence route in a new section of the
settlement of Upper Modi'in. The newspaper wrote that
this description was quoted from a letter by attorney
Gilad Rogel, the legal counselor of the Upper Modi'in
Local Council, in reference to the new neighborhood
called Matitiyahu East.
Ha'aretz quoted Mofaz as saying Tuesday that Hizbullah
can be expected to escalate the situation on the
Lebanese border in order to divert attention from
Syria's actions in Lebanon. The Jerusalem Post quoted
a senior IDF officer as saying Tuesday that an attempt
by Syria to divert attention from the Mehlis report by
stirring a clash with Israel is not likely, since the
Syrian army is spread too thin to pose a threat.
Leading media reported that on Monday, in a written
statement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called
on the Bashar Assad regime to stop meddling in
Lebanon's affairs.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the IDF is reviewing
its open-fire regulations along the Egyptian border to
better defend against increasing attempts by armed
infiltrators crossing the frontier, which has been a so-
called "peace border" for the past quarter century.
The newspaper quoted a senior IDF officer as saying
Tuesday that the new regulations were required to deal
with the "dangerous criminal elements" on the border.
In its lead story, The Jerusalem Post reported that,
facing a violent uprising by representatives of the
young guard in his ruling Fatah party, PA Chairman
[President] Mahmoud Abbas was under enormous pressure
on Tuesday to postpone parliamentary elections
scheduled for next month.
Leading media reported that this week, Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made remarks reiterating
his doubt about the Holocaust.
The Jerusalem Post reported that two IDF paratroopers
were wounded by an improvised explosive thrown at them
during an operation in Nablus on Tuesday.
Yediot and The Jerusalem Post cited statistics released
by the IDF on Tuesday, according to which the number of
Israelis killed in terrorist actions in 2005 (52) was
half that of 2004 (112). The Jerusalem Post wrote that
the army still hesitates to declare the Intifada over.
The Jerusalem Post reported that a map of the Middle
East presented at the UN did not include Israel and had
no mention of the Jewish state in the region. The map
was used at a formal event on November 29 -- "A Day of
Solidarity With the Palestinian People" -- that was
attended by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the
presidency of the UN Security Council and General
Assembly. The newspaper quoted Farhan Haq, a spokesman
at UN Headquarters in New York, as saying that the map
does not represent the UN's views on the region and
that it would not be presented at next year's event.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli delegation
to the UN is considering its actions following the use
of the map, and quoted sources in the delegation as
saying that Israel does not accept such behavior on
behalf of the international body and that it views the
event in a very serious light.
Maariv's web site, NRG, reported that Maariv's
correspondent Jackie Hoogie, whose father was born in
Iraq, voted for the second time in Jordan as an exile
in the elections for the Iraqi parliament.
Maariv cited a report in the latest issue of the
magazine Karka, published by the Jewish National Fund's
land policy branch, which found that the IDF directly
controls over 50 percent of the state-owned land inside
the Green Line. Noting that the IDF also controls most
of the state land in the West Bank, Maariv says that
the absolute majority of the land between the Jordan
River and the Mediterranean Sea is "military."
The Jerusalem Post and other media reported that recent
polls suggested that FM Silvan Shalom has gained on
Netanyahu since Mofaz quit the race for Likud
leadership and joined Kadima. So far, every poll had
predicted that Netanyahu would win the contest.
Ha'aretz cited the results of a Tel Aviv University
poll due to be released today, according to which
Israeli Arab voters will supply the Labor Party with
between three and four seats in the next Knesset and
Kadima with at least one.
------------
1. Mideast:
------------
Summary:
--------
Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one
of popular, pluralist Maariv: "Sharon's group over the
past two weeks has been suffering megalomania."
Conservative columnist Yosef Harif wrote in Maariv: "In
the new framework movement [Sharon] has created, he is
assured of general support for his ideas.... But
there's no certainty that he can reach peace."
Block Quotes:
-------------
I. "Nonsense"
Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote on page one
of popular, pluralist Maariv (December 14): "There has
already been more than one report that Sharon
could/would carry out additional disengagements. In
order for this to happen, the road map must fail (which
would take a year or two), there must be the right
conditions (there is no partner, etc.). This
disengagement, should it take place, would include
taking down isolated settlements in Judea and Samaria
[i.e. the West Bank], with some agreement with the
Americans about the practical ramifications of the new
line. Sharon, as of now, is not thinking about this.
He is hoping for a sweeping victory by Abu Mazen in the
elections, and perhaps even a resumption of
negotiations on the basis of the road map. To
attribute to him the division of Jerusalem, is like
attributing to Avraham Poraz [a former Shinui Party
cabinet minister who opposes religious coercion] the
intention to become religious. If Sharon has a casus
belli, it is in Jerusalem. True, he knows that it
could be that sometime, in some permanent status
agreement, the periphery neighborhoods of East
Jerusalem could be handed over to the Palestinians.
Olmert has known this for a long time, but Sharon will
not be the person to sign such an agreement. Even
Netanyahu knows this. We are entering the wild
territory of this endless election campaign -- the
territory in which mistakes are made. Sharon's group
over the past two weeks has been suffering megalomania.
Arrogance is the great enemy of the victorious. This
story in Newsweek, which shook up the Prime Minister on
Tuesday, will remind them that they have not yet won.
Nor will they win, if they continue this way."
II. "Short-Term Utopia"
Conservative columnist Yosef Harif wrote in Maariv
(December 14): "Sharon aspires to achieve peace during
his [upcoming] term; if he wins a majority he will not
hesitate to make what he calls 'painful concessions.'
In the new framework movement he has created, he is
assured of general support for his ideas, including the
establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
But there's no certainty that he can reach peace.... It
is very doubtful whether those 'painful concessions'
will satisfy the Palestinians. In that situation,
Sharon might strive to achieve an agreement in stages.
The Palestinians have so far rejected an interim
agreement and insisted on Israel withdrawing from all
the territories, including East Jerusalem, in exchange
for a peace treaty. The Labor Party members who are
joining Sharon haven't concealed their views that it is
worthwhile for Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders
in order to achieve peace. This is totally
unacceptable to Sharon. Such divergences could herald
the first kernels of disagreement in the party and
dispel the euphoric atmosphere in the first steps of
the Kadima party."
--------------------------
2. Iran: Nuclear Program:
--------------------------
Summary:
--------
Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote on page one of independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz: "The real crossroads regarding Iranian
nuclear weapons will be reached in another 2.5 to 3
years."
Senior op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in Ha'aretz:
"Israel should take into account the pessimistic
scenario and see the position expressed by Ahmadinejad
as a real threat."
Mordechai Kedar, a research associate at Bar-Ilan
University's Begin-Sadat Center, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "No
negotiations, no pressure can change Allah's decision
as executed by the Ayatollahs."
Block Quotes:
-------------
I. "Nuclear Confusion"
Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev
Schiff wrote on page one of independent, left-leaning
Ha'aretz (December 14): "There are several crossroads
in Iranian nuclear development. To help out anyone who
has trouble making head or tail of things with all the
declarations [by senior Israeli political and military
leaders], I think the real crossroads regarding Iranian
nuclear weapons will be reached in another 2.5 to 3
years. That will occur once Iran manages to operate
between 2,000 and 4,000 centrifuges to create
fissionable materials, or enriched uranium, for nuclear
weapons. That would enable the Iranians to produce
between two and four nuclear bombs. Iran today has 164
centrifuge cascades. No wonder there is no agreement
among intelligence services as to when Iran will have a
full military nuclear system. Whereas Israel says that
critical time will arrive in 2010-2011, the Americans
are talking about a later date -- 2015. Despite this
determination, we do not know what sort of nuclear
bombs, if any, the Iranians will produce.... There is
also no predicting the reactions of Iran's neighbors
and the international community, first and foremost the
U.S., to Iranian progress in developing nuclear
weapons, or what the response would be, should Iran
decide to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty."
II. "What to Do With Ahmadinejad"
Senior op-ed writer Uzi Benziman commented in Ha'aretz
(December 14): "There are two schools of thought as to
how Israel should respond to the Islamic outlook. One
recommends not getting worked up, and the other calls
for taking the most serious view of the matter....
Israel should take into account the pessimistic
scenario and see the position expressed by Ahmadinejad
as a real threat. Practical conclusions should also be
drawn -- to focus on this threat and as soon as
possible to solve the Palestinian and Syrian conflicts,
because the very capability of the Iranians to create a
balance of nuclear terror with Israel changes for the
worse its image and status in the eyes of its
neighbors. In the world of images, Israel, free from
the burden of occupation, challenging Iran's intent to
wipe it out, is once again David standing up to
Goliath."
III. "Nucleotheism"
Mordechai Kedar, a research associate at Bar-Ilan
University's Begin-Sadat Center, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (December 14):
"Inasmuch as the diplomatic pressure exerted against
the mullahs is not legitimate in their eyes, they
believe they have every right to deceive Europe and the
U.S. by whatever steps are necessary to conceal their
nuclear program. This deception is not regarded as
sinful, because the foreign pressure is directed
against Allah and His decisions; thus Iran possesses a
divine power of attorney to oppose their pressure in
every way. It is this utter disregard for the West, in
particular for Western demands directed against Iran,
that prompted Ahmadinejad to make pronouncements which,
as he well realizes, are in complete defiance of
Western ethos. His latest declarations are directed
against Israel, which he regards as a European colony,
an infidel implant in the heart if the Islamic
world.... No negotiations, no pressure can change
Allah's decision as executed by the Ayatollahs. Unless
the Western world succeeds in driving them to the brink
of the abyss and threatens to push them beyond, Allah
will not authorize them to change their thinking."
----------
3. Syria:
----------
Summary:
--------
Ultra-Orthodox Yated Ne'eman editorialized: "It looks
as though Syria is unimpressed by the American threat."
Block Quotes:
-------------
"Assad Spurns the U.S."
Ultra-Orthodox Yated Ne'eman editorialized (December
14): "It looks as though Syria is unimpressed by the
American threat.... No one has any doubt that Syrian
President Bashar Assad is behind the assassinations [of
Rafiq Hariri and Gibran Tueni].... Syria is relating to
threats of U.S. sanctions in a limited fashion,
assuming that the President of the U.S. who is caught
up in the Iraqi quagmire will not want to/be able to
open a new front.... The only concern [of Israel's
leadership] is of Israel turning into a 'hostage' in
Syria's struggle against the Western states. Syria
could encourage Hizbullah to attack along Israel's
northern border, in order to divert international
attention from the assassinations in Lebanon."
--------------------------
4. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------
Summary:
--------
Columnist Dr. Avi Beker, a former director-general of
the World Jewish Congress and a former member of
Israel's UN delegation, wrote in independent, left-
leaning Ha'aretz: "Anti-Semitism in American streets
and cities or in the press is virtually nonexistent,
while the campuses there have turned into throbbing
centers of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activity."
Block Quotes:
-------------
"An Anti-Semitic Atmosphere"
Columnist Dr. Avi Beker, a former director-general of
the World Jewish Congress and a former member of
Israel's UN delegation, wrote in independent, left-
leaning Ha'aretz (December 14): "Whereas in Europe anti-
Semitism, which has risen drastically in the past five
years, has been expressed in violent incidents, attacks
on synagogues and Jewish institutions as well attacks
in the media, but far less so in the universities, in
the United States and Canada, an anomalous situation
has come into being: Anti-Semitism in American streets
and cities or in the press is virtually nonexistent,
while the campuses there have turned into throbbing
centers of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activity.
Many feel that the calm during demonstrations and in
recently emerging public expressions of anti-Semitism
on the American campuses is a cover for its malignant
spread on the intellectual level.... Thus, Jewish
organizations are suddenly finding themselves facing
difficult dilemmas involving academic freedom, on the
one hand, and the need to fight anti-Semitism and the
continuing trend of delegitimization of the State of
Israel in an academic context, on the other."
CRETZ
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