Viewing cable 06TELAVIV194
Title: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06TELAVIV1942006-01-13 12:24:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tel Aviv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

131224Z Jan 06
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 TEL AVIV 000194 
 
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: 
-------------------------------- 
 
Israel: Acting PM Ehud Olmert 
 
------------------------- 
Key stories in the media: 
------------------------- 
 
The media reported that according to results from a 
vote of Likud Central Committee members in Tel Aviv 
last night, the first names on the Likud's Knesset list 
will be party chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, outgoing FM 
Silvan Shalom, and Knesset members Moshe Kahlon, Gilad 
Erdan, Gideon Saar and Michael Eitan, Knesset Speaker 
Reuven Rivlin, outgoing Health Minister Danny Naveh and 
Knesset Member Yuval Steinitz.  Although the top names 
on the list are generally associated with tough 
ideological positions, the key Likud "rebels" 
(including outgoing Education Minister Limor Livnat and 
Knesset Member Uzi Landau) were placed lower on the 
list.  The media quoted Netanyahu as saying that the 
Likud's new team is "young and experienced." 
 
Leading media reported that on Thursday, Acting PM Ehud 
Olmert and President Bush talked on the phone for the 
fist time since PM Sharon's hospitalization.  Ha'aretz 
quoted the President as saying that he has not 
forgotten the view of Jerusalem that Olmert showed him 
during his 1988 visit as Governor of Texas.  The 
President reportedly told Olmert that Hamas must change 
its policy toward Israel and recognize its right to 
exist.  Ha'aretz quoted Bush as saying that there 
cannot be peace with terror organizations, and that the 
PA must prove it can act against terror. Bush was 
quoted as saying that the U.S. is acting to establish 
democratic institutions in the PA that promote peace 
and not terror, adding that this was his position and 
he would not change it.  Bush was quoted as saying that 
he planned to continue implementing his shared vision 
with Sharon for the peace process in the region. 
Ha'aretz cited Olmert's response that he would do 
everything in his power to promote that vision, "but it 
is important that the PA chair dismantle terror 
organizations, because otherwise it will be impossible 
to move forward with a government in which terror 
organizations are partners."  Bush reportedly ended the 
call by expressing admiration for Sharon and said that 
when he wakes up, tell him his friend asked about him. 
Various media cited different parts of the telephone 
call.  Maariv and Hatzofe quoted Labor Party Knesset 
Member Yitzhak Herzog as saying that Olmert's reported 
invitation to the White House is a blatant intervention 
in the Israeli elections.  Israel Radio reported that 
Vice Premier Shimon Peres will leave for the U.S. 
during the weekend to meet with Secretary of State 
Condoleezza Rice. 
 
Israel Radio reported that this morning, Olmert met 
with U.S. envoys A/S David Welch and Deputy U.S. 
National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams, and that they 
discussed the upcoming elections in the PA and raised 
concerns that Hamas could win a majority and even 
strive to form the next Palestinian government.  The 
station reported that top Sharon aide Dov Weisglass, 
the PM's Diplomatic Adviser Shalom Turgeman, the PM's 
Military Secretary Maj. Gen Gad Shamni, and U.S. 
Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones, attended the 
meeting.  Yediot quoted Hamas's most prominent leader 
in Gaza and the West Bank, Mahmoud Zahar, as saying 
Wednesday in an interview with The New York Times that 
his faction would refuse to recognize Israel or disarm 
even if it won in the Palestinian elections this month. 
Major media cited similar statements by other Hamas 
leaders. 
 
All media reported that on Thursday, the Likud 
ministers caved in to party head Binyamin Netanyahu and 
one by one announced their resignation from the 
cabinet.  Leading media reported that Olmert will name 
current Justice Minister Tzipi Livni foreign minister 
on Sunday.  Israel Radio said that this precluded the 
possibility that Vice Premier Shimon Peres could be 
foreign minister during the period leading up to the 
elections. 
 
Ha'aretz reported that since the second week of 
December 2005, the IDF has severed the northern part of 
the West Bank from other parts, and prohibited 
residents from traveling toward Ramallah   The 
newspaper said that the ban applies to some 800,000 
people, residents of the Tulkarm, Nablus, and Jenin 
provinces.  Until January 2, the ban applied just to 
residents of Jenin and Tulkarm.  Since then it has been 
extended to Nablus area residents. 
 
Leading media reported that on Thursday in Jenin, IDF 
troops killed two wanted Islamic Jihad activists 
Israel Radio reported that last night, two Katyusha 
rockets were fired into Israel, and that the IDF 
responded with artillery fire at the northern Gaza 
Strip. 
 
Ha'aretz, The Jerusalem Post, and other media reported 
that on Thursday, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz decided 
to postpone the evacuation of the settlement outpost of 
Amona, near Ofra, for another two weeks.  Mofaz cited a 
pending High Court of Justice petition and the PA 
legislative elections as reasons for his decision. 
Media also reported that Mofaz ordered the dismantling 
of three Nablus-area outposts -- the Aroussi Farm near 
Bracha, the Skelly Farm near Elon Moreh and Hill 725 
near Yitzhar -- to proceed.  A few dozen settlers live 
in these three outposts, and the evacuations will 
probably take place next week.  Ha'aretz wrote that 
Mofaz's decision is apparently due partly to U.S. 
pressure and partly to the desire of Mofaz's party, 
Kadima, to paint itself as tough on enforcing the law 
in the territories. Ha'aretz reported that on Thursday, 
the army demolished four foundations for prefab houses 
that had been built without a permit in the settlement 
of Rahelim.  Ha'aretz quoted Mofaz associates as saying 
that the Minister is particularly anxious to move 
against the three Nablus-area outposts, because many 
Palestinian olive trees in their vicinity have been 
vandalized, and the government has decided to crack 
down on the vandals. 
 
Israel Radio reported that eight Knesset members from 
the Shinui party, including party leader Yosef (Tommy) 
Lapid, who was elected to the first slot on Shinui's 
Knesset list, and Knesset Member Avraham Poraz, quit 
the party last night, after the party council 
confounded predictions on Thursday by ousting Poraz, 
one of Shinui's founders, from the No. 2 slot.  In 
second place, the council chose Ron Levinthal, a Tel 
Aviv city councilman who has led the party's internal 
opposition to the Lapid-Poraz duo.  The media also 
reported on the results of internal elections in two 
right-wing parties: Moledet leader Knesset Member Benny 
Elon was elected No.1 by the party's council members 
and will head the joint National Union list.  Knesset 
Member Aryeh Eldad came in second in the Moledet vote. 
In the National Religious Party's central committee 
vote, party chairman MK Zevulun Orlev was automatically 
placed first.  Nissan Slomiansky came second. 
 
Major media reported that on Thursday, U.S. Evangelical 
leader Pat Robertson sent a letter of apology to PM 
Sharon's son, Omri Sharon, for his remarks last week 
that PM Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for the 
Gaza withdrawal. 
 
A senior IDF officer was quoted as saying in an 
interview with The Jerusalem Post that the behavior and 
actions of extremists Jewish groups operating in 
Samaria (the northern West Bank) pose a far greater 
threat than terror actions to the people of Israel. 
 
Maariv quoted Lebanese parliamentarian and Druze leader 
Walid Jumblatt as saying that the Sheba Farms belong to 
Syria -- contrary to claims by Hizbullah. 
 
Yediot reported that on Thursday, the U.S. 
administration issued an ultimatum to Iran, warning it 
that it could incur severe sanctions if it does not 
stop development work at its nuclear facilities.  The 
newspaper noted that for the first time, European 
countries and Russia endorsed the U.S. move.  The 
Jerusalem Post quoted Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark 
Regev as saying: "Israel supports the European 
position." 
 
Leading media cited a Bank of Israel statement issued 
Thursday that the New Israeli Shekel is on its way to 
inclusion in the list of currencies exchangeable 
through the Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS), 
allowing real-time shekel exchanges involving banks 
around the world at any time. 
 
Maariv reported that on Thursday in Tel Aviv, the 
police's IPR unit raided the largest factory of 
counterfeit CDs in Israel. 
 
The Jerusalem Post quoted visiting U.S. Congressman Tim 
Ryan (D-OH) as saying that the U.S. should follow 
Israel's lead in hi-tech support.  The newspaper 
printed a picture of Ryan with Ambassador Jones and 
Akron, OH, Mayor Don Plusquellic, at the Ambassador's 
Residence in Herzliya. 
The Jerusalem Post reported that the two largest firms 
in the U.S. specializing in Israeli companies -- 
Shiboleth, Yisraeli, Roberts & Zisman one on side, and 
Heiman Law Group on the other -- have merged as the 
partners look to exploit the ever increasing activity 
of Israel companies in the country. 
 
A Yediot/Mina Zemach (Dahaf Institute) poll: 
-"Were elections for the Knesset held today, for whom 
would you vote?"  (Results in Knesset seats -- in 
brackets, results of previous poll; if no results in 
brackets, the results were unchanged.) 
-Kadima 42 (39); Labor Party 17 (21); Likud 13 (14); 
Shas 10 (11); Arab parties 8 (7); United Torah Judaism 
6; Yisrael Beiteinu 6; Meretz 5; National Union 5 (6); 
Shinui 4; National Religious Party 4. 
 
Maariv printed the results of a TNS/Teleseker Polling 
Institute survey conducted on Thursday: 
-"Were elections for the Knesset held today, for whom 
would you vote?"  (Results in Knesset seats -- in 
brackets, results of previous poll; if no results in 
brackets, the results were unchanged.) 
-Kadima 43 (41); Labor Party 17 (18); Likud 16 (14); 
Shas 9 (11); United Torah Judaism 9 (11); Arab parties 
7; Yisrael Beiteinu 5 (4); Meretz 5; National Union 5 
(6); Shinui 4 (5); National Religious Party 4 (3). 
 
 
------------------------------ 
Israel: Acting PM Ehud Olmert: 
------------------------------ 
 
                       Summary: 
                       -------- 
 
Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in mass- 
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The American 
choice of Olmert stems primarily from their 
understanding that he is the authentic successor of 
Sharon, the great and ultimate friend of Bush, Cheney, 
and Rice." 
 
Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in the 
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "The interest 
the U.S. began to show in Olmert was part of its effort 
to understand Sharon himself, not to look at possible 
successors." 
Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev 
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: 
"[Ehud Olmert] will get a historical opportunity to 
implement what is very important for Israel: 
maintaining its Jewish and democratic independence, and 
guaranteeing its security." 
 
                     Block Quotes: 
                     ------------- 
 
¶I.  "American Aid" 
 
Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in mass- 
circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (January 13): 
"Olmert, as in an ancient rite of passing the torch 
from one tribal chieftain to another, said [in his 
phone conversation with President Bush on Thursday] 
that he would do his best to promote the 'Bush-Sharon 
vision.'  In the American view, Olmert passed his first 
foreign policy test this week with full success, in the 
decision to permit the East Jerusalem Arabs to 
participate in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. 
In closed conversations, Olmert says that he acted 
precisely according to the secret understandings that 
were reached on this matter between Sharon and the 
White House....  The White House has already decided to 
invite Olmert for talks with President Bush in 
February, even before the Knesset elections.  [U.S.] 
administration officials explain that behind the 
invitation stand issues that cannot be delayed: Iran's 
efforts to attain nuclear arms, the outcome of the 
elections in the Palestinian Authority and the 
situation on the northern border with Hizbullah and 
Syria.... The American choice of Olmert stems primarily 
from their understanding that he is the authentic 
successor of Sharon, the great and ultimate friend of 
Bush, Cheney, and Rice.  And there is also another 
reason, which is Washington's opinion of the other two 
candidates.  Officials in the U.S. capital view 
Netanyahu as a controversial figure.  'He is 
unpredictable,' say sources in Washington.  As for Amir 
Peretz -- he is perceived by several White House 
officials as 'an oddity, half a Communist, something 
like John Sweeney, secretary of the labor unions in the 
United States.'" 
 
II.  "How America Sees Israel's Acting Prime Minister" 
 
Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in the 
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (January 13): 
"A week after the completion of Israel's withdrawal 
from Gaza, Ehud Olmert -- then ministry of industry, 
trade and labor -- was invited to Washington for what 
was described as a 'personal meeting' with Secretary of 
State Condoleezza Rice.... The interest the U.S. began 
to show in Olmert was part of its effort to understand 
Sharon himself, not to look at possible successors.... 
Olmert gained recognition by the Americans as a 
significant player in the Israeli policy field only 
after the disengagement plan was presented.  Yet the 
U.S. administration never paid attention to Olmert as a 
possible leader of Israel, assuming he lacked public 
popularity because of a reading -- true at the time -- 
of internal Likud politics.  In the week and a half 
since Sharon's hospitalization, the U.S. administration 
has been scrambling to figure out Olmert.  Sources in 
touch with administration officials say that Olmert is 
perceived in America as a worthy candidate -- a 
pragmatic centrist who, if elected, will continue in 
Sharon's path toward a two-state solution -- albeit one 
who lacks Sharon's power.... Now, with Sharon out of 
the picture, Olmert has less than three months to 
cultivate the same kind of relationship with Bush that 
Sharon enjoyed -- in order to capitalize on it in the 
March 28 elections." 
 
III.  "Olmert's Strategic Options" 
 
Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev 
Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz 
(January 13): "Israel's next prime minister will 
apparently be the head of the Kadima party, Ehud 
Olmert.... After the elections, the government he heads 
will confront a number of options.  Each will dictate a 
different strategy.  One possibility is that the 
Palestinians will continue the terror.  The Israeli 
government will wait for the fulfillment of the road 
map by the Palestinians, and meanwhile will react with 
military moves.  Washington will consider that a 
defensive war, but will demand that Olmert fulfill 
Sharon's promise to dismantle the illegal outposts and 
stop the expansion of the existing settlements.... 
Another strategic option, which is more difficult to 
carry out, and therefore has less of a chance, is to 
aim directly for a final status agreement.... The third 
strategic option brings Olmert and the Israeli 
government back to unilateral moves.  With this option, 
Israel will try on its own to determine the temporary 
borders, which are mentioned in the Roadmap, vis a vis 
the Palestinian entity, which will later become a 
state.  Israel cannot do this without additional 
withdrawals, or only by means of a security fence and 
separation.  This means that first of all, there has to 
be a withdrawal from isolated settlements and illegal 
outposts.  And later, there must be a withdrawal from 
Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.  That is very far 
from what Olmert was once willing to accept, as a Likud 
man.  This time, he will get a historical opportunity 
to implement what is very important for Israel: 
maintaining its Jewish and democratic independence, and 
guaranteeing its security." 
 
JONES