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06TELAVIV136 2006-01-10 11:45:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tel Aviv
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101145Z Jan 06
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 TEL AVIV 000136 






E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Mideast

2. Iran: Nuclear Program


Key stories in the media:


All media cited a statement issued Monday by
Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem,
that PM Sharon, while still in serious but stable
condition, began to breathe spontaneously and also move
his right hand and right leg "slightly but
significantly" in response to pain stimuli. Sharon was
also reportedly responding to voices and conversations.
Maariv quoted senior physicians as saying that the left
side of Sharon's body could be permanently paralyzed.
In its lead story, Ha'aretz wrote that Sharon received
anticoagulant drugs despite suffering from a disease of
the blood vessels in the brain which, if diagnosed,
would almost certainly have deterred doctors from
prescribing those drugs, which are known to increase
the risk of strokes and brain hemorrhages. Ha'aretz
reported that a doctor told the newspaper on Monday
that the disease was diagnosed during Sharon's current
hospitalization. Ha'aretz reported that a group of
Jewish lawmakers from around the world, including from
the U.S., visited Hadassah Hospital on Monday to offer
Sharon their best wishes. Leading media quoted Iran's
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as saying on Monday: "The
Americans have been defeated in Palestine since the
butcher of the Palestinians, who intended to destroy
the Palestinian Intifada, has come to his end."
Leading media quoted former U.S. President Bill
Clinton, after meeting with French President Jacques
Chirac in Paris on Monday, as saying that Sharon's
stroke is a serious blow to Middle East peace efforts.

Despite official denials, Maariv confirmed the
existence of a signed agreement between Sharon and Vice
Premier Shimon Peres, according to which Peres would
receive a senior portfolio and have some "influence" on
the diplomatic process. The newspaper reported that
Acting PM Ehud Olmert had committed himself to
respecting all agreements signed by Sharon.

Leading media quoted PA Chairman [President] Mahmoud
Abbas as saying on Monday that he had received
assurances from the U.S. that Palestinians would be
permitted to vote in Jerusalem for the Palestinian
legislative elections. Leading media reported that
U.S. diplomatic officials denied that the U.S. had
given the PA any assurances and said that the issue was
being discussed. Israel Radio and Israel Radio quoted
State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack as saying on
Monday: "I haven't seen those comments from the Israeli
Government, but I know that this [voting by
Palestinians in Jerusalem] has been a continuing issue
between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli
Government. We have talked about the fact that, in the
past, they have been able to resolve differences
concerning this issue. We would hope and expect that
they could do so again." Israel Radio reported that
A/S David Welch and Deputy U.S. National Security
Advisor Elliott Abrams will arrive in the region on
Tuesday to oversee the Palestinian elections. The
station reported that Israel has clarified to U.S.
administration representatives that Israel refuses to
be the pretext for the cancellation of the Palestinian
elections. Israel Radio reported that today, at the
conclusion of a diplomatic-security discussion, Defense
Minister Shaul Mofaz hinted that Israel would approve
voting in East Jerusalem.

Israel Radio quoted State Department Spokesman Sean
McCormack as saying on Monday that each permanent
member of the UN Security Council has warned Iran that
it must rescind its decision to resume its nuclear
program. The radio quoted McCormack as saying that the
U.S. administration has been working closely with
Russia, China, and the UK to convey a clear message to
Tehran. Yediot quoted International Atomic Energy DG
Mohamed ElBaradei as saying that both he and the
international community were "losing patience" with
Iran's lack of transparency about its nuclear program.
The Jerusalem Post quoted FM Silvan Shalom as telling a
group of Jewish parliamentarians from around the world
on Monday that the UN must urgently impose economic
sanctions on Iran for continuing its nuclear program
before the world wakes up to a nuclear nightmare.
Leading media quoted IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan
Halutz as saying Monday that Iran's attempts to achieve
nuclear capability are not Israel's exclusive problem,
but that of the entire world. Leading media reported
that on Monday, the Shin Bet dropped its request that
Jirias Jirias, a former local council head of the
Western Galilee Arab village of Fassuta, be indicted on
charges of espionage on behalf of Iran. The indictment
writ presented against him to the Haifa District Court
includes lesser charges.

Nigel Roberts, departing World Bank Country Director
for West Bank and Gaza, was quoted as saying in an
interview with Ha'aretz that the Palestinians, the
Israelis, and the members of the Quartet all share a
part of blame for Hamas's takeover of the territories
and the reign of chaos there.

Ha'aretz reported that the police and Internal Security
Ministry are reportedly aware of their failure to
eliminate the uprooting of Palestinian olive trees in
the West Bank.

Leading media cited a statement attributed to Abu Musab
Al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaida's Iraq-based
faction, as saying that Osama bin Laden ordered the
Katyusha attack on the Galilee some two weeks ago. The
statement was aired on Sunday on a web site customarily
used by Al-Zarqawi's group, the Organization of Al-
Qaida in Mesopotamia.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Barack Obama, the
freshman Democratic Senator from Illinois "already
being touted as a possible presidential candidate in
2008," arrived in Israel Monday night for his first
visit to the region.

Maariv reported that Jewish and Arab activists plan to
establish a private company that will provide municipal
services to the residents of East Jerusalem. Should
the city of Jerusalem be divided, the company would
turn into the municipality of the Palestinian capital.
The newspaper reported that IPCRI -- the
Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information --
whose Co-CEOs are Dr. Gershon Baskin and Hana Siniora,
is leading that initiative.

Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post printed an AP dispatch,
according to which Hamas has launched a TV station in
the Gaza Strip (Al-Aqsa Television), a first step
toward setting up a satellite station like the one
Hizbullah guerrillas run in Lebanon.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli-Arab Attorney Hassan
Jabarin, head of Adalah, the Legal Center For Arab
Minority Rights in Israel, as saying on Monday that
there could be bloodshed if the authorities go ahead
with their plans to turn a century-old Beersheba mosque
into a municipal museum.

Ha'aretz reported that an ark (for holding Torah
scrolls) was recently installed in the Pentagon's
synagogue, whose ceiling was damaged in the 9/11
attack. The newspaper wrote that Israeli artist Moshe
Gani designed the copper work symbolizing the 12 tribes
of Israel that adorns the ark.


1. Mideast:




Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz: "Without a strong
international component, Olmert will find it difficult
to carry out the withdrawal that in his opinion is
essential for saving Israel."

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote in Ha'aretz:
"One can assume that what the Americans are running
into [in Iraq] will soon reach this part of the world -
- along the northern border, in the territories, or in
Israel itself."

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized: "There is
no room in the Acting Prime Minister's calendar for a
meeting with the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority.
He must first handle urgent affairs on Israel's

Block Quotes:


I. "Getting Help From the Outside"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (January 10):
"Unlike Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who hated to make
decisions and covered his diplomatic policy plans in a
fog of ambiguity, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has
openly presented his views on the future borders. Two
years ago he had already spoken about a unilateral
withdrawal from the West Bank to a demographic line
that would maintain a ratio of 80:20 between Jews and
Arabs inside Israel, and about an exit from the
outermost Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Olmert said
that Israel must determine its own fate and not wait
for a Palestinian partner; otherwise it would find
itself isolated internationally and in distress vis-a-
vis an Arab majority between the Jordan and the sea.
As we have not heard any change in his opinions, it is
possible to predict that Olmert will try to advance
this plan if he wins the elections.... If the
Palestinians are incapable of seeing to their own
affairs, and this seems to be the situation, Israel
must not fall into a trap in the West Bank. If the
world wants it to withdraw and end the occupation, it
should take upon itself some of the responsibility and
station policing forces in the West Bank. This will
not be easy. After the embroilment in Iraq, there are
no volunteers to deploy in the Middle East. Israel,
too, will need to weave a complicated understanding
that the settlement blocs and the Old City of Jerusalem
remain in its hands in the format of a border dispute,
until a partner for negotiations arises. But without a
strong international component, Olmert will find it
difficult to carry out the withdrawal that in his
opinion is essential for saving Israel."

II. "It's a Matter of Time"

Military correspondent Amos Harel wrote in Ha'aretz
(January 10): "Presumably behind the headline of [the
audiotape aired on Sunday, according to which Osama bin
Laden ordered Katyusha rockets fired on the Galilee
some two weeks ago and allegedly put out by] Al-Qaida
is a minor Palestinian faction, and it is unlikely that
it received direct instructions from the Afghanistan-
Pakistan border. Instead, it probably acted on the
basis of contacts -- via the Internet or other means --
with one of the radical Islamic groups operating in
Iraq. Nevertheless, the general trend should worry
Israel.... Herein lies another troubling aspect of the
Iraqi-Lebanese connection: the widespread war that the
various rebel groups are waging against the U.S.
presence in Iraq is serving as an ideal seminar for
testing weapons and innovative guerrilla tactics. One
can assume that what the Americans are running into
over there will soon reach this part of the world --
along the northern border, in the territories, or in
Israel itself."

III. "Abu Mazen Must First Rule in the Palestinian

Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (January
10): "A meeting between Olmert and Abu Mazen doesn't
seem likely in the coming days. There is no room on
the Acting Prime Minister's calendar for a meeting with
the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority. He must
first handle urgent affairs on Israel's agenda....
Neither is there interest in a meeting with Abu Mazen
before the PA elections, which are supposed to take
place in two weeks. Only after the elections, when the
new composition of the PA parliament becomes known,
will it be possible to check Abu Mazen's offer to hold
a meeting at the highest level -- between him and a
senior Israeli diplomatic figure.... One can assume
that Abu Mazen has seen the polls, according to which
Hamas may get about half the votes in the large cities
and about 40 percent of the total vote for the
[Palestinian] Legislative Council. Should this
forecast come true, Abu Mazen's regime could be put out
of balance; if so, the invitation he was prepared to
hand to Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would become
devoid of special significance."


2. Iran: Nuclear Program:




The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post
editorialized: "The world cannot build its security on
the baseless hope that the mullahs are bluffing."

Block Quotes:


"The Iranian Threat"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post
editorialized (January 10): "In one of the more bizarre
vignettes that diplomacy sometimes produces, Iran
announced Sunday [that] UN inspectors had been summoned
to remove the seals their agency placed on some Iranian
nuclear facilities more than two years ago. The seals
were placed after Iran voluntarily committed to suspend
nuclear research.... On Monday, Foreign Minister Silvan
Shalom told the cabinet that Iran's latest brazen act
indicates that the world is failing to stop Tehran's
nuclear drive. There should be no misunderstanding
what the consequences of such a failure would be....
The world cannot build its security on the baseless
hope that the mullahs are bluffing. The unspoken
European notion is that the Iranian regime would not
use nuclear weapons, but like other nuclear powers,
simply possess them as a form of deterrence. This
prospect, even if it could be relied upon, should not
reassure anyone. Iranian nuclear weapons, even if never
detonated or passed on to terrorist groups, would allow
the regime to increase its support for terrorism with
impunity.... If the E-3 -- the UK, France and Germany -
- continue to appease Iran it will not avoid such
attacks, but invite them once the Iranian regime has
managed to protect itself with a nuclear umbrella. As
envisioned in the UN Charter, the full economic,
diplomatic and -- if necessary -- military power of the
West must be brought to bear on Iran in a classic case
of collective self-defense."