By Ted Belman
According to Dr Yitzhak Klein, Style and substance in Netanyahu’s governance, when PM Netanyahu demanded recognition in exchange for a temporary and partial freeze, it was his Declaration of Independence. In doing so he threw down the gaunlet to the Whitehouse, The Arab League, Labor and Mahmoud Abbas.
1. White House
Netanyahu chose his political ground carefully. Nothing is likely to generate sympathy for Israel’s position on Capitol Hill and within the American Jewish community as insistence that the Palestinians simply acknowledge that Israel is the Jewish state. Their refusal to do so will seem incomprehensible to most Americans.
2. The Arab League.
Netanyahu’s statement was a challenge to let the Palestinian issue slide, and no longer allow it to interfere with the quiet alliance between Israel and moderate Arab states now shaping up over Iran. [..] This, of course, undermines what is supposed to be one of the Obama administration’s rationales in pressing the Palestinian issue – making up to the Arab world.
3. The Labor Party.
Labor’s policy is increasingly vulnerable to ideological purists insisting that the “peace process” continue at all costs. Labor is threatening to leave Netanyahu’s coalition if negotiations break down. Netanyahu’s chosen political ground is even more potent within Israel than on Capitol Hill. If Labor – and Kadima – want to fight an election on the grounds that Israel should not insist on recognition as the Jewish state, they’re welcome to try their luck.
4. Mahmoud Abbas,
Netanyahu said, in effect, “Be damned.”
Netanyahu has a plan.
THE BIG difference between Netanyahu today and the Netanyahu who was elected in 1996 is that he seems to have developed an intuition for when he has no choice but to turn around and fight back. One such moment was when Obama manufactured a crisis over building in Jerusalem and dissed Netanyahu in the Oval Office. As he left the White House that day, Netanyahu appeared to have understood instinctively that he couldn’t let himself be cowed. Another such moment appears to have come this week.
Chances are about even that the Labor Party will pull out of Netanyahu’s coalition – probably around December (budget time), when it can obfuscate the diplomatic issue on which Netanyahu and the Likud can craft an electoral victory. Netanyahu can maintain a narrow coalition by adding the National Union, but it’s far from clear that that’s his best option. Perhaps his next step is to learn to anticipate a crisis he cannot avoid and precipitate it – on his own terms and in his own time. If the country is going to elections, the best time for the prime minister is ASAP.
The country is going to need a new policy to deal with the Palestinians, based on the assumption that no peace agreement is likely any time soon.
The writer heads the Israel Policy Center, whose mission includes reinforcing Israel’s character as a Jewish, democratic state.