Netanyahu: The Spineless Premier
That was President Obama’s description of the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu during an interview widely published by the Israeli press just before the recent Israeli elections. This opinion is shared by most of the European leaders because “Netanyahu fears the settlers and became a prisoner of their agenda to annex the West Bank and transfer the Palestinian population to Jordan”. This cowardice thinking is preventing Netanyahu from finalizing a peace settlement with the Palestinians on the basis of a two-state solution which has become the very foundation of western policy. He is either unable or not willing to face the colonial settlers who are carving out their ‘religious kingdom’ on stolen Palestinian lands.
Netanyahu, has grown very weak after the January 2013 election, even in his own party, facing an avalanche of criticism from party members who consider him “a complete failure, especially in the way he conducted the recent election that is being viewed as “the biggest catastrophe in the history of Israeli elections.” Haaretz declared that “the elections proved that Netanyahu is a man of the past.” The Atlas Institute of Israeli Strategic Studies said “it is true that Netanyahu is the only one able to form a government, but he is going to be like a sultan without real powers”, or a ‘naked king’ according to Israeli writer Gideon Levi,
The surprise victory of the Israeli ‘There is a Future’ party which is now the second major party in Israel, proved that a great number of Israelis have rejected the agenda of the far-right and chose the middle road party to enhance Israel’s image in the international arena, despite the continuous strong political influence of the far right.. Ari Shavit wrote in Haaretz: “Netanyahu and his partner Avigdor Lieberman: the two drunken with absolute power along with their settlers’ backers drove the people who were fed up with them to go and support a TV star without any experience in politics to snap five seats from the far right”.
Boaz Bismuth editor of the widely read IsraelHayom said “Netanyahu is a very tragic personality who attained two terms in governing Israel. Yet, the voters have decided to end his last tenure with a humiliating defeat not because only he is a very bad prime minister, but also because his behavior drives people away from him”.
Netanyahu, as seen by other Israeli commentators, has a very tough job ahead to end the privileges enjoyed by the religious right parties who refuse to share the burden to support the Hebrew state by providing the taxes needed and the soldiers to protect it like all secular Israelis. He will face enormous pressure from the international community to stop building colonial settlements in the West Bank in order to revive the dead peace process with the Palestinians. Netanyahu, as weak now as he is, has no longer the option to attack Iran whether he really had this intention before or not. His proposed alliance with the leader of ‘There is a Future’ party, Yair Lapid, who won 19 seats and whose agenda is to end all the privileges enjoyed by the religious right parties who are bankrupting the economy, as well as his desire to start negotiations with the Palestinians, is going to enrage the political (nationalistic and religious) right parties who are going to wreck this alliance sooner or later.
Shmuel Sandler, a fellow researcher at the Begin-Sadat Research Institute at Bar Ilan University thinks that “Netanyahu needs to work with Lapid to create a positive and a moderate image for Israel to show the world”. But he says that it is going to be very difficult for him to build the coalition he wants because “it is not easy to build consensus on the Palestine question”.
Forming a broad government with a ‘moderate agenda’ and ‘moderate’ Lapid is also next to impossible. Indeed, the two religious parties, Shas and the United Torah Judaism have established an alliance to confront and destroy any understanding between Netanyahu and Lapid, the latter now being viewed as the new ‘King of Israel’. Therefore a large coalition government, a ‘purely’ right-wing government or a government grouping the Likud and the moderate parties might be impossible to form or last long. If Netanyahu forms a right wing government, he will render Israel alone to face international condemnation and isolation. If he opts for moderates, he, then, has to face the wrath of the religious parties who have no mercy. Should he choose to form a coalition government with both the extreme right and the moderates, inner fighting is surely bound to bring it to a collapse.
In summation, it is apparent that Netanyahu has become spineless. President Obama considered him to be “more dangerous to Israel’s security than Iran” as reported by Haaretz. Israeli political commentator Sima Kadmon speaks of Netanyahu as a person “who can never keep his word” predicting he will “fail to bring about an Israeli government that can survive for long”. Indeed, a spineless Netanyahu can neither support himself internally or internationally and is going to open the door wide for the Europeans and the White House, if they choose to do so, to strike him where it hurts the most in order to change his policies. If he declines, that will eventually spell his end politically.