(Banner will apear here)

Beautiful Kabbalah Jewelry Judaicawebstore.com
Font Size:

Netanyahu Goverment's Fiasco

IsraCast Assessment: Obama Administration's Forgiving Reaction To Israeli Government's Insult To Joe Biden Will Actually Restrict Bibi Netanyahu's Freedon Of Action In the Future

Rather Than Reacting By 'Don't Get Mad, Get Even!' Obama Decided To Leverage the Israeli Fiasco To Serve U.S. Interests On Iran and Arab World

Kadima Opposition: 'Netanyahu's Gross Negligence Is Wake-up Call To Israel's Silent Majority That Netanyahu Is Both Incompetent & Jeopardizing National Interests'

Benyamin Netanyahu (Photo: Amit Shabi)

 U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has come and gone but the dust is still swirling around Middle East sand storm in his wake. Biden, a close personal friend of Netanyahu, was sent by President Barack Obama, on a good will mission to clear the air with Netanyahu, kick off the long awaited proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians and to make sure that Washington and Jerusalem are on the same page in the confrontation with Iran. And smack in the middle, the startling announcement by Israel's Interior Ministry that a planning committee had approved 1600 new housing in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. Analyst David Essing is of the view that the insult to Biden, unintentional as it was, will paradoxically enable the Obama administration to exercise more leverage over the Israeli Prime Minister.

 Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has apologized profusely to Vice President Joe Biden saying he was unaware the Interior Ministry planned to make the announcement during his visit to Israel. Even Likud Cabinet Minister Gilead Arden had to agree with the critics that the timing was 'deplorable', although the Israeli government has differences with Washington over building in eastern Jerusalem. After the 'in your face' insult', even if it was due to negligence and not intention, the U.S. could have reacted in several ways. It could have responded 'proportionately' to this act of diplomatic warfare by not only condemning the building decision but also by suspending Biden's visit to Israel and going home. However, Biden's mission to Israel and the West Bank was part of a much bigger picture- the Middle East mosaic with Iran at the center.

While Biden was here, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Riyadh where he declared that the diplomatic approach had failed and now was the time for Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and the entire international community to move forcefully on imposing new sanctions on Tehran. Washington has recently been sending high profile officials to Jerusalem to keep Israel on a tight leash and forestall any possible military strike on Iran. So rather than bashing Netanyahu, the Obama administration finessed the Israeli bureaucratic bungling into rapping Israeli knuckles, weakening Netanyahu's prestige and reiterating its position to Israeli building in eastern Jerusalem. The severity of the diplomatic row has enabled the U.S. to increase its leverage over the Israeli government. This time, Washington deigned to overlook Netanyahu's dereliction, but the implied threat was that next time would be a different story. So, Netanyahu has shot himself in the foot by not keeping a tight rein on sensitive issues that could impact on Israel's foreign relations. One would have thought in his second term of office, he would have learned this lesson by now. As a result, the PM's office has see fit belatedly, to issue instructions to all thirty cabinet ministers on the issue.

Although the American fury was vented over the timing of the Israeli announcement, the basic question remains over American opposition to all Israeli building beyond the 'Green Line' of 1967. Will Netanyahu now be gun-shy on building per se in east Jerusalem? His cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser has declared that the ten month building suspension applies only to Judea & Samaria(West Bank) and Israel view all of Jerusalem as her unified capital and as such, is entitled to build anywhere in its environs. Interior Minister Eli Ishai of Shas also pleaded he was unaware of the building announcement adding: 'It would have been advisable to postpone it for another two or three weeks' - that is when the U.S. Vice President was not in town. Cabinet Minister Benny Begin of the far Right Likud played down the uproar by saying:' There never is an appropriate time for announcing Israeli building in east Jerusalem as far as the international community is concerned!'

Netanyahu is being tarred and feathered by the media and in fact he has only himself to blame. He will likely nosedive in the next opinion polls. The Prime Minister has abdicated control over some crucial aspects of foreign relations to far right coalition partners. It can be assumed Netanyahu did not not want to rock the boat with Shas by stepping on the toes of Eli Ishai. Another case in point was the atrocious humiliation of the Turkish Ambassador several months ago by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon of Avigdor Lieberman's party. (Foreign Minister Lieberman himself is persona non grata in the Arab countries because of vitriolic statements he made before getting his portfolio.

In the past, Netanyahu has spoken of how important it is for a leader to 'keep his eye on the ball' and not be sidetracked by secondary issue. By the Prime Minister's own account, the Iranian nuclear threat tops the national agenda, posing the greatest threat to the survival of the Jewish state. Is this is the case, why is the Israeli government risking its special ties with the U.S. and alienating the Arab world and international community when the Iranian question is heading for a crescendo?

Netanyahu himself has expressed his readiness to do a deal with the Palestinians based on the two state solution and both dovish President Shimon Peres as well as Labor party leader Ehud Barak have said they believe him. The Obama administration, through special envoy George Mitchell, has been working behind the scenes to secure the support of the Arab League for the long- waited proximity talks that facilitate the Arab states support for the U.S. in confrontation with Iran. This is now up in the air, although the U.S. remains confident the proximity talks will get underway despite the Palestinian bluster.

In domestic politics, this is just what the doctor ordered for opposition leader Tzipi Livni of Kadima. The Opposition has tabled a motion of no-confidence in the government over the Biden affair. Livni can be expected to take the Knesset rostrum with all guns blazing after Netanyahu has supplied her ample ammunition. In the the election over a year ago, Livni's party actually took one seat more than did the Likud, but Netanyahu favored a coalition with the Right-wing parties and Labor after rejecting a Livni demand that he accept the two state formula, which he eventually did under American pressure. One Kadima source says the Biden fiasco will be a loud wake-up call for Israel's silent majority that favors a partition of Jerusalem and a return to the 1967 lines with the major settlement blocs, for which the Palestinians would be compensated by land exchanges. This is actually the traditional Labor party position. The silent majority has dozed off believing their is no viable Palestinian peace partner, after Ariel Sharon evacuated all of the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians reciprocated with daily barrages of rockets. Moreover, there is no unified Palestinian partner after Hamas, which vows Israel's destruction, expelled President Abbas's Fatah movement from Gaza in a bloody coup. However, the Palestinian issue and east Jerusalem are not all important. What is of paramount importance is the support of the U.S., the Arab world and the international community in finding a solution to the Iran threat. Livni can be expected to argue that Netanyahu has failed abysmally in 'keeping his eye on this ball' and in so doing is jeopardizing Israel's national interests.

David Essing

Back To The Top