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Bibi Bungles Big Time!

Britain & France Warn Israel Not To Go Through With Building 3,000 New Housing Units In West Bank

Israeli Opposition Parties Lambaste Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu For 'Irresponsible & Dangerous Steps That Harm Israel's International Standing'

IsraCast Assessment: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Has Outfoxed Netanyahu At UN General Assembly – Netanyahu's Reaction Has Focused International Criticism On Israel's Settlement Activity At Time That Jewish State Needs To Be Rallying Support Against Iranian A-Bomb Project

Benjamin Netanyahu

 'Keep your eye on the ball!' This is one of Prime Minister Netanyahu's adages for smart politics. But Bibi has failed to follow his own advice in his ongoing confrontation, not only with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but also with the U.S. and nearly all the international community. Netanyahu's conduct of the Palestinian issue has been abysmal – so much so that although Abbas has refused to negotiate, it is Israel that is taking all the blame! This at a time that Israel is counting on vital international support for blocking Iran's nuclear weapons program that Netanyahu warned will soon come to a head. Analyst David Essing is of the view the current furor could affect the outcome of Israel's general election on January 22nd.

 Has Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu shot himself in both feet? It certainly looks this way. Israeli ambassadors are being called on the carpet in Paris, London and Stockholm to hear stern diplomatic protests to the government's decision to build 3,000 new housing units in the West Bank in retaliation to the move by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the UN General Assembly that has granted the Palestinians the status of a non- member observer state in the world organization. Although Abbass actually violated his signed Oslo agreement with Israel not to take any such unilateral step he has succeeded in running diplomatic rings around Netanyahu.

In the midst of an election campaign, this is just what the doctor ordered for the Center and Left wing opposition parties that are hauling Netanyahu over the coals for what they see as a 'rash and reckless' step to retaliate by announcing plans for 3,000 new housing units in a strategic area between East Jerusalem and the nearby Israeli town of West Bank on the West Bank. The European states, that actually friends of Israel, have reportedly lodged stern warnings with the Israeli ambassadors that have sent shock waves through Israel. They reportedly threatened to recall their ambassadors if Israel actually started the construction and also cut trade agreements. Most certainly they are coordinated with the U.S. that has already weighed in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's censure of the Israeli decision that has backfired in two directions – from Israel's friends abroad and by providing political ammunition to the opposition at home.

Ma'ale Adumim, West Bank

How has Prime Minister Netanyahu managed to get himself into such a diplomatic pickle? It began with the Abbas move to in affect abrogate the Oslo Agreement with Israel and seek non- member observer status by the UN General Assembly rather than negotiating with Netanyahu. Israel, with U.S. support, tried hard to block this gambit but 138 of 193 UN members voted in favor. Could the Israeli government have acted differently? Critics in Israel say yes. Once it became clear there was overwhelming support for this partial UN recognition, Israel could have also jumped on the bandwagon since Netanyahu has already backed the solution of a two state solution. Israel could also have sought a reaffirmation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 after the Six Day War of 1967. It stipulates 'a withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict', not all the territories. In addition, there is the reference to 'secure and recognized boundaries (no Israeli return to the former 1967 lines from which Israel was again threatened with annihilation like in 1948).

But after the GA vote on November 29th, that was all water under the bridge. Now in the midst of an election campaign and with two ultra- Right parties nipping at his heels, Netanyahu felt he had to retaliate against the Palestinian violation of Oslo. Hence the decision to build 3,000 housing-units that will now be dumped in the deep-freezer, in light of the international reaction. Even columnist Dan Meridor writing in the pro-Netanyahu Israel Today took a pot-shot at Netanyahu: 'Anger is not a good counselor even when conducting a just campaign'.

PS: The International Atomic Energy now suspects that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon which is three times as powerful as the A-bomb that devastated Hiroshima. The Israeli leader has repeatedly warned and justifiably so that an Iranian nuclear capability is the gravest threat facing Israel today. By his own hand, Netanyahu has now wasted valuable world backing and propelled Israel as the bad guy in the international headlines.

David Essing

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