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IT'S STILL NETANYAHU BY A MILE

Benjamin Netanyahu (then Finance Minister) and Ariel Sharon (then Prime Minister) pictured together in 2005. (CC GPO, photo credit Moshe Milner)

Despite the plethora of police investigations into two possible cases of financial fraud, Bibi is still far ahead of the pack. Channel 13 TV showed a poll indicating that 51% of Israeli voters prefer Netanyahu for Prime Minister. The two other potential candidates, Yair Lapid and Avi Gabbay, lag far behind. Clearly, if a snap election were held in the near future, Netanyahu would win hands down. And the reasons are obvious - the two other candidates are rank amateurs when it comes to experience in leading Israel that faces the perpetual threat of Palestinian terrorism and the vow of Iran to wipe the Jewish state off the map.

So, if there is a move to oust Netanyahu via the legal process, such as an indictment, that would probably spark "a rebellion" by the Right-wing; not dissimilarly to what American politician Rudy Gulliani has warned of were the US President Donald Trump to be toppled by a legal and not a voting process.

"You can't topple such an experienced PM for accepting gifts even if its illegal by Israeli law."

The fact is that Bibi, with the exception of former Prime Minister Ehud Barack, is far and away the most experienced national leader in the country. He's the guy who has to take those telephone calls at three in the morning about an imminent security threat and what must be decided immediately. Even the harshest critics of Bibi and his wife Sara's extravagant lifestyle have to admit that Bibi is the only leader who knows his way around the likes of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. And with Iranian forces trying to move down to the Israeli border in Putin's Syria, and Israel's strategic dependency on Donald Trump, it's no wonder this dominates Israel's public opinion. Nor should this come as any surprise. Just consider Winston Churchill's leadership during the Battle of Britain. Let's say that during the war, a body of evidence emerged that Churchill was involved in some shady dealings, including huge gifts of his beloved and expensive cigars and cases of champagne from fat cats. And maybe more unsavory financial chicanery. Would the British public and legal system have demanded that he be prosecuted and possibly remove from office if found guilty? Obviously not. And Bibi's supporters that make up most of the 51% will admit that the Netanyahu's enjoy an extravagant lifestyle while adding, "you can't topple such an experienced Prime Minister for accepting gifts even if its illegal by Israeli law."

Bibi, in Sharon's footsteps?

Low and behold! Amid all this political excitement, the legal investigations simply faded away.

Bibi's present predicament is similar to the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's in 2005. Two separate tracks may have also converged for Sharon. At the time, Sharon was also being investigated for some minor financial dealings. One can only speculate whether there is a link between this and his latching-on to a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip of all IDF forces and civilian settlements in response to Palestinian terror attacks. This was readily accepted by the Israeli Left and Center, and far less-so in Sharron's Likud Party. But, by his sheer force of personality, Sharon bulldozed his plan through the ruling Likud Party, including the opposition of the then-finance minister Bibi Netanyahu. Low and behold! Amid all this political excitement, the legal investigations simply faded away.

It can be said that the Israeli public, by and large, was convinced that if the Palestinians ratcheted up the terrorism from unoccupied Gaza, Sharon would have a ready answer and lower the boom. Well, in fact, Hamas turned Gaza into a launch pad for rocketing Israel. That was 13 years and four mini wars ago and counting. At present, contacts are underway to try and reach a long-term ceasefire that will also cope with the abject poverty of the Palestinians in Gaza. The conclusion is that the legal process and national security are no strange bedfellows in the state of Israel, which is under continual threat of terrorism and war.

Trump slashes 200 million dollars aid to the Palestinians ...

UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East)

In 1948, some 600,000-750,000 Arabs living in Israel fled or were forced to flee the country after they and the entire Arab world rejected the UN two-state solution, and the local Palestinians with five Arab armies declared war on the 600,000 or so Palestinian Jews. They threatened an extermination of the Palestinian Jews comparable to the massacre of Genghis Khan. However, the Palestinian Arabs failed to drive the Palestinian Jews into the sea and ended up in numerous refugee camps in neighboring Gaza, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. With the exception of Jordan, where they now outnumber the indigenous Jordanian Arabs, they have been denied civil and national rights by their Arab brothers and sisters.

In contrast to the millions of refugees in other parts of the world, most notably in the India-Pakistan civil war also in the wake of WWII, the UN established a separate organization called UNWRA to supply open-ended aid to the Palestinian Arab refugees. Note that in the 1948 war launched by the Arabs a similar number of Jewish citizens in the neighboring Arab countries were stripped of their property and forced to leave their homes. Some also were killed in Arab pogroms. Most of them wound up in the reborn state of Israel where they were welcomed, received assistance, and went on to lead happy and productive lives.

UNWRA has been turned into a perpetual-motion organization by the Arab world to prolong the Palestinian refugee crisis rather than finding a reasonable and humane solution.

On the other hand, the Arab states forced the Palestinian Arab refugees into camps and neighborhoods where they have been restricted ever since, without citizenship. And that is why their numbers have burgeoned over the years to the huge number of an estimated 5 million people who automatically, year after year, receive UN aid. There is no other comparison with any other refugee problem in the world. The outcome of this unique situation is that UNWRA has been turned into a perpetual-motion organization by the Arab world to prolong the Palestinian refugee crisis rather than finding a reasonable and humane solution.

President Trump has now decided to put a stop to this egregious situation by cutting 200 million dollars from UNWRA. Bear in mind that most of the Arab countries of Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, most of the Gulf States, and Jordan now enjoy a de facto peace with Israel. Egypt and Jordan have signed peace agreements, and most of the others perceive the Jewish state as a valuable ally against their bitter enemy, Iran - a non-Arab and Shiite Muslim crazy state. Perhaps the time has come for UNWRA to be converted into an international project to resettle Palestinian refugees in new and decent homes, primarily in the Arab world. For obvious reasons, Israel would never agree to the return of millions of Palestinian Arabs to the Jewish state - an obvious prescription for Israel's eventual destruction.

John McCain - "a champion for Israel's cause"

Sentator John McCain on a trip to Israel meeting with PM Netanyahu, 2014 (CC GPO National Photo Collection)

John McCain was one of Israel's favorite American heroes. A fighter pilot who risked his life for his country and stood up to be counted as a true friend of the Jewish state. It can be said that most Israelis paused for a few seconds of personal mourning when they heard of his passing. President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu eulogized McCain in glowing terms as "a champion of Israel's cause".

For the vast majority of Israelis who have also worn their country's uniform and risked their lives on the battlefield, John McCain always had and always will have a special place of honor. It is a bond between patriots who have defended their country, perhaps above and beyond those who have not. So, we salute John McCain and let us end with what a he felt about so fervently.

"No American leader should be expected to sell a false peace to an ally, consider Israel's right to self-defense less legitimate than ours, or insist that Israel negotiate a political settlement while terrorism remains the Palestinians preferred bargaining tool."

"I think the state of Israel remains under significant threat from terrorist organizations as well as the continual advocacy of the Iranians to wipe it off the map!"





Political Analyst David Essing

 

David Essing

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