In the past week we've once again witnessed the intolerable gap between the declarations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his deeds in practice. But for the first time since he was elected, it seems that the Israeli public was compelled to see the price we must pay for that gap.
The fire in the Carmel demonstrated the painful cost in human life of continuing neglect of the emergency services, which are supposed to provide a response during the war Netanyahu regularly threatens us with. Similarly, his rejection of the American attempts to persuade him to renew the settlement building freeze could exact a high price from Israel in the form of American bridging proposals that are closer to the Palestinian position and a "reassessment" of the American veto as the Palestinians ignite a diplomatic intifada.
These failures expose the fraudulent play staged by Netanyahu in which the audience, as usual, pays the price.
Firstly, while it is again becoming clear to everyone that the nuclearization of Iran is a threat to the entire Arab world, Netanyahu has almost succeeded in appropriating it for Israel by creating a linkage between the American effort against Tehran and his readiness to renew the diplomatic process. While the Americans, in return for extending the settlement building freeze, proposed an aid package whose essence is improving Israel's ability to cope with the Iranian threat, Netanyahu preferred to defend Israel by building hundreds of housing units outside the settlement blocs. While hinting at military action, he ensured in practice that Israel would find it hard to deal with even a fire, which is a certain result of a rocket attack.
Secondly, despite his declarations about the importance of the strategic alliance with the United States, he is straddling the wedge between the president and Congress. He chose to exchange the intimate relationship with the president and his administration, based on a deep sense of common interests and shared values, for paper documents. He is heading toward a loss of the American veto in the United Nations Security Council, which Israel has benefited from for decades. Through a sweeping application of the settlement building freeze, contrary to the initial American proposal last year, he undermined former President George W. Bush's recognition of the need to consider the settlement blocs in a final agreement, and he even demoted the Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to the status of unauthorized settlement outposts.
Thirdly, despite his declaration regarding "two states for two peoples," no significant move has been made to advance it. On the contrary, Netanyahu wanted to condition the negotiations on Palestinian recognition of Israel's Jewish character, even though the issue has been in our pocket since the Balfour Declaration. During the freeze he chose to express his understanding of separation from the Palestinians by approving the construction of 3,500 housing units in the settlements. And in order to show his readiness to pay "painful prices" for peace, he even saw to it that the referendum bill would be passed by the Knesset.
Fourthly, Netanyahu did not forget to "promote" the regional picture. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has contributed more to the loss of the strategic relationship with Turkey, but the events aboard the provocative flotilla to Gaza, the humiliation of the Turkish ambassador and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's threats are certainly not helpful. The Arab League initiative, tenaciously held intact by Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, is not on the agenda of the forum of seven senior ministers, which views it as a "non-starter."
Finally, we should not forget the prime minister's efforts to improve relations between Jews and Arabs through the loyalty declaration law, and to widen the circle of workers and burden-sharing through the draft-dodging law. After two years of empty promises, Israel has begun to pay the full price of Netanyahu's hollow policy of survival.
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