When Benjamin Netanyahu raises his eyes, he sees a reality most Israelis don't see. The calm on the borders is not accidental, he argues in closed rooms. The calm is a result of the firm deterrence policy he has introduced. The economic growth is no gift from God either. The growth is a result of the reforms he generated as finance minister and the policy he is spearheading as prime minister.
The NIS 30 billion Netanyahu is designating for infrastructure is about to create a transportation revolution. The NIS 7 billion he is investing in teachers, schools and higher education are about to generate a vital revolution. Already the high growth (4.5 percent ) and new work places (120,000 ) are turning Israel into a good place to live in. Breaking the tycoons' control over our mobile phones and gas deposits is turning Israel into a fairer, freer place. Only the media remains as it was - hostile, persecutive, driven by ulterior motives. So the problem is not Israeli reality but Israeli media. Those who are supposed to tell the public the truth are twisting the truth to topple the government.
Netanyahu's defense sheet in the matter of the Carmel fire is very decisive: Had not the prime minister acted as he did, considerable parts of northern Israel would have burned down. The failure of the aerial fire extinguishing system is the failure of the Kadima governments, which the Likud government is now trying to fix.
In contrast, his defense in a series of other matters is weak. It has no acceptable answer to the weakness displayed by the prime minister's bureau, the government's make-up and the leadership problem. It offers no reasonable explanation for the dark, reactionary legislation, the incitement and racism. It does not come to grips with the sense of depression, of going nowhere, of disintegration.
In closed conversations with aides and confidants Netanyahu refuses to discuss the peace process. If he has a secret, he isn't disclosing it. However, prominent figures who recently met the prime minister are convinced he is working on something. He reads the map, knows his days are numbered and is trying for a breakthrough. This is why he sent several drilling rigs to several possible peace-fields. This is why he carried out several in-depth drilling jobs. So far peace has not burst out, but some of the findings are encouraging. The sea is stormy, the challenge is hard, there is no knowing what the outcome will be. But there is no doubt that Benjamin Netanyahu is making a supreme effort these days to surprise us.
Developments are to be expected in the next few weeks. Confidence-building gestures will be taken, some of them significant. The economic peace will bring about the inauguration of projects the like of which haven't been seen before. But these steps will not be enough. Netanyahu should know they must be followed by declaring a new Israeli policy. A Bar-Ilan speech B will be required.
If the prime minister indeed has a peace vision, he will have to present it to the international community. He will have to speak out clearly soon in the most dramatic way, in the most unique location.
Will the Bar-Ilan speech B lead to a breakthrough? It is not certain. According to the gathering testimonies, the strategic thinking of Netanyahu 2011 is surprising in both directions. In some areas he is considering astounding concessions. In other areas he is very rigid. He will not give up sovereignty in settlement blocs in the West Bank, he will not compromise on Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley and he will try to spare the settlers. On the other hand, as far as land exchange goes, he will display readiness to go far.
Thus, if Netanyahu opens his heart, a storm will break out. New dynamics will be created. This will challenge Barak Obama, Abu Mazen and Tzipi Livni as well.
Time is running out. Lieberman is running amok, Labor is falling apart, the Palestinians are going to the United Nations. Netanyahu's only chance is to state his emerging truth and try to implement it. Will he have the strength to do so? The coming months are critical. For Benjamin Netanyahu, the next 100 days are the last.
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