Netanyahu's Dovish 'New' Policy Is Draped in Hawk's Clothing

Netanyahu's speech before Knesset was undoubtedly his most dovish speech this term. More dovish even than the Bar-Ilan speech of two years ago.

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

Toward the end of her unusually heated speech, Tzipi Livni paused for several seconds and sighed. Her sigh reflected despair, pessimism, maybe helplessness.

Netanyahu and his ministers, near the cabinet table, burst into laughter. They saw Livni's sigh as a sign of despairing from becoming prime minister for a long time.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to the Knesset, May 16, 2011.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

Netanyahu's government was stable before and after his speech Monday, despite his presentation of a map of territorial principles for the first time. He spoke of preserving the settlement blocs, i.e. returning to the 1967 borders with slight adjustments. He also announced Israel would maintain "a military presence," rather than sovereignty, along the Jordan River. By this he adopted Dan Meridor's formula and Ehud Barak's position. These two have been urging him for two years to make such statements.

This was undoubtedly Netanyahu's most dovish speech this term. More dovish even than the Bar-Ilan speech of two years ago. But it was accompanied with a host of rightist mannerisms, aggressive and pessimistic statements and belligerent body language. It was a dove masquerading as a hawk.

The term "settlement blocs" may be a large step for Netanyahu, but this ancient phrase has been bandied about in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation rooms for over a decade. No European or American leader would swoon with excitement on hearing Netanyahu's willingness to give up isolated settlements. They probably wouldn't even believe him.

To sugarcoat the pill, Netanyahu chose to tell the Knesset that "most of the public" supports these principles (like a demilitarized Palestinian state, recognizing Israel as the Jewish people's national state and a united Jerusalem ).

Apparently before writing this and other speeches he prepared for the coming week, Netanyahu sent his public-opinion pollster out to check which way the wind was blowing. He reported his findings to the nation and its lawmakers yesterday, wrapping them around him like a blanket on a winter's day.

Netanyahu's speech was the prelude to his address to AIPAC in Washington next week and to the real thing - the meeting with President Obama and the speech in Congress. He will have to wrap the goods he sold to the Knesset yesterday with newer, shinier paper and perhaps pour new, more daring, ground-breaking content into the package.

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott