Government Reins Are Slipping Through Netanyahu's Hands

It is becoming more and more apparent that the next elections will not take place as planned at the end of 2013, but long before then.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in political hot water. It is becoming more and more apparent that the next elections will not take place as planned at the end of 2013, but long before then. The list of his accomplishments is short and he's a dud in opinion polls. The reins of government are threatening to slip from his hands.

There was one momentary rise in Netanyahu's approval ratings: his media appearances during the Carmel fire. After that, his support quickly began to fade again, but Netanyahu keeps trying to reconstruct those moments.

Netanyahu illustration
Eran Wolkowski

And so he is trying to keep alive the image of the supertanker lent by the U.S. to douse the flames, forgetting about the light aircraft of local companies and a change in the direction of the wind that also contributed to putting out the fire.

The supertanker is in a way the younger brother of the Hercules C-130 transport plane, which came to symbolize the rescue of the Entebbe hostages in 1976.

A few days ago, Netanyahu tried to fly his supertanker into the socio-economic arena: addressing the lack of affordable housing for young couples.

Proposals for a solution are lying on the desks of the Knesset, but Netanyahu does not want to share the victory with anyone. He wants to look like the citizens' savior. And so Bibi the firefighter is now Bibi the builder.

Netanyahu's plan is a classic case of pulling the wool over our eyes. The system, which he speaks of derogatorily as "bureaucratic," is certainly atrocious but not impossible to navigate.

A complete disregard of the need for central planning and a discounting of opposition from the potential victims of the plans of land developers and other interested parties is likely to provide an opening for corruption and abuse.

It is possible to imagine how Netanyahu and his wife would respond if neighbors in Jerusalem or Caesarea suddenly built an unruly addition without consulting the authorities or neighbors.

The 18 months Netanyahu has budgeted for his plan are supposed to grant him political credit. If elections take place within the next year and a half, Netanyahu can claim he is moving in the right direction, since it is still too early to judge the results.

The positive aspect of Netanyahu's plan lies in the discovery that he can act quickly and energetically toward an important goal. But for some reason, he has not yet begun to implement this aspiration on the diplomatic front, not even to his legal obligation to evacuate unauthorized outposts in the territories.

Perhaps he truly believes that it is harder to tear down than to build.