Netanyahu's Long History of Crying 'Wolf'

There is nothing the prime minister loves to talk about more than his unheeded predictions of a black future.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu illustrates his concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions during a UNGA address, Sept. 27, 2012.Credit: AP

In 1992, MK Benjamin Netanyahu said that within three to five years Iran would have a nuclear bomb. In 1993, he published an opinion piece in the Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth in which he predicted that by 1999 Iran would have a nuclear bomb, and argued that this was the greatest threat to us.

In July 1996, newly minted Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a special session of the U.S. Congress in which he warned of an Iranian bomb and said that the regime was approaching this goal with worrisome speed. In September 2002 “worried citizen” Netanyahu appeared once again before Congress. He encouraged its members to go to war against Iraq and said that there was “no doubt” that Saddam Hussein was approaching an atom bomb and his nuclear program was so advanced that he has centrifuges the size of “washing machines” (Saddam did not have a nuclear program). Netanyahu claimed that Saddam also had biological and chemical weapons (he didn’t) and warned that the moment the United States attacked, Saddam would launch these weapons against Israel and most interesting of all – he predicted that Saddam’s fall would have a particularly positive effect on the entire region, and might even lead to the fall of the regimes in Iran and Libya.

In November 2013, Netanyahu claimed that the interim agreement with Iran was the “deal of the century” for Tehran. He predicted that sanctions would collapse (even Israel concedes they didn’t) and that Iran would not hold to the agreement (it did).

There is nothing the prime minister loves to talk about more than his unheeded predictions of a black future. I said the Oslo Accords will bring Ashkelon under fire, you laughed at me. A check of Netanyahu’s record shows that he simply warns against things in almost every realm. In an environment like the Middle East, especially when you are prime minister for nine of the 19 previous years, there is a good chance that you will be right, but usually people simply forget the warnings that did not pan out.

In November 2004, after Yasser Arafat was hospitalized, Netanyahu predicted in conversation with journalists that the Palestinian Authority president’s successor would not come from among the known Palestinian leaders. At the end of 2004, Netanyahu envisioned that if the disengagement from Gaza took place, without a referendum, there would be “civil war” here.

In October 2011, still in the atmosphere of the social protests, Netanyahu told journalists “the global economy will go into 20 years of recession. That will impact all of us, without exception. We are going into a huge crisis. Huge! That’s not a spin of Netanyahu, write that it’s Netanyahu’s spin, the whole world will be talking about it in a few months.”

Netanyahu, as we recall, negotiated with Syrian President Hafez Assad over withdrawal from the Golan. When Netanyahu was leader of the opposition and with Assad’s son Bashar in office, he told me that if he were in power he would start negotiations with the junior Assad.

Netanyahu’s diplomatic-security message relies, ostensibly, on his warnings in real time, which, in our shortsightedness we did not heed. That leads to his next big claim – every centimeter from which we have withdrawn, whether in Lebanon or Gaza, ended up being filled by proxies of Iran. The conclusion – we must not withdraw. Did Netanyahu really issue such warnings?

In February 2000, then-former Prime Minister Netanyahu told me: “The security establishment did not allow me to withdraw unilaterally from Lebanon.” In October 2004, Netanyahu voted in the Knesset for disengagement. He said from the rostrum that the plan could end positively (yes, yes, he predicted that too), but it is also possible that it could end with missiles on Ashkelon. In the end, he voted for it. Only one week before the evacuation did he resign his post.

The absurdity of this election is that the PM is waving his disastrous diplomatic-security record and doing everything to avoid economic and social issues, in which he actually has chalked up some achievements.

The writer is a journalist with Channel 10 News.