Time for Bibi to Start Looking Out for the Rest of Us

Having narrowly secured his political future in the recent election, it's time for Netanyahu – and the rest of the politicians – to secure Israel's future by restarting peace talks.

Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus
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Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there is no doubt you did more than enough for yourself, your royal image, your household, your wife, your reputation, your supporters – and your local ice-cream vendor. You convinced the people you were worthy of a third term and who knows? – maybe even a fourth. Maybe you will even be president one day. Peres set a precedent for the appropriate age.

Now, as you fight for your political future, the time has come for you to do something for us, the people. It’s time for you to bring us a peace settlement and restore our honor, which has been trampled around the world. Why, for example, did you even think of withholding NIS 100 million of the Palestinian Authority's tax and tariff revenues, thereby contributing to a flare-up in the territories? Intifadas don’t break out over one thing. They are born and nourished by an internal flame, by the Palestinians’ feeling that things cannot go on this way. An intifada is the smallest thing that could happen to us. We’re talking about a regional war that we’d be in the middle of, a war led by your far right wing.

Ask yourself, Bibi, who you think you are that you can provoke anyone you don’t like? Ask yourself why you need to continue the quarrel with Turkey. You’re the one who caused the stupid, bloody incident on the Mavi Marmara. You won’t lose an iota of respect if you end the crisis in a positive way. Ask yourself, too, why you had to intervene on behalf of the Republican candidate in the American presidential election. It’s no wonder you’re trembling a little now. But President Barack Obama is actually repaying you good for evil. He is coming in a conciliatory spirit. Instead of breaking your bones, he wants to help you reach a peace agreement. It’s time for you to step up from prime minister to leader.

The 28 days allowed for forming a government will end Saturday night. If you don’t form a government, you will have to ask for a two-week extension that will end four days before Obama arrives. That’s a pretty embarrassing situation. Either the president will cancel his visit or change the order of his travel itinerary. Neither choice is desirable. You would do well to remember that your Likud party did not achieve a great victory in the recent election. If not for the alliance with Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman, it wouldn’t have taken much for you not to be invited to the president’s official residence and given the task of forming the next government. To lead, you need to reach beyond your political nucleus, which will scuttle any peace agreement with the Palestinians, and bring in the good and moderate parties.

Obama, who has a Nobel Peace Prize for the peace he didn't make, cannot afford not to be involved up to his neck in the problems of the region during his second term. Anyone who thinks the current situation will continue indefinitely doesn’t understand what’s developing in the world. “Sit and do nothing” is not a practical option. Now that we’ve had a tiny taste of the riots in the territories, the fear is not of an intifada but of a deadly region-wide war. One need only look at the preparations we are making for defense against all kinds of arms and missiles to understand that this is the kind of war we cannot win and that the only option is a peace arrangement. Your status quo is destructive, Bibi, and it is endangering the country.

Even with your wings electorally clipped, you have forgotten nothing and learned nothing. Given the influence of Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett, the Haredim and the radical Likudniks, bringing Tzipi Livni on board to head talks with the Palestinians is something between a joke and a gimmick. Ask Olmert – in his opinion, Livni’s contribution to the many talks with the Palestinians was nil.

But at the moment, the biggest disappointment is Shelly Yacimovich, who is still focused on the price of cottage cheese and not even beginning to understand that her place is at the political-security front as part of the government. Her claim that she will support the government from the outside when peace comes is not an excuse. Such folly has never worked. Politicians are either in the government working against the right wing or out, wasting away in the opposition. How sad that such a great mind can think so small.

An archive photo of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, February 3, 2013.Credit: AP



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