As Netanyahu Rampages, Israel's Interests Are but Collateral Damage

The prime minister has become a ticking cluster bomb, discharging its lethal load at timed intervals and destroying the remains of Israel’s standing in the world.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Credit: Reuters

Three consecutive events, initiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, make it clear that hidden within the campaign propaganda are genuine threats to Israel’s security and standing.

The assumption that the killing on the Golan Heights of the senior Hezbollah figures and the Iranian general, which has been attributed to Israel, was necessary is not convincing. Israel has already suffered lethal retaliation, in which two soldiers were killed. It would have been possible to accept the claim, by senior officers and by cabinet ministers, according to which no political considerations were behind the operation, had it had coincided with the growing disagreement with the United States over Netanyahu’s address to Congress.

Washington hastened to tell Israel that since it had no intention of taking part in its election campaign, U.S. President Barack Obama did not intend to meet with Netanyahu during his visit. Moreover, Israel’s friends, both Republicans and Democrat, viewed Netanyahu’s visit as a diplomatic “terror attack” whose purpose was more to bypass their president than just another effort to warn against the Iranian threat. The result is that Israel’s ability to influence the international community in general and the Americans in particular has fallen victim to the marketing strategy aimed at heightening Netanyahu’s electoral charm.

And before the storm passed the government decided to throw another firebomb onto relations with the United States and Europe, publishing on Friday tenders for 450 new homes in the settlements. Some may be repeat tenders, but the timing of their publication was no coincidence. They could have waited another six weeks, but then they would not have served Netanyahu’s election campaign.

There is no coincidence in the three centers of fire set by Netanyahu, each representing a different aspect of the same propaganda: On the Golan Heights, Netanyahu sought to demonstrate his military leadership; in Congress, his ability to stand up to a president he views as hostile to Israel and in expanding the settlements, his determination to meet the right’s demands. Netanyahu is removing all the brakes that guided him in office, cruising at full throttle in an election race in which Israel’s interests are considered marginal compared to his lust for victory.

Netanyahu has become a ticking cluster bomb, discharging its lethal load at timed intervals and destroying the remains of Israel’s standing in the world. The Israeli public, now fearing Netanyahu’s next surprise, should review the balance sheet carefully ahead of the election and settle its accounts with him.

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