What Up, Bibi?
Things have gotten weird(er) in Israeli politics of late. The Knesset is notorious for its volatile exchanges from time to time. Add to the mix Arab representatives that hate the state, and you have the recipe for some real trouble.
The Likud Party, the one that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads, is sort of the equivalent of the Republican Party in the States (at least, the former perception of the GOP as the “conservative” party). In fact, Likud and Republican officials have been chummy for years. The Likud’s national platform has always been Zionist in its foundations, and remember, it was the party that Menachem Begin rode to power in Israel in 1977. Until then, Israel had been ruled by the socialist-leaning Labor Party.
When Netanyahu won the chairmanship of the Likud in the 1990s, and then the prime minister’s seat in 1996, he was in his mid-40s. His staunchly Zionist father, Benzion, had instilled in his sons a love for Zion.
But when one moves full-time into politics, one is forced to compromise. I’m speaking of conservative politicians. The Left never moves one centimeter to the right, always demanding concessions from the Right.
When Netanyahu assumed power in 1996 (after a razor-thin win over Shimon Peres), he was forced to go along with the recently enshrined “Oslo Accords,” whereby Israel agreed to a staged plan that would eventually see a Palestinian state.
(I once asked a former aid to Yitzhak Rabin why the wily old general-turned-politician had ever agreed to Oslo; Rabin had been the architect of the Six Day War victory and was one tough old hombre. The aid replied that the PM’s wife, Leah, pressured him to accept it. Leah Rabin was a hardcore Leftist. Interesting perspective.)
Netanyahu always knew the Palestinian leadership was corrupt and duplicitous. He knew what Yasser Arafat was: a cold-blooded killer never interested in nation-building. That George H.W. Bush forced the Israelis to the negotiating table is a travesty that will go down as a dark moment in American diplomacy.
By the end of the ‘90s, as Palestinian terror brought new horrors, Netanyahu dug his heels in. This infuriated the Clinton team, and in 1999, Ehud Barak defeated Netanyahu in elections.
Interestingly, Barak’s willingness to give the PLO almost everything it officially claimed made him look weak and in 2001, he was defeated by Ariel Sharon.
The old “Bulldozer” then followed the pattern all major Israeli leaders eventually find themselves in: appeasement. His 2005 pullout from Gaza paved the way for Hamas rule in the Strip.
It became clear many years ago that the Palestinian society, raised for generations on Jew-hatred, is nowhere near ready to live in peace with Israel.
And when I visit with Israeli friends, those on the Right and the Left, they are more unified against Palestinian demands than their leaders usually are.
So…in the past week, Netanyahu announced a bombshell: he would support the 2002 Saudi Peace Plan, which calls for normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world, in exchange for Israel withdrawing to the 1967 lines.
This has always been thought of as suicidal for Israel. The truth is we cannot know at all what is in Netanyahu’s mind. We can guess.
My guess is he never supported Oslo and he doesn’t really support the Saudi plan. My guess is, he’s hoping that one day, the international community will wake up and realize a new paradigm is called for regarding a Palestinian homeland.
Maybe the Saudis can come up with a plan to relocate the Palestinians in their territory.
On the heels of Netanyahu’s announcement came an equally surprising announcement by brand-new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman that he would support the Saudi plan, too!
Liberman has been a hawk for a long time, and supposedly recently said that within 48 hours of being appointed Defense Minister, he would order the assassination of Hamas terrorist leader Ismail Haniyeh.
As of this writing, Haniyeh is still breathing.
On the one hand, Israel has navigated an impossible environment remarkably well over the years. On the other hand, their concessions are seen as weakness by their enemies, and so the whole pattern repeats itself endlessly.
I do not believe that America’s top political and diplomatic leadership cares for Israel at all. They know their constituents do, so they lie to us and the Israelis when proclaiming their support for Israeli security.
Where this will all end up is anyone’s guess. However, I do not believe that when it gets right down to it, any Israeli leader will put a gun to his nation’s head. I believe the Saudi nonsense is just that, and I’ve always believed Israel will never allow Iran to get nukes.
Few realize that Iran’s real nuclear ambitions began more than 40 years ago, under the Shah. The plan then was to build 20 nuclear reactors. Of course, when the mullahs took over in 1979, all that became super scary.
And in the bizarro world we now live in, Iran is fighting against ISIS in the Iraqi city of Fallujah…even as the Americans have joined the Iraqi army in this effort, along with both Sunni and Shia militias!
According to a report from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center:
“Since the beginning of the Fallujah campaign reports published by
the Iranian media have emphasized the participation of Iran and the Iraqi Shi’ite militias operating under Iranian direction in the fighting.
“According to the reports, Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, is present in the Fallujah area and plays a central role in conducting the campaign.”
Welcome to geopolitics in the Age of Obama.
Israel has to navigate all this insanity, while still growing their economy and maintaining security.
What exactly Bibi is up to is anyone’s guess.
But something tells me he hasn’t forgotten his roots. Not at all.