Israeli officials were quoted Monday morning as saying that the European
decision to summon ambassadors to be scolded over Israeli building in the West
Bank was an attempt to intervene in the Jewish state’s politics.
officials suggested that the Europeans were trying to harm Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu politically ahead of the January 22 election, and help former
foreign minister Tzipi Livni’s new party.
If that was their intention,
they clearly do not understand Israeli politics.
Had Netanyahu gone
against the world to take a step seen as controversial in the eyes of the
Israeli public, perhaps it could have harmed him politically.
prime ministers have been punished in the past for thumbing their nose at the
But building in settlement blocs and planning to
develop the area between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim is as close to consensus
as it gets.
Netanyahu responding in such a way to the Palestinians
breaking their commitments in the Oslo Accords with the world’s support was very
much a populist move, especially in an election when the excess of Center-Left
parties provides the prime minister with an interest in pursuing the reservoir
of votes on the Right.
The Europeans condemning Netanyahu for taking that
step only magnifies it, and helps him reap the political benefits of the move
Every time Europe shouts, chances are Netanyahu will win a few
A Panels poll broadcast on the Knesset Channel on Monday
found that 69 percent of first-time voters said they identified with the Right.
That number could be alarming to the Europeans who want Israel to make
compromises with the Palestinians.
But a poll published Sunday by
renowned pollster Stanley Greenberg balances that poll out. The Greenberg poll
found that the top priority of Israelis is the socioeconomic issue.
no coincidence that Greenberg works for Labor, which is trying to capitalize on
the popularity of the socioeconomic issue, especially among young people who
filled the streets in the summer 2011 protests.
Hopes on the Left that
Israelis will finally vote on the socioeconomic issue rather than on war and
peace – a change that could potentially make the next Knesset more moderate on
the Palestinian issue – are now being threatened by politicians.
Tzipi Livni. Polls show her impact since her return has been negligible. She
gobbled up votes that once belonged to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s
Independence Party and Kadima – but not much else.
The politicians who
are harming the Israeli Left and helping Netanyahu are British Foreign Secretary
William Hague, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and their Scandinavian
counterparts who sent their staff to grill Israeli diplomats.
continue to make such mistakes, after January 22 they could end up dealing with
a larger Likud-Beytenu – with less of a mandate to make concessions that the
Europeans deem so integral to making peace.