Netanyahu at cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/POOL)
Netanyahu normally takes a vacation to the Galilee during August. The month is about to end, and he obviously has not been able to indulge himself.
Netanyahu has had a tough month.
Normally when an Israeli prime minister embarks on a military operation, he has to choose between taking steps that the public wants taken and doing what the international community wants him to do.
Netanyahu limited the IDF to measured steps in Gaza that according to the polls did not satisfy Israelis, yet he received no credit from the international community for holding back. He has faced harsh criticism from both, inside and outside.
US President Barack Obama wanted him to end the operation prematurely, Britain toyed with a partial arms embargo, and the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed the latest version of its usual kangaroo court to investigate Israel and whitewash Hamas.
On the Right, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman condemned Netanyahu for making a deal with Hamas. On the Left, opposition leader Isaac Herzog called him the prime minister of gloom.
For a prime minister who is said to take polls seriously, the surveys are as bad as can be. According to Channel 2’s poll, he fell from an 82 percent satisfaction rate at the peak of the operation on July 23 to only 32%.
Channel 10’s poll found that 75% of Israelis believe he should have toppled Hamas. When asked if they felt more secure personally due to the operation, 60% said they felt less secure and only 19% said more.
The prime minister’s messages about how Israel vanquished its enemies and won the war have obviously not sunk through.
Despite all that, Netanyahu does not need to worry. He just needs to work.
If he succeeds in getting life back in order in the South, starting school on time across the country, and preventing rocket and mortar fire for an extended period, public opinion will improve.
The Knesset will remain on its extended summer and holiday break until October 27. When it finally returns, it will focus on passing the 2015 state budget and on matters of religion and state.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett has toned down his rhetoric. Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid said none of the coalition parties has an interest in expediting elections.
And the focus of the international community has already left Gaza for Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.
So Netanyahu still cannot relax. But it is not all bleak for Bibi.