Analysis: Netanyahu's overnight change of heart

It was somewhat ironic then that the overnight deal Netanyahu made with residents of Amona was reached at 3 on Sunday morning.

December 19, 2016 04:24
1 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: REUTERS)

One of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most effective commercials in his most recent reelection campaign featured a 3 a.m. phone call received by Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.

Neither of the heads of the main opposition party knew what to do when the phone rang, nor could they agree on which one of them should answer it. The message of the animated ad was that only Netanyahu could be trusted when the proverbial 3 a.m. phone call comes.

It was somewhat ironic then that the overnight deal Netanyahu made with residents of Amona was reached at 3 on Sunday morning.

At that fateful hour, Netanyahu doubled the number of Amona residents who could remain on the controversial hilltop, promised to give them an extra month in their current homes, and gave them an additional million shekels per family “to rehabilitate their lives.”

Whatever the settlers requested, they received.

In return, all the Amona residents promised was to leave peacefully and prevent a rerun of the painful images of settlers fighting policemen and soldiers when Amona was evacuated a decade ago.
After Amona residents agree to government deal, protestors pray and leave the outpost

That was really all Netanyahu wanted. Sources familiar with the proceedings said his goal going into the meeting was to achieve a peaceful evacuation at any cost.

Not negotiating from strength, Netanyahu gave up so much money that ministers were forced to accept a blind cut across the board in every ministry, just ahead of passing the state budget in its final readings. The ministers argued about some of the reasons given for the cut, but none of them complained about funding a peaceful evacuation.

To argue against funding a peaceful evacuation would have been raising their hand in favor of violence between Jew and Jew and against settling the West Bank.

There were 59 Amona residents who voted against the initial deal they were offered last week, even though they were told it was the last deal they would receive.

Those 59 people proved themselves to be better negotiators than Netanyahu and any of his ministers.

And they proved themselves to be stronger and more decisive at the moment of truth, even when that moment is 3 a.m.

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