There are moments when you can’t help but be proud of Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu. Whether he is “shining a light” or drawing red lines at the UN,
confronting the most powerful man in the world in the Oval Office, or most
recently, reprimanding an anti- Israel Arab MK for predicting Israel’s demise in
the Knesset plenum – Netanyahu has a knack for speaking the truths most Jewish
leaders cower from mentioning.
But Israel needs more than a media savvy
leader who can turn a phrase and draw a red line on a cardboard
Israel, a country under constant diplomatic pressure, needs a
leader who can set policy lines and stick to them. Without such an unyielding
stance, the cycle of pressure, concessions and terror will reemerge and upend
the relative peace we enjoy today.
Despite his great promise, since
reassuming the office of the prime minister in 2009, Netanyahu has proven he is
not that leader, having crossed just about every one of his own red lines,
reversing long held positions on numerous occasions.
career he said that a Palestinian state, even with “demilitarized” status, would
be a grave danger to Israel. Shortly after forming a government in 2009, he
endorsed it, and has since repeated that endorsement over and over
That shift had more than semantic significance.
minister his public statements in favor of Palestinian statehood have
perpetuated, perhaps even resuscitated, the illusion that a Palestinian state
can be created in a manner which does not endanger the lives of Israeli citizens
and Israel’s long-term security. And it has been the basis for the policy of
concessions he has pursued since.
The first of those concessions was the
Netanyahu has said he wants to see Jewish communities
in Judea and Samaria flourish, that anyone who blames the conflict on
settlements is “confusing cause and effect,” and that settlements should be
allowed “natural growth.”
But he froze settlements repeatedly and at an
unprecedented level. First for 10 months – merely to get negotiations
While that was supposed to be a onetime measure, he then agreed
to extend it another two months. While the Obama administration thankfully
dropped the demand for the extension, Netanyahu has nevertheless unofficially
frozen building off and on again ever since.
With the freezes, Netanyahu
transformed our national claim and security need for Judea and Samaria as well
as the Jewish communities there into diplomatic bargaining chips to be
eventually traded in.
He has said Israel must not release terrorists –
another staple of his political career. But in his last term he released 1,027
terrorists for a single soldier in one of the most unbalanced prisoner exchanges
of all time, outdone only by his predecessor’s release of a similar amount of
terrorists in exchange for dead bodies. And soon the amount of terrorists
Netanyahu has released will increase by 104, if not more.
Under his watch
convicted murderers have been transformed into political prisoners, a new
Palestinian propaganda victory.
In his recent open letter to the public
justifying the upcoming releases, he referred to the fact that Israeli
governments that preceded his own have released over 10,000 terrorists. Instead
of being a bulwark against this morally despicable and dangerous trend,
Netanyahu has, in his own right, increased that number by 10
Netanyahu has said that Israel would never retreat to the
pre-1967 lines, even with adjustments (“It’s never gonna happen.”), but has
repeatedly stated that his core territorial demand in Judea and Samaria is
retaining only the settlement blocs, which sources close to him have said means
relinquishing up to 90% of the territory. Now he has agreed to negotitions which
aim – whether Israel publicly affirms it or not – at the establishment of a
Palestinian along the pre-1967 lines.
During his first term, Netanyahu
was excused on the theory that he was pressured into reluctantly adopting these
Unlike his leftist counterparts whom he has replaced or
defeated at the polls, it was thought that he surely did not believe that making
tangible concessions which would endanger our security was a price worth paying
for the elusive and fleeting diplomatic high ground. And surely, he would not be
the prime minister to establish a Palestinian state.
These excuses have
since been proven invalid.
Even as US pressure has softened there has
been no softening in Netanyahu’s preference for Palestinian
Instead, the tempo of his declarations in favor of Palestinian
state have increased.
This is exemplified by Netanyahu’s recent adoption
of what he once called the “apocalyptic” predictions by “Malthusian”
“demographiliacs,” according to which Israel cannot remain a Jewish state
without establishing a Palestinian state. The implication of these predictions
is that Israel must withdraw from most of Judea and Samaria regardless of the
It was this same argument which was used to justify both Ariel
Sharon’s Disengagement Plan and Ehud Olmert’s aborted Convergence
Since forming a government, Netanyahu has made the argument over
and over again.
And now he has committed Israel to negotiations, which as
mentioned, aim at establishing a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines and
require a release of at least 104 convicted terrorists.
It is understood, of course, that no matter what is agreed to, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will not be concluded.
This cannot be described as a policy of avoiding
pressure and concessions. It is a policy of concessions.
So while the
prime minister may sometimes talk like Winston Churchill, this is not the policy
of a Churchill, or a Begin, or even the Netanyahu-image we superimpose on the
Netanyahu who actually leads our country.
This is the policy of an Ehud
Olmert, a Tzipi Livni or a Shimon Peres.
I don’t know who should replace
Netanyahu as the leader of the nationalist camp. But it is meaningless to say,
as many do, that there is “no alternative” to Netanyahu, when he himself is not
an alternative, but in practice, if not in intent, the same as his competitors
from the Left.