Israel’s prolonged political instability is having a detrimental impact on the country’s security, former ambassador to the US Michael Oren warned in a Jerusalem Post Zoomcast interview.
The world, Oren said, “is looking at us and finding us a little laughable, and given our strategic concerns, that is a prohibitive price to pay.”
Israel’s security is hurt, Oren said, when the world looks at it and chuckles. “Israel does not seem to get its act together, cannot elect a government. And the impression created is that a country that cannot elect a government also can not defend itself that well. It is a mistaken impression, but it is out there,” he said.
Watch previous Zoomcast: Israel Elections: 'Power of ultra-Orthodox parties will not be weakened' >>
Asked if this may tempt Israel's enemies, Oren replied, “I think it pleases Israel's enemies and under certain circumstances, it may tempt them.”
Regarding the political stalemate itself, Oren – a former Kulanu MK – said that the “first law of Israeli politics will hold true here, and the first law of Israeli politics is that Israeli politicians will always choose collective suicide over individual suicide.”
What this means, he explained, is that if Yamina’s Naftali Bennett, or Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, or Religious Zionist Party’s Bezalel Smotrich don’t get their way, “we could go to a fifth round of elections. In other words, ‘if I don’t become prime minister, no one is going to become prime minister.’”
Oren, who was appointed as ambassador in Washington by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and worked closely with him when during his years in Washington, addressed the question as to why Netanyahu will never step down, something that would immediately clear the political logjam.
Netanyahu sees himself “not as a leader in history, but a leader of history,” Oren said. “He has a great sense of his own legacy, his standing, his role in making Israel a great power, and is not going to buckle to what he sees as a conspiracy against him… this is against his DNA.”