Netanyahu against the world - analysis

Netanyahu went through three elections to get 18 months in power to implement the annexation plan, and he is not going to squander it.

Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Benjamin Netanyahu
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Washington in January for the unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, he had unprecedented support behind him.
His main competition in the upcoming election, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, wholeheartedly endorsed the plan, as did leaders from across the Israeli political spectrum excluding the disempowered far Left.
Netanyahu even boasted to The Jerusalem Post a month after the plan’s unveiling that if a Democrat would win the November US presidential election, he would have no choice but to implement the plan.
Since then, that consensus has crumbled little by little, proving that unveiling the plan when it was still half-baked, in order to boost Netanyahu politically, may not have been the smartest move in retrospect.
Five months after Gantz praised the plan in Washington, he is now saying that recovering from the coronavirus is more urgent. Gantz, who just hired a team of new advisers, is acting increasingly independent.
“A major political incident that can dismantle the government could happen any day,” Gantz warned in an interview with Ynet on Tuesday, in which he flexed long underused political muscles and revealed his still existent spine.
The Right, which was in Netanyahu’s pocket when the plan was revealed, is arguably more divided now than it has been in 28 years, when a number of splits in the camp helped elect Yitzhak Rabin as prime minister. When Trump’s plan is debated on the airwaves, the most interesting debates are not between Right and Left but between one settler leader and another.
Shortly after the plan’s release, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett said the country was standing before a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “determine the territory or our country” and “an opportunity to bring all the Israeli settlements in the Land of Israel into the sovereign State of Israel.”
Now Bennett is warning from the opposition against key elements in the plan, and his political partner, Yamina faction head Ayelet Shaked told the Post’s conference on Tuesday that if Netanyahu takes steps toward creating a Palestinian state, the Right is done with him.
Right-wing American Jewish leaders who came to the plan’s unveiling have been strangely silent lately, and more mainstream US Jewish leaders have been keeping their distance, waiting for the final version of the plan to come out.
Trump’s advisers are reportedly also divided. And if Netanyahu had Joe Biden in mind when he spoke about a Democratic president implementing the plan, he either spoke too soon or knows something the world doesn’t about what Biden says behind closed doors that is very different than what he says on the campaign trail.
The good news for Netanyahu is that none of the people he has lost can stand in the way of him implementing the plan, no matter what its final version will say.
If proponents of the plan initially praised it for putting decisions in Israel’s hands, it now puts decisions in the hands of the prime minister. Netanyahu went through three elections to get 18 months in power to implement the plan, and he is not going to squander it.
It is Netanyahu against the world. And that is the way he has always liked it.