Netanyahu passes spin-detector test

What kind of political pressure is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Within the controversy over the metal detectors placed on the way up to the Temple Mount, analysts have been especially trying to detect what is in the Right and Left pockets of one man: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Analysts on the Left have been writing that Netanyahu has shifted to the Right because of pressure from the likes of Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett.
They noted that in past governments, Netanyahu had politicians from the Right and Left pressuring him and balancing each other out. He had Bennett, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman and hawkish Likud ministers on the Right. But he also had either Shimon Peres, Tzipi Livni, or Ehud Barak on the Left, or at least Moshe Ya’alon, who is unquestionably rightwing but had a moderating influence on key issues.
The thinking is that now Netanyahu has no pressure from the Israeli Left and not even from Washington, where former US president Barack Obama is long gone and current president Donald Trump is busy with his own problems.
But since when are metal detectors a right-wing issue? If he was really giving into right-wing pressure, Netanyahu would have done a lot more than put metal detectors on the Temple Mount. He would have built a synagogue there and gone up himself to pray.
And what kind of political pressure is Netanyahu facing when all the heads of the parties in his coalition have said in recent weeks they have no interest in early elections? The Knesset is going on a long vacation Monday night, making it impossible to topple the prime minister until the end of October, even if police recommend indicting him.
Analysts on the Right have been writing that Netanyahu is facing pressure from the left-wing media and international community to surrender to demands that he remove the metal detectors. They have warned that if Netanyahu does that, it would open the gates of hell to endless war.
But he sure hasn’t sounded lately like someone who cares about that pressure. If Europe still thinks it can pressure Netanyahu, the recording of him criticizing European leaders last week shows what he thinks of their attempts to influence his policies.
And on that trip to France and Hungary, Netanyahu basically ignored the media until the last day, when he made fun of their obsession with submarines and their failure to report about why he actually came to Europe.
So if pressure on Netanyahu from the Right and Left is overblown, what does that leave? Just actual professional security considerations.
Netanyahu’s statements Sunday focused on his consultations with security officials, including those in the field, who each made their recommendations for different plans of action. He vowed to run the current security situation calmly and responsibly.
Accordingly, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who protested against the government’s corruption on the streets of Tel Aviv Friday, canceled his vote of no-confidence in Netanyahu that was set to come to a vote in the Knesset on Monday.
“There will be time for criticism, but today we must unite against terror,” Lapid said.
While one can also judge Lapid’s decision to be apolitical through political eyes, he too can be given the benefit of the doubt in such testy times.
Lapid, like Netanyahu, can be judged as passing the spin detector test.