For Zion's Sake: Netanyahu is no alternative

Netanyahu transformed our national claim and security need for Judea and Samaria into diplomatic bargaining chips to be eventually traded in.

Modiin Illit construction 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen)
Modiin Illit construction 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen)
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 poster.
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.
Throughout his 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 again.
That shift had more than semantic significance.
As prime 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 settlement freeze.
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 started.
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 percent.
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 policies.
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 statehood.
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 dangers.
It was this same argument which was used to justify both Ariel Sharon’s Disengagement Plan and Ehud Olmert’s aborted Convergence Plan.
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.