Israel is missing the opportunity of the century

The lack of a functioning, stable government has led us to a historic blunder.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks at his watch before delivering a statement at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks at his watch before delivering a statement at the Knesset, Israel's parliament,
(photo credit: REUTERS)
We have always accused the Palestinians of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity. This is an accurate if sad assessment of their predicament, and a consequence of having a morally bankrupt leadership. At every given juncture when Palestinian leaders were given the choice between conflict and stability, they chose conflict. When they had the choice between statehood and terrorism, they chose terrorism. Ultimately their people have suffered because of the intransigence and plain selfishness of their leaders.
I shudder to compare any Israeli leadership to that of the Palestinians, but the people of Israel are currently victims of a different sort of intransigence from our own leaders. We are caught in a political deadlock that is freezing the development of our country, and which will very soon affect our ability to function on a day-to-day basis. We are quickly approaching the reality of no new budgets in both government ministries and municipal authorities.
But even worse, the lack of a functioning, stable government has led us to a historic blunder. We are missing what may very well be the opportunity of the century. With each passing day we are missing the opportunity to benefit from the partnership of the most pro-Israel administration is US history.
Like many politicians on the Right in Israel, I too hope that President Trump is re-elected for another term. But as we know, elections are unpredictable. What is crystal-clear is that we are wasting every hour of every day that we could be could be using to create a better Israel because we are stuck on silly infighting and ego wars.
In the few short years of the Trump administration we have scored more diplomatic achievements than ever in the history of our people, short of creating our own state. Things move slowly in government – processes are put in place that take decades to bear fruit, to shift minds and find budgets to build consensus.
It was 20 years ago that the American government decided to move the embassy to Jerusalem. However, there was a peace process along the way, sensitivities to consider, buzz words to live up to and a holy unspoken “status quo” that was forbidden to change. Along came President Trump. In three short years, he moved the US Embassy to our capital Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and declared the West Bank settlements legal. What more could have been accomplished if our leadership was not deadlocked?
Even the few dissenting voices on the Left that have tried in vain to convince us that these achievements are actually bad for Israel have trouble convincing themselves. Do they seriously believe that it is bad for Israel that our historical and eternal capital city is finally acknowledged? Is it bad for our country and the region that the Golan Heights is no longer disputed territory by a genocidal dictatorship sponsored by Iran that has killed half a million of its own people? Is it bad for our country that we should have decades-old communities thriving in a small part of our ancestral homeland?
THE ANSWER is clear: We are at an unprecedented historical juncture of opportunity, a window that God has opened, and we are foolishly and unnecessarily throwing it away.
The biggest culprit in my eyes is Avigdor Liberman. He is rightly recognized a genius political strategist who has bounced back from the corruption in his party, which he runs with an iron fist. He has also managed to convince the electorate that he cares about the unbalanced influence of the ultra-Orthodox in politics, the way that 10 years ago he convinced us that only he understood the Arabs here and their “real” agenda.
He may be correct about some of his claims, but make no mistake, he couldn’t care less. This is a crass political game that he is playing to perfection, making his electorate believe that his right-wing party would naturally go with a right-wing bloc, and then changing his mind and dragging the country into disarray for over a year.
He duped his electorate in the first round by making them believe that he was a son of the bloc, and then he duped his inflated electorate in the second round by making them believe he cares about haredi (ultra-Orthodox) political influence. So easily did they forget that he is second only to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at cutting deals with the haredim.
But what boggles the mind even more is Blue and White’s intransigence in not agreeing to let Netanyahu be prime minister for a mere five months. The reward for their miscalculation is that he will remain prime minister anyway as we go to a third round of elections.
President Reuven Rivlin offered a creative solution for the deadlock: a rotation, a caretaker prime minister and other political acrobatics to get everyone to agree. These were largely accepted by the Likud and rejected by Blue and White. They are rightfully scared that the minute they actually have to assume responsibilities and work with a Likud government, their party, made up of often ideologically opposed views, will ultimately fall apart.
As we approach the precipice of a third election, the historic window of opportunity for the Jewish people that is the Trump administration is slowly closing. If this is the last year we have of President Trump, our leaders should look long and hard in the mirror and ask themselves where they were when the Red Sea miraculously opened for us to cross. Tragically, they were busy fighting about who would cross first!
The writer is deputy mayor of Jerusalem and a member of the Likud Central Committee.