Jul 2, 2009

Which way will Netanyahu go?

There are all sorts of rumors and assumptions about how the "rift" between the USA and Israel, or more specifically between Barak Obam and Benjamin Netanyahu, will play out in the coming weeks.

I do not make any assumptions as to what Obama's intentions are, nor about what Netanyahu is going to do.

I do, however, see 2 possible outcomes of all this.

1. Netanyahu will "mitkapel" - fold. It is not completely unrealistic to expect this. the pressure on him from the American government seems to be (if the media reports are to be trusted) enormous, and he has plenty of experience of folding and not implementing right-wing policy (which is what he is meant to represent) but left-wing policy.

If he does this, if he folds to US pressure, he can pretty much kiss the premiership goodbye. The Likud is the most left-wing party in the current government (I do not count Labor because only part of Labor is in, and they are insignificant anyway). If he freezes settlements, if he destroys settlements, etc. as a way of relieving himself of US pressure, he will be sure to cross the line that will drive most of the members of his government away.

2. the better outcome is that Netanyahu stands strong against US pressure and tells Obama to go take a hike. And instead of grovelling to find ways to throw bones to Obama to get him off our backs, he says "No more".

Personally I recommend Netanyahu take option #2. It might make things tense for a bit, and there might be some repercussions, but option #1 is a free-fall. if Netanyahu starts throwing bones at Obama and saying we'll stop this, we'll cut back that, we won't build here, we'll uproot there, he will only find the pressure increasing. Obama will see that pressure works with Netanyahu and will be unrelenting. nothing Bibi will do to appease him will be enough. And that will be Bibi's end.

if he stands strong, perhaps Obama will respect him and look for a different approach. Bibi will get nowhere by caving in to Obama.


  1. I only hope he's smart enough to agree with your analysis, Rafi. Does Bibi read your blog? :)

    Sorry to say, my money is on option #1.

  2. I agree with you that Bibi putting his foot down and saying "NO" to Obama is the only outcome which is in Israel's interest.

    However I think that the most probable outcome is neither of the options that you mentioned but somewhere in the middle - they will come up with a formula (e.g., finish construction that has already been started, or only construction in specific areas, or some other formula) which will allow both sides to claim that they didn't back down.

  3. you usually refrain from poitical comments/analysis

    chaval. this was pretty darn good.

  4. Rafi I think you're off the mark on this one. I don't know what you mean that the Likud is the left of this coalition.
    Besides Labor, (which Bibi views as a full partner despite their "rebels") Bibi's coalition is made up of 4 other sectoral parties none of whom will bolt over any understanding reached with Obama on this issue. Bibi kept Ichud HaLeumi out with this in mind.
    The main threat to Bibi is the fallout of a possible Lieberman indictment, not another gan in Neve Daniel, or Beis Medrash in Betar.

  5. Mul - Lieberman, at least on national issues, is to the right of Likud. Shas has become to the right of Likud (even if they were not always) - though I do not know how reliable that is. Aguda is a toss-up - depends on the day (I did not think of them when I wrote this). Bayit Yehudi is officially more to the right on national issues. if there is a complete freeze Netanyahu will face some trouble unless he brings serious concessions from Obama which is unlikely (though might happen)

    Garfield - I used to comment on politics more, but I sensed it interested the readers less. So I only comment on it now when I have to get something off my chest.

  6. I agree with Michael, I think it will be somewhere in the middle- I think that's why they call it "diplomacy".

    Also, it's silly for us not to get rid of the random outposts and it would definitely be a big bone to Obama that would show everyone how we're "curbing" settlements.

  7. I called it -

    I said:
    I think that the most probable outcome is neither of the options that you mentioned but somewhere in the middle .... which will allow both sides to claim that they didn't back down.

    Today's JPost headline:
    Israel and the US are moving toward a compromise solution on the settlement issue that might allow both sides to claim "victory," The Jerusalem Post has learned.


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