Leading to Where?
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Israeli politics today shows that while many Israelis are angry with Bibi, afraid of his leadership, and the direction in which he is taking the country; there are no seriously viable political alternatives. Netanyahu could be exploiting this moment in the post-Iran agreement contretemps and before his November 9th scheduled meeting with Obama. The on-going random terrorist attacks against Israelis may well come to an end—certainly for the time being—if the Israeli-Jordanian agreement concerning the camera installation on the Temple Mount to preserve the status quo is implemented.
Now would be the perfect time for Israel not to flex its muscles and not to try to score more points with his coalition partners on the right. Netanyahu could demonstrate true statesmanship and show all his critics that he does not need to continually kowtow to his right. Even if he personally believes that such a policy is correct, he could approach this moment with a realization that Israeli is truly in a controlling position.
Nasty, hostile, aggressive talk and policy will do no good for Israel and will only encourage the growing anti-Israel feeling. There is still genuine strain in the Obama Administration over the Iran fight; the BDS movement is accelerating in Europe; Jordan reportedly almost broke relations with Israel; France continues to make noise about pushing for a Security Council resolution either about settlements or the Temple Mount; Angela Merkel was embarrassed by Netanyahu in being forced unnecessarily to reiterate Germany’s responsibility for Hitler’s actions; and the Gulf States appear to be growing much colder towards Israel due to the Temple Mount explosion. In addition to everything else Netanyahu must not be especially pleased with the clear track that Hillary now may have not only for the Democratic nomination but also, given the fractious behavior of the Republican candidates, possible election in November 2016. Fanning flames at this time, when Israel’s overall safety and security is in place–except for the horrible random attacks—makes no sense.
Finally, Netanyahu has been unable to control his ministers and parliamentary partners who continue to seek any and every opportunity to push the coalition even harder. He does not need to respond to their demands because his coalition partners have no options. Bibi needs to stop talking and affirming Israel’s power. Let the current confrontation cool down, let there not be a third intifada, and stop signaling moves which will frustrate the U.S. and the entire international community. Eventually, Bibi will be politically challenged so it would behoove him to broaden his support base and not re-enforce a very small political margin.