Time will come when Israel may not hold all the trumps it holds today, but Bibi’s response to Abbas’ New York Times interview truly boggles the mind. While can one can argue that the interview was in English and did not appear in an Arabic newspaper, etc., Abbas did set forth some very interesting markers to which one might have assumed the Prime Minister could have responded; constructively. Instead, once again Netanyahu lectured Abbas on what was missing; no mention of a Jewish State—which Obama did mention in the State of the Union Address.
Admittedly, Israel should not engage in negotiating in public, but why slam Abbas for also not putting all of his cards on the table at once and in public. It would appear that Israel could have used the Palestinians first, extensive, public proposal to respond directly to it or, at a minimum, not to criticize it. This effort could have helped Israel’s benefactors in Washington who are getting battered around by everyone, including–as they now admit–the Syrians. (Not only is the disposal of the Syrian gas proceeding to no one’s actual surprise much slower than expected; but the Geneva Syria talks were such a fiasco that the U.S. is reportedly now considering actually arming the non-Al Qaeda back rebels.)
Abbas did play this round much smarter than Bibi, and he will get a bit of Kerry’s goodwill. Meanwhile, all Bibi has to show for his performance is to once again demonstrate to Bennett as well as his own Likud followers that he can be as tough as they are.