Why Now Bibi?

Why Now Bibi?

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

It appears that at the end of the day Netanyahu is a politician and not a statesman. He is always looking at the political angle, even when it is not necessary. There is no logical explanation for the decision to “grab” –as it is being called in the media—the almost 4000 dunams (approximately 1000 acres) of land near the Gush Etzion bloc; at least at this time. Bibi asserted that he went to war against Gaza because of the tragic murder of the three Yeshiva teenagers and now he announced his intention to move ahead with his new building plans, also because of their murder by Hamas supporters.

To be clear, the issue here is strictly one of timing. Given an opportunity to demonstrate a new image for Israel in the post Gaza War phase, as well as the fact that the just reported blow-up between Hamas and the PA in Doha (of which Israel apparently had been privy), why take this action at this moment? Why alienate once again friends and supporters who themselves had been less than universally and consistently supportive of Israel during the war? With the U.N. General Assembly meeting forthcoming in a few weeks with President Obama and likely Netanyahu in attendance, why elevate the discomfort level with the U.S. which has made clear its opposition to additional settlements?

The only explanation is to please internal political forces within the Likud Party and among his right wing coalition partners. Netanyahu knows that the right has nowhere else to go at this time politically, despite threats that they may make to the contrary. Similarly, there is no potential winning opposition leader emerging—even in the post Gaza War period—who could threaten the Netanyahu led Government. Imagine if Bibi—knowing the situation within the Palestinian camp and where Abbas was headed given the now public intelligence reports —had jumped into a new peace-making mode, what a different picture would have emerged around the world!

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