Israel’s prospects under Netanyahu  Facebook 

June 9th, 2009  |  Published in Attualità, Politics by Aviel Attias

iltamarind_-_bibi_netanyahuA few days ago, a widely-read journal in Israel hosted an Op-Ed titled: ‘You better reach an agreement with Olmert than Netanyahu’. This article referred to the failure of negotiations between Hamas and Israel regarding Gilad Shalit. After 999 days in captivity, there is no clear sign whether the soldier will be back in time for upcoming holiday of Passover, to sit with his family to the festive dinner table. Yet the impression by which Netanyahu will not be as flexible as Olmert upon the price which Israel is willing to pay for the release of Shalit, is wrong. In all, Bibi can ‘bolt from the blue’ by being much more moderate than the international community appraise.

Netanyahu, in his last premiership was more flexible than Europe, the Arab world, and the United States would have thought, especially with regards to peace efforts and grand gestures to appease Arab leaders. Here is a short list and prospective measures that Netanyahu can [and perhaps will] execute.

Firstly, Gilad Shalit issue; Bibi, and its counterpart the future foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, are interested in having international community’s credits in order to promote urgent matters on other issues. A grand pardon which will be followed by the release of Hamas’s prisoners list in return for Gilad, will depict Netanyahu and Lieberman as more liberals and flexible that they have assessed. Also researches showed in the past that most of heaviest terrorists which has been released from Israeli prisons, changed profession. If not, Israeli technology would get them. Hence Lieberman and Bibi can attain international acclaim by signing an agreement with Hamas.

Secondly, the Palestinian peace process; Netanyahu, known in Israel as The Magician for rescuing Israel’s economy and turning reduction into growth, has a good reputation for being practical. In the last campaign he used the term ‘Economical Peace’, i.e. building cooperation (and in time confidence) between the Palestinians and the Israelis on an economical level. Netanyahu knows a simple truth – life is stronger than any ideology – when economies prosper and co-dependency grow the will and confident in both sides in peace is easier to practice. Netanyahu also pacifies those which are afraid from the ‘one state’ solution (which is naturally considered under these circumstances), due to his world view of how Israel should remain a Jewish democracy. Co-dependency doesn’t necessarily mean in the end a one state solution.

Thirdly, Benyamin Netanyahu is considered, by most of western leaders, as a reliable ally. For example, in 1997 when a failing attempt by the Mossad assassinating Khalid Mash’al took place in Amman, Netanyahu released Sheikh Ahmad Yassin from the prison in order to appease King Hussein and as an act of faith. A year later, King Hussein was a champion of Netanyahu’s commitment to the peace process with President Clinton and Yasser Arafat, when the Wye Plantation Agreement was in risk to become a ’shelf agreement’. Thus when considering Netanyahu’s declarations on respecting previous agreements with the Palestinians, world leaders can be assured – he speaks the truth.

Fourthly, and perhaps the most important, Netanyahu faces an historical term, in which he will be remembered as the prime minister who saved Israel and the middle east from a nuclear Iran, or will go down as the last fallen guardian of Israel’s sense of regional security (and most of moderate Arab countries as well). By having that on his agenda, the Palestinian challenge, including Hamas, seems as an minor obstacle that should be putted out of the way in order to ‘clear the table’ in order to face the eastern threat.

In conclusion, Netanyahu – at least on the Palestinian issue – shows more will than the west assumes; although he Bibi represents the (overwhelmingly-elected) right wing in Israeli politics, one may assess that he will come around in dealing with the Palestinians, at least in light of Iran. And we didn’t even start analyzing the economical aspect of his premiership.

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