PM Netanyahu has weakened Israel’s bargaining position with the U.S., on Judea-Samaria.
A bill was proposed giving the Knesset power to overturn any future building freeze imposed by the Cabinet. The Likud Central Committee endorsed the bill, and affirmed its support for development of all parts of the State of Israel and in the disputed parts of the Land of Israel outside the State.
The Cabinet, however, disapproved the bill by 20:10. The Knesset Ministerial Committee on Legislation also voted down the bill. Although Netanyahu admitted that the existing building freeze has not led to direct peace negotiations, he fought the bill down. He heads into his meeting, today, Tuesday, without being able to cite tied hands, when President Obama is expected to demand that Netanyahu extend what was supposed to be a temporary construction freeze.
Netanyahu argued that passage of the bill would increase pressure U.S. pressure on Israel. To the contrary, he has just shown Obama that his government cannot get on record a rejection of a freeze’s continuation. The only apparent purpose of his opposing the bill was to keep open the possibility of extending the freeze.
Usually, when Netanyahu tries resisting U.S. pressure, he cites not that He wants to do what is right for his people, but that his party won’t let him. In this case, he fought down his party. Netanyahu is reputedly weak about yielding to pressure by the U.S..
The results contradict the people’s votes for national security. The Left applauded Netanyahu for the results. Apparently, the Left does not care for rule by the people but by its ideology and by outside pressure (IMRA, 7/4/10, with analysis by Dr. Aaron Lerner, head of IMRA).
Still the mis-impression persists that Israel’s government is right-wing. It suits anti-Israelis to keep up that pretense, to shore up the straw man they want to poke. The want to depict Israel as a bogey man, deservingly or not.
Although the popular media characterization of Netanyahu is misguided, those who know his record can cite his consistently relenting under pressure. The starkest example was the agreement for withdrawal from most of Hebron. President Clinton agreed to release Jonathan Pollard, in exchange for it. Then he reneged. That should have ended the deal, and PM Netanyahu pretended it had. He had his staff put their valises outside their doors, to be taken to the airport. The U.S. staff found the valises to be empty. They realized that Netanyahu was bluffing. They called his bluff. He carried out his end of the deal, although the U.S. did not carry out his end. When running for this second stint as Prime Minister, Netanyahu assured the people that he had changed. And so he holds out for a while, talks tough, makes sense, but in the end, gives in.
Is the weakness Netanyahu displays just poor character, or has the U.S. some hold over him? He isn’t weak in fighting dissent in his political party. Why weak only in national security?
(For prior article on the politics leading up to the Israel-U.s. meeting, click here )