09 May 2011

Bibi: not anyone's darling anymore

The last time that the skies smiled at Binyamin Netanyahu was, probably, when Shimon Peres asked him to form the next government, after Tzipi Livni had despaired of her chances to win the support of the Knesset majority.

Since that day it all went downhill for him. Overtaken by the events, outmaneuvered on the right and (less) on the left by his frisky coalition partners, Bibi seems to be continuously surprised by what is happening in the world in general and in the Middle East in particular. Since his Bar Ilan speech, where Bibi announced his support for two state solution, which in fact wasn't the first time for an Israeli leader (Sharon has already done it) and was made under pressure coming loud and clear from the White House, Bibi is drifting with the flow of the current events, all his moves no more than feeble responses to the outside irritants.

So far the Palestinian leadership appears to be much more adept and sophisticated in manipulating the world's public opinion as well as in gaining the all around political and diplomatic support. The growing number of the governments that recognized the Palestinian state is the best indication of the failure of Bibi's "wait and respond" behavior.

The latest development, namely the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas has done an excellent job of magnifying the folly of the "reactive management" displayed by Bibi during his term in the office. Overexcited by the revolts in the neighboring Arab states, enamored by the opportunity to prove to the world that there is no way to make and to support peace with our neighbors, Bibi and his men totally missed an event that will bedevil them for months to come. So far this event was a total failure of Israeli government - both on the intelligence and the political fronts.

Of course, Bibi's first automatic response was to slam the Ramallah's leaders for signing the agreement with the Gazan terrorists. There was nothing wrong in what he's said, by the way, and all of his righteous indignation is to the point. The only problem is that the point, as many other points Bibi is carrying in his ample storage of speeches, failed to impress anyone, not being of interest at this stage. Unfortunately, Bibi's mastery of English and penetrating look cannot make up for the fact that he is playing catchup with the events in the surrounding world and eating dust obligingly raised for him by his enemies.

So what was Bibi's next step? He loads a planefull of journalists, staff and Sarah (but of course) and takes off for Paris and London to persuade Sarkozy and Cameron that they should reject the newly found(ed) Hamas-Fatah unity on the spot:

He believes the unity agreement between the Western-backed Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and the militant Islamic movement which rules Gaza should set international alarm bells ringing.
Expectations of the experts weren't too optimistic:
When Netanyahu puts his case to British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday and to French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday, analysts expect his hosts to listen politely but reserve immediate judgment.

"They have a lot on their plate in any case with regard to Libya and with regard to Syria," said Jonathan Spyer, research fellow in international relations at the Interdisciplinary Centre near Tel Aviv.
But even this, fairly reserved prediction was too optimistic. Both Sarkozy and Cameron told Bibi, in no uncertain terms, what his two remaining options are: to restart the peace negotiations with Palestinians ASAP or to watch France and Britain voting for recognition of Palestinian state in September. And there are multiple signs that US, the only remaining staunch supporter of Israel, might possibly decide to do the same. While not a face slap (yet), the reaction in Paris and London is at least an equivalent of a cup of hot coffee spilled (accidentally and diplomatically, of course) in one's lap.

Colloquial English and sincere look into the heart of TV camera just don't cut it anymore, even when the speaker is truthful - for a change. It appears that there is such thing as outdated truth, no longer relevant or interesting to the listeners. Caroline Glick may laud Bibi's stance on Hamas-Fatah rapprochement as much as she likes, but the point is that she (like Bibi) is missing the point. Which is that Bibi is barking up a wrong tree. The possum has run away a long time ago, and it will be of benefit to everyone concerned to find where it is hiding now.

Nor does our internal opposition do much better. Tzipi Livni, who woke up again for a short while from her parliamentary slumber, puts her hopes on the altar of new elections, which no one in the coalition needs or wants, meaning that the chances of such elections being called are nil. Not that the elections, even if by some miracle allowed to happen, are going to change the political map of the Knesset. What is Ms Livni trying to achieve with this pathetic idea is unclear.

Meanwhile the above mentioned possum is moving again. In order to increase the European community warm and fuzzy feeling re the rapprochement, Hamas chieftains, not being stupid at all, are making overtures that sound exactly like what Europeans want to hear:
Head of Hamas politburo says in Wall Street Journal interview that nature of struggle against Israel to be determined by Palestinian consensus. Fatah official: Hamas willing to adopt nonviolent resistance.
Of course, anyone who believes this is a fool, as we have learned to our expense. But is anyone who wants to hear this a fool as well? I doubt it. Of course, our establishment has already produced a standard response:
"We don't buy that. (Mashaal's) actions prove otherwise and Hamas's charter clearly calls for the destruction of Israel and all-out jihad," said the official.
But other people, while not buying it, like what the possum has to offer, even if the offering is somewhat smelly:
White House officials told the Wall Street Journal that Washington is studying Mashaal's comments. The officials stressed that the US is willing to involve Hamas in the Middle East peace process on condition that it renounces violence and recognizes the State of Israel.
And Europeans went a long step farther than Washington:
The European Union agrees to provide extra money to cover the salaries of essential workers and support families in need; move comes after Israel blocked transfer of 105 million dollars in tax funds to PA due to Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.
This came as close to a slap in the face as humanly possible...

Bibi's stock is as low as it ever was, save the final days/weeks of his previous term in the office. Granted, his coalition is pretty stable with no one challenging his rule and every coalition member holding tight to his/her chair. But, as far as the international agenda and international support are concerned, Bibi is at the rock bottom. And no oysters there, not to mention kosher fishes.

So what will he do to resolve the conundrum or, at least, make it go away for a while? Just as a coincidence, the appearance of the former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, where he says that Israeli airstrike on Iran nuclear installations could be the "stupidest thing I have ever heard", made me wondering.

What if? Could it be that...



Pisa said...

The possum didn't run away. He was just well hidden, and now he's out to bite Bibi's behind again.

I just heard on the news that Abbas is willing to give up on his UN recognition project  and go back to the "peace talks". Ynet has two slightly different versions of the event, one on its hebrew site, the other on the english site. I'll assume you know hebrew, so here are the links:



Seems that Abbas, unlike the incredibly naive (or just anti-semitic) european and american politicians, is more in touch with reality. He created for himself a win-win situation. Classic blackmail. What will Bibi do? What should Bibi do? One thing is sure - he will not be able to sit comfortably on his sore behind for a very long time.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Yep. It looks like Abbas painted Bibi into a corner. I sincerely hope - and not for Bibi's sake - that he will wake up and start being proactive.