In our previous two part analysis of Netanyahu’s political options, which turned out to be pretty much zero besides staying exactly where he is and not disturbing the status quo, we were obviously unaware of the magnitude of the Prime Minister’s genius when it comes to political chicanery.
We wrote that he couldn’t go left and issue a settlement freeze for wont of angering the right flank of his coalition. On the other hand, he couldn’t just let settlement building keep going, because then Labor would get really mad. True, the Labor part of the coalition only comprises 8 seats out of Netanyahu’s 69 (Labor’s other 5 seats do not consider themselves a partner in the coalition), they still have enough power to tip the scales.
But over the weekend Netanyahu did something so genius that he angered everyone – but spread out the anger in such a way that the anger won’t cause any of them to revolt against him. They’ll all just be annoyed and dissatisfied and kvetchy.
What he did, was this: “You want a freeze, Labor/America? I’ll give you a freeze. You want building, Likud/rest of my coalition? I’ll give you that, too, so let me do both. I’ll build first, and then I’ll freeze later.
Genius! The move, however, was not Right enough to quell his Right flank, so he revised it by saying that he’d build first, and then “freeze” later, “freeze” now being newly defined as “slow down.” The Arabs certainly won’t like that one.
America, of course, is “upset.” And for the Arabs, of course, this is “unacceptable.” But what are either of them going to do? Meanwhile, Bibi’s government breathes another breath. The problem is, someone breathes too hard, and he falls off the tightrope.
The only people he really angered were the people he could really afford to anger, that is, the opposition. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni aid it best when she got to the core of what Bibi is trying to do, which is not make any concrete decision in any direction. “Israel’s leaders, the elected government, in my opinion, still hasn’t made a choice between two different outlooks. One, Jewish existence in every part of Israel, and two, the existence of a Jewish democratic state,” she said in a speech at an IDF pensioners’ event.
In a way, she’s right. However, the choice between a Greater Israel and Jewish democratic state may not be so clear cut. There must be a way to have your cake and eat it too…but it’ll take someone a lot more creative than Netanyahu to figure that one out.