Pipes asks the wrong question. Netanyahu has proven himself to be a leftist. But more telling is the fact that he prefers to make a deal than hold the line. e.g. WYE, Golan, Bar Ilan speech. And he certainly isn’t prepared to make a dramatic move on the right like approving the Levy Report, or extending Israel law to J&S or annexing it. If he was looking for a legacy he doesn’t have to turn right. He likes to keep his head down in the fox hole. He doesn’t want to make a wave or start a fire. He plays it safe. Ted Belman
by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
With Syria and Egypt aflame, why is U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry returning to the Middle East for his sixth visit since February to focus on more Israeli-Palestinian shuttle diplomacy?
In part, because he and other liberals think that the Arab and Iranian (and now Turkish?) war on Israel boils down to an Israel-Palestinian conflict and therefore they over-emphasize this dimension; in part, too, because he subscribes to the liberal illusion that Israel-related issues constitute the “epicenter” of the region (as James L. Jones, then Obama’s national security adviser, once put it), so their resolution must precede dealing with other Middle Eastern problems.
|John Kerry seizing up Binyamin Netanyahu.|
But there’s another possible reason for Kerry’s enthusiasm: he took the measure of Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and found him indeed serious about reaching an accord with the Palestinians, and not just pretending enthusiasm to please Washington.
This, anyway, is the thesis of David M. Weinberg of Bar-Ilan University writing in Israel Hayom: “Netanyahu has been making uncharacteristically passionate statements about the diplomatic process; statements that go beyond the expected chatter about Israel’s desire to engage the Palestinians and negotiate a two-state solution.” Weinberg finds Netanyahu “desperate for diplomatic movement[, having] bought into the left-wing argument that the status quo is unsustainable.” Weinberg perceives preparations now underway for “a unilateral Israeli initiative to concede significant parts of Judea and Samaria.”
Why should Netanyahu, who emphatically did not campaign on this platform, make such plans? Weinberg looks mainly to domestic politics:
Netanyahu has no other national agenda item to sustain his prime ministership. He needs a new message that will reposition him as a leader in the public mind, and the Palestinian issue is all he’s got to work with. The lead on economic and social matters has been grabbed by [political competitors Yair] Lapid and [Naftali] Bennett. There’s little Netanyahu can do about the hot situation in Syria or Iran. His job is to react wisely and cautiously to developments on these fronts, not lead Israel into confrontation.
A unilateral Israeli withdrawal, Weinberg notes, “would blow the Lapid-Bennett alliance out of the water—something which is Netanyahu’s highest political priority.” The prime minister would then “bask in the glow of praise of Washington and Tel Aviv elites,” pick up center- and left-electoral support, and presumably coast to another electoral victory.