There have been rumored reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu is seeking a path which will please all sides but more likely increase the strain on relations between the sides on the settlement standoff. The claims are that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are working on a proposal which would grant permits for new construction in Beit El and in exchange Givat HaUlpana will be torn down. How such a compromise will settle anything is beyond my ability to reason. Granted, those who are demanding for the Givat HaUlpana houses to be destroyed as per the Supreme Court orders will approve of this being carried out but will be aghast and appalled at the allowance for new housing to be granted. Their approval of the destruction will be short lived as they will then move to prevent the new houses and this will simply drive a new anger for those who wish for all Jewish communities east of the Green Line to be destroyed. Meanwhile, those whose houses are to be sacrificed will not likely be pacified with the new housing starts as their homes will be long destroyed and their lives turned upside down long before they even break ground on the new houses. They will still be put out in the cold with nowhere to live and everything they have built up being destroyed before their eyes. As compromises meant to assuage both sides this will likely be a disaster and actually serve to exacerbate both sides in this argument.
This is also not a sign that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s new great and unsinkable coalition is having the effect that the more ardent Likud factions had hoped would prevail now that the coalition appears to be unbreakable or at least highly resistant to any pressures from any one direction. Instead of taking resolute and strong position which the super coalition was supposed to enable, Netanyahu is still acting with temerity attempting to walk a thin line between opposing sides and will end up satisfying nobody. This has been one of the complaints on the Prime Minister that will only be reinforced by this compromise, namely that he is incapable of taking criticisms in stride and thus attempts to find the magic formula in which everybody gets at least part of what they desire but still must give to satisfy their opposition. Those who thought that now that Prime Minister Netanyahu had a huge level of support that he would finally be enabled to take a stand and the real Bibi would finally come to the fore will likely find that the real Bibi is actually what they have seen all along, a compromiser who is the consummate politician, somebody without a core set of principles and who will go to any length to cause as minimal a controversy as is possible. As for now, we will see Netanyahu the fierce and uncompromising lion, well, apparently not so much.
Along this same line, it is rumored that at the meeting next Tuesday with MKs Yaakov Katz and Uri Ariel from the National Union Party the Prime Minister is expected to ask them to withdraw their motion to make the Givat HaUlpana legal by making the lands where they stand into State Lands. This was exactly what the nationalist camp had expected was part of the reason for forming the new coalition. They had likely realized that there would be some price to pay and were likely ready for some compromise as long as this neighborhood was to be saved in the process. Well, scratch that idea. The question that remains is whether the granting of permits for new houses to be added to another section of the Beit El will be sufficient to placate those who were strongly in favor of legalizing the Ulpana homes. Personally, this appears to be one of the oldest feints in the world, a variation of the bait and switch game. It has been my recollection that this usually results in neither side being satisfied with everybody walking away feeling cheated. It is my opinion that Prime Minister Netanyahu would be better served to find one side or the other to stand with and forge forward with a strong and solid resolve, with a damned the torpedoes, full steam ahead as his attitude.
The other question this raises is what can we now expect from Prime Minister Netanyahu vis-à-vis Iran and their nuclear program? That is a subject which has no middle ground. It is a situation where either you confront with boldness or acquiesce and silently allow whatever comes. Could it be that Prime Minister Netanyahu will find himself unable to make the hard choice and instead will surrender the decision to the United States and the rest of the world? If so, then this coalition may not end up serving Israel if Iran is permitted to achieve nuclear armaments due to the world’s inactions while also preventing any Israeli action. The one comment which has come from Iran that is so obviously true is that Israel is but a one or two nuclear weapon country. That is about all it would take to destroy Israeli ability to resist an offensive launched by her neighbors after Iran had decimated her population, industrial, agricultural and economic heartlands. The fact that Israel may have the ability to launch a devastating second strike against Iran will do nothing to protect Israel once she has been struck by Iranian nuclear weapons. Israel cannot allow a first strike and that cannot be avoided if her leadership is too soft to make the difficult choices. Can Israel honestly trust the rest of the world to be their saviors? Judging from history I am afraid that answer is no, never again.
Beyond the Cusp