Emanuel Shahaf

The world be damned

Netanyahu is burning bridges with Israel's allies

Present policies as pursued by the government of Israel are leading the country into a dead end situation where Israel will have to deal all on her own with a considerable range of problems in the Middle East. A systematic effort to disengage from any serious peacemaking efforts vis-a-vis the Palestinians has left relations with the European Union, with minor exceptions, in shambles.

Netanyahu is not exactly on speaking terms with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and in one measly meeting has already managed to sour the relationship with the President of France Francois Hollande, who has barely had time to take office. This, after thoroughly ruining the relationship with Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. The relationship with the British appears to be somewhat better, mostly since Netanyahu and Prime Minister David Cameron haven’t met that often. Nevertheless, the two are not on the same page regarding Iran nor are they in agreement regarding Israel’s studied ignorance of the peace process. Needless to say, the relations with a newly elected US President Obama are, let’s be generous, on the iffy side and he is unlikely to make a push for peace in the Middle East involving an uncooperative Netanyahu, before having resolved some more pressing problems at home.

All this happens at a time where Israel needs all the help it can get, not only to prevent Iran from going nuclear but also to deal with ever-increasing regional instability caused by an Arab Spring trying to find its way. Egypt is looking how to solidify the democratic principles necessary to continue receiving US aid without giving up on Islamic ideals. Syria is at war with itself and there is no prognosis at this time. Jordan is boiling on a low flame and its long term stability is in question. Lebanon, once again, is at a junction from where the road downhill appears to be a likely option. The relationship with the only strategic ally in the area, Turkey, has been unceremoniously written off and the Foreign Ministry is now busy warming up relations with Greece and Bulgaria.

While the Arab world around us is in turmoil Israel does absolutely nothing that could lower the flames, like winding down the closure of the Gaza strip even further or starting serious negotiations with the Palestinian Authority president, Abu Mazen. We are hunkering down in our bunker (“the villa in the jungle”), equipping ourselves with ever more sophisticated and expensive weapons systems and hoping that eventually this will all blow over. At the same time Israel is maintaining de-facto control over 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and has a major hold over the well-being of another 1.5 million in the Gaza Strip. Despite Abu Mazen’s promise not to engage in another Intifada, he can hardly be held responsible should one nevertheless break out when nothing of consequence is done by Israel to prevent that from happening.

Netanyahu’s policies are highly illogical and dangerous. If, as he claims, the Iranian threat is all-pervasive and another Holocaust is possible, why not do what is necessary to improve Israel’s relations with the West by compromising with the Palestinians? A prime minister who does not know what to choose at such a critical time must be removed from office before he can do any more harm. On January 22nd the public will have the opportunity to do just that.


About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is Vice Chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Israeli-German Society (IDG), Co-Chair of the Federation Movement (, member of the council at and author of "Identity: The Quest for Israel's Future".