Tzvi Gottlieb

Can Bibi Make the Right Decisions for Israel or is Biden Going to Save Us Again?

Photo by: Government Press Office

Benjamin Netanyahu is a survivor. This impressive ability has served him well throughout his 35-year political career, during which he served as prime minister for 17 years (from 2009 minus one year, and from 1996-1999). 

Even now, despite the events of October 7th and the failed fronts in the south and north, he continues to hold on to his coalition of 64 seats, mainly by providing generous budgets worth billions or significant powers to all his partners.

And so the vested interest of his partners in the continued existence of the coalition outweighs the interest of the State of Israel for years, and even more so in the last eight months.

The two prominent recent examples are of course the ultra-Orthodox military recruitment law demanded by the ultra-Orthodox parties, and the rabbinical law demanded by the Shas party to provide jobs for its constituents.  

The criticism these two laws receive is of little interest to Netanyahu and his coalition partners.

The fact that these laws are being promoted at a time when Israel has suffered almost 2000 deaths, with 120 hostages still remaining in the hands of terrorist organizations and tens of thousands evacuated from their homes for 8 months – is of secondary importance.

The situation in Gaza

In the Gaza Strip, we are suffering grave losses. Every death and every wounded person – breaks the heart. These are unnecessary losses, simply because there is no clear purpose or goals for Israel’s continued activity in Gaza. And so when they are moving around looking for targets, from Rafah to Khan Younes to Deir al-Balah to Jabaliya, we are mostly accumulating casualties.

Supporters of this senseless reality will say “but we freed four hostages”. Right, the security forces did release four. But these are only 7 hostages released out of 250 over 8 months. 110 hostages were released in a deal between Israel and Hamas.

And the activity in Gaza exacts a toll not only in lives lost, but also in civilian life. The reservists are stretched to the limit, with some reservists with families and jobs having already served 250 reserve days so far.

Of course, this has a great impact on them personally and mentally, on their families, and on their livelihoods. And the end is not in sight.

Netanyahu’s choices

Netanyahu now faces three decisions with dramatic implications on the State of Israel and its future. Any wrong or malicious decision will cause heavy damage to Israel and its citizens.

  1. Entering into a full-scale war with Hezbollah means thousands of missiles will be launched every day towards Israel. We already see Hezbollah’s capabilities with dozens of missiles and drones that have caused damage and disabled the northern part of Israel for 8 months. 

This would mean heavy damage not only to buildings and infrastructure, but probably to thousands of injured citizens.

Contrary to the position of some commentators, I do not estimate that Iran will join such a war in a declared way, but only through its proxies.

And yet, Israel and its army are not prepared to face such a war at this time. Which hopefully will not happen. 

The alternative to thousands of casualties and great destruction is an agreement based on Resolution 1701, a ceasefire and Hezbollah moving further from the Israeli border, in exchange for giving up enclaves that belong to Lebanon which Israel does not need.

This is the right choice. Will he choose it? We can only hope.

  1. The end of the operation in Gaza with an agreement and the release of the hostages.
    Unfortunately in this scenario, Netanyahu believes this would mean the end of his government.

Here too, the choice is between the needless death of more soldiers and more bereaved families, in addition to thousands of wounded physically and mentally (that no one considers in the current situation) and the fall of the government.

For any reasonable person, most surely for a leader, the choice between the two options is clear. Even in such a clear case, it is not certain that Netanyahu will make the right decision for the benefit of the Israeli state and its citizens.

  1. Dissolve the Knesset and go to elections.

In most democratic countries, after a disaster of the magnitude of October 7th, the leadership would resign and ask for the voter’s trust again. Here of course that is not the case.

Netanyahu is not ready to take the risk of not being Prime Minister again, even though the polls flatter him despite his significant share of the responsibility for everything that happened here.

Israel stands before a dramatic moment, maybe the most crucial moment since the foundation of the state. Netanyahu might choose to go to war in the North to keep his chair. It is possible that President Biden and the US administration will try to save Israel from Netanyahu and Hezbollah by sending an aircraft carrier to the region once more.

The citizens of Israel and the countries of the region must hope that this step will deter both Iran and Hezbollah as well as Netanyahu and his partners from war, and force a settlement between these two irrational parties.

About the Author
Attorney, former communications director for the Israeli government, lobbyist, strategy, former reporter for Galei Tzahal and Haaretz, former Shaliach to the US, CEO of The Israeli TV & Film Producers Association, Campaign manager for several parties and incumbents. Led several social causes, organizations, causes and unions. Life-long volunteer and student.
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