Emanuel Shahaf

Netanyahu’s responsibility

Always quick on the draw when pinning blame on the the PA our Prime Minister, true to form, has penned responsibility for the incident in which, apparently, three young Yeshiva students were kidnapped from somewhere in the West Bank and are now being held by an unknown terror group, squarely on Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority.

He has done so despite the fact that is is actually Israel which is responsible for security matters in the WB areas from where the students were kidnapped, and apparently, without any evidence that the PA is in any way involved in the kidnapping.

The motives for Netanyahu’s determination are blatantly political and serve to support his policy of refusing to come to terms with the new Palestinian government which remains committed to Abu Mazen’s policy of pursuing the Two-State solution nonviolently. That government has obtained the backing of Hamas despite the fact that the latter has not yet renounced its charter or accepted the quartet’s conditions, as sine-qua-non for talks with Israel.

By refusing to accept the new PA government and give it at least a chance to prove itself, Netanyahu has abrogated his responsibility to continue and pursue peace in the Middle East. He has left Israel and the Palestinians  without any political horizon. He has done that at a time when the Palestinians have thousands of prisoners in jail and another 200 prisoners in administrative detention in Israel, many of them on a hunger strike, after he himself, nine months ago, picked the release of Palestinian prisoners as his preferred way to get back to the peace talks with the PA. He later went back on his commitment to release the last batch of prisoners, a step that contributed to the scuttling of the talks.

By doing so Netanyahu is again empowering the more radical elements in the Palestinian territories. He refuses to give credit to Abu Mazen for his efforts to both unite the two major Palestinian factions and still to continue the peace talks. By failing to do so he is strengthening Hamas. No doubt that Netanyahu’s rejection of Palestinian unity will serve to convince more and more Palestinians that there is little if anything to be gained from the PLO’s and PA’s way of non-violence, a very problematic move ahead of the elections in the PA where Hamas is likely to participate.

At the same time, the lack of a political horizon and total absence of negotiations as a way to effect the release of more prisoners has lowered the threshold for radicals to try their way and release Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, the only way that has worked every time until now: By kidnapping Israelis, something they apparently have just succeeded in doing.

Netanyahu has no interest in bringing the PA closer to an agreement. As a matter of fact that is the last thing he wants. Netanyahu’s irresponsible behavior is paving the way for a suitable Zionist response to the kidnapping of the three Yeshiva students: At the minimum, further construction in the territories but this time he might very well decide to annex one of the larger settlements blocks, be it Maale Adumim or Gush Etzion. Netanyahu is turning right.  We have seen nothing yet.

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".
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