Emanuel Shahaf

The Clock is Running Out on Netanyahu

It may be a bit early and this article certainly reflects my optimism but there is a fair chance that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Netanyahu’s reign in Jerusalem. Why do I think so, other than the fact that he is an atrocious Prime Minister who has a miserable record dealing with most of Israel’s crucial problems? Whoever saw him on NBC the day before yesterday cannot but reflect on the way he looked. Netanyahu’s TV appearances are usually excellent performances which manage to create a picture that is believable even when he is lying through his teeth as he is wont to do. This time around he seemed to be under severe pressure, not his usual cock-sure self and strangely enough more real than ever before.

My take on this is that deep down inside, Netanyahu has understood that he overplayed his hand. As Abraham Lincoln said, you cannot fool all the people all the time. World leaders have understood that Iran is a real threat that has to be dealt with. It is to Netanyahu’s credit that he has driven that message home. On how to deal with the threat however, Netanyahu is not only not on the same page as the international community, he is not even reading the same book. His insistence on driving a ruthlessly aggressive campaign against a nuclear Iran while at the same time burying any peacemaking efforts with the Palestinians has pulled the rug out from under him and left Israel without any international support. His refusal to understand the connection between the two issues in the eyes of the international community and his nonchalant handling of our local economic malaise which continues to hit large parts of the population, make the obsessive nature of his policy on Iran all the more obvious.

People can feel obsession and it scares them. Netanyahu’s obsession was useful for a while, creating a coalition against Iran’s plans and bringing about severe international sanctions. The fact that he is still pushing, clearly unaware that his efforts are counterproductive is an indication that he is out of touch. His partners, both in the Likud and the coalition are catching the drift and feeling his weakness. His polls are dropping. His main problem, as a politician is that he has spent his ammunition and all the challenges are still there to be dealt with: Iran ? More nuclear than ever before and his plans for an attack stifled. Palestinians ? Simmering tensions waiting to break loose. The economy? Even free education from three years up hasn’t made an impact on public perceptions, apartment prices are still sky-high and the numbers are not good. Strategic alliances in the region ? Come again ? Turkey is still waiting for an apology and Mursi in Egypt has yet to utter the word “Israel”. Relations with the US ? Let’s not talk about it.

Let’s face it, Netanyahu is going to lose. He richly deserves to, just like he did last time he lost.  While the Labor Party may still appear to play catch up, Shelly Yachimovich is the person to beat in the upcoming elections. It’s time for change, the sooner the better.


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".