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der Tagesspiegel, Germany

Netanyahu Steps into His Own
Foreign Policy Trap

By Anna Sauerbrey

Israel is running out of friends. With his brute force policies and the din of the political campaign, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scaring off his allies. And he is not completely in accord with mainstream public opinion in Israel.

Translated By Ron Argentati

3 December 2012

Edited by Natalie Clager

Germany - der Tagesspiegel - Original Article (German)

Netanyahu announced that Israel would begin building 3000 new settlement units on the West Bank in “E1,” an area in northeast Jerusalem from which Palestinians fear Israel could partition the West Bank. In addition, Israel announced that it would not distribute the taxes it collects this month on behalf of the Palestinian authority.

The recognition accorded Palestine by the United Nations was met with Israel's reaction of maximum provocation. A symbolic win over Israel was answered by a no less symbolic gesture of revenge. Welcome to the Middle East.

All this has nothing to do with rational, progressive politics. Not the brief but painful outbreak of violence in Gaza. Not Abbas' gambit on the international chess board and not Netanyahu's announced settlement expansion. Nobody advanced even one step forward, let alone changed anything in the daily lives of the Palestinian people.

The only real change has come in the area of Israel's foreign relations: The nation is losing whatever friends it still had. France and Great Britain are rapidly approaching a diplomatic relations crisis with Israel. Even Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to read Netanyahu the riot act during his Thursday visit to Berlin. In view of the U.N. action, Israel can count only on the Czech Republic (virtual unknowns outside Europe), Panama (isn't that nice?), Micronesia (the name says it all), Canada and of course the U.S. along with its associated territories. Had the possibility of casting one half of one vote existed, the United States would have used it. That's how much relations between Israel and the United States have deteriorated. As bombs were falling in Gaza and buses exploding in Tel Aviv, Obama was embracing Asian government leaders. When Netanyahu visited New York last September, the U.S. president didn't have time for him.

Netanyahu's election fuss is also doomed because he no longer completely represents the will of the Israeli people. A majority of Israelis may support settlement expansion, but the predominant national mood is one of resignation. Nobody believes in the peace process any longer. It's precisely the mood that a bold politician unafraid to make painful decisions could use to make those concessions without which peace will be unattainable. But Netanyahu obviously isn't that sort of guy.

Netanyahu prefers to stubbornly walk into a trap of his own making. The beginning of the new year will bring not only elections in Israel, it will herald Netanyahu's line in the sand when he swore before the U.N. General Assembly in September that he would never permit Iran to achieve nuclear weapons capability. That point may come as early as the middle of 2013.

What does Netanyahu intend to bombard the Iranian laboratory bunkers with, Panamanian bananas?



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