Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bibi's Got No Game

Believe it or not, I actually interact with a great many people who do not entirely share my view of the current Israeli government. Inevitably they ask me what the other side's argument is. Netanyahu after all is a very smart man and he must realize that the status quo is unsustainable and that without an agreement Israel's Jewish and democratic character is in peril. What's his end game they want to know? I am honest and tell them I have no idea. And it's not because I haven't been paying attention. So I fall back on saying that I think he just wants to remain prime minister. And they ask me with a healthy dose of skepticism, he cares more about being prime minister than the future of Israel? I say I don't know. What has struck me is that I don't believe he has been forced to answer the question. Until now.

Today Haaretz published its annual Writer's Edition with non-journalistic authors filing reports. In his capacity as journalist for a day, writer Etgar Keret covered Netanyahu's recent trip to Italy. To the apparent discomfort of the journalists on hand, Keret put the question to Bibi: "it is important for me to know what the government’s peace initiative is and what the plan is that we are promoting to end the conflict with the Palestinians." You can read the article here. But sadly the answer it seems is Bibi has no end game.


  1. I remember asking the same question of my friend Dr. Hussein Ibish, a big supporter of the two state solution, a while ago. The most likely end game according to him is that Netanyahu knows a negotiated deal is inevitable, and is making one last thrust in order to secure the best possible terms for a final deal. This would also be the best case scenario. Dr. Ibish also thinks that Netanyahu is a politician through and through, concerned first with his own career.
    One must however entertain the possibility that Netanyahu and his supporters consider the conflict insoluble, as he let slip during a recent interview. I pray that this is not the case, for if it is, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shifted from a grappling over land and resources and power to one in which the messianically minded "bearded men" on both sides hold sway. Such a conflict can only lead to an all-out war, more 1967 than Cast Lead, and ultimately the end of the Jewish state.

  2. I certainly hope Ibish is right, but in the two years since Bibi became PM, there isn't much to validate that hope. As you suggest it seems Bibi thinks the conflict is insoluble. The conclusion you draw from that appears to me correct.