Friday, July 03, 2009

Netanyahu's numbers hold up .... for now.

Ha'aretz newspaper are leading with the headline "Netanyahu has Israelis' approval after first 100 days", emphasising the fact that Netanyahu enjoys popularity despite the fact that his government is on a collision course with the US.

And, although it is certainly true that a plurality of Israelis are backing Netanyahu's position, the numbers are far tighter than that headline would suggest.

The respondents gave Netanyahu's cabinet a barely passing grade of 5.6 points out of 10. Forty percent said the cabinet was not leading Israel in the right direction, while 37 percent said it was.

Forty-six percent of respondents said Israel should continue construction in the West Bank even if this causes a confrontation with the U.S., and 44 percent said the opposite.
I find it staggering that such a large number of Israelis support actions which are clearly illegal under international law, but I suppose - when the government themselves are the people proposing the action - then the populace must presume that the proposed action is perfectly legal.

It will be interesting to see how Netanyahu's figures hold up once he and Obama can no longer disguise the gulf which exists between both their outlooks on this issue.

For it is not only Obama who is at odds with the stances Netanyahu is striking, it is fair to say that Europe - especially since the election of Obama - is no longer willing to turn a blind eye to Israel's land theft in the West Bank; as Netanyahu discovered on his most recent visit to Paris:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday asked Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu to impose a "total freeze" on Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

However, the hawkish leader, on his first visit to Europe since taking office in April, replied that "normal life" goes on amid international pressure for direct talks with the Palestinians.

"The president of the republic called on Israel to immediately take all possible measures to encourage confidence" in its talks with the Palestinians, "beginning with the total freeze of settlement activities," a French presidency statement said.

Europe, no doubt encouraged by the stance of Obama, is no longer willing to turn a blind eye to Israel's expansionism. So, the figures Ha'aretz are quoting are perhaps slightly misleading as they concentrate on Netanyahu's actions only in relation to the United States. The truth is that the whole of Europe appear to be planning to line up against Netanyahu's stance.

Israel is heading for a very isolated position. She enjoyed the support of both the US and much of Europe as long as they believed that Israel was searching for a "partner in peace".

With Netanyahu's stance it is impossible to believe that this is still true. Netanyahu is placing the acquiring of land for the settlers before any meaningful attempt to resolve the conflict.

Sarkosy is only repeating the demand made by Obama, and soon that demand will be stated over and over again by Britain, Germany and all of the other Europeans.

Most previous US administrations have paid lip service to this subject, which is why the behaviour of Netanyahu or Sharon was previously tolerated. But I suspect that Obama is perfectly serious in the demands which he is making. Which means the fallout from the path Netanyahu is engaged on is going to be much more serious than most Israelis assume.

I would be surprised if Netanyahu's numbers hold up once the Israelis discover just how out on a limb they actually are.

Click title for full article.

No comments: