Friday, February 05, 2010

Most Israelis disapprove of Netanyahu.

Benjamin Netanyahu's popularity is starting to wane in Israel, but not for the reasons that I had imagined.

But the main reason for the drop in his popularity is his decision to freeze construction in the settlements - something no right-wing prime minister before him ever dared to do. The dry facts tell the whole story: Netanyahu is losing support among right-wing voters (though not in the Likud). At the same time, he is gaining popularity among the center and the left. The voters on the right side of the political spectrum are disappointed with him. They still backed him after he declared his support for the two-state solution, but once he took a concrete step they started to turn a cold shoulder.
So, the right wing in Israel are okay with him talking about a two state solution, but they are simply furious when he starts to do anything which could help to make that two state solution more likely.

Perhaps they thought, as I did, that Netanyahu was simply mouthing words to please Obama. After all, there is nothing in his past which would lead one to believe that he is serious about making peace with the Palestinians. And there are precious few actions he has taken since becoming Prime Minister which would lead one to believe that this is what he wants.

I happen to think that the right wingers have no need to worry. Netanyahu is not going to make any serious steps towards peace unless Obama applies real pressure to him, and I see no hint of Obama even considering doing that.

But their fury at him for freezing some settlement building shows that the Israeli right have no intention of ever coming to a deal with the Palestinians.

That's what Obama is actually having to deal with here, I just wish he behaved as if he understood that. He appears, to me, to be waiting for unreasonable people to behave reasonably. That's simply never going to happen.

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