Netanyahu's Trump Card Against Israeli Protests: Peace

By Bradley Burston, Ha'aretz

1.8.2011

 

As protests over social welfare sweep Israel, the PM has to go the one way no one is looking: Move immediately – and sincerely - for peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
 
Early Monday, when the news broke of the IDF trading fire with the Lebanese army, everyone in this house, and undoubtedly many others in Israel, had the same thought: That's it. Netanyahu's decided to solve the protest crisis by going to war.
 
In fact, even before the Lebanon tension began, journalist Yossi Gurvitz outlined exactly such a scenario. In the face of the mushrooming protests over social welfare issues, "Netanyahu's magic hat is emptying quickly," Gurvitz wrote last week, adding that the prime minister might choose a war as the way out of his troubles.
 
You needn't look far for precedent. There is ample evidence that Ehud Olmert could have, and certainly should have, avoided the Gaza war as a means of halting rocket fire from the Strip. But, in the wake of his disastrous conduct of the Second Lebanon War and the sewn-on shadow of graft allegations, Olmert had something to prove and much to hide. We went to war because Olmert needed to.
 
Stunned and reeling by the success of the protest movement nationwide, Netanyahu is desperately rummaging in his magic hat for a trump card, if not one that reads "Get Out of Jail Free." It's in there. It's been in there all along. But it's not a war. No one, at this point, would be fooled by a war. No one would be shocked by one.
 
If he wants to deal with the protests, which may grow to monster proportions by just this weekend, he has to draw the one card that no one is expecting, the card that can outflank his opponents on every segment of the political spectrum. He has to go the one way no one is looking: Move immediately – and sincerely - for peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
 
This is the time. His party and his government are laying back, uncharacteristically silent, waiting for him to take charge, make a move that is bold enough to meet the challenge of the nation's broadest social movement in memory.
 
If Benjamin Netanyahu was telling the truth about a future of two states, Israel and Palestine, living in peace, and if he believes the polls which consistently show that a majority of the Israeli public does as well, then this is the time, prior to September, for him to make history and shape the future of his country.
 
 
Prime Minister Benjamin Nentayahu