No one but Netanyahu?
Many Israelis are disappointed in PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s lack of dynamic leadership. True, they surmise that Isaac Herzog of the Labor Party and Tzippi Livni, founder of the Tenuah Party, are less qualified to lead Israel, especially vis-à-vis the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, who want to establish an independent and sovereign Palestinian state in that heartland of the Jewish people. But does this reservation about the two alternatives to Bibi dispose of the problem confronting Israel?
Netanyahu sets nine conditions, none met
To begin to answer this question, let us review the Israeli demands Netanyahu presented to his Cabinet before he concluded the Wye Memorandum which he concluded with Palestinians on October 28, 1998. Here is what he set forth to the Cabinet two weeks earlier on October 13, 1998:
- Any agreement [with the Palestinians] should encompass all subjects up for negotiation and not just a partial Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Any redeployment should be in stages so that Israel can verify at each stage that the Palestinian side is fulfilling its commitments.
- The Palestinian National Authority must act “systematically and concretely against terrorism” by arresting suspects and detaining them in prison.
- The PA must “unconditionally” co-operate with Israel on security issues.
- A joint Israeli-Palestinian committee, including US officials, should be formed to supervise the campaign against “incitement to violence.”
- The number of Palestinian police must be reduced from a total, according to Israel, of 36,000 armed men of 12,000 more than allowed under the autonomy agreements.
- The PNA must confiscate weapons held illegally by militants in the areas which it controls.
- The PNA must hand over Palestinians suspected of attacks on Israelis when it receives an extradition request from an Israeli judge.
- The PNC, the supreme legislative body of the PLO, must meet to cancel the articles in its charter which still call for the destruction of the Jewish state.
- A body must be set up to monitor how far the Palestinians are fulfilling their commitments on security. Netanyahu stressed to the Cabinet his firm opposition to the announcement of a Palestinian state next May when the five years of the interim accords foreseen by the Oslo agreements are to end.
As mentioned, Netanyahu concluded this agreement in 1998. He has been PM during most of the seventeen succeeding years. Considering the number of Jews that have been murdered during these seventeen years, perhaps this explains why many Israelis are not satisfied with Netanyahu’s leadership, and refrain from dismissing his failings on the flimsy and escapist grounds that there is no alternative to Bibi.☼