Panic Mounts For Unusually Quiet Netanyahu Administration

Benjamin Netanyahu

Photo: AP

Israel has kept mum as uprisings have spread through the Middle East and North Africa. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken of peace agreements with Syria and Palestine but is dragging his feet on both.The outward silence however belies the internal debate on Israel’s thinning options. Global Post reports:

Wadie Abu Nassar, a Haifa-based analyst and head of the International centre for Consultations, a think-tank, said the revolution in Egypt means that for the long run Israel will have to invest more in the army to deal with the possible escalation of conflict on the southern border.

It also can no longer view Egypt as a reliable supplier of natural gas, he said.

As for Jordan, the king, on the defensive from a public that is against the country’s peace treaty with Israel, is unlikely to continue to cooperate with its neighbour in the future, analysts said. Other moderate Arab regimes, including in the Gulf, are also mindful of public opinion, and are now less likely to encourage the Palestinians to make peace compromises with Israel, Abu Nassar said. And without the diplomatic cover Mubarak gave them to negotiate, the Palestinians, if they do agree to talk, will ask for tougher terms from Israel than in the past, he said.

And Abu Nassar rejected Regev’s stance, also voiced by President Shimon Peres, that Israel would be happy with the emergence of democracies in place of the Arab regimes.

“That would end the Israeli monopoly on democracy in the Middle East, a claim that is a major source of western support for Israel,” he argued. “If democracies arise in the Arab world, Israel could lose much of its value in Western eyes.”

…Palestinians have focused on garnering international recognition for a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They have set September as a deadline for having ready all of the institutions for a sovereign, independent state.

That timetable, a growing sense of international isolation, and opinion polls showing the centrist Kadima party and far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party making gains at the expense of Netanyahu’s Likud party are believed to be factors in the prime minister’s consideration of a new peace initiative.

“He is feeling pressure to be less muted,” Alpher said.

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