New Tactics, Same Netanyahu

Israel's new unity government shouldn't be a surprise. Bibi is pursuing familiar ends through novel means.

Netanyahu needed the support of a central party in order to balance the growing power of Likud's "Tea Party"-like camp, which gives the party the image of a messianic movement. On the other side, he was confronted with strong criticism from the military establishment for perpetrating the occupation and thus consolidating the binational situation. Former head of the Israeli Secret Service Yuval Diskin and former head of the Mossad Meir Dagan have endorsed publicly the Palestinian and Arab argument that Netanyahu—and not Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas—is the spoiler in the negotiations on borders and security. These statements did not come as a surprise to the White House, which is fully briefed by the Palestinians. Abbas has informed the administration that since the peace process has reached a deadlock, he is determined to go back to the UN General Assembly and request recognition of a Palestinian state. It is well known the Palestinian leadership accepted Obama's request to hold diplomatic fire until the day after the American elections. This will save Obama from a difficult choice at a vulnerable time. It is a choice between voting in favor of the Palestinians and provoking the Jewish electorate; or voting against a Palestinian state, isolating the United States in the international community and playing into the hands of radical anti-American forces in the Muslim world.

Akiva Eldar is the chief political columnist and an editorial writer for Haaretz. His columns also appear regularly in the Ha'aretz-Herald Tribune edition.