The stage is set, spotlight on, people back in their seats, expectations loom. The crowd is anxious; nervously they wait, for the start of a second half that will bring some sense to the play. Until now, it has been a story of melodrama, lies and hypocrisy. As everybody begins watching again, the lights turn off, curtains open and standing there is yet again, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu. As the last of the results of March’s Israeli elections were displayed, the international community watched in angst.
The country’s past six years have been a story of growing cleavages between them and the rest of the Middle East, in particular the never-ending strife with the State of Palestine, which has continued to drag along, further than ever from where it had left off under Ehud Olmert or Ariel Sharon. Back then under the former’s rule, whilst at their basic stages, there had been approximations looking for eventual solutions of the intricate conflict. To this day, after a number of suspended and vague negotiations, the agreements are at a halt. Netanyahu’s past two consecutive terms have been looked at sceptically and have tensed ties with not only Israel’s longstanding foes, but with nations that grant it support such as the United States. “Bibi” and Barack Obama have not enjoyed the happiest of relationships during their tenures in office.
The latest episode of disaccord was produced just at the end of Act 1 amidst looming elections, something the Israeli leader considered an unmatchable platform. Against a backdrop in the form of the US congress, Netanyahu was invited to playout his performance for the legislative branch of his allies, who directed all of their attention towards the astute Prime Minister as he gave his opinion on another hairy affair: Iran’s nuclear prospects. After three quarters of an hour, using his ever so reliable scare tactics, Bibi swept the awards: He regretted that “some perceived (his) being (there) as political” – Yet he spoke of nothing other than politics. Reiteration on how much of a “bad deal” negotiation with Iran would be, combined with speculation on how bleak a future awaited the US and Israel in such case, whilst firing a deluge of flattery towards America and its alleged similitude to his nation, brought him a standing ovation.
He left none ambivalent: many inspired, a few unhappy and a large majority scared beyond utterance as he had set out to do. Amongst the few unhappy people was the President himself. Obama saw Netanyahu’s approach to be as rigid as always, lacking in alternatives and thoroughly unproductive beyond his obvious statements of amicability with the Americans and enmity with the Persians. As a whole, it is clear that the President sees the Prime Minister as an obstacle to prospective future progress.
Nevertheless, one could argue that Netanyahu could not have cared less, as his Washington ploy had succeeded – one complex part to his re-election path. As the polls got underway, Bibi engaged in ruthless electoral battle against Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union, who under their goal to provide a platform for renewed Palestinian talks had been leading the scores for some time. It is then that Netanyahu put on yet another Oscardeserving display of opportunism. To demonstrate that he would do anything in order to retain his position at the top, Bibi unleashed a string of statements in a thick coat of contradiction.
Especially resonating and enraging was the one where he promised no further approaches to the eagerly sought TwoState-Solution that he had categorically vowed in his 2009 speech. Now, having being cast for the part again, he looks at forming a coalition with parties such as Kulanu, Shas the United Torah party, Jewish Home Party and the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu, which share the ideology he pulled out of the hat before the polls closed. What remains to be seen now is what five more years of Netanyahu have to offer to the nuclear deal, the Palestinian conflict and Middle-Eastern stability in general. The world is watching once again, desperate for a plot twist that will bring viable and longstanding solutions to the table. The stage is set: Act 2 begins.