Critics fault Israel government approach to Palestinian U.N. bid
Critics say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not aggressive enough to either lure the Palestinians back into peace talks or pressure them to abandon their U.N. membership initiative.
Heading toward a potential Mideast game-changer at the United Nations this month, Israel’s government is facing questions at home about whether it could have done more to block the Palestinians’ planned statehood bid.
Critics say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to respond aggressively enough to either lure Palestinians back into peace talks or pressure them to abandon the U.N. initiative, in which Palestinians are expected to seek full membership in the international body or, if that fails, an upgraded status from observer “entity” to nonmember “state.”
In the face of one of the Palestinians’ most aggressive diplomatic moves to date, Israel’s response has appeared unfocused and at times contradictory, critics complain.
“What strategy?” popular Israel Radio political commentator Yaron Deckel asked in an interview. “You mean lack of strategy. Israel is facing a clear defeat. There is no chance now. Due to the domestic political considerations of the right wing, the government was too afraid to take any risks.”
Others said the government appeared overly confident that the Palestinians’ bid was a bluff or that international pressure from the United States or others would keep the issue from reaching the U.N. Israeli officials spent months trying to sway European leaders to oppose the initiative with only limited success. U.S. officials made a last-ditch effort this week to stop the Palestinians, to no apparent avail.
“That strategy was doomed to fail from the start, and it should have been obvious,” said Mideast expert Yossi Alpher, co-editor of bitterlemons.org, a Web-based political analysis magazine. “Now for the first time in years, Palestinians have the initiative and we don’t. There is no Israeli initiative.”