He’s in a corner and he’s losing friends fast. Turkey and Egypt have turned their back on Israel, only Jordan remains a questionable ally. Egypt has already started to disrupt oil and gas supplies and there’s a potential threat to water supplies too.
The changing dynamic in the Middle East means that soon Israel won’t be able to boast that it’s the only democracy in the region. Its ‘new neighbours’ are going to be considerably less tolerant of Israel’s behaviour in Gaza and elsewhere. And in a few days’ time, the Palestinians are going to the UN to apply for recognition as a separate state. The cards are about to be shuffled. This time Israel’s hand may not include any aces.
At home, people are getting tired of Netanyahu’s empty promises and weasel words. Today hundreds of thousands are on the streets throughout Israel protesting about the high cost of living. Things are starting to get very, very tough for Mr Netanyahu.
It’s at times like these that politicians cast about for things to divert people’s attention away from reality at home – and abroad. It’s a time when they try stick close to their friends and identify with their mutual concerns. Israel has only one true friend, the US. The mutual concern foremost in both their minds? Iran.
For years there have been rumours that Israel has been planning to bomb Iran’s nuclear ‘facilities’ to prevent them from developing a nuclear capability. Most of this was put down to bluff and bluster, but several weeks ago, reports started to emerge – from an ‘ex CIA’ source in particular – that Israel was planning to bomb Iran in this month. It sounds a little crazy until you consider Mr Netanyahu’s position.
Consider this: Netanyahu is a man who’s had the chutzpah to tell the President of the United States where to get off. He felt he could because he has the power. How? Because the Israeli lobby in Washington holds sway over the US Congress – mainly through election funding organised by AIPAC. He doesn’t feel constrained in any way by what his paymasters say or demand. Netanyahu is a determined, obdurate bully, and like his father, an Arab hater. Put in a corner, as he is right now, he may just decide to do something very stupid. He might be tempted to raise two fingers to the US, and the rest of the world, and bomb Iran.
The immediate consequences would be that the US would be drawn into another major conflict in the Middle East. It would torpedo the ‘new dynamic’ below the waterline and the Palestine issue would be conveniently shuffled into a siding – just what the doctor ordered as far as Netanyahu is concerned. The long-term consequences don’t bear thinking about, but right now, Netanyahu couldn’t care less.
This may sound far-fetched, and let’s hope it is, but last week the IAEA, an organisation known for its ‘measured’ statements, was uncharacteristically blunt. “…many member states” have provided “extensive” intelligence that appears to show the Islamic Republic is still harbouring secret ambitions to develop nuclear weapons”.
The timing of this statement is interesting. Has pressure been brought to bear on the IAEA to release this statement? Israel wields power in many places. A conspiracy theory too far maybe. Nevertheless, perhaps it would be wise to ensure that Mr Netanyahu’s Israel is kept in check. Just in case.