Photo Credit: Screenshot
The illegal Bedouin outpost known as Khan al Ahmar.

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

There are plenty of reasons that can explain Israeli Prime ‎Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to postpone the ‎controversial eviction and demolition of the Bedouin ‎village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem.‎


After all, the international pressure was ‎unbearable, the European Union was furious, the ‎United Nations was outraged and Israeli Arabs, ‎already on edge over the new nation-state law, were ‎livid. ‎

Israeli opposition leaders claimed from day one that ‎the damage this move would cause to Israel far ‎outweighs any benefits and rushed to congratulate ‎Netanyahu on his surprising decision to suspend the ‎demolition. ‎

The fact that the international and diplomatic ‎arenas dictate internal Israeli moves—some harder ‎to explain than others—is something we have gotten ‎used to. European Union and global interests rarely coincide ‎with Israel’s interests, and in most cases, are ‎the polar opposite. We have also grown used to the ‎fact that the Israeli left adopts international ‎dictates and presents them as Israeli interests. ‎

The only thing that took us by surprise was ‎Netanyahu’s decision to opt for a policy of ‎incompetence. Because the simple truth is that the ‎decision to let Khan al-Ahmar stand is the one doing the ‎real damage to Israel’s international image—not ‎the other way around. ‎

This has made it clear to the world that the Israeli ‎government’s decisions are flimsy and fickle, even ‎when it comes to the purely internal matter of ‎enforcing a High Court of Justice ruling. No, even ‎with the High Court’s backing, the government cowers ‎before a handful of and foreign leaders simply ‎because they crinkled their noses at us.‎

But this goes beyond inflicting damage to Israel’s ‎international image. This simply defies common ‎sense.‎

There is no real explanation for the question of why ‎a state cannot easily rebuff those who demand it ‎refrain from enforcing the law within its own ‎territory, and Netanyahu’s capitulation in this case has undermined ‎Israel’s sovereignty.

It is too early to assess the ‎damage, but it is likely to prove hard to deal with. ‎Essentially, Netanyahu showed the world that his word is ‎meaningless and that it is more than possible to ‎chip away at his facade of strength and ‎determination—and quite easily so.‎

It is no secret that Israel is facing tremendous ‎security challenges at this time. Netanyahu himself ‎reminds us of that in almost every speech. That is ‎why standing firm, especially at this time, is ‎nothing short of an existential asset. If it turns ‎out that this is only a disguise, it would be akin ‎to sacrificing a strategic asset on the altar of ‎diplomatic and political distortions.‎

Netanyahu knows this, which is why he called a ‎cabinet meeting before announcing his decision; he ‎needed a buffer from the criticism he knew would ‎follow. But the question about this incompetent ‎policy remains. ‎

Why is a leader who stood firm vis-à-vis the ‎European Union and the Obama administration on the ‎Iranian issue, locked horns with Russian President ‎Vladimir Putin on Syria and refused to relent to ‎international pressure on so many other issues, now ‎standing so weak and subdued?‎

The opposition’s hypocrisy also cries out to the ‎heavens. So many poignant words have been spoken in ‎the past year about the need to preserve and enforce ‎the rule of law. Those who hailed the rule of law ‎championed the cause of the High Court of Justice ‎are now welcoming, praising even, a blatant ‎violation of the law and the trampling of the ‎judiciary.‎

As it turns out, law and order, too, are just a ‎matter of politics. After all, none of the critics ‎have ever sought to reach a compromise with the ‎residents of Judea and Samaria when their homes are ‎slated for razing on the court’s orders. Everyone ‎would be wise to remember that the next time they ‎complain that the government is infringing on ‎democracy.‎

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