The big winner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Monday night speech to the nation was Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who remains in office without having to apologize for warning against continuing the judicial reform legislation, nor for the timing of said warning, while Netanyahu was away on a state visit in London.
Netanyahu also cited an attack on Hezbollah infrastructures that would have been a good idea had they actually taken place, but according to the reports of the IDF spokesperson never happened. The attacks were against Hamas infrastructure in south Lebanon since it was Hamas that fired on Israel. But the reason for the inconsistency in the PM’s speech may have been reported by Sky News in Arabic Monday night, that Hezbollah supplies Hamas with rockets and long-range missiles for attacks on Israel from Lebanese soil.
According to a source cited by Sky News, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards transported hundreds of Hamas operatives through Beirut airport, to undergo training by Hezbollah as part of a plan to open a northern front against Israel without implicating Hezbollah.
Mind you, while the Israeli Air Force is only too happy to hit with impunity Iranian convoys in Syria that carry weapons and ammunition for, among other customers, Hezbollah, the same air force is not daring to hit Beirut airport, despite reports of numerous Iranian landings there.
Today, the Israeli security apparatus would rather not poke the Hezbollah bear, which is sitting on more than 100 thousand rockets aimed at Israel. Hezbollah is capable of hitting most of Israel, including Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, with 5,000 daily volleys of missiles every day for a month, inflicting Berlin in 1945 kind of devastation. So, Beirut airport and Hezbollah missile sites are off limits for the time being.
Netanyahu blamed the Lapid government for pushing Israeli security down a slippery slope when, in response to three Hezbollah drones that were sent against the Karish natural gas platform last July, as a threat of things to come, capitulated and turned over to Lebanon Israeli marine territory as well as the rights to exploit the gas resources there. That capitulation, according to Netanyahu, combined with the deterioration of the relationship between anti-judicial reform reservists and the state, gave Israel’s enemies the idea that it was an opportune time to attack.
Netanyahu also claimed that his relationship with the White House is excellent, which was an exaggeration, to be polite. For a variety of reasons, including the fact that the PM has opted to forge a coalition with people the Biden Democrats hate, the relationship is still good, but it must become much, much better. The US must not continue its gradual abandoning of the region, it must be convinced that leaving now would empower Iran––and Russia––to spread a campaign of terror across the region, with Israel as the main target. To convince the Americans to stay, someone, say the prime minister of Israel, must fly to Washington to talk face-to-face to President Biden, and that, alas, is not happening. Well, it must happen, even with a political cost.
On Monday, US Ambassador Tom Nides paid a holiday visit to the Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh in Bnei Brak, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, and MK Moshe Gafni, leader of the Lithuanian faction of United Torah Judaism. The ambassador told the two dignitaries that the US government views the Haredi public as a balancing factor in the Israeli public, which is not given to extremism.
OK, sure, he should have come to one of the Shabbat demonstrations in Jerusalem, or to the anti-draft rallies, but the point was clear: the US would favor a Netanyahu government without the national religious faction, and would like the Haredim to support the PM in his effort to bring in Benny Gantz et al.
In return for overhauling his coalition government (which he was never opposed to, it was the Gantz folks who boycotted him), Netanyahu would be invited to the White House and the US would consider remaining in the region to support––should the time come––an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Yes, the fix is already in, it’s only a matter of time and, naturally, Benny Gantz’s evaluation of his political capital should he move in with Bibi one more time. As things stand now, the polls are giving Gantz at least 23 Knesset seats if the elections were held today, overshadowing his rival Yair Lapid who dropped to 19 seats.
Meanwhile, the big loser of Netanyahu’s speech was National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, whose promotion of a much-needed national guard to supplement the police force against Arab riots in the mixed cities and against other local crimes was embraced by the prime minister, but at the same time taken away from Ben Gvir. When the national guard becomes a reality, it would be under the control of Israel Police or the Border Guard – not the national security minister.