Netanyahu Is Vulnerable

Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu are both slyly involved in the other’s politics, and the US is not the only country headed to an election. Netanyahu’s Likud, and all the parties of Greater Israel, are now (as Andrew Sullivan put it) “fused” with the GOP.

The question is, can Obama contribute to defeating Netanyahu’s government without confronting Bibi over settlements once again, which would risk inflaming Israel’s automatic supporters among the Democrats? Can he undermine the Netanyahu coalition, a precondition for advancing negotiations, without undermining the chances for his own reelection?

The first thing to say is that Netanyahu is, in spite of his lead in the polls, vulnerable. The parties of Global Israel—Labor, Kadima, Yair Lapid’s new center list, Meretz, etc.—lack an obvious leader just now (except for the perennial figurehead, Shimon Peres). But they are held together by a mounting and widely shared fear that the two-state solution slipping away; fear of new and catastrophic political isolation owing to Netanyahu’s ideology and recklessness. Educated Israelis fear losing advantages in global commercial networks that depend so much on personal connections, including visits to Israel. They fear cultural boycott. This kind of thing can trickle down.

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