by Mati Tuchfeld
Wary of the public's wrath, King Abdullah of Jordan is working against his country's interests. Still, his decision should not affect the strategic cooperation that Amman and Jerusalem so highly value.
There are plenty of reasons that can explain 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 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. EU and global interests rarely coincide with Israel's interest and in most cases, they 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 façade 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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