The timing could not be better. Netanyahu pundits will admit that the PM has not been charged or indicted of any crimes and is innocent of suspicions until proved otherwise. This is true and applies to all citizens. However, public officials (this includes PM Benjamin Netanyahu), who have been elected to power, should have a clean record. If there are suspicions of misdemeanors or breaking the law that warrants police investigation, the public official should take leave of his/her public position in order to clear his/her name of suspicion of misconduct or breaking the law. If these suspicions are unfounded then he/she can return to office without a blemish. As it so happens, according to a Haaretz report, the Police anti-corruption unit is launching a probe into Netanyahu’s financial affairs.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu is a savvy and shrewd politician. He and his wife enjoy their lavish lifestyle as well as travelling abroad - presumably on diplomatic business. Let us call it “diplomatic business” or even “public relations”. However, in many cases, this may be questionable, especially when the whole Netanyahu family accompanies him.
Israel is going through a tough time with all the terrorist attacks, the latest in Sarona, Tel Aviv where 4 innocent people were fatally wounded and 10 injured. There is no question that the solution to the terrorist activities against Israel is strategic. There has been no movement, not on Israel’s side or the Palestinian side to find a solution to this ever smoldering Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. PM Netanyahu is the longest serving prime minister in Israel’s history. There has been no new idea coming from his coalition to end the conflict apart from “Rambo tactics” that has not stopped the terror but minimized its frequency. Collective punishment is morally questionable as well as not being effective in the long term.
PM Netanyahu is embroiled with his own personal problems, some of them of his wife’s creation and some of them concerning his lavish lifestyle and relationship with his tycoon friends that finance his party propaganda machine.
He is also inconsistent on the Two-State Solution without pre-conditions. One pre-condition of Netanyahu that comes to mind is recognition of Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish People” as starters, rather than recognition of the State of Israel as being the “state of all its citizens” that is inclusive of all Israelis, irrespective of race, color or religion. This would not alter Israel’s status and it would not be a bone of contention concerning the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. It would also allow the neighboring Arab States to end the state of war with Israel and accept Israel as an integral part of the Middle East, which it is. While the dynamics within the Middle East have changed since the Arab Peace Initiative was drawn up, changes to adapt to the new situation can surely be discussed by all parties concerned and modifications by mutual agreement can be made where appropriate. The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 does have positive elements that form a good basis for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, including an atmosphere for finding a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.
Unfortunately, Netanyahu is not up to it and the time has come for him to go. He knows that if he does agree with the Arab Peace Initiative he stands a good chance of “upsetting” his right wing flank in the coalition as well as the settlers in the West Bank. This places him in a situation that may break up his coalition. He has to conform to the right wing which is his power base.
Chances of a peace treaty with the Palestinians under the present circumstances are very remote. However a long term “respite from hostilities” is still possible even under Hamas and this would be acceptable by the PA as well. This may sound very imaginative and unrealistic at present. A “respite from hostilities” does not mean a ceasefire The violations of the ceasefire are the terrorist acts that Israel has witnessed since October 2015 with the lone stabbing attacks against innocent civilians, shootings, car ramming etc.
The respite from hostilities can be achieved by the three components of Islamic Law regarding temporary cessation of war:
- Hudna: The concept "Hudna" stems from the Arab-Muslim tradition and refers to a reciprocal truce under agreed-upon conditions and for a specified time period. In the context of Israeli-Palestinian relations, the concept refers to a suggested framework for achieving a ceasefire between the two sides. However, the conditions for declaring Hudna, its purpose and its binding status are unclear.
- Tahdiah: instead of Hudna (3/05) which means "lull" or "pacification", and has no obligatory or traditional context.
- Treaty of Hudaybiyyah: (Arabic: صلح الحديبية) was an important event that took place during the formation of Islam. It was a pivotal treaty between Muhammad, representing the state of Medina, and the Quraysh tribe of Mecca in March 628 (corresponding to Dhu al-Qi'dah, 6 AH). It helped to decrease tension between the two cities, affirmed a 10-year peace, and authorized Muhammad's followers to return the following year in a peaceful pilgrimage.
This is the only hope that Israel has of cessation of hostilities and terror coming from Hamas and its allies. It may seem impossible for Israel to comply with this. However, Hamas will cease hostile activities under these three components of Islamic law on “respite from hostilities” if Israel remains strong and invincible against Hamas militarily. Although Hudna, Tahdiah and the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah are temporary measures to refrain from hostilities until Hamas is strong enough to attack Israel in order to achieve its goal of Israel’s destruction. It is the most we can expect from Hamas, without recognizing Israel’s right to exist until such time as it eventually does.
Israel will have to remain strong and invincible in the eyes of Hamas. It must never show any sign of weakness. If Israel does show signs of weakness, Hamas will attack Israel, as Mohammed had attacked the Quraysh tribe of Mecca, thus breaking the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah when the Quraysh were showing signs of weakness two years after the treaty was signed with Mohammed,
Perhaps it may be a good idea for a militarily strong Israel to sign a peace treaty on the basis of these conditions. Any chance of preventing unnecessary bloodshed on both sides should always be investigated. It is doubtful if the Netanyahu Government has the will to investigate this option which is of course not perfect but will ensure a long period of peace. Israel will always have to be prepared for any violation of the agreement against future hostilities, which it is today without a formal agreement with Hamas.