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How the Arab world sees Netanyahu’s fourth government

Analysis: Commentators in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and the Gulf emirates agree that if the Israeli prime minister tries to make a move involving the settlements or peace talks, he will immediately be handcuffed by the Bennett-Shaked duo.

The Arab media have already sealed and signed the deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett and sworn in Justice Minister-designate Ayelet Shaked, and have then rushed to shower her with a series of profile stories.

Not the kind she dreamed of. On the one hand, the most flattering photos; on the other hand, diligent investigative reporters visited Shaked’s Facebook page and pulled out material to justify the attacks on her as a racist who incites the murder of Palestinians.

The Saudi news website of the al-Arabiya network, for example, chose a picture of Shaked in military uniform, mentioned (her father’s) Iraqi roots and gave her the headline: “This is Israel’s new justice minister, who is calling for the Palestinians’ annihilation.”Shaked’s appointment and its (negative) influence on the fate of the settlements and the ongoing stalemate in the talks with the Palestinians made headlines in Lebanon, Jordan and the Gulf emirates as well.
603574112622777640360noNetanyahu with Bayit Yehudi ministers. The prime minister won’t budge

And this is how they see us: If Netanyahu even tries to make a move, the Bennett-Shaked duo will handcuff him. Experts are now sitting in front of the television cameras and analyzing the effect that the distribution of portfolios in the new government will have on the expansion of construction in the settlements.

Every time, it’s amazing to see how transparent we are in the other side’s eyes. Prof. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, head of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in Cairo, has decided to give up. Thanks to his many years and rich experience in life, he sees us as victims of an exaggerated, dangerous and expensive democracy.

According to his analysis, as a veteran viewer of Israel – and an unbiased one, he says – the new Netanyahu government has no chance of surviving. “Too many extremists and haredim, and cockfights inside the Likud. Every person there thinks he deserves to be a minister and isn’t afraid of threatening Netanyahu in a way which here would have sent those with the big mouth to prison to calm down.”

Ibrahim is only pessimistic about the near future: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and Netanyahu must present a diplomatic achievement. Logic says that immediately after the government is established in Jerusalem, Netanyahu will telephone al-Sisi and get him to renew the talks with the Palestinian Authority. Al-Sisi has an open dialogue with Netanyahu, and he is waiting for the phone to ring.

“But in our neighborhood, you do what you have to in order to survive. Netanyahu won’t budge, Abbas will continue to undermine Israel in the international institutions, and al-Sisi will continue dealing with Egypt’s problem. We have enough problems… We will miss out on another opportunity, until Hamas wakes all of us up.”

Prof. Ibrahim explains to me, the Israeli, that this government has no chance, that Israel will get caught in an international boycott, will receive even more resentment in Washington and violent surprises from Hamas in Gaza and in Ramallah. “When it falls on you,” he predicts, “you’ll get the brains.”

Even the affair of the Saudi plane which landed in Tel Aviv last week fits into the pessimistic forecasts. Whoever fantasized about a strategic honeymoon taking place behind the scenes between Riyadh and Jerusalem was punched in the face: The new king in Riyadh ordered the cancellation of the business deal with the Portugal-based airline which leased a plane from the Saudis and landed it in Israel with the kingdom’s identification marks. It doesn’t matter that a plane was sent to the Israel Aerospace Industries’ Bedek factory. The important thing is what the eyes see, and Saudi Arabia announces in the most illusion-dissolving way that it does not recognize and will not recognize Israel, especially with the Netanyahu government.


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