Netanyahu’s Speech

Little has changed in the wake of Bibi’s just-concluded speech. Indeed, the image it conjures from my youth was when Geraldo Rivera built up, for weeks, the opening of Al Capone’s vault, only to find nothing in it.

There was nothing new in the speech, which was mostly demagoguery of Holocaust and Herzl invocation and very little substance.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

As also expected, it will not come close to satisfying the Obama administration. It’s a pretty safe bet that initial responses from Obama will include much praise of Netanyahu’s willingness to discuss a Palestinian state. But one can expect a fairly cranky response to Bibi’s blatant insistence on continued settlement expansion in the guise of “natural growth” (growth which has seen the settlement population expand by almost twice the number that can be accounted for by births and marriages).

Bibi might have tried to take advantage of this speech to find some way to mollify Obama without sacrificing his right wing coalition (the idea that he formed, as he said, a “national unity government” was one of the more pronounced guffaws of the speech). In fairness to him, that would have been both difficult and risky.

But in the end, the speech was what everyone expected, and no more. Indeed, it was a disappointment in its sparse content. Much will now depend on Obama’s response, but it seems pretty clear that Netanyahu did nothing to diminish the tensions between Israel and the USA.