Akiva Eldar
Haaretz (Opinion)
November 14, 2011 - 1:00am

If the law enabled putting leaders on trial for serial defrauding of the public and obtaining support through deception, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be keeping company with Moshe Katsav in prison. The former president has been convicted of raping women who were his subordinates and misuse of his authority. Netanyahu is having his nefarious way with Israeli democracy and using his status in order to lead Israeli society astray, all the way to diplomatic and economic isolation. From there it is but a short way to regional war and apartheid - the only question is which will come first. Yet nevertheless, a whole country is continuing to give in willingly to a liar who does not cease to harass and endanger it.

Have I exaggerated? How many politicians, media people and ordinary citizens believe Netanyahu is sincerely interested in reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians? The reference, of course, is not to an agreement that will include Israeli control over the Jordan Valley for 40 years, as Netanyahu proposed recently to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

During the course of a condolence visit to one of the Jewish settlements at the end of the 1990s, Netanyahu bragged that he had succeeded in deceiving the Clinton administration during his first term as prime minister, in order to destroy the Oslo Accords. Believing the microphones and cameras had been turned off, Netanyahu related how he had extorted from the Clinton administration, in exchange for the Hebron agreement, a promise that Israel would be the sole entity entitled to define what the "military sites" are that will remain under its control. With a sly smile spread across his face, Bibi added: "I said that as far as I am concerned the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military site," and explained: "Why is this important? Because from that moment I stopped the Oslo Accords."

Yitzhak Shamir, Netanyahu's predecessor in the Likud leadership, put this in simple words: "For the Land of Israel it is permissible to lie." Netanyahu, a student of conservative American media advisor Arthur Finkelstein, has a more sophisticated formulation. In a lecture at a Likud conference in Eilat in July 2001, Bibi instructed the activists: "It doesn't matter if justice is on your side. You have to depict your position as just."

Eventually he gave this procedure the broadest possible interpretation. Though in all likelihood he had not forgotten when he came into this world (October 21, 1949 ), he was able to recount a formative encounter with British soldiers near his childhood home, even though the Mandate had ended well before his birth.

The things French President Nicolas Sarkozy told United States President Barack Obama sum up the reputation he has acquired abroad. The microphone that had been left open by mistake pulled away the diplomatic mask and revealed the two important leaders' opinion of the prime minister of Israel. This was preceded by a meeting between Sarkozy and President Shimon Peres at the beginning of 2010 at the Elysee Palace, during the course of which the French president said: "I don't understand where Netanyahu is going and what he wants."

An equally important European leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also joined the club of people affected by Netanyahu's lies. Her opinion of the prime minister's peace declarations did not make its way to the microphones, but according to a report by Barak Ravid in Haaretz in February, Merkel told Netanyahu in a phone conversation: "You have disappointed us. You have not taken a single step to advance peace."

On the eve of the most recent meeting between Netanyahu and Obama in New York, it was leaked to The New York Times that Obama had told his advisors he didn't believe Netanyahu would ever be prepared to carry out compromises leading to a peace agreement. Prior to that Steven Simon, Senior Director for Middle East and North Africa at the White House, revealed in a conference call with Jewish community leaders in the United States that the Palestinians had agreed to renew the negotiations on the basis of Obama's outline (the 1967 lines and agreed exchanges of territories ) and that the ball was now in Netanyahu's court.

As is known, Bibi depicts President Abbas as refusing to enter negotiations. With a trove of lies like this, is Bibi expecting "the world" to believe he intends to attack Iran's nuclear installations and tighten the sanctions on Iran? Why shouldn't they suspect that maybe all the ruckus about the bomb is intended only to distance the threat of peace, and therefore not lift a finger against the Iranian threat?


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