Opinion: Netanyahu seeks to reassure world leaders, especially in Washington and the Middle East, that he will determine Israel’s policies going forward and asks that his government be judged by its deeds and not outlandish remarks or murky pasts of some of its constituents

The establishment of the new Israeli government is making a lot of headlines – and raising a lot of concerns – both among Israelis and the international community across the globe.

However, incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has opted to give interviews only to foreign media, mostly the American press, and has even spoken to Arab media such as Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya.

בנימין נתניהו וג'ו ביידן
Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: GPO)


Behind this decision is a clear political rationale. Netanyahu has no interest in sharing the ins and outs of his coalition negotiations with the Israeli public. He has said his attention is focused now on formulating a solid policy and strategy for his new government. one that will be “for the good of the State of Israel.”

The possibility of damage to democracy when he is preventing the public from transparency surrounding his political dealings is not on the list of his concerns.

On the international stage, things are more complex and challenging. World leaders have expressed fear of Netanyahu’s radical coalition partners and the policies they seek to promote.

The prime minister-designate is required to calm such concerns and the choice of American and Saudi media platforms, is not accidental and could indicate the source of some of the worries – in his estimation, and his proposed policies going forward.

בנימין נתניהו במליאת הכנסת
Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)


His primary message, which was repeated in the various interviews, was clear. I, Netanyahu, am prime minister and I will steer this ship. The political parties that concern leaders around the world, have joined the Likud’s coalition, and not the other way around. Trust me and my proven past record and experience.

The message must be received clearly. First by U.S. President Joe Biden who will remain in power for the next two years but is hearing the increasing voices in his Democratic Party and among his administration officials. That demands Netanyahu’s damage control even before his government comes into power.

At the same time, he is keeping all channels of communication with the Republican Party and with former president Donald Trump, open. That was clearly expressed in his interview with the Saudi outlet.

The interview in Al Arabiya was particularly fascinating when it comes to the Middle Eastern arena because it revealed Netanyahu’s main course of action in this region.

He spoke about seeking a version of the Abraham Accords, with Saudi Arabia – the crowning glory – and said such an alliance would strengthen the steadfast stance against Iran, would bolster stability in the region and will contribute to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Although on that matter, Netanyahu avoided a clear and binding reference to the Arab peace initiative proposed by the Saudis in 2002.

Netanyahu also promised to contribute to restoring the relations between the U.S. and its traditional allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates.

הוועדה לתיקון פקודת המשטרה
Incoming government should be examined by policies and not alarming statements (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)


Netanyahu’s remarks may be received by attentive listeners in the Gulf region (although they are more akin to wishful thinking) but would also be taken with skepticism.

This is not enough to calm international concerns. Nevertheless, on the diplomatic level, Israel must work with what it has, and especially with what is familiar, in the hopes of swaying the new government towards a responsible and constructive policy.

Netanyahu’s comments to the international press are helpful to the Foreign Ministry and Israeli diplomats who will be tasked with explaining the new government’s actions. The last few weeks since the election results became known have been very tough for them.

They have struggled to communicate a coherent, realistic position that would take the edge off some of the messaging of incoming coalition partners regarding legislation and their intended changes to Israel’s legal system. those were seen as incompatible with Israel’s branding as a liberal and democratic state.

Thus Netanyahu’s statements are meant to buy some time, and at the very least articulate his hopes that his government would be judged by its deeds and not by the past transgressions of some of its members or their outlandish remarks.

His comments also contain the beginning of an articulated policy goal that can now be communicated through diplomatic channels.

How successful Netanyahu’s efforts would remain to be seen but Israelis would be wise to follow the international press and not only local news.

As reported by Ynetnews