To paraphrase Abba Eban’s famous platitude, the Israeli government never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity – at least as far as its own image is concerned. So it was that the Israeli cabinet volunteered to help Palestinian propaganda on Monday by shifting attention away from the problematic reunion of Fatah and Hamas: “Israel won’t allow”, “Israel rejects”, “Israel threatens” “Israel will impose sanctions” – these were the headlines affixed to many international reports on the swearing in of the new Palestinian government.
Let’s assume that the macho declarations issued by the Israeli cabinet do not stem from a basic disconnect from reality or from delusions that its serial “no’s” will somehow improve Israel’s international image. Hopefully we can also discount claims that the cabinet was whistling past the graveyard and trying to calm itself. Which leaves us with the conclusion that the cabinet’s tough-guy pronouncements were aimed at the two groups that would appreciate them most: public opinion in Israel and Republican lawmakers in Washington.
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