Benjamin Netanyahu, the slippery old chess-player that he is, got the Israeli Government out of a bind with his speech at Bar-Ilan University. Netanyahu, squeezed between his racist, extreme right wing supporters and his dependence on the financial and military support of Obama’s American taxpayers, was in a tough situation; if he caved in to Obama on Palestinian statehood, he would lose support and potentially his government at home; if he continued his anti-Arab rhetoric, he could lose the support of Israel’s creator and protector, the United States.
Netanyahu scored points by going back to the tried and tested Israeli position: all Israelis are defenceless, Jewish victims and all Palestinians are terrorists. He kept Obama happy by offering the Palestinians a state. He kept his extremist supporters happy by offering the Palestinians a state without sovereignty. He focused on the need for Israeli security while failing to mention that he commands the fourth most powerful military in the world that is also nuclear armed.
Mr. Netanyahu successfully maintained Israels policy of strategic duplicity. Israel plays the long game. US presidents come and go. Peace processes come and go. New, artificial obstacles are created. Various “crises” arise and need to be “fixed”. All the time, the West Bank settlement expansion and road construction move ahead, steadily, relentlessly. This is not a game that a softy like Obama can win in eight years. This is a game for hardmen with strong nerves and time on their side.