Home > Canada, Gary Rotto, Gaza, Israel, Palestinian Authority, United States of America > No doubt about it: Netanyahu is inept as a leader

No doubt about it: Netanyahu is inept as a leader

By Gary Rotto

Gary Rotto

SAN DIEGO– Sixteen months since he created a coalition government, I can come to only one conclusion about Benyamin Netanyahu:  He is inept.

To be successful, a leader must have a grasp of three things: Time, a firm grasp on the levers of power and the ability to lead.  This is different than just maintaining a coalition, which is all that Netanyahu seems capable of doing. 

With two significant international incidents in a matter of months, the Netanyahu Administration seems  incompetent.  This is not a matter of policy, but whether Netanyahu has real control of his government.

First, the Prime Minister not only had no idea that his own Housing Minister Eli Yishai, was about to announce the development of new housing units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement during the visit of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.  Sure the Prime Minister admitted embarrassment, but why had he not controlled how and when policy announcements are made and sacked the minister who so undermined his authority? True, Yishai is from the Shas Party, not Netanyahu’s Likud.  But you either run the government or you don’t.  At the very least, you make Yishai wait until the visiting US Vice President leaves the country.  Why keep someone in a position of power who you can’t trust?

Next problem was the fiasco with the Mavi Marmara, one of the ships in the flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza.  The Israeli government has termed the attack on its soldiers premeditated and termed the passengers terrorists.  If so, Israeli intelligence was gravely deficient and put its own soldiers in a situation for which they were unprepared.  How do you put so few soldiers into a group of terrorists with the wrong equipment for the situation?  Or maybe this was not a case of encountering terrorists but rather terrorist sympathizers who were ready for a street fight.  Either way, the Defense Department got it wrong.  And the Israeli public is picking apart the operation.    

Again, the question of timing arises. After his embarrassment with Biden, why did  Netanyahu plan a military operation the same day he was meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and a day prior to his scheduled meeting with US President Barack Obama?  The risk of another embarrassment was too great. 

Luckily, the US response was  muted, from the cancellation of the meeting to the botched episode on the high seas.  Don’t get me wrong – I support the blockade as long as Hamas is in control of Gaza.  But you have to question the timing of the military operation and the intelligence behind the engagement.

Arguably, Netanyahu once was an excellent spokesperson for Israel and a fine Ambassador to the United Nations..  But as demonstrated by his second go-round as Prime Minister, he is in over his head trying to lead his nation.

Rotto is a freelance writer based in San Diego

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