With Truce, Netanyahu Shows Cautious Side

Despite Gung-Ho Image, Israeli Leader Very Conscious of Risk

getty images

By Reuters

Published November 22, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Just hours after a bomb exploded on a Tel Aviv bus, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a truce with the very people his government blamed for the blast – the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza.

Wednesday’s decision to pull back from the brink of a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip despite the attack, which wounded 15 people, belies Netanyahu’s international image as an uncompromising, bellicose hardliner.

Indeed, the eight-day campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza was the first major military operation he had ordered after seven years in power – a remarkable record in a country that has repeatedly gone to war in its 64 year history.

“People don’t realise that Netanyahu is trigger unhappy,” said Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“He is very cautious and very restrained. You could see that this past week. He set very well-defined boundaries and was very careful not to go wild,” he added.

Opposition politicians were swift to portray this discretion as a failing, hoping that it will cost Netanyahu votes at a Jan. 22 general election, which all opinion polls prior to the Gaza conflict had said he would win.

“The government displayed weakness and hesitancy in implementing its goals and the promise of achieving complete calm for the residents of Israel,” said Yair Lapid, a television personality-turned-politician running in the January ballot.

Israeli daily Maariv also stuck the knife in, printing a cartoon showing a glum-looking Netanyahu carrying an object under his arm marked “backbone for rent”.

A group of 16 soldiers marked their disdain by writing out “Bibi (is a) Loser”, with their bodies and posting the photograph on Facebook. The image went viral and the army is investigating.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.