Netanyahu Claims Credit for Abbas’s Survival; Fails to Repair Links to America’s Liberal Jews
Absent the Israeli military, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would have been assassinated by Hamas terrorists long ago, according to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Tying Abbas’s survival to his demand for an indefinite Israeli military presence in the West Bank – a demand strongly rejected by the Palestinians — the Israeli premier told a conference of American Jewish federations that absent the presence of Israeli troops, the Palestinian leader would not have survived until now. Without elaborating, Netanyahu referred to a thwarted plot uncovered “a couple of years ago” in which a force of 100 Hamas fighters set out to kill Abbas. The prime minister surmised that absent the Israeli military presence, the Iranian-backed Islamists would overrun the West Bank as was the case when Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip.
In an apparent attempt to fend-off blame for what observers see as damaged relations between the prime minister’s government and the Jewish Diaspora stemming from the Orthodox control of religious issues, Netanyahu told delegates that he’s stymied. After a major brouhaha erupted when Netanyahu reneged on a deal that would have provided an area for mixed prayer as practiced by Reform and Conservative Jewry at the Western Wall, he was pressed to oppose a proposed bill that will prohibit conversions not under the auspices of the nation’s Chief Rabbinate that was offered by his “religious” coalition partners. Despite a compromise drafted by a former cabinet member who is the son of a former chief rabbi, Netanyahu told delegates to the conference that he lacks the political currency necessary to support the compromise bill.