Analysis: The Writing on the Wall

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israelis are unusually astute people, especially when it comes to politics. They're keenly aware of world opinion and the way in which the media often portrays the Jewish state as the responsible party in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Six months into his second term as prime minister (first term: 1996 - 1999), an increasing number of Israelis are disappointed by Binyamin Netanyahu's diplomatic efforts to appease U.S.-led demands.

The issue of settlement construction tops the agenda.

The U.S. government under President Barack Obama has called for a full construction freeze in so-called Jewish settlements, which the State Department defines as any area outside the pre-1967 armistice lines.

A recent poll, commissioned by IMRA (Independent Media Review and Analysis) revealed that 74 percent of Israelis are dissatisfied with the way Netanyahu is handling the issue of settlement construction.

Sixty-one percent of poll respondents believe the government should sanction "illegal" Jewish outposts in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), rather than destroy them, which is viewed as more appeasement to the U.S.

The poll also found that 70 percent of Likud members are not happy with recent decisions by their party chairman and prime minister.

During Netanyahu's four-day trip to England and Germany last week, the U.S. reportedly withdrew its objections to construction in Jerusalem neighborhoods, though that decision may be reversed in a few short weeks.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that while U.S. "positions in these discussions remain unchanged," it will not demand preconditions for restarting negotiations.

"We put forward our ideas, publicly and privately, about what it will take for negotiations to be restarted, but ultimately it will be up to the parties themselves, with our help, to determine whether that threshold has been met," Crowley told the press.

Meanwhile, according to bits and pieces of information leaked to the media, the White House has been hosting a group of diplomats who are formulating a unilateral plan for a final peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Rumor has it that Obama will present his plan at the United Nations opening of the General Assembly next month.

Israelis too see the writing on the wall. Despite claims of preserving America's historical relationship with the Jewish state, Obama's actions on the ground do not support his statements.

Results of a Smith Research poll, commissioned last week by The Jerusalem Post, revealed that only 4 percent of Israelis view Obama as pro-Israel, down 2 percent from a poll published on June 19.

And Netanyahu's efforts to appease world leaders backing the Saudi-initiated Arab Peace Plan is a far cry from what Israelis were hoping for when they voted in a Likud-led government.

The majority of Israelis were not happy with the direction Ehud Olmert's administration had been taking the country. Many believed a Likud-led government, under the leadership of party chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, would make a difference.

Israeli President Shimon Peres made a very pragmatic decision last February when he tasked the Likud chairman and former prime minister with forming the next government.

Despite his personal political leanings and the Kadima party's one-vote lead in election results, the president saw the writing on the wall.

Peres, a seasoned politician himself, knew the country was not evenly divided as one might have assumed from election results, which are based on Israel's electoral system that votes for parties rather than individual candidates.

The Labor party took a beating in the elections as did the ultra-left wing Meretz party. Peres knew that Labor chairman Ehud Barak would likely join a Netanyahu-led unity government, allowing him to stay on as defense minister.

The president saw that nearly 70 percent of Israelis, represented in the more right-wing parties, wanted a strong leader who would stand up to the demands of the Arab League, European Union, United Nations and especially the new U.S. administration under President Barack Obama.

These parties would join a Likud-led government, giving Netanyahu a clear majority for his coalition. And that's exactly what took place.

Six months later, many Israelis are less confident of the prime minister's ability to stand up against the dictates of the U.S. government and its allies worldwide.

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Tzippe Barrow

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From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow helps provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country.

She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.