Bennett, Biden and Johnson
Bennett, Biden and JohnsonPhoto: AFP
It is not easy to lead any country, and it is particularly not easy to lead Israel. For reasons old and new, great and small, the leader of Israel is required to deal with many external pressures which typically do not beset most other leaders.

The subtext of many of these challenges is a diminution, ignoring or disparagement of the reality of Israeli sovereignty.

Historically, many nations, particularly the wealthy and powerful ones, have treated Israeli sovereignty as a burden to be worked around and out-maneuvered in the name of larger interests.

The acid test for anyone serving as Prime Minister of Israel is to disabuse other leaders of this condescension. Great Israeli leaders act as if the sovereignty and self-determination of Israel are paramount, subject only to the classic test of what is in the best interests of Israel, as Israelis themselves would define it.

The issue raised by the Biden administration, from the President down to his once and again Arabist State Department, proposing the establishment of a US Consulate in western Jerusalem, less than three miles from the US Embassy, to serve the interests of Palestinians, is a classic example of great power derogation of Israeli sovereignty in the pursuit of great power interests.

It is of a piece with the EU's funding illegal construction in Area C as a way of pursuing the European idea of what will bring peace and justice in this region.

Like his predecessors, PM Bennett has to face the music, to assert the sanctity of Israel's sovereignty, regardless of the inconvenience that it will cause to others.
The Biden administration knows well the implications of constructively planting the Palestinian flag not only on Israeli soil, but also smack dab in the heart of its unified capital.

They also know that international law precludes them from doing this unilaterally; they must receive the approval of the host country to move forward.

The thought is that we, little Israel, will hopefully see the light of enlightenment as cast by the US, who, after all, is playing on the biggest stage of all.

Forget the merits or the lack thereof of the American position. This is about the assertion of the national will of one country over another. Notice that the Biden administration doesn't even make a pretense of asserting that this decision is in Israel's interests, except to imply that following US orders is a good strategy for Israel.

This is best case, well intentioned naivete, and more likely the disdainful attitude that holds that the Biden administration knows better what is in everyone’s interests, and is intent on making that happen, regardless of whether a myopic Israel agrees or not.

So, like his predecessors, PM Bennett has to face the music, to assert the sanctity of Israel's sovereignty, regardless of the inconvenience that it will cause to others.

Bennett has portrayed himself as a natural, worthy leader of Israel, despite his lack of a popular mandate to become Prime Minister. He campaigned that he is ready and capable of leading.

Fair enough. Mr. Prime Minister, this then is your moment, your true audition for being judged worthy to represent us. You obviously know that this is an offensive and completely counterproductive proposal.

Your test is to clearly, forcefully yet respectfully decline to allow this to go forward. In doing so you will not only have done the obligatory right thing, but also you will have done yourself an immense service going forward by showing US and also European leaders that you are not to be intimidated, pressured and trifled with.

Making a career of not being like your predecessor will only carry you so far. Now we need, the world needs to see what and who you, you yourself will be.

You must stand strong and assert that it is not in Israel's interests, in fact it runs counterproductive to everything that Israel represents, to allow such a Consulate; but also, that Israel will always seek to work collaboratively to further the cause of true peace.

PM Bennett would be wise to parry this proposal with one that includes the full enforcement of the Taylor Force Act, prohibiting aid to the Palestinian Authority to the extent it pays the families of terrorists, and one that also reminds the State Department of the virtual impossibility of achieving peace when the top down culture and education system of the Palestinian Authority is predicated on Jew hatred.

One increasingly senses that the approach of the Biden administration toward Israel is becoming much like that of the Palestinian Authority: every accommodation is an indication of weakness, to be exploited with additional demands. This push, and then push some more posture must be confronted and stopped cold.

Prime Minister Bennett, the ball is squarely in your court. This is a pass/fail exam with no partial credit. Are you worthy of serving as Israel's Prime Minister, clearly and unequivocally defending Israel’s interests to anyone and everyone?

We are rooting for you.

Douglas Altabef is the Chairman of the Board of Im Tirtzu, Israel’s largest grassroots Zionist organization, and a Director of the Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at [email protected].