Outwardly, Israel's leaders act calm, as though the country's security is safe in the steady hands of a small group of skilled and coolheaded people led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who are supported by competent military commanders and intelligence chiefs.
This spectacle is at odds with the reality swirling around Israel's borders and generates in the Israeli public a false sense of confidence.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is presented as a hothead crazed with imperialist delusions. If Israel stays cool, the seizure will pass. Egypt's Supreme Military Council is torn between wearing kid gloves for handling the angry Islamists who ransacked the Israeli embassy Sept. 10 and its overriding desire to preserve the long peace ties with Israel.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, an ageing leader with declining influence, has trapped himself and his people into a terminal row with the US by insisting on applying to the UN for recognition of a Palestinian state.
Jordan’s King Abdullah who commented Monday, September 12, that Jordan and the future Palestine are stronger today than Israel did not warrant a response.
Israel leaders trapped into inaction by own complacence
In this way, Israelis are deluded into believing that they are untouched by the turmoil around them and its dangerous fallout and that everything is under control.
As part of the deception, almost the entire Israeli government is trooping off to New York to lead the diplomatic front against the Palestinian bid for UN acceptance as an independent state, keeping up the pretense that the country has nothing more pressing to contend with than the Palestinian issue.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in Jerusalem quote some informed circles as concluding that Israel's leaders have fallen into their own trap of complacence. They are shirking at least three strategic crises which are far more acute than the Palestinian issue:
1. Since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown four key props supporting Egyptian-Israeli peace ties have fallen into disuse: The Egyptian natural gas pipeline to Israel; collaborative industrial zones in Egypt; normal albeit limited diplomatic relations; and combined, proactive counterterrorism and intelligence cooperation in fighting Islamist extremists.
Indeed, the Israeli government has not leveled with the public about the fact that some of the terrorists who attacked the southern Israel highway on Aug. 18 from Sinai were Egyptian soldiers; Cairo has in fact abandoned its counterterrorism operations in Sinai.
President Barack Obama is worried enough about the security fallout from the Egyptian revolution to ask the diplomatic "firefighter" Ambassador William B. Taylor, just named the State Department’s special coordinator for Middle East transitions, to make Egypt his first priority.
Jerusalem has not named his counterpart.
Netanyahu seems content to let Washington handle Israel's crises with Cairo.
Erdogan convinces Abbas to go through with his UN bid
2. The military situation with Turkey is veering out of control as the Prime Minister Erdogan continues to build up his naval and air forces for a clash with Israel – limited at best – in the eastern Mediterranean.
Netanyahu's late-night phone call to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and their decision to invoke their new mutual defense pact have not been brought to the knowledge of the Israeli public.
3. The Palestinian arena has two parts: The six-month Libyan conflict transformed the Gaza Strip into a storehouse for smuggled arms. Its Hamas rulers command 15,000 fighters who are the best-armed pro-Iranian militia in the Middle East after Hizballah, far outstripping the security force the US established for PA Chairman Abbas on the West Bank in numbers and fighting skills.
As for Abbas, he appears to have fallen under the anti-Israel spell of the Turkish prime minister and Thursday reversed his decision to refrain from submitting an application for recognition of Palestinian statehood to the Security Council. He may have been influenced by Erdogan's offer to help dig the Palestinian Authority out of its deep financial crisis.
Thursday morning, Sept. 15 Israel evacuated its ambassador and staff from Jordan ahead of a rally staged by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas demanding the embassy's closure and the Israel flag's removal.
Forced to recall two ambassadors from neighboring Arab countries, Israel may face an even worse scenario – a joint Turkish-Arab-Palestinian showdown on several fronts.