At the conclusion of a long, exhausting and beleaguered campaign, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present his fourth government to the Knesset early next week. He will hope and pray that the Knesset will give him a vote of confidence. If, indeed, his fragile, narrow majority (61 Knesset members out of 120) passes the confidence vote, the government could hit the road. Numerous tasks wait for this government, and a considerable number of urgent problems need immediate treatment. Since October 2014, Israel has been running on autopilot without proper management: without a budget, without fully active ministers and without a steady, focused hand on the governmental rudder. On his way to victory in the polls, Netanyahu endangered many Israeli national interests. These include relations with the United States, domestic relations with Israeli Arabs and the state’s international image. Now the time has come to mend the fences.
The most urgent issue of all is that of relations with the United States. Since the elections on March 17, quite a number of US officials have visited Israel, including active members of Congress and former high-level officers of the administration. A summary of the conversations by these visitors with their Israeli hosts brings to light painful observations on the future of bilateral relations between Israel and the country that is perceived as Israel’s greatest ally, the United States.