Amman embassy affair is no cause for celebration
Op-ed: Netanyahu is trying to present the Israeli security guard’s return as a diplomatic achievement, talking about it as if it were a second Operation Entebbe. Reality, as we know, is quite different, as the guard was returned to Israel following an agreement with Jordan that included Israeli concessions.
The full secret agreement that secured the return of the Israeli security guard from Amman hasn’t been revealed and likely won’t be revealed, certainly not in the coming days. What we do know is that the security guard was returned to Israel with Jordan’s consent, and that in return, Israel removed the metal detectors that had been placed near the Temple Mount gates.
The full details of the agreement are not the only thing we don’t know. the truth is that the broad public, including the journalists covering the issue, is unware of all the strategic considerations that have to be taken into account by the prime minister, the cabinet ministers and the defense establishment heads.
It’s certainly possible that if we had the full picture in front of us, we too would understand why it was the best decision to make at this time.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conduct since the security guard’s return from Jordan is quite puzzling. It seems Netanyahu has decided to turn this affair into a celebration at all costs. The image of the phone conversation and its recording were urgently distributed to all media outlets in the middle of the night.
The next day, Netanyahu met Israel’s ambassador to Jordan and the security guard at his Jerusalem office, and the pictures, the quotes and everything around them were distributed once again. It was all topped by the prime minister’s rhetoric, so pompous and filled with pathos, as if this were a second Operation Entebbe, no less.
If we weren’t aware of the facts, we might have been under the impression that our fine young men showed up at the heart of the Hashemite Kingdom’s capital in the middle of the night and rescued the brave security guard in a courageous and dangerous operation. Reality, as we know, is very different. The security guard was returned to Israel following an agreement that included Israeli concessions, and the main concession was likely the removal of the metal detectors.
Granted, the metal detectors themselves are not the foundation of our existence, but Israeli control of the Temple Mount is definitely a value in itself. The question whether the metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount increase security within the mountain should be directed at security officials. But the indisputable fact is that their removal under these circumstances reflected the fragility of the Israeli control of the Temple Mount in a very problematic way. Even if Israel has other, more critical interests that justify the decision, it’s definitely not a cause for celebration.
This isn’t something Netanyahu should add to his diplomatic achievements basket, and he has many achievements—including diplomatic ones—to take pride in.
The prime minister should hope that we, all Israeli citizens and especially his supporters, forget the security guard and metal detectors affair as soon as possible. The attempt to market this affair as another one of Netanyahu’s successes doesn’t add a thing to the State of Israel’s strategic strength towards its neighbors.