I launched my blog quoting Ecclesiastes: A time to keep silence and a time to speak. Now I would like to explore this theme a little further. Events in the Middle East are developing at lightning speed. Every day there are significant developments with the capacity to effect far-reaching change in the lives of individuals and entire countries in the region. One of the potentially far-reaching changes that occurred recently was the signing of an accord between Fatah and Hamas.
Whether this accord turns out to be a good thing, and indeed, whether it lasts any significant amount of time, remains to be seen. What bothers me, however, is the speed with which the Israeli Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, rushed to condemn it. Within two hours of the breaking news of an impending agreement, he had already drawn his conclusions and made a public pronouncement denouncing the agreement and declaring yet again that there was no Palestinian partner for peace.
Surely this was a time for silence. Surely this was a time for Netanyahu to consult – with his ministers (not that there’s much point in that), with the army, with the intelligence services, with his advisors. Why rush to speak out, locking Israel into a position that may or may not turn out to be in our strategic interest? If Netanyahu had taken just a few moments to think before speaking, he might have come to the conclusion that he should wait and see how the agreement plays out. Choosing silence over speech, even if briefly, would have allowed Israel much more room for manoeuvre. Netanyahu, whose term of office has been characterized by doing almost nothing, chose the entirely wrong moment to rush into action.