Election season is heating up in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now tethered to the right, is doing all that he can to look steady after being dealt a diplomatic blow at the United Nations last week. But in trying to appear unflustered, Netanyahu is focusing on divisive matters that appeal to his base when he should be looking at strengthening Israel’s standing in the international community amid bigger problems.

David Horovitz has a picture of the sierra.

Nobody who looks closely at Israel’s geostrategic situation can much blame the Israeli public for swinging to the right. But that does not alleviate the dismay at the sight of the Israeli party of government choosing a Knesset slate overloaded with empty populists, and ditching credible, experienced politicians who recognize the sensitivities and discretions required for effective rule. Our region is free-falling into chaos. All the more reason to select leadership that, rather than exacerbating the dangers, can seek deftly to minimize them. And dangers there are, in every direction.

Just a few of those dangers:

Chemical weapons in neighboring Syria, which is perched on the brink of collapse.

• The growing political instability in Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon.

• Tunnels between Egypt and Gaza are functional again for the first time since the cease-fire.

• Heightened fears about the security of weapons-grade plutonium at a nuclear reactor site in Iran. Also, Iran’s seemingly untrammeled stride toward a nuclear weapon.

I don’t doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu is paying attention to these matters, but is really worth straining ties and wasting the political capital fending off criticism of a settlement plan that the international community seems to think is entirely retaliatory?

There is a precedent for this short-sightedness. Netanyahu, despite having delivered Israel a few years of steady security in the last 1990s, was voted out of office in favor of Ehud Barak because Netanyahu had failed to see the big picture. Back then, it was the opportunity (or perhaps the perception of the opportunity) for peace that Netanyahu seemed disinterested by.

Today, the big picture isn’t East Jerusalem or the stretch of land between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim or, as much of the world (including the United States, France, Britain, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Australia) says, the stretch of land between Bethlehem and Ramallah.

The big picture involves maintaining the support of Israel’s most important allies as the rest of the region continues to devolve. Even if Netanyahu is re-elected, these problems aren’t going to wait until election season is over.

Earlier: On the Reactions to Israel’s E-1 Plan
The Politics of Petulance [Times of Israel]
European Nations Criticize Israel Over Its E-1 Settlement Plan [LA Times]
The real WMD nightmare is Syria [Bulletin of Atomic Scientists]
Tunnels Between Egypt and Gaza Are Back in Business
U.S. Raises Monitoring of Iranian Reaction [WSJ]
Rising Fuel Prices Spark Jordan Protests