Today Ynet News reported that the Egyptians are using the threat of a Bibi Netanyahu Premiership as a negotiating tool with Hamas:

Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports Cairo trying to convince Palestinian group to relax conditions for agreement with Israel before right-wing government rises to power with more radical stances. Deal meant to include lifting of Gaza siege, opening crossings, securing Gilad Shalit’s release

Egypt is monitoring the public opinion polls in Israel ahead of the February 10 general elections and is trying to convince Hamas to relax its demands for a deal with the Jewish state before the end of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s tenure, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Monday, quoting Israeli sources.

In two weeks Israel will be electing a new Prime Minister, if there are no major changes in the trends the new Premier will be former PM Bibi Netanyahu.

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According to the report, Egypt warned Hamas that the next Israeli government, which according to the polls will be headed by Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu – will take more radical stances. Therefore, they said, the Palestinian movement must take advantage of the opportunity as long as the Olmert government is still in power, for fear of “losing everything”.

The sources quoted by the paper estimated that Cairo understand the next two weeks will be crucial and will be seen as Hamas’ “last opportunity for a good deal”.

Egypt isn’t the only country “worried” about a Netanyahu administration, there are reports that President Obama rushed to send George Mitchell to the reason is that he feared that the return of Bibi to Prime Minister job would result in his administration having a tougher time imposing a solution on Israel. He hopes that the picture of Mitchell working with a Livni and/or Barack help their standing in the polls vs. Netanyahu.

While Bibi as PM is much preferred to Olmert or Livni don’t forget that he caved in to Bill Clinton with the Wye River Accords (1998). And It was Bibi that turn Hebron over to Arafat, there is no evidence that he wont cave in to the extreme pressure of Obama’s anti-Israel advisers

The crucial question facing the future of Israel is which Netanyahu will show up. The hard-liner Bibi who has been campaigning ever since he was voted out or the Bibi who folded when Bill Clinton put pressure on him?

P. David Hornik believes it will be former:

…..Livni—much closer to Netanyahu in the polls than Barak—is herself pushing that line, warning that Washington will see a Netanyahu-led government as a “peace refuser” and be at loggerheads with it. Again, it’s a miscalculation, perhaps desperate; most Israelis aren’t in the mood to hear that Israel should be bending its will to a U.S. administration that may be afflicted with quick-fix visions for the Middle East.

In any case, Netanyahu, with all this attention converging on him, also on Monday penned an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post. Bibi is not just a commentator but a candidate running for office in a country often at the eye of the storm, and his op-ed is meant to send signals. Here is an attempt to decode them:

“In foreign policy, Obama faces a wide array of difficult decisions, from how to responsibly withdraw from Iraq to how to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Bibi to Obama administration: I am not an opponent of the latter idea or an obstacle to it. Nor, though, am I in a rush; I believe peace can be advanced, incrementally and carefully, not achieved all at once.

“But…one issue will prove more important to Obama’s presidency than all others: Will his administration succeed in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?”

Bibi to Obama administration: I have, however, a strategic focus and am much more concerned about a much larger issue.

“A nuclear-armed Iran will change the world as we know it. It will pose a direct existential threat to Israel…. Iran will move quickly to dominate the world’s oil supplies and the nuclear nonproliferation treaty will be rendered meaningless.

“I am convinced that Obama recognizes these dangers. When he visited Jerusalem last summer, he said that the United States cannot afford a nuclear-armed Iran. I believe that Obama is working from his first day in office to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

Bibi to Obama administration and world: I am not necessarily convinced of these things, otherwise I would not be drawing attention to them. However, even if Iran is not Obama’s first priority, it is my first priority, and that is something that will not change.

“[Israel’s] security challenges are…daunting. Hamas remains in power and will try to rearm itself with an even more deadly arsenal.”

Bibi to world: I don’t believe Operation Cast Lead came anywhere near defeating or neutralizing Hamas. I am realistic about the danger Hamas continues to pose.

“Hizbullah has de facto control over Lebanon and has tripled its lethal capacity.”

Bibi to world: Ditto for the Second Lebanon War. It didn’t achieve much and I am realistic about the danger Hizbullah continues to pose.

“And advancing peace with moderate Palestinians is possible, but must be done in a way that does not sacrifice Israel’s security interests.”

Bibi to Obama administration: Again, I don’t dismiss this idea, but I’m going to be real careful about it and will not be pushed into moves I deem harmful to Israel.

“Above all else, the top priority of the next government of Israel will be to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons. Iran is a regime openly pledged to our destruction, and its threats must never be dismissed lightly. Israel must immediately redouble its efforts to work with the United States and other allies to neutralize this threat.”

Bibi to Obama administration and Europeans: If you’re really intending to do something about it, I will work with you against the Iranian threat. If you’re not, take note: Israel will go it alone.

To sum up, Netanyahu’s advent evokes rational fears in those who wish Israel ill and irrational enmity in those purporting to wish it well. Netanyahu, aware of the various perceptions, wants it to be known that he is above all an Israeli nationalist concerned about his country’s survival. After three years and more of weak, irresolute leadership, Israelis—with their mixed feelings about his earlier tenure at the helm—are ready to put him there again.

For the future of the Jewish State, we can ohly hope that Netanyahu is the Big Bad Boggieman.

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