MIDEAST MIRROR 12.05.15, SECTION A (ISRAEL)
Passing the first hurdle
Israeli newspapers lead their Tuesday editions with the first victory for Netanyahu's new coalition: the approval of a bill to expand the number of ministers in the government, which will allow the prime minister to hand out jobs to all of his coalition partners. The new bill – which was passed by 61 votes to 59 – will allow Netanyahu to appoint as many ministers as he wants. As the vote suggests, all the members of the new coalition voted for the bill, while all opposition Knesset members voted against it.
The lead headline in Israel Hayom quotes unnamed Likud officials slamming all those who voted against the bill as 'hypocrites,' while Yedioth Ahronoth slips the word 'barely' into its description of the coalition's success. The Jerusalem Post describes the bill as 'controversial' in its lead headline.
The papers also report that Zionist Union has submitted a bill to disperse the Knesset – less than two months after the March 17 election. Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog said it would be preferable to use money that the coalition agreements give to sectarian interests on new elections. 'Netanyahu will try to survive with a coalition of 61,' Herzog said. 'I don’t intend to help him. I intend to replace him. If not in this Knesset, then after new elections.'
Netanyahu told a meeting of Likud parliamentarians that he will continue working to expand his narrow 61-member government, but noted the job of forming a working coalition was not easy. He said that his new government will work for all Israelis on important issues such as security and the cost of living. He also said that despite many concessions to smaller parties in the coalition, the Likud will lead government policy.
Elsewhere, Yedioth Ahronoth reports that the head of the IDF's Southern Command said yesterday that Hamas rule in Gaza is better than the alternatives – namely, IDF rule from without and chaos from within. 'There is no substitute to Hamas as a sovereign power in Gaza,' Sami Turgeman said during a meeting with regional leaders. 'The alternative is the IDF and chaos in the government. Israel and Hamas have mutual interests in the current situation. It's quiet and calm for growth and prosperity. They do not want a global jihad, it threatens Hamas and us,' Turgeman added. 'There is also a common interest to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.'
He added: 'The struggle against Hamas is not a military one. Anyone who thinks that fighting between Israel and Hamas is only due to military force against each other does not have the facts right. We cannot prevent Hamas from growing stronger, let's face it. We need to understand every few years there will be a round of fighting. As I understand it, the alternative is to try to find periods of quiet as often as possible.'
Channel 1 News reported on Monday night that Syria is believed to have succeeded in transferring chemical weapons to Hizbollah. According to the report, it appears chlorine gas bombs have made their way from Syria to Hizbollah’s hands, despite IDF efforts to interdict the transfer. Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have recently been using chlorine gas against civilians in the ongoing civil war, despite Syria's having supposedly gotten rid of its chemical weapons stockpiles, in an agreement brokered by the Obama administration.
Channel 1 noted that the IDF has recently been repeatedly targeting convoys and facilities along the Syria-Lebanon border because of these developments. The report added that Assad's use of chlorine bombs in recent months obviously indicates that he has the ability to use such weapons successfully. It would be a relatively easy matter to transfer the weapons a few kilometers across the border into Lebanon and into Hizbollah’s hands, it noted.
On the Iranian front, several websites have picked up on a story from the Financial Times, which says that Iran's second-largest airline, which has been blacklisted in both the U.S. and Europe, has attempted to circumvent sanctions through a series of private agreements with some European companies and a small Iraqi airline. Western security sources told the paper that over the weekend Iraq had transferred nine planes to Iran which the Iranian Mahan Airlines had acquired but had been stored in Iraq. Both companies have denied the report.
Finally, Army Radio reports that Israeli security forces are gathering in large numbers near the Gush Etzion settlement of Tekoa, in anticipation of the demolition of two buildings by the Civil Administration authorities, at the approval of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. A resident of one of the houses evacuated himself from the building of his own accord during the night.
WE ARE NOT ALONE: Writing in Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth says that there are plenty of other countries in the Middle East who share Israel's concern over the Iranian nuclear deal – and who are not afraid to let U.S. President Barack Obama know.
"In the latest issue of the respected British publication The Economist, there is an editorial cartoon depicting the reaction that U.S. President Barack Obama got when he unveiled the nuclear agreement with Iran.
At first, the president is seen showing the deal to Israel, which responds with an almighty cry of despair. Then he shows the agreement to Saudi Arabia – which responds in exactly the same way. Next up, he shows the framework deal to the Gulf States. They, too, respond by screaming. When Obama shows the deal to Congress – represented by the elephant and the donkey of the two parties – he tells them not to scream. But, of course, they do.
In the end, Obama is left alone in the room. And what does he do? He, too, screams, like some modern version of Edvard Munch's famous painting. The Economist's cartoon highlights perfectly the fact that Israel is very much not alone when it comes to concern about the nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers.
The U.S. president has decided to launch a public relations campaign for his agreement, even if his behavior thus far has shown nothing but disdain for the United States' allies and even if he has been courting its enemies. Obama appears to have recognized that there is a price to pay for this. For example, under President Abdelfattah el-Sissi, the Egyptians are chasing Russian investment and are buying fighter planes from France.
Now it's the turn of Saudi Arabia to humiliate Obama. King Salman announced that he would not be attending a Camp David summit of U.S. and allied Arab leaders. He was quickly followed by the rulers of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman – all of whom felt unwell and sent understudies. Only the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait decided to attend in person. This is how the Arab world responds to a U.S. president who decides to gamble on Iran.
Salman decided that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is also interior minister, would lead the Saudi delegation and the king's son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is defense minister, will also attend. Salman himself would remain in Riyadh, where he will continue to oversee the recently agreed ceasefire in Yemen. This is a pretty good excuse from the new monarch, who cannot afford to tell people that he's sick.
Although Riyadh tried to intimate that it's all business as usual, commentators across the Gulf were full of praise for their leaders, whom they said have stood up for national pride by refusing to rush off to a conference organized by an American president who sought to restore Iranian-American relations.
So what will happen next? The Gulf State will demand extra security and will seek to obtain equilibrium-breaking weapons. In Jerusalem, concern will only increase and, in the end, nobody will be happy – apart from Tehran.
Even before Obama's doomed summit gets underway, the Saudi king has given it his vote of no confidence."
SOON WE'LL BE SHIPBUILDING: Writing on the NRG website, Amir Rapaport goes behind the scenes of yesterday's announcement that Israel will purchase four patrol boats from a German shipbuilder – to be funded in part by a grant from the German government.
"Let's start with the dry facts: the Defense Ministry's procurement manager, along with his counterpart in the Navy, yesterday completed the negotiations over the purchase of four new and advanced vessels for the Navy, as part of a procurement plan that was approved by the government to protect Israel's 'economic waters' – the gas exploration and production platforms in the Mediterranean Sea. The deal is reportedly worth some 430 million euros.
Additional details about the deal have also emerged: around one third of the purchase will be funded by a special grant to Israel from the German government, worth around 115 million euros. Not only will around a third of the cost of the deal be met by German tax payers (it is in the interest of the German government to create jobs in Kiel which is one of the major ports of the German Navy and a leading centre of German high-tech military and civil shipbuilding), the Germans have also promised that they will make a reciprocal purchase from Israel, valued at around 700 million shekels.
The Germans will supply the vessels to Israel and the expensive systems aboard these ships will be supplied by Israeli defense companies. Here's one piquant detail: the shipyard where the vessels will be constructed, TKSM, which also constructed the submarines that Israel purchased from Germany, was bought out a few years ago by Arab investors from the Gulf. The four vessels in question will mainly be used to protect Israel's gas installations in the Mediterranean.
Now for the real story: the purchase of these vessels is part of a process of renewal by the Israeli Navy. Currently, Israel's most advanced ships are the Sa'ar 5, which, by all accounts, went into service over 20 years ago and are not expected to remain in service for much longer. The original plan was for the Navy to start the process of replacing the Sa'ar 5 several years ago, but this never happened, since the company that Israel was planning to buy them from – Lockheed Martin – cancelled the relevant project.
In order to forge ahead with the renewal process, the Navy at first looked for massive, 2,000-ton vessels; then it was decided that 1,300-ton ships (like the Sa'ar 5) would be enough. Eventually, it was decided that smaller, 1,000-ton ships (like the Sa'ar 4) would suffice. In terms of its nautical strength, therefore, the Israeli Navy's long-term plan is for smaller vessels, since its current fleet was becoming obsolete and there were no plans to build large replacements.
But, on the path to yesterday's announcement, the Israeli defense establishment managed to drive the whole world to distraction. One of the possibilities that were examined was to purchase ships from South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries, which is the largest shipbuilding company in the world. Officials from the Navy even looked into the possibility of building a suitable ship right here in Israel; the plan was to use the blueprints for the German-made MAKO-100, but that was quickly shelved due to the high cost.
And then, close to two years ago, Israel and Germany decided that the Navy would purchase ships manufactured in Kiel by TKSM. However, the Israelis kept on adding more and more demands – including a larger grant from the German government and better payment terms – until the Germans reached the stage where they were so infuriated that they called the whole deal off. It didn't help, of course, that they were also upset at the suspension of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Six months ago, there was a breakthrough, however, when the German option was put back on the table. The terms of the deal were finalized relatively quickly. The bottom line is that the deal provides maximum benefit for Israel, but does nothing to improve our standing among German officials and politicians, who believe that they were extorted. The deal will also not address the issue of decreased Israeli naval might in the Mediterranean Sea in the long term."
RESPECT AND SUSPECT: Writing in Israel Hayom, Zalman Shoval says that the proposal for a pan-Arab military force can be a positive thing – but warns that Israel must be aware of the potential downside of any such army.
"One of the direct consequences of the United States' changing policy toward the Middle East – especially the measures Washington has taken to revive relations with Iran – is a growing sense among its traditional Arab allies in the region that they can no longer count on the United States to safeguard their security. If we add into this equation ISIS, the general chaos that has enveloped the Middle East and the uncertainty surrounding the future of Syria, as well as the strategic ramifications of these developments, we can start to understand why the Arab League decided to urgently set up a unified Arab army.
Some two weeks ago, the chiefs of staff of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and the Gulf States gathered in Cairo for an emergency summit, at which it was decided to set up a joint military command. Arab leaders will meet before the end of June to discuss implementation of the proposal in practice and it is safe to assume that not everyone in Washington is thrilled by this initiative (and not only because it is a clear indication that they have major concerns over the diplomatic policies that the Obama Administration is pursuing regarding Iran and its intention to sign a nuclear deal with the ayatollahs). In response, Washington decided to act on two fronts: officially, it welcomed the Cairo decision, but, at the same time, it intimated to the Arab officials involved that the joint military force is unnecessary, since the United States not only has no plans to withdraw from its involvement in the Middle East, but is determined to prove its commitment by supplying massive quantities of arms and weapons systems to several Arab states.
Indeed, as reported last week by the Washington Times – a newspaper with close ties to the American security establishment – the administration is considering offering Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States advanced weaponry, which, thus far, has only been sold to Israel. France also recently signed a major arms deal with Qatar.
It is clear to all those involved that these developments will have security and economic implications for the State of Israel. These implications are mostly positive, but there are some potentially negatives ones as well. On the positive side, it is again apparent that the United States' Sunni allies share Israel's concerns over the nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers. On this issue, at least, there is a de facto unified front of opposition, stretching from Jerusalem to Riyadh, via Cairo, Amman and other Arab capital cities.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry may have described opposition to the nuclear deal as 'hysteria,' but, in truth, it is nothing more than the natural response of responsible countries to a very real Iranian threat. Speaking at a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the West's victory over Nazi Germany, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke about this regional consensus. He talked about the possibility that this could also lead to progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. In this context, it is worth noting that, while this is purely theoretical at the moment, one of Israel's basic demands in relation to the establishment of a Palestinian state is that it is not only totally demilitarized, but that it does not have the authority to enter into military agreement with other countries.
Israel cannot ignore the possibility that, given the instability of the region as a whole, there will be negative ramifications to both the establishment of a joint Arab military force and the supply of advanced weapons to some Arab countries. Washington may have promised that the supply of these arms to Arab states will not impact on Israel's strategic edge and, indeed, it is committed to do so by force of a Congressional decision from 2008. However, Israel has discovered in the past that there can always be loopholes in this commitment.
When the United States makes its strategic decisions, it does not have to take into account the possibility of attack from its neighbors, Canada and Mexico. But Israel does not have the luxury of overlooking the very fluid situation in the Middle East and must take into account every possible development, even when it comes to countries with which it has signed a peace accord. This is especially true when it comes to a united Arab military force, which will include soldiers from countries with which there is no peace deal. The establishment of a pan-Arab military force to thwart the expansionist tendencies of Iran and its proxies in Syria, Lebanon, the Sinai and Yemen is a positive thing – as long as we remember that even things which at first appear to be benign can soon become a grave danger."
A MAN OF HIS WORD: Writing in financial daily Globes, Mati Golan says that Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog is right not to promise to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government – since circumstances can change and he does not want to be seen as someone who does not live up to his word.
"Isaac Herzog is under constant attack, from within his own party and from without. People are demanding that he swears a solemn oath not to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition – no matter what happens and under no circumstances. Herzog refuses. And, in response, his party 'colleagues' are lambasting him in public. I see things rather differently, however. I am impressed and surprised by Herzog's refusal to bow to this pressure. And I will tell you why: Because this is the behavior of a politician with integrity. That's why.
What would the average politician do in Herzog's position? He would tell himself: 'Members of my party – some of them or most of them, senior and junior alike – want me to make a commitment. They know as well as I do that any such commitment is worth very little indeed. After all, if circumstances change and there is every justification for joining the government, will all those who demanded a commitment change their tune? Will they then demand that we join the government, only to find that they can't because they forced me to make a promise? No, that's not what will happen. Instead, they will scramble around to find any excuse to break the promise that they demanded I make. They will fight like lions for a ministerial posting. And, of course, they will place all of the blame at my doorstep. They will call me a doormat, who promises one thing and then goes crawling into the government. How can we possibly follow a man like that?'
In short, as far as Herzog is concerned, the easiest thing to do is what most politicians would do under similar circumstances: promise whatever party members want, just to get them off his back. After that, all bets are off. Even if he were to violate his promise, what could party members do? Sue him? File a High Court petition. A fat lot of good that will do.
Herzog said something very simple. He said that, at the moment, his position is that the Zionist Union should not join the coalition under current circumstances. But what if the ultra-Orthodox parties bolt the coalition? What if Naftali Bennett decides that the new government isn't right-wing enough for him? How would Menachem Begin act under these hypothetical circumstances? We're not talking about the PLO here. Why should Herzog be forced to tie his own hands and his party's hands, just because current conditions dictate that it would be wrong to take his party into the government. If conditions change and there is a good reason for the Zionist Union to join Netanyahu's government, then he will do so. Why should he make a commitment now? Just to give political commentators another reason to criticize him?
Herzog wants to remain true to his word. He doesn't want to make a commitment he cannot live up to. He's not a prophet. He doesn't want to commit to something that may, in the future, be to his detriment and to the detriment of the Israeli public. Instead of respecting Herzog's position, there are those who, because of their populist ideologies and hypocrisy, criticize him. I personally hope that Herzog does not capitulate and that we can finally say that one of our leaders knows what it means to be a man of his word."
BLAMELESS BIBI: Writing in Haaretz, Chemi Shalev explains why Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu won't to be blamed for any misfortune that befalls Israel as a result of his government's policies – since the right has created plenty of scapegoats to take the brunt of the criticism.
"Binyamin Netanyahu’s hard-to-handle, 61-MK coalition of right wing and religious parties is being viewed by many on the left as a godsend in disguise. Let’s see what they can do when left to their own devices, the thinking goes, on the obvious assumption that the new government will soon run aground. Given enough rope, this coalition will hang itself.
It will be ungovernable and extortionable. It will capitulate to Haredim and settlers. It will promote right-wing extremists. It will introduce radical legislation. It will inflame Israeli Arabs. It will expand West Bank settlements. It will alarm Washington, enrage Europe, antagonize the world, alienate Diaspora Jews and advance the anti-Israeli boycott. It will finally show its’ true, unreasonable colors.
And then Israelis will finally see the error of their ways. They will understand that the nationalist-religious complex will inevitably lead Israel to international isolation as well as internal dissent and decay. When the next elections come around, the right wing’s virtual chokehold over power will finally be broken. Happy days will be here again.
The logic, though couched in modern democratic terms, is an extension of the famous Russian revolutionary maxim chem khuzhe, tem luchshe 'the worse the better.' It is said to have been coined by 19th century Russian firebrand Nikolai Chernyshevsky, author of 'What is to be Done,' which has been described as both the worst novel and the most important book in Russian history. 'It supplied the emotional dynamic that eventually went to make the Russian Revolution,' as the late Professor Joseph Frank wrote in a review.
According to Chernyshesky’s maxim, adopted by Vladimir Lenin, the more miserable the working classes become, the more likely they are to revolt against the oppressive capitalists. It’s a nice theory about which 20th century history has provided very mixed results: even in Russia it was the select Bolshevik few rather than the oppressed proletarian masses who seized power. When Italian Fascists came to power in 1922 the Italian communists were sure it would be a passing phase that would collapse under its own weight and soon be automatically supplanted by glorious socialism. History, in Germany and elsewhere, proved otherwise.
Wars, especially cataclysmic wars such as the 20th century’s two global conflicts, do indeed foment dramatic political changes. But the cost of worsening political or economic conditions in and of themselves isn’t always born by the government in power - especially one headed by a politician so accomplished in the art of deflecting blame and pointing fingers at everyone else.
Political scientists and sociologists have a name for this behavior: scapegoating. In times of economic and social distress, a group’s pent up anger and frustrations are often taken out on others: Southerners blamed African-Americans for their economic hardships in the early 20th century, leading to a demonstrable uptick in violence and lynching; Europeans view immigrants and foreigners and other aliens as being responsible for their current travails, just as they did close to a century ago; poor Israelis in Tel Aviv only recently vented their frustrations and anger over their own decades-long economic hardships at the newly-arrived African migrants in their midst. And there are always politicians conveniently close by, ready and willing to lend a helping hand.
Israelis already have a proven record of ignoring the mirror in front of their eyes and pinning the blame on anyone but themselves for their predicaments, especially in the international and political arena. Is the 47-year occupation, ongoing political disenfranchisement of the Palestinians and recurring outbreaks of mutual violence to blame for Israel’s dire international standing and the erosion of its support among European and American liberals? Of course not, silly: it’s Muslim money, and/or anti-Semites and/or perfidious leftists, and/or nefarious NGO’s who are culpable. Are Israeli extremists, ideologues, religious fanatics or plain old fascists responsible for tarnishing the country’s image? No way: It’s the UN/NIF/BDS/J-Street devil’s consortium that is the source of all our problems. And when all else fails, we’ll always have Barack Obama.
Hard times are just as likely to breed prejudice, animosity and belligerence as a sudden recognition of the values of equality, pluralism and peace that the Israeli left supposedly espouses. If and when the policies of the new government make Israel’s international predicament reach crisis point; if the country is boycotted, isolated, ostracized and reviled; if its’ current relatively stable and thriving economy begins to stall; if the judiciary is contained and civil liberties are restrained and Israel’s democracy grows authoritative and suffocating, as many leftists predict – who are Israelis likely to blame? Their own government? Themselves, for repeatedly voting it into power? Hardly. That’s not the Israeli way.
They will take out their anger on Israeli Arab saboteurs, then on disloyal leftists, then on misguided American Jews, then on Muslim-loving, Holocaust-ignoring liberals throughout the world and then on everyone or anyone who doesn’t see things our way. They’ve been doing for many years, rather successfully, when things haven’t been bad at all. Imagine how effective Netanyahu and his supporters will get when it becomes a matter of their own survival.
This doesn’t mean that Zionist Camp should rush off to join the government to save it from itself or that a national unity government is a lesser evil, necessarily. It does mean, however, that things can go from bad to worse and from there to catastrophic, and even then, they don’t necessarily get any better.
The left and center of Israeli politics cannot rely on Netanyahu and his partners to voluntarily convince Israeli voters of their own, disastrous shortcomings. To change Israeli politics, moderate politicians and their supporters, in Israel and abroad, will have to roll up their sleeves and do the work themselves. It’s OK to hope for the best, I guess, as long as you go about preparing for the worst."
JUST SAY NO TO LAND-FOR-TERROR: Writing in The Jerusalem Post, Michael Freund says that, with so much conflict raging across the Middle East, now is hardly the time to be pushing Israel to make dangerous concessions.
"Although Israel’s new government has yet to be formally sworn in, international pressure on the Jewish state to resume peace talks with the Palestinians is already beginning to mount. Over the weekend, an unnamed Palestinian official told the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper that Western diplomats are pushing to arrange a joint meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
And on Friday, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, congratulated Netanyahu on forming a coalition, but stressed the need 'to re-launch the Palestinian/Israeli peace negotiations as soon as possible.'
And so, showing little regard for the disastrous consequences of their previous attempts at so-called peacemaking, American and European officials now seem intent on banging their heads – and ours – against the wall yet again. Needless to say, they continue to adhere to their misguided conception of what the outcome of such talks should be, even before they have begun. As Mogherini put it in her statement last week, the aim is 'achieving a comprehensive agreement towards the creation of an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel in peace and security.' It is the same mantra that Western peace-processors have been repeating ad nauseam for decades, as if asserting it over and over again somehow makes it sensible.
But before attempting to rush into yet another fruitless round of diplomatic wrangling, the reckless advocates of Palestinian statehood would do well to take a quick look back at recent history. After all, it was just 21 years ago this month that Israel and the PLO signed the May 4, 1994 Cairo Agreement, also known as the Gaza-Jericho accord, under which the Jewish state withdrew from Jericho as well as nearly 60 percent of the Gaza strip, all of which was turned over to Palestinian control.
The agreement was based on the quintessential formula of 'land for peace,' whereby Israel relinquished territory and the Palestinians promised to prevent violence and combat terrorism. Subsequent deals, such as the Oslo II accord of September 1995, the January 1997 Hebron protocol and the October 1998 Wye agreement were all based on the same principle.
In each case, Israel handed territory over to the Palestinians in exchange for promises of peace. And in each instance, without fail, Israel’s gestures were reciprocated with still more violence. The 1994 Cairo Agreement unleashed a wave of unprecedented Palestinian terrorism, which included suicide bombings that shook the core of the nation. 'Land for peace' quickly devolved into 'land for nothing' before crumbling into 'land for terrorism.'
Is this really a pattern worth revisiting? Moreover, the situation on the ground in the region is far more complex, and far more dangerous, than it was just 10 or 15 years ago. All around us, the Middle East is in flames, as at least five Arab governments have been busy bombing their own territories in recent months.
In Yemen, government warplanes have been used by the president and the rebels to bomb each other in Aden and elsewhere. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad has deployed military helicopters to drop barrel bombs on Damascus, Aleppo and Homs, showing little concern for the indiscriminate killing of numerous civilians. In Iraq, the nation’s air force has been used to attack Islamic State (IS) rebels, while in Libya and Sudan, governments have deployed air power against their own people.
With so much conflict raging across the Middle East, now is hardly the time to be pushing Israel to make dangerous concessions. Indeed, the Palestinians themselves are irreparably divided, with Hamas controlling Gaza and 80-year-old Abbas in charge in Ramallah.
Even if Israel were to somehow reach an agreement with Abbas, who has shown little desire to end the conflict, of what value would such a deal be? It would not obligate the Hamas fundamentalist regime in Gaza, and who knows if any subsequent Palestinian leadership would feel duty-bound to uphold it.
And with Iran moving ever closer toward its goal of building a nuclear arsenal, one that would threaten Israel’s existence and destabilize the entire region, there are far more pressing issues worthy of Western attention.
Nonetheless, it appears almost certain that Washington and its European allies will soon be turning up the heat, seeking to get the Jewish state to sit down with its implacable foes and offer them still more in the way of compromise. Netanyahu’s new government needs to stand firm and reject any such pressure. To give up tangible assets in exchange for a dubious peace is something that Israel tried back in the 1990s with disastrous results."
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