Give Netanyahu a Chance

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Tuesday evening. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

Along the same lines, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that "the Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him?"

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg lamented that "the new Israeli government does not give us much hope." And a New York Times editorial expressed concern that "Mr. Netanyahu has understandably raised alarms with the expectation that his foreign minister will be an ultranationalist leader with what are widely considered to be anti-Arab views."

Much of the discussion has focused on Netanyahu's unwillingness to explicitly endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state - something both he and his Likud Party have long opposed. But then again, so did Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

AS A LONGTIME supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that it behooves everyone to give Netanyahu some breathing space. Based on his record as prime minister in 1996-1999, he may turn out to be substantially more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power often rejectionist political rhetoric suggests.

Clichés by definition are rooted in reality. Richard Nixon going to China, Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Algeria and Menachem Begin giving Sinai back to Egypt have all become truisms underlying the proposition that political milestones are sometimes reached by the most unlikely protagonists. The question before us now is whether Netanyahu, flanked by Avigdor Lieberman on his Right and Ehud Barak on his Left, will emulate Begin and, for that matter, Yitzhak Rabin, or whether he will turn out to be the intransigent Yitzhak Shamir's ideological heir.

Even before Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits alike warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good faith negotiations with either the Palestinians or the country's other neighbors. The "real aim of Israel's recently elected government is against peace" and the composition of Netanyahu's cabinet is a "clear, unsurprising message to us," Syrian President Bashar Assad declared at an Arab League summit in Qatar.

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