May 24, 2019

The Shaper of Jewish Destiny

“After a resounding victory in the Israeli election, Benjamin Netanyahu is now free to continue forging the destiny of the Jewish people. A look at Mr. Netanyahu’s early political views offers revealing insights into his evolution from a fence-straddling moderate to the guardian of the right who promises to annex parts of the West Bank.

In January 1997, during his first term as prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu agreed to withdraw from 80% of Hebron, smothering the city’s tiny Jewish enclave. The following year, with President Clinton mired in the Lewinsky affair, Mr. Netanyahu was maneuvered into the Wye River Memorandum with Yasser Arafat, relinquishing further Israeli territorial control.

During parliamentary debate in 2004 over the Gaza disengagement, which uprooted 10,000 Jews, Mr. Netanyahu voted repeatedly in favor of withdrawal and refused to exercise his leverage as finance minister on a crucial budget vote that would have stalled the Gaza exit. His just-for-the-record resignation from the cabinet, a week before the withdrawal, was irrelevant.

In his 2009 address at Bar Ilan University, soon after President Obama lacerated Israel in his Cairo speech, Mr. Netanyahu paid lip service to a two-state solution. Later that year, again bowing to pressure from Mr. Obama, he implemented a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction, which he relaxed only slightly when the freeze expired.”

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