The product of this sad history is today’s three-way division of the Israeli public. An increasingly fervent right rejects a two-state solution in theory (as a violation of God’s plan for Judea and Samaria) and in practice (as a mortal threat to Israel’s security). An enlarged, more skeptical center accepts it in theory but not in practice. A much-diminished left continues to believe in the two-state solution, in theory and in practice.
In the eyes of most Israelis, events have discredited the left’s noble dreams. If centrist politicians offer no alternative—and most have been reluctant—the right will retain the initiative.
.. Yet if Mr. Netanyahu is serious—and not just playing rope-a-dope until the Trump administration exhausts itself in the Middle East—he will do his utmost to broaden the talks by bringing the Saudis, and the Sunni coalition they lead, into the process.
.. If Mr. Netanyahu is skillful and determined, he will seize on the newly strengthened ties between Washington and Riyadh to engineer a similar invitation from the Saudis to meet face-to-face. To make this happen, the Israeli prime minister would have to utter some encouraging words about the Arab Peace Plan, a 15-year-old Saudi initiative, which he did as recently as 2015.
Two parties in the current coalition— Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home and Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu—would leave. The leaders of the Zionist Union, Ms. Livni and Mr. Herzog, almost certainly would be willing to join. There is a potential majority coalition for new and broadened negotiations, which only Mr. Netanyahu has the hard-line credibility to lead.
This would be the moment of truth for Mr. Netanyahu’s leadership. Does he want to use his mastery of coalition tactics to maintain himself in power indefinitely, or does he want to be remembered as a man who gambled on changing the course of history for his country?
Policy vs. personality in Middle East politics.Real policy differences over Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran caused innumerable disagreements, many of them quite public. But during my time representing the United States here, I found that the caricature of universal Israeli hostility to Obama was overstated... the arrival of a president who “at last” would support Israel unconditionally and not pressure the country to limit settlement growth or make concessions to the Palestinians.Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party, declared, “Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state.”.. revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations toward a two-state solution, with the support of key Arab states.. With Obama, Israelis may not always have gotten everything they wanted. But they always got consistency. Obama held as a firm principle the idea that the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security was unconditional... relationship mature enough and durable enough to withstand such differences — but they needed to know that the United States was a reliable ally when it mattered most. And he delivered.. they came to appreciate was Obama’s style of leadership: steady, thoughtful, knowledgeable... he had the maturity, the discipline and the judgment to reach well-informed decisions that benefited Israel’s security... The result was a period of unprecedented intimacy between our militaries and intelligence services... I was struck by the depth of appreciation that senior Israeli military officers and intelligence officials expressed for Obama’s contributions to Israel’s security, often drawing a contrast with sentiments expressed by their politicians or the public... Amos Gilad, a longtime senior defense official.. told me: “It’s easy to criticize Obama. But on the military front, the relationship was incredible.”.. His unpredictability .. was already a source of anxiety.. Israelis now have to ask which Trump will show up for work each day — the friend who pledges his loyalty or the adolescent who can lash out at allies such as Australia and Canada, and perhaps one day Israel?.. His lack of knowledge, compounded by his aversion to reading and short attention span.. His carelessness.. shaken the confidence of the Israeli intelligence services in the reliability of the United States as a partner.. indifferent to democratic values and institutions and enamored of authoritarian leaders is harming the United States’ standing globally, which is never good for Israel... off the record, officials are beginning to acknowledge that something has changed... erratic, unreliable leader?.. David Ben-Gurion, gave President John F. Kennedy.. The best way you can help Israel, Ben-Gurion told him, is “by being a great President of the United States.”