Saturday, November 15, 2008

Israel's Netanyahu Imitates Obama's Web Site, Not His Diplomatic Stance

Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel's Likud Party is ahead in polls tracking candidates vying to serve as the country's next prime minister. The New York Times reports that his Web site is a stylistic imitation of the one used by Barack Obama during the latter's presidential campaign.

Though Netanyahu and Obama reportedly established a personal rapport during two meetings, they have little in common in terms of diplomacy. Mr. Netanyahu is a hawk who is not interested in negotiations with the Palestinians or in a two-state solution. Netanyahu's campaign slogan, "Together We Can Succeed," is a variation of Obama's "Yes We Can," and he is positioning himself as an agent of change. But is there any validity to that claim?

Netanyahu contends that he wants to build up the Palestinians' economy and put their national aspirations on the shelf. But it is those aspirations that are the Palestinians' core issue; it is not for Netanyahu to deny the principle of self-determination and decide otherwise. Yet he states that he is an agent of change compared to Tzipi Livni of the Kadima Party, by virtue of the fact that she wants to continue talks.

Netanyahu's disdain for diplomacy resembles George Bush's. Netanyahu would not work toward a two-state solution and would support West Bank settlements. Those are not the policies of an agent of change; they're a blueprint for further cycles of stagnation and confrontation.

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