Saturday, February 21, 2009

Netanyahu: Ideologue or Pragmatist

The immediate future for the middle east remains a bit cloudy. We don't know what will happen in Iraq or Iran in the near or long term. Pakistan really isn't part of the Middle East, but it is a player.

But at the center of the Middle East is and always will be Israel and its erstwhile Palestinian partner/enemy. Benyamin Netanyahu has long had a hard edged perspective on the issues. As leader of Likud he has opposed the current negotiations, favored expanding West Bank settlements, and opposed a 2-state solution. Now, he's suggesting that he, like Barack Obama, is a pragmatist.

In an article in the New York Times today, reporter Ethan Bronner writes:

But when he was prime minister a decade ago he explored the issue through an American intermediary. The Israeli election campaign in recent weeks tilted rightward after the war in Gaza, so he may have been campaigning rather than revealing his true intentions. Those on the left who dislike Mr. Netanyahu say they hope he is as personally ambitious as they suspect and that pressure from Washington will produce results.

“I don’t think he has much compunction in sacrificing an ideological position as long as it keeps him in power,” said Yaron Ezrahi, a liberal political scientist at Hebrew University. “We either need a prime minister who is ideologically committed to a two-state solution and has the power to move the country in that direction, or a very flexible opportunist who appears committed to the right but acts according to what is necessary.”


So, the question is -- Is Netanyahu a rigid ideologue or an ambitious pragmatist? If it's the latter there may be hope for peace. But at the same time, the question is: Will his envisioned solutions be acceptable to Palestinians? Again, time will tell.

1 comment:

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

He's an ideologue--but Israeli politics FORCES people to be pragmatic.