While Israel proceeds along its merry way, each day building more settlements and demolishing more Palestinian homes, it is far from being the secure and stable dream Netanyahu envisioned.
By James J. Zogby
For half of the past two decades Benjamin Netanyahu has served as prime minister of Israel. Whatever his ultimate fate (given the ongoing criminal investigations he is currently facing), it is clear that he has had a profound impact on Israel, the Palestinians, and the entire region.
There are those who have doubted that Netanyahu had any core beliefs, other than the desire to retain power. But even with his maneuvering and his penchant for prevarication, there are, in fact, core beliefs that have directed his career.
Shortly after his first election as prime minister, and before his maiden address to the U.S. Congress, a team of Reagan-era neoconservatives (many of whom ended up in senior positions in the George W. Bush Administration) wrote a paper for Netanyahu to guide his remarks before Congress and to U.S. audiences. The paper, echoing many themes from Netanyahu’s own writings, was called “A Clean Break”. Since he was already aligned with these views, he repeated the paper’s themes and policy proposals during his many public appearances in Washington. A Clean Break can be seen as Netanyahu’s road map to relations with the U.S. and the Middle East region.
The central themes of the paper were:
– Ending the Oslo process and rejecting “land for peace” formula; reasserting Israel’s claim to the “Land of Israel”; weakening the ability of the Palestinian Authority to govern; and poisoning the PA’s image in the U.S. to damage its standing.
– Securing Israel’s northern border, by confronting Iran, promoting internal conflict in Lebanon, and destabilizing Syria.
– Strengthening ties with Republicans, including proposing ending U.S. economic aid in favor of military aid and buying into the Reagan-era idea of a “missile defense” system — a concept favored by the GOP.
– Confronting Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s rule.
Over the past two decades, Netanyahu and his U.S. allies, whether in or out of office, pursued these same objectives. To a great extent, they have succeeded.
This unholy alliance between U.S. neoconservatives and Netanyahu was no accident. They had long been partners. Back in the late 1970’s, Netanyahu convened many of these same thinkers to Israel for a summit at the Jonathan Institute—an event...Read More