Benjamin Netanyahu has won another extension as Israeli prime minister.
His Likud Party won more seats in the Knesset than any other party, but it still lacks an outright majority. So Bibi’s going to have to compromise here and there if he hopes to govern his country.
Contrary to what you might have gathered from a couple of recent posts about Bibi’s campaign, I actually feel a bit of sympathy for the tough line he takes in governing Israel.
Netanyahu is an Israeli army veteran. He’s seen the enemy up close. His brother was killed in that daring 1976 hostage rescue mission in Uganda. So, Bibi’s heart has been broken by violence.
I still believe he made a mistake in coming to the United States to speak to Congress without first consulting with President Obama. The snub — by him and by House Speaker John Boehner, who invited him — has damaged U.S.-Israel relations. But let’s get one thing straight: The nations remain critical allies.
All that said, his victory now enables Netanyahu to work with Obama to repair the damage. I trust he’ll do so. He talked while in this country about the special relationship the countries have had for the past six decades.
He campaigned hard in the waning days of the campaign by declaring an end to Palestinian settlements. That, too, was a mistake. Perhaps he can rethink that ban, given that the Palestinians are seeking to build a home of their own.
It’s good to understand, though, how Netanyahu views security in his country. It’s the single most vital issue with which he must deal.
The Hamas terrorists who govern Gaza have been lobbing missiles into Israel periodically since, oh, for as long as missiles have existed. Israel must be allowed to defend itself and to use whatever force it has to put down the attacks. To that end, Netanyahu is unafraid and I happen to applaud his courage in fighting Hamas.
The bigger picture, though, requires Netanyahu to understand that his country comprises citizens of widely diverse views. Not every Israeli shares his world view. I told you recently about a couple in Haifa who oppose Likud’s hard line and rest assured, there are others just like them.
Israel enjoys a special place in our network of allies. It deserves that special place and some special treatment. Benjamin Netanyahu, educated in this country — and able to speak to Americans like an American — isn’t going anywhere any time soon.