Put country first

Yesterday, I observed that “in most MSM precincts you can’t read about [Israel’s] new Prime Minister without also reading, within a sentence or two, that he does not favor a “two-state” solution — that is, a Palestinian state next to Israel. As if on cue, this morning’s Washington Post story on Netanyahu’s swearing in begins this way:

Israel’s parliament on Tuesday approved Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister, ushering in a government at odds with international expectations that Israel should pursue negotiations that would lead to an independent Palestinian state.

In other words, the “international community” has determined not only that Israel should negotiate with the Palestinians, which Netanyahu has said he is willing to do, but also that these negotiations will lead to an independent Palestinian state. Moreover, according to the Post, the international community expects that this will be the outcome of the negotiations regardless of what concessions the Palestinians make or refuse to make, and regardless of how the Palestinians behave in real life. For the Post’s statement of “international expectations” is unconditional; there is no mention of what the Palestinians are expected to do, or any suggestion that they need do anything other than sit at a table for a while and then accept a state. That’s an odd conception of negotiation.

The Post isn’t wrong, though. Its reporter Howard Schneider accurately states what the international community, including President Obama, expects from Israel. But the expectation that Israel will agree to a Palestinian state regardless of how the Palestinians negotiate and, more importantly, how they behave is unreasonable.

Like any leader of a sovereign state, Netanyahu’s primary duty is to his country, not to the international community. Netanyahu cannot fulfill both his duty to the people of Israel and the expectation that negotiations with the Palestinians will produce a Palestinian state no matter what. He clearly understands this, and will, I think, put his country first.

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