Benjamin Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan speech appears to have been an even bigger success than I thought. David Hazony reports that the speech has received wide praise from across the Israeli political spectrum — from settlers, from Yael Tamir, a Labor-party rebel who has refused to participate in Netanyahu’s coalition because it is too far “right,” and from the opposition Kadima party. That’s because Netanyahu expressed views held by the vast majority of Israelis. Hazony describes that consensus this way:
Nobody wants to rule over the Palestinians, nobody wants to see the West Bank become another Hamastan like Gaza, nobody wants to be told that their country exists at the expense of their suffering, and nobody thinks peace is around the corner. But everybody agrees that if the Palestinians would drop the violence and just try to live – to build an economy and a demilitarized civilian life alongside Israel, then Israelis would have a much easier time talking about statehood.
For their part, and predictably, the Palestinians’ reaction to Netanyahu’s speech was stridently negative. At one level, that reaction is unfortunate because it confirms that no progress towards peace will occur any time soon. But any hope for such progress was a fantasy. And the fact that the Palestinian reaction diverges sharply from Obama’s public position — which viewed the speech as an advance — means that Obama will be hard-pressed to shake Israeli confidence in their leader, and perhaps disinclined to try.