May 10th, 2012
10:45 AM ET

Zakaria: Under Netanyahu, Israel is stronger than ever

By Fareed Zakaria

While incumbents around the world are struggling to hold on, one is thriving. By bringing the rival Kadima party into his ruling coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu has become “king of Israel,” in Aaron David Miller’s phrase. He has an unusual, perhaps unique, opportunity to use his new power to secure Israel’s future.

Netanyahu’s coalition now commands the largest parliamentary majority in Israeli history. He faces no plausible rival as prime minister. When pushed on the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu has often cited the constraints of his coalition to explain why he had not taken bolder steps toward resolution. Perhaps he liked being constrained: He refused to form a national unity government in 1996 (with Shimon Peres) and refused again in 2009 (with Tzipi Livni). But now he has a broad enough base of support - with many moderates - and could move toward a peace settlement without endangering his hold on power.

Look beneath the recent war fears, and Israel is in a stronger position than ever.

Read more of my Washington Post column on why Israel is stronger than ever - and what Netanyahu should do with its strength.

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Topics: Israel

soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. S Lyons

    I think you'll find it was Livni who refused in 2009

    May 10, 2012 at 11:13 am | Reply
  2. Henry Tobias

    When Israel listens to Fareed Zakaria, it will indeed be a sad day.

    May 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Reply
    • What???

      A Jewish government listening to a Muslim on policy?!

      May 28, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    It's difficult to figure out whether Netanyahu is an altruist or an opportunist. Many world leaders haven't a high opionion of him. No doubt the Holocaust was the biggest collective tragedy in Jewish history and Netanyahu had relentliessly capitalised on the plight of the Jewish victims after World War Two in his rhetorics. The controversial American political scientist Norman Finkelstein claimed that many American Jews were unhappy with Israel's foreign policies that they wanted to distance themselves from this country. He compared Israel to a lunatic state, that wages war every two/three years, just like a junkie who needs a fix regularly. He felt that American Jews don't want to defend this any more. Netanyahu might be a popular politician in Israel, but outside he's perceived with scepticism.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Norman Finkelstein lied. Israel NEVER started any wars. Every war Israel participated in was started by its enemies.

      May 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  4. Hahahahahahaha

    So come on Netenyahoo already!!!!!!! We want to see doilie heads and towel heads go at it! Hahahahaha

    May 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  5. chicago7

    I strongly support Israel, but the truth is that, under Netanyahu, Israel has a bigger mouth than ever, and its needlessly aggressive stance and unwillingness to seriously discuss a future of peace with Palestine is turning people off, and not just Islamic nations, either. Netanyahu is Israel's W. Not a compliment.

    May 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Can you elaborate on this? I'd like to know WHO should Israel seriously discuss a future of peace with Palestine with... If you don't mind of course.

      May 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  6. Prometheus

    That's hilarious. Israel is an aparteid occupation of soldiery, not a legal nation.

    Israel will soon have an Arab majority, and then cease to exist. How is it stronger?

    Polls show that more and more people are turning their back on israel, even Jews.

    May 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      Is that comment your imam's wish or do you have credible sources?

      May 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Prometheus of a legend brought fire to mortals and was punished by his liver being eaten by an eagle. YOU bring us racist lies so the punishment for you is your brain being eaten by... Hey, there is nothing to eat there!

      May 10, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Reply
    • Lean

      I think you have raised a very good point Mr P. to the nay sayers, ridicule all you want and I'll fire back with a couple of holocaust jokes, how's that!?? Not funny?? Indeed not. There are two Harvard professors Walt & mearsheimer who raised this issue a few years back, Illan Pappe and Mr Finklestein have all been discussing this for a long time. They're all traitors to you I'm sure but the info is all out there for you squatters to take heed of

      May 11, 2012 at 10:09 am | Reply
      • Thinker23

        I'm not sure WHY you believe that the gentlemen you've mentioned were "traitors" but Israel is a DEMOCRACY where ALL citizens have the very smelegal rights guaranteed by the state laws. Further, queationing the LEGALITY of an existing state is similar to question the legality of a living human being and it is a racist as it goes.

        May 11, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
      • Lean

        ahem, it was born out of an invasion, it's still widely considered an occupying, of not illegal state. Furthermore as somebody already has quite rightly stated, it's an apartheid state. It likes to believe and have everyone else believe its a victim and a democracy but it is not. You unfortunately are deluded and should perhaps spend a week in Hebron.

        May 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
      • Thinker23

        Lean... Each and every state on this planet was born in wars and revolutions. Israel is not an exception. Further, it is PERFECTLY LEGAL to occupy enemy territory during a war. Still further, "apartheid" ("separation" in Africaans) means different rights and rules for the citizens of the same country separated by their race, ethnicity or religion. ALL ISRAELI CITIZENS HAVE THE VERY SAME EQUAL RIGHTS regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity or gender. Get a clue...

        May 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Lean

      You need to get your out of the sand and stop being so narrow minded. Israel is a racist, illegal and an apartheid state

      May 12, 2012 at 6:34 am | Reply
      • Thinker23

        Lean... In the world of intelligent adults where I live people are expected to support their accusations by PROVEN FACTS. Lies and insults may work at a kindergarten level but not at the elementary school and beyond.

        May 12, 2012 at 7:17 am |

    Zakaria again you inform us that you are a puppet of jews controlled lobbiest . You went in Harvard , read book and believed all for economic gain . Continue your slavery .

    May 10, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Are you trying to tell us that te Arabs are SO DUMB that they're unable to create a much more powerful lobby cosidering the almost unlimited amount of petrodollars in their disposal?

      May 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  8. Simple Sam

    Leaders rise and fall but the ones who really make a sensible political impression to harness peace and security to the country's own people and the ones around are the ones with their names echoing over the ages. Forging wars while sitting in their comfort tightly secured housing does not create the leaders nor the ones giving false impressions in their big public speeches. The true leader is the one who would mark his name in solving the decades old hostility and being unbiased and realistic with its neighbors. Netanyahu is already losing his friends and allies abroad so its making him weaker rather than giving a strong impression.I would suggest to make posts of the real leaders who are gaining more of friends and working more humanely to solve the worldly hostilities rather than getting to these weaker segments of your writings.

    May 11, 2012 at 6:13 am | Reply
    • Thinker23

      The ONLY way to make peace UNILATERALLY is to beat the enemy into surrender. As long as te Palestinians reject any possibility of peace negotiations with Israel those demanding Israel to "make peace" should think twice of what they're asking for.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
      • Canadian Observer

        Beat the enemy? The Palestinians are a large population that cannot be "beat" as the Israelis are a large populations that cannot be "beat". The only way for peace is two states, a Jewish state and a Palestinian state on 1967 lines with small agreed land swaps or one secular bi-national state based upon the British mandate of Palestine. The Israeli right needs to decide between a Jewish state and the west bank. Cant have both.

        May 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
      • Thinker23

        Canadian Observer... A two-state solution is the BEST possible solution but it is not the ONLY one. The only way to achieve it are PEACE NEGOTIATIONS... and as long as the Palestinians are unable and/or unwilling to negotiate it will not become a reality. Further, if the Palestinians will decide to recognize Israel and ask for peace negotiations the lines of 2012 will be negotiated, not the lines of 1967... for the simple reason it's 2012 today. Still further, it's NOT the "Israeli right" and not even Israel as a whole, it's the Palestinians who should decide what they want. If they want peace and a state of their own they should ask for it. As long as the Palestinians insist that the war against Israel should continue it will continue and there will be no peace and no Palestinian state.

        May 12, 2012 at 3:39 am |
      • Canadian Observer

        The idea of Palestinians not wanting to negotiate a state is simply false. There are extremist unfortunate elements within Palestinian society that do not want peace because they believe its Islamic land. As there are extremist unfortunate elements within Israeli society that do not want peace because they believe Judea and Samaria belongs to the greater Land of Israel and how the Israelis sacrificed enough by not demanding trans Jordan since it is also the biblical part of Ertez Yisrael. (Danny Ayalon you tube video explains this perfectly). In regards to the "2012" borders, negotiating based on that is cutting off Jerusalem which will need to be a shared capital and is giving legitimacy to settlements built within the 1967 borders which are all illegal under international law. We know Israel disputes this but the rest of the world is agreed that they are illegal. A considerable size of the Israeli population also agrees they are illegal. Extremism, illegal settlements, the lack of an unbiased arbitrator, and mistrust of the Palestinians by Israeli society (due to a very violent second intifada) are the real hurdles to peace.

        May 12, 2012 at 7:09 am |
      • Thinker23

        Canadian Observer... If you believe that the Palestinians are WILLING to negotiate you should have no troubles to NAMEthe Palestinian leaders WILLING to recognize Israel, NEGOTIATE a peace agreement with the Jewish State and COMPLY with the terms of the agreement they've signed. Then you'll explain the reasons these Palestinian leaders DID NOT DO IT YET.

        May 12, 2012 at 7:29 am |
      • Thinker23

        It seems that you do not understand the meaning of negotiations. They start from a CURRENT condition (for example, a car dealer willing to sell a car and a prospective buyer willing to purchase it). The two sides NEGOTIATE the price and the terms and as a result, the car becomes property of the buyer and the money paid for it is transferred to the dealer. It would not be reasonable to demand the dealer to sell you the 2012 automobile for 1967 price, don't you agree?

        May 12, 2012 at 7:40 am |
      • Thinker23

        Canadian Observer... "ILLEGAL" means "in violation of the law". As long as there is no law prohibiting Jews from living in the West Bank but allowing Arabs to live there Jewish settlements in the West Bank will remain NO LESS LEGAL than the Arab villages there.

        May 12, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  9. John Walsh

    Bibi. too much power is very very dangerous, especially in the hands of a neocon

    May 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      John Walsh... What is "too much" power, in your opinion? and WHO determines that a democratically elected Prime Minister of a democratic country has "too much" power?

      May 11, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Reply
    • Canadian Observer

      The problem isn't with Bibi. It is with Mofaz who calculated short term political gain was worth more then long term principle. As weak of a politician Tzipi Livni might have been, time has proved, so far at least, that shes at least has principle. Bibi did what was right for him and his plans without compromising his principles, we certainly cannot blame him for that. One thing needs to be remembered, israeli politics is like the weather, unpredictable and ever-changing. Nothing is set in stone, not even a 90+ MK coalition.

      May 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Reply
      • Thinker23

        Canadian Observer... There are very few politicians in Israel and on this planet in general who follow their "principles" regardless of the changing realities around them. The vast majority of politicians as well as each and every one of us are doing what they believe to be in the best interests of themselves, their families and their countries.

        May 12, 2012 at 3:44 am |
  10. Lean

    As academics Stephen Walt (Harvard University) and John Mearsheimer (Chicago University) point out in “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,” “Israel is the largest annual recipient of (US) direct economic and military assistance since 1976… to the tune of well over $140 billion… [Washington] has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems, and given it access to such top-drawer weaponry as Blackhawk helicopters and F-16 jets… giving Israel access to intelligence it denies to its NATO allies, and has turned a blind eye to Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.” 

    What a great democracy it is!

    May 14, 2012 at 3:56 am | Reply
    • Thinker23

      The fact is that one single Arab country (Iraq) receives THREE TIMES more US aid than Israel; that all Arab states receive FIVE TIMES more US aid than Israel... and I'm still waiting YOU to explain the reasons the Arabs did not create a more powerful lobby than the Jews did considering the almost unlimited amount of petrodollars in their disposal.

      Further, the amount and quality of weapons has absolutely nothing to do with the "greatness" of democracy of a country, genius. Again, lies and insults may work at a kindergarten level. Try to use FACTS and LOGIC instead.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:31 am | Reply
      • Not at thinker

        Iraq....LOL, of course Iraq will receive more aid than any other country, for the simple reason that it still functions as an American State.
        As a son of a former diplomat in the Middle East, I can assure you that no nation receives more Millitary support than Israel.
        Isrel must always have a technological lead against its neighbours and for gods sake, Israel is the only country in the ME allowed to posess Nukes!!
        Most of our weapons that we give to the Arabs is obliged to nearly impossible conditions. For example they are not allowed to use these weapons against Israel!!!

        One day we will pay a price for our interferince in the Mid East, cause if it wasnt for us, Israel would have been long gone and the people of that region know that too well.

        May 14, 2012 at 5:45 am |
      • Thinker23

        The fact is that Saudi Arabia, for example, received THREE TIMES more US weapons than Israel. As a "son of a former diplomat" you should have a better clue of what you're talking about....

        Yes, it is correct that Israel must always have a technological lead against its neighbors. If it was not the case these neighbors would destroy the Jewish State long ago...

        On the other hand, Israel somehow managed to survive for the most difficult first 25 years of its existence WITHOUT American aid. Israel even managed to win all wars the Arab states started despite the almost unlimited amount of the Soviet aid the Arabs enjoyed.

        Still further, if the Arab states and Iran were assured that Israel does not have nuclear weapons they would try to destroy Israel again as they've done in 1948, 1967 and 1973. The resulting war would cost them hundreds of thousands or even millions of casualties meaning that Israeli nukes save millions of Arab lives.

        Finally, licking Arab behinds would not make the fanatic mass murderers willing to sacrifice their own lives and the lives of their children for the glory of Allah any more peaceful. To the contrary, it would prove that terrorism works and that more terrorism would work even better... and even if there was no Israel they would find other reasons to murder infidels.

        May 14, 2012 at 5:59 am |
    • Thinker23

      By the way, during WWII Britain received more US aid than Israel did in its entire history. Does this interesting fact make Britain "NOT a democracy", in your opinion? Further, can you NAME A COUNTRY that was or is a greater democracy DURING A WAR than Israel? Be my guest!

      May 14, 2012 at 5:49 am | Reply
      • Lean

        thinker, unfortunately you cannOt bear the truth of what has been written here. In fact you skirt around it with your worthless drivel. Concentrate on getting out of kindergarten, and if I had really insulted you – then that's further truth that you do indeed need to grow up. Idiot

        May 14, 2012 at 8:22 am |
      • Thinker23

        Lean... I'll take your message above as an admittance of your inability to answer my simple questions as well as your inability to support your own claims.

        By the way, I rarely call my opponets "idiots". I prefer to let them arrive to this conclusion on their own...

        May 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
      • Lean

        That's because the answers are quite obvious and really quite stupid of you to ask. You clearly are a blind follower. Anyway, good luck at school!

        P.s Skipping the history classes have done you no favours here

        May 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  11. Nico

    People are growing tired of these two countries honnestly. They behave both like kids without supervision. Israelis should leave the occupied territories now and build a higher fense on their legal border if they want and the Palestinians should force their gvt to convey a press conference (Hamas and PA together) and officially declare the Hamas and PLO charters invalid and declare officially that they accept the Holocaust as an historical fact and recognize Israel 's right to exist within the 1967 borders. 2 months should be given as a deadline and if nothing happens the security council should meet and draft a resolution to enforce peace between these two nations. God helps the people who help themselves. I am not trying to equate the two behaviours but at some point adult decision makers have to act for their people. If Jews have learned one thing over the past century, it's that words do matter and so I do not understan why Arabs can't understand that fact. Wether the Israeli gvt uses the Holocaust as a mean to possess new territory or not does not really matter. What matters is how average Jews feel about what Hamas or people like Amadinejad are saying. The business of leaders is to exploit those feelings to accomplish political ends.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Reply

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