Global Politics

The return of Netanyahu

In a recent speech before thousands of American Jews in Israel, Netanyahu was greeted with a standing ovation. He told the crowd that the intensive negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians last year had failed because Palestinian society is divided between the moderate Fatah in the West Bank and the more radical Hamas in the Gaza Strip. He said it's time to try something new: strengthening the moderate parts of the Palestinian economy with rapid growth. Netanyahu said he wants to create thousands of jobs for Palestinians and improve infrastructure in the West Bank. The World Bank has said the Palestinian economy is withering largely because of Israeli restrictions on movement. Netanyahu said his plan would lead to economic growth in the West Bank. Netanyahu was Israel's Finance Minister from 2002-2005 when he resigned over Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza. During that time he cut a lot of social benefits which strengthened the economy. Netanyahu believes economic growth can lead to political peace and cited Northern Ireland and Cyprus as examples. But Netanyahu's critics say his past behavior proves Netanyahu intends to substitute economic policies for political peace. Netanyahu has opposed almost every Palestinian-Israeli agreement. One of the architects of the 1993 accords says economic policy cannot substitute a political two-state solution. The latest Israeli polls show Netanyahu with a significant lead over his opponent, Libni.

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