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September 17, 2009 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-09-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

e 7 1

Year In Review on page 44

War in Gaza, Bibi returns, ran threat looms.

Israeli soldiers take part in ground maneuvers in the Gaza Strip on Jan. 6, 2009.

Leslie Susser

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Jerusalem

F

or Israel, the Jewish year 5769
was dominated by two events
with far-reaching regional
repercussions: the return of Benjamin
Netanyahu as prime minister and the 22-
day military operation against Hamas in
Gaza.
Although Netanyahu's Likud won one
seat less than former Foreign Minister
Tzipi Livni's Kadima in the Feb. 10 elec-

46

September 17 2009

tion, the right-wing bloc of parties that
supported Netanyahu's candidacy cap-
tured 65 of the 120 Knesset seats in the
vote. This enabled Netanyahu to form
a 74-member coalition, with Yisrael
Beiteinu, Labor, Shas, United Torah
Judaism and Jewish Home joining Likud.
Sworn in on March 31, the new govern-
ment immediately signaled reservations
about the two-state model for peace with
the Palestinians. But under strong pres-
sure from Washington, Netanyahu quickly
shifted. In a major policy speech at Bar-
Ilan University on June 14, he committed

— Photo by IDF/BPH Images

his government to the notion of an inde-
pendent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
"In my vision of peace, there are two
free peoples living side by side on this
small land, with good neighborly relations
and mutual respect, each with its flag,
anthem and government, with neither
threatening its neighbor's security and
existence he declared.
Still, Netanyahu attached strong cave-
ats: The Palestinian state would have to
be demilitarize; the Palestinians would
have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state;
no Palestinian refugees would return to

Israel proper and Jerusalem would not be
divided.
It was a far cry from the sweeping offer
articulated by outgoing Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert in the waning days of his
administration. According to Olmert, in
September 2008 he proposed handing
over approximately 93.6 percent of the
West Bank to the Palestinians, compensat-
ing for the remaining 6.4 percent or so in
a land swap and a land corridor connect-
ing the West Bank and Gaza.
Under the plan, a "very small" number
of refugees would be allowed to return

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