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The radicalization of Israel

The extremist discourse between the political right and the left has drowned out the Israeli mainstream.
Naftali Bennett, head of the Beit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, campaigns at a bar in the southern city of Ashdod December 27, 2012. A Palestinian state would be suicide for Israel, says Bennett, a high-tech millionaire who heads a far-right party whose popularity has been the surprise of the country's election campaign. Picture taken December 27, 2012. To match Interview story ISRAEL-ELECTION/BENNETT REUTERS/Amir Cohen (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR3C8SR
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged satisfied from his Nov. 9 meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington, but his coalition partners made sure to dampen his enthusiasm. At the meeting, Netanyahu had spoken about his commitment to a two-state solution. HaBayit HaYehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett, in competition with Netanyahu for right-wing voters, considers the concept illegitimate. Instead, Bennett supports the partial annexation of the occupied territories to Israel. “When the prime minister supports the creation of a Palestinian state, that is not a right-wing government,” Bennett reportedly told a gathering of party activists.

Bennett is not alone in his thinking. Some members of Netanyahu’s own Likud feel the same way. If, in the past, the political camps were divided over the question of how to realize a two-state solution and whether a trustworthy partner existed on the Palestinian side, today anyone who says the phrase “two-state solution” is viewed as a left-wing extremist by those on the right. This exemplifies the radicalization of Israeli society.

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