Say 'yes' to Obama
Netanyahu must choose between continuing the policy of intransigence, settlements and footdragging, and taking part in the new world order.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conduct in the budget debates showed he is capable of renouncing past ideas and beliefs, setting aside campaign slogans, recognizing political constraints and adjusting his policies accordingly.
Netanyahu was criticized for doing so, but he replied that this was for the state's good.
Now Netanyahu must show he can set aside his ideological opposition to dividing the country and support for expanding settlements and, for the good of the state, strengthen relations with the United States and advance the peace process with the Palestinians and the Arab states.
The Israeli public expects him to adjust his political stances to international reality. The Haaretz-Dialog survey published Friday showed a clear majority - 57 percent - wants Netanyahu to embrace the "two states for two peoples" principle when meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House tomorrow.
Netanyahu is known for his fondness of surveys, and surely noticed this survey's most interesting finding - that 40 percent of Likud voters want him to support the two-state solution. This comes even though the party ran on a right-wing platform and list, and even though following the elections, the prime minister has not evinced a change in approach, nor has he prepared public opinion for such a shift.
The survey leads to the clear conclusion that most of the Israeli public places supreme importance in good relations with the U.S. and understands Washington's firm messages - that Obama expects Netanyahu to accept and try to implement the two-state solution.
The prime minister must choose between continuing the policy of intransigence, settlements and footdragging, and taking part in the new world order. Netanyahu must respond to the public's expectations, and not insist on positions that would harm Israel, with the excuse that most of the voters supported the right wing.
Just like Netanyahu adjusted his economic policy to the political reality, he must tell Obama yes and cooperate with him in building a new regional reality. If he demonstrates proper leadership, Netanyahu will also gain the support of the public, most of which is not satisfied with his performance as prime minister so far.