WATCH: Netanyahu 'Really Is Nixonian,' Says David Brooks

'It’s been reported that Netanyahu is saying there is never going to be a Palestinian state. That’s not how I read it then, and it’s certainly not what he said then.'

Olivier Fitoussi

Transcript:

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Judy Woodruff: So, let’s talk about Israel, its newly reelected prime minister, Benjamin — or we think so — it looks that way, Benjamin Netanyahu.

He turned heads, David, just before the election when he said that he didn’t believe, after all, that the Palestinians should have their own state and also when he talked about Arabs going to the polls in droves. He’s just given — that was a few days ago. Then just today and yesterday, he is telling American reporters, no, he does think there should be, could be a Palestinian state.

Which is it?

David Brooks: He’s a fascinating figure.

He’s — we say Nixonian about a lot of people. He really is Nixonian. He’s brilliant. He’s very isolated and insular. It’s very hard to

Woodruff: You don’t mean that as a compliment, or do you, the Nixonian

Brooks: No. Well, mixed, I guess, but mostly negative.

Insular. Very hard to keep staff because he — very small circle, and yet survived now. And so I would differentiate the two statements. The statement about the Israeli Arabs was race-baiting. It was voter suppression, and simply was pandering. It was his attempt to win over the right.

Remember, in his electoral system, he’s not trying to win over left votes. He’s trying to get the more right parties into his camp, which he succeeded in doing. The stuff on the Palestinian state, I think, is a much more complicated. It’s been reported that he’s saying never going to have a Palestinian state. That’s not how I read it then, and it’s certainly not what he said then.

I think what he said, if you read the exact quote, is that today, with Islamic radicalism on the rise, more or less, he meant it would be reckless to allow there to be a Palestinian state in the West Bank or in Gaza for today. I don’t think he said forevermore. I think it’s a little more complicated.

I think that it’s an arguable position, whether with Hamas and ISIS around, whether there should be a Palestinian state, but it’s a defensible position, given the current circumstances.

Woodruff: And we should say, full disclosure, you have a son who is serving in the Israeli military. But you’re saying it’s consistent, these two

Brooks: I thought it was clearly a pander to the right, obviously. But was it outrageous? Did he say there should never be a Palestinian state? I don’t think he said that, even at the worst statement at the height of the campaign.