Netanyahu Launches Campaign 1999

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Benjamin Netanyahu opened his reelection campaign on a note as old as democracy itself: His opponents are out of touch with the will of the people. "Either you replace the people or you replace the parliament," Netanyahu said in a televised speech to the Knesset Monday night. "And I agree to replace the parliament." Israel's prime minister says the people support his policies (which are essentially an abandonment of the October Wye Plantation agreement) and that it's the Labor party, which split with Netanyahu's governing coalition after he refused to comply with a scheduled withdrawal of troops from the West Bank, that's ignoring the will of the people.

He may be right, says TIME reporter Jamil Hammad: "The Palestinians believe that it's Netanyahu who abandoned the Wye and Oslo agreements. In fact, it's the people of Israel who are pushing this. The hopes of the Palestinians that a Labor-led government would make things better have been dashed by the rise of the right." Netanyahu says that he is still committed to the Wye agreement, but pressures from his right mean he keeps adding new conditions to its implementation -- pressures that will only intensify as he looks for votes. The political realities of the next four months leading up to elections could push everyone involved even further from where they were last October.