Monday, Nov. 26, 2012

Benjamin Netanyahu

The Israeli Prime Minister has had an interesting year. Domestically, Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party experimented with different ways to consolidate their already firm grip on power. A coalition with centrist parties gave Netanyahu a staggering majority in parliament; when that collapsed, he found succor from the far right and is in pole position to win elections early next year. But those elections weren't the only ones on Netanyahu's mind this year. The 63-year-old Israeli premier played an outsize role in the contest between U.S. President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. His support for the Republican challenger was lacking in the diplomatic restraint that's customary in international politics, and it remains to be seen whether his cool relationship with the re-elected President will improve in Obama's second term. It needs to. Israel's peace process with the Palestinians has long gone off the rails, a reality underscored by the latest escalation of violence between Israeli forces and Hamas in Gaza. Under Netanyahu's watch, the Palestinian Authority — Israel's traditional interlocutors — has become irrelevant. Now it's up to him to help his country achieve a lasting peace in one of the most volatile corners of the world.