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Thomas Friedman on Israel's Political Shift: A Critical Juncture for Peace and Diplomacy

2024-02-08 (294)

In a compelling analysis, Thomas Friedman, a renowned journalist and author, reflects on the profound transformation within Israeli politics following the election of the current government in November 2022.

Drawing from his extensive experience as a correspondent in Israel, Friedman recalls his immediate reaction to the election results with a column headlined "The Israel you knew is over."

Despite initial criticism, Friedman's observations highlight the significant shift towards far-right, religious nationalist factions within key government positions, a departure from past norms exemplified by figures like Yitzak Shamir's stance against extremism.

Friedman's insights reveal concerns from former Israeli officials and military figures regarding the government's direction and its impact on Israeli-Palestinian relations.

He articulates the challenges faced by the Biden administration in engaging with a government led by controversial figures, which exacerbates the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

According to Friedman, the administration's strategy involves presenting Prime Minister Netanyahu with a pivotal choice: to be remembered for deepening conflicts or for achieving a historic normalization with Saudi Arabia and other Muslim nations, predicated on pursuing a two-state solution with a legitimate Palestinian partner.

Through Friedman's analysis, the discussion underscores the critical juncture at which Israeli politics and its implications for peace and diplomacy stand.

Video Transcription:

You know, the day after this government was elected

in November 2022, I wrote a column, the headline

of which 'The Israel you knew is over". Yeah.

At the time, a lot of people criticized me.

It's, that's excessive.

And it's because I knew some of the characters

in this government when I was the correspondent there

was when Kahana was elected to the parliament and

Yitzak Shamir was then prime minister, used to walk

out of the parliament when Kahana addressed it.

And now these people aren't just in the parliament.

They're in the cabinet and in key positions.

So it's something that's always been frightening.

You know, in the last few months, every once

in a while get a note from someone, former

officials in Israel or the military, and they know.

Tom, would you somehow communicate to President Biden

that he's got to get rid of Bibi?

And I say, guys, that only happens in the movies, okay?

That doesn't happen in real life.

And so here's what I think the administration is

trying to do, Hussein, to address that problem that

you raised, which is that, look, one reason I

would argue that this conflict now is so vicious

between Israelis and Palestinians is that the worst of

the worst are in charge on both sides.

In Hamas, it's the military wing of Hamas,

and in Israel it's the far right, religious

nationalists who feed off of each other.

They have a.


So I think that the administration's strategy is to actually

present Netanyah with a choice, and I'll just reduce it

to its simplest be remembered for the prime minister who

presided over October 7, or you can be remembered for

the prime minister who forged normalization with

Saudi Arabia and the rest of the muslim world.

But the price of that is going to

be working with a credible, legitimate palestinian partner

with the horizon of a two state solution.

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