A new Bibi?


From The Los Angeles Times:

Bibi is back. Unlikely as it seemed after his resounding electoral defeat in 1999, Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party, has returned triumphantly from the political wilderness and was inaugurated — for the second time — as prime minister on Tuesday. He’s nearly 60 now, more jowly and generally droopier than during his first term, and the problems he faces are, if anything, more complex. Still, it must be a satisfying comeback for a man who left office a decade ago unpopular with the electorate, despised by the liberal intelligentsia of Tel Aviv and disliked almost as intensely by the Clinton administration for his unwillingness to pursue the Oslo peace process with any enthusiasm.

But Netanyahu is nothing if not determined, and in the years that followed, he bided his time in the Knesset, plotting, strategizing and finally reemerging on top. As he rolled back into power last week, leading a confusing coalition of parties from the right and left, the question that dogged him was the same one that always has: Who is he really? Is he a pragmatic, flexible leader? An admirable, uncompromising man of principle? A rigid, obstinate right-wing ideologue? Will he be Nixon in China, or will he reject any concessions to the Palestinians as a sign of weakness?

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