Benjamin Netanyahu's reputation is one of a hawkish hard-liner, but he views himself differently. “You and I have a lot in common,” he once told then-candidate Obama. “We are both pragmatists who like to get things done.” It’s telling that Israel’s next prime minister tells the story with such pride, writes Ethan Bronner in the New York Times, because his centrist claims will surely be tested soon. It looks like his governing coalition will be composed entirely of right-wing parties.
With Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak saying they’ll enter opposition, Netanyahu could be left only with hawks who oppose a Palestinian state and want to expand Israel’s West Bank settlements. Netanyahu remains skeptical about the Muslim world, but he’s reluctantly accepted that most of the West Bank will be part of a future Palestinian state. Whether Palestinians—or his own government—will work with him on it, is another question.