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Netanyahu and peace

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May 31, 1996
Web posted at: 10:35 a.m. EDT (1435 GMT)

From Correspondent Jim Clancy

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Benjamin Netanyahu waged the kind of tough campaign that told Israelis he would deal with the security fears many of them have about making peace with the Arabs who surround them.

Moreover, he promised to back away from the concept of a land-for-peace agreement.

Some Israelis believe Netanyahu can deliver on his tough talk. Others just sense that this is a man who will pursue Israel's interests in the same ruthless style that has marked his own rise to power.

In just five years, Netanyahu went from being a newly elected member of Israel's Knesset to the leadership of the powerful Likud Party, pushing aside older party members in his aggressive style.

In 1993, to gain the Likud leadership, he publicly confessed to an extra-marital affair rather than give leverage to his rivals.

The U.S.-educated Netanyahu comes from a well-known family. His brother, Jonathan led the 1976 raid on Entebbe, Uganda, freeing Israeli hostages and paying with his life for the success of the mission.

Netanyahu as a soldier

Benjamin Netanyahu also served in Israel's military. But it was quickly clear that his real talent wasn't holding a gun, it was holding forth in front of the television cameras.

He became ambassador to the United Nations and reinforced ties with the Jewish community in the U.S.

Speaking in impeccable English and wearing stylish clothes, Netanyahu became a powerful and articulate voice for Israel, though critics said he was superficial.

Netanyahu in the UN

"He's a person who got somewhat of a bum rap as someone who not only talks in sound bites but thinks in sound bites," said David Makovsky of the Jerusalem Post.

Supporters deny that, but Netanyahu's performance is weakest when he is surprised.

As peace talks began in 1991 in Madrid, the man who forged his career depicting Israelis as victims of terror, summarized his view of Palestinian efforts to make peace.

"I'll make peace with you. But I'm going to cut off both your arms, yank off both your legs and tear out your heart, but I'll make peace with you," Netanyahu said the Palestinians seemed to be saying.

Analysts openly wondered then whether Netanyahu had really heard and understood what was said by the Palestinian side and what the peace process was really all about. As Netanyahu comes to power there could be cause to wonder once again.

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