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The state of Israel: Internal influence driving change [View All]

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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-07-11 09:57 AM
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The state of Israel: Internal influence driving change
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The view, as our plane banked, was familiar: the sea, the sand, the skyscrapers of the Tel Aviv coastline. It was my first return to Israel since the end of my posting as Middle East correspondent, 18 months before. What I wanted to discover was how far that familiar picture had changed.

After all, there was the same right-leaning government, the same absence of peace talks with the Palestinians. But all around, the region had transformed, as the winds of the Arab Spring had blown. Was Israel's apparent quiescence all that it seemed?

Israel is a country where the surface picture can distract from deeper, contradictory trends. Take this summer's social protests. They appeared to share, with many Western countries, the rage at capitalism's inequalities. And yet Israel's economy is growing apace - 5% a year - thanks to its world-beating hi-tech sector. And the protesters took a vow of silence on the most contentious issue of all - the conflict with the Palestians.

A short distance north from Tel Aviv lives a man who embodies both those contradictions. Naftali Bennett is the chief executive of the Yesha Council - the Settlers' Council, which represents the ideologically motivated Jews who have set up home in the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. But Mr Bennett does not live in the territories. Rather, this young hi-tech millionaire has just moved into a large house in Israel's expensive central plain.

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