Profile in newfound courage

Profile in newfound courage

We commend Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for remaining steadfast in the face of intense opposition within his coalition and his Likud Party to his decision to resume talking peace with the Palestinians.

Unlike in times past, this time the prime minister showed a strong resolve to give peace talks a chance. We are hopeful that Netanyahu will remain as determined during the nine months the talks are expected to last.

The signs suggest that he is prepared to do so.

Releasing terrorist murderers from Israeli prisons is not a decision taken lightly. We know that many of our readers – and some of us in this office, for that matter – think it is unwise. That Netanyahu was willing to do is thus one such sign.

Another is his willingness to expend an enormous amount of political capital on winning cabinet approval for the talks. It is capital he reserved for holding together a governing coalition that can implode at any moment. Instead, he used it to win approval at last Sunday’s cabinet meeting for the talks and the prisoner release.

A third sign is sending his personal attorney and friend, Yitzchak Molcho, to co-chair Israel’s delegation alongside Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Any agreement that may emerge automatically will have Netanyahu’s stamp on it because Molcho speaks for him.

While we are at it, we commend Secretary of State John Kerry for the work he did to get the ball rolling. Last week, we chided him and his professional staff for not having learned the lesson that progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace front can be made only in secrecy. As it turns out, the groundwork for these talks was prepared over many months of negotiations so secret that not a single leak seeped through.

Finally, we are pleased that former United States Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk was selected to oversee the talks. We agree with Kerry that Indyk “knows what has worked, and he knows what hasn’t worked. And he knows how important it is to get this right.”

“The day is short, the work looms large,” we are told in Pirkei Avot, but it is work that must not be shirked, for, as Pirkei Avot also says, “the reward is great.”