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Time running out for Israel and peace talks

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Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres traveled abroad this week to lobby against a possible statehood resolution, with Mr. Peres visiting President Obama and the UN, and Netanyahu calling on German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Both the US and Germany are Israel’s longtime allies. Yet the Western leaders urged Israel to get back to the negotiating table. Reviving the talks is now “more urgent than ever,” said each leader, using the exact same phrase.

Part of the urgency is the Arab uprising. Israel’s longtime friend and peace partner, Hosni Mubarak, was ousted by democracy revolutionaries in Egypt in February. Demonstrations have taken place in Jordan, another friend, and are intensifying in neighboring Syria, from which Israel won the Golan Heights in the 1967 war.

Netanyahu likes to point out that it’s too early to tell how these revolutions will turn out. “We don’t know if this is a 1989 change in Europe or the 1979 revolution in Iran,” he said in Berlin. But the uncertainty is no reason to delay.

Just the opposite. If democracy spreads in the Middle East, a democratic Israel will want to side with this movement. If militant and fundamentalist Islam spreads in these new democracies, Israel will want to have worked out in advance a negotiated two-state solution with international security guarantees.

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