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The Boston Globe

Opinion

James Carroll

Israel must not dismiss outrage over settlements

AFTER A STORM of criticism hit Israel for the plan it announced to expand settlements in the occupied territories, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back. “Israel will continue to stand for its essential interests,” he declared, “even in the face of international pressure, and there will be no change in the decision it has taken.”

But the “international pressure” that Netanyahu too easily dismisses has come to consist of more than mere expressions of diplomatic displeasure — and poses a profound threat to his country’s “essential interests.” Israel has often displayed an anxiety about becoming “delegitimized.” That concern acknowledges that nations — at least democratic nations — must always pay what Thomas Jefferson called “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” A government’s duty to maintain the physical security of its people is matched by the obligation to safeguard its moral standing among nations. Yet Israel’s Likud-led government is fatally undermining that standing.

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