By Rob Eshman
If you want to know what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thinks about the peace process, don't watch what he does, listen to what Danny Danon says.
Danon is a whippersnapper member of Knesset from the Likud party. In 2006, he opposed then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement from Gaza. For the past year, he's been attacking Netanyahu for suspending new settlement construction per the United States' demands. When the Obama administration chastised Netanyahu last March for announcing new building in East Jerusalem, it was Danon who snapped back, saying U.S. pressure on Israel hurts Israel and hurts peace. If you saw the movie "Youth in Revolt" with Michael Cera (and you should, it's a very good movie with a very bad trailer), Danon is like Cera's belligerent alter ego, egging him on, toughening him up. In other words, Danny Danon is Bibi Netanyahu, 20 years ago.
I met Danon in the lobby of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in late March, after he'd spent a few days speaking around Southern California. He is a native Israeli of North African heritage, dark-featured, and was decked out in a well-cut suit and power tie — not your father's shirt-sleeve Israeli pol. At 39, he is chairman of the World Likud and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. People said that if I wanted to meet the future of Israel, I had to meet Danny Danon.
Danon believes with every fiber of his being that the two-state solution is dead, the one-state solution is a "liberal scare tactic," and Israel must never give up the territories it captured in the Six-Day War.
This was a founding principle of Likud and its Revisionist ideological forbears: that Israel has a right to the entire biblical land of Israel. It's a point of view that runs counter to every international peace-making effort in the Middle East since 1967, all dedicated to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.