Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has scarcely been out of the headlines in 2012, whether for warning of a possible war with Iran, launching a military offensive to stop Palestinian rocket fire out of Gaza, or taking criticism from others in the Israeli political establishment for appearing to signal a preference for Republican candidate Mitt Romney to win the White House in November. The Israeli leader has repeatedly warned that the sanctions put in place by the Obama Administration won’t be enough to stop Iran’s nuclear progress, tapping his watch as the U.S. and its allies have sought to negotiate a solution with Tehran. Indeed, the diplomatic dynamic for much of the first half of the year saw Western powers ramp up pressure on Iran in order to restrain the Israelis from acting on their threat of unilateral military action. At the U.N. in September, Netanyahu warned that at current rates of progress, Iran would likely cross Israel’s “red line” for action by next summer. And as the year draws to a close, the Israeli leader’s response to the Palestinians’ quest for U.N. recognition — initiating planning on new settlement construction in the West Bank — has prompted a flurry of Western pressure on Netanyahu to back down. On one front or another, it’s a safe bet that the Israeli Prime Minister whose reelection appears likely this January will remain a key player in the international headlines next year.
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