Netanyahu Tries to Reassure Public

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Rosh Hashanah greeting sought to bolster the public's faith in his administration's accomplishments, with an emphasis on the peace talks that got started last week in Washington.

The prime minister began by saying the past year "was one of the safest years in two decades," while noting that "last week's brutal murder of four Israelis…makes it clear that terror and missile attacks on our citizens won't be tolerated."

He then spoke of how well Israel has weathered the global economic downturn "better than any other industrialized country."

Netanyahu said the economy is "firmly back on a robust path toward long-term growth," and "a stronger economy means a stronger Israel."

Click here to view Netanyahu's Rosh Hashanah address:

Turning to the newly restarted direct talks, Netanyahu said it is "an important step in our attempt to advance a peace agreement between us and them."

"I say this is an attempt because it is not certain that it will succeed. Certainly there are many obstacles, many skeptics and many reasons to doubt, but we must try to reach peace," he said.

"We are trying in good faith, but not naivety, to reach a peace agreement. Any arrangement between us and the Palestinians will be based on two criteria: security and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state," Netanyahu said.

"Security because no peace will last without a strong anchor of actual security on the ground, not on paper and not as a hazy international commitment," he said.

"The second thing is the recognition that Israel is the national state of the Jewish people. If we are asked to recognize a Palestinian state, it is both natural and appropriate that the Palestinians recognize the state of the Israeli people as a Jewish state."

Whether his message resonated with the people who helped put him in office remains to be seen.

For now, many Israelis are entering the New Year with a certain amount of skepticism in what some analysts are calling "the new Netanyahu."

The Palestinians, who continue to reject recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, also said no agreement can be reached that excludes the Gaza Strip.

But Hamas, the Palestinian faction ruling Gaza, remains intent on ridding "Palestine," which it defines as stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, of the "Zionist occupiers."

This past Monday, the PLO's official news agency, WAFA, complained that the World Jewish Congress should not have been permitted to hold a conference at Jerusalem's David Citadel Hotel because the city "is part and parcel of the occupied territory."

According to PLO officials, the conference flaunted "Israeli aggression against the holy city." PA officials called for an international intervention to bolster "the Palestinian cause seeking to control the Islamic and Christian sanctities and its [Jerusalem's] annexation to Israel."

In his Rosh Hashanah address, Netanyahu said in the next year, "Israel will face many challenges." That seems to be one thing everyone can agree on.

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Tzippe Barrow

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From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow helps provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country.

She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.