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The last-minute agreement to form a right-of-center government in Israel headed by the Likud Party's Benjamin Netanyahu is neither surprising nor shocking. Rather, it is consistent with the trends of the past four decades that have seen the entire Middle East region shift toward increasingly narrow state identities and government policies defined by a combination of narrow ethnicity, increased militarism and religious conservatism. Israel's expansionist, colonies-anchored Jewish ethno-nationalism has been a dynamic element in the regional trend.One element in this Zionist trajectory has been the relatively recent demand that Palestinians formally recognize Israel as a "Jewish state," which has only heightened the troubling regional trend toward less pluralism and more exclusivist states and communities defined by a single ethnicity, nationalism or religion. The idea of Israel as a "Jewish state," where in practice Jews generally have priority rights over people of other faiths and identities in terms of migration, land ownership and other issues, seems to legitimize for others the concept of such single-identity states.
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