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At the margins of the visit, Israel’s new government

Israeli TV channels have been hosting a string of new government representatives to comment on the visit, offering most Israelis their first glimpse of the ruling coalition with which they will be left alone once the president is gone.

Yesterday, Channel 2 hosted Danny Danon, formerly considered an extreme voice from the Likud back benches — and now the deputy minister of defense.

This morning it was Zeev Elkin, known as a pro-annexation hardliner who, according to a Hebrew University study of his voting record, has opposed freedom of expression and human rights more than any other MK. Elkin is now the deputy foreign minister, following the Avigdor Liberman precedent of appointing to top Israeli diplomatic posts the people least likely to be acceptable to the international community.

After that in the Channel 2 studio came Ophir Akunis, a Netanyahu protégé who is now a deputy minister in charge of government-Knesset relations.

These voices will be more prominent than ever in the coming months and years, and they are distant from the policies Obama wants Israel to pursue. If the US is planning a push for new peace talks, the fault lines in the new coalition — which includes parties deeply divided on how to approach the Palestinian issue — will quickly become apparent.

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