Netanyahu once again on center stage as Israel moves towards elections
JERUSALEM – With tired familiarity, Israelis are preparing for their fifth election in less than four years. But at least one person is cheering at the prospect of a new vote and a possible new chapter in notable political life.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin is charismatic and divisive Netanyahu was ousted last year by a fragile alliance of opponents from the right, center and left who have come together in an attempt to break his more than a decadelong hold of power.
Now that government has fallen, open the door to Netanyahu to regain power for a nationalist right-wing group.
Even before the Knesset made its first preliminary vote on Wednesday to dissolve, Netanyahu, also known as “Bibi,” couldn’t stop beaming.
“The wind has changed,” Netanyahu, head of Israel’s opposition and Israel’s largest right-wing party, Likud, told reporters on Monday night, after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the dissolution of the government. its government.
“We are preparing for the elections and we are very sure of the possibility of victory,” said the brilliant orator who has dominated politics for a quarter of a century and has sat in the prime minister’s office. plus 15 years added. Behind the scenes, however, he is working on a legislative path that would allow him to form a new government without an election.
Either way, Israel’s most famous living politician, who took up a backseat role last year, is now back in the limelight.
Supporters of Netanyahu, 72, often portray him as the only Israeli politician capable of leading the country and he capitalizes on that image as the nation’s savior, often taking a polarizing stance and portraying him as the only Israeli politician capable of leading the country. Describe your opponents as enemies.
He is widely admired for campaigning against Iran’s nuclear program, offering a Advanced Covid-19 vaccine support program Jewish Settlement in occupied Palestinian territory, helping to ease Israel’s isolation in the Arab world by working to normalize relations with Gulf Arab Kingdoms and for him close friendship with former President Donald Trump.
His critics accuse him of eroding the country’s democratic foundations by seeking to undermine judicial independence, bolster right-wing extremism and promote the state’s Jewish identity. by causing damage to Arab nationals.
“Either you like Bibi or you don’t like Bibi,” said political science professor Gideon Rahat of Hebrew University.
Persistent corruption this case will haunt Netanyahu in any upcoming elections as it has in the past four.
Mr. Rahat said the issues that divided voters were and will be related to personality rather than ideology, adding that the majority of Israeli voters chose right-wing parties in the last election. and is likely to recur in the upcoming election.
“It’s all about Netanyahu reshuffling the cards until he wins,” he added.
Mr. Netanyahu can effectively take Israeli politics hostage: He has enough right-wing support to prevent his opponents from forging an alternative right-wing coalition while those in the parties The centre-left and the left are also not popular enough to form a government, Rahat said.
Polls taken over the past few days show that the right is growing even stronger, and most of that growth is going to those who will support Netanyahu, while far-right parties do not want to sit in politics The government with him has lost support.
“The center moves to the right, the right goes further to the right, and the far right is the far right,” said political strategist Aviv Bushinsky, a former chief of staff and an adviser to Netanyahu.
Netanyahu himself, despite his upbeat comments, has hedged his bets and is working hard to use a legislative alternative that would allow him to form a new coalition that puts him to leadership positions in government.
“For some on the right, a nationalist government led by Netanyahu” is a dream about to come true, said Bushinsky. “They see the light at the end of the tunnel in which they will have a majority…religious extremists, right-wing coalitions and they don’t need to compromise with any other party, not from the left, not against religion. teacher. , not even a center party. ”
The worry of many of the country’s centrists and leftists is that if Netanyahu forms a far-right nationalist coalition, it will pass legislation harmful to Israeli democracy.
“They may try to limit the power of the courts and the powers of other agencies and centralize power in the hands of the prime minister,” Rahat said.
Mr. Netanyahu’s most direct rival is Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, of the centrist Yesh Atid party, whose support has also grown, and who in the last election and in the last polls has proved to be the second most popular leader. He is about to become interim prime minister.
“It was really a do-or-die campaign for both candidates, Yair Lapid as the center’s new leader and Netanyahu as the right-wing leader for 26 years,” Bushinsky said.