In a recent interview, President Trump declared that he believed that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is a good man, but that he has been a bad prime minister. Trump’s comments were seen as veiled criticism of Netanyahu, who is running for reelection in Israel’s June election. Trump’s words were not an isolated occurrence. In recent months, Trump has signaled his displeasure with Netanyahu and has indicated his desire for warmer relations with the Palestinians, Israel’s archenemy. Although it is unclear what Trump may do in the future, it is a sign that the end of Netanyahu’s tenure is in sight.
Over the last seven years, Israel has stated that the goal of its latest war in Gaza was to deter rocket attacks from Gaza, but in reality it only succeeded in driving the most radical elements of Hamas into the arms of Iran (which also has a long history of supporting their cause). The result is that the Israeli military can no longer accept that its current tactics will ever bring down Hamas, since they have failed to stop rocket attacks. This alone is not the biggest problem, however, since it means that Israel might well accept that they will never stop Iran from building up its nuclear capability. As such, Israel may well choose to take action against Iran’s nuclear facilities, which would have the worst possible consequences for the region.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on May 30.
Photo: yonatan sindel/pool/Shutterstock Western democracies produce a wide variety of governments: Left or right, centrist, populist. But the new government being formed in Israel defies any classification. If the negotiations go as planned, Israel could soon be led by a religious-nationalist prime minister, backed by a centrist agreement, with the support of Arab and left-wing parties. American liberals will no doubt celebrate the Prime Minister’s departure. Benjamin Netanyahu, which has come to symbolize the Democratic Party’s break with Israel over the past decade. But it would be a mistake to interpret this as a rejection of Israel’s right-wing political and security line, which the new government is likely to maintain.
The unusual coalition comes after Israelis have gone to the polls four times since 2019, most recently in March this year. Although his security policies enjoy widespread support, Netanyahu, who has been prime minister since 2009, has failed to form a majority coalition of Israel’s 13 fragmented parties. Hamas gave Netanyahu a political boost this month by launching a rocket attack on Israel, addressing the security problem on which Netanyahu’s career has been built. A week later, however, the fighting stopped, Naftali Bennett. of the conservative Yameena Party announced that it would reject the candidacy of the centrist Yair Lapid to form a government without Mr. Netanyahu. According to the agreement, Bennett will become prime minister immediately and Lapid will take over in 2023, if the government holds out that long. Bennett was Netanyahu’s chief of staff in the 2000s, and has consistently criticized him for his right-wing views ever since. He has long been a supporter of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, openly rejects the two-state solution and calls for tougher military action against the Hamas terror group in Gaza. Territorial concessions with a government dependent on their support would be impossible. Calling himself a centrist, Mr. Lapid speaks in a less harsh tone for American liberals and especially for American secular Jews frustrated by the stalled peace process. In recent decades, however, Israeli public opinion has steadily shifted to the right in response to the rise of Hamas, the destabilization of the region, and the threat from Iran. Lapid has focused his campaign not on reviving the concept of land for peace, but on the fatigue of Netanyahu’s 12 years of uninterrupted rule and the corruption charges against him that have yet to be tried. Former general. Benny Ganz, Meanwhile, he is the current Minister of Defense and will hold an important position in the security cabinet of the new government. Mr. Ganz is known as an Iran hawk and a critic of the 2015 U.S. nuclear deal. The anti-Netanyahu coalition also enjoys the support of the conservative and divisive New Hope party, as well as the opposition party. Avigdor Lieberman A former security ally of Netanyahu and a critic of the peace process, he has become disillusioned with Netanyahu’s religious constituency. Tensions between secular and ultra-Orthodox haredi Jews, particularly in the context of Kovid-19, are an inexplicable factor working against Mr Netanyahu’s coalition. The fall of Netanyahu, if it comes, will not be because the public is against a strong security policy, but because the conservative bloc has grown so large that it has split. Lapid managed to distance Bennett from Netanyahu by promising that he himself would hold the post of prime minister. Mr. Netanyahu’s polarizing personality may have finally worked out. For twelve years, plus a three-year term in the 1990s, he led a political system marked by bitter controversy, and pressure from other ambitious figures was inevitable. Still, his contribution has been significant. He strengthened Israel’s relations with countries from India to Brazil and normalized relations with the Arab states of the region through the Accords of Abraham. His economic reforms enabled the country to break away from the union-dominated socialism of the post-war period and become a technological superpower. The country’s continued growth – GDP per capita rose 42% between 2010 and 2019 – has improved its diplomatic standing as its economic clout has increased.
If Mr Netanyahu is toppled, the Israeli political system will have a chance to adjust to the new reality he has created: The Jewish state will be in a better strategic position than ever, but its support for the United States will be more polarized. The new government may be able to take advantage of the initial participation of Arab parties to underscore Israel’s multi-ethnic democratic character. Mr. Lapid could be an effective ambassador for American liberals. But the strategic realities that shape Israeli politics have not changed under Bennett and Lapid, and new elections are unlikely any time soon. Although Mr Netanyahu will soon step down, his era is not yet over. Newspaper article: The best and worst news of the week by Jason Riley, Gillian Melchior, Dan Henninger and Adam O’Neill. Image: AP/AFP/Zuma Press/Getty Images Compiled: Mark Kelly Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
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