Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Victory Close to Defeat for Netanyahu

Inter Press Service

Against all expectations, he could have been defeated. Now, he faces uncertainty over the kind of governing coalition he will lead and thus the kind of policies he will carry out. And he faces a lingering question: can any prospective coalition last?

The initial result was astounding – floating around a tie between Netanyahu’s right-wing camp with 61 seats and his centre-left opposition with 59 seats in the Knesset parliament’s 120 seats.

So, addressing the Israel voter, the self-designate new prime minister decidedly put on a brave face of his own.

“I’m proud to be your prime minister. Once again, you’ve proven that Israel is an exemplary vibrant and dynamic democracy,” Netanyahu harangued his supporters at the Likud-Beitenu headquarters located on the metropolitan’s Exhibition Ground.

Results show that support for the joint Likud-Beitenu list of candidates Netanyahu headed has dropped dramatically, from its previous 42 seats to as few as 31.

Former TV star Yair Lapid, a newcomer in politics, stole the show. His centrist party Yesh ‘Atid (There’s a Future) has become the second largest, with 19 seats.

Empowered with a strong social programme focusing on cheaper housing for young couples, compulsory draft of religious students exempted from serving in the military and, in general, with an uncompromising fight against social iniquities, Lapid has suddenly emerged as the king-maker of any future sustainable coalition.

“Our responsibility is to form the largest possible coalition,” Lapid pledged during his party’s celebration.

Lapid’s vow was echoed by the prime minister-designate. “We must forge the largest possible coalition and, I am in the process of fulfilling this mission,” promised Netanyahu barely two hours after the exit polls.

“It won’t be easy,” predicts Uri Levy, news editor at Israel’s public television. “He’ll have to compromise, change his way of thinking.” Netanyahu is known to be adverse to change.

Election Day seemed auspicious. Flanked by his two sons and his wife, the incumbent Netanyahu was one of the first Israelis to cast a ballot for his Likud-Beitenu list of candidates.

Since he had called for early elections, Israelis were made to believe by opinion polls what Netanyahu himself was made to believe – his re-election for another term at the helm was a certainty.

“He’s obviously not very happy with what happened,” is Levy’s understatement. “He expected a lot more mandates.”

The politically savvy Netanyahu made a beginner’s mistake.

First, by merging his right-wing Likud list with the more right-wing Israel-Beitenu party, he alienated supporters who dislike either one of the two parties.

Then, he harassed the further to-the-right Naphtali Bennett because polls, which he’s known to check compulsively, predicted that Bennett’s Jewish Home party which caters to settlers’ interests would enjoy unprecedented support – though it didn’t. There too the opinion polls were misleading.

Albeit a bright and sunny Election Day, it’s neither a bright future nor a sunny political horizon which got Netanyahu re-elected, but fear – fear of a third Palestinian Intifadah uprising; fear of fallouts from the bloody civil war raging in neighbouring Syria; fear of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Netanyahu is adept at playing those fears. Hence, his opening remarks at the start of the last cabinet meeting two days before Election Day. “The problem in the Middle East is Iran’s attempt to build nuclear weapons, and the chemical weapons in Syria,” he warned.

He added: “History won’t forgive those who allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons. This was and remains the main mission facing not only myself and Israel, but the entire world.”

His campaign was as dull and dormant as the political status quo he has prudently maintained during his first term.

Except for a ten-month freeze on settlement construction and one brief encounter with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010, he has made no peace moves towards the Palestinians.

He launched a brief military operation on Hamas in the Gaza Strip in November and suffered a stinging defeat at the UN ten days later when the General Assembly voted by overwhelming majority to upgrade Palestine to “non-member observer state”.

He sounded the alarm against Iran’s nuclear programme; threatened unilateral military action; yet refrained from committing himself to both his own red line and deadline.

Making national security and national strength the twin themes of his campaign, Netanyahu underestimated the lack of social security felt by a middle class weakened and pressured by his ultra-neoliberal economic policy.

Netanyahu ignored the fear shared by a majority of Israelis of a socio-economic downfall, an anxiety so apparent one-and-a-half years ago when half a million demonstrators descended to the street and demanded social justice.

“The election results provide an opportunity for change for the benefits of all our citizens,” now reluctantly retorts the champion of unbridled neoliberalism.

Netanyahu won and lost the elections at the same time. He won because Israelis fear change; he almost lost because they strongly feel for change.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

The brainchild of Sears-Roebuck heiress Nina Rosenwald, the Gatestone Institute is a New York-based advocacy organization formerly chaired by John Bolton that is notorious for spreading misinformation about Muslims and advocating extremely hawkish views on everything from Middle East policy to immigration.


Conrad Black is a former media mogul closely connected to rightist political factions in the United States who was convicted in July 2007 for fraud and obstruction of justice and later pardoned by his friend President Trump.


David Friedman is U.S. Ambassador to Israel under Donald Trump. He is known for his extreme views on Israel, which include opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state and support for Israeli settlements.


Jason Greenblatt is the Special Representative for International Negotiations for President Donald Trump primarily working on the Israel-Palestine conflict.


The neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies has re-established itself as a primary driver of hawkish foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, during the Trump administration.


Rupert Murdoch is the head of News Corp, the parent company of Fox News, and a long-time supporter of neoconservative campaigns to influence U.S. foreign policy.


Shmuley Boteach is a “celebrity rabbi” known for his controversial “pro-Israel” advocacy.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

A series of escalations in both word and deed have raised fears of U.S.-Iranian military confrontation, either direct or by proxy. It is urgent that cooler heads prevail – in European capitals as in Tehran and Washington – to head off the threat of a disastrous war.


Vladimir Putin excels at taking advantage of mistakes made by Russia’s adversaries to further his country’s interests. Donald Trump’s Iran policy has given Putin plenty of opportunity to do that.


The Trump administration’s claims about purported Iranian threats have been repeated by credulous reporters and TV news programs far and wide.


This is the cartoon that the international edition of the New York Times should have run, at least as regards U.S. policy toward Iran.


The assault on Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar, Libya’s renegade general and leader of the self-anointed Libyan National Army (LNA), has forced an indefinite postponement of key UN peace efforts in the country even as the Trump White House announced that the president recognized Haftar’s “important” role in fighting terrorists.


With all eyes focused these days on Donald Trump and his myriad crimes, John Bolton’s speeches are a reminder that even worse options are waiting in the wings.


Advocates of cutting U.S. aid to Israel rather than using it as leverage must understand how this aid works, how big a challenge it represents for advocacy, and how to make a potentially successful argument against it.


RightWeb
share