Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Newest Challenges Come from the Right

Dec. 24 2020

Because the Knesset failed to pass a budget by midnight on Tuesday, Israel will be holding elections—for the fourth time in two years—in March of 2021. The failure to pass a budget, however, is only the proximate cause. Among the numerous factors leading to the collapse are the fracturing of Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, which he brought into the current unity government with Benjamin Netanyahu; Netanyahu’s maneuvers to prevent Gantz from succeeding him as prime minister, per the terms of the coalition deal; and the decision of Gideon Sa’ar—formerly the Likud party’s number two—to break with Netanyahu to form his own party. Haviv Rettig Gur explains what the next election might bring:

If one thinks of the four elections held between April 2019 and March 2021 not as four distinct political events but as a single, long-running contest, Netanyahu’s situation appears to have worsened this week. Over the last three races, he led a Likud list that won between 32 and 36 seats at the ballot box. Likud now polls around 28.

Far more importantly, the diverse but vehemently anti-Netanyahu coalition once led by Gantz had struggled to clear the 61-seat threshold for a parliamentary majority. Over the past two weeks, by contrast, those parties that declare themselves opposed to Netanyahu’s continued rule are polling at close to 80 seats. All the major [polls] found that there may be a slim anti-Netanyahu majority on the center-right, which won’t require left-wing and Arab-majority parties to survive. That’s a dangerous sea-change for Netanyahu.

[Moreover], Netanyahu’s reputation for dishonesty has severely limited his ability to strike the deals that may save him. To stay in power after March, he must win outright. It is no longer enough to fight his opponents to a draw, as he did over the last three races.

The right, [meanwhile], has grown in the polls compared to last year. Parties that self-identify as right-wing (including the ḥaredi factions) now account for roughly 80 Knesset seats. Yet the anti-Netanyahu camp has grown too. The divide over Netanyahu no longer tracks the left-right divide.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Election 2021, Israeli politics, Knesset

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism