The Upcoming Israeli Election May Seem Like a Repeat, but Benjamin Netanyahu Has Changed His Tune

For the past 43 months, Israel has had a series of elections that produced either inconclusive results, or short-lived, unstable coalitions. Next month, Israelis will go to the polls for what they are calling “round five.” One thing, however, is different: Benjamin Netanyahu, after twelve years as prime minister, is no longer the incumbent. As a result, he is running a campaign very different from those he ran in the previous four elections. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Netanyahu has never won a majority in [opinion] polls that tested “fitness to be prime minister.” He leads the pack of party leaders, but never passes the 50-percent mark. A plurality is significant in a multiparty system, but it’s not enough if your opponents unite.

On August 3, for the first time in years, Netanyahu presented a detailed economic program that the party would be running on. The campaign wouldn’t be about Netanyahu himself or the danger posed by a sinister leftist-Arab alliance, but about a “return to stability” and a commitment to long-delayed reforms.

He laid out a wish list of said reforms: reducing tariffs and import regulations to allow cheap imports to drive down consumer prices; streamlining the housing-construction approval process; lowering the cost of electricity, gasoline, and water (apparently through subsidies or price controls); subsidizing land purchases for young people seeking to build homes; freezing municipal property taxes for a year to help offset inflation; and most dramatically, lowering the age of free public education from three years to zero and offering state-funded daycare from birth.

For the first time since the 2015 election, Likud wants to talk about substance. It has also, for the first time in memory, turned forcefully against its most aggressive and disreputable activists.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli economy, Israeli politics, Likud


Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security