Netanyahu Still Leads the Right. But Is He Losing Its Trust?

As yesterday’s votes are still being calculated, Israeli politicians are preparing for the coalition negotiations that will determine who will be the next prime minister. One of the frontrunners is Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud party depends crucially on the support of the Religious Zionism party, led by Bezalel Smotrich, to obtain the 61 Knesset seats necessary to form a government. But, notes Haviv Rettig Gur, as much as those who vote for Smotrich are implicitly signifying their support for Netanyahu, the relationship between the two politicians has become increasingly tense:

Over the last four races, rightwing parties ran at Netanyahu’s side with the insistence that Netanyahu was the right man to lead Israel. But in this fifth race, after four failures at the ballot box and growing frustration with his inability to deliver a victory, a profound change has come over the Netanyahu camp. More and more, the campaigns of rightwing parties have focused not on Netanyahu’s strengths but on his weaknesses. For growing portions of the Israeli right, Netanyahu is seen as a failure—not just electorally, but on policy issues too.

It was under Netanyahu, not [his successor Naftali] Bennett, that May 2021’s internecine fighting between Arabs and Jews tore apart mixed towns like Lod and drew bitter excoriation from rightwing constituencies, especially in those poorer regions of the country where Mizraḥi Jewish and Arab communities live in an uneasy coexistence.

On the Palestinian front, continuing waves of persistent low-level terror attacks, including occasional bursts of Gazan rocket fire, raised new complaints in working-class towns near the Strip about Netanyahu’s longtime policy of ensuring stability in Gaza by allowing Qatar to fund Hamas.

Smotrich and [his far-right coalition partner] Itamar Ben-Gvir see Netanyahu as weak and they intend—they are not shy on the point; it’s their central campaign message—to be unrelenting in their pressure to force Netanyahu rightward once he’s returned to the prime minister’s chair.

As a result, writes Gur, the campaign run by Smotrich and Ben-Gvir amounts to “an uprising wrapped in a bear hug.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Election 2022, Israeli politics


President Biden Should Learn the Lessons of Past U.S. Attempts to Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Sept. 21 2023

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Joe Biden addressed a host of international issues, mentioning, inter alia, the “positive and practical impacts” resulting from “Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors.” He then added that the U.S. will “continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples.” Zach Kessel experiences some déjà vu:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and review how past U.S.-brokered talks between Jerusalem and [Palestinian leaders] have gone down, starting with 1991’s Madrid Conference, organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. . . . Though the talks, which continued through the next year, didn’t get anywhere concrete, many U.S. officials and observers across the world were heartened by the fact that Madrid was the first time representatives of both sides had met face to face. And then Palestinian militants carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of the conflict.

Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton tried his hand with the Oslo Accords:

In the period of time directly after the Oslo Accords . . . suicide bombings on buses and in crowded public spaces became par for the course. Clinton invited then-Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000, hoping finally to put the conflict to rest. Arafat, who quite clearly aimed to extract as many concessions as possible from the Israelis without ever intending to agree to any deal—without even putting a counteroffer on the table—scuttled any possibility of peace. Of course, that’s not the most consequential event for the conflict that occurred in 2000. Soon after the Camp David Summit fell apart, the second intifada began.

Since Clinton, each U.S. president has entered office hoping to put together the puzzle that is an outcome acceptable to both sides, and each has failed. . . . Every time a deal has seemed to have legs, something happens—usually terrorist violence—and potential bargains are scrapped. What, then, makes Biden think this time will be any different?

Read more at National Review

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Joe Biden, Palestinian terror, Peace Process