Netanyahu ‘returns’

  With the departure of several lawmakers in April this year, Israel’s “patchwork” coalition government co-led by Bennett and Lapid, who successively served as prime minister, collapsed instantly, and the fifth general election in four years came early. The 73-year-old Netanyahu did not miss another chance. The right-wing camp he led won the general election and is about to win the right to form a cabinet again.
  This general election is also considered to be the last chance for Netanyahu to make a comeback, because he has lost four consecutive general elections. If he fails the fifth time, he is likely to retire and give up the leader of the Likud party. s position.
  More than a year ago, Netanyahu, chairman of the Likud party, the right-wing party in Israel, which won the most seats in the election, had to step down because he did not complete the cabinet formation on schedule. The Blue and White Party and the right-wing 8-party coalition form the new government. However, in his last speech as prime minister, Netanyahu said to his supporters: “I will come back soon!”
  Now, Netanyahu has fulfilled his promise to his supporters , is only one step away from his third term as Israeli Prime Minister.
Five general elections in four years

  This round of political chaos in Israel began in April 2019. At that time, Netanyahu, who had been in power for 10 consecutive years, had turned the country’s politics to the right. The center-left with a moderate attitude towards Palestine had almost no room for survival. But on the other hand, the “inner” forces in the right-wing factions are growing. This is not only because the three corruption cases about Netanyahu have discredited Netanyahu, but also because of problems such as whether Jewish religious students can be exempted from military service. The split eventually led to the former Minister of Defense Gantz establishing his own Blue and White Party, which began to compete with Neishi. In September 2019 and March 2020, the embarrassing situation in which the Likud Group won the election but Netanyahu was unable to form a cabinet appeared twice.
  Under the impact of the new crown epidemic, although Netanyahu finally persuaded Gantz to form a coalition government with him, but because he was afraid that Gantz’s power would further increase, Netanyahu deliberately delayed the government budget and eventually dissolved the Congress. Early election. In the fourth general election in March 2021, although Netanyahu also failed to form a cabinet, he successfully blocked the Blue and White Party led by Gantz. 8 seats left. However, Netanyahu’s own party alliance could not get a majority, and the political stalemate in Israel reappeared. The proud Netanyahu even considered joining forces with the Ram Party, an Arab political party with only 4 seats.
  Under such circumstances, the vanguard of the “inside” in the fourth general election has changed from Gantz to a centrist party with Future Party leader Lapid. With the domestic people’s expectation that the general election will not be aborted again, Lapid invited the United Right-wing Alliance split from the right-wing conservative forces and the left-wing Arab Ram Party to form a cabinet together with the utmost sincerity, and finally managed to get 61 seats. Netanyahu was ousted from power, ending his record of 12 consecutive years in power.
  However, the coalition government put together by “inverting the inside” was inherently deficient, and civil strife soon appeared due to inconsistent positions. Starting from June 2021, Prime Minister Bennett’s United Right-wing coalition members quit the ruling coalition due to religious disputes, and then left-wing MPs withdrew from the coalition because they were dissatisfied with the tough stance of the Arab Ram Party, and finally fell below the 60-member pass line The coalition government was unable to pass a number of bills in Congress, and Bennett had to resign a year early in June 2022 to quit politics, Lapid took over as prime minister, and re-opened the general election on November 1. With all the efforts and calculations, this government has existed for 17 months, which is basically in line with the expectations of the outside world.
  From the perspective of his performance in power, Lapid, who has only been in office for four months, is remarkable, and his overall performance even surpasses that of Bennett, who has been in power for a year. Hezbollah has basically completed the border dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean and launched a fierce attack on the Islamic Jihad in Gaza in exchange for a ceasefire. Talking war with one hand and making peace with the other fully embodies the ruling characteristics of Lapid’s centrist. It has undoubtedly gained a lot of political capital for owning the future party, and it also made the latest election a two-person election between Lapid and Netanyahu. battle between. However, in the face of economic difficulties caused by domestic inflationary pressures and a further deterioration of the security situation, the Israeli people still chose the more seasoned Netanyahu.
From the most pluralistic government to the most right-wing government

  The turnout rate in Israel’s general election hit the highest record since 2015, showing the public’s urgent need to elect a stable government. According to statistics from Israel’s Central Election Commission, 71.3 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, higher than in any general election in the past four years. After the last votes were counted on the evening of November 3, the ruling coalition formed by Netanyahu and three other right-wing Jewish religious parties won 64 seats, exceeding the baseline for forming a cabinet. Although Rapid’s center-left coalition won 51 seats, all other center-left parties lost seats except for Rapide’s Owning the Future party. The Meretz party, which has long been the mainstay of the left, actually won only 3.14% of the vote, and failed to even reach the minimum standard of 3.25% for parliamentary seats, and was swept out.
  Although the re-emergence of the right wing is the general trend, the indiscretion within the center-left wing has also accelerated the withdrawal of its own ruling coalition from the stage of history. More than a month before the general election, the Lapid government approved the agreement between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah on the delineation of the maritime demarcation line between the two countries along the eastern Mediterranean coast, and believed that this agreement is very important for Israel’s security and economic development. A great achievement. Netanyahu immediately opposed it, believing that the agreement betrayed Israel’s interests, and that the billions of dollars worth of natural gas fields would enable Hezbollah to obtain huge financial resources to fight against Israel. Lapid’s motivation is undoubtedly to hope to gain more votes through this so-called diplomatic victory, because the previous Israeli government has little precedent for reaching an agreement with Lebanon. But he made a mistake in timing, announcing the agreement too early, giving Netanyahu and other political opponents enough time to refute the deal, which hurt his own ruling score.
  Another important reason for Lapid’s defeat is that Israeli Arabs, who account for 20% of the total population of Israel, were fully mobilized to participate in this election, causing turnout to rise from 44% to 54%, but their votes were divided into three Different Arab political parties, in the end, only two political parties won a total of 10 seats, which was less than previous elections. On the contrary, the parliamentary seats of Arab political parties lost their status as “kingmakers”.
  Judging from the final election results, the Likud Party continued to be the largest political party, winning 32 parliamentary seats, the Future Party won 24 seats, and the Religious Zionist Party won 14 seats, becoming the third largest political party. Israeli President Herzog is expected to formally invite Netanyahu to lead the cabinet within a week, while the internal negotiations of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition may take longer, and the internal power distribution is not expected to be completed until the end of November , began his third ruling.

  It is generally expected that the ruling coalition this time will be stronger than the previous ones, and there is a high possibility that it will be in power for several years in a row. But not everyone is happy to see the lawsuit-plagued Netanyahu re-elected as prime minister. His re-emergence represents a transition from the most pluralistic government to the most right-wing government. It may shake Israel’s constitutional framework and tear its social fabric.
  The Religious Zionist Party is a coalition of three Orthodox Jewish religious parties representing radical nationalist and religious right forces opposed to gay rights and other affirmative movements. Although the ultra-orthodox Jewish religious parties have always been a force that cannot be ignored in the Israeli political arena, it is the first time in history that a Jewish religious party has entered the top three in this general election and suddenly jumped from the fringe to the mainstream. Once Netanyahu succeeds in forming a cabinet, the Religious Zionist Party will also become the second largest party in power. Netanyahu has promised to appoint key cabinet ministers from the far right, including Itamar bin Gvir, who has become Israel’s most influential right-wing figure outside of Netanyahu.
  Gevier was a lawyer and far-right activist, a protégé of the racist Mel Cahane. Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990 and his party was declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. government for his extreme views on the Palestinians. Gevier inherited Kahane’s racist teachings and spent his career defending Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and constantly inciting Jews to use extreme violence against Arabs. Gevier insisted that the areas controlled by Palestine are also the inherent territory of the Jews, and that not only the Palestinians should be expelled, but also the Arabs in Israel should be expelled. In addition to being an extreme nationalist, his ally Smotrich is also an extreme anti-homosexual person. He has always claimed to be homophobic and has organized anti-homosexual marches many times.
  Gevier has become one of Israel’s most popular politicians, thanks to his knack for using the media to build momentum, craft outrageous remarks and deflect criticism. Most of his staunchest supporters are young ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, who have long called for tougher control of the Palestinians and occupation of the entire West Bank.
  Gevir is undoubtedly the most radical politician in the history of Israel, and Netanyahu now has no choice but to include him in the ruling coalition, otherwise he will not hold enough seats to occupy a majority in the parliament and lose the right to form a cabinet. But making Gevier a senior official at the ministerial level would further divide Israeli politics. Gevir, who once called members of parliament from Arab parties “terrorists”, also represented a clean break with the center-left parties. How not to repeat the mistakes of the previous administration will be a long-term challenge for Netanyahu.
  At present, it seems that the continuous rightward turn of Israeli politics is an irreversible trend, and it is very likely that more politicians with positions similar to Geweier will emerge in the future. More and more Jews worry that the Jewish identity of the State of Israel is constantly being diluted by the Arabs in the country, and Jewish identity and national security are also constantly being threatened, all of which directly catalyze this strong performance of the extreme right. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict in May 2021 exacerbated Jewish insecurity, while Arab parties becoming part of a coalition government a few months later exacerbated right-wing Jewish groups’ concerns about Israel’s loss of Jewishness.
  Noah Ravi, director of political communications at the Tel Aviv-Yaffa Academy, was involved in a comparative study of political views among young people in developed countries a few years ago. She found that young people in Hungary were most politically right-leaning, with young Israelis not far behind. The main reasons for this phenomenon include: Jewish religious radical education continues to become the mainstream in Israel, the proportion of Jews in Israel continues to decline, and the ideological conflicts brought about by the continuous awakening of Arab political consciousness, etc. Ravi believes that the Israeli Jewish right generally regards Arabs as enemies, which also makes Gevier a widely popular political figure for the new generation. Arab politicians in Israel will naturally not ignore Gevir’s extreme remarks. Arab MP Aida Suleiman believes that the violent and racist right-wing regime will go further to the extreme, and this trend must be stopped.
  As the leader of the third largest party in Israel’s political arena, Gevier has made it clear to Netanyahu that he hopes to serve as the Minister of Security of the new government and lead the domestic security forces. But such an arrangement may attract opposition from all political forces other than the extreme right-wing factions. Pro-Israeli politicians, including California Democrat Senator Brad Sherman, have also called out Netanyahu, urging him to exclude extremist religious elements such as Geweier from the new government, because his views have violated the Israel’s founding principles.
  It is still possible for Netanyahu to invite Lapid’s centrist party or Gantz’s center-right National Unity Party to co-govern to replace Gevir, but the emergence of such a ruling coalition undoubtedly has greater uncertainty.
Trials for an evergreen tree in the political arena

  From being the Prime Minister of Israel for the first time in 1996 to forming a cabinet soon again, Netanyahu has been the “face figure” in Israeli politics for the past 26 years. Netanyahu’s “extremely long standby time” is due to his own super political wisdom on the one hand, and on the other hand, it is also due to the fit of his personality with Israel’s “uneasy” political needs. No matter how the external situation changes, Netanyahu can always unite a group of right-wing parties with different temperaments, so as to firmly control the basics of governance. In contrast, many challengers, including Lapid, seem immature. Without a solid center-left base, it is difficult to continuously attack the prime minister’s throne.
  Netanyahu’s biggest stain at the moment is undoubtedly the four corruption charges against him, which can be said to be returning while being tried. Netanyahu’s opponents believe that once he comes to power, they will use their powers to limit the judiciary’s prosecution against him and even legalize his crimes. This could start a very bad start, allowing those in power to weaken the independence of Israel’s judicial system, thereby loosening the Supreme Court’s oversight of parliamentary procedures.
  Still, even if convicted, Netanyahu could remain prime minister until the appeal process is complete. Israeli mainstream lawyers believe that the relevant lawsuits may take three to five years to complete, which will have little impact on Netanyahu’s return to power. During more than a year in opposition, the corruption investigation did not affect Netanyahu too much. Known by the nickname “Bibi (Bibi)”, he was busy overthrowing the previous coalition government while writing a This autobiography “Bibi: My Story”, the English version of the book even topped the Amazon bestseller list, can be described as both fame and fortune.
  Judging from the high participation rate in the latest general election, the Israeli people want a strong government and a strong leader after four years of chaos. Internally, although the post-epidemic Israeli economy has many bright spots, it is facing problems such as huge inflationary pressure, disparity between rich and poor, and growth bottlenecks in the technology industry; externally, security threats from Iran, Lebanon, and even Hamas are growing. Many Israelis believe that only Netanyahu is capable of dealing with external security crises. Moreover, Israelis generally believe that the current new generation of politicians lacks the ability to deal with serious crises, and the veteran and tough Netanyahu has become the only choice for many Israelis.
  But Netanyahu’s return still faces many tests. Typically, a new Israeli government takes six weeks or more to form a cabinet. At the diplomatic level, the White House has expressed concerns about the excessive right-wing of the new Israeli government. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which have newly established diplomatic relations with Israel, are still waiting to see how their cabinets are formed, and they are not expected to easily abandon the economic and technological cooperation framework that has been established with Israel. But relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia will not be rosy, as Saudi Arabia has made it clear that it wants to see progress towards Palestinian statehood, something that is unlikely to happen under a new government. Still, the top priority for Netanyahu and his camp is internally, to expunge the associated criminal charges against him.

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