Netanyahu’s Miscalculation

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán speaks with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in Brasília, Brazil, January 2
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán speaks with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in Brasília, Brazil, January 2 (Facebook/Viktor Orbán)

When Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called early elections in December, he was probably expecting to shore up his mandate and escape allegations of corruption.

But the decision galvanized his opponents. Three former generals set aside their differences and teamed up with the opposition in a bid to oust Netanyahu, who has been in office since 2009.

It is starting to look like Netanyahu miscalculated. Read more “Netanyahu’s Miscalculation”

Support for Israel Has Become a Partisan Issue in the United States

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Republican House speaker John Boehner in Washington DC, March 3, 2015
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Republican House speaker John Boehner in Washington DC, March 3, 2015 (Caleb Smith)

I wasn’t expecting this to happen so soon.

Last month, I admonished the Israeli right to stop hectoring President Barack Obama and the Democrats lest they politicize support for the Jewish state in the United States.

Turns out, they already have.

The Pew Research Center found that Democrats are now nearly as likely to sympathize with the Palestinians as they do with Israel. Read more “Support for Israel Has Become a Partisan Issue in the United States”

Israeli Right Jeopardizes Alliance by Hectoring Obama

Benjamin Netanyahu Barack Obama
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with American president Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 3, 2014 (GPO/Avi Ohayon)

With less than a month left in his presidency, Barack Obama has managed to infuriate the Israeli right by hardening America’s stance on the construction of West Bank settlements.

Whatever the merits of their quarrel with the American president, though — and there are leftwingers in Israel and Jewish supporters of Obama in the United States who are disappointed as well — the over-the-top reaction from the Israeli right is unjustified and, more importantly, ill-advised. Read more “Israeli Right Jeopardizes Alliance by Hectoring Obama”

The Trouble with Electing an Outsider

Businessman Donald Trump appears at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump appears at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

What made Donald Trump seek the presidency?

A bit of armchair psychology is required to answer that question. Based on the way way he conducts himself and the many profiles I’ve read about the man, I think it’s safe to say that a powerful motivator was his desire to prove himself. Read more “The Trouble with Electing an Outsider”

Why Netanyahu Brought Lieberman In from the Cold

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, February 18 (Bundesregierung/Marvin Ibo Güngör)

It looks certain now that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will draw Avigdor Lieberman and his nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party into the ruling coalition, expanding his parliamentary majority by five seats. Lieberman, a hawk and former foreign minister, would become defense minister in the new arrangement, replacing Moshe Ya’alon.

The news comes after speculation that Netanyahu was working out a deal with Labor’s Isaac Herzog instead.

I talked about this surprising development today with the Atlantic Sentinel‘s man in Tel Aviv, Ariel Reichard. Read more “Why Netanyahu Brought Lieberman In from the Cold”

Israel’s Netanyahu Secures One-Seat Majority for Coalition

View of the Knesset in Israel, Jerusalem, April 8, 2009
View of the Knesset in Israel, Jerusalem, April 8, 2009 (Israel Tourism)

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has secured a majority for his fourth government but lost the support of an ally, making him more vulnerable to demands from the far right.

“Israel now has a government,” Naftali Bennett, the leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, told reporters after hours of talks with Netanyahu’s Likud.

Bennett served as economy minister in Netanyahu’s last government. The position is now expected to go to one of the Orthodox parties.

The new finance minister will be Moshe Kahlon, a Likud defector who formed his own party, Kulanu, to campaign on cost-of-living issues. He won ten seats in the March election.

Jewish Home lost four seats, ending up with eight. Israeli media reported it would still get three cabinet posts: education, justice and possibly agriculture.

Netanyahu earlier signed deals with Kulanu and the two religious parties, Shah and United Torah Judaism.

The former negotiated a raise in salaries for soldiers and the extension of unemployment insurance to the self-employed; the latter won a freeze in legislation that would have phased out the exemption for Orthodox Jews from military service as well reductions in cutbacks on child allowances and religious schools.

With Jewish Home in his coalition, Netanyahu commands a one-seat majority in the Knesset.

Avigdor Lieberman was expected to join the government but stepped down as foreign minister after his right-wing nationalist party, Yisrael Beiteinu, lost more than half its seats in the election.

Netanyahu is keeping the foreign ministry for himself.

Israel’s Channel 2 reports that the premier had hoped to lure Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog into the government by giving him the post, but both Labor and Likud have denied this.

In alliance with the centrist Hatnuah party, the left won 24 seats while Netanyahu’s Likud got thirty.

Herzog immediately criticized the new government, saying it was “susceptible to blackmail” and predicating that it would “quickly be replaced by a responsible and hopeful alternative.”

Israel’s Netanyahu Signs Deals with Centrist, Orthodox Parties

Benjamin Netanyahu John Boehner
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Republican House speaker John Boehner in Washington DC, March 3 (Caleb Smith)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signed coalition deals with Orthodox Jewish parties and the centrist Kulanu, putting him on track to find a right-wing majority in parliament.

Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party won the election in March but fell short of an absolute majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

The hawkish leader, who said on the eve of the election that he could not imagine a Palestinian state being formed under his watch, previously governed with the support of liberals and right-wing nationalists.

Religious parties propped up his earlier governments and are unlikely to join a left-leaning coalition led by Labor instead. Read more “Israel’s Netanyahu Signs Deals with Centrist, Orthodox Parties”

Israel’s Netanyahu Battered by Scandals, High Living Costs

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, January 20, 2012 (DoD/D. Myles Cullen)

With polls predicting a narrow victory for his left-wing rivals in an election next week, it seems Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s magic may have worn off.

The Likud party leader called snap elections in December, hoping for a fresh mandate after spending nine years in power.

Now it seems Israelis would rather make a change at the top and much of it has to do with Netanyahu’s personality. Read more “Israel’s Netanyahu Battered by Scandals, High Living Costs”

Netanyahu Urges Right-Wing Voters Not to Abandon Likud

Benjamin Netanyahu Barack Obama
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with American president Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 3, 2014 (GPO/Avi Ohayon)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned right-wing voters that casting a ballot for another conservative party than his Likud could raise the chance of the left being able to form a government after the election next week.

Netanyahu made his remarks after three polls showed Likud winning 21 seats against 25 for the rival Zionist Camp.

61 seats are needed for a majority in the Knesset. Read more “Netanyahu Urges Right-Wing Voters Not to Abandon Likud”

Israel’s Netanyahu Could Emerge Stronger from Early Elections

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, January 20, 2012 (DoD/D. Myles Cullen)

Recent political tensions and strife in Israel culminated on Tuesday, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he had fired his finance and justice ministers, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, whom he accused of undermining the government and plotting a legal “putsch” against him.

The announcement came after days of rising tension between Netanyahu and his top ministers and means Israelis will go back to the polls less than two years after this government took office. Read more “Israel’s Netanyahu Could Emerge Stronger from Early Elections”