ELECTIONS IN ISRAEL UPDATE

BLOG 423 March 3, 2019

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

Hey! I’m back from Israel with the latest from citizens I talked with in official capacities as well on the sidewalks. The locals are in a bind.

For several months, I’ve been writing that Prime Minister Netanyahu is facing serious criminal charges. I’ve had people question my statements, but now the chickens have come home to roost. Netanyahu’s problems are also troubling the elections.

On April 3, Israelis will vote. What’s their thinking as of today?

Netanyahu has taken the country to the most significant prosperity in their history. Tourists in extraordinary numbers are everywhere. Hotels are sold out and restaurants packed. The constant threat within Israel by terrorists has been minimized. Sure, Hezbollah is out there on the horizon, but they know they better think twice about attacking Israel. Netanyahu does have a record of accomplishments.

And who’s going to run against him?. Former General Benny Gantz is already campaigning, but he’s not in a class with Netanyahu yet. There simply isn’t significant opposition. Ordinarily, Netanyahu would be a shoe-in.

But…

The criminal charges are substantial and the Israelis know it. Both Netanyahu and his wife are charged by the police. A charge as high as $250,000 in payoffs, expensive champagne, cigars, political favors for the wealthy, etc. are on the books. In the last election, Netanyahu proved himself to be a flip-flop artist constantly switching positions to garner votes. The latest turn of events is his current reach to an extremist racist anti-Arab party Otzma Yehudit. The member of this party consider themselves followers of Meir Kahane who advocated everything from a forceful takeover of the Temple Mount to outright annexing the Palestinian areas. His Kach Party was outlawed in Israel and declared a terrorist group in the United States. Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990.

Sound a tad right-wing to you? Jews around the world are in shock over this turn of events. American synagogues are already screaming.  The move to gain radical support signals Netanyahu knows he is in trouble.

What’s the next step? Attempting to predict election results is more than a little risky. The next month will bring more clarity. Let’s watch and see what surfaces.

NEXT WEEK: More on how the Israeli government system works.

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