For Netanyahu, like Trump, Only ‘Fraud’ Can Explain His Defeat

Israel’s democratic transition is set for Sunday, but nothing is certain amid the prime minister’s scorched campaign to ruin his opponents’ coalition.

Tel Aviv – For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel is witnessing “the biggest election fraud in the country’s history”. For Donald Trump, last November’s defeat was the “crime of the century.” The two men’s languages ​​seem to overlap, as their overwhelming sense of invincibility is confused by the democratic process.

Naftali Bennett, a right-wing nationalist, will take over as Israel’s prime minister on Sunday if approved by parliament, but Mr Netanyahu’s fiery attack on his potential successor shows no sign of softening. He has said that there is a “deep state” conspiracy.

Mr Netanyahu accused Mr Bennet of “selling fire to the country”. They say a “government of capitulation” awaits Israel after the “stolen” election. As far as the media is concerned, he is believed to be trying to silence them through “absolute fascism”.

While it appears that a peaceful democratic transition will take place in Israel, nothing is certain.

The attacks by Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party on Mr Bennet’s smaller Yamina party are so vicious that some Yamina politicians need a security detail. Idit Silman, Yamina’s representative in the Knesset or parliament, said in an interview on Channel 13 TV that a demonstrator outside his house told him he was saddened by what was happening to his family, “but don’t worry, The first chance we get, we’ll kill you.”

Whatever Mr Netanyahu’s indifference to his ways of doing things has left violence in the air. The events of January 6 in the United States, when Trump-instigated mobs stormed the Capitol, are not far from the minds of Israelis.

“Over a dozen years, Mr. Netanyahu has convinced himself that any other person ruling Israel would become an existential threat,” he said. dahlia skindlin, a political analyst. “His strong-arm strategy presents a direct challenge to the peaceful transition of power.”

Division and fear have been Mr. Netanyahu’s favorite political tools; And like the US, Israel is divided to such an extent that the Shin Bet, the head of Israel’s internal security service, warned a few days ago of “extremely violent and provocative discourse”. This was an unusual warning.

Police have said they will not allow a nationalist march that was scheduled for Thursday through Muslim-majority areas of Jerusalem’s Old City, but sentiment among right-wing politicians after the original Jerusalem Day march was canceled last month. Too many going on. Hamas Rocket Fire.

Mr Netanyahu’s security cabinet on Tuesday decided to reschedule the march, on a route agreed with the police, to next Tuesday, June 15. Mr Netanyahu sees the march as an important symbol of Israel’s sovereignty.

Stopping the march would be a game with fire, as demonstrated by the short war with Hamas last month. It appears that the issue will now be up to the Bennett government to resolve.

No evidence has been presented to support the claim that Mr. Bennett’s potential new government is anything but the legitimate product of Israel’s free and fair March election, the fourth since 2019, Mr. Netanyahu, bribery and fraud. Accused in the charges of, are scrambling to preserve power.

Mr Netanyahu called Mr Bennett’s eight-party coalition, from far-right to left-wing parties, a “dangerous” leftist government. But it is not the Left that has defeated the Prime Minister.

It is politicians on the right, such as Mr. Bennett and potential Justice Minister Gideon Saar, who become convinced that Mr. Netanyahu poses a threat to Israel’s democracy.

Pointing to the mass suicide in Masada of Jews who refused to be subject to the Roman yoke, Mr. Bennett explained his decision to lead an alternative government, saying in a speech that Mr. Netanyahu “with his whole National camp and want to take the whole. Country for your own personal Masada. “

It was an extraordinary image, particularly that of Mr Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, and it captured a growing belief among many Israelis that the prime minister had used some kind of political presence to prevent criminal proceedings against him. Even at the price, set.

“He should have stepped down when the indictment came to light in 2019,” said Yuval Shaini, a professor of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and former dean of its law school. “Any proper politician would have stepped down. Instead, he unleashed all his might against the judiciary. In the end it seemed that his main political objective was to get exemption from the prosecution system.”

In other words, the personal – staying out of prison – had become paramount for Mr. Netanyahu. They were even prepared to destroy the basic institutions of the rule of law and democracy such as the Supreme Court, an independent judiciary and a free press. In this sense, the eruptions of the recent past have been a culmination rather than a departure.

“He became a statesman who could go to any extent without any limits,” Mr. Shaini said.

It was his main company. Mr Netanyahu, whose unexpected 2015 election victory gave him a renewed sense of being almighty, built close ties with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Mr Trump. He was attracted to leaders around the world with the intention of centralizing power in a new, conservative model.

Mr. Netanyahu, through all those Israeli elections, needed a majority that was strong enough to change Israel’s Basic Law so that it was impossible to prosecute a prime minister in office, and such a law from the Supreme Court. power to eliminate.

They never got that majority.

“There is no doubt that he wanted to dilute and undermine the Supreme Court’s authority of judicial review on both Knesset law and administrative decisions of government bodies,” said president Johann Plesner. Israel Democracy Institute. “But the checks and balances of our youth democracy remain intact.”

Those checks and balances are likely to lead to democratic changes in Israel and government on Sunday. But Israel, unlike the United States, is a parliamentary rather than a presidential democracy. Mr. Netanyahu won’t be missing out on some sunny retreat next to the golf course. As president of Likud, he will have considerable power.

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