As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces his last days in office after 12 years, he has accused those who replace him of election fraud.
Netanyahu said a conspiracy of a “deep state” extracted him and that the former opposition party, which assumed rule on Sunday, betrayed voters. “They move the good out and replace it with the bad and dangerous,” he told conservative television station Channel 20 this week. “I fear for the fate of the nation.”
The accusations are in line with tactics used by the Prime Minister for a long time. Netanyahu has used harsh language to describe any threat to Israel of any size and criticized criticism for undermining his opponents, according to the Associated Press. While describing opponents negatively, he has been just as great at presenting himself positively.
“During his tenure, identity politics is at a peak,”
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:
It is a formula that has served Netanyahu well. He has led the right-wing Likud party with an iron fist for over 15 years and has amassed a series of election victories that earned him the nickname “King Bibi”.
He averted pressure from President Barack Obama to make concessions to the Palestinians and publicly defied him in 2015 by giving a speech in Congress against the US-led nuclear deal with Iran.
Although Netanyahu was unable to block the deal, he was richly rewarded by President Donald Trump, who recognized the disputed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, withdrew from the nuclear deal, and helped mediate historic diplomatic pacts between Israel and four Arab nations.
Netanyahu has waged what appears to be a highly successful shadow war against Iran, while Israel’s protracted conflict with the Palestinians is slowly boiling, with the exception of three brief wars with Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers.
The situation with the Palestinians today is “remarkably the same” as when Netanyahu took office, Plesner said. “No major changes in either direction, no annexation and no diplomatic breakthroughs.”
But some of Netanyahu’s tactics now seem to come back to haunt him. The new Biden administration has been cool for the Israeli leader, while Netanyahu’s close relationship with Trump has alienated large sections of the Democratic Party.
At home, Netanyahu’s magic has also disappeared – largely due to his corruption lawsuit. He has embarked on an ever-growing list of perceived enemies: the media, the judiciary, the police, the centrists, leftists and even hardline nationalists who were once close allies.
In four consecutive elections since 2019, the once invincible Netanyahu was unable to secure a parliamentary majority. Faced with the unappealing possibility of a fifth election in a row, eight parties managed to rally a majority coalition to join on Sunday.
Israeli politics is usually divided between right-wing, left-wing parties seeking a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians, and religious and nationalist parties – long led by Netanyahu – who oppose Palestinian independence. If one of the recent elections had been centered on the conflict, right-wing parties alone would have formed a strong, stable majority.
But the Palestinians hardly came up – another legacy from Netanyahu that has pushed the case to the sidelines.
Instead, everything anyone was talking about seemed Netanyahu’s personality and his legal issues, which turned out to be deeply polarizing. The incoming government includes three small parties led by former Netanyahu aides who had bitter breakdowns with him, including the alleged prime minister, Naftali Bennett.
Bennett and his right-wing partners even broke a long-standing taboo on allying with Arab parties. A small Islamist party that Netanyahu had also joined should be the first to join a ruling coalition.
Netanyahu and his supporters in Likud have become increasingly desperate. Initially, Netanyahu tried to lure some “defectors” from his former allies to prevent them from securing a parliamentary majority.
When that failed, he used a language similar to that of his friend and benefactor Trump.
“We are witnessing the biggest election fraud in the country’s history,” Netanyahu claimed at a Likud meeting this week. He has long dismissed the corruption process as a “witch hunt” driven by “fake news”, and in the TV interview he said he was being chased by the “deep state”.
His supporters have held threatening rallies outside the homes of lawmakers joining the new government. Some lawmakers say they and their families have received death threats, and one said she was recently followed by a mysterious car.
Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox partners, meanwhile, have thrown Bennett as a threat to their religion, even urging him to remove his kippa, the headdress worn by observant Jews.
Online encouragement from Netanyahu’s supporters has grown so bad that several members of the incoming government were assigned bodyguards or even moved to secret locations.
Some Israelis have drawn comparisons with the tensions that led to the uprising at the US Capitol in January, while others have pointed to the instigation leading up to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
In a rare public statement, Nadav Argaman, head of Shin Bet’s internal security agency, recently warned of a “serious increase and radicalization in violent and inciting discourse” on social media, which he said could lead to violence.
Netanyahu has condemned the incentive, noting that he too has been a target.
Gayil Talshir, a politician at Hebrew University, said she expects the coming months to remain volatile.
“We want to see a very assertive and aggressive leader of the opposition, which means Netanyahu, determined to ensure that this coalition of change will be short-lived and that we will have a new election as soon as possible,” she said. added.
“We do not even have a memory of what normal politics looks like,” Talshir said.