As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces his final days in office 12 years later, he has accused his deputies of election fraud.
Netanyahu said a conspiracy for a “deep state” had ousted him and that the former opposition party, which took office Sunday, had betrayed voters. “They eradicate the good and replace it with the bad and the dangerous,” he told conservative Channel 20 this week. “I fear for the fate of the nation.”
The accusations are in line with long-used tactics by the prime minister. Netanyahu used harsh language to describe any threat to Israel, regardless of size, and downplayed criticism to undermine his opponents, according to the Associated Press. Although he described his opponents negatively, he performed just as well.
“Under his mandate, identity politics is at the top of all time,”
For more information from the Associated Press, see below:
This is a formula that has served Netanyahu well. He led the right-wing Likud party with an iron fist for more than 15 years, amassing a series of electoral victories that earned him the nickname “King Bibi.”
He repulsed pressure from President Barack Obama to make concessions to the Palestinians and publicly opposed it in 2015, speaking in Congress against the US-led nuclear deal with Iran.
Although Netanyahu failed 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 form historic diplomatic pacts between Israel and four Arab states.
Netanyahu appears to be waging an extremely successful shadow war against Iran, while maintaining the slow pace of Israel’s long-running conflict with the Palestinians, with the exception of three brief wars with Hamas’s militant rulers in Gaza.
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 breakthrough.”
But some of Netanyahu’s tactics now seem to be coming back to haunt him. Biden’s new administration was cool to the Israeli leader, while Netanyahu’s close relationship with Trump alienated large segments of the Democratic Party.
At home, Netanyahu’s magic is also distracted, largely due to a corruption trial. He pounced on the ever-growing list of alleged enemies: the media, the judiciary, the police, centrists, leftists, and even hardline nationalists who were once close allies.
In four consecutive elections since 2019, the invincible Netanyahu failed to secure a parliamentary majority. Faced with the unattractive opportunity for a fifth consecutive election, eight parties managed to put together a majority coalition, which is due to take office on Sunday.
Israeli politics is usually divided between stupid, left-wing parties seeking an agreement with the Palestinians and religious and nationalist parties – long led by Netanyahu – that oppose Palestinian independence. If any of the last elections focused on the conflict, then only the right-wing parties would form a strong, stable majority.
But the Palestinians barely came out – another legacy of Netanyahu, who pushed the issue aside.
Instead, someone seems to be talking about Netanyahu’s personality and his legal problems, which have turned out to be deeply polarizing. The upcoming government includes three small parties led by former Netanyahu aides who have had fierce divisions with him, including alleged Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Bennett and his right-wing partners have even broken a long-standing taboo on alliances with Arab parties. A small Islamist party that Netanyahu has also courted will be the first to join a ruling coalition.
Netanyahu and his followers in Likud are becoming increasingly desperate. Netanyahu initially tried to lure some “deserters” from his former allies to prevent them from securing a parliamentary majority.
When that failed, he resorted to a language similar to that of his friend and benefactor Trump.
“We are witnessing the biggest election fraud in the country’s history,” Netanyahu said at a meeting in Likud this week. He has long dismissed the corruption process as a “witch hunt” fueled by “fake news” and said in a television interview that he was being persecuted by the “deep state”.
His supporters staged threatening rallies in front of the homes of lawmakers who joined the new government. Some lawmakers say they and their families have received death threats, and one says she was recently followed by a mysterious car.
Netanyahu’s ultra-orthodox partners, meanwhile, threw Bennett as a threat to their religion, with one even urging him to remove his statue, the skull worn by observant Jews.
Netanyahu’s followers’ online incitement has become so bad that several members of the incoming government have been assigned bodyguards or even relocated to secret locations.
Some Israelis compared the tensions that led to the uprising in the US Capitol in January, while others cited the incitement before the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
In a rare public statement, Nadav Argaman, head of Shin Bet’s internal security agency, recently warned of a “serious rise and radicalization in violent and inciting discourse” on social media, which he said could lead to violence.
Netanyahu condemned the incitement, noting that he was also a target.
Gail Talshir, a political scientist at the Hebrew University, said he expected them to remain volatile in the coming months.
“We will see a very assertive and aggressive head of the opposition, given Netanyahu, determined to make sure that this coalition of change will be short-lived and that we will have new elections as soon as possible,” she added.
“We don’t even remember what normal politics looks like,” Talshire said.