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Can Netanyahu Escape the Trial?


Israeli election results produce a complex, but not surprising, reality. Why the Israelites, the right-wing extremists, did not prefer Netanyahu? As it got announced, the Likud party of Netanyahu got only 31 seats whereas the ‘Blue and White’ (Kahol Lavan)– of the retired General Benny Gantz got 33 seats.  President Reuven Rivlin began consultations  with Benny Gantz to form the government. It wasexpected that a Secular National Unity government would come into favour.

The President generally grants 28 days to form agovernment and then 14 days as an extension.  If the entrusted leader fails to form the government, the president has to give chance to the next leading person.  Naturally, here the first chane goes  to Netanyahu. But, in case they fail again to perform the task ,there is a possibility of Israel going for a re-election for  the third time in less than a year.

Netanyahu has been striving  against all odds to transform Israel into a  Jewish state  of extremist ideology. He has been  seeking  outside help, especially from the Zionists and neo-colonialists in America  It was his close association with President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner that enabled him to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Yet, why didn’t the right wing voters prefer Netanyahu?  Benny  antz’s stance during  the election campaign was oblique; he did not disapprove of many of the Likud party’s
ideological views. The recollections about  his war experience against Palestine seemed  to have inspired  the voters. Hence, though neither of the parties got a clear majority – 61 out of 120- to form the government , it is  not surprising  that the preference of  the  people went in favour  of Benny Gantz.  They did not uphold  the claims of Netanyahu about his struggle to make Israel an ideological state,even against the basic principles put forth in 1948. It shows that the people of Israel actually aspire to lead a peaceful and law abiding life rather than being ina rigid religious extremist state.

Two big winners in this election are the ‘Arab Joint List’ who won 13 seats and became the third largest bloc in the Knesset. Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of ‘Yisrael Baithuna' party, has also gained recognition on scoring 10 seats -4 seats more than the earlier score. Within these  results, the possibility is the formation of a Secular National Unity  government comprising Blue White, the centre-left parties, and Lieberman with  the support of the ‘Arab Joint List’ but without their participation in the coalition. Ayman Odeh, the leader of the ‘Arab Joint  List’  declared  that  their priority  was in not giving one
more term to Netanyahu. 

Netanyahu  has claimed, if re-elected as prime  minister, he would annex Jordan valley as part of Israel. It would remain an extension to the Jewish setlements on the  occupied  West Bank. It was an electoral card played by Netanyahu to attract the extremist groups in Israel. Many friends, including Britain, criticised Netanyahu as it would be one more nail on the coffin of peace hopes.

Jordan Valley runs between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. It is the deepest valley in the world, falling to 1300 feet (400 metres) below the sea level. Israel has occupied the southern tip of the valley since 1967 war.  This election in a way, was a referendum on these kinds of claims  and popularity of Netanyahu. He boasted  that he beat David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel, as the longest serving Prime minister.

Although Israel claims to be a strong country with achievements, it suffers from insecurity. The history of Jews testifies the fact. Netanyahu has been playing on the fears of this insecurity.  His campaign was targeted against Iran, Syria and Lebanon- the enemy countries. He has been boasting that only he could keep Israel safe among these foes. The Election poster showing Netanyahu with Donald Trump, smiling at each other, was to exhibit a unique partnership that claimed he alone could  sustain this relationship. Netanyahu’s main rival is the centre-left coalition, Blue and White, led by retired General Benny Gants and Yair Lapid,  a television personality who turned into politics.  Both  are novices in the field. Actually, this inexperience has cast its shadow on the formation of a coalition government. Netanyahu faces serious corruption charges that he has always tried to downplay. However, on October 2nd , Israel’s attorney-general  will begin the pre-indictment hearing on these corruption charges. This will have far reaching and weighty consequences on Netanyahu’s political career. Hence, his negotiators have put forth a ‘rotation deal’ with Benny Gantz.  But, both of them insist on serving first as the prime minister. Bibi knows  that  the prime ministership will give him immunity from the court trial and help him survive his lacklustre performance  in the election. But, a political analyst remarked, “If the President (Reuven Rivlin) can not pull a rabbit out of his cap , the negotiators can not win,”

Benny Gantz, a sixty year old retired general, though without any political experience, is considered a man of integrity. He wants to  find ways to accommodate with Palestinians when it comes to Gaza and West Bank. While Netanyahu speaks about the annexation, Benny does not want to pursue that sort of expansion.  The question is,  being a novice in the political arena, whether it would be be possible for  him  to forge peace with Palestinians.  Anyway, observers find him more suitable than Netanyahu to weather the turbulence of Israeli politics.

However, the one-man rule that persisted for a decade in Israel is now over.  Known among his fans as ‘the wizard’ for his skill of political manipulation, he has been on the top of everything during the last ten consecutive years and for a three years’ stint earlier. He tried to contain his enemies even without ending the disputes through diplomatic means. However, his pin pointed strategic measures have now become convincing to many of the Arab rulers as they find in him a partner against their common enemy- Iran. Now, it is at  this juncture that the Israelites have started contemplating what would be the future of Israel without Bibi at the helm of affairs.

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