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Netanyahu’s Endless Hourglass

Netanyahu’s Endless Hourglass

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, May 16

Benjamin Netanyahu is an Israeli figure more than a party politician. He is the first person who was able to rule Israel for more than two decades [sic. Netanyahu has served as prime minister for about 15 years.] He devised ruthless methods of beating his adversaries. He turned the Right into the dominant political bloc in Israel. He lived in the United States and established close relations with a wide spectrum of politicians and lobby groups and was able to penetrate the most exclusive political decision-making circles, including in Congress. When former US President Barack Obama wanted to tame Netanyahu and impose his vision on him, Netanyahu headed directly to Congress, where he received more than 20 standing ovations during his remarks. During his time in politics, Netanyahu managed to secure the premiership even when his party, Likud, failed to win the parliamentary majority it had hoped for. In his battles that took place both inside and outside the Knesset, Netanyahu was able to destroy Israel’s leftist parties such as Labor and Meretz and nearly sent them into oblivion. Netanyahu has transformed the Likud into his own political property, directing it as he pleases. Today, Netanyahu fears one thing and one thing only: finding himself indicted like his predecessor, Ehud Olmert. But just like in so many scenarios in the past, every time Netanyahu’s metaphoric hourglass seems to reach its end, he manages to pull something out of his sleeve. For the first time in its history, Israel has gone through four parliamentary elections within two years. This is a direct result of Netanyahu’s effort to restart his hourglass: He monopolizes the leadership of the government and forms coalitions that can be dismantled whenever it opposes his policies. Even today, after failing to form a government yet again, Netanyahu will not hesitate to push for a fifth or sixth election in order to protect himself from imprisonment. He will flip his hourglass over just to buy himself more time. Netanyahu has become synonymous with the Likud and the Likud has become synonymous with Netanyahu, to a point where his departure from politics could lead to the downfall of the party. Benjamin Netanyahu will not hesitate to mobilize hard-line Israelis of all sects, as well as the settlers, to wage his battle with them against the establishment of any government coalition that might topple him. For him, the only thing that could put an end to his endless hourglass is the prison cell. He will therefore fight his last existential battle with all the weapons available at his disposal, including a full-fledged war in Gaza and the West Bank. The coming days will be decisive in determining Netanyahu’s political future: He will either be stopped and removed from power or will continue to govern Israel for many more years to come. –Abd Al-Rahman Shalgham (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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