An Israeli politician trying to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as the country’s prime minister has reportedly hired the Never Trump cabal known as the Lincoln Project as part of his campaign team. This could backfire bigly because President Donald Trump enjoys wide popularity in Israel.
In December 2020, former ally and now rival Gideon Sa’ar bolted Netanyahu’s Likud Party and formed the New Hope Party. Israel goes to the polls on March 23, 2021 — it’s fourth election in two years — to elect a new parliament, the Knesset, which will in turn elect a prime minister from among its members. Forming a government requires a coalition of at least 61 seats in the 120-member chamber, which has proven to be challenging.
According to what an anonymous Sa’ar campaign source told the Times of Israel, Lincoln Project founders are headed to Israel sooner rather than later to try to convince the ascendant Israeli right that “Sa’ar, not Netanyahu, is their true leader.”
According to the Associated Press, “Opinion polls project New Hope will become the second-largest party in parliament, smaller than Likud but with enough seats to prevent Netanyahu from assembling a majority.”
The latest opinion survey, if accurate, gives the Likud 32 seats and New Hope 17. Another right-wing party, Yamina led by Naftali Bennett, who also is an ex-Netanyahu ally, is projected to claim 12 seats, but everything is in flux. Six other parties are also expected to pass the electoral threshold to enter parliament. The left-wing Labor Party, which ruled Israel for about 30 years, is not expected to be one of them.
“If Bennett and Saar unite with other right-wing and centrist parties, they could cobble together a majority. And Netanyahu will have a hard time branding them as ‘leftists,'” NPR observed.
The Lincoln Project, which has been accused of being nothing more than a grift, raised and spent a lot of money trying to undermine Trump’s hold on his base in the November 2020 U.S. election with minimal impact. The Lincoln Project’s new gig may turn out to be another failure.
You may recall that Obama reportedly sent his operatives to Israel in 2015 to try without results to defeat Netanyahu. With some exceptions, U.S. Democrats are increasingly hostile to Israel.
Contrary to trends in other countries, a January 2020 poll revealed a 71 percent favorability rating for President Trump in Israel. In an October 2020 poll, 63 percent of Israel’s said that President Trump — who is a stalwart supporter of the Jewish state and its current prime minister — would be better for Israel than Joe Biden.
Trump’s popularity may stem from his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the embassy there, something past U.S. presidents promised but never followed through on. The president and his team also brokered unprecedented peace deals known as the Abraham Accords between Israel and four of its Arab neighbors, in the process decoupling the Palestinian issue from the normalization of relations.
Trump received backing from Netanyahu and the Israeli public by withdrawing from the flawed Iran nuclear agreement which is also unpopular in many Arab countries in the region. There are rumblings, unfortunately, that Joe Biden and his globalist handlers want to rejoin the deal.
According to Sa’ar, “I think I am in a better position than the prime minister to have an effective and true dialogue with President-elect (Joe) Biden and his administration.”
Israel is the only functioning multicultural democracy in the Middle East. It is a messy one, however, because no one political party is in control, for better or worse, requiring complex negotiations to form a government under a parliamentary system.
Complicating matters is that “Bibi” Netanyahu is facing a corruption trial next month, with some insisting that this is just a ploy by Israel’s version of the Deep State to remove him from office.
Netanyahu’s shaky parliamentary coalition with the center-left Blue and White Party fell apart last month over the inability to agree on a national budget. Netanyahu — the country’s longest-serving prime minister — had originally agreed to hand over the premiership to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, but common sense indicated even at the time that that would never happen.
At the risk of oversimplification, another reason for Israel’s recent inconclusive elections is that the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party no longer joins up with Likud because of the ongoing mandatory military service controversy. Yisrael Beiteinu essentially wants the ultra-orthodox constituency to give up their religious exemption; at the same time, Netanyahu is dependent on the support of several religious parties to remain in office.
Parenthetically, while a great orator who has presided over a prosperous economy (at least pre-COVID) including his country becoming a worldwide leader in biotech and in other key industries, Netanyahu has sometimes been criticized on the right for talking tough at election time, but not necessarily following through.
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