Friday, March 13, 2015

Netanyahu Is On His Way Out As Israel's Prime Minister

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, riding high 10 days ago when he addressed the US congress in a much ballyhooed speech designed to boost his re-election campaign, appears headed for defeat in Isreli elections to be held Tuesday. After a two point "bounce" from the speech, successive polls have been showing support for Netanyahu's conservative Likud Party relentlessly declining, and polls released today (Friday, March 13), four days before the vote, the last day in Israel polls can be published before an election, are the worst yet for Netanyahu and have his party losing too many seats to be able to form a government.

The leading vote getter will be Zionist Union, a recently formed coalition of the centrist Labour Party and Hatnuah, headed by Tzipi Livni. Livni, formerly of Likud, then of Kadima, the Likud offshoot formed by Ariel Sharon, has in the past couple of years shifted leftward in her views on Palestine and on economics and reflects the views of many Israelis who are fed up with Likud's economic policies, and who see Israel's declining international support on the Palestinian issue as a threat to the country's survival.

Netanyahu called early elections in December after he fired Livni, who was the justice minister in his coalition government, and finance minister Yair Lapid, who heads liberal secular party Yesh Atid, after they differed with Netahyahu on a law being debated that would have legalized Israel as a "Jewish state" and is part of a trend toward further enshrining in law Israel's apartheid nature. Palestinians not ethnically cleansed from what's now Israel in 1948 when Israel was formed make up 20 percent of Israel's citizens and are subject to a variety of social and legal discrimination.

Netanyahu's speech to congress about Iran and Israel's security was seen as fear-mongering in Israel, where peoples' main concern is the economy, which is like the US economy on steroids. Like the US and its European allies, Israel has embraced Reganomics, or Neoliberalism, and has become vastly unequal. It's now hard for the average Tel Aviv resident to pay rent.

Especially young Israelis are disgusted that they're looking forward to a future of low paying, temporary employment, which is the kind of economy Reganomics is designed to bring about and is what the US is becoming, although more gradually than has happened in Israel.

Note: This Haaretz article gives an overview of the reasons for Netanyahu's rapid downfall, the main one being he has ignored the economy. Israel has a parliamentary system, which means the party that wins the most seats Tuesday in Israel's knesset (parliament) will name the next prime minister and form the new government, and the article also discusses how that might play out. As can be imagined it's a pre-occupation in the Israeli media. Israel's politics have become increasingly factionalized and no party wins an outright majority any more and must form a coalition government with smaller parties, sometimes with opposing ideological views on Palestine and other issues.

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