World With Days Left in Office, Benjamin Netanyahu Accuses Opposition of Election Fraud
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As Israeli Prime Ministerfaces his last days in office after 12 years, he has accused those replacing him of election fraud.
Netanyahu said that a "deep state" conspiracy unseated him and that the former opposition party assuming rule on Sunday betrayed voters. "They are uprooting the good and replacing it with the bad and dangerous," he told the conservative TV station Channel 20 this week. "I fear for the destiny of the nation."
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It appears that Benjamin Netanyahu is finally on his way out as Israel’s prime minister. With just minutes to spare ahead of a midnight deadline on Wednesday, opposition leader Yair Lapid notified Israel’s president that he had formed a new government. But if Benjamin Netayahu’s 12-year run is indeed at an end, expect key segments of the GOP will treat Bibi as though he had not lost power, much as they continue to venerate Donald Trump and look at Joe Biden’s victory as illegitimate. Israel has emerged as another domestic wedge issue – along with mask mandates, abortion and defunding the police.
The accusations are in line with tactics long employed by the prime minister. Netanyahu has used harsh language to describe any threat to Israel, regardless of size, and belittled criticism to undermine his opponents, according to the Associated Press. While describing opponents negatively, he has been equally grand in presenting himself positively.
"Under his term, identity politics are at an all-time high," said Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:
It is a formula that has served Netanyahu well. He has led the right-wing Likud party with an iron fist for over 15 years, racking up a string of electoral victories that earned him the nickname, "King Bibi."
Legal woes facing Netanyahu as opposition readies to unseat him
Israel's longtime premier Benjamin Netanyahu is set to lose power after a diverse coalition united in an 11th-hour deal against him, raising questions about the next steps in his ongoing corruption trial. If Netanyahu loses power, the veteran primer minister would lose the ability to force changes to those basic laws. Fuchs, a constitutional law expert, said that for two years the question had been: "Will Netanyahu change the basic laws of Israel to stop the trial?" The primary shift in his defence strategy will be the elimination of that possibility.
He fended off pressure by Presidentto make concessions to the Palestinians and publicly defied him in 2015 by delivering a speech in against the U.S.-led nuclear agreement with Iran.
Although Netanyahu was unable to block the deal, he was richly rewarded by President, who recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital, pulled out of the nuclear agreement and helped broker historic diplomatic pacts between Israel and four Arab nations.
Netanyahu has waged what appears to be a highly successful shadow war against Iran while keeping Israel's long-standing conflict with the Palestinians at a slow boil, with the exception of three brief wars with Gaza's militant Hamas rulers.
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 breakthroughs."
Benjamin Netanyahu Tells Lawmakers to Oppose 'Dangerous Leftist Government' as He Faces Removal
Opponents of Netanyahu asked parliament on Thursday for a speedy vote to officially remove him from office. Just hours before, Yair Lapid and coalition partner Naftali Bennett announced they had finalized a deal that would allow them to gain a majority in parliament and build the new government. The coalition is an alliance of eight parties that vary on the political spectrum but share a common objective of ending Netanyahu's 12-year tenure. Some coalition advocates are former allies of Netanyahu, while others fall into groupings such as center-left parties and a previously unseen Arab faction in Israel.
But some of Netanyahu's tactics now appear to be coming back to haunt him. The new Biden administration has been cool to the Israeli leader, while Netanyahu's close relationship with Trump has alienated large segments of the.
At home, Netanyahu's magic also has dissipated—in large part due to his trial on corruption charges. He has lashed out at an ever-growing list of perceived enemies: the media, the judiciary, police, centrists, leftists and even hard-line nationalists who were once close allies.
In four consecutive elections since 2019, the once-invincible Netanyahu was unable to secure a parliamentary majority. Facing the unappealing possibility of a fifth consecutive election, eight parties managed to assemble a majority coalition that is set to take office on Sunday.
Israeli politics are usually split between dovish, left-wing parties that seek a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians, and religious and nationalist parties—long led by Netanyahu—that oppose Palestinian independence. If any of the recent elections had centered on the conflict, then right-wing parties alone would have formed a strong, stable majority.
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A new coalition will end Netanyahu's long reign, but U.S.-Israeli tensions will remain over the fate of the Palestinians.A tough, controversial, calculating politician, Netanyahu has become symbolic of the rightward shift of Israeli politics of recent decades. But that conservative sentiment is bigger than any one politician, and his departure is not a sign that Israel is pivoting away from the status quo Netanyahu has helped craft.
But the Palestinians hardly came up—another legacy of Netanyahu, who has pushed the issue to the sidelines.
Instead, all anyone seemed to talk about was Netanyahu's personality and his legal troubles, which proved to be deeply polarizing. The incoming government includes three small parties led by former Netanyahu aides who had bitter breakups with him, including the presumed prime minister, Naftali Bennett.
Bennett and his right-wing partners even broke a longstanding taboo on allying with Arab parties. A small Islamist party, which Netanyahu had also courted, is to be the first to join a ruling coalition.
Netanyahu and his followers in Likud have grown increasingly desperate. Initially, Netanyahu tried to lure some "defectors" from his former allies to prevent them from securing a parliamentary majority.
When that failed, he resorted to language similar to that of his friend and benefactor Trump.
"We are witnesses to the greatest election fraud in the history of the country," Netanyahu claimed at a Likud meeting this week. He has long dismissed the corruption trial as a "witch hunt" fueled by "fake news," and in the TV interview he said he was being hounded by the "deep state."
His supporters have held threatening rallies outside the homes of lawmakers joining the new government. Some of the parliamentarians say they and their families have received death threats, and one said she was recently followed by a mysterious car.
Netanyahu faces end of rule in new government vote
Israel's long-term leader is set to be unseated by a coalition of parties which united against him.The prospective government - an unprecedented coalition of parties - has a razor-thin majority of one seat.
Netanyahu's ultra-Orthodox partners have meanwhile cast Bennett as a threat to their religion, with one even calling on him to remove his kippa, the skullcap worn by observant Jews.
Online incitement by Netanyahu's followers has grown so bad that several members of the incoming government were assigned bodyguards or even moved to secret locations.
Some Israelis have drawn comparisons to the tensions that led to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in January, while others have pointed to the incitement ahead of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
In a rare public statement, Nadav Argaman, the head of the Shin Bet internal security agency, recently warned of a "serious rise and radicalization in violent and inciting discourse" on social media that he said could lead to violence.
Netanyahu has condemned the incitement while noting that he too has been a target.
Gayil Talshir, a political scientist at Hebrew University, said she expects the coming months to remain volatile.
"We're going to see a very assertive and aggressive head of the opposition, meaning Netanyahu, determined to make sure that this coalition of change would be a short-lived one and that we will have another election as soon as possible," she added.
"We don't have even a memory of what normal politics looks like," Talshir said.
Netanyahu's 12-year tenure ends as Israel's parliament approves new government .
Israel's parliament has voted in favour of a new coalition government, ending Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year consecutive tenure as premier. © Reuters Pro- and anti-Netanyahu protesters rallied in Jerusalem on potentially his last day as Israel's prime minister The vote was 60-59, putting ultra-nationalist Naftali Bennett, a hi-tech millionaire and Orthodox Jew, as the new leader in a power-sharing deal with centrist leader and former TV host Yair Lapid, who will take over as PM in 2023 for two years.