Netanyahu Builds Momentum in Final Days of Third Campaign - The Jewish Voice
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Saturday, August 13, 2022

Netanyahu Builds Momentum in Final Days of Third Campaign

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He has been demonstrating to his direct Likud supporters, as well as to members of his right-wing and religious party bloc, that after 11 years running he still wants the job more than ever.

By: Alex Traiman 

After 11 years of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, many Israelis have claimed that they are tired of Benjamin Netanyahu. Or are they? Just days before a third round of national polls in less than one year, the latest pre-election polls show Netanyahu’s Likud surging ahead to a two-seat lead over Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party.

Furthermore, a bloc of right-wing and religious parties that support the center-right Likud is closing in on a 61-seat majority necessary to govern and effectively end a drawn-out, rinse-wash-repeat election cycle.

By contrast, a bloc of left-wing and secular parties that support Blue and White is polling more than 10 seats short of a parliamentary majority and would have to rely on support from self-described anti-Zionist Arab parties to govern. Arab parties have never joined an Israeli government since the founding of the state. And the Joint Arab List has staunchly opposed the Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” vision, a plan that has received initial support from both Netanyahu and Gantz.

If neither a Netanyahu-led bloc nor a Gantz-led bloc can form a parliamentary majority, the two major parties will either be forced to sit together in a unity government or go to the polls yet again in the fall. Meanwhile, Gantz has insisted that he will not cooperate in any government with Netanyahu.

In a related development, the AP has reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu said Saturday he will face corruption accusations against him head on in court and will not seek to pass legislation to derail his upcoming trial if he wins re-election this week.

After failing to secure parliamentary immunity last month, insiders had speculated that Netanyahu would attempt to pass alternative legislation if he secures a parliamentary majority.

But Netanyahu denied it in a television interview two days before Israel heads to the polls in its third election in less than a year.

Two weeks later, Netanyahu goes on trial for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust stemming from accusations he accepted lavish gifts from billionaire friends and promised to promote advantageous legislation for a major newspaper in exchange for favorable coverage.

Public opinion polls are predicting a similar result to the previous two inconclusive elections, leaving a divided Israel deadlocked and neither Netanyahu nor his chief challenger Benny Gantz able to build a coalition government with their traditional partners.

But if Netanyahu’s Likud edges ahead and along with its allies garners more than 61 of parliament’s 120 members the prime minister will have far more room to maneuver his way around the charges against him. Alternatively, if he falls short, he may be willing to step aside in return for some form of plea bargain that will keep him out of prison. (JNS & AP)


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