bibi netanyahu

Sharing The Blame As Fault Lines Deepen

Obama, Bibi have overreached in current crisis; concern over impact on younger Jews.

03/25/2015
Editor and Publisher

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to appeal directly to Israel’s nationalist camp in the final days of the election campaign appears to have paid off, at least in the short term. He won a decisive victory last Tuesday and is now in the process of forming a coalition of right-wing and charedi parties as he had hoped in calling for new elections in December.

Gary Rosenblatt

A Way Out For Bibi?

01/28/2015
Editorial

It’s clear that by agreeing to House Speaker John Boehner’s offer to address a joint session of Congress on March 3, a precedent-breaking move in defiance of the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has made a calculated risk.

'Jewish Nation-State' Bill Undermines The Jewish State

12/04/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

Israel's Arab citizens have had a difficult history. Although living in the Middle East's most advanced society economically and technologically, they suffer discrimination in housing and job opportunities, and their political representatives have never truly had a share in national power. It was not until late in 1993 that Arab Members of Knesset played a critical role in keeping a government in power, supporting Yitzhak Rabin from outside of the official coalition, following the withdrawal of the Haredi Shas party.

Bibi’s Bind Over Temple Mount Tensions

Prime minister is caught between the demands of the right and good relations with Jordan.

11/05/2014
Israel Correspondent

Tel Aviv — The conference at the end of last month was meant as a 20th anniversary celebration of Israel and Jordan’s peace treaty, but the situation on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem prompted Walid Obeidat, Jordan’s ambassador, to throw a little cold water on the festivities. 

After the asasination attempt, Israel closed the Temple Mount for the first time in 14 years. Joshua Mitnick/JW

Bibi Takes On The World

10/29/2014
Editorial

Jeffrey Goldberg, correspondent at The Atlantic, cites this editorial in his own warning to the Israeli leader. 

The diplomatic rift between Washington and Jerusalem reached a new low this week. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon’s snub by senior members of the Obama administration was made public here, a week after his U.S. visit, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to build more than 1,000 new units in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line, fully aware of the negative response it would receive in America and in the international community.

Kerry And Lew To Join Bibi At AIPAC Conference

02/26/2014

(JTA) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will speak at the annual AIPAC conference.

A spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee confirmed the administration speakers but did not give the dates of their speeches at next week’s event.

Netanyahu And Pope Benedict Meet At Vatican

12/04/2013

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pope Francis in their first face-to-face meeting talked about the Middle East and plans for a papal trip to Israel, among other issues.

Is Bibi Too Far Out On Limb On Iran?

Risking break with U.S. by making issue ‘Israel-centric.’

11/20/2013
Editor and Publisher

About the worst thing you can call an Israeli is a “freier,” a sucker. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants the world to know that he and his government are not “freiers,” certainly not ready to accept the “bad deal” between Iran and the U.S. and key Western allies that would ease crippling economic sanctions on Tehran in return for suspending — but not dismantling — its nuclear program.

Gary Rosenblatt

Sharansky, Understanding The Need, Presses On For Kotel Changes

Support faltered, then rebounded, this week for Natan Sharansky’s bold plan to transform the Western Wall into a site for both traditional and alternative prayer, as the Jewish Agency chair held intense discussions with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s office, seeking to establish a timeline for the project and move it forward.

Makeup Of Bibi’s Coalition Is Only Question

Will he court the center-left parties? Will Jewish Home party wield new power?

01/16/2013
Israel Correspondent

Tel Aviv — Ahead of the final weekend of one of the most lackluster campaigns in recent history, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears destined for re-election.

Even Labor leader Shelly Yachimovitch, who is far behind, fights the sense of inevitability, reminding audiences that the prime minister has not been divinely anointed king of Israel. 

That’s because for the first time in at least a generation, Israel’s election campaign has been nearly devoid of any debate over peace with the Palestinians or any suspense regarding who will lead its next government. Thanks to the instability of the Arab Spring and the lack of any formidable rivals, Netanyahu has had an easy time convincing Israelis that he’s the “strongest” leader to protect the Jewish state from regional turmoil. The only question left unanswered regards what type of coalition government the prime minister will be able to form.

“You’ve always had an ‘either-or’ choice, but now there’s no fight, no challenge. ... That’s what elections come down to — it’s personalities,” said Amir Mizroch, the editor of the English edition of the daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom.

“Almost right from the start, the election results have been predetermined,” Mizroch continued. “Everyone understood that, because when the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu joined their lists, they were so far ahead in the polls. They showed that the vast number of Israelis see Netanyahu as the only leader — and that took the impetus out of the election. In a way, [convincing voters of that fact] was a critical master stroke by Netanyahu.”

Neither Yachimovitch nor Yair Lapid, who founded the centrist Yesh Atid party as a defender of the middle class, were perceived as having enough of a résumé to match Netanyahu. And even though Tzippi Livni won more votes than Netanyahu in 2009, the former foreign minister was burdened by an unsuccessful tenure as opposition leader.   

Polls show Israel’s right-wing and religious parties with steady majorities of about 67 seats of the 120-seat Knesset. While Likud-Beiteinu is polling around 35 seats, Labor trails far behind in the upper teens. 

Though Labor will likely gain seats in the new Knesset, Yachimovitch’s campaign strategy — ignoring foreign policy and trying instead to harness the socioeconomic malaise of the 2011 tent protests — failed to catch on. The decision to downplay the peace process drew fire from Labor stalwarts and left an opening for Livni to start her own party to push a peace accord.

“What’s happened on the center-left is that most of the parties have given up on foreign policy, because their positions are perceived by the majority of Israelis as a joke,” said Yossi Klein Halevi, a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. “So they’ve shifted to domestic issues. Given that Israel’s security situation is becoming more acute given everything that’s happening in the region, more Israelis will vote on security than on domestic issues. “The fact that the center-left abrogated their foreign policy,” Halevi continued, “means that they really handed the election to the right, so the real struggle is between the pragmatic right and the ideological right.” He was referring to the competition between Netanyahu and the Jewish Home party of Naftali Bennett, which represents the settler movement (Bennett supports annexing the West Bank) and has surged in the polls.

Even though polls found that a large percentage of Israelis are just as worried about socioeconomic issues, such as the cost of living, as peace and security, most of the campaign was focused on the latter.

Only in the last two weeks of the campaign did the news agenda shift toward the economy: a government report that Israel’s 2012 budget deficit was twice what was planned kicked up criticism of the Netanyahu government’s fiscal performance and sharpened questions aimed at the prime minister about what he’ll do to pass a more balanced budget.

In an interview Monday night with Channel 2 news, Netanyahu was deliberately vague, promising he wouldn’t raise taxes, refusing to specify what budget cuts he made and speculating that maybe Israel would get unexpected tax revenue. But it wasn’t expected to give Labor a boost. Israeli pollster Stephan Miller said that Labor and Yachimovich failed to grab voters’ attention with their economic plan.

“Policies are important in campaigns. In the past four years, what specific policies on socioeconomic issues has the Labor Party addressed? What have they championed? What have they proposed? Opposed?” Miller wrote in an e-mail message. “I don’t think voters know what the party is offering that’s different from Netanyahu.”

Another home-stretch bump came on Monday evening, when American Jewish author and columnist Jeffrey Goldberg reported that President Barack Obama considered Netanyahu’s policy toward the Palestinians as self-destructive for Israel. Goldberg wrote in a Bloomberg View column that the president considers the Israeli prime minister a political coward and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas weak, making the president unlikely to invest time in restarting peace talks.

Livni said Goldberg’s report should be a wake-up call to Israelis, but analysts don’t expect the latest installment of the dysfunctional relationship between Netanyahu and Obama to upset the prime minster’s re-election drive.

Still, the election remains relevant because it will determine the balance of power in the parliament among the parties, and what type of coalition Netanyahu will be able to form.

In fact, many experts believe that building a stable coalition government will be much more difficult for Netanyahu than winning the campaign.

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