In the final days of his 12-year historic rule, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not quietly leave the political arena.
The longtime leader accused his opponents of betraying their voters, some of whom need special security protection.
Netanyahu said he was the victim of a “deep state” conspiracy. When talking about this country without his leadership, he speaks in apocalyptic terms.
Netanyahu told conservative Channel 20 television this week: “They are eradicating the good and replacing it with the bad and dangerous.” “I worry about the fate of the country.”
With Netanyahu and his supporters doing their best to prevent the new government from taking office on Sunday, this language has continued for tense days. With his options running out, this also provided a preview for Netanyahu as the leader of the opposition.
To those who have witnessed Netanyahu dominating Israeli politics for most of the past quarter of a century, his recent behavior is familiar.
He often uses harsh language to describe threats large and small. He belittled his opponents and thrived by using the strategy of divide and conquer. He portrayed his Jewish opponents as weak and self-hating “leftists” and Arab politicians as a fifth column of potential terrorist sympathizers.
He often exaggerates, saying that he is the only person capable of leading the country in response to never-ending security challenges.
“During his tenure, identity politics was at the highest level in history,” said Yohanan Plesner, director of the Israel Democracy Institute, a non-partisan think tank.
This is a formula that serves Netanyahu well. He led the right-wing Likud group with an iron fist for more than 15 years and won a series of election victories, earning him the nickname “King Bibi”.
In 2015, he delivered a speech in Congress against the U.S.-led nuclear agreement with Iran to resist President Barack Obama’s pressure to make concessions to the Palestinians and publicly despise him.
Although Netanyahu could not stop the deal, he was rewarded generously by President Donald Trump. He Recognized Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, Unplug Nuclear agreement and help broker Diplomatic agreement Between Israel and four Arab countries.
In addition to the three brief wars with the ruler of Hamas in Gaza, Netanyahu launched a seemingly successful shadow war against Iran while keeping the long-term Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a slow boiling state. .
Presner said that the situation of the Palestinians today is “very similar” to when Netanyahu took office. “There are no major changes in either direction, no annexation, and no diplomatic breakthrough.”
But some of Netanyahu’s strategies now seem to be back to haunt him. The new Biden administration in the United States is very indifferent to the Israeli leader, and Netanyahu’s close relationship with Trump has alienated most members of the Democratic Party.
At home, Netanyahu’s magic has also dissipated-this is largely due to his trial on corruption charges. He lashed out at the growing list of enemies considered: the media, the judiciary, the police, the centrist, the left, and even hard-line nationalists who were once close allies.
In four consecutive elections since 2019, Netanyahu, who was once invincible, failed to obtain a majority of seats in parliament. Faced with the unattractive possibility of the fifth consecutive election, the eight parties managed to form a majority coalition, which is scheduled to take office on Sunday.
Israeli politics is generally divided into dove left-wing parties seeking to negotiate an agreement with the Palestinians, and religious and nationalist parties that have long been led by Netanyahu that oppose Palestinian independence. If any recent elections are centered on conflict, then the right-wing parties alone can form a strong and stable majority.
But the Palestinians hardly brought it up—another legacy of Netanyahu, who pushed the issue aside.
On the contrary, everyone seems to be talking about Netanyahu’s personality and his legal issues, and it turns out that these issues are very polarized. The incoming government includes three small parties led by former Netanyahu aides, who have had a fierce breakup with Netanyahu’s aides, including the presumed prime minister Naftali Bennett.
Bennett and his right-wing partners even broke the long-standing taboo of alliances with Arab parties.A small Islamic PartyNetanyahu has also fought and will become the first person to join the ruling coalition.
Netanyahu and his followers in Likud became increasingly desperate. Initially, Netanyahu tried to lure some “defectioners” from his former allies to prevent them from gaining a majority in parliament.
When he failed, he resorted to language similar to that of his friend and benefactor Trump.
“We have witnessed the biggest election fraud in the country’s history,” Netanyahu claimed at this week’s Likud meeting. For a long time, he has regarded corruption trials as a “witch hunt” fueled by “fake news,” and said in a TV interview that he was being pursued by a “deep state.”
His supporters held a threatening rally outside the homes of parliamentarians who joined the new government. Some lawmakers said they and their families received death threats, and others said she was recently followed by a mysterious car.
At the same time, Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox partners viewed Bennett as a threat to their religion, and some even called on him to take off his kippa, the capless hat worn by devout Jews.
The online incitement by Netanyahu’s followers became so severe that several members of the new government were assigned bodyguards and even moved to secret locations.
Some Israelis compared it to the tensions that led to the January rebellion in the U.S. Capitol, while others pointed to the incitement prior to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
In a rare public statement, Nadav Argaman, head of Shin Bet’s internal security agency, recently warned that “a serious rise and radicalization of violence and inflammatory speech” on social media could lead to violence.
Netanyahu condemned the incitement and pointed out that he was also a target.
Later on Thursday, Netanyahu’s Likud group issued a statement in English on Twitter saying that his fraudulent remarks were not aimed at the counting process and he was “full of confidence” in this. “There is no doubt about the peaceful transition of power,” it said.
Gayil Talshir, a political scientist at the Hebrew University, said she expects to remain volatile in the coming months.
“We will see a very confident and aggressive opposition leader, Netanyahu, determined to ensure that this coalition for change will be a short-lived coalition and we will hold another election as soon as possible,” she said. Add to.
“We don’t even remember what normal politics looks like,” Talhill said.