In current days, Benjamin Netanyahu has discovered himself emulating the Little Dutch Boy created by American creator Mary Mapes Dodge in her immortal 1865 novel Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates. Not like Brinker, nonetheless, who needed to plug just one gap within the dam in an effort to save the town of Haarlem, Netanyahu may quickly run out of sufficient digits to cease the quickly proliferating breaches in his Fortress Donald Trump. (For the latest election polls – click here)
The newest leak was present in a Politico report on Thursday alleging that Israel had positioned so-called “StingRay” receptors close to the White Home in an effort to spy on Trump and his advisers. Past the damaging accusation, which Netanyahu vehemently denied, the timing of the leak was broadly perceived as yet one more signal that Netanyahu’s stunning friendship with Trump is displaying rising indicators of pressure.
Netanyahu, who has staked his repute and his election marketing campaign on his alliance with Trump, desperately wants the facade to stay intact, at the least till the polls shut at 10 P.M. on Tuesday night. But it surely’s been an uphill wrestle, provided that over the previous week Netanyahu has been drenched by a gradual stream of dangerous tidings emanating from the White Home, proving that it by no means rains – it pours. On Monday Trump courted Iranian President Hassan Rohani; on Tuesday he fired John Bolton; on Wednesday it emerged that the president was weighing an easing of sanctions and opening traces of credit score for the Tehran regime. And the week isn’t even over.
Netanyahu finds himself hoisted by his personal petard. He has invested so closely in his relationship with Trump that he has no alternative however to maintain pretending that every one is okay and dandy. Netanyahu is aware of that any trace of criticism from Jerusalem is perhaps considered by Trump as ingratitude, a sure-fire method for turning Netanyahu and Israel into the butt of toxic presidential tweets.
Netanyahu should be praying that Trump hasn’t heard of Netanyahu’s justice minister, Amir Ohana, whose important declare to fame is repeating in public what the prime minister says in personal. On Thursday morning, Ohana informed military radio that assembly with Rohani could be a mistake, triggering sirens and alarm bells in Netanyahu’s workplace.
It was a foul ending to a horrible week so far as Netanyahu is anxious, on the belief that his Thursday evening meeting with Vladimir Putin doesn’t go bitter as nicely. Twenty-four hours earlier than the assembly, a Russian spokesman blasted Netanyahu’s “harmful” declaration of intent to annex the Jordan Rift Valley instantly after the election, though Moscow’s displeasure is hardly more likely to sway Israeli voters away from Netanyahu, who hopes Putin doesn’t produce other jokers up his sleeve.
Even so, regardless of apprehension that Netanyahu’s Iran technique may crash and burn, a current rash of damaging leaks regarding Netanyahu’s criminal investigations in addition to the damaging footage of Netanyahu being rushed off an election rally podium due to a Hamas rocket assault, the prime minister remains to be standing sturdy in the polls and remains to be the odds-on favourite to win the elections.
Actually, Netanyahu’s state of affairs has truly improved considerably, albeit for all of the flawed causes: The regular climb of the racist, Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party past the three.25 % electoral threshold that may preserve it out of the Knesset. Otzma’s success may give Netanyahu the coveted 61-seat majority that may grant him immunity from prosecution in trade for wide-ranging concessions to the spiritual and nationalist far proper. Lower than a month in the past, such a state of affairs – dubbed by this author “Your Worst Nightmare” – appeared extra delusional than real looking.
Netanyahu, together with different politicians and pundits, had been satisfied that Otzma had no likelihood of passing the brink. On Thursday, Netanyahu modified his tune, indicating that Likud’s inside polls affirm current findings of a surge in help for Otzma and its chief, Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Netanyahu needn’t stray far in an effort to find the rationale for Otzma’s rise; he can merely look within the mirror. It was Netanyahu who “koshered” Otzma earlier than the April 9 election by coercing the far-right Ihud social gathering to include it into its Knesset record. And it was Netanyahu who then pumped up Otzma’s picture by depicting it as a mortal risk to Likud probabilities for victory within the upcoming September 17 poll.
It’s certainly the stuff of which your worst nightmares are made. A right-wing coalition depending on Otzma would make the present coalition appear to be a league of liberal leftists. It might horrify half of Israel and repel no matter is left of its help in liberal democratic international locations and circles. It might advance full pace forward to annexing the territories, clamp down on the nation’s Arab minority and on leftist dissent, and undermine no matter is left of Israel’s checks and balances and rule of regulation. It’s a authorities that Netanyahu would by no means dream of heading, had been it not for his overriding want to flee the already partially amputated arm of the regulation.
It is usually a authorities that one or twenty years in the past, Israelis would by no means ponder supporting. However that was earlier than Netanyahu mesmerized sufficient Israelis together with his cult of character, earlier than he legitimized Jewish xenophobia and racism, earlier than Israeli politics become a staging floor for Netanyahu’s tortured soul and earlier than his flight from prosecution developed into his sole raison d’être.
If Netanyahu wins the election, regardless of all the pieces, his triumph would be the greatest and sweetest of his lengthy profession. It should show that in at present’s Israel, fashion beats substance, incitement overcomes points, demagoguery smashes reasoned debate and a cult of character has vanquished the traditional attributes of a functioning democracy. It might additionally point out that Israelis condone rampant corruption on the very prime.
Issues can nonetheless change, particularly given the pollsters’ declare third of Israeli voters are nonetheless undecided. However, in earlier elections the polls persistently erred in favor of Netanyahu’s opponents. If custom holds, not solely will Netanyahu return triumphantly to the prime minister’s workplace, he’ll show that simply once you assume issues couldn’t get any worse, they flip downright appalling.