Despite multiple police probes and particularly bad press over the past months, surveys taken by pollsters regularly indicate impressive support for Netanyahu from his fellow citizens. Here’s how Netanyahu became Israel’s main “existential asset”
Analysts say the charismatic leader has persuaded the Israelis that he, and only he, can protect them from the nuclearisation of Iran as well as the threats from Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Gaza (Hamas).
Netanyahu keeps Israelis safe, and that’s what matters at the end of the day. With strong economy growth, record touristic arrivals and (very) low unemployment, Netanyahu is expected to win every election he takes part in. And when it comes to international diplomacy, “Bibi” makes wonders. Even his opposition does not deny his unprecedented success around the world.
A complex politic persona constructed around existential threats
Netanyahu, whose influence on the country’s character may be just as powerful as David Ben-Gurion’s, has pursued very clear ideological positions since coming to power. Politically wise, Netanyahu positioned the cursor on the question of existential threats from Palestinians, both locally and globally, but also from “Nuclear” Iran.
Netanyahu’s political identity is widely perceived as above politics. Many of his voters have reservations about his character, but they see him as the defender Israel against existential threats in the region. This distinctive power and the legitimacy from the streets allowed him to cultivate and maintain constant pressure on the media, non-governmental organisations, minority opposition and the left parties.
The executive power is increasingly centralised and the Israeli society is more nationalist than ever.
The Prime minister of the “status quo”
During his two last terms, Netanyahu has engaged in half-hearted and pointless negotiations with Palestinians, while deepening his country’s hold over the West Bank by expanding settlements in strategic areas. For him, “Palestinian violence” does not have much to do with Israel’s policies, but emerges from “the hatred to Israel and the West”.
He presumed that the West would avoid confrontation to maintain an alliance with Israel in an explosive Middle East. Netanyahu’s views proved to be true over the years. Bibi’s style of exercising power prefers conflict management over resolution.
His coalitions often include parties that are openly opposed to any Palestinian state and centrist parties that support it in theory rather than in practice. This is “status quo” in its literal definition.
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