The shenanigans ARE there in the age of Trumpism….
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is standing for reelection today in one of the strangest and potentially most significant elections in the country’s modern history.
This is actually the second national election Israel’s had in just six months. The last one, held in April, looked like a victory for Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party. But when Netanyahu failed to get enough support from smaller parties to form a government, he was forced to call new elections. So here we are.
The polling for the new election is too close to call. Likud is locked in a tight race with the centrist Blue and White party, which is leading the opposition. The ultimate outcome depends on a lot of things that are really hard to predict, ranging from minor party vote share to post-election parliamentary haggling.
But while the politics of the election are unclear, the policy stakes are gigantic.
During the campaign, Netanyahu promised to annex roughly 30 percent of the West Bank if reelected — a move that would render a future Palestinian state geographically non-viable. The idea of a two-state solution is already in critical condition, with the Palestinian leadership fragmented and Israeli politics moving in an increasingly right-wing direction. If Netanyahu follows through on his annexation promise, the two-state solution will be effectively dead.
The health of Israeli democracy also hangs in the balance. Netanyahu is currently facing indictment on a series of bribery and corruption charges stemming from his efforts to suborn Israel’s free media. If reelected, his first priority will likely be to immunize himself from prosecution — an undemocratic power-grab that would be the latest in a string of Netanyahu policies that have weakened constraints on the executive and protection for minority rights.
Another Netanyahu term could very well push Israel down the dark path of democratic backsliding we’ve seen in countries like Hungary.
“I think there actually is a pretty decent argument to be made that this actually is one of Israel’s most momentous elections,” says Michael Koplow, policy director at the DC-based Israel Policy Forum think tank. “Netanyahu has steadily been doing things that really erode any sense of separation of powers inside Israel and that call the independence of different state institutions into question.”…..