Israel election a referendum on Netanyahu

Supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu march at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem on 13 September, 2019.

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Benjamin Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister

Every part could be very shut on this troubled land. It is small. Travelling round and throughout land that has been fought over does not take lengthy. Enemies, resentment, hopes and disappointment are by no means far-off.

I took a drive down the Jordan Valley. It runs between the Sea of Galilee and the Useless Sea, largely sandy and rocky desert. It’s the deepest valley on the earth, happening to 1,300 toes (400m) beneath sea stage. The domes of the monastery of the Temptation, constructed into the cliffs stare down on Jericho, the Palestinian metropolis that claims to be the oldest on the earth. Christians consider Devil appeared someplace close to right here to Jesus, tempting him throughout his 40 days and nights of fasting.

The southern finish of the valley, the place I’m, has been occupied by Israel since 1967, an enormous a part of the land it captured in that 12 months’s Center East Warfare

Often the valley is a sleepy place. However Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed it into his nation’s common election, which is developing this Tuesday. He declared that if he was returned as prime minister, he would annex the Jordan Valley, and Jewish settlements within the occupied West Financial institution. The suggestion has been condemned by lots of Israel’s buddies, together with Britain, on the grounds that it might be yet one more nail within the coffin containing hopes for peace. Israel would have absorbed land Palestinians need for a state.

Mr Netanyahu has stated comparable issues earlier than. Maybe he will not preserve his promise if he wins. Maybe he’ll.

He is providing Israeli right-wingers a tasty electoral inducement to vote for him. He wants the votes. The election will probably be shut.

Greater than anything, it’s a referendum on Mr Netanyahu, who has overtaken Israel’s founding father David Ben Gurion as its longest-serving prime minister.

In Jerusalem, I went to an ultra-Orthodox rally. I headed for one of many spiritual neighbourhoods of the town. Hundreds of males in black coats and hats, beards and skullcaps jammed right into a closed-off main metropolis freeway. They had been there to declare help for a coalition of spiritual events, who’re staunch supporters of Mr Netanyahu. He wants their help to kind a brand new authorities.

Israel’s electoral system at all times produces coalitions. Would-be prime ministers want so as to add their very own social gathering’s seats to these of smaller events who actual a value for giving their help. The ultra-Orthodox have been staunch supporters of Mr Netanyahu. With out their seats, he wouldn’t be capable to kind a authorities.

Israel is a powerful nation. Its achievements are outstanding. However it additionally has a streak of insecurity, comprehensible given the historical past of the Jews and of the Israeli state. Mr Netanyahu performs on these fears. His marketing campaign has majored on Israel’s enemies in Iran, Syria and Lebanon.

His message, repeated time after time, is that the Center East is a troublesome neighbourhood and he’s the one politician who can preserve Israelis protected. Election posters present him with US President Donald Trump, each males smiling, suggesting a novel partnership that solely Mr Netanyahu can keep.

His essential rival is a centre-left coalition, known as Blue and White, led by a retired common, Benny Gantz, and Yair Lapid, a TV character turned politician. Basic Gantz says he can restore honour to the premiership. Mr Netanyahu faces severe corruption expenses, which he denies. His opponents say he has divided and cheapened Israel.

On polling day, it’d come all the way down to turnout. Israelis get election days off – and it is good seashore climate.