Netanyahu’s triumph: he defeated even the hate campaign

The American negotiator Aaron David Miller is right when, as Obama makes his people say that he will cooperate with any government the Israeli people will choose, says: “Looks like the White House will need to let the champagne chill a bit longer”. Also, many EU notables will not toast, not those who were ready, in the days when the polls were giving Bibi four seats less than the left wing (21 to 24), to consign Benjamin Netanyahu to the garbage dump of history.

The choir of journalists who always piously defend the Palestinians will not toast. And of course Buji Herzog, head of the Zionist Union, is in shock as well, incredulous that Israel managed to turn its back on the hypothesis of having him as the Prime Minister of a leftist government.

Nevertheless, Bibi obtained 30 seats, while Buji stalled at 24. After an initial standoff, the gap gradually increased during the night, and Likud celebrated its leader who, fighting a personal “Six-Day War” after the polls had started to doom him to a defeat, he managed to drag a huge mass of voters to the ballot box with his personal charisma, his deep voice, his curriculum vitae of fighter and fervent supporter of the Jewish State, his call for help against a dangerous perspective for the very existence of the State. He also managed to persuade the parties from the right-wing bloc that it was better to vote for him than keep their respective little political houses that would have never obtained all that Bibi, on the contrary, can manage through his faith in the Jewish People (Bibi is not religious) and with the determination that characterizes him.

So, for example, Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing party “The Jewish Home” contented himself with eight seats, Yachad, Eli Ishai’s religious party, vanished from the scene and Ysrael Beitenu, Yvette Liberman’s party, who also had some problems with the law, has only six seats. The “United Arab Party”, in third position with its 13 seats, is a noteworthy variant: in the first hours of the evening, it seemed to have decided to move to the left-wing bloc, but then it saw its internal divisions gradually reopening.

We do not know if Herzog is taking into consideration the idea of a coalition government instead of a left wing one, but it is highly probable. Yet, Netanyahu suffers the past government’s trauma. He covered Tzipi Livini in honors, he appointed her Minister of Justice and negotiator with the Palestinians just to find himself savagely attacked.

And it was with authentic hatred that the Finance Minister Lapid asked the voters to destroy Netanyahu. Maybe Bibi will opt for a left-wing government to encompass not only the religious ones, but also Moshè Kahlon’s ten seats, a character who may give Bibi some credibility at a social level, a field in which he actually lost some ground.

How did Bibi managed to recover so swiftly the lost votes to the front of the very union that had “Anyone but Bibi” as a slogan? He has been accused of being obsessed with security, deprecated for having ruined the relationship with Obama in the name of his paranoia about a nuclear Iran, he has been identified as the efficient cause of the breaking up with the Palestinians, hence of the construction works in the territories.

To answer back, Bibi was simply and intensively himself. He gave speeches everywhere, he explained again and again the reasons behind the primary choice of security, he bet on those who did not show him hatred, that is the right wing, but he never disavowed a past in which there is the Hebron evacuation, the Wye River Talks with Arafat and the resulting concessions, but also the secession from his spiritual father Ariel Sharon when he decided the evacuation from Gaza in 2005.

Bibi is a realist, you may not agree with him, but in the end, his economic and strategic analyses are always extremely pragmatic, and this is what his citizens perceived.

He had his first mandate as Prime Minister after having been a famous, straightforward, Ambassador to the UN, a hostile and aggressive organization in which he played the role of the lion tamer. In 1999, he defeated Simon Peres and became Prime Minister. After being defeated from Ehud Barak, he moved from the political arena to the private sector. He then returned to politics in 2002 as Foreign Affairs Minister.

He obtained his major achievement as a Finance Minister when he expanded privatization, liberalized the circulation of money and reduced deficit. From 2009, Bibi was again Prime Minister of this small boat in the raging sea of the Middle East. A leading role that he does not seem intentioned to give up, and that, as it seems, does not want to leave him until he remains, as his most criticized campaign ad said, the decisive “Bibi sitter” of Israel in a world in flames.


This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (March 19, 2015)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.
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