Benjamin netanyahu

Putin may seem confident – but Russia’s future is bleak

How old will you be when Vladimir Putin’s next presidential term ends in 2030? Which of today’s world leaders will still be in office? By that time Putin will have been in power for 29 years, and just under half the population of the Earth at that time will have been born during his reign. On current form, Putin is set to see in at least two more US presidents – or more, if he chooses to stay in power until 2036. Putin has made a fetish of defending a Russian national sovereignty that no one had attempted to destroy When Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in 2022 many

Permanent stalemate in Gaza suits Netanyahu

Jerusalem After midnight on Thursday is dead-time for the Israeli media. The weekend editions have gone to print (newspapers don’t come out on Shabbat) and the Friday night TV news shows have been pre-recorded. The country’s journalists are yearning for respite from a long week covering the war. Benjamin Netanyahu chose that black hole of news, 2 a.m. last Friday, to leak his ‘Day after Hamas’ plan for post-war Gaza. There was no speech. No briefings. Just a page and a bit, double-spaced, presented to his cabinet for discussion. The plan has not been designed to end the war in Gaza. It is about Netanyahu’s own political survival But the plan

Benjamin Netanyahu is increasingly seen as Israel’s curse

Jerusalem On Tuesday, I was driving down to an Israeli army headquarters on the border with Gaza as a massive convoy of police cars and black bullet-proof limousines forced me onto the side of the road by the town of Ofakim. In Israel, only one man travels in a convoy that large.  It was 7 November, a month after the Hamas attack on Israeli communities in which 1,400 were murdered and the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza began. Even during peacetime the Prime Minister’s movements are shrouded in secrecy until he is safely back in one of his homes or offices.  Many Israelis, including those who voted for

The increasing irrelevance of Benjamin Netanyahu

Jerusalem The most tedious question in Israeli politics is: ‘Will this be the end of Benjamin Netanyahu?’ It has come up again in recent weeks as Israel has found itself on the brink of chaos over his coalition government’s attempts to pass laws weakening the independence of the judiciary, including the Supreme Court. And while the civilian unrest is unprecedented in the country’s history, anyone who has spent even a moderate amount of time observing Israel in the past decades should know by now that the answer, as long as Netanyahu is still breathing, is ‘no’. Netanyahu can’t discipline or sack his ministers. To do so would almost certainly cost

Netanyahu’s war on lawyers has thrown Israel into turmoil

Chaos reigns in Israel, a country in the throes of an ad hoc general strike called by trade unions, university students, numerous industries across the country, and many military and civil defence reservists. Demonstrators are storming buildings and fighting the police. Some council leaders say they are beginning a hunger strike. If you wanted to fly into Ben Gurion airport today, as tens of thousands of people usually do of a weekday, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. It’s closed.  Why is all of this happening? In the immediate term, because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked his defence minister, Yoav Gallant. Gallant is a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party and is a loyalist. He said that Netanyahu should

Israel’s draconian lockdown isn’t doing enough to stop coronavirus

An Israeli startup called Vocalis Health is working with the country’s National Emergency Team to conduct a trial using voice samples to identify coronavirus. It is one of many innovative approaches being trialled in Israel as the country is radically transformed by the battle against the virus. The Israeli Ministry of Defence’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development said this week that the study with Vocalis Health would look at voice recordings and use artificial intelligence to help identify carriers of the disease. ‘These recordings will then undergo data analysis using neural networks.’ The idea is that an algorithm that would identify characteristics associated with symptoms of the virus. The obvious

It looks like Bibi is back from the dead

Could it really be over? As Israeli political reporters stand before their cameras or hunch over their keyboards, their brains screaming with caffeine, that is the one question they’re asking. As are millions of voters, who remarkably turned out on Tuesday in impressive numbers, despite their election fatigue.    As I write this, there are still a quarter of the votes in Israel’s general election waiting to be counted. Many of the ballot boxes come from Bedouin communities in the Negev desert and other Arab communities. Who knows, perhaps they could still change the outcome? Mathematically it’s certainly possible. Israel’s multi-party proportional-representation election system is a machine with a lot of

Can Naftali Bennett’s anti-Bibi coalition survive?

Sunday saw a watershed moment in Israeli politics: Bibi Netanyahu was removed from power after 12 years, and his government replaced by an eclectic coalition headed by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, both of whom will serve as Prime Minister under a rotation agreement, starting with Bennett. It may be that one of Bibi’s greatest achievements was bringing together politicians with little in common but the belief that it was time for Bibi to go. Anyone watching the vote to approve the new government would have been on the edge of their seat: the new government was approved by a single vote (passed 60 to 59). The vote was preceded

Stephen Daisley

The era of Bibi is over

Israel’s new government is a daring, possibly doomed but nonetheless fascinating experiment. Headed by tech millionaire turned nationalist figurehead Naftali Bennett and TV journalist turned voice of centrism Yair Lapid, Jerusalem’s 36th government is an ideological hydra.  Bennett’s right-wing national-religious Yamina party is joined by the secular liberals of Lapid’s Yesh Atid, along with Kahol Lavan moderates, Labor social democrats, Meretz socialists, and the Likud breakaway faction Tikva Hadasha, plus Yisrael Beiteinu’s secular right-wingers and Ra’am’s Islamic conservatives. This unwieldy rabble is held together by a coalition agreement to focus on areas of consensus — more investment in education, bumping up defence spending, cutting bureaucracy and regulation, tackling crime and

Don’t count Bibi out just yet

Elections are supposed to settle things. That’s the idea, at least. Politicians argue, take decisions and pursue the policies they want to, but there comes a day when they have to answer to the public and face their judgment. A day after Israel’s fourth parliamentary election in two years, no verdicts are forthcoming, not even in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial. The votes are still being counted, but it looks once again to be an awkward draw. Neither Netanyahu nor his rivals are expected to be able to form a governing coalition. Elections in Israel have become like the difficult season of a long-running comedy, when the producers try

King Bibi’s pandemic problem

‘They are S-C-A-R-E-D’. So said Binyamin Netanyahu in a famous 1999 election campaign speech, referring to the media. Now he is the one who is scared. The political mastermind who has been Prime Minister for the past eleven years stands to lose his crown. Israel’s political crisis of 2019-2020 saw three general elections without producing a clear winner. Eventually, asserting a need for national unity to combat the pandemic, Bibi masterfully managed to form a coalition under his leadership while dividing the main opposition party, Blue and White. Under the rotation agreement, Bibi is to step down after two years and be replaced by Blue and White leader, Benny Gantz.

Why Benjamin Netanyahu has outlasted all his political rivals

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signed a coalition agreement, after a year of uncertainty and three elections, to create a government that should keep him in power for at least another year and a half. If all goes well with his corruption trial, set to begin on May 24 after a postponement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he will have outwitted his opponents once again and remained in office more than a decade. How does Israel’s leader keep going when his own party never gets more than 35 seats in the country’s 120-member Knesset and he seems to have alienated parties on the left, right and centre? Netanyahu has