Week 12: Villain – Binjamin Netanyahu

by George_East on March 22, 2015

Netanyahu_villainThis Week’s Villain of the Week is Israeli Prime Minister for showing the depths he was prepared to go to win last week’s election

There was for the week or so before last Tuesday’s Israeli’s election a real sense that the opposition forces under Labor’s Isaac Herzog might just do it.  A brief moment of hope that was soon dashed as the votes were confirmed on Tuesday night and Wednesday.  It isn’t clear if the polls showing Herzog level or ahead were wrong or whether there was a last minute shift (polling being banned in Israel in the immediate days before the election).

However, whatever the cause what we do know is that Binjamin Netanyahu was sufficiently spooked by the polls to be prepared to do pretty much anything to preserve his chances of re-election.

Ever since the Oslo Accords of the early 1990s (when in Yitzhak Rabin Israel had a statesman as a Prime Minister) Israel has been officially commitment to Palestinian statehood. Although under Likud governments this has not gone much further than lip service, with continual obstacles being put in the way of its progress, the commitment has remained.

Until that is last week, when Netanyahu made it clear that there would be no Palestinian state while he was Prime Minister (the implication being clear that Herzog would sell out to Hamas and Hezbollah if elected).  It is the abandonment of this commitment that has led the White House unprecedentedly to distance themselves from Israel.

Even worse though was to come on election day itself, when Netanyahu released a video of himself standing in front of a map of the Middle East to warn voters that Israeli Arabs were turning out to vote in record numbers and they had better to get to the voting booths.  The language used was that of war: ‘Arab voters are advancing in large numbers towards voting places’.  That is a Prime Minister identifying citizens of his own country (who represent 20% of the population) as the enemy needing to be repelled, in military language.

Peace in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict looks more remote than at any time since the early 1980s.   Netanyahu has revealed that he considers his own personal continuation in power to be paramount – even if that means pouring petrol on the flames.  This was a desperate, nasty and ultimately extremely dangerous bid for votes from a true villain.   The saddest thing of all, is that it appears it was successful.

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