In trying to understand Israel’s impending elections on Tuesday, September 17th, the second national election in the short period of six months, I can say with certainty that Benjamin Netanyahu will be asked once again by Israel’s President Rivlin to form the next government. Not the 24/7 media onslaught demonizing Netanyahu’s character and his family, his lifestyle, alleged corruption charges, his coalition bickering, nor the partisan media driven reflex to blame Netanyahu for everything wrong in Israel will change this prediction.
As Israel’s former U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren said, “Our economy is excellent, our foreign relations were never better, and we’re secure … we know him, the world knows him – even our enemies know him.” After 71 years of Wars, Terror, Economic hardships, and being a pariah nation among the nations of the world, Prime Minister has given the citizens of Israel what they lack the most, stability and a sense of normalcy. Prime Minister Netanyahu stands out as a true Statesman and world class political leader enjoying superior relations with President Trump, President Putin, and other heads of nations throughout the world. Netanyahu has forged strategic alliances with a majority of the Muslim Sunni nations of the Middle East while transforming Israel into a regional superpower militarily and economically. This is what will enable Netanyahu to be re-elected and continue leading Israel in the foreseeable future. The citizens of Israel want a steady hand at the wheel, and will not relinquish this hard earned stability in their lives recklessly. Politically speaking, Netanyahu has been a “master craftsman” knowing what the Israeli electorate needs and wants, and above all he has been an incredibly effective political leader.
In today’s Israel, Netanyahu is perceived as a pragmatic leader who knows the horrors of war and will do the utmost to prevent the outbreak of war unless absolutely necessary. Netanyahu has successfully kept Israel’s deterrence intact enabling the Israel Defense Forces to execute thousands of aerial attacks on Iranian installations, Iranian proxy militants and military forces in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, and the list goes on. The implications of Israel’s being a relatively safe environment to live and raise families has given Israeli’s a hard earned sense of stability and normalcy.
Netanyahu is a believer in the free market and has put in place economic policies that have increased the standard of living to a level unseen before. Israel has attracted without exception all of the world’s largest technological companies to set up shop in Israel paying salaries that would put Silicon Valley to shame. You can buy almost anything in Israel, a large part of the population are home owners including among the Israeli Arab and Ultra-Orthodox communities. Most Israeli’s fly abroad to vacation a number of times a year with the Israeli Shekel being the strongest currency in the world against the American dollar. Israel has become a world leader in technology, food production, agricultural irrigation, Cyber Security, water purification, and the list goes on.
Beyond all the indisputable facts and accomplishments of Benjamin Netanyahu listed above, what his main political opponents, from center-left and left wing party’s’ seem to miss or purposely chose to ignore is the single most important reason that will ensure Netanyahu’s re-election; lingering traumatic memories of the Oslo Agreement period and the ensuing campaigns of Palestinian terror causing carnage and death on the streets of Israeli cities.
The Oslo Agreement, also known as the Oslo Accords, was an agreement signed between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on September 13, 1993, meant to effectively bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to its end by means of territorial concessions and facilitating the creation of the Palestinian Authority. The Oslo Accord was negotiated and signed by Israel’s center left and left wing political parties with the unwavering and enthusiastic support of the Israeli media. From its very inception the Oslo Accords resulted in an uptick in Palestinian terror leading to the unprecedented terror campaign of suicide bombers against the citizens of Israel between the years 1995-2004.
No single War or event during Israel’s 71 years of existence has shaped Israel’s political landscape like the wave of suicide bombers carried out by Palestinian Arab terrorists enjoying the full support of their families, clans, and villages. During this period thousands of Israeli’s were killed or wounded. Buses would explode killing tens of passengers sometime twice a day and on the same bus lines in Jerusalem. The streets of Tel-Aviv became killing fields with the the Dizengoff Center suicide bombing (also Purim massacre) being the most notorious event. On March 4, 1996 on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Purim the Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up outside Dizengoff Center in downtown Tel Aviv, killing 13 Israelis and wounding 130 more. The attack was the fourth suicide bombing in Israel in nine days, bringing the death toll during that span to over 60 killed.
Then and now, the success of Netanyahu and his re-election over the years is in the aftermath of that traumatic period and every election since has been held in the shadow of the Oslo period. Netanyahu’s political longevity is driven by the simple fact that enough Israelis believe they couldn’t live without him and that Israel needs Netanyahu more than Netanyahu needs Israel.