Home Featured A snap election may well be an option for ‘Bibi the magician’ – POLITICO
A snap election may well be an option for ‘Bibi the magician’ – POLITICO

A snap election may well be an option for ‘Bibi the magician’ – POLITICO

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So, what are his plans now to pull off yet another Houdini-like escape?  

One of Netanyahu’s biggest fears is that protests against him will soon take off once more, and that this time, they may even dwarf last year’s demonstrations against his judicial reform plans. And the demobilization of Israeli reservists, who blame Bibi for failing to prevent the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, would likely turbocharge any anti-Netanyahu protests, noted Shtrauchler.

“If they will not see achievements in a few months, 300,000 or so reservists will start demobilizing and returning home. And without a doubt, some of them will start protesting and demanding an election,” Shtrauchler said. “The protests that might come will make last year’s look like a walk in the park.”

An Israeli soldiers take cover close to the border with Gaza on October 7 | Oren Ziv/AFP via Getty Images

So, one option would be to try and preempt this by going for an early election, and using mounting U.S. criticism of the war in Gaza — a war supported by an overwhelming majority of Israelis — to argue he’s the best person to champion Israel and see off the international critics until “total victory.” To that end, Bibi is already using the “standing up to Washington” line in his Hebrew-language broadcasts — a well-worn trope that has served him well in the past, especially when he defied former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Opinion polls are also showing signs that things might be swinging back in Bibi’s favor. Until recently, Likud and its right-wing coalition allies looked to be staring at an inevitable defeat. But since former party member Gideon Sa’ar and three other lawmakers broke with the National Unity alliance of longtime Netanyahu critic Benny Gantz, this has changed. According to a poll published by Israel’s Channel 14 in the wake of Sa’ar’s defection last week, Netanyahu would have a fighting chance of remaining in power, and his bloc could potentially secure a Knesset majority, albeit a narrow one.

However, Shtrauchler doesn’t think an early election is Netanyahu’s preferred option. “He will try to make it at least to November, until the U.S. presidential elections. That could be a huge thing for Netanyahu, if Trump is reelected. People think Trump still hates him because Bibi was quick to congratulate Biden … in the last election. But that relationship could be repaired, and a Trump reelection may offer him some good options and benefits,” the former strategist said.

In short, much like Wilkins Micawber of Charles Dickens’ “David Copperfield,” Bibi would prefer to duck and weave, hoping something will turn up to shift the tide of his political fortunes and strengthen him enough to defy expectations yet again. “But if he senses the war is not going in the right direction, and goals like killing Yahya Sinwar [the Hamas leader in Gaza] are eluding him, it might well be the right thing to do to go for a snap election,” Shtrauchler added.

“In time, if anyone pushes us into an election, it might well be Bibi himself.”

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