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Posters of veteran politician Gideon Saar at a voting center in Hadera, Israel Posters of veteran politician Gideon Saar at a voting center in the northern Israeli city of Hadera, Dec. 26, 2019 (AP photo by Ariel Schalit).

In Upcoming Israeli Elections, Netanyahu Faces a New and Potent Threat

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021

Following a one-year respite, Israeli voters will head back to the polls on March 23 for their fourth election in two years. While trying to break Israel’s political gridlock is by now well-trodden ground, the upcoming contest will differ in one key way from the three that took place between April 2019 and March 2020.

In those elections, the main alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party was the newly formed Blue and White, a party led by former military chief Benny Gantz that did not have a clear ideological agenda or makeup. This time, however, Netanyahu’s primary threat is likely to be a popular fellow conservative who shares his ideology and worldview. This presents a different sort of challenge that will crystallize even further the new, fundamental divide in Israeli politics—one that centers around Netanyahu himself. ...

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