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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters at the Likud party’s headquarters Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters after the first exit poll results for the Israeli parliamentary elections, at the Likud party’s headquarters in Jerusalem, March. 24, 2021 (AP photo by Ariel Schalit).

Israel Is No Longer Right or Left. It’s Pro- and Anti-Netanyahu

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Before Benjamin Netanyahu’s long tenure as prime minister, the longest in Israel’s history, Israelis delineated their parties’ political contours on the basis of ideology. That started changing as Netanyahu’s hold on power stretched over the years, despite him acting in ways that some found offensive, counterproductive and possibly criminal. He has now fully reframed Israel’s political divisions, which became starkly apparent in the most recent election, the country’s fourth in just two years.

Traditionally, Israelis differentiated their political views by roughly categorizing themselves and their parties between right and left. As in many other countries, the distinction is based on the parties’ preferences regarding how big a role the state should play in the economy, how much it should help the poor, and how much it should trust free markets. But in the uniquely Israeli context, one of the defining distinctions between the right and the left is over what concessions they believe Israel should make in negotiations with the Palestinians and neighboring Arab countries. Leftists advocate more flexibility in a quest for an agreement with the Palestinians. The right, especially now, shows little if any interest in compromise. The prospect of a two-state solution looks more distant than ever. ...

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