Could Trump’s Hard-Line Support End Up Backfiring for Israel’s Far Right?

Could Trump’s Hard-Line Support End Up Backfiring for Israel’s Far Right?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, March 20, 2016 (AP photo by Sebastian Scheiner).

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidential election in the United States, observers of the Middle East have been nearly unanimous about the ramifications of his presidency for Israel. Trump, they concluded, would help usher in a further consolidation of the Israeli right, dealing another blow to the political center and left, and further worsening Israel’s relations with Palestinians.

While that consensus scenario remains highly probable, there is a sharply different possible turn of events that should not be discounted. In fact, there is a significant chance that in the coming months the Israeli center could rise, which would lead, among other things, to an improvement in ties with Palestinians. That paradoxical outcome could emerge not as the results of any specific actions by the Trump administration, but due to both psychological and political reasons wholly within Israel.

The view that Israel’s right-wing nationalist politicians will make hay out of Trump’s election is easy to understand. After all, Trump campaigned on a platform of strong support for Israel. While much of what he said resonated with Israelis of all the main political stripes, many of his promises aligned most closely with the views of Israel’s far-right movement.

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