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Domestic reverses

Jul 04,2024 - Last updated at Jul 04,2024

Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden are suffering dramatic domestic reverses due to Israel’s deadly and devastating war on Gaza following Hamas’ attack on southern Israel on October 7th. Writing in the liberal Israeli daily, Amir Tibon pointed out that Biden’s rating is “abysmal” but Netanyahu’s “is even worse”.

Following Biden’s dismal performance last week in the televised debate with Republican challenger Donald Trump, the US Democrat Party has been urged to drop Biden as its candidate for reelection in November.

Tibon cites a poll published on Sunday which showed that 64 per cent of respondents believe Biden should quit and only 36 per cent believe he should remain in the race. Biden has refused to step down and the party has supported him.

Tibon points out that a poll released a week ago reveals that Netanyahu “has the trust” of only 27 per cent of Israelis, 66 per cent said he should retire. Although Tibon says Netanyahu is the “most divisive leader in the country’s history, and a total failure on all fronts”, he retains all important support in the US Congress which invited him to address a joint session of both houses late this month.

The New York Times columnist Maureen Doud summed up Biden’s post-debate determination tor emain in the race by calling him “selfish”. Like Trump, she writes, “He’s putting himself ahead of the country. He’s surrounded by opportunistic enablers. He has created a reality distortion field where we’re told not to believe what we’ve plainly seen. His hubris is infuriating. He says he’s doing this for us, but he’s really doing it for himself.”

She did not mention Netanyahu. But her remarks apply to him as well. Furthermore, Netanyahu has been doing this for years. But he has become worse since October 2019 when was indicted for fraud, breach of trust and bribery. After his trial opened in May 2023, his lawyers argued he cannot prepare to face the court until March 2025 because he is fully occupiedwith managing the Gaza war. A hearing on the delay is set for July 9th.

What are these cases about? Netanyahu is charged with receiving expensive pink champagne, Cuban cigars and jewellery from billionaire supporters, one of whom expected quid pro quo. He is accused of with trying to arrange positive news coverage for himself and his family in the Israel Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth in exchange for curtailing the circulation of its main competitor. And, he is alleged to have authorised regulations financially benefitting Bezeq telecommunications’ main shareholder in exchange for favourable media treatment on a popular news site.

These cases expose Netanyahu as a cheapskate and a politician whose arrogance knows no bounds.

As he has been prime minister for more than 16 years and is Israel’s longest serving head of government, he has no financial need to take gifts from rich admirers or political reason for seeking positive media coverage.

Since October 7th, Netanyahu has, however, faced a serious political challenge. He has been accused of enabling Hamas to receive funds from abroad in order to boost the.

Gaza movement and weaken the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. It backs the two-state solution involving the emergence of a Palestinian state alongside Israel which Netanyahu rejects.

He and the army chiefs have also been blamed for failing to predict the Hamas cross-border raid and pre-empt it. Army intelligence was warned that Hamas was training for an operation well ahead of time by women soldiers called “watchers” deployed along the border between Gaza and Israel. These warnings were dismissed largely because they were women.

After Hamas killed 1,139 and captured 250 Israelis and visitors, Netanyahu made the elimination of Hamas his priority rather than freeing the captives. This decision grew

increasingly unpopular after the initial return of 105 civilian captives last November in

exchange for a brief ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners. Since then, Hamas

has freed four and Israel rescued seven, leaving 76 live captives, including soldiers, and 44 bodies.

The Israeli public has been angered by Netanyahu’s refusal to pay Hamas price for freeing them: A permanent ceasefire, Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, opening of Israeli crossings to allow humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza, and release of additional Palestinian prisoners.

Netanyahu has been able to pursue his objective of eradicating Hamas only because

Biden has fed most of the weapons needed by Israel’s war machine to carry on the fight for more than eight months. These weapons have included 900 kilogramme and 227 kilogramme bombs, Hellfire missiles, tank munitions, and material for artillery shells. Despite condemnation of Israel’s use of 907 kilogramme bombs and other heavy munitions indensely populated urban areas in violation of the laws of war, Biden continued to transfer the largest bombs until last month when he paused the supply.

Until the end of May, the Biden administration vetoed UN Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, giving Netanyahu a free hand to pursue all-out war against 2.3 million Palestinians in the Strip. At long last on May 31st, Biden put forward his three-phase plan fora ceasefire, captive and prisoner releases, and an end to Israel’s Gaza war. Although he called it an “Israeli plan”, Netanyahu rejected it and Hamas mistrusted It as the author was Biden who only shifted to a ceasefire after coming under widespread criticism in the US and abroadfor his support for Netanyahu’s unceasing war.

Biden and Netanyahu are determined to stay in office whatever the costs to their respective countries. Biden claims he is saving “American democracy” from another Trump term in the White House. Netanyahu contends he is saving Israel from Hamas and, potentially, Hizbollah if he decides to attack Lebanon. Opinion polls show most US citizens

and Israelis do not believe them.

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