Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a third term by convincing enough of his fellow Israelis that he has the challenges in the right order.
To him that means acting on Iran before solving the conflict with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu has pursued settlement-building on land seized by Israel in the 1967 war with the Arabs, and critics say he has inflated a threat from Iran to divert attention from this today.
Netanyahu said: “I believe that it’s time for the rest of the world to wake up. The great challenges that we face, the great danger to the world, is not from Jews building in our ancestral capital in Jerusalem, it’s from nuclear weapons in Iran, those weapons that are built in Iran.”
In September, Netanyahu told the UN Iran was two months from crossing a “clear red line” for uranium enrichment.
A poll by the Times of Israel ahead of the election showed just 12 per cent of Israelis saw Iran as the top priority. That poll said 16 per cent prioritised relations with the Palestinians.
But in December Netanyahu ordered more than 10,000 homes built on land the Palestinians claimed, ostensibly in retaliation for their success at the UN winning an upgrade to non-member observer state.
Another aspect of the former commando’s pugnacious stance defending Israeli security is the completion of a 230-km fence along the border with Egypt, to cut the number of asylum seekers crossing to Israel.
Netanyahu’s father was a Zionist historian, opposed to any compromise with the nation’s enemies. He is said to have had a decisive influence on him.
Benjamin Netanyahu was fervently against the Oslo Accords – a framework to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. He pilloried then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for his efforts. In 1995 a radical right-wing Orthodox Jew assassinated Rabin. Netanyahu became prime minister.
He and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat agreed on peace steps to follow, but these faltered.
An Israeli settler massacred praying Palestinians, then there were bombings against Israelis, and then came the Second Intifada uprising.
Just before that, in 1999, Netanyahu was voted out of office, only returning to the prime ministership ten years later.
He put a temporary partial freeze on settlement-building, and last year officially recognised a right for Palestinians to have their own state. But a real interest in pursuing peace? Even high-level American diplomats have raised doubts over Netanyahu’s sincerity.
He also brought relations with the US administration to a new low over how to handle Iran.
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