Opinion: Benjamin Netanyahu is a strong American ally, but he may not be reelected
Israel is America’s strongest ally in the Middle East. However, will the relationship between the two countries stand the test of this year’s election for Israeli Prime Minister? President Donald Trump strongly hopes that incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will win the election against the coalition of Benjamin Gantz and Yair Lapid. Anyone else who wants to see peace in the Middle East should hope for Netanyahu to win as well.
For years, Trump has supported Netanyahu. The two have had a friendly relationship ever since Trump took office, according to Fox News. Both leaders have expressed their high regard for each other. In fact, Netanyahu is using signs with pictures of him and Trump together as part of his re-election campaign. Fox News also mentions Netanyahu has defended Trump’s comments and actions on multiple occasions.
Israeli Deputy Minister and former ambassador Michael Oren said that the Trump administration has been the most Israeli-friendly administration since 1948, Fox News reports. The people of Israel consider Trump an ally, and he has shown support for the nation by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Friendly relations between the two countries are especially critical now. A mutual respect would give Trump’s peace plan for the Middle East a higher chance of success. The United States is Israel’s strongest ally. If the relationship between the two countries becomes strained, it could jeopardize diplomacy with other countries as well.
If the Gantz-Lapid alliance succeeds in winning the election, this could throw a wrench in the peace plan. The Guardian said Gantz has been vague about his views of running the country and has pushed the message of being both a dove and a hawk on the issue of security. According to The JewishPress.com, Gantz and Lapid’s joint party includes both free-market capitalists and labor unionists, and both leaders seem to have combined their platform to attract more voters. Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, argues that the only reason they have joined forces is to oust Netanyahu.
Because Gantz and Lapid intend to split the power of the position if elected, this could lead to additional problems in many negotiations. The New York Times reports that if the joint ticket wins, Gantz will be prime minister for two and a half years while Lapid holds the foreign minister position, then they will switch jobs. Negotiations are difficult enough without leaders playing hot-potato with the prime minister position. Would the two lead Israel in a similar direction?
The biggest potential concern if Netanyahu wins the election is that he may not stay in office for a full term due to the corruption charges filed against him. The charges Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is expected to bring against Netanyahu include bribery and breach of trust for accepting gifts in return for favors, according to the Times of Israel. Netanyahu has denied the charges.
The pending decision regarding the corruption charges brought against Netanyahu could throw a curve ball into the peace plan. However, the corruption charges could take a long time to sort out, and there is no guarantee that the charges will be strong enough to remove Netanyahu from office. Even if the charges go through, the process of removing Netanyahu from office would take a while. In the meantime, Netanyahu and Trump can begin negotiating the peace plan.
Trump’s ideal results would be for Netanyahu to win the Israeli election and avoid being indicted on corruption charges. This would enable Trump to negotiate with the leader he has known and respected for years and who has shown respect and support for him. With the chaos and hostility that has characterized relations surrounding the Middle East, friendship and mutual respect could go a long way toward finding peaceful solutions. In the pursuit of peace, the importance of respect among these countries’ leaders cannot be overstated.