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From left to right: Benny Gantz, Benjamin Netanyahu (CC: Foreign and Commonwealth Office - Prime Minister Netanyahu)

In the Israeli election, set for April 9th, the polls show Benny Gantz is still leading, but Bibi Netanyahu is still the favorite to become the next Prime Minister. And why is that? Unless Gantz wakes up and shakes up the campaign, his Blue & While Party may win a couple of seats more than Likud, but he will not be able to forge a 61-seat majority in the 120-member Knesset.

Gantz and his party are coasting along as if all they need to do is tell voters what they already know...

As things now stand, Bibi will be able to, with the support of the Right-wing and religious parties. What is surprising is that this should be crystal clear, but Gantz seemingly fails to realize that he must step up his lackluster campaign. Rather than pulling out all the stops, Gantz and his party are coasting along as if all they need to do is tell voters what they already know - that Netanyahu has been indicted on four counts of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. But for crying out loud, how come Gantz, a former IDF Chief of Staff, and his sidekicks, two other former Chiefs of Staff (Ya'alon and Ashkenazi) fail to grasp that Israel is in a semi-state of war, and this is what voters are most concerned about. It stands to reason that they all want to know how Gantz and his party will cope with Israel's various security threats.

Ok, everyone knows that Bibi is a little crooked, but that is not a threat to Israel's survival. The key issue is how he has been coping with the Iranian nuclear threat, Iran's military buildup in neighboring Syria, and the latest news that its proxy, Hezbollah, is now building a military network just a mile or so from the Syrian border with Israel. Meanwhile down south, Hamas continues to provoke Israel by launching rockets every now and then and massing thousands of Palestinian rioters trying to break through the border fence with Gaza.

Iranian Missiles

And when all is said and done, Netanyahu has succeeded in getting Russian President Vladimir Putin's ear - he has given Israel the green light to attack the Iranian and Hezbollah buildup in Syrian as long as Russian personnel don't get hit in the crossfire. Last but not least, how about Netanyahu's good relations with US President Donald Trump? The PM deserves credit for persuading Trump to cancel Obama's ten-year nuclear deal that enables the Ayatollahs to keep on advancing their nuclear weapons program. For example, by going full speed on the necessary ICBM delivery system. Even some of the European countries are also waking up belatedly to this threat. The result has been renewed sanctions that hopefully will stop the Ayatollahs in their tracks.

Lebanon has now been converted into an Iranian satellite ... the Hezbollah military force that is more powerful than the Lebanese army itself!

Moreover, Bibi is basking in the quiet relations with several Arab states that also feel threatened by Iran's declared goal of dominating the Arab Sunni Muslim countries as well. They include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Gulf states, and Jordan. Lebanon has now been converted into an Iranian satellite controlled by Shiite Sheik Nasrallah, who commands the Hezbollah military force that is more powerful than the Lebanese army itself!

And, for the frosting on the cake, the US State Department has just issued its annual report on human rights around the world. Loe and behold! Foggy Bottom has dropped its previous designation of the West Bank, Gaza, and Golan Heights as occupied territory. This also redounds to Bibi's credit. Moreover, the influential US Senator, Lindsey Graham, who has Trump's ear, recently visited the Golan Heights with Bibi, giving him a strategic briefing on the importance of the region to Israel's security. Graham was so impressed that he came away saying, "The Golan Heights must remain part of Israel."

Ceasefire line between Syria and Israel on the the Golan Heights. (photo credit: Masterpjz9)

It gets worse for Gantz. Shortly before election day, Trump will roll out the red carpet for Bibi in Washington, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Jerusalem for consultations with Netanyahu. What it all boils down to is that Bibi is riding high despite the criminal charges swirling around his head.

This may appear to be a very pro-Netanyahu analysis of the situation. However, it is fair to say that, barring the unexpected, and unless Benny Gantz stops resting on his laurels and injects a new fighting spirit into his campaign, he has little chance of convincing a relatively large number of voters to carry him over the magic number of 61 Knesset seats.

Political Analyst David Essing


David Essing

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