In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu refrains from a "betrayal" of Likud

The right-wing party of the incumbent Prime Minister on Thursday reaffirmed his support for his leader as he negotiates his stay at the helm of the country.

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It was to be an opportunity for the Likud to close the ranks, in adversity, around Benyamin Netanyahu. But on Thursday evening, October 10, there were barely 300 executives from the big party of the Israeli right to take an oath of allegiance to their leader, in an almost empty hall of the party headquarters in Tel Aviv. Mr. Netanyahu himself said in the evening that he would not go there, as did another 3,000 members of the steering committee.

What is the good of this solemn motion, voted as an evidence? Netanyahu remains the only candidate of the party to form a government. Absentees agree, for now, despite doubts and wear. The Prime Minister has twice failed to find a majority in the polls this year, in the April and September 17 legislative elections. His rivals have been refusing to meet him for two weeks to negotiate the formation of a unity government under his authority. They are waiting for his probable indictment by the end of November, for acts of corruption, breach of trust and fraud.

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They hope that Mr. Netanyahu will eventually run out, that he will fall under the pressure of justice or a burst of his party, Likud whose all rivals have slammed the door or are still silent. But until when ?

Fear of appearing as a "traitor" in the eyes of voters

Mr Netanyahu himself shows signs of feverishness, as the prospect of third general elections in the year emerges. On October 4, he hastily withdrawn his proposal, launched the same day, to organize primaries in Likud, the first since 2016. In the meantime, the main candidate for his succession, Gideon Saar, had dared to raise challenge. In an introductory tweet, he told himself " ready " to compete.

This rebellion of Mr. Saar, 52 years old, was nevertheless benign. The next day, he reaffirmed his loyalty to the leader. This former interior minister had left the party in 2014, disgusted by Netanyahu's authoritarianism. For a year now that he has returned to politics, the prime minister and his entourage have multiplied attacks against him, but he does not answer. Like all other putative successors, he refuses to distinguish himself. The former mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, Speaker of Parliament Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Israel Katz … All are paralyzed at the thought of appearing as a "traitor" in the eyes of basic voters, faithful against all odds to "Bibi".


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