Wooing Trump pays for Netanyahu as his popularity soars

Yoaz Hendel, a former advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu, has become one of his most drastic critics on the right, denouncing his policies in columns and talk shows and directing a demonstration against the corruption that supposedly permeates your government. [19659002] Now, even Hendel is reconsidering his view on the Israeli prime minister, impressed by his role in the transfer of the US embbady. UU To Jerusalem, the outcome of Iran's nuclear agreement and Israel's attacks against the Iranian military forces in Syria. He is not alone. Netanyahu's popularity has increased in the latest polls, eclipsing graft investigations that have already produced police recommendations to charge him in two cases.

Photographer: Jack Guez / AFP through Getty Images

"It's not that he has changed anything in terms of his attempts to undermine our democracy and institutions," said Hendel, who resigned as the prime minister's chief spokesman. 2012. "But I have to recognize that the way he faces strategic challenges is forcing me, and others on the right who were questioning his leadership, to think about his achievements as a statesman."

Netanyahu's control over power is still potentially at risk, and his political successes should not influence the decision of Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit to accuse him in corruption cases, at least in theory. But a particularly aggressive attorney general would be necessary to accuse a popular prime minister and sit for the first time in the history of Israel, said Eran Vigoda-Gadot, professor of political science at the University of Haifa.

Smoking Gun

"In order to put a prime minister in jail, you need a smoking gun," said Vigoda-Gadot. "We tend to think that the separation of powers is strong enough to help the judicial system make independent decisions independently of public opinion, but in reality, judges and prosecutors, without admitting it, are influenced by what happens to your surroundings ".

Just a few months ago, things seemed bleak for Netanyahu. Several former badistants had agreed to testify against him and, as doubts grew about his political durability, right-wing rivals began positioning themselves for the era after Netanyahu.

Today the headlines on gifts of expensive cigars and champagne of billionaires disappeared. European leaders have rebuked Israel for killing more than 120 Palestinians in sometimes violent protests in the Gaza Strip, but in his country Netanyahu is considered the powerful leader who persuaded Washington to abandon the Iranian nuclear deal and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Next week, Netanyahu will fly to Berlin, Paris and London, while trying to persuade world leaders to increase pressure on Iran.

The election of like-minded Trump was a great help to Netanyahu, whose ties to the Obama administration has been affected by his divergent views on Iran and the Palestinians. During his campaign, Trump promised to move the embbady and get out of the agreement with Iran, and after he was elected, he did.

Israel's strong economy, for which Netanyahu has a lot of credit, has also helped his position. The gross domestic product has grown above 4 percent for three consecutive quarters and unemployment is close to historical lows. Investment in high technology is high and tourism is booming.

"From the economy to security, the Israelis realize they have it right, they do not want a change at the top," said Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, whose Jewish home the party competes for the voters of right with Netanyahu's Likud. "A lot of this is largely to his credit, and now he's reaping the political benefits."

Still Shaky

There are important risks to Netanyahu's strategic achievements. Trump's withdrawal from the agreement with Iran could be counterproductive and increase the conflict in the region. The firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip and the Israeli air strikes in retaliation could expand into a war involving the West Bank and Jerusalem. And the threat still threatens a direct confrontation with Iran over its military presence in Syria.


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