“Prime Minister Netanyahu has done a remarkable job of keeping the public support behind him and the military” during the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip, Haaretz’s editor-in-chief said Sunday, but added: that may not secure his political future.
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In an interview with Aimee Amiga as Operation Protective Edge neared completion of its fourth week, Aluf Benn said many in the right wing feel Israel should have gone “all the way” to destroy Hamas.
“Netanyahu was in trouble with his own political base – and particularly in his own party – even before the operation,” said Benn, “and if the operation ends with a unilateral withdrawal and unilateral declaration of a cease-fire, this trouble will only be more complicated, because many people in the right wing in Israel felt that Israel should have gone all the way to crush Hamas, to reoccupy Gaza, to destroy the military infrastructure of Hamas, to kill its leaders, and so on.
“Having failed to achieve that, Netanyahu will be criticized for not using the public support and international support that Israel enjoyed at the beginning (of the military operation) to call in a much stronger reserve force and reoccupy Gaza.”
Benn explained that Netanyahu’s rivals on the right, namely Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, will surely use Netanyahu’s reluctance to “go all the way” in order to position themselves as the “true blue leaders of the right wing,” and position Netanyahu as “a softy and a lefty in disguise.”
While he suggested that the majority of Israelis do not wish to reoccupy Gaza, Haaretz’s editor-in-chief did say that the majority of the public would have liked to see Israel give a more crushing blow to Hamas, particularly its leaders. By not doing so, Netanyahu may lead the public to perceive this military campaign as a failure, particularly among those in Netanyahu’s right-wing and center-right constituency.
Benn added that the campaign for the next national election has already begun, and that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have begun portraying themselves as “responsible” leaders during this military campaign. In doing so, Benn says, the two seek to distinguish themselves from “crazy right-wingers” who want to drag Israel into a war that would cause numerous deaths on the Israeli side.