DID TRUMP LOSE THE ELECTION FOR NETANYAHU? - ANALYSIS
The posters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv awkwardly remain hanging, like January Christmas decorations or a November sukkah. The results of Tuesday’s election appeared to indicate that the slogan “Netanyahu: In Another League” was not as persuasive as the creative minds in Likud envisioned.
But maybe it was not the slogan that was ineffective, but the relationship itself between Netanyahu and Trump. Ahead of the April election, Trump delivered for Netanyahu recognition of the Golan Heights, a gesture to a consensus of Israelis that was celebrated at a Netanyahu visit to the White House. This time, it was not Netanyahu who Trump sought to meet, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – a courtship that caused many Israelis to question how much influence Netanyahu still has on the president of the United States. Trump tried to set up the meeting – which could have helped his own campaign – but the timing could not have been worse for Netanyahu. Netanyahu even tried releasing new evidence against Iran’s nuclear program, but Trump still said he would meet Rouhani. There was also no on-the-record confirmation of support from the White House for Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley annexation decision, nor did Netanyahu receive the defense pact he sought from the US, making do with only a vague promise from Trump to speak about it the next time they meet. This despite Netanyahu going to London two weeks ago just to meet with the new US defense secretary, Mark Esper.
When Netanyahu needed Trump this time, he did not deliver. Perhaps potential voters thought: “If Bibi isn’t as close with Trump as he used to be, maybe he isn’t so indispensable after all.” Maybe it allowed voters to feel more comfortable making a statement on matters of religion and state with their vote instead. There could have even been voters who decided to stay home. There might also have been right-wing voters who saw the posters and remembered that there are items in Trump’s Middle East peace plan that have not been revealed due to our election, and decided to vote for a party farther to the Right.
If Trump lost the election for Netanyahu, it would prove once again that Israeli and American politics are hopelessly intertwined, regardless if they are in another league.