Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely leave office later this month, after a coalition of small opposition parties, the largest of which is barely half as big as his Likud party, assembled enough votes Wednesday to form a new majority.
He was brought down by rivals on the right.
The key votes were supplied by Yamina, a right-wing party led by former Netanyahu aide Naftali Bennett, and New Hope, a right-wing party led by former Likud member Gideon Sa’ar.
The closest political analogy might be the fate of British Conservative trailblazer Margaret Thatcher, who was ousted by her own party. But Thatcher faltered somewhat in her later years.
The same cannot be said of Netanyahu.
In the last year alone, he guided Israel through the coronavirus pandemic, vaccinating the whole population; he signed peace agreements with nearly half a dozen Arab and Muslim countries; and he led Israel to victory against Iranian-backed Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.
He did all that while facing a corruption trial on flimsy charges manufactured by Israel’s equivalent of the “Deep State” — the permanent bureaucracy and cultural elite that saw Netanyahu’s free-market populism as a threat to its own power.
The Israeli media hate Netanyahu because he enjoyed the support of a free newspaper, Israel Hayom, that undermined their business model. And the American media hate him because he had the chutzpah to stand up to their god, Barack Obama.
Netanyahu won in 2009 because he alone saw the danger that Obama represented to Israel — and to America. He ran on the explicit promise to oppose the pressure Obama, nurtured throughout his career by anti-Israel radicals, would bring to bear on the Jewish state.
He could not stop Obama from negotiating the Iran deal; not even the U.S Senate could do that, though it had the constitutional authority to block it. But he exposed it as a fraud, dangerous to both America and Israel.
Netanyahu also forged a partnership with President Donald Trump that will long be remembered as the pinnacle of U.S.-Israel relations.
The Trump administration recognized Jewish claims to Jerusalem, which Obama had tried to erase on his way out of office. Trump fulfilled his predecessors’ promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and defunded the Palestinian Authority over its refusal to stop subsidizing terrorists.
Through four years of Trump, Israel enjoyed relative peace and quiet. The anti-Israel, antisemitic radicals on American campuses and streets were also silent. The alliance Netanyahu cultivated with Trump was so strong that Israel’s enemies dared not attack.
When Biden took office, he tried to ignore Netanyahu, refusing to call him for weeks and declining to appoint an ambassador. But when war broke out, Netanyahu convinced Biden to keep the UN at bay and let Israel fight.
Netanyahu also built the Israeli economy into an engine of innovation and growth. Before becoming Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, he was also its most successful finance minister, shaping what has become the “start-up nation.”
The American left hated Netanyahu for daring to oppose Obama openly. American conservatives admired him for the same reason: he showed courage and commitment that few Republican leaders, other than Trump, seemed to possess.
When Netanyahu’s opponents attack him, they say: forget his accomplishments, look at his personal problems.
And what were those? In a sea of mediocrity, he had the gall to excel.
He infuriated lesser talents. Before his rivals reached a deal with the Arab Ra’am party — no small feat– he was the first to try.
He was double-crossed by Bennett, the man whose career he made, who will replace him.
This much, at least, can be said for Bennett: at least he sold out for a high price.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new e-book, The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it). His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.