The Reign of 'King Bibi': What's Next?

Pundits square off over how Netanyahu's victory will affect Israel, the world
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2015 12:45 PM CDT
The Reign of 'King Bibi': What's Next?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office, March 8, 2015.   (AP Photo/Gali Tibbon, Pool)

It appears that Benjamin Netanyahu can claim a stunning victory in yesterday's election, nabbing a fourth term as prime minister. But there are conflicting views on what his grip on the reins means for Israel and, by extension, the rest of the world. What some are saying:

  • Not optimistic: Dan Perry, who writes for the AP that Netanyahu's history and recent rhetoric about not allowing a Palestinian state doesn't "bode well for prospects of peace with the Palestinians or a rapprochement between Israel and the region." He mentions that Israel is headed "on a course toward ever deeper confrontation with the world," and that the continuing expected fight between Israel's hard-liners and left-leaners is "Israel's existential dilemma," a situation in which "Israelis have despaired of peace and politicians increasingly address the Palestinian matter with evasion, mendacity, or doubletalk."
  • "Maybe from [the US] perspective, the newly honest Netanyahu government isn't such a bad thing," Paul Waldman writes at the Washington Post. "American governments can give up the endlessly frustrating task of trying to negotiate a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, because the Israeli leader is now on record saying he wants the occupation to be permanent." Waldman notes this election was a game-changer, showing Americans that the Israeli issue is indeed partisan and that "blindly supporting whatever position the Israeli government takes on any issue isn't good enough anymore."

  • "The reign of 'King Bibi'" carries on, Herb Keinon writes for the Jerusalem Post—but not because he's a beloved leader in touch with the average Israeli's issues: He won "because most of the country agrees with his basic message: The region is dangerous; Iran is a threat; the Palestinians are not really interested in peace; Israel needs a leader who will stand his ground." Also, the first call Keinon thinks Netanyahu should make: one to President Obama to thaw the chill that's only worsened since the PM's speech to Congress about Iran.
  • Michael Shear isn't so sure that kind of reset is even possible in "one of [Obama's] trickiest, most fraught relationships with any world leader," he writes for the New York Times. Although the US and Israel are publicly still standing shoulder-to-shoulder, aides say the two leaders "have never become close," and Shear believes Obama is faced with one of two choices: try one more time to get their relationship back on track, or "write off the Israeli prime minister" as he has Vladimir Putin.
  • Looking forward to what Bibi will bring to the table this time around is Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who writes for Fox News that Netanyahu's "respectful and masterful speech" in front of Congress "reminded everyone that he has earned his place on the international stage, no matter how discomfiting his message is to some." Cooper even thinks the PM will reach out to "the very people who tried to topple him," as that would be a very "Churchillian thing to do."
(More Israel stories.)

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