Israels Indispensable Prime Minister?


They from the New York Times, I'm Michael Barr. This is the daily. Today. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces federal indictment over an alleged scheme involving reason acts of bribery and fraud. So why are so many Israelis ready to elect? It's Wednesday March twenty seven. I think the only way people would vote for someone under indictment is if they can't live without him. If they think he's indispensable David hell finger is the Jerusalem bureau chief for the times. And if you really want to understand how Benjamin Netanyahu developed this idea that he's the indispensable is really leader. You've got to go all the way back to the early nineteen nineties when he first arrived on the scene gentleman Arafah champion of the executive council of the Palestine Liberation Organization is excellent Rabin, prime minister of Israel, the president of the United States when the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is getting going. The first time really ever, Prime Minister, Rabin terminology. Foreign Minister Peres there's this breakthrough moment of the Oslo accords today. We bear witness to an extraordinary act in one of history's defining dramas and those accords as we know provided for Israel to begin to start pulling out from the occupied territories in Gaza and the West Bank and the goal was this would eventually lead to apostasy state. I remember watching this historic moment at the White House. And I think everyone who watched it and process it in the days and weeks later thought this is truly a turning point in the history of the Middle East, Israel and the Palestinians. That's right, but Netanyahu didn't see it that way to him as low was dangerous risk of big mistake. The government is gone too far too fast. And most people say hold it. It's right at this time that Netanyahu emerges on the Israeli political scene. Taking over the. Likud party warning against how unwise and foolhardy these Oslo accords would prove or Israel. He's. Into a really closely contested race in nineteen Ninety-six with just days to go before the Israeli actions. Campaign fever is sweeping the country Netanyahu who's against Peres peace agreement with the Palestinians is sending his own vision of secure future for Israel and. It took a split second and twenty two pounds of TNT to transform a tech commuter bus Russia traffic into a pile of twisted middle of blood, the attack the bloodiest in Israel in nearly twenty years came just three months with Lauren Israeli general election. There were suicide bombings by Palestinians that were leaving scores of Israelis dead. It was bloody awful off to the latest bombing. Israel's opposition leader urged his release to be restrained. Trying to break these they won't make and he was the guy who had been warning against precisely this kind of thing. He goes to sleep one night thinking that he's lost the race any wakes up the next prime minister of Israel, Benjamin, BB Netanyahu, Forty-six thrice-married, father of three right-wing politician. And now Israeli Prime Minister. This is the big. Jews. And is it the view David that Netanyahu one precisely because of his skepticism about making peace with the Palestinians that he was giving voice to something that may be many Israelis privately agreed with I think, that's right? I think that you know, as much as people want to embrace optimism and hope and did then I think he figured out a way to tap into that visceral gut level fear. I mean violence does happen here. This is a very small country. It's the size of New Jersey roughly in area and in population. And it's been fighting wars, you know, as long as it's been around and everybody here knows somebody who lost somebody, you know, every time one of those buses blew up until vivere Jerusalem or a cafe exploded. Everybody knows somebody who didn't survive. So with that kind of a populous with that kind of an audience Netanyahu's message is very powerful. And what happens to the peace talks? Once Netanyahu is elected in ninety six for four days. The world has wondered what will happen to the Mideast peace process now that the right wing is back in power. So he gets in and having maybes warnings. Now is the leader of the state of Israel, which depends heavily on the United States whose administration under Bill Clinton was very much interested in pursuing peace. So where does that leave Netanyahu? He basically slow ox? I can tell you that we negotiating earnestly, but I cannot at this time. Predict an end I hope that the other side shows goodwill. We certainly have showed it resists. He slows things down. He expresses reservations. Would be very careful. When alternately because Israel is so dependent on the United States at that point position is to. Not only move on the peace process, but also improve the prosperity economic. Conditions of the Palestinian population. He does get pressured into shaking our hand into striking deal in Hebron, and I believe that we can advance to achieve both goals for the benefit of both peoples. And it's those concessions which inflame his own base the right wing of Israel against him. And when it comes time for him to get reelected in eighteen ninety nine that beg that actions is disappointed with nipping. A lot of them desert him, and he goes down the aisle lost elections and his own coalition actually against him. He's bound set of office and he sent into the wilderness. It seems like it could be the end of his political life. So Netanyahu having run on a campaign of skepticism about the peace process is kind of strong armed into engaging in it in a small way an experience is a huge back that cost him politically. What is the lesson for him? Well, the lesson is you don't get anywhere by participating in the process. You don't believe in. I think that's the lesson that he carries with him to this day. So what happens next objective now is to put the peace process back on all its tracks. Israel tries again for peace talks under President Clinton with a hood, Barack stormed Israeli American relationship must be Colin stone. On which to build a peaceful Middle East. Mr President the road ahead may belong and urge us but together without peace partners. We can and will make it happen. There's this stork deal on the table in two thousand but the talks collapse. We have received five casualties so far. One of the country's suffering multiple parents. She's now. Delayed excessive best we have gone patient wave burns, and we have three other patients who have been on. And later that year the Palestinians resume their terror attacks against Israel. Narrowed lanky traveled such strange and a working class area of wish truce of the second. Intifada begins more deaths and suffering on Jason streets, inevitably more fear and hatred or this retired out on stretches and in black plastic bags, and that's really three years of carnage inside Israel. He explosion ripped through the crowded, boss, throwing bodies and wreckage across the road. The bombing was probably tied out. Is yet another active on tick Qatar killings of overwhelming was like she had this. This is what led the Israelis ultimately to build the barrier wall separating Israel from much of the West Bank. All this time Netanyahu is watching sort of once again seeing his philosophy his beliefs about the Palestinians and the prospects for peace, essentially being vindicated. When I left office. I had time to so I went around the world, and I saw what everybody was doing. And when I was offered this opportunity. I said, okay. So he returns the scene as the finance minister. But I need to run the economic cabinet because that gives me the ability to to actually make the decisions, you know, it's a kind of a thankless job. You'd think this is the guy who has to raise taxes, but actually Netanyahu comes into the finance ministry. We cut spending he cuts taxes cut welfare. He cuts the blow to bureaucracy over the pension funds of the unions, which were natural bankruptcy. He privatize industries raise the retirement age for men and women, and he really lays the groundwork for what would be widely praised across the spectrum here as an economic miracle for Israel economy last quarter who five point five percent stock market has more than doubled grown one hundred percent, and twelve months, and and monies. Flowing in investment is coming in Israel is a very very good deal. He develops this new kind of gravitas and regains the leadership of the right wing party. Likud this ceremony Wednesday Benjamin Netanyahu took over as prime minister of the Middle Eastern nation and in two thousand nine he's able to win the job. And he was the next prime minister. And even what does Netanyahu do once. He's back in power as prime minister. I have to imagine that given his vindication from the nineties with the peace process and once again in the mid two thousands. He's kind of hardened in this unwillingness to engage in negotiations with the Palestinians. Yeah. I mean, it's in this time when he really kind of masters, the art of his form of politics at stake is not merely the future of my country at stake is the future of the world and nothing could imperil our common future more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons. He's got this incredible ability to stir the fears of his rallies, their basic, existential fears to understand what the world would be like with a nuclear armed, Iran. Just imagine the world with a nuclear armed al-qaeda. He's masterly in his management of the Israeli economy. Israel is the fastest growing one of the MO. The most dynamic entrepreneurial and innovation based economy on the planet that and he starts getting reelected again. And again with relative ease election day in Israel, and it appears Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will get another term in office. And it's also in this period that Netanyahu really cements the idea that he is truly indispensable to Israel. My friends I've come here to because as prime minister of Israel. I feel a profound obligated to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people. He picks a fight with the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal. It doesn't block in Vence path to the bomb. It paves you Ron's path through the bone. So why would anyone make this deal? He goes so far as to go to congress, and to challenge Obama publicly we've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It's a very bad. We're better off without it. Ultimately what happens he wins? Obama leaves office. My number one priority is to dismantle the disasters deal with Iran. Trump comes in Trump, basically echoes everything that who's been saying in just a short period of time, the world's leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world's most dangerous weapons and low and behold, therefore, I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, the United States exit from the nuclear deal and in two thousand sixteen Donald Trump promised at his convention, speech, alone can fix it only. I can fix it. A year later Netanyahu can say to his Railly's only I could have pulled this off only I could have stood up to an American president on his signature issue and been vindicated. You know, because I know the. American. So well, they get me only. I coulda done it. And there he is again, the indispensable man. And when who says that it feels true, right? Yeah. No, I have to say, yes. Earlier this year put these giant billboards up for his campaign showing him alongside Trump, you know, they're like six or eight stories high each of them. And I think when many Israelis think about what he accomplished pushing back against the Iran deal. I think you know, he is that large in their minds. No, prime minister could have done that except BB. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He's held the post for nine years. But now his political future seems at best uncertain Vesta to say there's now sufficient evidence to charge Netanyahu for bribery fraud, and breach of public trust. The next step now will be for the attorney general here to either reject or accept the police recommendation calling for an indictment. Huge breaking news out of Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be indicted. Sounds like the story of prime minister who is experiencing tremendous success. And who is delivering very well on this message of indispensability that's at the center of his political life. So what exactly goes wrong, I think in hindsight somewhere along the way as he's growing in stature, really fast and really big in the eyes of his people in the eyes of the rest of the world. You know, he starts to believe exactly how indispensable he is trying to convince Israel as he is starts to really identify himself with Israel, and that's not just taking personally what happens to Israel. That's thinking that you know, what's good for you is good for the country. And there's an arrogance to that as well. Six weeks. Now Israelis have been demonstrating against the prime minister crime minister as they've affectionately nicknamed him. You know, there's two things that start to get him into trouble. According to what we've been learning in the recent months for one thing, he develops a taste for the trappings of power. There's the sense that he and members of his family. They feel that somebody who is as exalted a leader on the world stage should be treated accordingly. There's a steady stream of gifts that he's accused of accepting from billionaires and Hollywood moguls who is friends with and so on luxuriant champagne for the lady and find cigars for the gentleman. There's like jewelry arriving in the prime minister's residence for his wife, there's tens of thousands of dollars worth of cigars. They're champagne and then case number two Netanyahu reportedly struck a deal with a major newspaper way in return. For more favorable coverage. He would weaken a rival newspaper us the second thing is if you're the indispensable man, but you see impediments to your continuing to lead, and those impediments might be in the form of critical fractious news media. Well, how do you get around that maybe want to bend? The news media to your will. And you'll look for ways to do that. How does that work? Exactly. So there are just countless examples of this. But one that really stands out for me goes back to election day the last time in two thousand fifteen he put up a video on election day at self. She's going to gonna let's Vima of million becoming the local where he speaks to camera and says you got to come out, and we'll talk to small you to the Bill to boost the Arabs are being bussed to the polls in droves. They're not allowed to advertise in the last number of days of Israel election. But Walla news this news website over. Which Netanyahu is wielding enormous influence in control while news is prevailed upon to run this Facebook video on its homepage prominently all day long now. And who knows how many people saw that got right out and voted so no other candidate can advertise at this point. But this video kind of serves as a kind of advertisement for Netanyahu through a media organization that he's got this essentially bribery arrangement with. That's right. That's the allegation, and what do we know about how this was coordinated by Netanyahu or people around him so much of this has been reported because the prosecutors have turned state witnesses out of some of whose closest aides his media advisor, his deputy in the communications ministry. I mean, the guy who is running back and forth allegedly between the family and the newsroom's. You know, there are conversations with prime ministers wiretap talking to some of the. Guys. There's just apparently a massive trove of evidence that we're not gonna see until after the election. But I think you know, from the way it's been reported up till now it's going to be pretty damning. How do you think about these two things existing side by side these extremely damning allegations of corruption bribery fraud and an Israeli electorate that may very well still be poised to reelect the man who allegedly committed those acts. So I think that is really are just having a very difficult time imagining the next thing. Netanyahu has been in office for ten years. He's done really well by the average Israeli and Netanyahu himself has become this huge towering figure that. I mean, there is nobody else on the scene. You know, the man challenging him this former army chief, he's got lots of stature, he's very tall. But Netanyahu's image just dwarfs the guy. And so for Israelis, no matter. I mean, they take these charges seriously. But it is very very hard for them to think about anybody else in that job, and that really for many people I think when they go into the ballot box. It's going to be hard for them to get past that that idea up against Netanyahu is this new party is led by a bunch of generals who are promising Isreaeli voters that they know how to keep them safe that their security is in good hands. But Netanyahu's telling people, I know, you, I know your fears trust your fears, and you can only trust me. To keep you safe. And it seems to be working. It's worked for him so many times, and it just might one more. David. Thank you very much. Michael spit be with you. Hailing shows that the Israeli election scheduled for April. Ninth remains extremely close in the days leading up to the election Netanyahu has received political assistance from President Trump who broke with decades of US foreign policy by recognizing Israel's authority over the goal on heights long, a source of international controversy during a ceremony at the White House this week if Netanyahu is reelected he could become Israel's first sitting prime minister to face criminal prosecution. We'll be right back. Turbo. Tax live a new wave doing taxes gives you access to real tax experts. Yes. Actual human CPA's EA's on demand to provide you with answers and advice you need to ensure your filing your return correctly. They're tax experts. Get to know you. So they can give you personalized suggestions. And find all the deductions you deserve with. Turbo. Tax live. You have an expert by your side. Turbo. Tax live with CPA's in e as on demand. See details. Turbo tax dot com. Here's what else you need to in an unexpected move. Let Trump administration is waging a new attack on the Affordable Care Act telling a federal court that it now believes the entire law should be invalidated in the past. The administration has asked courts to strike down individual elements of the but to leave the rest of law in place last night in federal court. The Justice department of the Trump administration that had more to do decided not only to try to destroy protections for preexisting conditions, but to tear down every last benefit and protection, the ACA affords, the timing could benefit Democrats who were already planning to campaign for the presidency on a message of saving the ACA and it could hurt. Republicans who fear the decision may anger. Situates who have come to rely on the ACA if the court agrees with the administration's request millions of Americans could lose their health insurance a possibility that house speaker Nancy Pelosi was quick to highlight. And the department of Justice becomes the department of injustice when it wants to tear down health care benefits. And the times reports that Purdue pharma and the family that owns the Sackler will pay nearly two hundred seventy five million dollars to settle a landmark lawsuit over its bestselling drug Oxycontin, the lawsuit filed by the state of Oklahoma alleges that Purdue encourage doctors to prescribe Oxycontin while underplaying. It's addictive properties. Thereby fuelling the opioid epidemic that his killed hundreds of thousands of Americans much of the settlement will be used to finance a research center focused on treating addiction. That's it for the daily. I'm Michael Barbaro seat tomorrow. I'm Michelle Goldberg, I'm Ross Dowsett. And I'm David Leonhardt. We're the hosts of the argument new podcast from the New York Times opinion section. These days it's more important than ever to listen to people who disagree with you. Maybe they'll teach you something new or maybe they'll just teach you how to beat them. So listen to the argument from the New York Times subscribe on apple podcasts or wherever you like to listen.

Coming up next