Ne­tanyahu hurt by Al Aqsa back­track

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

THE ANGER on the right wing over last week’s climb­down by the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment on in­stalling metal de­tec­tors on Tem­ple Mount has led to an in­crease in hard-right state­ments from Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu and those close to him.

Likud in­sid­ers be­lieve Mr Ne­tanyahu is con­cerned about los­ing his base to ri­vals such as De­fence Min­is­ter Avig­dor Lieber­man and Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Naf­tali Ben­nett.

While the prime min­is­ter acted ac­cord­ing to the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Shin Bet se­cu­rity ser­vice and the IDF when de­cid­ing to re­move the metal de­tec­tors that he him­self had or­dered only ten days ear­lier, he is wor­ried about the grow­ing at­tacks from right-wing com­men­ta­tors ac­cus­ing him of show­ing “weak­ness” in the face of Pales­tinian vi­o­lence and Arab pres­sure.

Per­haps the most stark ex­am­ple of the right’s move against the PM was the head­line last week in Yis­rael Hayom, a tabloid which through­out its ten years of ex­is­tence has been slav­ishly loyal to Mr Ne­tanyahu. The head­line read: “Ne­tanyahu’s dis­play of im­po­tence”.

In the hope of shoring up his base, the prime min­is­ter has made a se­ries of con­tro­ver­sial state­ments in re­cent days, in many cases con­tra­dict­ing his own pre­vi­ous po­si­tions. In a visit to the fam­ily of three Is­raelis mur­dered in Halamish, he said he was in favour of ex­e­cut­ing the per­pe­tra­tor. Last year, how­ever, he voted against the death sen­tence for ter­ror­ists.

Sources close to Mr Ne­tanyahu also leaked that he had pro­posed to the Amer­i­cans swap­ping ar­eas in which Is­raeli-Arabs live for set­tle­ments. Four years ago, when Mr Lieber­man pro­posed such an idea at the UN, his of­fice made it clear that was not Is­raeli pol­icy. And de­spite fre­quently cit­ing the free­dom of press in Is­rael, in a state­ment, Mr Ne­tanyahu called for the Al Jazeera of­fices in Is­rael to be closed, ac­cus­ing the net­work of in­cit­ing vi­o­lence.

In re­cent days, Mr Ne­tanyahu has also said he will per­son­ally en­sure the con­tro­ver­sial na­tion-state law is passed by the Knes­set. And fol­low­ing the rul­ing of the IDF ap­peals court on Sun­day against the He­bron Shooter, Elor Azaria, he called for the for­mer sol­dier to be par­doned, with­out even tak­ing the trou­ble to crit­i­cise his ac­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to Likud sources, the prime min­is­ter is not only re­spond­ing to crit­i­cism over his Tem­ple Mount climb­down, but is also wor­ried he may soon be in­dicted for ac­cept­ing ex­pen­sive gifts from mil­lion­aires. He in­tends to re­main in of­fice, even if in­dicted, but will need the con­tin­ued sup­port of his right-wing coali­tion to do so.

Bibi is con­cerned about los­ing his base

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