Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s, top priority since he retook office in March of 2009, has been Israel’s security. During his time in office he has proven to have gained authoritative power with such policies like his anti-media populism. Although he is a leader tainted by corruption allegations, he claims to have Israel’s best interest in mind, having continual support due to the omnipresent threats in the surrounding area.
Although Mr. Netanyahu has claimed his main focus to be representing the Jewish population, concerned about their safety while fighting to protect the land that he believes to be rightfully Israel’s, he has exerted authoritative power over the news industry in Israel, shutting down news outlets to better his own image. Recently a political cartoon of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surfaced showing him stretched out on a psychologist’s couch and clutching TV sets, radios and newspapers to his chest. According to the Washington Post, this cartoon clearly represents what Israelis think about Netanyahu’s fantastical obsession with the media, as he tries to weaken and control Israel’s small news industry. Netanyahu has made accusations of “fake news”, ultimately believing that the news outlets in Israel are trying to expose him and the scandals surrounding him as well as attempting to shed a negative light on him. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog believes “this is a blow to the most important part of democracy-the news,”
Recently the prime minister has been surrounded by a series of scandals which police have called Case 1000 and Case 2000. Despite the accusations, ongoing investigation, and the witness statement that was made by Ari Harow, the prime minister’s chief of staff, Mr. Netanyahu has vehemently denied any wrongdoings, worrying more about his image and political stability than the indictment he may face, Mr. Netanyahu stands accused of allegedly offering a newspaper owner commercial favours in return for positive coverage of him. He has also been accused of failing to disclose his ties to key actors in a merger deal involving the state telecommunications company, Bezeq. Although Mr. Netanyahu has been called “the magician” for surviving in high positions for so many years he has negated rivals from right and left and recently experienced a decrease in popularity on the streets, an obstacle that may stand in the way of him securing a fifth term. He is dependent on the far right and is so politically vulnerable that he is making decisions that can possibly put his entire country at risk.
On October 29, 2017 the Israeli Prime Minister used his power to delay the vote on the ‘Greater Jerusalem’ law that would expand the municipal borders of Jerusalem without annexing this new land. The law would cause a significant increase in the Jewish Israeli population, but has used his ministerial power to delay the vote in order to hold diplomatic preparations with the American government. Determined “to fight Iran’s terrorism, [and] prevent it from establishing itself near [Israel’s] border,” he said in a speech to honor the victims of the two bombings of Jewish communities, by Iran, in Argentina in 1992 and 1994, Netanyahu has used his political power to help influence and urge other world powers to either renegotiate or pull out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. He has also commented to President Putin that “with joint efforts we are defeating Islamic State, and this is a very important thing. But the bad thing is that where the defeated Islamic State group vanishes, Iran is stepping in.” Netanyahu has also used his power to thwart the Palestinian peace reconciliation, telling the Palestinians that they will not accept a “bogus” deal, but may consider accepting it if Hamas recognizes Israel, gives up its armed force, and cuts ties with Iran. With no further negotiations being made, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues, with Mr. Netanyahu not making any changes to his terms.
Despite publicly claiming to be a democratic leader of the people, recent events have caused Israelis and others to wonder if Prime Minister Netanyahu is beginning to take on more authoritative power, claiming that he is trying to represent Israel and keeping Israel’s best interests in mind.