Tags: Israel | Middle East | benjamin netanyahu | benny gantz | saudi arabia | avigdor lieberman

Saudi Oil Bombing Might Put Netanyahu Over Top Tuesday

Benjamin Netanyahu throws up both hands in a news conference while president donald trump looks on
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Monday, 16 September 2019 05:54 PM Current | Bio | Archive

With hours to go before roughly six million Israelis go to the polls, the latest surveys showing Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's ruling Likud (conservative) Party in a virtual tie with the Blue and White (center-left) Alliance headed by retired Gen. Benny Gantz.

But both pollsters and politicians are starting to ask whether the breathtaking bombing of Saudi Arabia's oilfields — with increasing evidence this was the work of Israel's arch-enemy Iran — so alarm Israeli voters they will give hardliner Netanyahu enough seats in the 100-member Knesset (parliament) to form a government that lasts.

"Bibi's strength is security," Netanyahu's pollster John McLaughlin told Newsmax in June, recalling how his own polls showed the prime minister's party losing to Gantz and his Alliance on Thursday before the balloting April 9.

But on Tuesday, Election Day, McLaughlin noted, Netanyahu had pulled ahead after the Palestinian group Hamas fired rockets into Israel.

Israeli fears of anything in which Iran is involved might help in the current political contest. McLaughlin also noted Netanyahu was helped in the last election by his hardline opposition to the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran crafted by former President Obama and scrapped by President Donald Trump.

There are second opinions. Former Reagan Administration official Marshall Breger, who has known Netanyahu for four decades, said the Saudi bombing probably helps the prime minister "but not that much. If this were Hamas and the bombing was on Israeli soil, it would be a big boost to him. But an attack by Iran on Saudi soil doesn't mean as much."

Breger sees three issues as determinant of the outcome Tuesday:

  1. Whether Arabs turn out to vote "which they didn't do last time."
  2. Whether there is a larger turnout in Tel Aviv "by liberal yuppies who normally don't care — and their turning out in big numbers would help Netanyahu."
  3. Whether former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's strongly conservative party Yisrael Beiteinu joins a coalition government headed by former friend Netanyahu.

"I don't see Lieberman doing it," Breger said. "He sees himself as prime minister down the road and he has a vision of marrying secularism and nationalism."

Just-completed polls by Channel 12 and Channel 13, Israel's two main commercial stations, showed Netanyahu's Likud and Gantz's Blue and White winning 32 Knesset seats each. The same polls show, with the support of his traditional allies, Netanyahu would have 59 seats — two short of the "magic 61" he needs to form a government.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Pollsters and politicians speculate the bombing of Saudi Arabia's oilfields alarm Israeli voters to give hardliner Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enough seats in the 100-member Knesset (parliament) to form a government that lasts, Newsmax's John Gizzi reports.
benjamin netanyahu, benny gantz, saudi arabia, avigdor lieberman
Monday, 16 September 2019 05:54 PM
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