“Desperate and craven,” “duplicity,” “outrageous,” “demagogy,” “inflammatory,” “subversive,” and “fear-mongering.”
Those are just some of the harsh words the New York Times used to rip apart the Israeli prime minister in a scathing editorial following a nearly complete count of votes which showed Israelis had handed Benjamin Netanyahu a decisive win in Tuesday’s elections.
The editorial board described Netanyahu as “desperate, and craven, enough to pull out all the stops,” because on Monday he had promised that if he was reelected he would oppose the creation of a Palestinian state contrary to a speech he had delivered in 2009 stating the opposite.
The paper derided Netanyahu for “aggressively” building Israeli settlements and “never engaging seriously in negotiations.”
“But his statement this week laid bare his duplicity, confirmed Palestinian suspicions and will make it even harder for him to repair his poisoned relations with President Obama, who has invested heavily in pushing a two-state solution,” the editorial board wrote.
The paper slammed the prime minister for a Tuesday plea to his supporters to head to the polls, saying Arab Israeli voters were being bused to the polls by foreign government-funded organizations. Arab citizens of Israel vote nearly universally for left-wing parties. Netanyahu later said that while he had no issue with all citizens voting, both Arab and Jew, the organized, foreign-funded effort could skew the results away from “the true will of Israeli citizens.”
The Times op-ed titled “An Israeli Election Turns Ugly” included these descriptions:
Mr. Netanyahu added to the ugliness of the campaign when, during Tuesday’s voting, he said in a video on social media: “Right-wing rule is in danger. Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations.” This outrageous appeal to hard-line voters implied that only he could save Israel from its enemies, including the country’s Arab citizens, who represent 20 percent of the population and have long been discriminated against. […]
Netanyahu’s demagogy further incites the rage that has torn the country apart. There were other inflammatory moments in recent days. Mr. Netanyahu claimed that nefarious foreign sources were trying to overthrow him and also promised to build more settlements, which most of the world consider to be illegal. Earlier this month, he made a subversive speech before Congress to castigate the Obama administration for seeking a nuclear deal with Iran, but that seems to have done little to enhance his support in Israel.
Though the paper’s editorial board wrote that Netanyahu “has forfeited any claim to representing all Israelis” due to his rejection of a Palestinian state and “his racist rant,” the prime minister’s Likud party scored a resounding victory over its left-wing rival the Zionist Union.
The New York Times did not offer context as to why Israelis might have voted in droves for right-wing parties. For example, their concern about security less than one year after Hamas and other terrorist groups launched thousands of rockets at Israeli communities, the growth of the Islamic State group situated just over the border in Syria and most notably perhaps, an emerging U.S.-led agreement with Iran that would allow the Shiite state to continue enriching uranium.
Israelis fear the specter of an Iranian nuclear weapons capability given that its leaders and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah have repeatedly vowed to annihilate the Jewish state.