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Operation 'Save Netanyahu'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting police investigations into corruption by delegitimizing the police and legal systems and by preparing for early elections.
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The ring of criminal investigations is closing in on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leaving him very little room to maneuver. At this stage, most other people would throw up their hands and find a quick exit, if only to stay out of prison. Netanyahu continues navigating this stormy sea and planning his rescue strategy or, at least, planning some significant delay of the inevitable. As of now, Netanyahu’s strategy consists of three parallel components: questioning the legitimacy of the gatekeepers, particularly the police, the attorney general’s office and the media; tightening coordination with the US administration and creating the impression that when it comes to Israel’s relationship with US President Donald Trump, there is no alternative to Netanyahu; and holding a snap election to increase his strength or, at the very least, signal to the attorney general what the people really want.

Let’s start with the election. Netanyahu does not want to be seen as someone who is dragging Israel into a new round of elections just to save his skin, when he has a year and eight months until the end of his term in November 2019. This is why the serious coalition crisis that erupted this weekend was not only timely — it was exactly what he needed. The crisis revolves around a spat between Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the ultra-Orthodox Yahadut HaTorah party, led by Yaakov Litzman, over the enlistment law that is designed to exempt ultra-Orthodox youth from conscription. While the spat is making all the other members of the coalition nervous, Netanyahu has been able to maintain an unusually calm demeanor. According to a political source talking on condition of anonymity, Netanyahu has even informed his coalition partners that “if things don’t work out over the next few days, we will be forced to take it to the voters.”

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