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Netanyahu’s election strategy: Play the victim, or hero?

Associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believe that his campaign of being a victim of police and media persecution has run its course and that he should focus on presenting his achievements as an international leader.
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a tough dilemma ahead of the March 2 Knesset elections. One option is to launch an all-out, no-holds-barred war against the country’s legal system, trampling what few red lines are still intact. The other is to abandon the militant, anarchistic line he has adopted, desist from all attacks on law enforcers and revert to a dignified, statesmanlike course, underscoring his many achievements as prime minister, his unprecedented international standing and great experience in navigating the ship of state. Netanyahu is finding it hard to decide which of the options to choose.

Netanyahu will soon find himself facing a T-junction, a starkly decisive moment. This will likely be Netanyahu’s final election campaign, and perhaps his most important one. He is under heavy pressure from two different directions. His family and associates think he should take off the gloves and opt for a full-steam-ahead campaign claiming his innocence, in the hopes that the masses of Likud party supporters who stayed home on Election Day in September will rush to support the leader March 2 and save him from jail. A different kind of pressure is being exerted by senior Likud figures and his strategic advisers who are openly deterred by the continued storming of the state’s national institutions and the crushing of its regulators and gatekeepers. “That issue has been played out,” one of Netanyahu’s shadow advisers told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “It was not successful last time and will be even less so next time. Netanyahu has plenty to show and boast of, his continued storming of the state’s institutions will put off voters rather than draw them closer.”

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