Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to call early elections in September followed a “discreet” meeting with leaders of AIPAC, who told him that polls show President Obama heading for reelection in November—so writes Maariv chief diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit, as reported by Noam Sheizaf on the left-wing, English-language Israeli site 972mag.com blog.
Here’s Caspit, as translated by Sheizaf:
Netanyahu’s surprising announcement on the early primaries in the Likud, which fell on his party’s senior member like thunder on a cloudless day, came three days after a discrete meeting he held with the chiefs of AIPAC, that estimated, based on polls, that Barack Obama would also be the next president. Bibi knew he can’t campaign when Obama is in his second term. This [would be] a dangerous gamble. Sheizaf goes on to note that the September 4 Knesset elections will come during the Democratic National Convention, which means that “Instead of the U.S. president possibly playing a role—deliberately or not – in the Israeli elections, Netanyahu will get a chance to play a part in the American one.” No, Noam, it’s not a coincidence.
Speaking of Israeli elections, two new political parties are forming on the right:
One has been announced by Naftali Bennett, former secretary general of the Yesha Settlers Council and a former top aide to Netanyahu. According to Ynet/Yediot, Bennett and former IDF Chief Rabbi Avichai Rontzki are aiming to unite religious and secular Jews in a “new national-Zionist party” that will stand up against NGO and human-rights types who “delegitimize” Israeli soldiers and undermine the state—essentially adopting the definition of civil liberties represented by Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party without its secularist platform. Bennett accuses Netanyahu of undermining legislative efforts to rein in the delegitimizers.
The other new group, according to political sources cited by Maariv, is being planned by the two right-wingers in the right-wing National Union party, former Kahanist Michael Ben-Ari and settler leader Aryeh Eldad, who reportedly refuse to go along with party leader Yaacov Katz’s plan to run in a joint list with the more moderate Bayit Yehudi party, heir to the old National Religious Party.
Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).