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JERUSALEM: A week before Israel’s fifth general election in less than four years, one question has dominated.

Polls show he will likely need strong support from the country’s rising far-right to form a government. One expert warned that this scenario would spell “doom” for Israeli democracy.

Netanyahu served as prime minister for a total of 15 years. This is the record of his 74-year history in Israel. He was then ousted in June 2021 by a ragtag coalition of ideologically divided political parties united only to oppose him.

Popularly known as “Bibi,” he was an ally of former U.S. President Donald Trump, a dominant force that has seen Israeli politics shift to the right and negotiations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have all but stalled. was a good instructor.

Despite being on trial for corruption and treason, he denied the accusations and undeterred by his failure to secure a majority government in four consecutive elections, Netanyahu vowed to come back.

Opposition leader and head of parliament’s largest right-wing Likud party, the 73-year-old with a reputation as a cunning strategist has worked to capitalize on divisions within the coalition.

The unlikely post-Netanyahu government included religious nationalists, centrists, leftists, and independent Arab parties for the first time in Israeli history.

Netanyahu defeated them by ordering his parliamentary allies to vote against it, even though they all ideologically supported it.

The Likud chief rightfully bet that a deeply divided coalition over the occupation would solve the problem.

‘Most important election’

Naftali Bennett stepped down as prime minister in June, saying his government could no longer be maintained.

The collapse of the coalition marked a clear tactical victory for Netanyahu, but polls show he and his allies may again struggle to secure a 61-seat majority in the Knesset .

Importantly, there appears to be no way for a Netanyahu-led government without support from the far-right alliance known as Religious Zionism.

The bloc has a history of using inflammatory anti-Arab rhetoric, and Itamar Ben-Ben, who praised Baruch Goldstein for the mass murder of Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994. Includes Guvir.

“Netanyahu is arguably the most important election because he is allied with a racist party, and this would be a disaster for Israeli democracy,” said Gail Tarsir, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It’s possible,” he said.

“The result could be the most extreme right-wing government Israel has ever had,” she told AFP.

The 58-year-old former TV host who leads the centrist Yesh Atid party has seen signs of growing support during his brief tenure as caretaker prime minister.

He hosted US President Joe Biden, met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, and signed a maritime border agreement with hostile northern neighbor Lebanon.

Rapid also oversaw a three-day military operation against Islamic jihadists in the blockaded Gaza Strip, a success in the eyes of many Israelis.

vie for a seat

“Rapid has chosen to watch this election from above from the prime minister’s office,” wrote columnist Naham Barnea for the major daily The Idiot Arlonot.

“He chose to let everyone else run around, sweat, get their hands dirty, and make mistakes while playing the role of a responsible adult.

“That restrained stance helped boost Yesh Atid in the polls, but not the anti-Bibi Bloc.”

Opinion polls late last week put Yesh Atid on track to win 24 seats, a record for the party’s personal list.

But the path to 61 seats for the anti-Netanyahu camp remains unclear as well, and will almost certainly require another fragile deal among ideological opponents.

Under Israel’s proportional representation system, lists must exceed a threshold of 3.25% of the vote to secure a minimum of four seats.

Some research shows that each of the three Arab-led parties that have decided not to run as unity blocs is teetering over the cut-off point at which they could be kicked out of parliament.

Such an outcome could tip the balance of power in favor of Netanyahu.

A tireless campaigner, Netanyahu was gathering Likud supporters at a local theater in the northern city of Migdalhemek on Sunday.

On election day, calling for strong Likud voter turnout, he told his party loyalists: Will Netanyahu make a comeback in next week’s Israeli vote?

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