'Although the attacks in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq added some fuel to Bibi's campaign fire, he is coming around to the idea of a unity government with Kahol Lavan's leaders – at least, some of them
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looked hale and hearty this week, according to people who saw him and spoke to him. The more security tensions escalated and captured headlines, the more his self-confidence soared. In conversations with political colleagues, he sounded more optimistic than he had since the onset of the election campaign. His goal – of winning 61 Knesset seats for the bloc, with Likud garnering at least 35 of them – seemed achievable to him.
The attacks in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, some of them open and official, others less so, and the saber-rattling in the direction of Iran and Hezbollah, were fuel for the fire of his campaign. Netanyahu piled on the video clips. In a black polo shirt in the field alongside the chief of staff and the generals, or suited up in his office, he was heavy on warnings – but only for the enemies to the north and east. With them, he upped the ante and sharpened the tone.
When it came to Hamas, however, and the various wayward groups in the Gaza Strip that continued to hammer the neighboring communities in southern Israel, the premier was almost silent. People in Sderot will continue to vote for him no matter what, and the kibbutzim in that area are left-wing anyway, so he’s alright. The instability in the north helps him in terms of public opinion, whereas the situation involving Gaza doesn’t help him – but also doesn’t cost him, in terms of support.
In addition to his preoccupation with the military arenas, Netanyahu this week initiated the decisive campaign on two political fronts – one among the religious-Zionist community, and the other, among Israel’s Russian speakers. In the past four election campaigns, from 2009 until April 2019, about half the seats Likud won came from national-religious voters and from immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The importance of those reservoirs of support for Likud cannot be overestimated, especially given Avigdor Lieberman’s departure from the rightist-ultra-Orthodox camp that was once his home.'
Read more: A Looming War Lifts Netanyahu's Spirits
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