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Is A Military Coup Against Netanyahu Taking Place In Israel?

The Israeli establishment is not happy with Netanyahu’s conduct

Left-wing writer Carolina Landsmann recently lauded the prospect of “a military coup coming to replace Netanyahu” in an opinion piece for Haaretz. Meanwhile, the firmly rightist son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yair Netanyahu, described recent events in Israel as a “legal putsch” and compared them to the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey.

“In Turkey they are taking tanks out into the streets, here they have no need because they control the police and the prosecutor’s office,” Yair wrote on social media.

Yair has previously warned of a “deep state” working to undermine Prime Minister Netanyahu, which includes elements within the Israeli bureaucracy, the judiciary, the intelligence agencies and the military. For over a year, Benjamin Netanyahu has been the subject of a politically-motivated investigation by Israeli police and Israel’s Attorney General, despite the latter being his own appointee.

However, in order to remove one of Israel’s most popular Prime Ministers from power, Netanyahu’s opponents will likely have to secure victory at the ballot box in April’s general election, perhaps by taking advantage of a strategically timed indictment. Israel’s traditional opposition party, the Labor Party, has collapsed in the polls and is now projected to win as few as 5 seats, a far cry from its current 19. Desperate to oust Netanyahu, the Israeli opposition appears to have now united behind a cabal of Israeli generals who had formerly served under Netanyahu but now seek his downfall.

The leader of the new movement is Israel Resilience Party leader Benny Gantz, who headed up the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from 2011 to 2015. Gantz has also cut a deal to run on a joint ticket with another former IDF head and defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, head of the Telem party. The two generals are now working on bringing a third former IDF head, Gabi Ashkenazi; a fourth general,  Yom-Tov Samia, head of the small Beyahad party; and the centrist Yesh Atid party, led by news anchor Yair Lapid, into their pact.

Together, polls suggest the alliance would have a chance of beating Netanyahu and bringing an end to his nationalist-populist agenda. Netanyahu has responded by urging a deal between his coalition partner Jewish Home and other small right-wing parties such as the National Union, the ultra-Orthodox religious party Yachad, and the ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit in order to maximize the number of members of the Knesset supporting his government.

Written by Dan Weissman

Dan Weissman is the managing editor of The Schpiel.

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