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Netanyahu channeling Trump in Israel's election campaign


JERUSALEM: Seeking re-election beneath a cloud of felony investigations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to be channeling his internal Donald Trump in an offended campaign in opposition to perceived domestic enemies.

Drawing transparent inspiration from Trump, Netanyahu's Likud party has plastered massive billboards of the 2 leaders in combination and launched a Trump-like weekly webcast to counter what it calls the "faux information'' trade.

The campaign reflects Trump's reputation in Israel, some of the few nations the place an alliance with the bombastic American president is considered a political asset. But it additionally risks undermining the standard bipartisan enhance for Israel among Americans.

Despite his troubles at house, Trump has earned the appreciation of maximum Israelis via spotting Jerusalem as their capital and moving the USA Embassy there. Trump has additional impressed Israelis via taking flight of the world nuclear handle Iran, re-imposing stiff sanctions on the Islamic Republic and vigorously defending Israel in world boards.

"This administration, now not simply Trump, has been the friendliest administration to Israel since 1948,'' mentioned Michael Oren, a deputy minister and previous ambassador to Washington. ``Netanyahu is just tapping into these present global trends of folks living in a global of uncertainty who need robust, every so often brutally robust, leaders.''

Netanyahu and Trump revel in robust personal rapport. Netanyahu additionally turns out to relish the American president's perspective towards the Middle East, now not handiest on Iran but also his hands-off method to the Palestinian issue and Israeli agreement building. After an icy eight-year relationship with Barack Obama, Netanyahu has long past out of his solution to reward Trump at every flip.

He additionally has held his tongue on Trump's quite a lot of scandals, even after a neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, when Trump perceived to defend the movements of white supremacists. On a consult with to Washington, Netanyahu even implored critics to stop questioning Trump over the intended anti-Semitism of some of his supporters.

While Trump's isolationism, in particular his deliberate pullout from Syria, may not be excellent for Israel, his unabashed pro-Israel rhetoric has made him standard regionally, mentioned Nahum Barnea, one in every of Israel's maximum influential columnists.

Beyond a confluence of interests, Trump and Netanyahu seem to share a populist streak in opposition to their nations' extra liberal institutions to the pride of their nationalist bases.

Netanyahu has replied to a chain of corruption investigations with Trump-like assaults on Israeli media, law-enforcement, judiciary and different ``elites'' he believes are bent on his removing. He is fast to deride any critic as a "leftist,'' and, like Trump, has taken to social media to whip up his base.

"Netanyahu is a person who knows how to be told and imitate others and he's been doing it up to now two-three years since Trump rose to power,'' mentioned Barnea. ``He's been some distance harsher in his domestic expressions and he knows that you just create a political victory via pitting one sector in opposition to some other.''

Trump, who recommended Netanyahu in a fawning pre-Israeli election clip in 2013, even ahead of he were given into politics, seems to similarly respect the Israeli chief.

On Instagram, Trump shared a picture of the enormous billboard over the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv that includes the 2 smiling and shaking fingers beneath the slogan ``Netanyahu. In a distinct league.''

More considerably, he's expected to host Netanyahu in a lavish state consult with to Washington shortly ahead of the April nine election in Israel.

In reaction to the billboard commercials, Valerie O'Brien, spokeswoman for the USA Embassy in Israel, clarified that the USA used to be "now not interested in Likud's campaign messages or strategy.''

While really useful within the temporary, some warn the tight alignment with Trump can have unfavorable long-term implications.

Israel, as soon as a supply of cast bipartisan enhance, has change into an an increasing number of divisive issue among Americans in recent times. A poll carried out via the Pew Research Center ultimate year, for example, discovered Republicans extra sympathetic to Israel than Democrats via a just about 3-to-1 margin. Some worry an eventual backlash from Democrats.

"The extra that Democrats don't like Trump, the extra ... he associates himself with, on this case Netanyahu, gets drawn into that equation,'' mentioned Ron Klein, a former congressman who now chairs the Jewish Democratic Council of America. "For the ones of us who are pro-Israel, that is dangerous.''

Netanyahu isn't alone in tapping into Trump's enchantment.

Likud backbencher Oren Hazan just lately mentioned the spotlight of his term used to be the selfie he took with Trump during a 2017 consult with. Even Netanyahu's most sensible challenger, former military chief Benny Gantz, chose a campaign slogan "Israel Before Everything'' that many viewed as echoing ``America First.''

But handiest Netanyahu has molded his politics in Trump's image.

He has lengthy had a rocky relationship with the media and accuses it, in conjunction with police and prosecutors, of being part of a ``leftist'' witch hunt to drive him from place of work. Like Trump, he has additionally long past after former allies, floating conspiracy theories about an alleged deliberate putsch via a Likud rival.


The top minister appears to be modeling his contemporary release of ``Likud TV'' on Trump's ``Real News Update,'' a weekly webcast on Facebook hosted via the president's daughter-in-law to counterbalance what the administration deems a adverse media. Netanyahu's first clip made dismissive references about police investigations into alleged corruption via the top minister.


Police have advisable indicting Netanyahu on 3 corruption instances, and Israel's attorney general is anticipated to announce his resolution whether to fee him ahead of the elections.


Back in 2009, it used to be Obama who offered inspiration to Israeli campaigners. An ultra-Orthodox Jewish party translated ``yes we will'' into its campaign slogan and Netanyahu designed his Web web page after Obama's. But a decade later, Trump is the hot commodity.


"It's part of the Americanization of our politics. The difference is that Israeli campaigns stole tactics from Obama but still maintained a certain distance from him,'' said Barnea. "Trump is considered `one in every of us.'''


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