Only the Right Wing Can Bring Netanyahu Down – and He Knows It

Israeli social media is agog with an acrimonious debate pitting nationalist commentators against each other over the question of whether they are more right-wingers or “Bibistim.”

Two near-simultaneous events have spurred this conversation, which is being egged on by an unemployed 28-year-old conspiracy theorist who lives with his parents.

– Annexation vexation comes between Bibi and the settlers

LISTEN: Annexation vexation comes between Bibi and the settlersHaaretz

The first event was the swearing-in of the new government last month, and with it the final rupture between Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett, leading to the latter’s Yamina party remaining outside the ruling coalition. The other is the increasing uncertainty regarding annexation and opposition to the Trump Mideast Plan arising from parts of the settler movement.

At the crux of the conflict is the question of whether those who criticize Netanyahu can even be considered right-wingers. For outsiders, much of the discussion is pure comedy – especially the apparent need from some of Israel’s most influential journalists to justify themselves to the prime minister’s layabout son. But it is revealing.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s position is a baffling one. Having just sworn in his fifth government, after effectively co-opting his rival Benny Gantz to dismantle Kahol Lavan as an alternative to Likud, he is seemingly at the height of his powers. The opposition has been reduced to irrelevance.

But at the same time, Netanyahu is on trial for corruption charges that could potentially send him to prison, as they did to his predecessor, Ehud Olmert. In many ways, he has never been so vulnerable.

Netanyahu isn’t just fighting his case in court but in the public arena as well. His preferred defense is that the leftist, deep state legal establishment isn’t putting just him on trial but the “entire nation” that supports him. Hence his need to increase the right-wing’s personal identity with him.