Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership has plunged into a crisis.
A second wave of coronavirus in Israel has sparked mass anti-Netanyahu protests that have become about his corruption charges and annexation plans as much as the Israeli Government’s pandemic response.
Protests against the Prime Minister in Tel Aviv and outside his residence in Jerusalem have grown almost nightly. Many have turned ugly with Tuesday’s protests against proposed emergency powers leading to the arrest of 34 people.
Netanyahu spent much of April boasting about his mastery of virus management following polls that claimed 56% of Israelis trusted him. But with the virus remerging and unemployment soaring, that level of public confidence has sunk to 22%.
Even some of Netanyahu’s fellow Likud party members have challenged his handling of the resurgence, a break in the ranks rare for Israel’s longest-serving leader.
As cases surge, the sustained protests against him will undoubtedly cause concern as the Prime Minister attempts to revive the Israeli economy while simultaneously suppressing the second wave of coronavirus cases and rebuilding public favourability.
The toxicity of Netanyahu and his premiership has been highlighted by many American politicians, usually the State’s biggest allies, reluctance to be associated with the Prime Minister. Even Pete Buttigieg, one of the most pro-Israel Democrats, always distanced himself from Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s main concerns, aside from controlling the pandemic, are remaining in power and staying out of jail.
Political deadlock in the current Israeli coalition Government may mean another election could be on the horizon, the fourth within two years.
As Covid tears through Israel, Netanyahu has never faced such a crisis in his leadership.