Benjamin Netanyahu ser ut att bli den som vann mest på den Israeliska massakern på civila i Gaza. Vilket återigen upprepar mönstret från vredens druvor i Libanon. Den gången var det Shimon Peres som förlorade. Den andra vinnaren ser ut att bli ultranationalisterna under Avigdor Lieberman. Samma lieberman som ville förbjuda arabiska partier och förespråkar en ’ren judisk stat’ där arabiska områden byts mot judiska.
In 1978, when he was 20, Mr. Lieberman immigrated to Israel from Moldova, then a Soviet republic, and he lives in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Popular with the country’s so-called Russian vote, he is vocal about the threat from Iran and advocates swapping areas of Israel that are heavily populated by Arab citizens for parts of the West Bank that are populated by Israeli Jews.
Some of the rising popularity of Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Lieberman may be a result of the frustration among those Israelis who believe that the war in Gaza did not go far enough.
Although the government was clear in setting limited goals for the war — stopping Palestinian militants from launching rockets against Israel — part of the public seemed to have “its own expectations,” like, for example, the collapse of Hamas, said Yehuda Ben Meir, a public opinion expert at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
Recent polls indicate that Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing opposition party, has retained and even increased its lead. The other party that appears to have gained the most ground is the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Avigdor Lieberman.
A hawkish legislator and former minister, Mr. Lieberman pulled his party out of the governing coalition a year ago when Israel began negotiations over Palestinian statehood with the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, which is viewed as more moderate and pragmatic than Hamas.
President Obama said on his second day in office that his administration would “actively and aggressively seek” an Israeli-Palestinian peace. In Israel, though, the popular discourse is less about peace than realpolitik and security as the Feb. 10 elections draw near.
“The mood in the country” fits Mr. Netanyahu’s “line,” said Asher Arian of the Israel Democracy Institute, an independent research institute in Jerusalem.
The Likud leader is presenting himself first as a champion of security, and then as a good steward of the economy. Mr. Netanyahu also talks of advancing practical arrangements with the Palestinians and says that if elected he will try to form as broad a governing coalition as possible, partly to appeal to the Israeli mainstream and partly to allay international fears about the upheavals a far-right-wing government could bring.