On Tuesday, Israeli voters once again decided to keep Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister, rewarding him and his coalition partners for a decade of strong economic growth and national security, but also suggesting a new party will be a major player in Israeli politics over the coming years.
Netanyahu’s Likud party actually tied the upstart Blue and White party, by winning 35 seats apiece in the 120-seat Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset. But when adding in like-minded parties, Netanyahu’s coalition is expected to control 65 seats in the new government.
So why is Netanyahu still popular after ten years in office, even while facing corruption charges?
Foundation for the Defense of Democracies President Clifford May says Israeli voters credit Netanyahu for turning their economy around and rightly so.
“He, as finance minister and as prime minister, is more responsible than anyone else for Israel making a transition from essentially a democratic socialist government to a capitalist economy,” said May.
May says Netanyahu’s strong defense of Israel against hostile neighbors like Hamas and Syria are also appreciated by the Israeli people, although he says the Blue and White party also fielded a candidate – retired Gen. Benny Gantz – who has strong national security credentials.
Listen to the full podcast as May discusses what Netanyahu’s win means for U.S.-Israeli relations and how the politics in Israel have shifted greatly in just a few years.