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Netanyahu wooing ultra-nationalist electorate


The Israeli prime minister campaigned on Wednesday in the Hebron colony for the 17 September poll.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu on September 4 in Hebron, West Bank. MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP

Of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Benyamin Netanyahu chose the most suffocating, old city of Hebron, to woo the ultra-nationalist electorate. Wednesday, September 4, two weeks of legislative elections poorly engaged, the Israeli Prime Minister has its allies. The 800 Hebron settlers, who live under high military protection among 200,000 Palestinians, are among the most ardent within the nationalist and messianic movement, of which Mr. Netanyahu is the protector. From the center of the Palestinian city where they are reclusive, their voices carry far.

Mr. Netanyahu went for the first time in twenty-one years under the walls of the Tomb of the Patriarchs. It was to commemorate the massacre of 67 Jews by Palestinian rioters, under the British mandate in 1929, which caused the Jewish community to flee the city - one of the oldest in the world. The first prime minister to speak out here, Netanyahu did not repeat the promise he made in April to the settlers: to annex, if he is re-elected, the main settlements of the West Bank. But that promise was good in everyone's mind.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Legislative in Israel: Benyamin Netanyahu in trouble in the center and on his right

Injured animal

Mr Netanyahu had already reiterated it on Sunday during a visit to the school children of the Elkana settlement in the West Bank at the start of the new school year. His Minister of Culture and the Speaker of Parliament urged him to keep his word on Wednesday at the Hebron platform. At their side, the Prime Minister has simply said that the city would never become "judenrein" - purified of its Jews, a term from Nazi Germany. "We are not strangers in Hebron, we will stay there for eternity," he added.

In the late afternoon, on the lawns of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the public cheered the ministers of his camp, from the radical right. Arrived in his government this summer, they goad him. Bezalel Smotrich (transport) and Rabbi Rafi Peretz (education) multiply provocations and ignore his reprimands. Like all the others, they see in the leader a wounded animal. "Bibi" bleeds, it is the moment, for their coalition of three parties of radical right, to raise its requirements.

Mr. Netanyahu failed, after the last legislative elections in April, to gather enough allies in Parliament to form a majority of government in May. That's why the country is going back to the polls. Las, the big blocks of right, center and left do not move. No poll gives "Bibi" and those he calls his "natural partners" a clear majority. Everyone also expects a court decision, which could put Mr. Netanyahu under review before the end of the year for charges of "corruption", "fraud" and "breach of trust." Result: disorder and general feverishness.

Source: lemonde

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