President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights on Twitter Thursday, sending a sudden thrill through the Israeli electorate just two weeks ahead of the election on April 9. Israel’s embattled prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, immediately welcomed the announcement – and so, helplessly, did Netanyahu’s election opponents.
Whatever the symbolic power of Trump’s recognition for Israelis – and it is symbolic, as the strategic 500 square-mile plateau has been under Israeli control since 1967, when Israeli troops seized it from Syria – his Golan move will have a fierce afterburn. It damages Israeli security and undermines American interests in the Middle East and beyond, while stirring a hornet’s nest that didn’t need stirring.
Netanyahu, facing voters for the fourth consecutive time in just two weeks, is in the fight of his political life. His re-election quest has run into two major roadblocks. The first is a looming indictment for multiple corruption charges -- Israel’s attorney general has already announced his intent to indict the prime minister. The second is the Blue-White Coalition, an unexpectedly strong challenge from a new electoral alliance headed by three former army chiefs of staff and a former finance minister. Only a decisive electoral victory and the chance to pass a law granting him immunity while in office might rescue Netanyahu from an ignominious fate.
Read the full article in POLITICO Magazine.