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The Mayor vs. the Prime Minister

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Tensions are rising within the Israeli unity coalition over the need to choose between “security and politics,” as war minister Benny Gantz put it today. Gantz’s target was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he thinks is turning too much of his attention to the next general election. Gantz is Netanyahu’s expected opponent in that election, but he’s unlikely the source of Netanyahu’s distraction.

The problem is that Netanyahu has a challenger for his Likud party’s leadership, and that challenger isn’t in the war council and therefore has been using the “politics truce” between Netanyahu and Gantz to get a head start campaigning against Netanyahu. It was only a matter of time before Netanyahu’s attention turned to his rearview mirror, in which Nir Barkat’s smiling face was staring right back at him.

Barkat is the current economy minister, having been elected to the Knesset as a member of Likud after a decade as the mayor of Jerusalem. He has not been particularly coy about his political ambitions. “I won’t support Netanyahu again,” he told party activists last month. “After the war, we must turn to the people and get their trust anew. Likud needs change.”

The tech millionaire has previously signaled that he’d wait until after Netanyahu leaves politics to vie for Likud’s…



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