With former-PM Naftali Bennett out, Bibi is poised for the ultimate comeback.
It was July 17, 2019, and then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s supporters were celebrating a tremendous milestone: Netanyahu had officially become the longest-serving PM in Israel’s history.
In those halcyon days, everything seemed to be going Netanyahu’s way: Israel’s start-up tech companies were quickly becoming the envy of the world; Israel’s tech scene was producing wildly lucrative and successful products like the city-navigation essential, Waze.
For Israeli scientists, the long, arduous journey to becoming the world’s foremost authority on water desalinization was nearly complete.
Under Bibi’s leadership (according to his supporters) or merely on his watch (according to his political opponents) Israel’s Middle Eastern neighbors were finally beginning to thaw. The looming threat of a nuclear Iran, in addition to the rising number of terrorist operations being funded in the region, drove countries like Bahrain, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel.
Egypt and Jordan, the only other two regional powers to have normalized ties with Israel, both did so decades ago. Egypt formally recognized Israel in 1979; Jordan in 1994.
“This will be a very warm peace,” said Netanyahu in a statement at the time. “The light of peace on this Hanukkah day has never shone brighter than today in the Middle East.”
It was well-known and accepted in those days that another of region’s major powerhouses, Saudi Arabia, had to have given its tacit approval for the thaw and would, eventually, join the newly-formed Abraham Accords.
It seemed clear Middle Eastern nations were beginning to accept that the fight against regional radicals and terrorists could not be won without the full cooperation and aid of Israel.
In those days, Netanyahu was also boasting of his close diplomatic relationship with then-U.S. President Donald Trump, who did in fact take an exceptionally strong stance in support of Israel while in office.
Just when Netanyahu seemed on-track to win his next reelection bid, everything changed.