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Why Bibi's scaremongering campaign was the correct strategy all along

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Tzipi Livni

Tzipi Livni

AFP/Getty Images

Tzipi Livni

There are any number of Israeli politicians (and some from outside) who have staked their careers on writing off Benjamin Netanyahu. And those careers all lie buried in the distant memory of the has-been.

For those who believed the opinion polls during the campaign, Mr Netanyahu's Likud was collapsing, and the new Zionist Union alliance of Isaac Herzog's Labour Party and Tzipi Livni's rump was sweeping to ... well, if not victory, then at least level pegging and the possibility of power.

But Israeli opinion polls are notoriously unreliable, and Tuesday night's results proved that this is the only safe bet in an election.

There's no denying Mr Netanyahu's triumph, even if it was soured by some reprehensible tactics in the last days of campaigning with all sorts of scare stories and, on election day itself, a repellent Facebook posting announcing that "Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organisations are busing them out" which, as well as being beyond the pale, was factually nonsense.

But don't think that Bibi won this election in the last few days. The polls were, quite clearly, wrong. It's easy from our comfortable, safe, countries to accuse Mr Netanyahu of scaremongering with his claims that the world is out to get Israel; the problem is that, from an Israeli perspective, it happens to be true.

President Obama is indeed selling Israel out for a deal with an Iranian regime bent on destroying Israel; when Israel defends itself most of the world turns on it.

Israelis live in genuine fear, not just of terror but of obliteration.

So Mr Netanyahu's campaign struck a chord. It was security, not Isaac Herzog's domestic issue focus, that won out. And don't fall for the idea that, because he still needs to build a coalition, this wasn't a win for Mr Netanyahu. It was a clear win, all the more so for being unseen by almost every observer.

Far from leaving the stage with his tail between his legs, the Israeli PM is now firmly ensconced, once again in a position to set the Israeli political agenda and see off all comers.

It's clear that the "Right-wing" parties will all be natural partners in a coalition, and Mr Netanyahu has already spoken to Jewish Home's Naftali Bennett, Yisrael Beytenu's Avigdor Liberman, Shas's Aryeh Deri, United Torah Judaism's Yaakov Litzman - and Kulanu's Moshe Kahlon. That name is the critical one with regard to the balance of the next government. Kahlon, who loathes Netanyahu and, many say, hopes to succeed him as Likud leader. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Stephen Pollard is editor of 'The Jewish Chronicle'

Irish Independent