Netanyahu Again Trolls Iran’s Leaders, but Suffers Harsh Backlash at Home
Opposition leaders in Jerusalem say Netanyahu’s boasting directly resulted in unprecedented Russian condemnation
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump have a number of things in common. For instance, they both seem to relish the opportunity to troll their foes on social media.
According to a Kuwaiti newspaper, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, General Qassem Soleimani, recently said that a few well-timed cross-border attacks could help prevent Netanyahu from winning Israel's upcoming national election on April 9.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu published a short video clip to Twitter in which he told Soleimani that instead of worrying about Israel's election, perhaps he should go take a look at the Iranian military bases on the outskirts of Damascus that Israeli fighter jets had just devastated.
"Instead of interfering in the elections, Soleimani would do well to check the state of the Iranian bases that he is trying to establish in Syria," said Netanyahu, adding that Israel will continue its determined efforts to cripple the Iranian presence in Syria.
Instead of interfering in the elections, Soleimani would do well to check the state of the Iranian bases that he is trying to establish in Syria. Our policy is clear and will not change: We are determined to prevent Iran from militarily entrenching itself in Syria against Israel. pic.twitter.com/c4e3o8IqEJ
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) January 23, 2019
National security, or electioneering?
At home, Netanyahu was lambasted by his critics in the Knesset for exploiting the airstrikes on Syria to score political points ahead of the election.
Many insisted that by boasting about the Israeli attacks, Netanyahu had forced Russia to publicly condemn the practice, thus endangering future Israeli operations.
"After years of quiet and efficient cooperation [with Moscow], Netanyahu’s election campaign has forced the Russians to come out against us in the Syrian arena," said Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party and a man who sees himself as a future prime minister.
"Netanyahu is breaking with Israel’s policy of ambiguity for personal political reasons, and is tying the IDF’s hands in the northern campaign," added Hatnua party leader Tzipi Livni.
Russia's ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov, concurred with the opposition lawmakers, telling i24 News that the Netanyahu government "now makes immediate comments on any strikes at a very, very high level, and in our mind, this is very much connected to the election campaign."