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Netanyahu takes center stage in Israeli election

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on February 25, 2020 - Duration: 02:04s

Netanyahu takes center stage in Israeli election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reveling in the campaign for next Monday's election - just don't mention the corruption trial that looms soon afterward.

Lucy Fielder reports.

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Netanyahu takes center stage in Israeli election

Benjamin Netanyahu is reveling in Israel's election campaign -- strutting the stage, talking up his achievements and laying into rivals.

But he steers clear of the corruption trial hanging over him.

Israel's longest-serving prime minister has the edge in polls before next Monday's election.

He's had plenty of practice -- this is the third ballot in a year.

But despite the bravado, neither he, nor his rival Benny Gantz, is likely to secure a governing majority.

Yet more stalemate looms. And so does Netanyahu's trial on March 17, in which he'll face charges of breach of trust and fraud.

He denies any wrongdoing.

Not surprisingly, some balk at backing him in the shadow of a corruption case.

But to his power base of low-income Israelis, the right-wing leader is a blue-collar champion who faces an attempted coup by prosecutors.

Netanyahu attacks former general Gantz as a weakling, and a leftist.

Recalling the rhetoric of the man he's proud to call an ally -- U.S. President Donald Trump.

Netanyahu boasts of their strong relationship, and how it influenced Trump to shift policy in Israel's direction.

Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal that Netanyahu reviled.

And then there's the pro-Israel Middle East plan that Trump announced last month, without involving the Palestinians.

In response to demands by ultranationalist allies, Netanyahu has also pledged to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank to Israel.

As he draws votes away from the far right and strengthens support for his Likud party.

On Tuesday Netanyahu announced he'd press ahead with a plan to build some 3,500 settlement homes in one of the most sensitive areas - which was frozen because of international criticism and fears it would cut off Palestinians from Jerusalem.

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