newsU.S.-Israel Relations

US intel agencies question Netanyahu’s ‘viability’ as leader, predict resignation

"A different, more moderate government is a possibility," the annual intelligence report states.

The website of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Credit: T. Schneider/Shutterstock.
The website of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Credit: T. Schneider/Shutterstock.

Washington expects that large demonstrations will force Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation and bring about the replacement of his right-wing government with a “more moderate” coalition, according to a report prepared by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The “2024 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community,” released on Monday, is meant to reflect the “collective insights” of Washington’s intelligence agencies, including the CIA. It claims that the Israeli prime minister’s “viability as leader … may be in jeopardy.”

“Distrust of Netanyahu’s ability to rule has deepened and broadened across the public from its already high levels before the war, and we expect large protests demanding his resignation and new elections. A different, more moderate government is a possibility,” the report states.

The intelligence agencies noted that the longtime Israeli leader has “publicly stated his opposition to postwar diplomacy with the Palestinian Authority (PA) toward territorial compromise.”

In recent months, the Biden administration has been pushing for the Palestinian Authority to return to power in Gaza as a first step towards a Palestinian state. The White House has reportedly threatened unilateral recognition amid broad opposition to the move in Israel.

Regarding the current war in the Gaza Strip, which was sparked by Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attacks, Monday’s document predicts that Israeli forces will face “lingering armed resistance … for years to come.”

Hamas’s slaughter of some 1,200 people, primarily Jewish civilians, in the northwestern Negev has also encouraged “individuals to conduct acts of antisemitic and Islamophobic terror worldwide,” it says.

Meanwhile, the agencies argue that Iran “did not orchestrate nor had foreknowledge” of the massacre, echoing Biden administration claims that it does not have proof of Tehran’s “direct” involvement.

Jerusalem has accused the Islamic Republic of orchestrating “every conflict now underway in the Middle East, from Gaza to Lebanon to the Red Sea,” pointing at evidence that hundreds of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists trained in Iran leading up to Oct. 7.

An Israeli political source said that Jerusalem expects “our friends to work to bring down the terror regime of Hamas and not the elected government in Israel,” Channel 12 News reported on Tuesday.

“Those who elect the prime minister of Israel are the citizens of Israel and no one else,” per the statement. “Israel is not a protectorate of the United States but rather an independent and democratic country whose citizens are the ones who elect the government.” The broadcaster said it came from “the most senior Israeli political source you can imagine.”

Netanyahu’s coalition won a clear majority in the November 2022 general election and the premier’s policies continue to enjoy broad support amid the ongoing war against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

According to a survey published earlier this week, even Israelis who do not trust Netanyahu’s leadership continue to back some of his key war policies, including his opposition to the two-state solution and his insistence that the Israel Defense Forces defeat Hamas in Rafah.

poll released last month said that if an election were held now, Netanyahu’s coalition of right-wing and religious parties would win 59 Knesset seats out of 120, down from the 64 it has today.

Last year, weekly protests against Netanyahu’s now-shelved legal reform agenda rocked the Jewish state. The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, one of the organizations spearheading opposition to the initiative, received funding from the U.S. Department of State.

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