On May 29, 1996, Likud opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, opponent of the Oslo accords, was elected Israeli Prime Minister. Netanyahu's first electoral victory held portents for his subsequent return to the office in 2009. As Benny Morris wrote at the time, the “peace process would grind to a halt” and “ultranationalism [and] . . . fundamentalist religious currents that have taken hold of the minds and souls of growing numbers of Israelis since the 1967 war” would be further galvanized. That prognosis rings truer two decades later. “Israel's Elections and Their Implications” (JPS Vol. 26 No. 1) provides a background on Netanyahu’s early influence on Israeli politics.
Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996 after an election victory over Prime Minister Shimon Peres. (Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)