Anshel Pfeffer

Anshel Pfeffer is the Israel correspondent for the Economist, a correspondent for British and Israeli newspapers and the author of Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu thinks he’s Churchill, Israelis see Chamberlain

Aleading member of Israel’s wartime cabinet has threatened to resign should Benjamin Netanyahu fail to present a strategy for ending the war in Gaza. The liberal politician Benny Gantz, who would win an election were one held now, has given a public ultimatum. He will collapse Netanyahu’s fragile coalition if no peace plan is delivered

The Israeli-Hamas negotiations are fraught with complexity

Jerusalem For weeks the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had been preparing for an assault on Rafah. Yet when the order finally came on Monday night, it caught Israel’s generals by surprise. This was despite the fact that two armoured divisions had been deployed on Gaza’s southern border, and hundreds of thousands of leaflets printed warning

Joe Biden is running out of time in the Middle East

Jerusalem The idea of a Saudi-Israel rapprochement would have been unthinkable not so long ago, and yet, shortly before the 7 October attacks, it was on the cards. The Emirates and Bahrain had recognised Israel’s sovereignty. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was positioning Saudi Arabia to do the same. Now Joe Biden – who

Permanent stalemate in Gaza suits Netanyahu

Jerusalem After midnight on Thursday is dead-time for the Israeli media. The weekend editions have gone to print (newspapers don’t come out on Shabbat) and the Friday night TV news shows have been pre-recorded. The country’s journalists are yearning for respite from a long week covering the war. Benjamin Netanyahu chose that black hole of

Has Iran lost control of its proxies?

During a press conference in Tehran at the end of last month, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps spokesman Brigadier-General Ramezan Sharif claimed that ‘the Al-Aqsa Storm was one of the retaliations of the Axis of Resistance against the Zionists for the martyrdom of Qasem Soleimani’. It was an extraordinary statement. Iran had insisted that while it

Can Israel keep the West on side?

Jerusalem On 7 October, Israeli security officials were already questioning how long they would be allowed to fight in Gaza. As the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) hurriedly mobilised more than 300,000 reservists, one official told me that ‘destroying Hamas depends on the length of our window of legitimacy’. Last week, I was on an embed

Netanyahu has failed Israel

Jerusalem Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza is rapidly evolving into a war with all of Iran’s proxies on its borders, including Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. Its outcome will determine the country’s future for a generation, perhaps longer. The conflict is not even in its third week, and as I write these words the inevitable

War at close quarters: a report from the Kfar Aza kibbutz

When faced with a tragedy on the scale of Saturday morning’s attack by Hamas terrorists on Israeli communities near Gaza, it’s natural to look to history for comparisons. Many did that over this week. The event that was mentioned most often was Israel’s previous intelligence failure at the start of the Yom -Kippur War, exactly

The increasing irrelevance of Benjamin Netanyahu

Jerusalem The most tedious question in Israeli politics is: ‘Will this be the end of Benjamin Netanyahu?’ It has come up again in recent weeks as Israel has found itself on the brink of chaos over his coalition government’s attempts to pass laws weakening the independence of the judiciary, including the Supreme Court. And while

Bibi’s big mistake

Jerusalem As 100,000 Israelis gathered outside Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, on Monday, to protest against Binyamin Netanyahu’s government’s plans to pass a series of laws dramatically weakening the power of the Supreme Court, the first speaker was Netanyahu himself.  Actually, it was a recording from an interview he had given in 2012, where he said

It looks like Bibi is back from the dead

Could it really be over? As Israeli political reporters stand before their cameras or hunch over their keyboards, their brains screaming with caffeine, that is the one question they’re asking. As are millions of voters, who remarkably turned out on Tuesday in impressive numbers, despite their election fatigue.    As I write this, there are still

The odd couple: Israel and Turkey’s tentative alliance

 Jerusalem On Friday night, when the Israeli government usually shuts down for Shabbat, the Prime Minister’s office issued an emergency briefing. An attack on Israeli tourists in Istanbul was ‘imminent’, it said. Israelis in Turkey were ordered to stay in their hotel rooms for fear of assassins, sent by Iran. There was no attack that

Is a return to power in Netanyahu’s grasp?

Jerusalem ‘Netanyahu’s coming back soon, and he’ll be back with a vengeance!’ Simcha Rothman’s eyes flashed as he made his bold prediction. The normally mild-mannered lawyer, an ultra-nationalist Knesset member, was convinced. ‘He’s coming back and it’s all the left-wing’s fault for demonising him. If it wasn’t for them, the right-wing would have found a

How Israel’s Prime Minister got burnt by bread

Jerusalem For nearly ten months now, ever since his surprising elevation to the Israeli prime minister’s office, Naftali Bennett has been focused mainly on one thing. He has been trying to prove to Israelis that he can be every bit the master statesman his predecessor, the eternal Benjamin Netanyahu was. And by all accounts that

In Israel, vaccine passports are already redundant

Jerusalem The vaccination centre where I got my jabs was in the cavernous foyer of the Jerusalem Arena, Israel’s largest indoor sports venue. Through the locked glass doors, I could see the seats where my 15-year-old and I spent so many hours cheering on our basketball team. Putting my ear to the door, I could

Israel’s Arab-Sunni alliance is piling pressure on Iran

The world’s eyes are, naturally, all on Ukraine. But elsewhere in Europe, diplomats are locked in a series of talks to prevent an altogether different war in another region. In a hotel in Vienna, negotiators from Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China have been meeting their Iranian counterparts. In an adjacent hotel, negotiators from the

Can a third dose of vaccine stave off Israel’s fourth wave?

Jerusalem I thought I’d found the most efficient small clinic in Jerusalem, a quarter of an hour’s drive from my home. For months, I’ve been going there for testing, with no fuss or waiting time. At the end of last week, the government authorised the third ‘booster’ dose of Covid vaccine for over-forties. I made

Netanyahu’s toxic legacy

A week ago Israel was about to have a new government supported by right-wing, left-wing, centrist and Arab parties which was to concentrate on a ‘civilian agenda’ and ‘reconciliation’. Five days of internecine violence shattered that illusion. It’s still Netanyahu’s Israel. I’ve yet to see real evidence Netanyahu somehow engineered these dual crises in Gaza

Palestinians in Jerusalem live in a strange limbo

Jerusalem Thomas Friedman has a lot to answer for. The New York Times’s oracle has ruined, through overuse in his columns, the best source of local knowledge for journalists: the cab driver. No other hack can now quote his driver for fear of colleagues’ ridicule. Which is a pity, because the cab drivers in Jerusalem