A bizarre election campaign is heating up in Israel. The incumbent prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has become the first candidate in the country's history to seek re-election while facing criminal indictments. Meanwhile, the most important topic — the occupation of the Palestinian territories — has not been mentioned, with candidates instead competing over who can be tougher on the Palestinians.

The biggest threat comes from Netanyahu. As he fights for his political life amid charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust, fears are rising that he will misuse the enormous power he wields (he also serves as defense minister), escalating tensions both within and around Israel in order to strengthen his own position.

Far from quelling these fears, Netanyahu has been stoking them. He has once again ordered the closure of Bab al-Rahmeh in the Al-Haram Al-Sharif/Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Islam's third-holiest site. Part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, the compound has been administered by Muslims for more than 14 centuries.