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After Knesset election-rama, Israeli political advisers turn to Tirana

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For nearly a year, one of the most outspoken defenders of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained near-total radio silence.

On May 24, 2020, Jonatan Urich, a Likud spokesman, close adviser to the premier and chum of Netanyahu’s bluntly outspoken son Yair, fired off four tweets in support of the prime minister, who was making history that day as the first sitting head of the government in the country’s history to go on trial.

Then he stopped tweeting, his Instagram account went dark and he stopped responding to journalists’ questions.

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Before that date, Urich was nearly a household name for a certain type of news consumer. After Israel’s third round of elections, he famously declared on TV that Netanyahu had managed the largest win in Israel’s history. (Likud won an impressive 36 seats, but it wasn’t enough to form a government without Blue and White, which had won 33 spots.) Likud spokesman Jonatan Urich at a joint press conference by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Zehut party chairman Moshe Feiglin at Kfar Hamacabiah in Ramat Gan, August 29, 2019. (Flash90)

His sarcastic slings and arrows aimed at Likud’s detractors were a mainstay of political reportage (often unattributed) and his Twitter feed was a showcase of caustic attacks on anyone who dared impugn the party and its leader.

So where did Urich go?

Albania, as it turns out. And he wasn’t alone.

Rendezvous with Rama or for the Lulzim?

On April 25, incumbent Albanian prime minister Edi Rama of the Socialist Party won reelection against Lulzim Basha, the head of the country’s conservative Democratic Party and a former mayor of the capital Tirana.

Basha, a former lawyer who investigated war crimes for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, has faced off against Rama, a former painter, in several local and national elections over the years. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, during an interview in Tirana, Albania, on April 20, 2021. (AP/Hektor Pustina)

The Socialists won enough votes last month to take 74 of the Albanian parliament’s 140 seats, snagging a majority on its own. The Democratic Party won 59 seats,........

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