Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political survival became an almost impossible mission this past week. It is worth remembering that Netanyahu is the Tom Cruise of Israeli politics, specializing in cracking the uncrackable. Nonetheless, he has never faced this kind of challenge. His failure to form a government after his Likud party’s sweeping victory in the April 9 elections and his ensuing decision to call new elections is a precedent that could send him sliding down a slippery slope.
For Netanyahu to form a right-wing government following the newly set Sept. 17 elections, the second in less than six months, his Likud party will have to win enough votes to equal 40 Knesset seats, five seats more than it garnered in April. At the same time, the deadline is looming for his pre-indictment hearing by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and there are no indications the clock will stop ticking. Mandelblit is highly unlikely to agree to yet another delay of the Oct. 2 hearing — originally planned for July 10 — designed to allow Netanyahu to defend himself against the attorney general’s declared intention to indict him on charges of corruption. This means that two weeks after the fall elections, Netanyahu will face his crucial hearing, to be followed by Mandelblit's final decision. This all looks like the beginning of the end for him.