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The unfinished ‘coup’ signals the end of the Netanyahu era and a political earthquake ahead

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Nothing seems to be working for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has tried every trick in the book to save his political career and avoid a possible prison sentence. Nevertheless, for Israel’s longest-serving leader, the end is almost certainly nigh.

Netanyahu described his indictment on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust by Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on 21 November as an “attempted coup”. His loyalists agree. On 26 November, a few thousand Likud party supporters gathered in Tel Aviv, under the banner “Stop the coup” to express their anger at what they see as a massive conspiracy involving Mandelblit, the media, various state institutions and “disloyal” Likud members.

The Prime Minister’s main Likud rival, Gideon Sa’ar, received much of the verbal abuse that was going. Sa’ar, who almost faded into oblivion after leaving the Knesset in 2014, emerged once more on Israel’s political scene following the inconclusive General Election in April this year. Netanyahu’s failure to form a government then was compounded by a similar failure to cobble up a government coalition after the second General Election held in September.

Since 2014, no one has dared to challenge Netanyahu’s reign over Likud. “There was no need to do so,” wrote Yossi Verter in Haaretz on 29 November. Netanyahu “brought them to power, time after time. But [a] few things [have] happened since then.”

READ: US worried Israel may attack Iran to save Netanyahu

It is because of these “few things” that Sa’ar dared to challenge Netanyahu once more. What is significant about his leadership challenge is not the possibility of him unseating Netanyahu, but the fact that the “king of Israel” no longer commands the type of fear and respect that he........

© Middle East Monitor