Netanyahu, ‘a wounded lion,’ heads into fight of political life

Netanyahu faces numerous challenges in what could be his final run for prime minister.

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest-serving leader in Israel’s history, heads to the “jungle of elections” as a “wounded” lion, Israel Hayom reports on Sunday.

The daily paper ticked off the wounds he has received of late. The first, says the paper, is that his image as the unstoppable “winner” has taken a blow as he’s failed to form a government twice now.

Blue and White, the rival opposition party formed before the first elections in April, is gaining power, according to polls (up to 37 seats from 33, according to a Channel 13 poll). It’s waiting in the wings, ready to pounce.

Netanyahu also faces indictment in three corruption cases. State prosecutors have gathered an extraordinarily long witness list of 333 people. Netanyahu backers say the length itself raises suspicion of a fishing expedition, but advisers have told him not to attack the prosecutors for now – advice he appears to have taken, notes the paper.

The prime minister also faces internal opposition. Senior Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar has demanded party primaries and will get them. They are set for Dec. 26. Assuring victory within the party is what Netanyahu will focus on for the next two weeks, Israel Hayom says.

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According to the paper, Sa’ar isn’t expected to win, but if he achieves 30 percent of the vote he will be considered a successful challenger, setting himself up as the leader in a post-Netanyahu era. But if he wins only 29 percent, it will be a defeat.

On Saturday night, Sa’ar called for a public debate between himself and Netanyahu. “I call on Prime Minister Netanyahu: Let’s have a debate, as is the case in the democratic countries. Where and when you choose. Everyone will present their positions and plans for the future of Israel in all areas of policy. Likud members and the People of Israel deserve it.”

On Friday morning last week, Netanyahu gathered ministers, party heads and supporters for a meeting in Jerusalem to set strategy for the coming party elections.