Benjamin Netanyahu has long been known as the magician of Israeli politics.
The nation’s longest-serving prime minister may have faced daily rallies against his plan to weaken the judiciary, presided over the most right-wing and religious government in Israel’s history and been on trial for bribery and fraud.
But Israel seemed secure, and Netanyahu appeared close to winning a huge diplomatic prize: a deal that would offer US security guarantees to Saudi Arabia in exchange for its open embrace of Israel.
That deal looks to be dead in the water at this time.
Israeli protesters demand the government obtain the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas, which is designated a terrorist group by the US and the European Union.
Netanyahu’s approval rating has collapsed, and polls show his coalition wouldn’t win a parliamentary majority in a new election. In short, many believe his time as leader is up.
And yet, the old magician may retain a trump card: the war. As long as it continues, Israel is unlikely to be able to hold a vote that would almost certainly see Netanyahu forced from office.
However much Hamas has damaged Netanyahu’s legacy, it may also be helping him hang on to power.
Since Israel chose to engage in this war for reasons other than rescuing hostages…….