JERUSALEM — For the third time in under a year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking reelection, and once again the Israeli leader is on the ropes.
After two inconclusive elections last year, opinion polls forecast another stalemate — a troubling scenario for Netanyahu, who will go on trial on corruption charges just two weeks after Monday’s vote.
This election campaign has been especially tumultuous. President Donald Trump launched his long-awaited Mideast plan, a proposal that heavily favored Israel and was seen as an election gift to Netanyahu. The Israeli leader, meanwhile, was forced to drop his bid for immunity from prosecution, and just a week ago, Israel battled Gaza militants in a two-day round of fighting.
Monday’s election is seen as another referendum on Netanyahu, the country’s longest serving prime minister. And once again, the country seems hopelessly divided.
With seeming boundless energy, the 70-year-old Netanyahu has taken to the airwaves and hit the campaign trail, presenting himself to adoring audiences as a global statesman uniquely qualified to lead the country through its many complicated challenges. In recent weeks, he jetted from the White House to Moscow to bring home a young Israeli woman jailed there on drug charges, and flew to Uganda for a surprise meeting with a leader of Sudan, a longtime enemy country.
“We have turned Israel into a world power, a leader in cyber technology, natural gas, water, agriculture, technology, intelligence,” Netanyahu boasted at a recent campaign stop.