World Citizen: Israel’s Netanyahu Outplayed by His Rivals

World Citizen: Israel’s Netanyahu Outplayed by His Rivals

It wasn’t very long ago that international political observers were marveling at the political acumen of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with headlines crowning him “King of Israel,” an allusion to his mastery of the political game. Israeli voters and his political rivals were somewhat less impressed, however, and they showed it in the Jan. 22 parliamentary elections, throwing cold water on Netanyahu’s plans to form a formidable coalition for a new term.

One month after that election, with the clock ticking on the deadline to form a governing coalition, Netanyahu is struggling in his maneuvers to put together an alliance that would add up to the parliamentary majority required to form a government. There is little doubt that he will ultimately succeed and remain prime minister, but the process has been a humbling one for a man not known for modesty.

With the 28-day mark since the election approaching, Netanyahu may have to ask for an extension from President Shimon Peres. If Netanyahu does request it, Peres will no doubt grant him the additional two weeks that Israeli law allows to negotiate with potential coalition partners. If Netanyahu were to fail by the end of that period, new elections could be called. Adding further pressure is the impending visit from U.S. President Barack Obama, scheduled for March 20, which Washington has said would be canceled if no government is in place by then.

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