Is This Netanyahu’s Last Hurrah?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Likud party headquarters following the announcement of exit polls during Israel's parliamentary election in Tel Aviv, Israel September 18, 2019.
Benjamin Netanyahu

After what looks like an almost cer­tain fail­ure to secure a major­i­ty in Israel’s elec­tion on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did­n’t need any­one to tell him about the mur­mur­ings with­in Likud that his own par­ty should start think­ing about a change in lead­er­ship. He sus­pects they are there, and have been for a while.

As he arrived at the par­ty’s cam­paign head­quar­ters at Expo Tel Aviv in the ear­ly hours of Wednesday morn­ing, greet­ing senior Likudniks with forced, tight-lipped smiles, the heavy make­up he wore could not mask the tired­ness on his face from days of relent­less cam­paign­ing and long hours of non­stop online Likud TV broad­casts, in which he harangued right-wingers to go out and vote.

Netanyahu’s speech at a Likud ral­ly, deliv­ered more than five hours after vot­ing end­ed and exit poll results spelled doom, was a care­ful­ly mea­sured attempt to reassert his lead­er­ship, while acknowl­edg­ing, with­out say­ing it in so many words, that things have changed. Perhaps irrev­o­ca­bly.
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