Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's top ministers are squabbling, a deadline looms for contentious legislation that may bring down his government and a corruption indictment could be just around the corner.
Against this backdrop, there are growing signs he may soon call for elections — possibly as early as next week, when parliament reconvenes from its summer break. And though Netanyahu hasn't committed yet, conditions appear ripe for him to schedule the vote, nearly a year ahead of schedule. If history is any guide, elections look likely. The last time a government served its full term was in 1988. Since then, elections have almost always been moved up because of a coalition crisis or a strategic move by the prime minister to maximize his chance of re-election.
Polls, for now at least, predict a solid Netanyahu victory, one that would assure his place in history as Israel's longest-serving leader and allow him to solidify his close alliance with President Donald Trump. Another term would also allow Netanyahu to push forward with his nationalistic agenda and worldwide campaign to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. But one big obstacle could still trip him up: a mounting corruption investigation that may soon deliver criminal charges. Police have already questioned Netanyahu a dozen times and recommended he be indicted on bribery and breach of trust charges in two cases. This week, his wife, Sara Netanyahu, went on trial for fraud charges for allegedly overspending roughly $100,000 on celebrity chefs at their official residence, even when there was a full-time chef on staff. Israel's attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, is expected to make a decision on charges in the coming months.
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