For PM, Wednesday sees both political and criminal woes come to a head

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces critical challenges on multiple fronts Wednesday, a day which may see him bring an early end to his efforts to form a government, as well as marking the first session of the long-expected pre-indictment hearing in his criminal cases.

On Wednesday morning, Netanyahu is set to meet with Blue and White chief Benny Gantz in one final effort to reach agreements on a unity coalition between the two parties — an eventuality that at this point seems highly unlikely. He has said that if the meeting does not prove fruitful he will move immediately to return the mandate to form a government to President Reuven Rivlin.

On Sunday negotiations between representatives from the Likud party and Blue and White ended without progress, with both sides blaming the other for the lack of a breakthrough and apparent breakdown of the talks. Netanyahu then telephoned Gantz, who was in London, to arrange for them to meet Wednesday and for their negotiating teams to also talk.

After an inconclusive national election last month, Netanyahu had no obvious path to the 61-seat parliamentary majority required of a coalition government, so far securing the backing of just 55 of 120 Knesset members.

If Netanyahu informs the president he is unable to form a government, Rivlin could next task Gantz with attempting to do so, but with only 54 members backing the latter — and the 10 Joint List MKs in Gantz’s bloc ruling out sitting in a coalition — the Blue and White leader’s prospects of cobbling together a ruling majority seem no less challenging. Rivlin, who is responsible for delegating a leader to form a government, said he had given Netanyahu the first shot at building a majority because he deemed him to have the better odds of success.

If no one is able to form a government by year’s end, the country could find itself headed to its third election in less than 12 months.

Wednesday will also be the first day in a two-week process that could be fateful to Netanyahu’s political and personal future: the day the hearing in the premier’s three graft cases begins.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Sunday informed Netanyahu’s legal team that he had agreed to their request that the hearing be spread out over two weeks, instead of being held over just two days as originally scheduled.

Netanyahu’s lawyers had been scheduled to meet with Mandelblit on October 2 and 3 for the long-awaited hearing, in which they will try to convince the attorney general not to go ahead with plans to charge the prime minister in the three separate criminal cases.

Under the new arrangement, only arguments regarding Case 4000, the most serious of the corruption cases against Netanyahu, entailing suspicion of bribery offenses among others, will be held on Wednesday and Thursday.

Hearings for Case 1000 and Case 2000 will be held the following Sunday and Monday, with proceedings coming to an end by Yom Kippur eve.

Source Article from https://www.timesofisrael.com/for-pm-wednesday-sees-both-political-and-criminal-woes-come-to-a-head/

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