But by delaying the installation of a new government until after the October hearings that will finally decide whether Netanyahu will be indicted, Lieberman has likely ensured that an immunity bill can’t be passed until after the prime minister is formally charged. Though Israeli law doesn’t require him to resign under those circumstances, it remains to be seen as to whether he could actually govern.
That sets up Lieberman as a potential kingmaker: He could possibly name Netanyahu’s successor, whether it is Gantz or, more likely, one of the prime minister’s colleagues in the Likud caucus.
This isn’t the first time his opponents have counted Netanyahu out. But the challenge he faces in the coming months is formidable. The public’s lack of faith in his centrist and left-wing opponents makes it likely that the right-wing and religious bloc will again command a majority after September. Yet while polls show him either maintaining the Likud’s number of Knesset members or increasing, it’s not clear if Netanyahu will be any better positioned to form a government without Lieberman after the next election. And the greater the uncertainty about his future, the more likely it is that at some point someone within the Likud — such as former minister Gidon Sa’ar — might try to unseat him as party leader.