JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a bruising defeat in being unable to form a ruling government coalition and having to call a new election, but the new national poll has a silver lining for him. It virtually ensures that Netanyahu will become the longest serving prime minister in Israel’s history.
Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, currently holds that record. In his two terms in office he served a total of 13 years and 127 days.
Netanyahu will tie that record on July 16, and break it the next day.
Netanyahu currently holds the record for the longest single term of any Israeli prime minister, which is his current term that began on March 31, 1999.
With a new election officially called for September 17, he will still be in office when the record-breaking day arrives, unless he steps down sooner.
A pre-indictment hearing in the three corruption cases against Netanyahu was postponed from early July to October, meaning that it will take place after both the day on which he will break Ben-Gurion’s record and after the new election.
In February, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced his intention pending the hearing to indict Netanyahu in three separate cases on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust – the first time a sitting prime minister would face criminal charges.
Netanyahu has said he would not resign from office during any indictment hearing process. And there is no legal obligation for him to resign, even after a possible indictment.