Los Angeles Times

Israel's Netanyahu, consummate political survivor, faces voter test and legal peril

JERUSALEM –– In Israeli politics, Benjamin Netanyahu has long been known as the ultimate survivor. But now, a leader who has so often seemed invincible faces grave legal and political peril.

With parliamentary elections scheduled Tuesday, the smooth-talking, American-educated prime minister faces a vote that is widely seen as a referendum on him.

If the election keeps him in power, Netanyahu, 69, will hit a political milestone this year –– becoming Israel's longest-serving prime minister, a distinction now held by David Ben Gurion, a founding father of Israel. But with a criminal indictment on corruption charges hanging over his head, that historic marker might carry a very large asterisk.

A polarizing, paradoxical figure, Netanyahu is the sort of politician who's sometimes down but never out -

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