By Enes Canli
As corruption allegations pile up against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, five possible scenarios have emerged regarding his political future: resignation, coalition collapse, snap elections, cabinet reshuffle or fresh military conflict.
After a 14-month investigation into two separate fraud charges, Israeli police recommended earlier this month that Netanyahu be indicted for bribery and breach of trust.
He also faces questioning in two other cases, putting him in an even worse position and opening the door to speculation about his political fate.
"The noose is tightening around the prime minister’s neck," Israeli writer and researcher Antoine Shalhat told Anadolu Agency.
Scenario 1: Early elections
Under Israeli law, there is nothing to prevent Netanyahu from contesting elections while he is the subject of ongoing corruption investigations.
According to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, online surveys suggest that -- despite the charges -- Netanyahu's Likud Party could increase its seats in the Knesset from 30 to 34 (out of a total of 120) in upcoming polls.
Nevertheless, an election victory for Netanyahu would not stop the legal procedures taken against him.
Avi Gabbay, leader of the Labor Party, Israel's second largest political party, recently told supporters: "The Netanyahu era has ended; prepare for elections."
Scenario 2: Playing defense
Netanyahu has the legal right to remain in office unless or until he is convicted of wrongdoing.
While opposition parties say the embattled PM should step down due to the ongoing investigations, Netanyahu and his supporters dismiss these calls.
Scenario 3: New Likud PM
In this scenario, Netanyahu would resign from his post to focus on the investigations while his Likud Party would continue leading the ruling coalition.
Party member Oren Hazan recently told Israeli Radio that Netanyahu might decide to "take a break" from the premiership.
Scenario 4: Fresh conflict
With a view to distracting attention from his legal woes, Netanyahu could also launch a new war against the Gaza Strip or Lebanon.
In such an eventuality, Shalhat says, Netanyahu would be judged not by court but by Israeli public opinion.
But Zvi Bar’el, a writer for Israeli daily Haaretz, warned that such a move would draw accusations that Netanyahu had sacrificed soldiers' lives simply to protect his own political career.
Scenario 5: Coalition collapse
In this scenario, one or more political parties would leave the coalition, causing the government to collapse.
According to Shalhat, the ambiguous stance of some coalition members regarding the ongoing fraud probe could lead to splits within Netanyahu's cabinet to be followed by snap elections.
In such a charged political atmosphere, opposition parties would be unlikely to join the beleaguered coalition. The government would quickly collapse and early elections would be held in spring or summer.