T wo months after Barak Obama was sworn in as America’’s 44th president, Binyamin Netanyahu started his second stint as Israel’’s prime minister.

The political prognosticators, this one included, speculated that Bibi’’s systematic defiance of Obama’’s Middle East policies was based on a matchless confidence that he could outlast the Democrat in office and get a better deal from America’’s 45th president.

Whether Netanyahu’’s patience proves to be a virtue is an open question in the Trump era, but for now, Obama writes his memoirs while Bibi makes fresh news every day.

Yet Netanyahu has one local rival who has even outlasted him — — Mahmoud Abbas, who took the reins as chairman of the Palestinian Authority in 2004, four days before Americans reelected George W. Bush to his second term as president.

Dictators like Abbas have it easier. They don’’t need to face the electorate every few years, and if they do hold elections, it’’s usually because they have rigged the outcome in their favor.

As of now, both Netanyahu and Abbas face different threats to their job security. Any day now, Netanyahu could wake up to screaming headlines that he has been indicted in one of the investigations swirling around him. And Abbas, 82, spent last Friday morning in the hospital for tests, amid reports that Israel’’s intelligence community is closely monitoring a recent downturn in his health.

Should Netanyahu be indicted, there is no requirement that he step down. The likelihood is that he would remain in office even while on trial. That would be true especially if the charges are limited to allegedly accepting gifts from wealthy supporters abroad, or for allegedly offering a competitive advantage to a newspaper publisher in exchange for kinder and gentler coverage.

Netanyahu thinks ahead. He already has the top spot locked up in Likud primaries that will be held some time before the next regularly scheduled election in November 2019. It would take a far more serious allegation, and conviction, for the Likud faithful to oust their party leader.

Even in the wake of a tidal wave of criticism and negative publicity over his handling — — or mishandling — — of security arrangements on the Temple Mount, the results of a HaMidgam Project poll reported last Thursday night on Channel 10 shows the Likud holding an eight-seat margin (28-20) over its nearest rival, the Zionist Union (Labor).

When respondents were asked whom they preferred as prime minister, they chose Netanyahu over his next closest rival — — ““don’’t know”” — — by 32% to 27%. The ballyhooed new Labor leader Avi Gabbay came in fourth at 13%, behind Yair Lapid with 14%.

The poll also showed that the current coalition comprised of the political right and the religious parties would grow from 67 to 68 seats, while the opposition consisting of center, left, and Arab parties would shrink by one seat, from 53 to 52. Considering the infighting among the three Arab parties, who currently hold ten of those 53 seats, the left has virtually no chance to form a coalition.

““From what I know about the Arab sector, their quarrel is very high-pitched, and they’’re even cursing each other,”” said veteran Israeli pollster Camil Fuchs in a telephone interview with Mishpacha. ““There is a lot of bad blood between them.””

The rival factions inside the PA are even more fragmented, so whether Abbas stays healthy or not, the recent escalation in violence over the Temple Mount is the latest test of his leadership.

““The looming question is, how much longer does the unrest last, and if public opinion has swung in favor of escalating towards conflict, can Abbas contain it,”” says Grant Rumley, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Rumley spoke with Mishpacha at a recent luncheon in Washington marking the release of the book he coauthored with Haaretz Washington correspondent Amir Tibon, titled The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas.

Rumley and Tibon point out that Abbas has so far refused to name a successor. This raises the possibility that one of the many rivals he wishes to sideline — — whether it’’s Marwan Barghouti, Jibril Rajoub, Mohammed Dahlan, or perhaps a Hamas member — — could emerge as the next Palestinian leader.

““Abbas will leave his heir with a divided Palestinian territory, a myopic Fatah party, and an emboldened Hamas,”” write Rumley and Tibon. ““There is no guarantee the next leader will even be from Abbas’’s own party. Abbas began his rule of the Palestinian Authority with a sense of promise. He will end it as an autocrat.”” (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 671)