TIME’s cover story this week, written by TIME managing editor Richard Stengel, profiles Israel’s controversial Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This past month has seen Netanyahu—referred to almost ubiquitously by his nickname Bibi—cannily consolidate power, brokering a coalition that pairs his Likud party and other right-wing allies with the more centrist Kadima. The deal deflects calls for fresh elections and gives him a virtual lock on Israel’s top job going forward.
As Stengel puts it:
Netanyahu is poised to become the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel. He has no national rival. His approval rating, roughly 50%, is at an all-time high. At a moment when incumbents around the world are being shunted aside, he is triumphant.
Like his father, he sees Jewish history as a succession of holocausts. Like his father, he has an almost mystical belief in the abiding power of anti-Semitism, as though it were more biological than cultural.
…a governing coalition that will not leak or collapse if he opens negotiations. He will no longer have to look over his shoulder. He will not have to call elections at the drop of a hat. He has not had that before, and it gives him room to maneuver and room to compromise. “Now he is the emperor … he can do anything,” [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] said last week. “If I were him, I would do it now, now, now.”
The choice, writes Stengel, is Bibi’s.