In April 2006, Benjamin Netanyahu's political career seemed to be sliding toward its end. A few weeks earlier, in the election to the 17th Knesset, his Likud party had won just 12 seats - a calamitous plunge from the 38 it garnered under Ariel Sharon. Netanyahu was the leader of a weak, battered opposition. His rivals within Likud started to snipe at him, his confidants deserted him and his bureau fell apart.