Jerusalem (CNN)Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's legal and political problems collided Wednesday morning, with the Israeli leader's hopes of forming a government slipping away as pre-indictment hearings in his ongoing corruption probes began.
Netanyahu faces new legal battle -- just as his political hopes fade
On Wednesday morning, Netanyahu's legal team met with the attorney general for the first day of hearings in three criminal investigations against the 69-year-old leader, in an attempt to convince the prosecution to drop some, or all, of the charges.
Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said he intends to indict Netanyahu on charges of bribery and breach of trust pending the outcome of these hearings.
Netanyahu has always maintained his innocence, claiming the investigations are a media-fueled witch hunt meant to take him down.
The hearings are scheduled to last four days, stretching into next week.
As his lawyers were meeting at the Ministry of Justice, Netanyahu himself had been set to meet with his main political rival, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White party edged out Netanyahu's Likud party in September's elections.
The two were scheduled to discuss the possibility of a unity government to break the political deadlock in Israel that led to second elections and may well lead to a third.
But Blue and White canceled the meeting Tuesday night, just as the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah ended.
"At this stage, the preconditions upon which any further meetings between the negotiating teams may take place have not been met," Blue and White said in a statement. "In view of this, no meeting will be held on Wednesday."